Why Do Gamers Hate Gender Mods?

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Modifying an old console game is pretty easy. The extracted cartridge ROMs are usually only a few kilobytes, can be reverse engineered with readily available tools, and then played on modern computers with equally available emulators. ROM mods have been popular since the mid 90s when computers became fast enough to trick old games into believing they were accessing the consoles they were made for – which is amazingly resource intensive. Such mods can be found all over the internet. Hackers frequently use them as mashups, putting Mario in a Sonic game, Sonic in a Megaman game, Megaman in a Sonic game. You get the idea. Silly fun. One modder actually hacked the often maligned Atari 2600 E.T. to be actually playable as opposed the the mess that crashed the video game market.

More recently parents have been hacking games specifically to change the gender of the protagonist – often male to female – for their daughters to enjoy. Our kid wasn’t into games at all until I downloaded the Zelda Starring Zelda and Super Princess Peach Sister mods. It may be because we’ve inundated her with female lead stories most of her life that she’s just not interested in playing as a boy. It could also be because she’d only seen male game heroes before and she didn’t think the medium was made for her until she saw the female heroes. I don’t think she has the words yet to describe what logic changed her mind, but it certainly changed.

Just this week a father of a six month old girl edited the Super Nintendo hit A Link to the Past to be gender neutral, and like previous gender mods some tweens and middle aged virgins are losing their shit over it. These same gamers, who have been passing around the aforementioned mashup mods for over a decade, are suddenly incensed that anyone would disturb the integrity of a classic game. Here’s some of the priceless whining:

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Says the white boy for which 95% of all media is aimed at. People like to see themselves represented. Check out this 106 year old lady dancing over finally seeing a black president. #blackjoymatters.

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As a matter of fact, someone has done exactly that! And look! No insane comment section filled with whiny snots questioning its legitimacy!

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This guy’s obviously never heard of Marcel Duchamp. Also funny that he’s defending the visage of a woman while decrying the idea of women inserted into a game. In reality, the ROM edit is much like L.H.O.O.Q. in that the original is unharmed and freely available without the beard if that’s the version you prefer.

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Yes, game companies! Make more female protagonists! But, evil fathers, don’t set the dangerous precedent of making your kid think she can reverse engineer technology and improve it to suit her needs. No one’s ever done that before and succeeded in life.

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Unless you want to play Zelda as Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame. That would be fucking awesome! And, of course, there is nothing about the actual mechanics of the game or even the design of the sprite that is incompatible with making the player one gender or the other. Link has pink hair, for shit’s sake.

It’s obvious all this complaining is really about keep girls from playing games at all. If a girl plays as a girl she might like it and then she’ll demand more heroines in games and then, well… armageddon, I guess.

White Male Matrix Almost Complete

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The above image is the prototype stage of the White Male Matrix. In it white guys are strapped into seats and outfitted with VR goggles while being used as batteries to power America’s increasingly browning cities. Inside their virtual worlds the white men are shown a society where everything ever promised them by a right wing politician is fulfilled. They live tax free and can graze their soon to be barbecued animals in national parks. All the women are virgins that look like Pamela Anderson, have sex with them on command, and never complain to HR. Colored folks are all taxi drivers, bodega owners, and maids and laugh heartily at any offensive jokes made in their direction. The white men are already so deluded they don’t even notice anything’s changed from actual reality and settle in without any fuss. Some even brought their own goggles to the Matrix compound.

This may seem like a harsh solution, but no one wants another mass shooting on their conscience.

Mission Impossible: Sexism Subterfuge

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I just watched Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in a fit of illness induced boredom. That’s usually how I watch Hollywood action films, the previous MI movie being viewed on a transcontinental flight. Ghost Protocol wasn’t so bad on the sexism spectrum, with two entire, active female characters and one on a revenge mission for her murdered boyfriend – a flip on the usual “girlfriends in refrigerators” trope. But Rogue Nation… phew! So I looked the film up to see what others had said already. I was shocked at what I found.

Apparently there was a lot of grousing before the film was released about it’s female lead, Rebecca Ferguson, being put on the poster in a ridiculously sexy butt pose. Simon Pegg, one of the film’s stars, actually publicly apologized for it. Shocking right? But like one of Pegg’s other movies, this seems like it was a feint to distract from the content of the actual movie. While Fuerguson’s character is a highly skilled minority feisty, she is also depicted as pure sex through out the entire movie. The constant torrent of her half naked and posing with weapons makes the poster look like no big deal. Let’s take a look at all the shots that Pegg didn’t apologize for:

First, a nice 15 second ass shot up the stairs.

Ferguson does her best Mrs. Robinson impression while she pulls a gun out of her vagina.

As if trying to explain the term “male gaze” to us, the director has Ferguson rise out of the water on full display to the male bookends of gaziness.

Ferguson presents her pantied tush to the audience while taking off her top to get dressed. Simon Pegg is in both this scene and the previous one. Where was his moral outrage then?

Lastly, with no real women to exploit at the moment there’s this little, well-lit stripper ad in back of Tom Cruz as he talks on the phone. If you think that framing was an accident you’re an idiot.

All in all, Rogue Nation’s poster was just a taste of what the movie had to offer in terms of female objectification. Dwelling on it was a great way to turn the conversation away from the movie itself as if the poster was the only problem and Simon Pegg made it all better. Rogue Nation had a total of four women in it: Ferguson’s super spy, the spy in the record shop that get’s wacked, the Austria Prime Minister’s wife, and the girl in the strip club poster. None of them ever speak to each other about anything. This 2015 movie fails every standard you can name and all we talked about was the poster. For shame.

Dream Big Friends Dream Bigger Than Most

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Dream Big Girls is the absolute best girl’s doll idea to ever hit Kickstarter or anywhere else. The concept is similar to iBesties, which I profiled a while back. Make a bunch of dolls based on personality and not looks. Except where iBesties fails miserably by painting their baby faces up like women three times their age, Dream Big Girls succeeds by creating funny, stylized faces without any inappropriate sexualization.

Dream Big Girls are all fully posable with twenty-one points of articulation. That’s rare in a girl toys, which are usually only meant for dressing and looking at. This lets the doll move and play in all the ways your girl does. They’re dressed in sensible, active, but stylish clothes and their bodies are a shape you’d expect to find on a healthy 7-11 year old girl. They are the brain children of professional toy makers Sun Min and David Horvath, the makers of the insanely popular Ugly Dolls line.

As of this writing the Dream Big Girls Kickstarter is 6 days from completion with less than half the money needed to fund. Remember that a Kickstarter only gets it’s money if it’s fully funded so if they don’t make your goal you will get your money back. And with their professional credentials the odds of the line not materializing if it does get its money is slim to none. So pre-order a doll today and make this project happen. Our girls deserve toys like this.

Why Do Fashion Magazines Still
Photograph Live Humans? UPDATED

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I just got wind of the above video posted by what seems to be a well known photo-retoucher, Pratik Naik. In it he condenses a painful looking hour-and-a-half of photoshop time into seven equally grueling minutes. Over the course of the video Naik removes every trace of evidence that this woman is a living thing. He erases pores, moles, lines, hairs, and fuzz until all that’s left is a smooth, plastic looking surface. He also spends a good amount of time reshaping the woman’s nose for reasons I don’t fully understand. In an interview with Petapixel Naik said his work “should [be] what a person looks like on their best day”.

Naik is, essentially, a monster. A man who could only be satisfied by the artificial aesthetics of a RealDoll sex toy. And yet he’s not alone. This is par-for-the-course in the fashion magazine world. We’re constantly seeing the photoshop disasters they create out of living women. We just don’t often see the actual work that goes into it. And it is a lot of work. So my question is: why go to so much trouble photographing pesky humans with all their insane flaws when you could just shoot mannequins and get the same result?

It sounds cheeky, but it’s a serious question. Look at how much work and money it takes to create a professional model – the searching, the personal trainers, the dieting, the drugs, the salary. Then you have to paint them up and dress them and then edit the living shit out of them in post production. You could kill two of those steps by using dolls. Construct a few faces and bodies in the exact proportions you want out of easily cleanable material, put on some makeup, and shoot. Building the doll, or actroid, requires an initial cost, naturally, but it’s non-recurring. The photo shoot would also be cheaper with artificial women. You pose them and light them and you’re done. No dealing with difficult personalities or effort tearing down inhibitions. They’ll do anything you want! Now, there would still be some digital work. There’s contrast, color correction, and burning and dodging. But look at how easy Adobe’s made it to force a living woman to smile. Surely a plastic one would be even easier.

Hey Glamour! Vogue! Allure! This idea? It’s yours. Have it with my blessing! You could call it cruelty-free modelling. Or just don’t tell anyone at all. We won’t notice.

Only one week after I wrote this Louis Vuitton has announced it’s using a computer generated model from the popular video game series “Final Fantasy” to show off it’s new bag line. I approve!

Supergirl Tries to Have it Both Ways

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I just finished watching the Supergirl pilot. It was a muddled first outing filled with some odd and contrived plot choices as well as some cringe worthy dialog. I generally agree with Caroline Siede’s review on the A.V. Club. Weak pilot with potential.

I would also add that the show needs to fine tune what it wants its audience to be. It’s shallow and borderline silly as if it’s appealing to a general audience. However, it delves into dating tropes and violence that no one under 15 should witness. For instance, the fights were exciting but bloodless until the episode’s bad guy immolates himself with a blade to the heart. Kind of dark for a show being labelled “upbeat”. I’d say most of the show is inappropriate for those girl scouts Melissa Benoist was posing with earlier this year.

And, like it’s tone, Supergirl the show flip flops by making some of its girl-power points while being what it says it’s criticizing. Most notably there is a much talked about scene where Supergirl is trying on new super costumes and walks in donning one that she “wouldn’t even wear to the beach”. Major slam against the sexual exploitation of female comic book heroes… while clearly sexualizing the star of the show. And all of this set to a song who’s lyrics include “Shes built, shes stacked, all the curves that men like”. Mmmm hmmmm.

If you’re wondering how the show could possibly make its point about a skimpy outfit if no one is wearing it, there’s a rather obvious solution: Supergirl walks in with the very obviously small amount of fabric on a hanger and says “I’m not even putting this on!” Bam! Message received.

On the racial diversity front I approve of black Jimmy Olsen and frown heavily on the very talented Faran Tahir’s thoughtless casting as the generic Middle Eastern bad guy. Sure, he’s an alien. But he’s a MUSLIM ALIEN! SCREEEEEAAAAAAM!!!

The Women of Mr. Robot

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MR. ROBOT -- "da3m0ns.mp4" Episode 104 -- Pictured: (l-r) Portia Doubleday as Angela, Frankie Shaw as Shayla -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/USA Network)

We watched Mr. Robot with a side of “meh”. Sure, it’s fun to see the technical parts of computing accurately depicted and hacking in-jokes used to good effect. But the unoriginal mishmash of The Matrix‘s programming rabbit-hole, Fight Club‘s dual-personality anarchy, and Star Wars‘ father-son-sister drama was as many parts eye-roll as is was fun. Hell, even Tyrell walking in on Sharon in the bathroom in search of sex is a reference to Chuck Palahniuk’s other book/film, Choke.

While Mr. Robot isn’t a horrible show for women, it’s not a great one by any means. Lenika Cruz does a great job of going over all the good and most of the bad in her Atlantic article. I’m pretty much in agreement with it except for one overlooked sin that makes he show seriously fall short: It’s fixation with the women in refrigerators trope.

No less than twice do we get extremely graphic, lingering looks at the murder of women. The first is the slit throat of Elliot’s sometimes girlfriend Frankie who dies because her drug dealer boss wants revenge for Elliot landing him in jail. The second is the insanely drawn-out, minutes long murder of Sharon Knowles by Tyrell in order to psych out his rival and her husband, Brian. In both cases a women dies, in an almost titillating way, as a means of getting to a man. Although the men who die in the story also meet grizzly ends (though none come as close to Sharon’s which we had to skip over because it just wouldn’t end), they do so as a result of their own actions, not because someone else needs to be taught a lesson. Like most tropes against women it’s meant to shock, but it’s really just more of the same.

There’s other little problems, like Joanna Wellick’s Lady MacBeth act, complete with washing her hands while giving Tyrell murder instructions and Elliot’s never seen, but often maligned mother who sounds like the type MRAs cite as the reason men should always get custody rights. Both are bewitching women acting on men who might be different otherwise. Those are minor in comparison. I hope that next season will bring less of this refrigerated women spree – ideally none at all. The show has the potential to be more than its cliched references now that its moved past it’s initial story line and into full blown post apocalypse mode. Or, you know, they could just start fighting zombies. Whatever.

Bee and Puppycat: Magical Hungry Stoner Girl Done Right

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I was initially weary of Bee and Puppycat, Natasha Allegri’s farcical Miyzaki-meets-Sailormoon series, because it seemed to be relying heavily on food jokes at the expense of its realistically proportion lead role. But sitting through it proved me wrong. There are a lot of eating jokes in B+PC but they aren’t mean or fat shaming. Bee is just a woman with a laid back attitude and a healthy appetite who eats when she’s hungry and no one gives her shit about it. She’s very much in the vein of stoner-dude characters like Jughead Jones, Shaggy Rogers, and Maynard G. Krebs. Plus she’s got a very kind male admirer in Deckard who loves to cook for her and with her. It’s really quite refreshing. Deckard’s sister, the “adult” of the story, is a computer programmer/Lucha Libre who’s always spot on in her observations.

I would suggest the comic version, published by Boom! Studios, as a must get. There is a collected volume of the first four issues and the other four that have been published are easy enough to find. The only problem I have with the comic is it’s a bit more focused on Bee’s day to day life than her crazy intergalactic temp agency adventures. It’s still fun, even if it tends to run off the rails.

The animated episodes, available free on Youtube, are a bit more of a mixed bag, but focuses more on fighting monsters than the easy going comic. The pilot is the best story, featuring B+PC’s original meeting, but it’s a tad bloody near the end. Production episodes one and two are pretty great in a surreal, Adventure Time kind of way. The most recent episodes, three and four, are not as kid friendly only in the fact that there is a crab constantly on the hunt for “cleavage” of various types. Obviously he’s a crab who likes to cleave things in half, but the sexual innuendo is obvious. There is also some fat shaming directed at Puppycat, the sidekick/outlaw-made-pet. I hate to ever say something will go over your kid’s head because, frankly, they absorb everything on some level, so you might want to check it out for yourself first.

Troll Site Accidentally Trolls Its Own

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Satire is hard. Especially when your audience is a bunch of idiots who’s positions are based completely on a malevolent sort of self-imposed ignorance. Such is the case with this faux advice column I found on a site dedicated to spoofing women’s and LGBT issues. The question posed was: How Can I Convince My 3-Year-Old They’re Transgender?

To be perfectly honest I didn’t know this was a troll site when I landed. The font, colors, and author portraits are all pretty accurate and I commend the author their attention to detail. I skimmed the question and thought, “This is an obvious hoax. Lets see how the columnist knocks it down.” Then I read the answer, which includes the line “No one wants a white, CIS male child, and the people who pretend they do are merely deluding themselves.” That’s when I realized the “columnist” was answering their own question. Unfortunately the majority of the audience didn’t figure it out.

As of this writing there are 222 comments, nearly all of which are something similar to the examples below:

how DARE you tell this other monster of a woman that attacking her childs gender is the proper way to be a mother!

A wore that gives advice is still a wore bitch.

Can you not see the mind blowing hypocrisy in this? We’re mean for not accepting your bullshit special snowflake standpoints, and you just go “lol oppress his masculine side he’ll turn into a woman”

Over two-hundred comments just like these. Wow. Granted, every 20 comments or so someone would say “This is satire”. Possible the same person. Maybe the article’s author. Who knows? No one seemed to notice them.

Meanwhile, this doesn’t seem to be a problem when it comes to The Onion, The Colbert Report, or the Borowitz Report, all of which satire actual conservative talking points and are far more subtle. I’m not saying there are no liberal nutcases out there. I write about some. I’ve just never seen that many of them utterly tricked by one of their own before. It’s a thing of beauty, really.

“Progressive” Aaron Sorkin Casts Aryan as Arab

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I googled and googled and nowhere, in all the hubbub over the new Steve Jobs biopic did I see one mention of the fact that yet another person of color is being played by a white guy. Steve Jobs may have dressed like Dieter from Sprockets, but he wasn’t a blue eyed Aryan. In fact, his father was Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian immigrant. Aaron Sorkin, one of Hollywood’s top liberals who’s sensitive to all kinds of liberal things, must not have read that part of Walter Isaacson’s epic biography of Jobs, because he cast based on the mock turtleneck instead of actual fact. Michael Fassbender is playing Jobs in the new movie, due out next month.

Job’s was light skinned, but his elegant nose, almond eyes an bushy eyebrows pretty clearly revealed his Mediterranean roots. Michael Fassbender, on the other hand, is German/Irish something or other. US Weekly calls Fassbender’s transformation in Jobs “shocking”. Shocking how? In that he looks just like he normally does and not like Jobs at all? They didn’t even cover his blue eyes with brown contacts. With those round glasses on he looks like a member of the Stasi, for Christ’s sake. Maybe he could have played Big Brother in Apple’s 1984 commercial, but Jobs himself? Look at these two guys next to each other. It’s a fucking joke!


I guess Jobs was just too successful to be an Arab. A country that jails a Muslim kid for doing extracurricular science projects just could never accept that a brown guy helped make the devices in your pocket and on your desk. Hell, he changed the entire face of consumer electronics more times than I can count. How dare we think he’s anything but white? Only white people are capable of succeeding. Anyone else must have got there through some kind of affirmative action program. Jobs was all garages and bootstraps! And fuck if we’re going to let little brown kids have anyone like them to look up to. That’s crazy talk!

BTW, I hear Sorkin is writing the Obama biography as we speak. He’s casting Ryan Gosling in the main role. It’ll be great!