the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
It’s time for another episode of I Make Really Terrible Life Choices. Because I am, as always, a hopeless masochist. In fact, I’ll just come right out with it:

Haou Airen

Those of you who have heard of this thing are doubtless already facepalming and/or hurling nearby objects across the room. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I’ll try to explain:

Mayu Shinjo is a mangaka who could be described as the queen of Horrible Brain-Scarring Shojo. I don’t know if she’s the worst, but she’s definitely up there. The lady has got a massive rape fetish and all of her works prominently feature the Bastard Boyfriend archetype. Hell, one of her BB leading men is actually Satan. You know, the Satan? You can’t get any more Bastard Boyfriendy than that! But until now, I only knew about Shinjo's work second-hand, via TV Tropes. Until now, I’d managed to resist morbid curiousity. But then a TV Tropes image link happened and suddenly it was 7 am this morning and I was finally going to sleep after mainlining the whole thing in one sitting.

Which brings us to Haou Airen, which I gather is Shinjo’s darkest work so far. Oh come on, “dark” is an understatement — it’s basically a giant tsunami of ~sexy~ rape scenes glued together with plot. It was licensed and almost got an English release, but was cancelled at the last minute when the publishers found out what was actually in it. Hey, just like Kodomo no Jikan! However I’m pleased to report that reading Haou Airen was only a mildly horrible experience because a) I’m jaded ever since reading Hot Gimmick and b) this manga is actually pretty funny. How is that even possible? One word: MELODRAMA. Even horrifying subject matter can be narm-ified when paired with stupid dialogue and even stupider plotting, and Haou Airen is so overwrought and has so many ridiculously bone-headed plot twists that it becomes darkly hilarious in the sense of “I can’t believe someone got paid to write this horseshit.”

Speaking of plot, it boils down to this: naive innocent ordinary high-schooler Kurumi happens upon wounded bishie Triad boss Hakuron and tends to his injuries. He thanks her by whisking her off to Hong Kong with the intention of making her his mistress. That’s about it. I didn’t read the first 15ish chapters, but I glean that Hakuron was relatively nice to Kurumi during them and the two were kind of falling in love. However, the shit hits the fan in chapter 16 when Hakuron murders Kurumi’s secretly-evil best friend right in front of her, causing her to turn on him and declare that she hates him. So Hakuron has to figure out some way to make her stay with him. You can all probably guess where this is going.

Click to read the selected highlights (lowlights?) of Haou Airen! Or don't, you probably have better things to do. )

So yeah, this manga is creepy, gross, and horrible. Don't read it unless you share the author's fucked up set of fetishes.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
Prompted by the MG Project, I've been buying and reading a lot of shojo manga lately. This is unusual for me because I usually approach reading shojo with the same caution I'd use when defusing a bomb. However the Magical Girl genre tends to be on the friendlier, less brain-bleach-necessitating side of shojo, and indeed I've been enjoying myself a lot as I plowed through assorted volumes of Sugar Sugar Rune, Shugo Chara, Sailor V, and Mermaid Melody.

Then I read Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and I was like "Oh yeah, that's why I hardly ever read shojo. BECAUSE IT IS FREQUENTLY HORRIBLE."

I picked up this title because I'd heard that Arina Tanemura's work tends to be among the more angsty, dark, and subversive in the Magical Girl genre, and KKJ in particular had some later plot twists that really intrigued me. And Tanemura's art is quite good, even if her art style is the most terrifying goddamn thing I've ever seen. It's like shojo on steroids. THE EYES. THEY ARE TOO BIG.

Having finished the series, I find KKJ frustrating because it's such a mixed bag. In fact, I'll break it down:

As a Magical Girl story, it's quite good.
As an epic womance between a magical girl and her muggle bff, or between a magical girl and her mascot mentor, it's also pretty good.
As a het romance, it is freaking awful.

At this point, I'm going to dive into spoiler territory because I can't rant properly otherwise.

KKJ as a het romance — making me throw my book at the wall a lot )

In short, the het romance portion of KKJ is up to its eyeballs in everything I absolutely despise about shojo, which really soured the whole experience for me.

This post is getting long, so next time I'll talk about all the things that KKJ does right, especially in the vein of Dark And Subversive Magical Girl Narratives and Ladies Talking To Each Other And Being Ambiguously Gay.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
So I've come down with a case of the summer lazies, and while I've been continuing to work on the MG Project, this "work" hasn't involved doing any write-ups because writing takes effort and thought and all that stuff that's so hard to summon when it's summer. In such cases, it often takes something extreme to jolt one out of one's couch-potato-ness. In my case, it was something extremely bad.

I just watched the first episode of Twin Angel: Kawaii Moe Desu Barf on Crunchyroll, and while Moetan and Ultimate Girls were painful viewing experiences because of their intense sleaze, Twin Angel: Technicolor Yawn was painful because of its unrelenting badness. The opening credits alone was one of the most agonizing things I've ever had to sit through. Whoever told the voice actresses to sing like that should be taken out behind the barn and shot. And after all the vapid cutesy giggling in this episode, I'm pretty sure I never want to hear anyone laugh ever again.

I could attempt to explain why this thing is so godawful, but Gia Manry at ANN did it better, so I'll just quote her: "You know that show that non-anime fans vaguely imagine anime as being? The one always parodied by fictional anime-within-anime (like Genshiken's Kujibiki Unbalance)? High-pitched, overly colorful, and usually mind-numbingly stupid? This is that show."

Actually I'm quite thankful to the ANN preview folks because their universally revolted reactions to this thing sufficiently prepared me for what lay ahead, while also providing some much-needed snarking. Although Theron's review had one unintentionally funny part in it that almost broke my brain:

"[the bouncing tits] and certain other elements suggest that teen and preteen girls are not the only target audience here."

I... wait wait wait. Stop the presses. You're saying that certain elements of this episode suggested that teen/preteen girls aren't the only target audience.

Dude, you've been reviewing for ANN for a while now, so I'm just going to assume you were high when you watched this episode, or maybe the show's awfulness caused some kind of temporary brain damage. Because there was not one single second of this episode that was even remotely aimed at anyone female, much less at teen/preteen girls. For fuck's sake, literally the third shot after the opening credits end is a close-up of the heroine's lovingly animated bouncing tits, complete with "boing boing" sound effects. And that's only scratching the surface. I mean, I'll freely admit that I'm terrible at telling the difference between girl-aimed anime and guy-aimed anime, but Twin Angel: Jiggle Jiggle is one of the most blatant examples I've ever seen of "made for the horny moe otaku and no one else" anime. (Plus there's the fact that it aired at 1:45 in the morning. Yeah, that was a pretty big hint.)

Also, I was reading some of the forum comments on the preview guide and became annoyed at hearing people defend the show by saying that it's a parody. So let's get something straight, boys and girls:

When you have a show that takes a bunch of really painfully tired clichés and plays them absolutely straight, that is not a parody. It might be attempting parody, but if so, it is failing miserably. To be a parody, you have to actually comment on or mock the thing you're parodying; you have to take all those clichés and show us why they're stupid and bad and don't make sense. Hell, one of the earliest definitions of the word was "a parodie, to make it absurder than it was" — the key being "absurder." If your "parody" is indistinguishable from the thing you're parodying, you're doing it wrong.

Dai Mahou Touge is a parody. Puni Puni Poemi is a parody. Even Ultimate Girls had certain elements of parody to it. Twin Angel: Unicorn Puke is just a lazy crappy rip-off.

As a final note, Dear Japan: Please stop naming blue-haired characters "Aoi." It stopped being clever a long time ago.
the_sun_is_up: Satan from Dinosaur Comics saying "What, what, I am in hell and that is the worst thing I've ever heard!" (dinos - the worst ever)
Okay. Okay. Yeah.

So this Magical Girl Project thing. In an ideal world, I would watch every episode of every single show included in the project, but for various reasons, this just isn't practical. As a compromise, I've been trying to watch at least a few episodes of every show, so that I can have a first-hand opinion on it and get a general feel for what its deal is. Unfortunately, this does mean every show, even the horrendously bad ones, and there are two shows in particular I've been dreading having to watch. Moetan was one. Ultimate Girls is the other.

To explain why, allow me to simply describe the premise of the show:

Our leads are a trio of schoolgirls, natch. One is a shy, quivering, trembling moeblob who's frequently on the verge of tears, one is a perky otaku chick, and one is an ice queen who secretly has a quivery moe filling. They're tasked with protecting Tokyo from giant Godzilla-esque monsters. They do this by transforming into giant versions of themselves, clad in superhero spandex, so that they can fight the monsters head-to-head. Unfortunately, their power is on a time limit: shortly after transforming, their clothing starts to shred off. However this is a good thing, because their superpowers run on something called M.O.E., which is a silly acronym that basically means "female shame at being naked in public." The more embarrassed the girls become at their disintegrating clothes, the higher their power level rises.

The otaku chick is the only one who reacts to the shredding clothes with some level of poise by going "Eh, I'm a badass superhero, a little nudity isn't going to hurt," but of course since their powers run on shame, this means that she's the weakest of the bunch and gets curb-stomped on her first mission because she failed to generate the necessary levels of humiliation. On the other hand, the ineffectual wibbling too-moe-to-function protagonist is the one with the strongest power, even though she's also the least effective fighter, the most reluctant about the whole superhero gig, and the most traumatized by the public nudity. Early on, before the source of their power is revealed, the ice queen chick has the bright idea to grab some banners off a nearby skyscraper and fashion herself a makeshift bandage bikini. But of course this cripples her power, and the mascot mentor tells her that she needs to strip off the bandages right away and succumb to her shame if she wants to beat the monster.

Also, the news media nicknames the three girls based on their breast sizes.

I just. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS, YOU GUYS. Like, I would try to do some kind of feminist analysis of this dreck, but my feminist faculties have thrown up their hands and given up. No scratch that, they haven't just given up — they're gone, they've bounced, they're sacked out on a beach in Tahiti knocking back daquiris. But do I even need to analyze something like this? I feel like it kind of speaks for itself!

As for its place in the Magical Girl genre, Ultimate Girls is going about its work with tongue firmly in cheek, spoofing both the MG genre and the Ultraman franchise. The show is actually kind of funny when it's not being awful — when the girls transform in eps 2 and 3, we're treated to a photograph of the Tokyo skyline with an arrow pointing to a location in the city, and a caption saying "So-and-So is transforming here, please wait," and there's a loading bar showing the girl's progress — and there are some neat shout-outs to other Magical Girl shows, like in the first episode when the heroine ends up in a cosplay outfit of Corrector Yui (both shows have the same director). I feel like there's a halfway decent fun silly Magical Girl parody in here somewhere, buried under all the DEAR GOD PLEASE STOP.

Also, Ultimate Girls is (obviously) a very extreme example of making a Magical Girl show for a male audience. It's like the showrunners were trying to wring as much cheesecake and moe pandering out of the genre as was humanly possible. I haven't yet mentioned the transformation sequence, in which the robotic mascot sticks out a rod that looks suspiciously like a penis, and the girl grabs ahold of the rod, causing the mascot to have an orgasm and spray thick white fluid all over the girl which then turns into her new clothes. Then we're treated to several zoomed-in shots of her spandex-clad crotch. It's some of the sleaziest, creepiest camerawork I've ever seen in a fanservice anime. This may be a show about superheroes who are powered by shame, but it's clear that the showrunners have no shame whatsoever.

Speaking of the showrunners, Ultimate Girls was made by a studio that appropriately enough call themselves "m.o.e." The acronym stands for "Masters of Entertainment." Seriously. Guys, methinks you would've been better served to just paint a target on your chest, especially since you're the studio who made CosPrayers. And indeed, the Irony Gods did not let this act of hubris go unpunished: Ultimate Girls was the last show made by the studio, in 2005, and since then it looks like they've kicked the bucket. Pardon me while I completely fail to hide my glee.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
It occurs to me that I've had a lot to say about Japanese magical girls over the course of this project, but what about magical girl shows made outside of Japan? Because they do exist: Winx Club and Angel's Friends from Italy, Jem and the Holograms from the US, W.I.T.C.H. from a joint effort of Italy/France/Disney, Petit Petit Muse from Korea, and doubtless some other ones I haven't yet heard of. Well I decided early on that because of the large cultural differences at work, I was going to have to relegate the non-Japanese MG shows to a separate project and restrict the main MG project to just anime.

However, yesterday I discovered that someone had put most of the dubbed episodes of Angel's Friends onto Youtube, so in the name of outrunning the copyright police, let's take a little detour and talk about those Italian magical girl shows.

I've heard mostly positive things about WITCH, though I've never watched it myself. Winx Club on the other hand, I have a more personal relationship with. I watched a bunch of the first season back in high school when the dub was first being broadcast stateside, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much I liked it because from what I can remember, it wasn't very good. What can I say, it was a guilty pleasure.

Both WITCH and Winx premiered in 2004, which brings us to Angel's Friends, which debuted in 2009 and which I'd barely even heard of until I stumbled across it on Youtube. Angel's Friends centers around the old idea that every person has an angel and a devil sitting on either shoulder, giving conflicting advice about how to act. In this story, our heroes are a group of teenage female angels, their antagonists are a group of teenage co-ed devils, and the two groups split their time between attending their respective angel/devil schools and fighting with each other over the hearts and minds of their designated humans. Also: teen-oriented morals, transformation sequences, a hawt bad-boy love interest, shopping, sparkles, giggling, and the power of FRIEEEENDSHIP.

And I have to say, Winx may have been a guilty pleasure but at least it was a pleasure. I can't say the same for Angel's Friends. I had to force myself to keep watching this thing for research purposes, and so I'd have a license to bitch about it. After a few episodes, I think Stockholm Syndrome started to set in, but the experience was still about as pleasant as eating heaping spoonfuls of the sugary synthetic powder inside a Pixy Stix.

In fact, it'd be quicker to just list off all the aspects of Angel's Friends that prompted me to make the Excalibur face:

Strike 1: There's a friendship speech in the second episode between two girls who have only just been introduced.

Strike 2: The main romance appears to have been written by a Zutarian. I am so not kidding, the first thing that popped into my head when I realized who was going to be boinking who was "Ack, it's Zutara! It's come back to haunt me!" The devil love interest even looks like Zuko — same hair color and style (circa Season 3), same anemic skintone, and he even has a red mark over his left eye!

Strike 3: The angels are led by a man; the devils are led by a woman. The main villain, who's out to get both the angels and the devils, is also a woman.

Strike 4: Too much glitter. TOOOOOO MUUUUUUCH.

Strike 5: The way in which the main conflict between angels and devils is set up and regulated is the most contrived clumsy-ass shit I've ever seen. I seriously laughed out loud when the head angel was expositing about how the rules of this universe work.

Strike 6: The art style. I think this might be an Italian animation thing — while current anime frequently annoys me by visually infantilizing its female characters, Italian shows like Winx and Angel's Friends go too far in the opposite direction by making their female characters look like Bratz dolls: pouty lips, thick eyelashes, and supermodel-esque bodies. And there's something about their legs that I can't pinpoint but it always bugged me.

Strike 7: Speaking of Winx, the Angel's Friends tv show is pretty blatantly cribbing from it. I hate to use the term "rip-off," but I think it might be somewhat applicable here. From what I've heard and seen of the source material, the original Angel's Friends comics are markedly different from the tv adaptation, so it seems that the showrunners retooled the property to be more reminiscent of Winx in the name of the almighty Euro.

Strike 8: The animation. I'm a pretty terrible judge of animation, but there's something funky going on with Angel's Friends' animation and it never stops annoying the crap out of me. I especially notice it in the way the characters' hands move — like when they pick up an object, they don't look like they're actually making physical contact with it.

Strike 9: I think it was a mistake to have the heroine's ladybug mascot communicate with her via very soft buzzes. It makes the heroine look like she's constantly talking to herself, plus she always has to clumsily restate what she just heard the ladybug say for the audience's benefit.

Strike 10: The ladybug's name is Cox. It's pronounced like "cocks." I know, I know, this isn't the show's fault, it's just an unfortunate linguistic coincidence, but it still made every scene between the heroine and her ladybug unintentionally hilarious.

Although I will give the show this: it makes it all the way until the fifth episode before it sends the heroines off to the shopping mall. No seriously, as sad as it sounds, that's a genuine compliment; with a show of this tone, I'd expect the girls to be hitting the mall by episode three at the latest. And I admit to genuinely liking the cranky nasally-voiced devil chick; she was the only aspect of the show that actually made me want to keep watching. Just goes to show how much difference the right voice actor can make.

Anyway, I'm a little too braindead from sugar overdose to analyze this thing or tell you how it fits into the genre overall, but the one thing I can tell you about it is that it's baaaaaad. Don't watch it. You have better things to do. Now I'm going to go wash the Pixy Stix aftertaste out of my mouth by eating some bruschetta, an Italian import that is worth spending time on.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
Okay boys and girls, it's time to descend into the belly of the beast. It's time to examine one of the worst shows that the Magical Girl genre has to offer.

Because while I may have referred to shows like Wedding Peach and CosPrayers as the "unholy abominations" of Magical-Girl-dom, I was mostly being facetious. Aside from some gross T&A in CosPrayers, those two shows are pretty harmless, with their greatest crime being mediocrity. Neither of those shows made me feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards. Neither had me twitchily glancing over my shoulder to make sure the FBI wasn't peeking in my window. Neither made me feel queasy simply from knowing of their existence.

This is what sets them apart from today's specimen: Moetan. As you might have guessed from my intro, it's lolicon. It's a show made specifically for those guys who draw hentai doujinshi depicting Cardcaptor Sakura being brutally raped by anonymous disembodied penises. That group of people was apparently large enough that someone in the anime industry felt it was financially sound to make an entire show for that demographic and broadcast it on TV.

Also I just found out that the director of Moetan is the same guy who directed my beloved Getsumen to Heiki Miina. I may feel the need to sob loudly into my pillow during this review.

Actually I must be getting jaded, because the loli fanservice in Moetan didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I guess Kodomo No Jikan desensitized me to such things, or maybe I was distracted from the fanservice by some of the other stupid features of the show. For starters: What the hell is going on with the characters' ages?

Moetan presents us with a couple of heroines who are clearly children, and then it tells us that they're actually 17 years old. I can only assume this was a pathetically flimsy attempt to provide guilt-free lolicon — "she may look 10, but she's really 17, so it's okay!" — because there is no part of me that believes that the heroine of Moetan is 17. She looks like a little kid, she acts like a little kid, she dresses like a little kid, she walks like a little kid, she talks like a little kid, to the point where the whole "oh but she's rly 17, you guys" thing is just insulting our intelligence. If you're going to make a pedo-bait anime, you could at least own it.

However, I might be able to overlook the bone-headed "she's really 17" contrivance if the show itself didn't constantly keep banging on about it. The other characters will constantly tease the two heroines for looking like elementary-schoolers/behaving like elementary-schoolers/having the intelligence of elementary-schoolers, and while this is ostensibly just a way of provoking that cutesy "stop treating me like a kid!" reaction in the girls, I can't help getting stuck on the fact that the other characters are totally right. Moetan, why do you keep pointing out your own bad writing? Are you trying to do some kind of ironic self-referential humor thing? Because it's not working! If you know that making the heroine 17 was a stupid decision, then the fact that you did it anyway just makes it worse, and constantly pointing this out just makes you look even dumber.

Actually self-referential "humor" is a problem throughout this show. Moetan comes across as a weak attempt at parody, not understanding that a true parody needs to have more substance than just pointing at a trope and going "look everyone, it's a trope!" In the first episode, the transformed heroine teaches her love interest to say the phrase "Don't you think magical girls look the same after they transform?" in English. Moetan, congratulations on noticing something that everyone who has ever watched Sailor Moon has made fun of. But the show doesn't do anything interesting with the Clark Kenting trope, it just points it out, like the writers expect a gold star for having eyeballs in their faces.

This problem with channeling Captain Obvious isn't even restricted to the failed parody elements — the mascot characters suffer from it too. These mascots serve double-duty as the audience surrogate characters, meaning that they spend a lot of time drooling over all the hawt loli ass that's on display. But the writers apparently thought all that literal drool wasn't enough to get this concept across: the mascots also make frequent comments on how hot the girls' outfits are, how pervy the transformation sequence looks, etc etc, and dude. Dude. I FUCKING NOTICED. I noticed that the 10-year-old girl is wearing clothing that appears to be made of wet tissue paper. I noticed this because the camera ZOOMED IN on her extremely detailed ass and taint area SEVERAL TIMES. YOU DO NOT NEED TO POINT THESE THINGS OUT TO ME IN THE DIALOGUE.

Seriously, those bits of dialogue are like the show is throwing up a big neon sign saying "YOU MAY NOW BEGIN JERKING OFF." Sorry Moetan, but I'm pretty sure your audience starting doing that during the opening credits. I doubt they're going to wait for your prompting.

Umpteen paragraphs in, and I haven't even talked about how dull the show is. Thank god for the nauseating bits of "I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT" loli fanservice jolting me into wakefulness, because aside from that and the weak attempts at humor, this show is just a boring pointless slog. There's hardly any action in it! I mean surely a big part of Magic Warrior shows, especially those aimed at men, is rousing bombastic fight scenes, but so far Moetan has devoted only a tiny bit of its time to Monster-of-the-Week fights. Things perked up a little in Episode 4 when the Dark Magical Girl showed up to wreck some shit, but even that was pretty brief.

So in the end, Moetan surprised me by having loli fanservice be only one of its many problems. Snip out all the prepubescent vulva shots and this show would still be a worthless piece of crap.
the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
While reading the news today, I found out something very surprising: I am now pregnant.

What's that you say? I'm a pathetic single nerd who lives at a women's college you say? Lesbian pregnancy only exists in bad fanfic and Minecraft you say? Well fuck you, this is AMERICA, the land of opportunity, where you don't even need to have sex to get knocked up. Even virgins can get pregnant here! And by "here" I mean "in the state of Arizona," which is continuing its quest to replace Texas as the most loathed state in the union by passing a new anti-abortion law that defines life as beginning 2 weeks before conception.

Actually as bad as that sounds, the batshit insane pregnant-before-sex stipulation is the least awful part of this law: go here to read a full run-down of all the horrible stuff this thing does.

However, Texas isn't going to take this lying down. It also passed an anti-abortion law two months ago, one of those emotionally manipulative ones that forces a pregnant person to watch a sonogram and hear their doctor describe their fetus. Not only is this cruel to the average unplanned-pregnancy abortion candidate, it's especially cruel to women who want to be pregnant and give birth, but feel compelled to abort because their fetus turns out to have terrible birth defects. You can read one such woman's account of how this law made her ordeal exponentially more painful here.

Guys, I just don't understand this. How has the anti-abortion side gained so much ground in the last few years? What changed since Roe v. Wade that made us start sliding backward at such a drastic rate? And what the fuck is rotten in the state of Arizona? Seems like all the really bad laws are coming from them these days.
the_sun_is_up: Panty looking excited, with her hand on Stocking's abdomen. (psg - PEEKABOO PEEKABOO PEEKABOO)
Thing 1: There's yet another creepy privacy-violating internet-censorship law afoot in Congress called CISPA. You can read about it here and you can send a protesting form letter to your Congressperson here.

Thing 2: Rawles is hosting The Cunnilingus and Chocolate Day Oral Sex Fanfest which is all about writing oral sex porn that doesn't center around cis dudes getting blow-jobs. Go forth and write/read!
the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
I always feel bad for posting about depressing stuff on this blog. It's bad enough that I had to hear about the depressing stuff, but now I'm inflicting on you guys as well, like passing on a cold virus. But if I don't write about it, then I just end up stewing over it and making myself more angry. Bleh.

Depressing stuff du jour: I stumbled across a 2-year-old news story about a woman who was fired from her elementary school teaching job after she admitted in a Huffington Post op-ed piece that she had spent one year as a sex worker prior to entering the teaching profession. She didn't tell her students about her past as a sex worker. She didn't fill their innocent heads with sordid tales of whore-dom. She just mentioned it in an op-ed piece, and she signed her name to it because she wanted to demonstrate that she was unashamed of her past. As a result, the Mayor of New York City personally requested that she be fired, no other school district would hire her, and a media frenzy ensued that invaded every aspect of her private life.

The really sad thing is, I bet she could have gotten away with admitting her past and even signing her name if she had acted all like "Oh boo hoo, I only did it because I was desperate and I needed to feed my eight starving children but I hated every second of it and boo hoo prostitution is so horrible and I'm such a poor widdle victim." The only reason she got tarred and feathered so badly is because she had the nerve to not be ashamed. She broke society's rules of How Prostitutes Are Supposed To Act, so it didn't matter that she was a great teacher, it didn't matter that she had left sex work behind her and become a "wholesome" law-abiding member of society, it didn't matter that she'd never been convicted of any crime, nope, she's an evil whore and must be kept away from our kids.

I really have no patience for the people hand-wringing over how having an ex-prostitute for a teacher would corrupt kids. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why that notion is fucking stupid. The only argument that has the least bit of merit is the one saying that she did something illegal, and we shouldn't be encouraging kids to break the law. Like, would you want an ex-con or an ex-drug dealer teaching your kids? Perhaps not. But to that argument, I would reply that illegal =/= immoral. There are plenty of people out there who have done illegal things because they believed the laws were unjust, and there have been plenty of unjust laws in this country's history.

Also, after reading the comments on the Salon article, I have this to say: I am getting extremely fucking sick of hearing people say "You should have known better" to someone who just got screwed over. Maybe it's because it reminds me of rape apologia — "You should have known better than to wear that skimpy outfit!" Because it's easy, isn't it? It's very easy to kick someone when they're down, it's easy to say "Har har, I'm smarter than you" to someone who is already very aware that they did something stupid that has now ruined their lives. But is it stupid? Is idealism now synonymous with stupidity? Does smug cynicism automatically make you smart? Because that's this woman's only crime: she was stupid enough to think that maybe the world was an awesome enough place that she could be honest about her life and not get raked over the coals for it. She was stupid enough to think that she wouldn't lose her whole career because of something completely unrelated to her job performance. She was stupid enough to think that hiding behind embarrassed anonymity was a bad idea because it would send a negative message. She was stupid enough to think that she could help debunk some toxic stereotypes about sex workers. She was stupid enough to think that she could do some good in the world. Yeah, what an idiot, am I right?

I say this as an admittedly very cynical person: You do not fucking sneer at someone because they had the gall to try and change the world for the better. You do not fucking punish someone or blame them for their misfortunes because they had the nerve to say "Hey, maybe the world is actually an okay place!" So to all those people going "What a dumbass, what was she thinking, she should have known how it would turn out": Y'all can just fuck right off.

Stories like this are what make me think that in feminism, prostitution is the last frontier. By which I mean: prostitution is the thing we're still going to be fighting for even after everything else has been fixed; prostitution is the thing that will be the hardest to change people's minds about, even moreso than rape. In the Salon article, the woman herself points out that a lot of the people who were getting up in her face and shaming her were fellow women, many of whom just couldn't understand how she could consider herself a feminist. Prostitution is something that a lot of women, even women who proudly identify as feminists, still consider shameful, wrong, and degrading, and so for a fellow woman to willingly consent to this shameful, wrong, degrading thing is unforgivable. We as a culture might be becoming more open-minded towards women who have sex and enjoy it, but there's something about women who have sex for money and enjoy it and choose that life, rather than being forced into it under tragic circumstances, that really brings out people's viciously Puritanical sides.

I feel I should also mention: After reading several articles on this subject, I did not see anyone mention the men that this woman serviced during her time as a sex worker. Not their names, not where they lived, nothing about their character or their professions. She lost her career and had her personal info smeared all over the internet. The men who hired her, the ones who participated in her illegal and "immoral" activities? No skin off their noses.
the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
So the Hunger Games movie has come out! I haven't read the books, and I'm not planning to see the film, but I have to say: it warms the cockles of my dried up cynical little heart to see so much buzz and excitement over a major motion picture whose protagonist is a strong competent badass three-dimensional young woman. Every time I overhear some random person IRL start squeeing over the series, which has been happening constantly in the past few days, it gives me the warm fuzzies. I even heard one of my straight male college-age friends getting on his fanboy soapbox about how the film was okay but the books were way better. Take note, producers of fiction: boys are capable of liking stories with sensibly-dressed three-dimensional female protagonists!

That said: There has been some absolutely mind-boggling levels of stupidity on the internet amongst Hunger Games "fans" who were shocked and horrified to discover that the movie had cast a pair of black actors in the roles of Rue and Thresh. Even though these two characters were clearly described in the books as having "dark brown skin and eyes."

I don't know which is making me headdesk more: that people are so horrendously racist that they'll go from liking a character to disliking her and will be unmoved by the tragic death of a 12-year-old girl simply because she turned out to be black, or that people have such terrible reading comprehension. Okay, the first one is obviously worse, but I'm still amazed at the people getting up on their high horse about how the film should STAY FAITHFUL TO THE BOOKS, YOU GUYZ, even though this shit was clearly stated in the books. Is our school system really that broken? Apparently what tripped some people up was Katniss observing that Rue was "very like Prim in size and demeanor." Since Prim is pale and blonde, some readers assumed that Rue must be pale and blonde too, even though in the same sentence Katniss pointed out Rue's "dark brown skin and eyes" and even though "size and demeanor" have nothing to do with a person's race or coloring. Some other people are going "Well sure Rue has dark skin and eyes, but I didn't think she'd be black." What the hell did you think she'd be, Italian? And ugggh shade-ism, treating medium-dark/non-African skintone as acceptable but dark/African-descended skintone as bad, get the fuck oooouuuut.

I think the most revealing comment I read was this one:

Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.

The mod of the @hungergamestweets tumblr said this in response:

Remember that word ‘innocent’? This is why Trayvon Martin is dead.

I can't really add anything to that, except maybe to point at The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and the Missing White Woman Syndrome page on TV Tropes. But that one word, "innocent," really says it all. This stuff makes me wanna barf.

But yes, still cheered by the whole "Hollywood blockbuster written by a woman and starring a dangerous lady" thing. And I am glad that the filmmakers didn't whitewash Rue and Thresh, unlike some film adaptations I could name. *cough*Failbender*cough*
the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
Something depressing just happened to me in Minecraft.

I read on the Wiki that you can tame a wolf by feeding it a bone or two, so being curious to try out new things, I walked up to a nearby wolf and gave it a shot. Sure enough, the wolf emitted a bunch of heart shapes and suddenly looked a lot friendlier and... wait is that a red collar around its neck? That's a little more commitment than I was expecting. And then I accidentally punched the wolf — accidental punching is a frequent problem for me — but instead of attacking me or running away like the other animals do, it just kept looking at me dopily, all like "DON'T WORRY, I STILL LOVE YOU" and I was like D: D: D: "Okay, experiment completed, I think we should go our separate ways now, k bye!" *runs away*

That's when I discovered that tamed wolves are programmed to obsessively follow you no matter where you go. According to the Wiki, they'll even skip gaily into a lava pit or off a cliff in their attempts to follow the player character. And they only have two modes: a) clinging to you like a limpet and b) sitting in one place dutifully waiting for you to return, no matter how far away you go or how long you take. D: Plus they have a hunger meter, so that's one more mouth to feed. At this point, I was feeling some serious tamer's remorse and googled for a way to un-tame wolves. Apparently the only way to un-tame them is to kill them.

Guys, I am having so many sadfaces right now. I just want my tame wolf to go back and hang out with its friends! Why must it follow me around everywhere, giving me those guilt-trip eyes? I just know I'm going to end up pushing it into a lava pit to put it out of my and its misery, and then I'll feel terrible about it, even though I know it's just a boxey collection of computer pixels. :(
the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
So that last episode of MLP was pretty cringe-worthy, huh? Well compounding the cringe factor is the fandom itself, who are naturally lapping this shit up and trotting out every derailing tactic known to man when arguing with the people criticizing the ableism. Especially frustrating are the large number of actual disabled people who see nothing wrong with "Derpy's" portrayal and in fact think it's offensive that people are getting offended! People who say stuff like this:

I swear to god there is nothing that bothers me more then people who have NOTHING to do with the disabled community bitching about people being “ableist”.

Okay, I guess I was wrong, there's nothing problematic with "Derpy's" portrayal, and as an able-bodied person, I shouldn't be getting all offended over something I know nothing about.

But seriously, I don't what I, as an ally, am supposed to do with an argument like that. Only disabled people are allowed to get pissed off at ableist stuff? How the hell is that helpful to your cause? I'm always hearing people from minority groups (including myself!) complaining because the privileged majority can't be bothered to get off their asses and help fix things, but whenever an ally-type-person does get off their butt and try to help out, they inevitably get shouted down by a bunch of members of that minority group telling them to stop sticking their nose in other people's business.

So either I do nothing and feel like an apathetic jackass who's just enabling prejudice to continue unchecked, while hearing my disabled friends rightly bemoan the fact that nobody's supporting their cause, or I speak out against what I genuinely feel is gross ableist garbage and in turn get smacked down by a bunch of disabled people telling me I'm the offensive one for misidentifying what's ableist and what the hell would I know about what constitutes ableism anyway so shut up and sit down.

I mean, I'm an ally: I do only what you tell me to. I am here to serve you. But when you can't make up your damn minds about what it is I'm supposed to be doing, I get a little frustrated. And that applies to minority groups that I'm a member of as well: as a feminist, there's nothing more infuriating than having a bunch of women stand up and go "I don't see any problem at all with this obviously misogynistic thing, so you bitches need to just calm your tits! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go drink some of this delicious Kool-Aid." *glug glug* And for the record, I would much rather have a bunch of dudes getting misguidedly het up over stuff that isn't actually offensive than a bunch of dudes who don't give a shit and won't lift a finger to help.

It's bullshit like this that just makes me want to leave the social justice community altogether because what the hell is the damn point anymore.


Edit: And lol @ people saying "It's just a kids' show, lighten up!" Imma just quote the Nostalgia Chick on this one: "It's just a car seat, who cares if the belt barely works? It's just for my children."

Yeah, unless you're cool with kids drinking water with lead in it, you should not be uttering the phrase "just a kids' show."
the_sun_is_up: Satan from Dinosaur Comics saying "What, what, I am in hell and that is the worst thing I've ever heard!" (dinos - the worst ever)
Huh, so I'm way behind on watching MLP:FIM, but according to Tumblr, the latest episode featured Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves getting speaking lines for the first time. Cool beans!

*watches the scene in question*

...

WOW GUYS THAT WAS SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE.

I mean making the name "Derpy Hooves" canon was already uncomfortable, but then they had to go and make it like TEN TIMES MORE UNCOMFORTABLE. I AM ALMOST IMPRESSED BY HOW MUCH CRINGE THEY MANAGED TO CRAM INTO THAT SCENE.

Normally I'd say a show's writers should listen to their fans, but this ceases to be a good idea when the fans in question mostly hang out on 4chan.

ugggh
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
Bad news: The federal government shuts down Megaupload. My opinion on this is mixed. On the one hand, I understand why they did it — MU enabled people to pirate anything and everything. On the other hand, I'm pissed because like a lot of people, I used MU to access things that I can't legally access, like out-of-print unlicensed anime. On the other other hand, I'm amused at the futility of the action because MU is only one of many many sites like it. This is like when the Japanese publishers nuked OneManga and MangaHelpers — a dozen new scanlation-sharing websites immediately popped up to replace them. Something like this is not going to stop people from pirating.

Good news: I found out that not only is the Sailor Moon manga getting rereleased in English with a better translation, but the Princess Knight manga, the grandmama of shojo manga written by Osamu Tezuka himself, is getting released for the first time in English! And both volumes are, as we speak, wending their way towards my mailbox. Yaaaay!
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
More from winter anime season 2012:

Highschool DxD: Since I'm doing the whole new season sampling thing, I figured I may as well sample something that's guaranteed to be completely awful, just for shits and giggles. Zac on ANN gave this show a rating of "boobs," but I think I can do an even better job of summing up the show simply by linking to a single NSFW screencap. Yep, that's all you need to know about Highschool DxD: uncensored nipples, copious female nudity, and shameless harem crap lightly flavored with femdom.

The weird thing about this one is that I actually liked some aspects of it. I liked the music, I liked the use of color, particularly the vivid luscious red used for the blood and the female lead's hair, and I liked some of the camera angles and cinematography stuff. I appreciate the fact that the male lead is at least upfront and honest about his desire to be in a harem show, as opposed to the tired old "Oh noes, I have no idea why all these women are flocking to me and how did my hand end up on this boob?!" And the central conceit of the plot isn't inherently terrible — I think it could potentially be done well. But every time I started enjoying myself a bit, then suddenly a female character's boobs would start moving like they had minds of their own or the camera would randomly cut to a shot of a gynecologically detailed vulva clad in the thinnest clingiest underwear ever created, and oops all potential enjoyment just went down the toilet, along with my lunch. That's the weird thing about the gross fanservice in this show: it's not in a constant stream; instead it kind of jumps out and tackles you at random moments.

But anyway, yes, obviously this show is utter garbage and should only be watched if a) you've just eaten something poisonous or b) you have a friend who's convinced that all anime is brilliant and you need to disabuse them of this notion.

Also I noticed something peculiar about another show this season: So there's this show in which two of the female leads are named Hibiki and Kanade, the main villainous force is called Noise, and another villainous force called Mephisto.

Am I describing Senhime Zesshou Symphogear or last year's Suite Precure?

I can't tell if this is a really weird coincidence or a really weird ripoff.
the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
As a part of my Magical Girl project, I've been doing a long and involved series of analyses of Magical Girl henshins. While doing these analyses, I’ve stumbled across an alarming trend regarding Magical Girl posture. Observe these four pictures:



Oh my god. I mean, oh my god. Looking at these four is causing me physical pain. I swear, it’s like nails on a chalkboard over here. Mercury in particular — if I look at her pose much longer, I may need to hurl.

Girls... why are you standing like that?!? Dear lord, don’t you know how terrible that is for your knees? Horrible! Awful! Disastrous! When you stand with bent knees, you have to make sure that your knees are hovering parallel over your feet, not slumping together in the middle. Every dance teacher I ever had drilled this into me from day one: Knees over toes! Knees over toes!

Also, y’all are supposed to be badass superheroes, yes? How do you expect to fight the forces of evil if you’re starting off with a crappy stance like that? With your feet splayed out, your knees relaxed, and your weight all sunk down in the center, this is not a stance conducive to running or jumping at a moment’s notice. Not very good for fighting life-or-death battles. Also not very intimidating, since it makes you look like you need to pee.

The only explanation I can think of for this is that the animators subscribed to the old “proper ladies don’t spread their legs” cliché. To which I would reply: these girls are superheroes who fight monsters on a daily basis while wearing miniskirts. They are the very antithesis of proper-lady-ness. So please let them stand in a more practical fashion.

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the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
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