Nerd Rage

There's been a lot of whining lately about whether or not Ben Affleck should play Batman, or what role Black Widow (or any female hero) should have in franchises like The Avengers or the upcoming DC Comics movies.  The loudest whining comes from the hardcore fanbase who have strong notions about how these franchises should work.  And it does seem like studios worry about these people when they make creative decisions - there has been talk about walking back "Batfleck".  Wonder Woman movies have been canceled because studios don't feel they can modernize the franchise without losing comic fans.

Mike Lawrence - Sadamantium
Mike Lawrence embodies nerd rage, but at least he's funny when he does it.

But I say, so what if the "hardcore fans" hate a creative decision?  Just ignore them!  Old-guard nerddom makes up a tiny fraction of the current geek and geek-friendly fanbase.  They're also a much narrower demographic, being mostly straight white men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  The actual audience for these movies - the ones whose butts are going to be in the seats - is much larger and far more diverse.

You have to weigh the effect of listening to the old guard against the benefit of moving in a new direction.  Listening might prevent some short-term blowback, but it also means perpetuating some of the worst parts of geek culture and geek media, including the marginalization and objectification of women, the tokenization and exclusion of minorities, etc.  When hardcore fans argue that any deviation from their established canon is bad, they're really arguing that narratives created in the 1950s and '60s - with all of the cultural baggage that implies - should be continued into the twenty-teens.

The current geek fanbase contains the trend-setters and taste-makers of the next generation.  We had a saying in college: "A tradition is anything that started before your freshman year."  If we take the time to change our stories to be more modern and inclusive now, those changes will be reflected in both the media and the perception of "canon" in five, ten, or twenty years.  We'll look back on the sexism of comics today the same way we look back on the camp of the Superman and Batman stories of the 1960s - as a curious, outdated artifact and nothing more.

So let us reject the calls for sameness, for established understanding of characters and their roles.  We can create new stories - not to cash in on a particular short-lived facet of the zeitgeist, but to be lasting additions that move our beloved franchises in completely new directions.  Let's remember that the best way to avoid negative press is to make a good movie.  And if a bunch of whiny, entitled man-children decide they're going to boycott then let them.  The old-guard nerds can't live without geek culture, but geek culture can certainly live without them.

Morning Roundup

A few things, personal, political, and just general:

We had to euthanize my cat Boss last week.  He had been in renal failure for well over a year, but it was a tumor that finally got him.  We'd been doing everything we could for him, including giving him subcutaneous fluids every other day, putting all sorts of medications in his food, and just generally babying him.  He was feisty to the end.  I like to think that he didn't suffer much; his behavior only really changed the last week or so before we took him to the vet.  Anyway, I'll miss him a lot.  He was a really, really good cat.

It's been a weird weekend.  Karen starts two weeks of night shifts, during which I won't see her very much, so of course the in-laws were here this weekend and I had a concert to play in, making it as difficult as possible to get any alone time together.  What we had we made the most of, though, for which I am very grateful.  We saw Captain Phillips together last night, and it was a very good movie, which brings me to my next point...

Watching Captain Phillips reminded me that the biggest differences between us and the Somalians are that (a) we can afford the trappings of civilization and (b) we have bigger guns and way scarier people than they do.  That is a fact that should not be overlooked - a lot of the horror that takes place in developing nations is borne of desperation, not a desire to harm or terrorize people.  Conversely, the fact that the Navy are the good guys comes from the fact that we Americans - and by extension our military - buy into a modern, egalitarian, patriotic narrative.  The best way to make the world a better place is, therefore, not to kill all the bad guys, but rather to make it a fair, equitable place where good government and responsible power are possible.

One more state joins the 21st Century!  Fifteen down, thirty-five to go.

Finally, I've figured out what it is about Google+ browser interface versus the G+ Hangouts Android app that drives me crazy:

  • With Hangouts in the browser, a green bar means a person is online, and bold means there are unread messages from that person.
  • On mobile, bold means they're online and a green speech bubble on their profile pic means... something (I honestly have no clue).

WTF, Google?


Music Plug #5: Christopher Tin

Many of you may be familiar with the award-winning trailer music for Civilization IV, "Baba Yetu".  In addition to winning a Grammy, it's been featured in a number of video game music concerts alongside classics from Nobuo UematsuKoichi Sugiyama, and Martin O'Donnell.

But Baba Yetu is just the first track on a larger, Grammy-winning album of international orchestral/electronic/choral music titled "Calling All Dawns".  Each of the songs on this album is in a different language, and while many are uplifting, all have strongly different themes.  Some are religious; "Baba Yetu" is a setting of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili.  Some are secular; "Rassemblons-Nous" is a French protest song.  All are powerful, rich, and definitely worth listening to.

You can hear the entire thing in sequence here, but you should really go throw some cash at Mr. Tin so he can keep composing.  Since it's in a single video, here's the track list:

  1. Baba Yetu - 0:00 - "Our Father" (The Lord's Prayer in Swahili)
  2. Mado Kada Mieru - 3:29 - "Through the Window I See" (Japanese seasonal poem)
  3. Dao Zai Fan Ye - 8:15 - "The Path is Returning" (Daoist meditation)
  4. Se É Pra Vir Que Venha - 11:31 - "Whatever Comes, Let It Come" (Portuguese meditation on death)
  5. Rassemblons-Nous - 15:46 - "Let Us Gather" (French protest song)
  6. Lux Aeterna - 20:13 - "Eternal Light" (Last movement of the Latin Requiem)
  7. Caoineadh - 24:12 - "To Cry" (Irish "keen", or funeral lament)
  8. Hymn Do Trojcy Swietej - 29:56 - "Hymn to the Holy Trinity" (Polish inspirational song)
  9. Hayom Kadosh - 36:45 - "This Day Is Sacred" (Hebrew hymn of rebuilding)
  10. Hamsáfár - 38:31 - "Journey Together" (Farsi inspirational song)
  11. Sukla-Krsne - 41:23 - "Light and Darkness" (Excerpt from the Bhagavad-Gita)
  12. Kia Hora Te Marino - 43:24 - "May Peace Be Widespread" (Maori benediction)