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.

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The Agent’s #UnpopularMusicOpinionHour Recap

Last Friday, my followers on Twitter likely saw a barrage of posts with the trending hashtag #UnpopularMusicOpinionHour which I actually posted non-stop for an ACTUAL hour (an impressive feat considering that I don’t like being glued to Twitter for very long).

But, the problem with Twitter is that it’s hard to convey an opinion with just 140 characters. So, this week, I’m going to elaborate on just a few of those posts to better get my point across.

“Some of the best music ever came from Super Nintendo Games.”

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I was born just as gaming was pulling itself out of the Stygian abyss of the North American gaming crash and started gaming when I was four. Back then games were much simpler in terms of visuals, gameplay, and story. So, developers had to rely on other stimuli to build an environment that left an impression on the player.

Music, to me, is one of those ways that’s often overlooked. Can you honestly say you’d feel the same hurried dread in Super Castlevania 4 without “Dance of the Holy Man” in the background or the blood-boiling hype of Killer Instinct without its iconic theme?

To be fair, games have always been home to memorable music and still come out with great soundtracks to this day. But, this era of games will always hold a special spot in my brain space.

“Getting kinda sick of Katy Perry, actually.”

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Believe it or not, there was a mythical time when I didn’t mind Katy Perry. At first, she seemed like just another well-intended, but heavily misguided female empowerment icon (the irony is that most women who TRY to be feminist icons are doing a huge disservice to womankind by trying too hard) that I could easily ignore.

But, as time goes by, she’s become completely obnoxious. She flips frantically between over-polished, you-go-girl anthems like “Roar” to sleazy, sex-as-power, pop dreck a la “Birthday.” As a result, both come off as uninformed at best and disingenuous at worst.

My point is that Katy needs to pick an angle and stick with it.

“I can’t stand the sound of Robert Plant’s voice.”

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I actually caught some hate from friends for this in the past. So let’s get something straight; I actually like Led Zeppelin. It’s just lead vocalist Robert Plant I can’t stand.

It always bugged me how whiny his voice was. I’d be thoroughly enjoying “Black Dog” right up until Plant’s dog whistle voice (heh… see what I did there?) pulls me out of the moment.

I think the only time that I wasn’t thrown out of the moment by Plant was the classic “Kashmir.” I’d also put “Immigrant Song” on that list, but I feel Karen O caught the feel better.

“Most of the people we call ‘One-Hit Wonders’ deserve more credit.”

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I actually delved into this before, but it begs to be repeated – so-called “One-Hit Wonders” tend to keep doing good work in music long after their most well-known hit. And I’m not just talking about long-forgotten tracks like last time. Most do some amazing stuff behind the scenes.

For example, do you love game soundtracks as much as I do? Then you might be surprised to know that Kurt Harland, the composer for the amazing Legacy of Kain series of games, is also the lead vocalist for Information Society. Do you love Adele? Then you should thank Dan Wilson of Semisonic for writing and producing her biggest hit.

Damn, now I just want to write another one-hit wonder article. Guess THAT’S going on the list.

On the Oregon Attacks, the Internet, and “Ya’ll-Queda”

Heh, okay, that made my day.
Source: Brave New Films

 

I didn’t initially want to write about this because I was trying to avoid depressing topics. But, I realized that I would be neglecting my duties as a social commentator if I ignored this.

For those that don’t follow the news, an armed “militia” descended upon the Maltheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon in protest of an arson sentence passed on two local ranchers. The backstory is INCREDIBLY complicated, but this Rolling Stone article sums it up nicely.

Long story short, everyone is P.O.’ed at the militiamen for the attacks and the federal government for their lack of response. So, we denizens of the internet took matters into our own hands by doing what we do best – troll the s*** out of them.

Frequenters to Tumblr and Twitter will have likely noticed hashtags like #Yallqueda or #VanillaISIS attached to stories about these hooligans. These were meant to poke fun at the militia for committing an act that is as effective to the situation as, to quote a well-known essay from my generation, “… trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”

But here’s the catch; god knows these people deserve all the ridicule they get, but I can’t help but feel that the way we ridicule them diminishes the problems they’re causing. Remember, these are armed and hostile terrorists that invaded a protected territory. We need to take them seriously or else they’ll just keep acting up like the spoiled child that knows his parents are too lazy to punish him for misbehaving.

On the other hand, remembering that this is an act of terrorism, it’s important to let them know that we won’t flinch when they start flexing and posturing. And there are few better ways to get the point across that we aren’t afraid of them by insulting them to their faces. It’s very similar to the tactics we recently employed when we dedicated an entire day to trolling ISIS on Twitter; it doesn’t stop the problem, but it helps to let them know how ineffective their scare tactics are.

I call this “the Prince Vegeta Diplomacy.” Much like how Vegeta acts in Dragonball Z, we need to acknowledge our enemy as a problem that needs to be dealt with (preferably more swiftly and with less toying around than the prince, of course), but still treat them as more of a nuisance than a credible threat.

So, you know what, keep those hashtags flowing. They remind the enemy how pathetic they are and force the people that are sworn to protect us to acknowledge their existence and act. Words are the weapons of choice for the modern Digital Soldier and the best of us now how to keep them sharp, honed, and wield them with unmatched finesse.

Sharing the Love and the Screams with Screaming Soup!

For those of you who never thought you’d see a skeletal cowboy, a humanoid catfish, a werecoyote, and a native american toilet paper mummy riff on bad movies over their favorite drinks – here you go.
Source: screamingsoup.com

 

As those of you who follow on Facebook and Twitter know, I’ve been getting a lot of love lately and I try to give it back with my #ThursdayThanks posts. But I wanted to give a special thanks to someone with big aspirations whose work I really enjoyed.

Not long ago, I got a message on Twitter about a horror movie review show called Screaming Soup! that seemed interesting. Normally, I ignore these door-to-door tactics, but I decided to check it out on a whim to see what it was about. I was not disappointed with the results. So, to show my appreciation and spread awareness for a fellow enterprising creative talent on the ‘net, I’m going to give a constructive critique in as close to the style of the show as a literary medium will allow.

Screaming Soup! seems to get it’s name from the now canceled show Talk Soup that spun off into simply The Soup. Just as those shows recap and review talk shows and general pop culture respectively, Screaming Soup! does the same with B-grade horror and monster films.

So what sets this show apart from other horror and schlock film critics? How about the fact that it features an animated cast? In other words, imagine The Soup revamped for horror films with a format akin to Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and hosted by Deadwest -a man that’s equal parts Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, and Svengoolie. That’s Screaming Soup! in a nutshell.

Looking at the negatives of the show, or “the sours” as Deadwest would say, most of them fall on the show’s opening title sequence. Don’t get me wrong; the theme song is catchy as hell and I will catch myself headbanging to it if no one’s watching. But I do take some objections with it in some places.

For example, there’s one lyric in the theme that refers to “gay-ass monsters made of clay.” Really, dude? You’re using gay as an insult in 2015? I get that most of the humor of this show revolves around immature comedy that spoofs the man-childish glee of bad horror cinema, but there’s a fine line between immature and borderline insulting. I don’t think anyone involved with the show has a “God Hates Fags” sign in their closet, but it does make defending otherwise brilliant work that much more difficult.

Also, as awesome as the rest of the theme is, I feel it runs a bit too long. Episodes tend to run five to nine minutes and the title sequence takes up about a minute of it. If it was trimmed by half to make room for one or two more clever jokes and the lyrics were changed from “gay” to “lame”, I wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest.

Those jokes are a good jumping-off platform to the good parts of the show – “the sweets” if we’re still using Deadwest’s terminology.

As stated, the humor is very similar to Space Ghost: Coast to Coast tinged slightly off-color to reflect the nature of the types of exploitation horror that tend to dominate the line up. Recurring gags of this nature include the “Pissing Time” clock that counts the seconds and minutes of time where nothing happens in the movie and you can safely run to the bathroom, the “Bogus Scares” counter that tracks the annoying jump scares, an end movie body count, and a “Tit Counter” that tallies up the number of times the actresses go topless.

Another awesome thing about this show is how well characterized the cast is despite having just one guy, one girl, and a text-to-speech program for one lady to do all the voices. Everyone comes together to bring color to the setting of the Howl Inn. From Deadwest’s lovable invisible specter girlfriend Mandy to the urban hipness of the blaksploitation throwback monster Eb’nstein to the house sad-sack and Creature from the Black Lagoon parody Catfish, all of them add character to the show and help to keep things fresh (Sidenote: my favorite character so far has to be Peyote; the werecoyote trucker).

I mentioned before that the episodes run significantly shorter than the average review show, but I feel that works to it’s benefit. Animation, even simple animation like this, takes a lot of time and effort and you need to cut corners where ever you can. Screaming Soup! takes advantage of shorter running times by cutting out the plot-point by plot-point analysis style of other shows and removing the spoilers that they would have contained as a result.

Now, I’m not in the business of rating the films, games, and shows I talk about like Deadwest. But if I were, I’d have to say that Screaming Soup! is a solid four out of five that, with a little polish, could become a five out of five in future seasons. It’s inventive enough to stand out as welcome addition to the world of online film critics. I recommend this show to fans of Count Jackula and Diamanda Hagan who want something new, want fewer spoilers, or are just looking for something to enjoy during their lunch break.

But what do I know? Like Deadwest himself, I also like Killer Tomatoes.

Crisis Management for Internet Personalities (or What JonTron Can Teach Us About Public Relations)

And THAT would be half your problem, sir.
Source: Know Your Meme

Not long ago, several of my preferred news sources and my Twitter feed were flooded with news about a supposed controversy involving popular video game critic Jon Jafari; AKA JonTron and his choice of words regarding his criticism of Sony’s “Playstation Now” streaming game service.

The problem could be said to have began on August 2nd of this year when, in a choice of words seeming meant to offend the politically correct crowd, Jafari called out Playstation Now’s hourly rental system on Twitter for being archaic and user unfriendly by calling it, “the most painfully retarded thing I’ve seen in a while.”

Naturally, this sparked a wave of anger over his choice of words. And while I’m certain that he meant no harm, my background in Communications (particularly as it relates to Public Relations and Crisis Management) can’t help but see obvious mistakes in Mr. Jafari’s actions in retrospect. Today, I’d like to clarify everything that went wrong to help Jon and others avoid a P.R. nightmare like this in the future.

First, the fact that he actually used the word “retard” as an insult. Ignoring how flimsy name calling is as a debate stance, this was just insensitive. There may be nothing wrong with the word in and of itself (to retard something just mean to slow or impede and, in the context of human health, refers to a condition that slows or halts physical or mental development), but using it as a dysphemism for stupidity rather than for its intended purpose to describe a serious condition is just going to far.

Secondly, it seems Mr. Jafari doesn’t understand the difference between acting as himself and acting in character or at least can’t convey the difference well. If JonTron, the person he portrays on his show, said these words, he might have gotten away with it with little more than a few ugly looks. That’s because those kind of over reactions are what we expect from that character. However, when Jon Jafari, not JonTron, calls something “retarded”, it seems as if he actually believes that it’s okay to minimize the seriousness of a condition and makes him look unsympathitic. This obviously isn’t true, but that’s how it looks.

Thirdly, more damning than his choice of words was his reaction to being told to stop. When asked to stop by others, Mr. Jafari responded with more off-color jokes devaluing the opinions of the people he calls his fans. To make matters worse, he proceeded to release an official statement that read as follows:

“I don’t usually respond to this kind of criticism, but this has gotten so out of hand and always happens when I make some sort of ‘controversial’ statement on twitter. To you people who get offended at every turn: Why don’t you try focusing your civil unrest at something that dearly needs it, like the fact that today the Israeli air force struck a school with a missile killing 10 people, most of which were children. I suppose you’re all ok with that, as long as the missile didn’t call the school ‘retarded’ first, right? My job as a comedian is to make people laugh and feel better about their lives. So no, in the midst of so many other pressing matters in the world, I will not apologize for calling a PS4 retarded. I encourage you to look at yourselves and think about what really matters.”

Again, this devalued the opinions of his fans. Yes, it is a shame that there so many other more serious problems around the world, but there is no need to make the world less tolerable with hateful language. It’s that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Not to mention the act of bringing up serious world events smacks a bit of trying to redirect the issue (again, obviously not what he meant to do).

Mr. Jafari gave a partial apology for bringing up the climate in the middle east as a defense, but still has not apologized for the comment that started it all. Still, I’d like to think that some good can come from anything – even a hot mess like this. As such I’ve learned the following: 1) Even if you think PC-ness is bogus, you still need to watch your mouth, 2) If you act in character for a living, be sure to leave that character at the office before continuing the rest of your day, 3) What you say can be damaging. How you treat what others say in turn can be cataclysmic, and 4) I was absolutely right when I said that Mr. Jafari doesn’t know when a joke is over. Here’s hoping he knows now.

Socially Awkward Media: Things We Need To Stop Doing On The Internet

Source: Blessing.im

Honestly, I’m just jealous I didn’t think of that pun first.
Source: Blessing.im

For my last semester of college, I’ve have been taking a rather intense course on social media. It’s a bit tricky to implement what I’ve learned into my own self-promotion, but I’m walking away with some useful resource tools like HootSuite and Spotify under my belt.

More importantly, I’ve learned about the things that I and everyone else desperately need to avoid or stop doing. A vast majority of these things would seem to be obvious, but alas, we still still go out of our way to make complete fools of ourselves on the public stage of the Internet where anyone can find your stupidity and judge for it accordingly.

Relationships have ended over Twitter, jobs have been lost over LinkedIn, and criminals have been caught over Facebook (although, granted, most of them probably deserved it) all because they apparently didn’t get the memo that not every aspect of their lives need to be online. Here are some things to bare in mind while using the social network of your choice.

Don’t Agree To The End User Agreement/Privacy Policy Without Reading It

Why, yes. Yes you do, as a matter of fact.
Source: Owned.com

It’s a joke told around the web; The phrase, “I have read to and agree to the terms of service,” is the greatest lie we have ever told. But who is actually hurt more by this act of negligence?

Most people are aware of the people claiming that they refuse to let platforms like Facebook claim right to their photos and posts, but those people have already lost the fight. When you click that OK button, you have signed your life away. You have already agreed to let the company use your information as they see fit.

Before anyone asks, yes, I understand that I use many of the social networks that are guilty of these practices. The difference is that I understood the risks and accepted them as a necessary means of self-promotion. I understand that it can be daunting, but you really need to get past ‘Too long; Didn’t read’ for your own good and security.

Stop Posting Bad Pictures/Status Updates About Yourself

Source: PopLicks.com

Please… Stop inflicting your awfulness upon us, you guys. There are women and children present.
Source: PopLicks.com

You would think it would go with out saying that you shouldn’t post that drunken selfie on your Instagram account, but people still do it anyway.

Understand that social media is a public platform. The truth of that is in the title; SOCIAL media. It’s not just you, your friends, your family, and the magic pixies that live in your computer to make it work. Absolutely EVERYONE can see what you do.

As an experiment, go to a co-worker or some other person you know who doesn’t have you as a friend on Facebook. Now have them search for pictures of you on their account and see how many things come up that would kill your chances at finding a new job. Congratulations! You just successfully simulated the actual job screening process!

So the next time you get the idea to tweet, “ZOMG, totes gettin crunk @ dorm 2nite. #YOLO,” please would you kindly beat yourself in the head repeatedly with the narrow edge of your tablet to remind you how bad of an idea that would be.

Stop Posting Bad Pictures/Status Updates About OTHER PEOPLE

Source: Cat Addicts Anony-Mouse

You think that’s bad? You should see her Pinterest page.
Source: Cat Addicts Anony-Mouse

If you think the shock of finding self incriminating evidence that you willingly put on YouTube is bad, imagine the pangs of betrayal your girlfriend will feel when she dumps you because she lost that big promotion over the video of her in a drunken cat fight with her sister that you posted.

Posting bad content of your peers is possibly worse than posting it of yourself. Not only have you ruined someone else’s life, but now you’ve lost their support AND have made yourself a guilty party in the eyes of others via association. It’s the double-tap of social media faux-pas!

Many people like to say, “don’t post anything you don’t want your grandmother see,” as a rule of thumb. Honestly, that’s just not good enough. Instead, make a point of not posting anything that you or your associations can’t say/do in a mall or some other public venue without either being judged accordingly or removed by security.

Like Diamonds, The Internet Is Forever

Source: umass.247sports.com

Did you catch that? Good.
Source: umass.247sports.com

Take some time to check and see how difficult it would be to close a Facebook account. Believe me when I tell you it is not a simple undertaking.

Part of the beauty of the Internet is that it serves as a catalog and repository for information and records. Unfortunately, this means that most of what you see on the web and many of the things you can’t see will still be accessible for decades after you have long since forgotten that it existed… even if you don’t want it to.

Even if you do delete it, odds are it has already been recorded and saved by someone. Things like the Internet Archive allow anyone to pull a history of a site’s updates and posts with amazing ease and can easily show one’s own failings.

I believe that the dual hosts of Radio Dead Air’s ‘What The **** Is Wrong With You‘ feature, Nash Bozard and Tara Deenihan, put it best when they said that we will soon have no viable candidates for the presidency because of permanent online records. All of this because people can’t seem to understand how difficult it is to get stupid off of the Internet once it is on.

What Can You Do To Fix This?

At this point, sadly, very little. Once you’ve posted something, the damage has already been done. People have seen your ignorance and it has most likely been carefully documented. However, there are ways to soften the blow.

First, look into services like SimpleWash. It’s a totally free service that searches Facebook and Twitter for possible undesirable keywords to help you remove them. You’ll still have to look through the pages for yourself, but it’s a good start to get you going.

While your at it, just try putting your name into various search engines and see what comes out. Typically you only need concern yourself with the first page or two of results since most people never search that far. Even if you can’t remove a frightening result, you can at least prepare for it should the question ever arise, e.g. ; “That’s not me,” (you’d be surprised how many people may share your name) or, “I was very young and still learning then.”

Stay smart, keep your records clean and know your story. You never know who may be your next boss.