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If you are a fantasy writer who uses magic in their stories, then you have undoubtedly heard of what is referred to as a “magic system.” A Magic system is a formal structure for your magic. This does not mean that it is specific like a science. It means it is consistent throughout your world. I’ll levy an example.

In the Harry Potter world, magic follows specific rules. The caster must have a wand. They must speak the correct words, in the correct way. They must be strong enough to conjure and control the spell they summon. This is part of the magic system. There are more intricacies, and specified exceptions, but overall, everyone who uses magic must follow those rules. If they do not follow those rules, they once had to follow them and have learned how to circumvent them or have been granted special privileges (such as Dumbledore being the only one able to apparate into and out of Hogwarts).

Harry potter has a very specific magic system. It’s easy to follow and rigid. Not all magic is wands and spoken spells, however. Many stories, such as Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, have more complex magic systems. In the Sword of Truth world, there are two types of magic, Additive and Subtractive. Additive is a type of magic believed to be lost. This involves anything to do with creating. There’s an iconic scene where a character displays his ability to use additive magic by cutting and then re-growing someone’s hair repeatedly.  However, this world, the magic system is very loosely defined. It says “Yes, there are two types of magic that all magic can be classified into… but that’s all we really know about magic.”

That brings me to another point. There are two kinds of magic systems. There are strict systems, and lenient systems. Harry Potter’s magic system is very strict. They can only cast spells they know, with wands that are theirs, if they are powerful enough. They can break these rules at very great cost to themselves or others. The Sword of Truth’s magic system is very lenient. Various types of magic exist, all with different rules of their own. Everything requires different knowledge, skills, and equipment. It’s pretty much a magical free for all.

So why do I mention all of this? What’s the point? Well, if you frequent any fantasy writing advice blogs or forums, you will see a great deal of literature on magic systems. Mostly the idea that you need to have a well thought out magic system for your fantasy story to be good, especially in a sword and sorcery type of setting. The more important magic is in your story, the more flushed out your magic system needs to be.

But I disagree.

These magic systems often represent something else. In a strict world, they represent science. It is very difficult to deviate from the laws of science, as it is difficult to deviate from a strict system. This system has often been studied and standardized. Certain people have expertise in certain areas, and work mostly in those areas. This is a parallel to the science of our world. In a lenient world, they represent social rules and laws. Generally it suggests a grey area, where unpredictable things happen, or where things happen without an easy explanation as to why.

So I say that it really depends on what your magic represents. If it represents or is a replacement to science and technology, then it needs to be well thought out and precise. However, this does not mean that it needs to be accurate. There are quite a lot of scientific ideas that have yet to be proven or studied enough to prove. The same could be said about your magic. Once you realize that not even science always follows its own rules, you realize just how unimportant your fancy magic system needs to be.

If your magic represents social rules, then it needs to reflect the point you are trying to make. Do you think social rules are important and should be followed? Do you think it’s safe to deviate? Is there a minimum safe deviation? Are social rules elitist? Are they pandering? This can be reflected in your fantasy society’s “rules” about magic. Generally, in these stories, either the antagonist or protagonist goes outside of the rules established in the magic system, usually far outside.

However, it seems that regardless of the story, the magic system tends to get some level off deconstruction. If its science, a part of it gets proven wrong. If it’s social, then attitudes change throughout the story. So I say why waste your time creating a fancy magic system when you are going to break all of those rules anyway? As long as whatever is happening in the story is consistent, readers don’t really care how complicated the system is.

I am currently working on a project where the magical character grows up not knowing about the magic system, and just using her magic. When she finally is told about it, she doesn’t understand why she doesn’t fit into the system and neither do others. It creates a dangerous dogma that makes her a target to some. It is in this way that magic systems can be made relevant to your story other than to keep up the suspension of disbelief.

Thanks for reading. How do you feel about magic systems?

The-Night-of-the-Living-Dead

Everyone knows that Night of the Living Dead is an iconic piece of cinema that paralleled the Red Scare and fears of communism slowly surrounding and consuming us. You see, when zombies first arrived, they had meaning. They were a symbol of something truly horrifying. They were a symbol of a threat against the democratic way of life. Let’s explore, briefly, what I mean.

Zombies, or undead – or whatever you decide to call them – began as slow moving and weak reanimations of those we once knew. It was easy to see them coming. It was easy to avoid them. They were very weak, and in order to break through those windows and doors had to repeatedly bang on them, weakening them until they could break through. If you encountered one, it was easy to avoid it, but if you encountered a hundred, it was much more difficult. This mirrored how people felt about communism.

Communism spread through communists. It spread slowly. You could easily identify a communist. Their words were not very strong, but repeatedly hearing them eventually wore down people’s own ideas about the importance of democracy. Communists were not random strangers from other countries, either. No, they were people you knew. They were people like sweet old Mrs. Adelman who feeds the neighborhood cats. They were people like Bill at the auto store. They weren’t exactly the same as before, but you knew them. They were familiar. You had a bond with them in some way. If there was one communist, you could avoid them. One hundred were not so easy to avoid.

I bring this up because zombies once had substance. Zombies once represented a real societal fear in our culture. I implore you to review all the books, movies, and games you have recently played, watched or read which involve zombies. Think of what those zombies represented in those stories. Mostly, the zombies are some overt representation of the Man vs. Nature conflict. They attempt to add a psychological depth to a story where there may be one. After all, how can you logically make a young boy shoot his mother, or a father shoot his only son? How can you stir up those emotions that accompany the struggle of watching a family member succumb to zombieism without zombies? Well, this is my point. It’s always possible to do those things. What zombies do is make it easy to do that.

My point is this: Zombies are LAZY.

Let’s look at some modern examples. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television right now. Based off of a highly acclaimed comic book serial, the show is loved by all, particularly apocalypse planners and zombie enthusiasts. It depicts a post-apocalyptic world where rival human factions struggle to survive in a world full of “Walkers” – the undead remnants of the past society that make nature suddenly more dangerous. Forget actual nature which, if given the chance to reclaim itself, would be drastically more dangerous. No, humans without minds are the greatest natural threat in the world. That is the message zombies are meant to portray. That is not the message they are often used to portray.

walking dead

In the show (and comic), the zombies serve very specific purposes. They are a constant environmental threat and conflict, of course, but in terms of plot, they serve a few specific functions. One of those functions is to serve as motivation for the characters to keep moving from place to place. If they stay in one place too long, the walkers find them. Another is to prevent them from doing something, or from following a direct path. (The quickest way into the city is through this tunnel? Well, Walkers hang out in tunnels, we can’t go in there. Let’s go all the way around.) And the final purpose they serve is to kill people off. Zombies kill people. That’s kind of their thing.

So why do I care? Well, as I said, zombies are lazy. Zombies also make plot boring. Let’s review the first plot purpose I mentioned: forcing characters to move. Simply saying “there are zombies and they need to avoid them” is simple. There are countless other reasons people could be nomadic. Perhaps there is a nomadic human faction that threatens them? Perhaps they are searching for something specific? Perhaps the rain is poisonous and they need to move away from storm clouds? There are a million possibilities and then a million more.

The issue with all off these options is that each one needs its own explanation. Each one needs a background, each one needs a dynamic story arc of its own. If they are being pursued by an enemy factions, who is leading this faction, why are they pursuing them? Are they going to kill them, torture them, capture them? Why? Is that faction all evil, or does it just have an evil leader(s)?

If they are seeking something then what are they seeking? Why are they seeking it? Where did it come from? Who found out about it? How does each member of the group feel about it? Is anyone else seeking it?

If the rain is poisonous, then what poisoned it? What are the effects of the poison rain? How does it affect the wildlife? What was done to try to fix it? What can save them from the rain’s poison? How do they get clean drinking water?

Now, with zombies, you can have the same questions. Where did the zombies come from? How can they be stopped? What are their main threats? However, you ask these questions once. They apply to every situation. You can’t go through a tunnel because of the zombies? Well, you already know all about the zombies. You can’t stay in one place too long because of the zombies? Doesn’t bring up any new questions. You can’t go through a tunnel because the poisonous rainwater is pooling inside? Or perhaps the poison rainwater has caused poisoned plants/animals to grow in the tunnel. This brings up new questions about why the water is pooling, why the animals are becoming poisonous, etc.

Using zombies is a lazy trick. It makes you complacent to not think of any new or interesting plot points for your story. Let’s look at the popular video game The Last of Us. This game follows a man and a young girl who many believe is the cure for zombieism. The zombies in the game pose a constant environmental hazard, but don’t really add much to the plot. They help drive the plot, because the whole idea is to try to stop the zombie disease, but they themselves aren’t pivotal to the plot. The disease could literally be anything, really.

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In the story you are introduced to three different kinds of zombies, each with different qualities. These zombies are spread out among the abandoned places of the world, and you must make your way through them to safety. However, the zombies don’t add to the plot. What adds to the plot are the gangs and cults you interact with. Sure, the zombies add a scare factor and intensity to the game that the humans may not, but they do not add to the story or the character development. The other human characters do that.

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If you are a young writer and you are thinking of having a zombie story, I urge you to think about why you want it to be a zombie story. Do you like zombies and don’t give a crap about any of this because zombies are cool? If so, go for it. Plenty of people like zombies because they’re zombies. However, if you want a more literary approach, consider replacing your zombies with some more complicated element. Take the time to think about what you want your characters to experience and craft a challenge that will lead them to that result. Don’t just use zombies as the default challenge for your entire book.

da

Literature has been a part of the human experience since humans could first tell stories. It has also shifted greatly throughout the centuries – decades even. What constitutes good literature now may not have been considered good ten years ago, or a hundred years ago. Over time, however, new literary mediums have emerged.

It began with the oral tradition. Then it turned to drawing. A series of images would depict a story. Then it turned to writing and as language developed, words became more complex. Eventually, pictures were strung together and words added to them, creating motion pictures. Soon, these pictures became interactive, responding to inputs by a living person. Video games were born. The war for quality literature only grew more complex.

There is always debate over what constitutes literature. I am of the belief that any genre and any medium is literature. The quality of said literature is always up for debate, but I will not argue that it is not literature. I will, however, say that the different mediums have different goals.

Writing, for instance, serves to make the reader think. They must read the words, understand them, and visualize. They must then be able to figure out what is happening. It is when wording and language are most important and could mean the difference between a dull character and an exciting one; a flat story and a wild ride. Movies are different. They remove the words. They take much of the interpretive work out of the piece. They show you what is happening. Therefore, they can worry less about tiny details and more about the big picture. However, they have a pacing concern. How fast is the story going and is the character and plot development logical at that pace? They also have the issue of logic. It’s easy to just make something happen in a movie without anyone really thinking if it makes sense at the time. A book does not have that luxury. Everything needs to be explained, to some degree, so the reader believes what they are reading.

We also have comics, which are a combination of various forms of media into its own unique area. Comics have the luxury of being both read and looked at. The artist and writer can tell a story with both words and images. Therefore, symbolism in drawing and realism in dialogue are key elements to comic books and graphic novels.

However, the newest medium would certainly be video games. Video games are an interesting collection of the previous mediums in that they can include all of them as well as add another. You can have video games that utilize a lot of still art, comic art, writing, and videos. In the advent of video games, they were not so complex. They were simple ideas and weren’t capable of being very complex. However, now that we have much more complex systems of gaming, games are often discussed by gamers in terms of their story.

Role Playing Games, or RPG’s, are often the most literary of the games. The premise is that the player takes the role of one of the characters in some sort of epic. They see their character develop and change as they react to the things happening around them. More recent games allow the player to make decisions that directly affect what happens in the storyline. This gives the player a more immersed feeling.

But there are people who swear up and down that video games cannot possibly have literary value. I like to disagree. Intensely. I like to begin with the purpose of literature. There are quite a few, depending on how ambitious the creator was. Some literature is meant to teach a lesson. Some is meant to make commentary. Some is meant to make the consumer forget about their world and live in another for a short while. They do these things by utilizing literary elements such as imagery, symbolism, characterization, plot, and others. If you, like I, think that that is the most important part of literature, then you must argue that video games can be literature.

There are, of course, examples of terrible literature in any medium. Video games are no exception.

I just find it baffling when people say video games cannot be literature. Take for instance the Dragon Age series. It is a fantasy story set in a fantasy world. There are some people who claim that Fantasy and Science fiction cannot be literature, but to them I laugh the hardest. (In my humble opinion, Fantasy and Science Fiction are the most capable of being effective literature since there are less boundaries to respect in terms of realism). Good fantasy stories require world-building. A well-built world will parallel our own in many ways. It is what allows the creator to make comments on our world using their work. Dragon Age has one of the most well developed worlds I’ve experienced. It is filled with mystery, political intrigue, and interesting characters. It has a rich and well developed history with diverse cultures, religious beliefs, and political systems. The stories follow the themes we see so regularly in our society, such as political corruption, misdirection, cover ups, and ignorance. They help teach that, though you may be on a specific journey, those you interact with are on their own journeys. You must interact with everyone’s journey, and that may change yours.

How is a story like the Lord of the Rings all that different from the Catcher in the Rye? It really isn’t. We have our main character(s) on a journey to accomplish a task. The tasks may be different, but they are tasks. As they work toward those goals, they interact with other people. Those people either make their quest easier or harder. In the end, there are many failures and successes, and by the time they achieve their goal, they have done it in a way they never thought possible.

My question is: Since the message is the same, why does the packaging really matter? Why does it matter if one is set in an imaginary place while the other is set in a fictionalized American city? It doesn’t.

Now that I’ve gone on a tirade about fantasy being literature, I can return to the topic at hand. Video games clearly share many of the same elements of other forms of media, but add an interactive part that helps consumers to internalize the messages. So, I leave it here for your opinion: Can video games be literature?

supergirl

It’s finally here. Supergirl has seen the silver screen, or at least a taste of it. She’s been picked up by CBS with a “series confirmation.” If this does not make your feminist heart swell up with extreme excitement, you need to think about this a little more. I’m going to go over all of the reasons why this is amazing:

She is Female.

Take a moment and think about all of the superhero movies you have seen in the recent fifteen years. Hell, think of any superhero movie or television show. Aside from the entirely abysmal Catwoman movie (which ended up being about makeup?), and the less than magnificent Elektra, the gender palettes have been entirely monochromatic, at least where protagonists are concerned. We have Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, Green Lantern, Spiderman, Fantastic 4, X-Men, Daredevil, Smallville, Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest are all spearheaded by a male lead. He’s the most important one in the movie/show. There are women present, but they are not in charge. They are there, essentially, to serve the protagonists (as any secondary character is). This isn’t a problem, except that the women never take larger roles. Check out Anita Sarkeesian’s YouTube channel if you don’t understand what I mean. There are plenty of other blogs, vlogs, and documentaries about female tropes in media, like MissRepresentation. you can find a bunch of different ones. Women’s roles are never center stage. They are always there to support the male protagonist. Having a show where the Superhero is female, and therefore the one who is in charge, the one who is making decisions and being important, is good. Not to say that female characters in these other shows are useless. Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane in Smallville are often the ones pushing the story forward, while Clark is trying to keep up. But it’s not their story. It’s his.

This will be entirely Kara’s story. If they were going to stick to the comics, she’d have a lot of interaction with her cousin, but the show can have that be distant. He can be like a mentor to her who gives her advice, because essentially he’s got his own stuff to do. The release referred to Superman as her “famous cousin,” which means he is established in this world. It would even be funny if people mistook her for superman sometimes, or asked for her instead of Superman sometimes. Or, if on occasion, he asked for her help, and she just zipped over and solved his problem faster than he could have and then goes home.

She’s not Superman.

Some people will roll their eyes because they think Supergirl is Female Superman. She isn’t. She has similar powers, but varied powers. The main difference is that Kara (Supergirl) grew up on Krypton. She experienced Kryptonian culture and technology. She experienced the destruction of her planet. She experienced the deaths of all the people she ever cared for. You think Batman’s back story is tragic? Get over it. All of her worst fears were realized. In many of the stories, she left Krypton wanting one thing: to find her cousin. And then she got to Earth and it took years to find him. Depending on the iteration you refer to, she has a few different origins. Most of them have her end up in some sort of cryogenic stasis until Cal-El is at least older than her, so when she awakens, she’s looking for her little cousin, and cannot find him, and some man claims that he is the little boy she’s looking for. Crazy stuff, right? What an emotional roller coaster! Another thing about her is that, since she grew up Kryptonian, she identifies as Kryptonian. Therefore, she has full access to all of her Kryptonian abilities. Superman, on the other hand, is limited because he does not Identify as Kryptonian. He identifies as Human. The more he accepts that he isn’t a human, the more powerful he becomes. Kara doesn’t have that issue. Kara doesn’t have any identity issues. Her issue is that she’s a proud Kryptonian and she is trying to find a way to show that.

The Superfamily is All About Culture

As I mentioned, Supergirl is trying to find a way to express Kryptonian heritage in a human world. This is such an important issue. Our country is highly focused on race and culture right now. Supergirl wants to show off everything she can do as a Kryptonian, but its difficult because that makes her not human. That separates her, and it makes her an outcast. Even when she uses her abilities for good, she’s still different. We need a show about someone trying to adjust to our culture. We need a show about culture shock, and how it affects you. We need a show about how amazing it is to learn about and accept another culture, even if you don’t identify with it. This is very important.

There are some things that could go wrong, but this has the potential to be amazing! We’ll have a female lead with most likely female co-leads. This will open the door for other female Superheroes. This could open the eyes of Hollywood and let them know that a well written female protagonist can sell. Please, take some time to support Supergirl if CBS finally airs it. She deserves it. Women deserve it.

supermangirl

So I had a random thought on my way to work the other day. I’ve been playing a Link Between Worlds and I love that they have Majora’s Mask sitting on the wall in Link’s House. It got me to thinking of everyone’s worst nightmare, Gannondorf wearing Majora’s Mask. Talk about terrifying. I ended up trying to concoct ways in which we could realistically see some representation of his idea, canon or not.

I thought of the “source” of Majora’s Mask, the Happy Mask Salesman.

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In Ocarina of time, he is largely benign, but in Majora’s Mask he is creepy, manipulative, and downright diabolical (see above). It’s assumed that he is the only character in Termina who is the same as his Character in Hyrule. He traveled far. and ended up getting robbed by the imp in the forest. The forest which adults are supposed to be unable to travel though. This Mask Salesman is powerful and dangerous. We all know this. We also know that he manages to get Majora’s Mask but we do not know from where.

I thought of some scenarios where the Mask Salesman and Gannondorf meet. Gannondorf hires him to find the mask, but he gilts Ganondorf and bolts to Termina. There’s a bunch of possibilities. I thought that it would be cool to see it all as an hour long drama on TV. Then I began to think of how it would be set up. It would be weird with the time travel stuff.

But I remembered one show that constantly jumps between times. Once Upon a Time. My mind exploded with ideas! They can make a Legend of Zelda show in the style of Once Upon a Time. Each episode can be both with adult Link and young Link. Like in Once Upon a Time, whats happening in the past can be relevant to whats happening in the present. So, when adult Link is in the forest, Young Link is too. Of course, it will not follow the stories exactly. Certain aspects must be changed to make more sense. The Hookshot must be made magical, since its mechanically impossible with their technology. Link cant carry all those weapons around, so he’ll have to find them or plan ahead, or switch them before leaving home. But it will work.

So, we have the basic format set up. The story can start with Young Link walking into the Temple Of Time and taking the Master Sword, then Adult Link awakens as the Hero and young Link reverts back to the beginning, when Navi wakes him. Lets say, episode 1 is young Link acquiring the Kokiri Sword, and Adult Link learning to use the Master Sword. The season goes on. Young link cures the Deku tree, Adult Link clears the Forest temple. Young Link meets and develops a friendship with Epona and Malon. Malon helps Link sneak into the Castle to meet Zelda. Adult link Rescues Epona from the guy whose name I have forgotten. But we change the story a little. Link and Adult Malon unite to save the ranch, they bond, they romance. Link saves the whole ranch, not just Epona. Because heroism. I think most important is that Link+Malon are canon, not Link and Zelda.

Young Link goes to Death Mountain and is invited to a great feast by Darunia (as a messenger of the royal family). At the feast, link plays Saria’s Song on the ocarina. The Gorons love it. Link teaches them the song. They repay him with the strength bracelet. Dodongo’s attack the dinner and Link kills them while the Gorons freak out. In the future Link meets Darunia’s son, Link, who tells him about Volvagia the dragon and gives him the magic tunic.  Young Link enters the dodongo’s cavern while adult Link enters the Fire Temple. Lets have an episode where Adult Link needs to go back into the cavern for something he couldn’t get as a kid.

Link can’t carry giant bombs, so the bomb bag is small. Bombs are more like grenades, but bomb flowers are gigantic. Young Link kills the Dodongo king with a bomb flower. Adult Link and Darunia fight Volvagia together. Darunia has the hammer. The dragon disarms him, and link lifts up the mighty hammer and uses it to make the final blow.

Young Link goes to Zora’s Domain and spends the day playing – doing the diving competition, going to Lake Hylia, etc. He finds the bottle with Ruto’s note, and brings it to the King. He climbs into Jabu Jabu’s mouth and down his throat. Adult Link finds Zora’s Domain Frozen. He searches for signs of life and finds the king frozen in magical ice. He goes to check on Jabu Jabu, who is gone. However, he sees a cave that is now accessible due to the ice. He thinks that maybe some Zora’s are hiding there. Inside he finds blue fire and a Zora Tunic. Shiek appears to him and tells him that Ruto has headed to the Water Temple at Lake Hylia to fix everything. Link uses the blue fire to Revive the King and heads to Lake Hylia. Lake Hylia is drained and link uses the Zora tunic to enter the temple. Young Link rescues Ruto. Adult Link and Ruto work together to defeat Morpha. Dark Link appears from Link’s reflection in the defeated Morpha. Young Link must sneak back into the castle to find Zelda. He has the stones!

There are no guards at the castle. Link walks right in. Soldiers are down. Gannondorf is making his move on Zelda. Link runs into the throne room. Gannondorf Kills the King. Impa and the Queen fight Gannondorf. Zelda Arrives, and the queen orders Impa to take her and flee. The Queen faces Gannondorf alone. Link tries to save the Queen, but is easily tossed aside by Gannondorf. Gannondorf chases Zelda. Link chases Gannondorf. Using a secret passage shown to him earlier by Impa, Link sees Zelda outside the gate. She tosses the Ocarina into the water. Gannondorf arrives and offers Link amnesty if he tells him where Zelda went. Link refuses, and Gannondorf attempts to kill him, and rides off. Link lies badly beaten, the image zooms in on the water where the ocarina is. Link retrieves it and uses it to open the temple of Time. He takes the Master Sword and is propelled forward in time. Gannondorf enters the Sacred Realm. Season over.

Adult Link faces off against his Dark Visage. Season ends where we see Dark Link has traded places with Link. Link becomes trapped in the Water Temple while Dark Link leaves with Ruto (unbeknownst to Ruto).

Season starts with Sheik (who is played by a female, but is viewed as male by all the characters) meeting up with Dark Link (who he thinks is Link). Sheik noticed that Link is off, and asks what happened in the Water Temple. Dark Link plays the “battle hardens you” card. Sheik doesn’t buy it. He asks Malon to try to talk sense into Link, who has stopped trying to rescue sages and was off canoodling with Ruto. Malon confronts Dark Link and quickly realizes that something is not right. He does not recognize her. She mentions Epona and Link ignores the mention. Malon tells Sheik that something is wrong, so Sheik and Malon go to the water temple, which is now flooded with water except for at the reflecting pool, where Dark Link appeared. They find Link and rescue him. Dark Link has the Master Sword, so they set a trap for him. Link has had time to reflect on how he lost to Dark Link and manages to get the Master Sword back from him and defeat him.

Adult Link goes back in time to go under the well. Adult Link enters the Shadow Temple and rescues Impa. We start to see flashbacks of Zelda and Impa’s adventure. Adult Link goes back in time to the Spirit Temple.Link befriends Nabooru. Nabooru is taken by the witches. Link goes forward in time. We see Nabooru flashbacks of her time imprisoned by Twinrova. Link tries to rescue Nabooru as young Link after traveling back. Link and Nabooru defeat Twinrova. Link hears that Gannondorf has been searching for a weapon. Gannonorf has sent the Happy Mask Salesman to find this weapon. They have heard only whispers of Majora’s Mask.

I’l stop my ranting now. All I will say is that while this is going on, the Happy Mask Salesman is the “Rumpelstiltskin” of the story. He has his hand in everything, and his motives are never clear. His true motive is to recover Majora’s Mask, which makes a few appearances passively in the story up until this point. Gannondorf thinks the Salesman is getting the mask for him, but the salesman wants it for himself. The Salesman sometimes helps the rebels (Anti-Gannondorf) and sometimes helps Ganondorf. However, he always seems to have sinister intent.

I ask Nintendo to let me be a writer for this show when they see my concept. Americans will love it. It’s dark, edgy, and complex. It takes all our favorite parts of the Legend of Zelda and gives it to us in live action. Just don let Disney touch it or it will die by the end of the second season because they’ll charge too much for syndication (I’m looking at you, Legend of the Seeker.) Rant officially over.

It’s not news to anyone that when we see women wearing medieval type body armor, this armor virtually always includes two breast shaped protrusions. Often, this armor not only accentuates the female’s breasts, it often provides little to no actual protection. I mentioned this topic briefly when discussing the changes to Thor. Check it out if you’re interested in my feelings on the hero’s gender change.

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Note the above image of a female warrior. This is not atypical. The woman is meant to look like an intimidating foe. However, her outfit is completely impractical. She’s wielding a sword, which means she intends to be in a close fight. Any actual warrior heading into a close quarters fight would want some protection. Depending on their skill level, they may opt for lighter, weaker, or more flexible armor. However, they will always go for the most coverage with whatever they have. Unless they need to do something very specific and armor would interfere with that. Also, they would be sure to cover their vital parts. The upper chest would definitely be covered, because an arrow could easily hit them there and kill them. Their back would be defended, because they can’t see what’s behind them. Their legs would be covered because even a shallow cut could make it more difficult for them to move or escape an enemy. She would have her hair up so an enemy couldn’t grab it. However, this woman’s outfit attempts none of that. She wouldn’t even wear this under a suit of armor, for reason’s I’ll explain later. What this image is doing is presenting her as a sexual image for the male audience of the fantasy genre. The most common occurrence of this sort of outfit is in the fantasy and sci-fi genre of video games, but that’s because there are markedly fewer movies of the same type released per year. To think that millions of boys and men are seeing images very similar to this one on a daily basis is sort of terrifying.

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This image is a little different. This woman is at least covered. Only that small circle in the center of her chest is revealed. Wait… what? This is another common trend for women in fantasy. They are all armored up; except for one spot that just so happens to show off their bodacious cleavage. This wouldn’t be an issue if no actual warrior would ever actually do that. Why would you cover yourself up just to leave your 1-hit-kill spot open? I don’t think women are so proud of their cleavage that they are willing to show it off to the enemies they are killing,especially when it leaves them open to instant kill. Also, I would comment on the single left sided pauldron we see here, but this isn’t an issue with women’s armor. This is an issue with armor in general. Single pauldrons were used by horseback knights using lances and spears to defend their non-weapon bearing arm. With a shield, this pauldron created a virtual barricade between the knight and their target. This became a trend for non-horseback warriors in media. I’m not entirely sure why, but I believe it has to do with Final Fantasy. Square Enix loves to make asymmetrical character designs. Many of these involve the characters having only one pauldron, usually on their non-dominant arm. This could have utility for a foot soldier, though there are better ways to protect yourself and keep mobility on the ground. It’s more of an artistic choice than a practical one, which in these situations is fine as long as they aren’t trying to treat it like its practical.

female warrior

This picture is just one of the many images of women in body armor that is both impractical and impossible. These images are perpetuating a sort of male fantasy that is unhealthy. There are three things I’m going to focus on here. The first is how the breastplate perfectly wraps around the woman’s breasts. It also looks to be just covering where one would expect to see a nipple. There are a few problems with his. The first is that nobody wears armor immediately on their body. They have something under it, generally some sort of shirt. This woman clearly has nothing under her breastplate. This would cause irritation of the skin, and would quickly lead to problems, most likely infections. The next thing that isn’t proper about this armor is that it fits her breasts perfectly. The cups were the exact right size and produce that perfect ball shape. Even if its acting in a push-up bra fashion, that makes no sense. No warrior would be like “I’m going to kill some people in a battle for my kingdom/freedom/justice/etc., better wear my push-up breastplate. Gotta look busty in this battle.” It would probably be more like “great, what do I do with these things?”

The second big issue with this breastplate is how it hugs her skin so tightly. This would severely restrict her mobility since twisting her body could cause the breastplate to grind on her skin. This might also just stop her from twisting all together. Armor causes the body to move in the confines of its shape. If it is shaped exactly like your body, you cannot move much. It also acts to accentuate her body shape.

The final issue with this armor is that it exposes almost half of her torso. Her upper torso is completely unprotected, leaving her heart and lungs vulnerable to an arrow. The armor also reveals a section of her midriff. This is dangerous for many reasons. Whereas this allows her some bending movement forward and back, this is a way for her to potentially stab herself in the stomach. The bottom of the armor is pointed. Imagine she needs to bend over suddenly. That point goes right into her abdomen. Ouch.

Her legs are also terribly unprotected, but that was discussed already. The clothes over her crotch could be an artistic move. However, it would be more realistic to wear a tabard of your kingdom’s symbol, or have the symbol on your armor, rather than have a cloth hanging from your belt which could easily be tripped over or grabbed. This is something that is common in general warriors as well. I believe that it started with the undershirts or tabards that people wore under their armor were longer than the armor and ended up handing down below the armor. They probably ended up getting scrunched between the legs as we often see. However, designers have started just putting them between the legs, essentially ignoring any idea that they are part of a larger garment. That’s just speculation, though. I’m no art historian.

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These two women share many similarities with the above woman, so I won’t repeat myself. The most notable thing here is that the parts that are unprotected are the sexualized parts. The one on the left has essentially no protection on her bottom. This paints the image of a strong woman whose sexuality is open and vulnerable. Her breasts are pushed up, but at least her armor is supported over her shoulders, which is something the previous woman lacked. This will give her more freedom of movement while ensuring her armor didn’t just fall off for being loose. The woman on the right has much more armor, but her modesty is not kept. Her breasts, stomach, and upper thighs are revealed and vulnerable. Again, her breasts are exposed, as is a perfect shot at her heart.

 

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This is probably the closest thing we have so far to a normal piece of armor. This is from the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This female warrior is wearing Daedric Armor, the best heavy armor in the game. It covers her as it would any man, except for one thing. It’s got beast protrusions. Why is this a problem? Well, I will answer that question with a question: When women play sports, what do they wear on their breasts, generally? The correct answer is a sports bra. Sometimes they don’t wear a sports bra and end up wrapping their chest. Why do they do either of those things? To push their breasts close to their body and keep them there. This helps them with balance and coordination. This prevents larger breasts from hitting into the arms or getting in the way of whatever they are doing. Similarly, women in fictional fantasy world would have the same concerns. Their breasts would not be out of their body much. They wouldn’t be using those breast protrusions even if they were actually in the armor. In real life, breast protrusions would end up being a hindrance. They would reduce the range of motion of the arms, perhaps drastically depending on the size. If a woman didn’t have her breasts wrapped, and instead was wearing a normal bra or something, they would more than likely get pinched between the armor and her skin. Often, warriors will wear a mail shirt underneath their armor. This mail shirt would effectively make the breast protrusions useless. If she were to fall onto her chest, the base of the protrusions would press into her chest (think of what happens if you press a glass cup against your body. Now have someone do it with a bucket and all of their body weight. Exactly.) CHEST ARMOR SHOULD NOT HAVE BREASTS.

 

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of instances of women wearing realistic, era-relevant armor. Historically speaking, there weren’t too many practical uses for female armor, so this is a work in progress. However, I am fully aware that these designers are fully capable of figuring this out. They are aware that these are impractical armor designs. They chose to put these women in these suits of armor to sexualize them. This removes the idea that these women are actually capable warriors and suggests they are just there as eye candy. Despite what many would claim, this is the way the mind views it.  The image below is a great example of what a woman in armor should look like. This is also from Skyrim. Comment below with some really great or really terrible examples of women in armor.

.female warrio 6

wall_e

 

I was bored and nostalgic yesterday. I decided to watch Wall-E again. When Wall-E was first released, I was completely enamored. I loved the lack of dialogue, the effects which are probably still the best animation Disney/Pixar has ever done, and the overall story. I loved Wall-E, because he was this cute, lonely little creature (robot) who gets thrust into this huge conspiracy that is way beyond him. It is also a massive political commentary on human waste and consumption. It shows the terrible things that can happen when we get greedy, like the destruction of our planet, and the increase of sedentary lifestyles. Laziness, gluttony, all that fun stuff. However, where this film truly shines is its female characters. All of the characters were strong and well developed, even the robots, but I write about female characters.

I guess that’s a lie, because I’m going to start by talking about Wall-E.

Wall-E is completely unexceptional. He’s not too smart, doesn’t have a variety of skills, and sort of just bumbles through the movie. However, this makes him a strong character because, although he isn’t your normal, garden variety hero type, he’s still the hero. He has a strong personality that you immediately fall in love with, and you’re rooting for him the whole time. His unrequited affection for EVE makes you root for him even more, because you know that he’s the underdog, and you want him to win. He saves the day not for the girl, but because it’s the right thing to do. He just wants to help, and he knows that getting that plant in the holodeck will help. He knows the Auto-Pilot is the bad guy, and that EVE and the Captain are the good guys. He’s just a good person (yes, I’m saying person) who is willing to sacrifice a lot for these people he literally just met. Or hasn’t even met.

Mary is the one of the humans on the ship. While Wall-E is trying to get to EVE, he turns off Mary’s chair, which makes her pay attention to the world around her. She doesn’t want to go back. She loves the Axiom and begins exploring immediately. She eventually meets John, who Wall-E woke up earlier. This is the main reason I like her so much. Although John was “awake” longer than Mary was, Mary ended up being the leader. She takes John to all of the places on the ship she likes, and introduces him to the world. They start a romance because they’re the only two people on the ship besides the Captain who aren’t sitting zombified in their chairs (Again, social commentary). However, she is the initiator and leader of the duo. John, who isn’t any less able than Mary, defers to her judgment, because he respects her as a person. Even at the end, she’s the one who grabs John while he’s falling and then let’s go to protect the children. She is the epitome of a strong female character because she used all of her feminine traits and was still able to do all of that.

EVE is our main female protagonist. We meet EVE, the Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, when she is deployed on Earth in the city that Wall-E lives in. He’s immediately enamored by her because she’s something that isn’t garbage or a cockroach. However, she shows immediately that she’s no pushover. She packs a nice energy cannon on her arm which she uses pretty indiscriminately. She at first seems to just be another robot with no personality, but we quickly learn that she has a large range of emotions. She is patient, but still has a temper, as evidenced by the tantrum she throws when after searching for a long time she finds no plants. She destroys a whole line of Buy-n-Large tankers just out of frustration. She shows early on that she’s not a woman to be trifled with. She also shows a great dedication to her duty and her position. There is nothing wrong with this. As the movie progresses, she reveals more of her personality. Rather than grabbing the plant and putting it in the Holodeck, she saves the humans from getting crushed. Despite immediately bringing the plant to the captain after reclaiming it, she and Wall-E dance in space (which inspires Mary and John to explore the ship!). She’s the perfect combination of duty and honor. She’s caring and strong. She’s the leader between her and Wall-E, and she constantly feels the need to protect him.

 

Why don’t we have more characters like Mary and EVE? They show that women can fill the same roles as men, and still be feminine. They show that men can be heroes and not be the main actor in an event. Wall-E saves the day, but none of that would have mattered if EVE wasn’t there. They had to work together. This movie shows us that all people, regardless of gender, race (in this case, robot or human), ability (as shown by the “malfunctioning” robots who help save the day with their “disabilities”), and past (as evidenced by Mary and john, despite being zombified by their chairs), can work together to change the world. Plus, neither character is sexualized in any way. They get by on their own merits. We need more movies like this. We need more characters like this.

 

 

 

Now, I’m the type of comic book fan that will watch a comic book movie multiple times for no real reason. With DC movies, i like to pick up on the references to other characters or alternate storylines that i recognize. In Marvel movies, i don’t really notice those things because i don’t know them. However, i really enjoy “The Amazing Spiderman” for a different reason. As I write this, i realize that the same can be said about “Man of Steel” (though I was hardcore fangirling at all the DC universe easter eggs and references during that movie).

The amazing Spiderman has been on the movie channels a lot lately so I’ve been watching it. I first saw it a few months ago. I honestly didn’t expect too much from it and i was very pleasantly surprised.  There are three main reasons i enjoyed this movie. If you have not seen the movie, don’t read ahead!

1. Casting – The cast of this movie is great. Andrew Garfield makes the perfect Spiderman, and a believable awkward and quirky Peter Parker. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy gives her that girl-next-door type vibe without making her a hyper sexualized, impossible to get girl. Denis Leary as Captain Stacy is probably the best casting call of the whole movie. He perfectly portrays the emotions and heroism of a New York city cop and father. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was inspiring. The reason these characters are so great is because they are relatable. These actors portray their characters so that we think “oh hey, that could be me” while watching it. I mean, that’s what the message is anyway, right?

2. The message – The message of this story is great. Unlike a lot of other Superheroes, Peter Parker doesn’t have some destiny or higher calling. He wasn’t created or sent to do something. He is just a kid trying to learn how to be a responsible adult. And that’s where the movie shines, i think. Throughout the course of the movie, Peter starts to learn about what being responsible really means. He feels guilty for his Uncle’s murder, so he goes around trying to get revenge. He thinks hes being responsible and helping people, but in reality he’s just trying to help himself. After Captain Stacy talks about how Spiderman has a vendetta and isn’t helping people, Peter realizes that its true. This is shown when he goes to the bridge when the lizard is attacking. This is the first time he is depicted going out there just to help and not to hunt down his uncle’s killer. However, Peter doesn’t just stop there. Once he learns that it is Dr. Connors that is the lizard, he doesn’t try to go take him out on his own. He doesn’t pull a Batman where he thinks only he can stop it. He goes to Captain Stacy and tries to work with him on it. Then, at the end of the movie, Spiderman and Captain Stacy defeat the Lizard together. The message isn’t like so many other superhero movies that say “screw the rules, do what you think is best!” The message here is, “Work with the rules and you will be more successful.”

3. Gwen Stacy’s role – So often in the Superhero genre the female love interest gets treated terribly. They get killed off, kidnapped (I’m looking at you, Mary-Jane), threatened, or are used as some pawn in the villain’s game. They didn’t do that with Gwen. Gwen served a purpose the entire time she was there. In fact, without Gwen, peter would not have been able to stop the Lizard from infecting everyone. Gwen went to Oscorp and made the antidote. She didn’t need help, she didn’t need someone to watch her. She did it. Then, when the Lizard comes for the machine, she hides it from him, stalling him. When he finds it, he leaves her there. How often do you see a Superhero movie where the bad guy just ignored the female love interest? To be fair, I would say that he more so decides that she sin’t worth the time, and leaves, since shes throwing fire at him at the moment, but it doesn’t make a difference. And you know what? The way it was done was way better than if they kidnapped Gwen.

So, the Amazing Spiderman is pretty good, and if you have’t seen it yet then go check it out. I have yet to see the second one, but I will soon enough. How do you feel about the movie? Are there any other Superhero movies that you feel similarly about? Let me know!

 

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In my time at college, I was focusing on a lot of topics related to feminism. We were working on sexual assault awareness campaigns for men, mostly, but I was, of course, exposed to a lot of feminist media that extended from the topic. I since identify as a feminist, though I assert that I have my own personal idea behind feminism. It mostly revolves around having accurate and healthy depictions of women in popular media including books, movies, and video games. I understand that true feminism is not an attack on men, nor it is trying to remove and rights from men. I consider women to be partners in my life, and therefore I expect them to be portrayed in the same light in media. This is often not the case. I always like to make a point that if women are 51% of the population and most likely a similar percentage of the people in the average person’s life, then why do books and movies often only have only one or two really strong female characters? I’ve been doing some digging, and anyone out there who knows anything about writing is that all the “research” is in mostly blogs. In college I read almost every issue of Writer’s Digest, and I don’t believe they ever touched on this fundamental issue in this field. Here are some articles I found that I think are useful for writers:

On Writing Strong Female Characters 

How Not to Write Female Characters

We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

 

These all cover a series qualities and characteristics that make any character a good character. For some reason, when writing female characters, writes often forget that they are actually people. The industry immediately thinks that a character is male, regardless of if they are aware of it or not. Men need motivations and goals and quirks while women often need to just be there. There is often a subconscious objectification of these characters, particularly in movies and video games and comics. Contemporary fiction is probably the most progressive about this, but usually subsects, particularly science fiction and fantasy, are far worse. The female often serves as a reward for the male protagonist when he wins the story, serves as a way to motivate him to succeed, or is just there for a sexual aspect. Men are never put into this category, because we expect them to be the protagonist and be important. Even in romance and lush novels.

The saddest part is that we have to read and write articles about how to write a female character when it’s literally no different from a male character. It’s just so ingrained in us to not think of women as characters unless we teach ourselves that they are.