The Road to Nowhere

Well, now that we are back at the dorms, it only makes sense that we have another existential post.  The first week at college has been a disaster.  We slammed our foot into a door, missed both class and work and are still in a little pain now.  Some personal matters came to a resolution in ways that we didn’t like.  This semester is going to utterly suck, and it kills me that I figured this out right at the beginning.

This morning, I got a call from a friend.  She is far away, in law school.  Her future is bright, and as I am facing the future once college is done, I have to look ahead.  And I don’t have a fucking clue where I am going.  Part of this scares me, because the future is bearing down on me, and a debt that I don’t want to think about is about to become a huge reality.  I don’t know what to do, which is something that I don’t like.  I live my life day-to-day.  Not because I want to, but because I have to.  Medical problems, school work, work work, and a thousand other things, I am forced to try and take things as they come.  It isn’t a lifestyle that I am fond of, but it’s all I’ve got.

Feeling BlueI want to escape.  I want to go somewhere far away.  Not to some tropical paradise, mind you.  No, where I want to go is somewhere far less exotic.  I want to go back to Seward.  When I was a kid, we used to have these camping trips.  We packed up the family camper, which was a run-down piece of junk, but serviceable.  We would go and park it on the beach and set up a tent for me and the sister.  I would fall asleep each night listening to the sound of the waves on the shore.  Or I would sit up and watch the cruise ships come and go.  Coming and going.  Something of a metaphor in my life right now.

I went out driving, something I am want to do while the roads are still decent.  Before Old Man Winter (the asshole) comes back for seven months and decides to fuck them up.  As I did, there was really mellow and soft jazz playing on NPR.  The gentle hum of the trumpet got into my soul and for a moment, I actually felt myself smile.  Something that doesn’t happen much.  It felt good.  But as I went down that city street, watching the lights of the city as night settles, I looked further down.  Down as far as the road would go.  The road went on and on and on, seeming to vanish into infinity.  A road that, eventually, leads to nowhere.

And that is how most roads have felt in my life.  Living day-to-day, I wander aimlessly from thing to thing, not knowing what is going to happen next.  I am a great deal more alone in that now than when I started.  I am the last person I know still here in college.  When I graduate in May, I will have been in college for seven years.  Seven long years, and I am facing what is to happen next.  It is a journey that I am not fond of.

Then we get a call today, from a friend in law school, and there may be other options.  Her argument was persuasive, and the path seems good, but we are unsure.  More debt, but more options.  More time in school, but better classes that actually endorse thinking.  I know, novel thought.  Sounds good, but so confused.  But the thing that really makes us want to go – getting to see that friend again.  Missing her like crazy.  She was the only good thing in the entire last year of college.  My adventures with her are something that I genuinely lament.

A chance to escape.  A chance to actually make a direction for my life.  A chance to make something happen.  So why the fuck am I so confused?!  Why can’t I take some initiative on fucking anything?!  It’s been like this all my life.  My indecisive nature has been a curse for my whole damn life.  I remember back when I was sleeping with this friend casually, and between the two of us, we couldn’t decide shit!  It made for some good jokes, but at the same time, I feel like that is my life.

Country NightI feel like I am driving down a country road.  No signs, no lights, moonlight above, but no destination.  It is beautiful, but there comes a point where you want to know where the fuck you are going.  And that is something that I haven’t had for a long time.  Why does it have to be this way?  Why can’t things get better?  Why can’t life throw me a bone?

You know what, fuck it.  I’m doing it!  At the very least, I’ll take the LSAT and see where that takes me.  If it doesn’t work out, then so be it.  At least I will have tried.  At least I will have actually made something happen.  And if I get accepted to the law school she is at, then I will be able to see her again.  That’s all I want at this point.  To see a friend who is important to me.

I have no illusions about what life has in store for me.  I am going to be struggling all my life, dying young due to medical problems and probably dying alone.  I no longer seek romance because it is clear that no one is interested in me.  Fighting against that nearly got me to kill myself a couple years back.  Ironically, a soft trumpet tune saved me then as well.

I am not going to be on this road forever.  I am not following it down into the ever-after without having at least TRIED to make things better.  If it all ends in me just crashing on the ocean shore in Seward, so be it.  But it’s better than where I am now.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Until next time, a quote,

“There are many roads in this world that will guide you to pleasurable, fun, and exciting destinations that do not end in any form of lasting happiness. So before you step on an enticing path, figure out where it leads.” -Richelle E. Goodrich

Peace out,

Maverick

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War in Syria (A Letter to the President of the United States)

Mr. President,

It is overwhelmingly clear that a war in Syria isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when and how much devotion.  With this in mind, I would like to put something to you.  It is something that I have thought long and hard about, and it is something that I know you will probably never read, but I want you to see.

Here is my thought – you CANNOT do this outside of the democratic process.  For your entire presidency, you have increased the drone strikes, increased the fighting in the Middle East and have gotten us now into five proxy wars in that part of the world.  And before you say that Iraq and Afghanistan are done, no they’re not.  You are continuing the fighting, but doing it with less people and calling it victory.  We haven’t left there yet, and until we do, I say that we are not done.  Five proxy wars, all done without ONE bit of oversight.  You just declared it and we did it.  At least When Bush II did his invasions, he talked with Congress about it.  At least that psychopath who wanted to make his daddy and Super-daddy (God) proud talked with the people who run this country.  Congress was given the most power in this country, because our Founding Fathers saw that if you give too much power to the Executive branch, they will abuse it.

And you HAVE abused it.  Expanding Bush’s foreign policies, leaving GITMO open, getting us into more wars, expanding Bush’s domestic surveillance policies.  These are things that you have done.  You have to take responsibility for your actions, because the American people don’t trust you anymore.  They don’t trust ANYONE in government.  Do you know what happens to a democracy when the leaders are no longer trusted by the people?  History has shown us, time and time again, it falls apart.  We have had a bit of this in our own history.  Before the Civil War, the people of the southern states were becoming less and less respecting of the Union and the increasingly-difficult laws that it was passing in order to try and keep the peace.  Racial and social tensions were heating up fast and they made the choice to leave.  They left the Union, and there was a long and bloody war that was fought to get them back.  Which, by the way, shouldn’t have happened.  They should have been allowed to leave.  Slavery was dying leading up to the Civil War, with better ships and new innovations in production and distribution.  It was becoming more cost than it was worth.  The Confederates would have come back to the Union leading up to World War I.  But what’s done is done.  Now, you have choices to face.

Congress isn’t trusted.  You aren’t trusted.  This government isn’t trusted.  Austerity has made its way to America.  The police have become your own private army that is being used AGAINST the American people.  You are trying, again and again to take control of the Internet, because you fear dissent.  The Internet is making people becoming informed.  It is making knowledge easier and easier to come by.  You can’t lie to us anymore.  The domestic policies that are in place right now are leading us nowhere and if you don’t actually fight for what’s right, then our already-fragile economy is going to crash and burn, because you didn’t change ANYTHING after the collapse in 2008.

The conflict right now in Syria is complicated.  The regime in power there is violent, destructive and not above blasting the shit out of their own people.  However, the people fighting against them are no saints either.  So, who are we backing?  How are we going to do this?  Are you going to do like Clinton did, during our military strikes in the Balkans?  Are you going to invade?  Are we going to make ANOTHER Middle Eastern nation hate us?  The fact is that the conflict is about more than just Syria.  This conflict is about religious and political ideologies of the entire region, and all of the players have a stake in it.  Have you considered this?  Have you considered that our reputation in the Middle East is shaky enough already?  Have you considered that we don’t want to get involved in another conflict that is going to deepen aggressions there, and since Iran is a player in all of this, going to send messages to other people?

The fact is that there is too much at stake right now to just charge in like we are the world’s police.  We haven’t even waited for a report from the weapon inspectors about the chemical weapons that you are so proud to raise up as proof of our need to get involved.  We don’t know anything about what could happen if we get involved.  You need to think this through.

But more than anything, you need to go through proper channels for this.  You can’t just be judge and jury on this issue.  There needs to be discussion.  There needs to be public input.  This has to be something that the American people can weigh in on.  If you just decide to make the decision for us, ignoring the Constitution, then what is that going to do?  People already don’t trust you.  We don’t trust Congress, either.

My words will probably never reach you, but I hope that some part of you recognizes that the way that you are going about this is wrong.  I hope that some part of you will actually try, for once in your entire presidency, to actually do what is right by the American people.  Novel concept, I know.  I hope that this doesn’t become another thing that drains this nation’s money and pumps it into the military-industrial complex.

What we need is to keep our noses out of this, or if we do go into it, go into it the right way.  You aren’t the King of the United States.  You are the President.

Sincerely,

Lucien Noctis Maverick

SIONL/R: Legend of Korra – Season 1

So, having finally gotten the chance to sit down and really go through the first season of the follow-up series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, I can officially say a couple things.

First, this is an awesome show!  It measures up to the original, but it has the potential to surpass it as well.  This series has good writing, awesome characters and a nice conflict.  The new location is cool too.  Republic City is awesome!  The design, the tempo and the feel is great.  I love how it actually looks like culture has progressed.  It is like a mix of fantasy world and the 1920’s.  It makes me all warm inside when I hear old-school music playing on old-school radios, while I see Korra doing bending training.  With that said, I wouldn’t mind if they occasionally had forays to other places in the world, to see how the rest of the world has advanced.  But that can be done later.

Oh, and while we are on that – the art design is incredible!  The pastel look of the backgrounds goes perfectly with the gentle edges of the more mystic places.  The jazzy music inside the city, and the clever mystical touches from the original series soundtrack go off perfectly!  The city looks incredible!  The use of color in the fight sequences, especially at night, is glorious!  I could gush about this for hours, but let’s look at a couple of aspects that bugged me.  Don’t worry, I am going to be nice about this.

The first major problem with this series is that it is rushed.  I think I know why – they didn’t think they’d get a second season.  I remember reading that this was supposed to be a mini-series that would be done with only one season.  But, it got popular, fast.  I wonder why. 😉 But when the series grew to a point where it had enough backing for more, the next season was announced.  But, with that said, the first season had WAY too much happening in each episode.  My favorite ones were the ones devoted to the pro-bending arena and the tournament.  There, they took their time and spaced it out.  I’m not ragging on the series for this.  I get why.  But I am hoping that the next season, Spirits, can take its time and work on this.  I know that nobody from nickelodeon will probably ever read this, but it is my advice all the same.

My other major problem is that the ending to this season was WAY too short!  There was enough plot in that episode for at LEAST three episodes.  Maybe four or five.  It needed to be spaced out.  A problem that more episodes than I’d like had.  You may think that I’m ragging on it, but the truth is – this show has a fuck-ton of potential!  Once the Spirit World comes into the picture, the possibilities are endless!  And it was GREAT to heard Donnie Basco in this show, with the name Iroh!  Clearly the son of Zuko.

The last problem is – where does the series go from here?  It looks like all the major problems were resolved.  So what happens next?  I am curious to see how they are going to answer that question.

This first season serves as a template, if you ask me.  Seeing where it all went right, to then look on where it can go in the future.  The first season of the original series was rough too.  I see a lot of potential here, and I look forward to catching the next season.

Until next time, a quote,

“I hate this being patient thing.”  -Avatar Korra, The Legend of Korra

Peace out,

Maverick

Who the F*ck Cares about Miley Cyrus?!

My news feeds today are being flooded, absolutely flooded, with one of the stupidest things that I have ever been subjected to – analysis of Miley Cyrus’ ass.  Only in America.  Only in America do we put such priority on this girl’s ass.  For real, she does some sex-stuff at the VMAs and everyone is just flipping their shit.  Why the fuck do we care?!

This story, and the media flipping its shit over this is something that needs to be analyzed, because it ties into something else I read about recently.  There was an article in Broadcast and Cable magazine, which I stock at my job, about how TMZ, the network that is literally the worst thing that humanity has ever made, is looking to expand.  They want to create more shows, all centered around the miserable people who watch their shit.  For real, they have ideas for mom-centered shows, teen-centered shows, all sorts of things for the lonely and pathetic people who are wasting every single ounce of potential that they could ever have when they turn on that insipid crap.

It’s like America is such a needy fucking country that we have to have something to absolutely whore out to push people’s buttons in order for us to care about anything.  Lord-knows, we haven’t cared about anything else lately.  NSA spying on people?  Whatever.  Chelsea Manning being imprisoned for 35 years for showing when our country does wrong?  Some other time.  How the cost of living is sky-rocketing and wages are stagnating, causing poverty to be a curse on at least 70% of this country?  That can wait.  Miley Cyrus doing something sexual at the VMAs?  Well, we have to talk about that!  This is important fucking shit!  Let’s get all the greatest minds together and analyze this so that we can come to a consensus!  This is important, dammit!

I am a journalism major.  I am going to be graduating at the end of this academic year.  But every time I look at the news these days, I am starting to think that I wasted my time.  The field of journalism in this country is becoming such a joke that I am literally ashamed to call myself a journalist.  Time was, I believed that this field meant something.  I looked at my greatest icon – Edward R. Murrow, and what he believed.  I was in awe.  This man stood up to power and helped bring down a man who was using his power to go on a nation-wide witch-hunt, in the name of rooting out Communists.  I want to give you a quote from this man, which I think perfectly encapsulates what I mean about modern society.

We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

The general public in this country is probably the stupidest group of people who has ever been.  We are needy, ignorant, complacent and only get truly interested in the mundane.  Why is this?  You ask me, it’s because the people of this country never had to work for anything.  For real, when was the last time that a genuine cultural movement happened?  People were fighting against the war in Vietnam, and along with it came a cultural movement that shaped a generation.  A generation got involved in the war against racial discrimination in this country.  Movements have come and gone that has shaped us and changed us.  Now, we are directionless, apathetic and worse – uninformed.  All of the ugly things about society wouldn’t be so bad if we were just able to recognize when we do stupid shit.  But maybe I am giving our species too much credit.  Maybe I expect too much.

After all, we decided to talk about this for an entire fucking day.

Until next time, a quote,

“I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge and retribution will not limp in catching up with us. Just once in awhile, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night, a time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan, is given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education. And a week or two later, a time normally used by Steve Allen, is devoted to a thorough-going study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the shareholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen, other than a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country – and therefore the future of the corporations?

To those who say people wouldn’t look, they wouldn’t be interested, they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply — there is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate – and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”  -Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Funny Christian YouTube Comment

So, I was watching Jaclyn’s latest video on YouTube, Ray Comfort vs. Logic.  It’s a good video and I recommend you check it out.  She was talking about Comfort’s hilarious reactions to her last video where she took apart the charlatan’s “Evolution vs. God” movie and how stupid it is.  But while I was watching, I would take a look from time to time at the comments section.  In it, I came across this gem –

Jaclyn, do you honestly feel in your heart that these people truly love you and care about you?

Please listen, I’m speaking from my heart to yours. Please don’t continue to grieve the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our life. We are the bride of Christ. Nothing in this life is worth losing our relationship with our Holy God and being eternally separated from Him.

No sin is worth it.

The comment was from a user called “Jesus Saves.”  And…this is hilarious.  I am going to break this down, bit by bit, so that we can enjoy it.

First, what people?  Who is Jaclyn supposed to believe loves and cares about her?  Fellow members of the atheist community?  I assume that she isn’t that arrogant.  I have only just started to follow her videos, so I respect her, but I have to genuinely get to know a person before I can “love and care” about them.  I would assume that it is the same with most people.

Next, how does her atheism “grieve the Holy Spirit”?  One thing about Christianity that I have always found interesting is how this Gawd character is so desperate for people to love him. (Oh, and I’m with Carlin in believing that if there is a God, it has to be a man.  No woman could or would fuck things up like this.) I mean, think about it – he grieves when people don’t love him, but if you don’t love him, he will send you to a place where you will face endless suffering for all time.  For all fucking time.  I put it to you – what sort of heavenly being who claims to love their creation does that?  I have had people who I care for who don’t care for me in the same way.  I don’t want them to suffer for all eternity.  Sure, it sucked, at the time, but I don’t have any issues with it now.  What kind of heavenly being would actually do this?  The new Christian rhetoric is that God is really loving, so all you have to do is to just say that God is your lord and savior, and he gives you entry.  But again – this contention is based on the idea that you still have to kiss this guy’s ass to get in.  He can’t just let you in.  He can’t just be kind and compassionate.  There is a cost that you must pay, and if you don’t pay it, you burn forever.  Interesting.

The next part interests me.  The wording makes me assume that this is a woman talking, and since Jaclyn is also a woman, it fits, talking about how they are “the bride of Christ.”  If you listen to a lot of Christians talk, and what is written in the Bible, you find out that that metaphor isn’t incorrect.  Most Christians believe that your love of Jesus and his baby-daddy (who is also him) must supersede all other attachments.  You have to love them first, completely and with no strings attached, ahead of family, friends and romantic partners.

And you bet your ass that there are things worth losing “our relationship with our Holy God and being eternally separated from him.”  According to the buybull, I mean Bible, this guy thinks that a lot of normal behaviors are unacceptable.  Homosexuality – a mortal sin.  Jerking off/rubbing one out – a mortal sin.  Bad-mouthing your parents, a normal part of teenage years – a mortal sin.  Being open and not stringent about your sex life – a mortal sin.  Hell, eating shellfish – a mortal sin.  My love of lobster alone is reason-enough to lose that relationship!

Then there is this idea that everything in life becomes instantly better if one has Gawd in their lives.  I know a fuck-ton of Christians who think that they are unworthy, disgusting and evil sinners all because they have human feelings and do human things.  This idea that a connection with this heavenly bullshit, I mean being makes life instantaneously worth something more just makes no sense to me.

Religion is a funny thing to me.  It gives people a false sense of something profound when the fact is that what they are getting is the exact opposite.  They are being given a belief structure that will allow them to bend the rules of reality however they wish to keep what they call “faith.”  Faith, the belief in something without evidence.  While part of me wants to agree that religion is more akin to a mental disorder than anything else, the fact is that it is human nature.  What person doesn’t want to hear – hey man, you having a hard day?  Well, don’t worry!  This is this powerful sky-daddy who made you and loves you and who thinks that you are just super!  Not how you are, because you do a lot of things that make this being really sad.  Sad enough to send you to a place of torment forever.  But don’t you worry!  Because if you psychically tell that person that you accept them as your lord and savior, then he’ll love you forever!

Awww, that’s sweet.  Too bad it isn’t true.  Jesus Saves, you are part of a culture that the rest of us mock.  Sometimes mean-spiritedly, but sometimes, as I am doing now, we point out how ridiculous your beliefs actually are.

Until next time, a quote,

“The truth is that theistic beliefs affect your worldview, which heavily influences the choices you make, which heavily influences the choices of others.”  -Jaclyn Glenn, Religion: Society’s Cancer 

Peace out,

Maverick

How to Write an “Academic” Paper

Well, college kids (and high school kids who are in the few decent public schools), you’re back in class again.  You are going to be doing a lot of boring, tedious work because your teachers seem to have this strange idea that if you give big tests that only require you to shove knowledge into your head the night before and then brain-vomit it all over the page the next day, that you have learned something.  You won’t be doing a lot of hands-on work or real-world application.  Just tests and something else – papers.  See, papers can be divided into two categories – personal and “academic.”  I am going to give you tips on how to write a good academic paper, so you can dazzle your teachers with all your knowledge.

1. Use REALLY long quotes
You’ll hear a lot of teachers talking about using quotes in papers.  They really want you to throw out those quotes.  The purpose is clear – if you use big quotes from other people, it will show that you know what you’re talking about.  College professors love that stuff.  If someone else can say smart stuff, surely you can too!

2. Use the arguments that other people do
Since you are using big quotes, the natural assumption is that you are going to be agreeing with the very good source that you are writing about.  Naturally, they are clearly smart and know a lot more than you do.  I mean, why else would you be throwing long quotes by them into your paper?  These academics.  They sure do know their shit- I mean literary craftsmanship.  Yeah, that’s what I meant.

3. Totally pander to what your teacher wants to hear
You ever get one of those professors who says something like “I want you to come to your own conclusions!”  That’s crap.  For real, every professor has an agenda when they make an assignment.  It is wise of you to learn what they are like, so that you can properly represent this topic in a way that they will like.  Trust me, the essay about the influence of religion on western culture had better sound like you are also a spiritual person.  Because you better believe that there will be hell to pay when the teacher finds out that your position is against what their preconceptions dictate to them.  After all, they are the brilliant gifted academic, right?  Right?

4. Use big words
You’ll probably get a professor who will say something to the effect of, “I like writing that is concise and direct.”  Again, that’s crap.  The truth is that professors want something that makes them like how smart you are.  After all, your using all those sources and long quotes is for nothing if you are a complete simpleton, right?  Being direct and to the point often means having to simplify the language, and they are academics.  Read any big journal that a group of academics put out and I guarantee that you will find a lot of rambling entries that do their damndest to make the writer sound smart.  It’s the academic way.

But the most important piece of advice, which you probably saw coming, is this –

5. Don’t think for yourself!
For real, there is a reason that these professors wanted long quotes and taking up the writer’s position, along with having you pander to their sensibilities.  It is because they don’t want you to think too much about it.  See, it breaks down like this – they don’t like hearing original thoughts.  In their mind (since you probably had to clear your topic with them), they already know what’s best and you are just the dumbshit college student who is writing about something they are already a brilliant expert about.  They didn’t get that Doctorate for nothing, you know!  Lots of tedious hours that they spent, hearing what the little pissant student has to say would be too much.  They may say that this isn’t true.  That they want you to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions.  Don’t do that!  If they actually wanted you to do that, why would they want long quotes?  Wouldn’t shorter quotes to give a general overview of a position or topic, followed by you discussing your own perspective, with other quotes to show that you have gotten multiple side of this issue be better?  It would seem to be that if the papers were mostly focused on the perspective of the writer, with quotes to give context to the various perspectives would be more informative, and more meaningful, rather than a regurgitation of other people’s thoughts.

But what do I know?  After all, I don’t have a Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought.  For real, what the hell does that degree even mean?

Until next time, a quote,

“You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak.” – George Clooney

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Female Video Game Protagonists

Alright, I’m going balls-to-the-wall here.  I am going to bitch-slap all of the BS that I am STILL hearing about the Tropes vs. Women videos (for real, people need to stop sending me this garbage), and everyone who knows me is eager to hear what I have to say of every single one.  So, I have decided to take a different tactic.  I am going to make a list of the top 10 female characters in gaming who are well-developed and rich characters who aren’t some foil to make the man in the game look better.  I will be a little more detailed in my explanations of this, because for any fans of Feminist Frequency, I would love it if you send this post to Anita and I would love to hear her refutation.  Alright, people, let’s do this!

Lightning10. Claire Farron/Lighting
Final Fantasy XIII
It makes sense that the only good character in this shitty game is a strong one.  I’m sure that the Tumblr feminist crowd will say “she’s wearing very revealing shorts, so that’s misogyny!”  But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?  Let’s not just look at what is on the surface.  Let’s actually analyze this character.  You cannot begin to argue that Lightning is a weak character.  The game begins with her getting on a train headed for the equivalent of exile, for the express purpose of saving her sister.  Her sister is cursed with the mark of the l’cie.  If she doesn’t find a way to get the mark taken care of quickly, her sister is going to become a monster.  She is doing this for family.  When her little sister turns to crystal in front of her, and she is cursed with the mark as well, she chooses to go and destroy her entire world, to both find a way to save herself from the mark, but to also get her little sister back.  I put it to you – if you are condemned to either turn into a monster or turn to crystal, with there never being a release, what would you do?

Elena Fisher9. Elena Fisher
Uncharted (series)
When you first meet this character, she is a young and ambitious reporter who gets in over her head.  But she is in no way weak.  She’s clever, is very good at tracking Nathan so that she doesn’t lose her story.  She’s cute but it isn’t accentuated.  They know they don’t have to.  You meet her again in the second game and she is still an ambitious reporter.  Quite a bit more now because she is chasing after a psychotic man who will do whatever it takes to get to a fabled city.  Again, she’s in over her head, but she’s no damsel in distress.  She is a skilled shot and can look after herself.  But that doesn’t stop her from using Nate to get things done and making jokes at his expense.  It comes from how they ended things in the previous game.  The third game comes along, and you see the she has been made into a correspondent in the Middle East.  She has a bright future which she has earned by her ruthless determination to be a good reporter.  Good on you!  She has moved on from Nate and even confronts him on his personal failings in a way that she hadn’t before.  It makes for some great personal development for both of them in the final game.

Jack8. Subject Zero/Jack
Mass Effect 2 and 3
I can already hear Sarkeesian’s crowd saying “look how she’s dressed!  Obvious misogyny!”  Yeah, because women being sexy is bad, right?  What’s more, if you jump to that, then you CLEARLY didn’t play this game.  You see that her look, and the vast amount of tattoos she has are part of a very complicated past that makes her a very rounded character.  Jack (real name Jacqueline) was a test subject as a small child.  Cerberus did inhumane experiments on her, with the express purpose of turning her into a strong biotic.  One day, she sees her chance to escape to freedom and it turns into the first of many violent massacres that she is involved in.  Her violent nature was something that was forced into her subconscious by the experiments she was involved in.  Cerberus shocked her when she hesitated to kill.  This violent nature eventually turned against her captors, leading to the utter slaughter of both the facility’s staff and the other children they were testing on.  Jack puts on a tough face, but the truth is that because she wasn’t able to develop like a normal child, she has some serious emotional issues that you see resolved in the third game (if she survived the Suicide Mission), when she gets students, who she becomes an odd kind of family with.  Her tattoos are a reflection of who she is.  Some are from prisons she has been to, others are for kills and there are some for things that she has lost.  She’s a powerful character who doesn’t back down from a fight, and isn’t above splatting guts all over the place to protect those who matter to her.

Tear Grants7. Tear Grants
Tales of the Abyss
Tear is not only a strong character, but she is also well-developed.  Having grown up in a world beneath, she comes to the world above on a mission to kill her brother.  A long and complicated narrative follows, but you see that she is the kind of woman who fights hard not to show her weakness.  Even as a disease is killing her, she won’t let herself stop.  She doesn’t accept pity and she hardly ever lets weakness get off easy in her friends.  Part of her development as a character was when she gradually starts going easier on people and accepting their flaws.  She is probably the best-developed female protagonist in the Tales series, and it is better for it.  The last scene where she admits her love to Luke as he fades away is a tear-jerker, because we come to care about her and her struggle.  Plus, the relationship that develops between the two of them is believable, going from two people who get on each other’s nerves to getting underneath each other’s emotional armor and coming to care about who they are.  It’s beautiful.

Samus Aran6. Samus Aran
Metroid (series)
Samus Aran is the definitive female badass.  While she has had some moments outside of her armor where you can see she is hot, there are also a lot of moments inside of her armor where they give her a lot of credit.  Samus is a child whose colony world was attacked and obliterated by the Space Pirates.  An alien race called the Chozo find her and raise her, training her for a task that she has had foremost on her mind since that day – revenge.  While the Chozo abandoned their technological mastery (which had lead to an unprecedented military strength) in favor of a peaceful society, they brought it back so that they could give this human child the skills and tools she needed to defeat the most powerful enemy in the galaxy.  Samus is a silent, determined warrior who never, ever relents.  She pursues the Space Pirates without mercy and she will do whatever it takes to get the job done.  She works as a bounty hunter, so she can keep the money flowing in, but she is also pursuing her own goals.  The silent protagonist (until Other M, which sucked, a lot) who will not give up, ever.  That is something that I think we can all look up to.

Heather Mason5. Heather Mason
Silent Hill 3
Heather is one of those characters who you just don’t see coming.  This was back in the days when most characters were very cardboard cutouts, with a few stand-out roles.  She is one of them.  The adopted daughter of Harry Mason, the protagonist from the original Silent Hill, Heather has a very deep and very dark attachment to the titular town.  Not at all a pushover, she ends up being drawn very deep into a plot that pushes her to her limits.  Not only do the members of the cult who were trying to resurrect their dark god in the first game want to keep using her, but there is a very ugly metaphor for abortion when she finds out that the dark god is growing inside of her.  How she purges it from herself is pretty damn intense!  Heather is not some sassy, preppy high school kid.  She’s a normal girl who is now very much alone in a fight against forces unknown and persons who all want to use her to their own ends.  It’s pretty cool how she comes to her own conclusions about things and doesn’t let herself get used.  Her reactions to situations feels organic to what a real girl would think, given her situation.  It’s a surprisingly realistic character in a time when writing good characters at all was few and far between.

The Boss4. The Boss
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
I know what you’re thinking – wait, what?  Why is she on here?  Wasn’t she trying to kill you?  Well, as with most things in the Metal Gear Solid universe, it is never that simple.  She isn’t, strictly-speaking, an antagonist or protagonist.  She’s instead something a little more complex.  And she was an awesome character.  Her strength came in how she was so sure of her own skill.  Her name, Boss, didn’t come just because she is in charge of anything.  In fact, it has nothing to do with that.  But the thing that really made this character interesting, to me, is the fact that she was Snake’s teacher.  She trained him, mentored him and made him into the agent that he is.  The battle with her is awesome because you only have a couple weapons that you can kill her with.  All the rest she takes from you, takes apart in seconds and renders them useless.  Like Snake, it isn’t that she can kill that makes her good.  She is a skilled tracker and stealth agent and you can see where Snake got his skill (depending on how good the player is).  The final battle with her is both intense and tragic, as you are seeing Snake fighting against someone that he genuinely respects.  A female character who is a teacher and sympathetic is a nice change of pace from the usual way that they are portrayed, and it made for a great character who I was genuinely sorry to see go.

Brigid Tenenbaum3. Brigid Tenenbaum
Bioshock
I’m only going to be looking at the use of this character in the first game, because she is only a cameo in the sequel.  In the first game, you are introduced to the woman who made the Little Sisters and helped perfect the Big Daddy system.  She comes off as cold and calculating, and at first she is.  She grew up in a Jewish household, and thus ended up in the concentration camps in World War II.  There, she was shown to have developed a love of science and genetics, as they understood them in that time period.  She gets to the underwater city of Rapture and puts her talents to use.  The discovery on the substance called ADAM, and the eventual use of Plasmids, changed her world entirely.  A vast unexplored wealth of possibilities lay before her, and she was eager to find out what it could do.  Tenenbaum was not above using people and killing people to get her way.  She was hired by Frank Fontaine to work on Plasmid development.  The problem she saw was that ADAM was getting harder to come by.  They needed a way to generate it in large amounts.  Dead bodies had some, but how to get to it?  The solution came to her in the form of the slugs that originally carried the substance.  She finds out that by putting this slug inside of little girls, it could bond to their digestive system and feed off ADAM, producing more.  In vast amounts.  The ADAM it gave the girls made them nigh-invincible, and took away their humanity.  They became disturbed and saw the world in a different way, speaking in a sing-song voice.  Seeing how much her experiments destroyed these children, and what it was causing in the city itself, something changes in her.  Tenenbaum is a fascinating character whose change from ruthless scientist to paternal figure is both believable and touching.  She was one of my favorite characters in that game.

Rikku2. Rikku
Final Fantasy X
I know what some of you might be thinking – why Rikku?!  I mean, wasn’t it Yuna who was going to be making the ultimate sacrifice to save her people?  Bear with me, I mean to explain.  Rikku is a member of the Al Bhed.  A tribe-like people who embrace technology, even when the entire world denounces it.  Her people are met with scoff and sometimes open hostility.  The Al Bhed are like the gypsies of our world.  It is kind of a pity that you don’t get to know their people better, because their culture is fascinating.  You have a centralized leadership in the place they call Home.  But they do have wandering factions who go to places to find relics that they can sell and tech they can bring home.  They are almost all skilled technicians, because they all have to rely on the machinery they use.  They are very personal, a lot like the Quarians in the Mass Effect series.  All the problems are close, and they tend to get into each other’s business.  With that said, I liked Rikku more than Yuna because she was facing a two-sided problem.  The first side is that she is part of a culture that their society in general looks down upon.  When Auron goes up to her and asks to see her face, she closes her eyes, because she knows that seeing her eyes will be a dead give-away of who she is.  The other side of her problem is that her cousin is sacrificing her life for the cause of defeating Sin.  What’s more, the defeat isn’t permanent.  They can only temporarily kill Sin.  So in the end, what is this family member that she loves dying for?  As far as she sees it, nothing.  Her conflict, and the subtle ways they show her internal struggle, while she maintains a positive exterior is one of the reasons that I love this game so much.  Plus, my favorite part is that her people are atheists.  They don’t believe in Yevon and the religion surrounding it.  When you have a chance to go into the Farplane, she declines, stating that it isn’t really the dead that you will be seeing.  Just your memories of them, given form by pyreflies.  That’s a pretty insightful thought and one of the few times she is serious in a subdued way.  Oh, and I do hate how she was represented in X-2.  That game was shit, and her look was annoyingly-bad fan service.

And the best female protagonist that represents women in an awesome way is –

Ellie1. Ellie
The Last of Us
This is one of my favorite characters in gaming.  Ellie is an very complex and fun character.  She is not only a well-written female character, but a well-written kid character as well.  Part of that is from the excellent voice-work.  She is naive, imaginative, wants to have a childhood, bound to the ugliness of the world and also believes that everyone she cares about will die.  It’s a very intense dichotomy that plays out beautifully in the game.  Probably my favorite scene with Ellie is in the restaurant, after she is captured by the bandits.  She escapes, after biting the leader (and it is hinted that her bites can cause infection, but it isn’t said for certain) and then killing his accomplice.  After sneaking through the bandit camp that is now in disarray, she makes her way into a restaurant.  There, the bandit leader, who is losing his mind with the belief that he is going to become infected with the fungus that has destroyed humanity, he decides to kill you, to set things right.  The battle that follows is one of hiding and catching him off-guard, slowly doing damage until the final showdown.  It is beautifully done, acknowledging the fact that Ellie is a kid and this grown-man who is stronger and faster than her.  She has to use her sneaking talents to the utmost, and it is a boss-fight with nail-biting tension.  Especially since one wrong move can spell instantaneous death.  But when you finally do get the best of him, he has beaten Ellie, psychologically tortured her and the desperation of the fact that the only friend she has in the planet is probably dead catches up to her.  She hacks the man up with a machete, over and over and over again, screaming cries of sadness and rage as his blood splashes everywhere.  It is a beautiful scene and when Joel pulls her off him and into his arms, you can feel how much both of them are hurting.  Every character in The Last of Us was well-written, but Joel and Ellie are the absolute best.  I hope you can see why.

The fact is that people like Anita Sarkeesian and her “misogyny!” screaming feminist friends don’t know shit about the genre they are insulting.  It is telling that in her “Damsels in Distress” videos, she rangs on 80’s games and arcade-style games.  She doesn’t touch ANY of the series I listed here.  The reason is simple – the good writing of these characters fucks up any argument that she could make.  I hope the rest of you can see that as well as I can.

Until next time, a quote,

“Everyone I have cared about has either died or left me. Everyone — fucking except for you! So don’t tell me I would be safer with somebody else, because the truth is I would just be more scared.”  -Ellie, The Last of Us

Peace out,

Maverick