Disapointment All Around: A (Brutally Honest) Open Letter To Chelsea Cain, Online Bullies, and The Comics Industry

“Oh no, this cover made my balls feel SLIGHTLY smaller! I must rage!” *snark snark scoff*
Source CBR.com

Well, I WANTED to do another Halloween themed article this week. Unfortunately, a bunch of really ugly and infuriating B.S. has come up that I feel the need to comment on immediately; if only briefly.

For those who don’t follow the business of comic books, Chelsea Cain, writer of Marvel’s amazing Mockingbird series, has retreated from social media and deleted her Twitter account due to harassment over her call for more female-driven narratives in comics.

I’m unsure where to start here. There’s just so much I’m upset about.

I suppose I should start with the obvious and call out the bullies first. I can’t believe I’ve been on the internet since the very beginning and still have to deal with people harassing and threatening each other – especially over trivial things that don’t warrant verbal violence. The one thing I’ve taken away from my use of creator driven platforms like YouTube, DeviantArt and Newgrounds is that if you don’t like the opinions that a creator inserts in their work, it’s as simple as NOT SUPPORTING THEM. You unsubscribe from their channels, stop buying their art, and stop following their work.

But, no – we live in the days where ‘hate-following’ is a thing because people have a raging fury-boner they don’t know what to do with. I’m not even going to debate about Feminist politics and who’s right or wrong here because it’s irrelevant. The point is that everyone conducted themselves like ill-behaved children when their disapproving silence would have had a much better effect. Seriously, if you just ignored Chelsea and stopped supporting her comics, the message would have been clear and SHE’D look like the a-hole for forcing her beliefs on you.

Of course, Chelsea probably wouldn’t have felt the need to speak up if it weren’t for d-bag number two; the industry.

The comics industry, Marvel in particular, have been ignoring the demands of a large number of fans that are crying out for more respectable ladies (and minority groups, but that’s another rant) driving the plots of their stories. And while things are certainly getting better in that regard, the change is far too slow. Sorry Marvel, but as great as Rescue, She-Hulk, and the new Thor and Spider-Woman are, distaff counterparts of established acts just smack of insincerity and attempts to bait the Feminist crowd. You have great characters like Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Jessica Jones that you keep saying that you’re going to push more, but it feels like you’re dragging your heels in doing so.

But the one person I’m most shocked to be disappointed in out of all of this mess – and brace yourself, ’cause this is going to hurt – is Chelsea Cain herself.

By fleeing Twitter, you’ve shown an emotional weakness in yourself to the industry and the bullies. You’ve shown them that by throwing a temper tantrum and slinging a volley insults and hollow threats like spoiled children, they can have whatever they want. Believe me; I know how rough it can be to absorb all of the cruelty and hate of others. I’ve put up with it all throughout my life and I have the scars and broken bones to prove it. But, like poor tortured Sisyphus, you must struggle on with a smile on your face knowing that taking joy in your suffering brings the gods nothing but frustration and despair. I know it’s a cliché, but you can’t run away from your problems like this.

So, in closing, my three messages are as follows; Internet: grow the f*** up. Comics: wake the f*** up. Chelsea: savage the f*** up.

The Agent Reviews A Game: Teddy Terror

Can you BEAR the horrors? Source: teddyterror.com

Can you BEAR the horrors ahead?
Source: teddyterror.com

Wow, it’s actually been a while since I gave my feelings on a game I’ve played. In my defense, the budget has been tight lately and gaming is one of those luxuries I’ve had to forgo.

However, I found this early access game on Steam for dirt cheap. And with Halloween coming up fast, I felt a game about the nightmares of a small child and his attempts to literally conquer his fears was worth looking into.

Now, if my obsession with The Binding of Issac should teach you anything, it’s that I have a soft spot for the Rogue-Lite genre. I can appreciate a game that plays differently every time you pick it up. But if it’s originality we’re talking about, Teddy Terror has one of the most stand-out ideas I’ve seen in a Rogue-Lite.

Most of the games in this genre are top-down dungeon crawlers where you kick in the door, beat up the baddies, nab their loot and repeat. However, Teddy Terror mixes this up with one major change; you have no weapon.

The only thing you have to defend yourself with at the start of the game is your precious teddy bear. Teddy acts as a boomerang that can temporarily slow down the monsters but can’t damage them; a mechanic that will be familiar to my fellow old school Legend of Zelda players. Instead, you’ll have to guide the creepy crawlies into environmental hazards (which are just are dangerous to you, of course) and traps that Teddy can activate by throwing him into them. Clear out all the monsters and you’ll move to the next floor. If you’re lucky, you may even land in a treasure room where you have a chance at scoring some new gear.

This simple change in gameplay from Action RPG to Puzzle Strategy alters the entire feel of the game; you actually have to think your actions through and plan them carefully while dodging the ugly mother-hubbard’s chasing you. In other words, it recreates a horror aesthetic without most of the tropes of horror games by making you feel powerless and forcing you to Home Alone your way to safety.

That said, the game’s not without glaring issues. While the normal difficulty can be breezed through, there’s a massive spike in higher difficulties by virtue of the bosses regenerating their health over time – meaning that the game centered around careful timing and patience is now a speed run.

The game also features unlockable characters, but they don’t seem to play any differently. So unless you REALLY want to roleplay as YouTube gamer H2O Delerious (and I do), There’s no real reason to unlock them.

There’s also a recently added ‘Invasion’ mode where you fight waves of baddies and buy your stats bonuses instead of finding items, but it got very repetitive very quickly and didn’t hold my attention long.

That said, the game is still in the development stage (early access, remember?), so these issues could very likely be ironed out by the time the full game is completed. What’s more, even with its warts, I still had fun with it. I’d normally recommend waiting until development is finished and seeing how they change things before committing to purchase like this, but at five dollars, I can’t really complain about this cheap and cheerful romp through a child’s nocturnal hell-scape.

Sex, Romance, and Dangly Parts: Three Things That The Agent Is Sick of Explaining To People

... And if you can't understand a simple explanation, you probably aren't trying hard enough to understand it. Source: Quora.com

… And if you can’t understand a simple explanation, you probably aren’t trying hard enough to understand it.
Source: Quora.com

Do you have a quirk about your personality or a personal belief that, despite your best efforts, you are constantly forced to explain in excruciating detail to people because they assume that you’re like that for completely unrelated reasons?

… ’cause I do. I’ve got a lot of ’em. Quirks for days.

I hate explaining these things about me to people, not so much because I constantly have to repeat myself, but because their misunderstanding of me comes off as insulting – if not to me, then to the people who actually are like that. And it’s even worse when you have to explain it to the same person multiple times.

So, once and for all, let the world know that…

I’m not a prude; I’m asexual

This is probably one of the biggest problems that I (and many others, I’m sure) face as an ace – just because we don’t want to have sex, people assume that we’re prudish, virginal, moral guardians looking to ruin other people’s fun.

In fact, I’m not even all that against sex personally. I have a large collection of erotic art stored away. Some of my favorite songs are sexy love ballads. Hell, I recently wrote an entire article dedicated to the amazonian sex goddess that is Steven Universe‘s Garnet.

I simply don’t ENJOY sex as much or in the same way as other people. I prefer to avoid direct sexual encounters because I feel they distract from what I really want out of a relationship; emotional support and intellectual stimulation.

I’m not gay; I’m panromantic

… And since I don’t f***, I also can’t be gay… not that it hasn’t stopped people from thinking that.

I think what bothers me most here is more what it implies about other’s views of homosexuality rather than their thoughts about me. It seems this only ever comes up as a negative when people ask or at least that’s how they come off.

Make no mistake, I do find myself attracted to women more often. But when all I want is an intellectual chat and a reassuring cuddle, it doesn’t really matter who I get it from as long the feeling is mutual.

Thankfully, this is one of those things that was more a problem in my youth than it is today. But it still comes up often enough where I wanted to bring it up here.

I’m not transgender; I just REALLY like crossplay

Back in my college drama club days, one of my most beloved roles was in the murder mystery Murder at Rutherford House as the incorrigibly fun-loving maid-servant Ruby Pinkbottom – a role written to be played by a man in a dress. To this day, it’s considered by many of my friends to be one of my best performances.

… As well it should be. I’ve had a LOT of practice with drag roles.

Costuming is one of my favorite hobbies. I love being able to become someone else for a few fleeting moments to escape the drab, boringness of real-life. Of course, when you’ve become things like aliens, vampires, and warriors often enough, even they get old after a while. So what else is there to explore but the opposite gender?

I guess the technical label for me would be ‘gender fluid’, but I definitely identify as male by default.

Basically, I cross-dress and cosplay for fun because it’s the closest I’ll ever come to being a real-life shapeshifter. So don’t be shocked if you see photos of me at a convention dressed as Bismuth in the future.

The Agent’s Thought Dump: Part 2 – More Brain Droppings

So many thoughts. And yet so few words. Source: SwanWaters

So many thoughts. And yet so few words. Source: SwanWaters

Once again, I’ve hit a point where all the thoughts in my brain space have been taking up space while not being substantial enough for a full article. Combined with an upcoming and sudden moving day that threw off a few plans, I’ve been more creatively strained than usual.

So, it’s time once again to have a mental cleaning day in hopes relieving my stress. Let’s begin with the obvious thought that’s (I hope) on everyone’s minds…

How is America not imploding right now?

Seriously, have you seen the news lately? People are freaking out about gangs of creepy clowns, cities are without safe drinking water, oil companies are defiling people’s homes, and our primary choices for our future leader are a corporate-sponsored Dolores Umbridge and a mentally unstable, geriatric Oompa-Loompa. In the words of Dexter Holland, “s*** is f***ed up.”

It almost feels like everyone in my country is suffering some kind of short-term memory loss that makes them forget all of the madness going on around them as soon as they fall asleep so they don’t make forward progress on the problem. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve long since entered a state of ‘optimistic pessimism’ where I just hope for a civil war/dictatorship/apocalypse to happen so I can stop losing my mind over it.

On a lighter note, since this is about decompressing my stress…

I need to add One Punch Man to my watchlist

Have you seen this s***? It’s literally an anime comedy deconstruction of the western comic book-style superhero where a guy has phenomenal strength and speed but is tortured by the fact that having overwhelming power makes things too simple for him and all he wants is to be able to feel the emotions swirl inside him as he battles for the earth.

Basically, what if a normal guy had Superman’s power?

Add to that the fact that it seems hilariously over-the-top, and I can see why it’s taking off.

Speaking of anime that’s peaked my interest…

There is an anime where Buddha and Jesus are roomies

I wish I was talented enough to make that sentence up.

I’m not even joking; there exists a slice-of-life comedy called Saint Young Men where Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ live on earth and share an apartment in modern day Tokyo while fumbling with mortal human culture to hilarious ends.

Screw political correctness; I need this to be dubbed into English. I must live in a world where Jesus identifies with us bloggers.

Why Is Steven Universe‘s Garnet Sexy? (And Does She Have To Be?)

There's nothing I could say about this article that this sly, knowing wink doesn't already say. Source: Steven Univerce Wiki

There’s nothing I could say about this article that this sly, knowing wink doesn’t already say.
Source: Steven Universe Wiki

I’m often the master of jumping on bandwagons late. Most of that is over-cautiousness; I don’t want to be the guy that got all hyped up for something only to find out that it was lackluster or worse, detrimental.

To that end, I have my reasons for not getting into Steven Universe until now. But, rest assured, it’s a fun show with a lot of well built and complex characters (everyone has their merits and hang-ups) that dares to challenge a younger audience with tougher, progressive ideas.

But one question about the show has been bouncing in my head lately that I’d like to present to you…

Why is Garnet so FREAKING hot?!

Now, when I say ‘why’, I’m not asking what makes Garnet the sultry amazon of The Crystal Gems; that much is obvious. She has a strong personality, a cool demeanor, is highly intelligent and wise, is capable of taking care of herself, and has very loving nature. Even on a visual design level, few people can resist the allure of her mysterious gaze from behind those hater-blocker shades that hide her bright, inviting, and captivating eyes. And that’s not to mention her plush, full lips and exaggerated figure courtesy of that staple of animated ladies – the Hartman Hips.

No, I mean to ask why she was made to be so easily sexualized. Does her ‘sexy and I know it’ schtick have any deeper meaning?

And, you know what? I think there is.

To bring the rest of us up to speed, Garnet is an outlier from her fellow gems in that she is Gem Fusion – the result of two other gems combining into a single gestalt form. This new gem has a personality and abilities that blend those of the constituent parts to make something greater than the sum of their parts.

… And Garnet takes all of this VERY seriously.

She is the only gem we’ve seen so far that has made the conscious decision to stay fused. And there’s a good reason for that – her two halves, Ruby and Sapphire, are crazy in love with each other and that makes Garnet the physical embodiment of that love by extension. Think of her as the world’s curviest, ass-kicking wedding ring.

Once you accept that Fusion in the Steven Universe… universe… is a metaphor for love and unity, then you’ll start to apply that logic to all of the aspects of romance. And yes, that leads into sexuality as well.

Basically, Garnet needs to be sexy – to evoke the feelings of love and attraction on sight alone – because she’s the one that has to carry the message of love and it’s burden throughout the series. Whether it’s helping a young couple understand this new phase of their lives together, putting down a mean girl that wants to break up a healthy relationship, or coming face to face with a terrifyingly PC rape metaphor, it’s her job to show that real love always wins.

If Steven Universe is a modern Greek myth, Garnet is our Aphrodite – coming down from Olympus to preach the gospel of the heart.

P.S.: To all of you who found this by accident while looking for dirty Garnet fanart, I hope you learned something and you are welcome. :)

Why People Hate YouTube Heroes

Wow, YouTube’s been piling up the hate lately.

Last time we discussed YouTube’s shenanigans, I might have been a bit too harsh on them. Regarding their new Advertiser-Friendly policy, I can understand why they employed it. They have to appease their advertisers and creators, so they created a system to remove ads from videos that advertisers don’t want to be associated with while allowing the creators an easier means of contesting the demonetization claims.

My issue was with how openly the language could be interpreted and how easily it could be exploited. But, as a system to appease all parties, I get it; it makes sense.

There is NO excuse, however, for YouTube Heroes.

For those not in the know, YouTube Heroes is a new experimental system where YouTube is extending the job of editing and regulating content to the viewing audience and rewarding them with new privileges based on a ‘level up’ style system – privileges like direct communication staff members and workshops that high-profile creators should probably have by default.

What’s more, part of the job of people using the YouTube Heroes program is to report inappropriate content like offensive comments and videos.

Basically, YouTube is asking you to do their job with no pay. Hmm, why does THIS sound so familiar?

But the bigger issue here isn’t unpaid labor, it’s UNSKILLED labor. YouTube is putting the power of content management in the hands of people who, judging from the average comment section, are quick to anger and would be the most likely to flag down videos and comments – not because they were inappropriate – but because they just didn’t agree with them.

Unless YouTube comes out and says that they have a plan to ensure the quality of those using the service (unlikely, as they have disabled comments on the video to quiet the negative feedback), this is a terrible idea. Nearly every attempt to include the digital community in a major business has ended in failure purely by virtue of the fact that they can’t control the actions of random strangers. It’s the business equivalent of handing chimpanzees machetes and NOT expecting them to hack up a few people.

In short, my open letter can be simplified as such; Youtube, start doing your own damn job. And if you don’t have the people to pull it off, stop being so stingy and expand like a responsible business should.

Archive News: Vacations, Projects, and Moving Days

Good morning, Field Operatives!

Those of you who have been following me on Facebook and Twitter are probably already aware of how much has been going on lately in my life. Most noteworthy, I’ve been working on a few personal projects (Halloween prep, planning to get a real estate licence, etc.) while getting ready to move into a new, bigger, better apartment.

Add to that how my current day job doesn’t allow much in terms of breaks (thanks again, New Hampshire labor laws) and I’m a little spent.

So, I’m going to take this week off to catch up on stuff as well as spend some much needed time with my family. I’ll be back next week with more idle musings.

In the meantime, for your entertainment, I’ll recommend you to a YouTube channel I hope to one day be as witty, amusing and insightful as; Grade A Under A. Enjoy and I’ll be back soon.