Clichés That Must Die

My God... It's full of fail...

April 4, 2011

UPDATE: Fellow blogger and long-time logophile Amy at Dark Archivist has a rebuttal to one point in this article. Touché, my friend.

If you’re anything like me, you love you some science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There’s nothing better than an epic space battle with battleships the size of Alaska blasting each other with nuclear-yield weapons, a suspenseful chase as a vicious killer chases the last remaining protagonist you actually like, or the swarms of eldritch sigils flying through the air as a practitioner of the dark arts invokes otherworldly powers to crush his foes.

Good times…

As much as I’m a fan of the genre, there are those things that just… bug me. Really bug me. They’re things that seem to have just taken hold of the collective imagination for both writers and fans. They’ve become standard, not necessarily something you choose to use. Imagine if you suddenly found out that you didn’t need to use a ball to play baseball and could use rocks, or if you learned that cars could easily be built with three wheels and we picked four because, well, someone did it like that first.

Possessed Mind by *tashythemushroom on deviantART

Nightgowns and Little Girls

Look at The Ring, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Exorcist, and The Last Exorcism. What do they have in common aside from mentally tormented young girls and an overuse of the term “exorcism”? If you guessed a white nightgown, you’re right.

I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure The Exorcist started this one. It made sense back then. Regan was a young girl who was thought to be sick, so it makes sense mommy dearest put her in her sleeping gown to make her comfortable. But why oh why did every woman dealing with a ghost or demon (or herself a ghost) have to wear this now? It’s like the similarly ridiculous “ black trench coat = mysterious badass” mentality.

Why not a hospital gown or even regular clothes? Why not just regular pajamas?  The easy answer is that such clothes can easily date a character, but a nightgown is something that, at least today, looks old. How many women out there own a nightgown like the ones worn in these films? Anyone?

Organic Space Ship v1 by ~bastilg on deviantART

We’re Fighting a Militarized Rutabaga

What’s that? An alien ship approaching your  interstellar flagship? Oh no! It’s organic! It appears to have been grown by an advanced civilization. All its systems are carbon-based weapons and armor. All your ship has is a laminated alloy hull with ceramic plates for heat dissipation, high-powered coilguns, and thermonuclear missiles.

Oh noes.

Really, though, this one is just plain annoying. It’s hard to really pin down where this one started. Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Timeline stories have a version of this little cliché wherein the god-like Xeelee “grow” their technology, although it’s not organic, so the description is a bit vague. Babylon 5, Star Wars (New Jedi Order), and even Battlestar Galactica to an extent all used the assumption that organic technology is superior to simple metal and artificial materials designed from the ground up to perform a specific task.

Do you think “organic” is better? Would you rather wade into battle with a vest made of hardwood or advanced ceramics and Kevlar built to withstand such strain?

Would you rather have a dozen mathematicians in a room perform split second calculations for orbital reentry or have a single computer system built with accuracy to the trillionth degree?

Would you rather have an artificial  weapon, like a gun that fires ferrous slugs at a fraction the speed of light, or biological weapons that are indiscriminate, can be killed by extreme temperature and radiation, and may even mutate?

I’ll stick with metal and circuits, thank you.

Mexican Jedi. by ~VictorViin18 on deviantART

Where are the Brown People?

This one’s a personally sore spot for me. For a show like Star Trek, one which claims to be multicultural, to not have a single prominent Hispanic character besides the animalistic B’Elanna Torres is inexcusable. Want to know how many Hispanic characters I can count in speculative fiction?

Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie), Bender from Futurama, and Vazquez from Aliens.

Adama doesn’t count because although he’s played by a Mexican American actor, he does not portray a Hispanic character.

It seems that, in the future, there are no Mexicans, Ecuadorans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, or anything else. We’ve got Europeans, Asian-inspired culture to pander to the anime crowd, and some assorted ethnicities for flavoring. But where are the Mexicans?

Or the Costa Ricans? Brazilians? Chileans? Iraqis? Turks? Libyans? Anyone brown?

I really can’t find a good example of these demographics in speculative fiction. Sorry. Any idea?

Coca Cola by ~Telegraph-Road on deviantART

Why do writers still use these ideas? The best explanation is that at some point, it sounded or looked cool. The nightgown made sense from a storytelling perspective. Biological technology has some useful applications. At one point, Latin Americans were a fringe minority. We know better today, and yet these ideas linger on. These are only three little clichés, but I was thinking about them this weekend. There are many more, and maybe I’ll explain some later.

In the meantime, enjoy these links, and I’ll see you on Wednesday.  

  • We have some nice black bookshelves in the apartment, but if we have the time, money, and space, I’d certainly love to get one of these awesome bookcases.
  • And finally, I just barely watched The Hangover a few weeks ago and loved it. And now I can’t wait for the sequel. Check out the new trailer below, and I’ll see you on Wednesday!

Gay Bomb OR Why Republicans Love Genocide

Just keep believing the narrative... just keep believing the narrative... just keep believing the narrative...

January 5, 2011

Are you gay? Bisexual? Thinking of changing teams after a drunken New Year’s night? Guess what? Republicans think you’re a bigger threat to this country than nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists.

And no, that’s not hyperbole.

And if you don’t know what hyperbole means, here’s the link.

Last month, our government had to work to pass the START Treaty, a nice little piece of legislation from the Reagan era. You know President Reagan, right? He’s the patron saint of the GOP. They invoke him like a level one wizard uses magic missile. The treaty states that both Russia and America will lower their nuclear stockpiles and we will get to go to Russia and make sure their nuclear programs are working properly. This way, Jihad Bob doesn’t get his hands on a nuke and before we know it, Baltimore’s a dust cloud.

Physics Remain by *mrgraphicsguy on deviantART

And guess what? Republicans would rather have a major American city turned into a sea of glow-in-the-dark glass than have dudes who want to marry dudes serve our country.

They held up ratification of the START Treaty, a treaty that would prevent nuclear war, because they didn’t want to pass the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. That’s right. They held one branch of government hostage and held a nuclear gun to the world’s head because the thought of gays in the military repulsed them.

Oh, they paraded out the usual excuses. John “War Hero” McCain went off on people who claimed that discrimination hurt the military. Over at Fox, they’ve done a real bang-up job of likening the repeal of DADT to some sort of Apocalyptic herald. And yes, I capitalized “Apocalyptic” because I think they really think this means we’re going to have oceans of blood soon.

Don’t believe me?

So there you go. I already hold nothing but contempt for the Republican Party. They are a bunch of knuckle-dragging backbirths. No sympathy from me. They were willing to put the nuclear safety of this country, perhaps the world, on the line just so gays could not openly serve in the military. They also did this to try and keep the Democrats from scoring political points like this was some giant game of Battleship.

I have no love for the Dems, but I have utter hate for Republicans.

They put out a ton of heavily questionable reasons to ban gays from the military, but since they’ve all been exposed to be phony posturing, we’re left with one conclusion.

At the End of All Things by ~L-nay on deviantART

Republicans hate gays more than death itself. They would rather we get a few kilotons shoved up our butt than have gays serve our country and risk their lives. They would rather risk decades of deformity and nuclear fallout than risk openly gay men and women bolster our flagging recruitment numbers. They would rather that the population and infrastructure of an American city be destroyed in a ball of plutonium-fueled fire than have gays defend the Constitution Republicans themselves hold so dear.

The GOP has done some atrocious things in the past for the sake of political points, all hoping to just not let the Democrats do anything. This though, and the obligatory backlash to repeal the repeal, show the true face of the Grand Old Party.

Homophobes and bigots. If you’re a Republican, you have no business talking about compassion, common sense, and inclusion. And if you’re gay, bisexual, or transgendered, remember this. The Republicans believe you are more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

Nothing but unhinged contempt is required here.

No Homophobia by ~Lexee90 on deviantART

And now, to clean the taste of Republican exposure out of your brain, here are the links!

  • Would you like your next sexual innuendo to be REALLY cool? Here’s a chart! Likewise, if you want to last longer with your significant other and you have a penchant for the scientific and philosophical, here’s a guide.
  • It looks like the cartels in Mexico are calling a month-long truce. I’m pretty sure this is a trap of some sort, but let’s see how it plays out.
  • Look, I’ve made no secret of my hatred for bad writing that gets put up like it’s some new standard to achieve… and I’ve worked hard at what I do… which makes it that much more infuriating when Snooki of all people gets a book deal just because she was on a show where she and a bunch of other D-bags made a whole state look bad. And it looks like she’s giving the great American writers a run for their money. And it saddens me that the sarcasm in the last sentence doesn’t translate well through text.
  • And speaking of the genetic landfill that is Jersey Shore, the Situation also has a book out. This has to be the greatest review ever.
  • And finally, here’s a video that made even ME smile. The happiest penguin ever. Take care, don’t forget to share the link, and I’ll see you Friday.