The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Bad Ideas’

Thoughts on a Thing

Posted by Matt on January 18, 2011

What, I’m still allowed to make some fun posts every once in a while.

An expansion on this old piece of shit.

I still happen to think that the Green Goblin is a super-silly villain (so, pretty much on par with 95% of the Spider-Man rogues gallery) who was somewhat arbitrarily chosen to be a ‘Big Bad’. Norman Osborn makes sense as a major bad guy for Spider-Man, but there’s no real connection between his psychosis and dressing up as a Halloween-themed criminal, unless you are to consider that the norm in the world of Spider-Man. So basically you have a cognitive dissonance situation where the evil mastermind who is your best friend’s dad and threw your first girlfriend off a bridge is also a guy who dresses up in a D&D costume, carries a purse, and flies around on a bat-shaped flying wakeboard throwing jack-o-lantern-shaped explosives. I can accept this idea, but it just means I have a hard time taking anyone’s argument that Green Goblin as a major villain seriously.

But that was then. Let’s talk about now. I think GG/NO’s status as a major part of an influential story has hurt the character in the long run. Technically, there shouldn’t even be a long run for the character…he died at the end of ‘The Night Gwen Stacy Died’, impaled on his own glider. And he stayed dead for a good long while, at least 25 years. From that, we got some interesting character development for Harry Osborn, leading to the semi-obvious conclusion of him donning the goofy Halloween gear himself. And then he died too, and that should have been the end of that. Hobgoblin and Jack-o-Lantern essentially stole all the Green Goblin’s gimmicks, so there was really no goblin-shaped void left in the Spider-Man mythos, either.

But then the Clone Saga happened. Most comics fans know all about that, but for those out of the loop, this is here for you to gain all you need to know about it, and lots you don’t need to know. In brief, it was an infamous overextended storyline that many think irrevocably damaged Spider-Man comics for years and years to come. One of the things the storyline did, basically as a way to finally kill it after the writers, artists, and editors got fucking sick of it, was to bring Norman Osborn back to life as the mastermind behind the events of the previous years of stories. They saw it as thematically sensible, but it started a downward spiral for the Osborn/Goblin duo that goes on to this day.

Norman Osborn works as a Spider-Man villain because he was Peter Parker’s best friend’s weird dad. If I’m remember the characterization of him in the first Spider-Man movie correctly, then that is what I imagine he works best at: sometimes he fills the father figure role in Peter’s life, sometimes he’s just a plain old jerk. But in the end, he’s a good villain BECAUSE of that personal connection; the Green Goblin is just a standard early-era Spider-Man villain with a twist, but that’s perfectly okay.

But once you start turning Norman Osborn into a conspiratorial puppet master, it takes what should be a somewhat smaller-scale character battle and makes it ridiculous. It gets worse: after his revival and into the modern Marvel era, Norman goes even further, becoming an insane evil genius who manipulates his way into a top position and then starts wrecking the entire Marvel universe. It just completely warps the character beyond any level of recognition. I thought he was just an unscrupulous businessman with a weird pastime; now he’s off-brand Lex Luthor? What’s the point?

Well, I think the point was that ‘Hey! He was the bad guy behind that important story! He should be central to the Marvel Universe in general, even when it doesn’t make sense!’ It’s a weird fanboy mentality that tries to translate the meta-importance and memorability of a character into importance and memorability within the fiction, regardless of what that actually means within the text. It’s the same point brought up by the recent Red Letter Media review of Star Wars: Episode III about Darth Vader: just because he’s an important villain to us as an audience doesn’t mean you need to turn him into the central figure of the story’s mythology. They were trying to do the same thing with Obsorn, essentially making him Marvel’s Lex Luthor AND Joker at the same time, which many of the creative minds behind it probably think is essential to such an IMPORTANT character.

Here’s the thing: it makes sense for Lex Luthor to have the level of importance he does. Not only is he the archenemy of the most famous superhero in the world, but his characterization from day one made it a possibility, whether he’s the golden age mad scientist or the modern corporate overlord. You could probably argue that the Joker has been overblown in much the same way as Osborn, but even so, he could still make sense within the wider context of DC’s superhero line. Osborn/Green Goblin, on the other hand, are so essentially tied to Spider-Man as a character, that it just doesn’t feel right to have him battle the Avengers. And it doesn’t even make sense for them to, either; Green Goblin would barely register as a second-string member of the Masters of Evil in terms of the kind of threat he would pose someone like Thor or Iron Man.

Now that Siege is long over (digression: I find it hilarious how quickly that supposedly back-to-the-basics approach represented by the ‘Heroic Age’ has been replaced by another dark crossover story) and Osborn is no longer the head of the most powerful agency in Marvel’s comics, I hope the creative forces at Marvel recognize some of these issues and can fix some of them. Of course, they’re probably not going to kill him again, so the central issue will remain.

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The World Hates Me

Posted by Matt on December 9, 2010

Why else would they give me a movie about boxing robots, a concept that is TOTALLY ME, directed by Shawn ‘Maestro of Mediocrity’ Levy?

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Posted by Matt on September 7, 2010

This might be the stupidest thing Star Wars has ever given me.

Oh wait, I just discovered this, starring this.

The self-proclaimed son of Palpatine, Trioculus was in actuality a pretender to the throne, usurping the role of Palpatine’s alleged son, three-eyed mutant Triclops.


Edit: More comedy here

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Posted by Matt on May 28, 2010

Apparently the latest movie punching bag is Sex and the City 2. I don’t know much about the show or the previous movie, but I think I get the gist if it enough to know that a plot involving the consumerist zombie protagonists going to Abu Dhabi is a strange thing indeed. It reminds me of the kinds of plots that journeymen screenwriters churn out for every feature-length adaptation of something that can not sustain a story beyond 30 minutes. Sitcoms, board games, silly cartoon characters, you name it.

So, if you have to write a movie script for one of the above, here’s a helpful list of story ideas that no one other than me will call you out on reusing:

* (X) go on world adventure/road trip across America, get involved with jewel thieves/smugglers
* (X) ‘s home is threatened by greedy real estate developer
* (X) inadvertently carry around top secret government technology, government tries to get it back from them
* (X) save the environment from evil corporation (not just greedy or negligent, but worse than Hitler)
* (X) get involved with the Mafia. Not the real Mafia, some cartoon bullshit version.
* (X) do the exact opposite of what they normally do, realize how wrong they are, and then go back to the status quo
* (X) get involved with some stupid regicide plot by the Duke of Dickface or whatever
* (X) go to another planet/dimension where ‘more epic’ things can happen
* (X) save/meet the President
* (X) are stranded on a desert island

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Posted by Matt on March 19, 2010

Things done in convenient list format:

Why the recently announced Playstation Move is off to a rocky start

1) “Price Point: Under $100

2)Look at it!

3) Price point: Under $100

Okay, that’s about all I got, but I really want to emphasize that price point. I’m under the assumption that this is meant to compete with the Wii, what with the controller looking almost exactly the same, and them releasing party games for it and all. Logic would seem to dictate that if it’s trying to compete with the Wii, it’s trying to compete for the Wii audience, AKA the so-called ‘Casual Crowd’. I mean, why else would Sony or Microsoft be releasing new controller types in the first place, if they didn’t want to tap into that new audience? So okay, we’ve established this.

So, you’re are a potential game console owner, who would likely fall into that ‘Casual’ audience. What would you rather buy: the game console that costs $200 and has an established brand name for what you’re looking for, or the console that could cost nearly twice that much for similar but less developed experience? This is what I don’t understand. Sony wants to compete with Nintendo, I’m assuming, so what they’re going to do is sell the same experience for more money? Are they out of their minds?

Some would likely try to argue that it’s worth the extra cash because it’s ‘HD’, but is there any evidence the new people Sony wants to buy the thing is interested in that at all? They’re barely interested in buying more than two games for the Wii, do you think they care if it has ‘modern’ graphics, a Second Life knock-off, and extra storage space? Fuck no, that’s what gamers care about.

Speaking of gamers, this will barely affect their numbers, either. I’m sure there will be some who will buy into the minor hype and shell out ‘under $100’ for the package so that they can use it with SOCOM 4 (which is one of the least interesting game announcements Sony could have made). But there’s also a whole slew of PS3 owners who have decided that the Wii is a Satanic device and are very disappointed that the other console manufacturers to take a similar route.

I don’t even take joy in making fun of Sony’s follies anymore. It’s just frustrating how half-assed and cynical this whole exercise appears. At least Natal looks like it might try to be a little more ambitious than it’s knock-off roots would imply. But not Sony; if there’s a road to success, Sony will take a completely different road that will send them careening off a cliff.

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Posted by Matt on February 3, 2010

No no no no no

I think that about sums it up.

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Posted by Matt on January 13, 2010

I’m going on a trip to Edmonton tomorrow, and will be there until next Tuesday. I might be taking my laptop, so I could always update from there. But just in case I don’t, see ya later losers!

Anyway, just for some late night indignity, look at this shit.

I mean, I make fun of this game a lot, because it seriously looks like the brain of a sugar-addled teenager from the 90s on a Todd McFarlane binge vomited onto God of War; but it really seemed like they were trying to distance themselves from the original text. Whether that is intentional or not is up to you. But here we are, with EA releasing its own edition of the classic with their laughable shit plastered on the cover. I wonder how many fans of the game will pick it up and feel gypped because it was entirely tit and finishing move-free.

With the game also getting an animated DVD tie-in (look at the fucking covers. I don’t know which is better: generic anime Dante in #1, generic gothic anime Dante #3, or Liefeldian Dante #5), EA is really trying to push this game as a big (multimedia *fingers crossed*) franchise, much like Dead Space. And also much like Dead Space, it’s the safest ‘new’ franchise possible, one that steals heartily from everything else and hasn’t an original idea in its thick skull.

Dead Space, however, had the courtesy to not call its audience a pack of retards.

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Posted by Matt on January 9, 2010

So, let me get this straight:

The storyline for the newest Marvel crossover is that, in a last-ditch effort to stay in power, the police state superheroes (who are really supervillains) manufacture a war…against the Norse gods. And they manipulate the media to get people on their side of the war…with the Norse gods.

This idea would be brilliant if I didn’t already know it will be free of irony and fun.

I really, really hope the bizarre murmurings that they are using this to integrate Marvelman into their universe are true, just so this will be the biggest clusterfuck it can be.

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Posted by Matt on December 25, 2009

Red Hulk, referred to as Rulk in comic narration


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Posted by Matt on November 10, 2009

The main problem with the GAMES ARE ART movement are the games themselves. It’s really hard for them to be something ‘more’, I guess, as long as they still have to be game, which more or less undermines anything else it might be trying to do. Many of the suggestions to take games to the next level just sound like turning them into choose-your-own-adventure books or the impossible dreams of people who still think the Star Trek holodeck is viable. (Of course, I don’t have this problem because I don’t care if games are considered ‘art’, and if they are considered art it should be for their design as a game, not for any sort of narrative effects).

Take for the example, the new Modern Warfare game that has been in the news a lot lately.

Just to clarify, I have absolutely no interest in it. I have paid attention to the stories about it because it involves quite a few shifty design decisions, mostly on the meta level. Since I have been watching big companies like Activision get lambasted for their idiotic business decisions with morbid curiosity, this game would ultimately come to my attention.

In one level, and I know this is technically a spoiler but look at me give a shit, you play as a terrorist (or an American agent posing as a terrorist, I’m not entirely clear. Keep both possibilities in mind, because while they produce a similar effect, the context is very important) who guns down fleeing, innocent people at an airport until the timer ends the level. Keep in the mind, that something like this wasn’t too much of a surprise, considering that the first Modern Warfare game had a level where your character stumbles around dying in the fallout of a nuclear strike. The developer of the game, Infinity Ward, is intentionally trying to throw in shocking things like that in order to get people to think about the game in some way.

Unfortunately, this time, it doesn’t seem to work. The point was to get home that the bad guys are BAD GUYS and that terrorism is bad m’kay. Of course, putting you in the shoes of the terrorists doesn’t get the point across; it beats you over the head with the point until you are comatose. It’s unnecessary to go to that length to make that kind of statement. It’s not even a particularly compelling idea. They were going for a similar shock factor, but didn’t really think that one through.

And, quite honestly, how many gamers are going to consider that point? Mainstream FPS’ are an especially difficult genre to get a point across in, because they are almost all steeped in the GAME. That’s why they have multiplayer modes. You can’t say that you want to be artistic when the majority of the game is spent playing as an illogical supersoldier shooting at ciphers to get to the next level and eventually the end credits, or as an illogical supersoldier shooting at other illogical supersoldiers for team points. They could say they were trying to be subversive, but any subversiveness is completely drowned out by everything else following the rules of a game.

I’m sure a lot of game developers want to be able to make the salient if overwrought point that (as that Canadian TV icon Ed the Sock once put it) war is bad and people die. The problem with that is that if anyone actually realized that point during the game, what would they do after that? Do the developers expect them to continue shooting fake people, with their heads slung low in solemn realization that they are taking part in a fake activity that in real life is bad? At the very least, Shadow of the Colossus, that game so favored by pompous game philosophes as an example of SUBVERSIVE ART, has the player come to the game’s not so terribly original moral switcheroo (you are a bad person for killing those bosses!) later on, so at least you aren’t going to forget the lesson as you play through more game.

That’s the problem people have to get around. As a game, as something you have to actually participate in, rather than take in (as in film, literature, music, etc.), any point you want to make is constantly be undermined. You can’t make a point about war, really, in a game designed to turn the idea of war into a game. Is it possible for someone to make a game that makes a point about war if they based it entirely around that point? I guess it is possible. You’d have to remove things like multiplayer, or real goals, so it’d basically end up being a ‘real’ simulation of the act…or a carnival ride.

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