Renouncing Citizenship in the DC Nation

April 28th, 2011 by Dave

Let’s get a few things out of the way, right off the bat.

This is not me being jingoistic. I do not subscribe to the ‘America, Love It or Leave It’ philosophy.

This is not me agreeing, except in the most broad terms, with certain news sources and media personalities. In many ways, they are a big part of the problems facing this nation.

This is not me trying to jump onto a controversy, manufactured or otherwise, in order to increase listenership, readership, or any other kind of publicity.

This is about the destruction of an American icon in the name of greater profits and publicity. Something that, left or right, natural born or migrant, American or other nationality, can all agree is the complete antithesis of Superman.

If you are just waking up from a coma, Action Comics #900 has hit the stands. It is a milestone in comics not just in it’s numerological sense, but also in a more philosophically vital sense. This is the issue where Superman renounces his US citizenship.

Of course, as the current creative team would like to kick John Byrne’s ‘natural born citizen because of the birthing chamber’ bit of canon to the curb, Superman is an alien. Yet, he has always been a symbol for America. Acceptance for others. Respect for those who may be different than you. Those with great power using it towards the good of society. Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Only, it’s that last bit that DC Comics feels needs to go in order to boost sales globally.

What is the American Way? For better or for worse, it is up to each person, American or otherwise, to decide for themselves what those two words mean. For myself, and hopefully many more rational and moderate people, it means the one of the most famous, and seemingly most ignored by some, sentence from the American Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is the belief that we are stronger as a society when we respect each other and compromise for the common good. It is a belief that those with gifts have a responsibility to use those gifts to better themselves as well as society; that the strong should help the weak, should the ask for aid, to become stronger in their own right.

What is wrong with these ideals? Why is it so unmarketable to believe and stand for those ideas? It is not the core that Superman evolved into in the Golden and Silver Age that is unmarketable, but what many see as ‘The American Way’ today. For over 200 years, America was seen as the guiding light and promise of freedom and tolerance. If today, that is no longer the case, I submit that the fault lies not in the promise, but that we American have slowly failed to uphold that promise.

I love my country; I’m proud of my country. Yet I see the flaws in it and the widening divide as mutual respect is lessening in our national debate. Xenophobia is on an upswing cycle, as it is from time to time. But these things can and will be overcome. It won’t be an easy struggle to bring civility back and once again become the guiding light and promise we once were, but it is worth the effort. And the last thing we need is for a symbol as great as Superman to walk away from that struggle. Of course, DC will have us believe that Superman is just expanding his own directive to try and do more good; that he is (understandably) tired of being a political tool. This is so much nonsense on so many levels.

First of all, over the 70+ years of publication, Superman is an indelible icon of America, every bit as important as the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell. Even though he is a fictional character, divorcing Superman from America is the same as divorcing those historic symbols from America.

Second, even Superman saying saying that he is no longer an American in order to be used as a political tool, doesn’t mean that he won’t be still used as a political tool. As we are already seeing, Superman walking away is being used by certain pundits to further their own goals. And these goals are far from the ideals that Superman represents. All this is doing is stripping Superman’s ability to argue against these people.

Third, as some people have already pointed out, this whole stunt is predicated on the idea that with Superman no longer being an American, kids in Europe, Japan, and other places will all of a sudden say ‘Hey, Superman was a douche when he was an American, but now he’s awesome!’

Fourth, and most disturbing to me, is that it turns Superman, epitome of idealism, into a hypocrite. Is Clark Kent going to renounce his citizenship as well? Will Clark stop writing articles that can be construed as politically biased in any way (i.e. ‘a tool of the liberal media’)? Will Clark pay his taxes to support a US Government that he dosen’t agree with?

In so many ways, Superman is a representation of all that is good and right about the potential of America. Both are at their best wen they act as the elder statesman or brother figure; not controlling, manipulating, or domineering others into their philosophy, but leading by example and holding true to their principals. Superman walking away doesn’t solve any of the problems that are causing this crisis; it only makes them worse. America needs the symbol of Superman more than ever to show us how great we can be if we try. Instead he will be used to strengthen the ideals that are an anathema to him.

This is literally the straw that broke the camel’s back here. Although I’m sure I will get lumped in with people and organizations that I do not agree with ideologically, I am going to be boycotting all DC and Warner Brothers productions until this situation is resolved. I’ll also be boycotting all products advertised through Warner Brothers media. No Green Lantern film. No Harry Potter. No Cartoon Network. No CNN (I’ll be using MSNBC to balance out Fox). No reviews of any of the films or shows. If you agree with the points I’ve made and feel the same, I encourage you to join in the boycott and make your voice heard. If you don’t agree, that’s fine, I respect your opinion. After all, isn’t that really the American Way?

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Categories: Announcements, comics

Thoughts On Madoka Magica

April 28th, 2011 by Kyle

We just finished watching the last episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The verdict?

This is the best anime series in a over decade, now stands at #4 in my own list of greatest anime series of all time (behind only Legend of Galactic Heroes, Macross, and Cowboy Bebop), and is guaranteed to be a classic.

This series does for the Japanese concept of the superhero (which is what magical girls are) what Watchmen did for the western concept of the superhero – and does it every bit as devastatingly effectively. And, as with Watchmen, nothing in the genre will or can ever be the same after this.

It also is something with some very important messages for adolescent girls – be careful what you commit to; consider consequences; don’t throw away tomorrow for temporary happiness today; don’t trust appearances; don’t believe words just because they come out of a pretty face; find out exactly what’s in a contract before you sign it; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is; don’t assume that everyone else has the same sense of morality that you do; there’s such a thing as being too nice to others; some wishes don’t come true, and often it’s better that they didn’t.

That it’s beautifully animated in an amazing, distinctive art style is just icing on the cake.

A true masterpiece.

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Categories: Reviews, Reviews

Episode 81 Show Notes

April 28th, 2011 by Kyle

Episode 81: Women Want To Sniff Dave!

Sponsored By LaBella Gift Baskets & Cards

Starters:

  • RIP Elisabeth Sladen

Geek News:

  • From the Hollywood Desk:
  1. The Crow reboot faces legal troubles
  2. Ian Holm confirmed to return for The Hobbit
  3. Edward Norton says: “Marvel has to deal with their own karma”
  • From the Television Desk:
  1. Happy Days cast members sue CBS for withheld royalties
  • From the Anime Desk:
  1. Madoka Magica buys full-page ad in Yomiuri Shinbun
  2. Aki-Sora manga canceled due to incest
  • From the Cellar:
  1. Google Video being shut down, videos deleted
  2. Chinese author to have plastic surgery to look like Shakespeare
  3. State attorneys general ask Snoop Dogg to stop marketing malt liquor to children

Pick Of The Week:

Saturday Morning Rewind:

Stuff You Should Know About:

Five Minute Reviews:

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Categories: Show Notes

Geek Tragedy #81: Women Want to Sniff Dave!

April 28th, 2011 by Kyle

[podcast]http://npccomics.com/podcast/gt/GT_ep81.mp3[/podcast]

This week we start on a somber note, Kyle remembers not so happy days, Dave details his magical scent, Kyle tolerates RoboCop, and we end with something GT has never seen before!

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Categories: Episodes

Episode 80 Show Notes

April 22nd, 2011 by Kyle

Episode 80: Pimptastic

Sponsored By LaBella Gift Baskets & Cards

Starters:

  • WonderCon reflections

Geek News:

  • From the Hollywood Desk:
  1. Nick Cage arrested in New Orleans
  2. China bans time travel
  3. Michael Shannon cast as Zod
  4. Nestor “Batmanuel” Carbonell to return for The Dark Knight Rises
  5. Paramount pressuring JJ Abrams to make Star trek sequel in 3D
  6. GI Joe 2 director promises to bring “a soul”, possibly 3D, to sequel
  7. James Nguyen is now the master of 3D
  • From the Television Desk:
  1. Arnold to voice animated TV superhero “The Governator”
  2. Robert Sheehan leaving Misfits
  3. ABC cancels One Life To Live, All My Children
  • From The Wrestling Desk
  1. Edge retires
  • From the Anime Desk:
  1. Madoka Magica returning on April 21st
  • From the Cellar:
  1. The Forbes Fictional 15 list announced
  2. Oklahoma man raising funds to build working, life-size AT-AT

Five-Minute Reviews

Pimp Of The Week:

Pick Of The Week:

Saturday Morning Rewind:

Stuff You Should Know About:

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Categories: Show Notes

Kyle Goes To The Happiest Place On Earth!

April 21st, 2011 by Kyle

For classic gaming fans, that is. Here’s a gallery of pictures taken during Kyle’s trip to Barcade, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a bar… it’s an arcade… it’s Barcade! Microbrew beers on tap, and all games are still just a quarter. Here are the pics:

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Categories: Uncategorized

Geek Tragedy #80: Pimptastic!

April 19th, 2011 by Kyle

[podcast]http://npccomics.com/podcast/gt/GT_ep80.mp3[/podcast]

The Geeks get their mack on in this week’s extravaganza! From the Pimp of the Week, to a ode to Truck Turner, this episode can be summed up in one word: Pimptatsic!

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Categories: Episodes

Kyle Is Sick Of Great Visuals

April 17th, 2011 by Kyle

There’s been a revolution in filmmaking in the past few years, as powerful computing technology has made effects and techniques that used to be complex and difficult easy, and made ones that were impossible possible. It has put in the hands of directors the ability to create visuals that could only be dreamed of only twenty years ago. What once could only be imagined is now ubiquitous.

And I for one am totally sick of it.

This thought started brewing inside me when I walked out of Sucker Punch, and it’s taken me a while to really formulate it, but here it is: All these amazing new filmmaking tools haven’t given us better movies. Hollywood directors and producers think they have, but they really haven’t. In fact, there are examples of filmmakers who have visibly, undeniably had better tools turn them into worse filmmakers.

Of course, George Lucas is probably the most obvious and prominent example of this. He should have spent less time during the creation of the prequels worrying about special effects, and more worrying about storytelling, character development, and dialog. Lots has been said about this, and there’s not much I can add to it.

But Lucas is not the only one to fall into this trap. Look at the movies James Cameron made in the 80s – classics like The Terminator and Aliens. Look at what he’s made lately with all the technology at his control – Titanic and Avatar. Neither of those were awful films, mind you – but both were weak and cliched stories that would have been nothing without their handsome stars or impressive visuals. In fact, the storyline of Avatar was nothing without those things – when it was called Delgo. Certainly, they’re nowhere near as smart and innovative as Cameron’s early films. Avatar’s budget was 36 times bigger than The Terminator’s budget – which is the better film?

Here’s another one – between 1985 and 1995, without modern effects technology, Robert Zemeckis directed the Back to The Future trilogy, Romancing The Stone, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump. In the last ten years, with it, he’s directed The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey, and produced Mars Needs Moms. Need I say more?

Or how about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I’m a Crystal Skull defender, by the way – I think it’s just as good as the original trilogy. Just as good – but not better. And certainly not any better because of any advances in visual effects.

Who isn’t sick of the likes of Skyline, Battle Los Angeles, or Sucker Punch? Yes, we’ve always had action, horror, and sci-fi films that have been big, loud, and dumb. But the technology hasn’t done a thing to make them any better.

So, Hollywood, step back from the computers and get back to writing strong stories with memorable characters and well-written dialog. You will, in the end, make better movies than you’re making now. Yes, in the hands of someone with a strong aesthetic vision, these tools can make great things possible. But even that’s hit and miss. The Wachowskis made The Matrix. But they also made Speed Racer. Better tools do not make better artists, nor do they necessarily create better art. If they become a crutch, or a substitute for the abovementioned characters, story, and dialog, then they become a hindrance rather than a help.

And so they have.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Source Code: Highly Immoral (SPOILERS)

April 9th, 2011 by Kyle

This post contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Source Code, don’t read it.

So I just came back from the movie, and I have a couple of very big ethical problems with what happened in the movie. Here are the big ones:

1) Goodwin was absolutely wrong to pull the plug on Stevens at the end. Dr. Rutledge may have been an asshole, but he was absolutely right – if Stevens was one of the few matches – or maybe the only match – for the Source Code equipment, and his continued use of it would likely save thousands or even millions of lives in future uses, then sorry, but screw whether being in the box makes Stevens miserable. Balancing millions of lives against one person getting all emo about still being alive when he’d rather not be is no moral contest at all. Wipe his memory and get ready for the next mission. This is why the old cliche about not getting too close to your subject exists, and why, for all that it is a cliche, it’s still a good idea. If Stevens died, and the next day, or week, or month, he was needed again to save another few thousand lives, but wasn’t there because Goodwin went soft, then she’d be responsible for the deaths of those people.

2) So at the end of the film, we see the kiss, and Stevens thinks he’s going to die, but then the kiss ends, he’s still there with the girl, and everything’s happy. Cue music and credits, right? Well, not so fast. Let’s think about this a second. Apparently what’s happened is that somehow Stevens ended up in a timeline where he saved everybody on the train, and ended up as Sean Fentress permanently. Which brings up the question: What about Sean Fentress? If Colter Stevens’s personality has overwritten Sean Fentress’s personality permanently, then hasn’t Colter Stevens effectively just killed Sean Fentress and stolen Fentress’s body, stuff, life, and future? You could say that Fentress was going to die anyway, but is that true? Remember, while it’s true that in this timeline Fentress survived only because Stevens became him for eight minutes, after that, Fentress would have survived and had his whole future ahead of him. Is it right that Stevens ends up with all of that? After all, Colter Stevens made his choices – we are told that he kept going back to Afghanistan again and again to be with his unit. Whether that was noble of him or not, it should be him who faces the consequences of his choices – not Sean Fentress. Certainly, it makes what Stevens said untrue. He didn’t save everybody on that train, because for Fentress, what’s the effective difference between the bomb going off and what ended up happening to him? For all real purposes, he’s dead either way.

At very least, this makes the end of the film not quite as happy an ending as one might have been led to believe.

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Categories: Movies

WonderCon Video – Up Close With The Nintendo 3DS

April 5th, 2011 by Kyle

Geek Tragedy’s very own Kyle got to sample the hotly-anticipated Nintendo 3DS at Capcom’s booth at WonderCon. What did he think? Watch and learn![kaltura-widget uiconfid=”535″ entryid=”0_ylj1y6el” width=”400″ height=”255″ addpermission=”” editpermission=”” /] Geek Tragedy special correspondent Robby Yagamihara is here with his own review of the Nintendo 3DS. What does the second opinion say? Find out yourself![kaltura-widget uiconfid=”535″ entryid=”0_1eqlcyai” width=”400″ height=”255″ addpermission=”” editpermission=”” /]

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Categories: Wondercon 2011