Monday, February 20, 2017

Viacom Viacan't: Regressive corporate strategies in entertainment media


This just in, Viacom invents time-machine, gets stuck in 2005. 

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has announced that some Viacom programming, most notably so far The Daily Show and @Midnight, along with The Colbert Report and Tosh.suck, will no longer be available on streaming services such as Hulu.  Now, to someone who reached the zenith of their professional career in 1998, this kind of strategy makes sense because they never bothered to learn how cord cutters worked or what kind of market they will inevitably create.  The reason is that there was no such thing as a cord-cutter in 1998, and people still had subscriptions to AOL dialup internet service.  If 1998 were a person, they'd be old enough to drink in most countries, and could have voted in the last election.  It seems obvious that  applying the same corporate strategy from that era, or even from something like 2005 is a bad idea since they would be woefully outdated, but that doesn't usually occur to the entity that is the CEO (they're not people).  Enter the long suffering baby boomer executive who knows exactly how to market and design pull-strategies for other baby boomers sitting on folding chairs in Boca Raton just waiting around for their prostates to swell up to the size of a soccer ball and complain about how the waitress at Applebee's (who is working her way through medical school) is part of a super self-centered generation that "fails to adapt" while making their grand-kids check their email on their phone for them because they're "too old" to learn that new-fangled technology ...technology that's been around since 1971   Yet for some reason this same baby boomer executive is somehow surprised that the same strategies that work on boomers, somehow don't work on this product of society they've invented which they call "Millennials."





No, old TV guy, I am not going to go sign up at Time Warner or Comcast (two companies that have about the same approval rate as the Nazi Party, or worse, Electronic Arts), just so I can watch one show or another which I could easily pirate, and mostly pirate out of spite at this point.  Not only is this another confirmation of the downright uselessness of "The CEO" as a concept, but how they are now a downright malignancy to otherwise healthy and sustainable companies. 


Some could argue that the only function of a CEO is to make sure investors stay comfortable paying the corporation's allowance, which would only be a salient argument if their ability to run the place into the ground through complete ignoramical idiocy wasn't so palpable. When police make some little kid with cancer a member of the SWAT team for the day, it makes for great PR, but even they are smart enough to know he's just a mascot and shouldn't be given an AR-15. CEOs surround them with environments they feel comfortable in.  In modern America, your environment is a commodity to be purchased.  Don't have a lot of money?  Enjoy the one that comes with life in a trailer-park and a job that probably involved a blue vest, khaki pants, a time-clock, and the need to look at your odometer to see if your car needs an oil change, or make a decision between paying your phone bill and getting a haircut.  Have a shitload of money?  Congratulations, you will never ever have to know what it's like to wash your own dishes or wait for something to go on sale before you can buy it.  But if you are a CEO there is definitely one specific type of environment you are going to by.  One where you will never be exposed to the word "no."  You'll love it in there.  Surrounded by people getting paid barely enough to make their rent who are going to be so terrified of putting you in a negative emotional state, that they'd skip their own funeral to make sure you have enough of that stationary you like.  Wearing even the most luxurious blinders still means you have every chance of getting t-boned when your confidence is a product of an echo chamber.  Don't believe me?  Do you think Jar Jar Binks would exist at all if The Phantom Menace was George Lucas's first or second movie?  Yeah, someone would have told him "no George, that's not a good idea," but now he bought himself an ecosystem where that will never ever happen.

The end result is that people in these outdated power positions end up having an outdated idea of how things work, do not stay current with changes that effect their own industry.  They live in a world where absolutely no one is going to make them address those shortcomings either.  They stop knowing how stuff works.  Stuff like TV viewing.  TV doesn't work the way it used to, even 5-10 years ago.  I don't need Animal Planet, the Home Shopping Network, or a whole bunch of other channels that air too much fake reality house hunting shows or make me watch even one second of any Guy Fieri or Rachel Ray (yuck).  If History Channel is going to make a show about alligator murder then I really don't need to pay for that, because it's not a product I really want to buy (although alligator tastes good by the way, if you want some I got a guy... ok... you want alligator meat I can get you alligator meat by 3oclock). 

Om nom nom

This isn't going to cost Viacom much money at all.  Remember this is the company that invented the concept of not paying freelancers being counted as a viable revenue stream.  On paper from an accounting perspective, it's mostly innocuous.  Entertainment media isn't really a tangible commodity, so limiting it's availability isn't really going to drive the price up, that only works with Game of Thrones and Disney movies (come on home where your video's waiting).  But those same intangible assets are what are going to take the hit.  Goodwill (let's be clear, Viacom has no goodwill and doesn't need it, but the shows themselves, as individual brands have tons and more importantly their success depends on having it).  Properties like that are going to take a straight kick in the nards once people who pay for streaming services all of a sudden can't get what they previously could get.  It's not that something isn't coming to streaming services, it's that something is being taken away (huge difference).  That kind of thing makes people angry, and angry people won't give a shit if pirating something hurts Summer Redstone's ability to buy another yacht to get to his bigger yacht on his private island which is made of even bigger yachts just tied together.




There's a light, over at the Amazon place.
Thankfully Amazon seems to be doing the opposite of this.  Bolstered by the popularity of the New Top Gear .... oh I mean The Grand Tour, they have announced they really want to be the big fish when it comes to entertainment media streaming.  And you know what?  That's fine, that's great, you go for it.  I remember in the days of VHS you paid money to rent the things, so paying a small amount to watch something you want to watch isn't such a weird concept.  Jeez I have a premium Crunchyroll subscription and I'm only following 3 shows.  Don't be a friggin idiot.  ...Hey Cruchyroll, open an NYC office and hire me, I'll make your dreams come true.  I filmed you guys for a!Pon in Tokyo and you don't owe me anything but, BUT, you can pretend that you do.  See how easy that was?  Yeah.  Just re-imagine that in the Rick Sanchez voice and it sounds way better.

Anyway, Amazon's streaming service is mostly cool.  But the downsides is that they rarely have things that Netflix doesn't have (high man in a castle isn't really that great) and their user interface could use a lot of work.  But those two things are fixable.  There's nothing that's fundamentally wrong in the DNA of the thing that would make it impossible to like. If Amazon has done anything it's that it has proven that perseverance and sticking to your guns can still be a viable business strategy even if every finance major from here to Bangalore is only capable of thinking a maximum of 5 quarters into the future.  Oh, and wage-slaves.  Lots and lots of wage-slaves.  But, that's not gonna stop you from logging in and ordering the next time you need underpants or whatever Danganronpa figure you happen to really really like.

My new waifu!


Did... did I have a point?  Oh yea, cord-cutters are not going to jump ship and sign up for Direct TV or Satan-Serve or whatever  just because any show or even every show is no longer available on streaming services.  I mentioned it really recently that cord-cutters are heavy on certain demographic metrics which means that certain shows are going to be more of a draw than others, certain advertisers are going to have more success, and they are mostly what old people would call "tech-savvy."  That means that finding the show online is going to happen one way or another, and you, Mr. Entertainment Company Executive gotta deal with it.  Mimeograph manufacturers got fucked by Xerox, that pesky horseless carriage put farriers out of business, and RCA isn't making many record players anymore, so if you want to succeed, put your ego in check, realize that the massive amounts of knowledge you've built is going to lose its value at the same rate as bananas go bad, and get your shit together and keep up with "the now" as they used to say. 

Of course not.

I think that much like Verizon lately realizing that not offering "unlimited" data is a bad idea, Viacom is going to look around in a few months and be all like "oops" and then you will be able to see The Daily Show on Hulu again.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Zelda Goes Paid DLC: A step forward or a step back?

Steps Backward; It's never a good thing.

The once unthinkable has happened.  For generations the people told themselves that such madness would never come into positions of power which would allow such sweeping changes to the fundamental dynamics of the world in which we live to be implemented by the personification of abject madness that seems naught but a relic of a bygone age.  I speak of course of the contamination of the Legend of Zelda universe by DLC via a Season Pass or as Nintendo calls it, an Expansion Pass ...which does not make it better.  My god, this is the worst thing to happen... oh, wait.

Hold on, don't cry and hide under your blankets kids, just remember this is NOT the worst thing to happen to Legend of Zelda
Before you were born, something way worse happened.

Unlike 98% of all anime, the Japanese video game industry actually does have to care about international markets quite a bit.  While throughout the world DLC and expansion packs have run the gamut from a lauded grand-slam of awesomeness, to crimes against humanity that need to be tried in The Hague, some long running institutional properties seemed to operate in a world separated from such things where "no, not that one, we don't do DLC with that one" was an explicitly understood unwritten rule.  Such separation is no more. 




How earth-shattering is this?  Well with even Forbes covering it, and with still-fresh memories of some significant blunders shaking up the industry in general, such as No Man's Sky, Duke Nukem Forever, Doom, and a few others, this Zelda release is going to be the focus of a lot of a lot of attention.  Video games are a big industry.  The thing is, DLC was all the rage in 2005, but that was a long time ago.  We have since learned that (like just about every technological advancement) it isn't some magic pixie-dust that you can just sprinkle on literally everything to create boundless improvement.  It only is a positive if other conditions are right, and Zelda Breath of the Wild is missing one component that usually helps DLC fit into the "value added" category of purchases and not the "why the hell am I going to waste my money on this?" category.  Multi-player mode.  Unless it's some incarnation of Smash Brothers, Link and Zelda should never ever be in anything that's "multiplayer," which is something that anyone who has actually played the games before would instantly realize so succinctly that it would just be one of those second-nature thoughts like "don't try to breath underwater" or something like that.  Deep down in your brain, you aren't seeing the DLC as an extra thing you buy, you are seeing it as part of a game you already bought that's now behind a pay-wall.  It's going to be the source of some consumer hostility, passive-aggressive or otherwise.  Somewhere in your head there's that little voice looking at Nintendo, saying "I thought we had a good thing going?" to which Nintendo turns around and, shrugs, and keeps giving an hand-job to its preferred stockholders.

That's not to say that DLC can't be successful without multi-player mode, but it is known to provide customers motivation to buy DLC, and so this game isn't going to have that, and will need to create a motivation by other means.  Those other means are going to have to be premium game design, a story you simply can't look away from, and a few bells and whistles so addictive that they become in-game staples for all future releases.  Or they could just throw in a Hot Coffee Mod and hope for the best now that Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton are out of the limelight.

I wouldn't hold my breath of the wild for that last one.

So is this really a regression rather than Zelda joining many other more modern game franchises?  I think it is.  It hearkens back to a way of thinking that paid DLC can be shoehorned into anything and everything.  This was very prevelent between 10 and 12 years ago.  I am sure there was once an idea of paid DLC for Tetris where you get more long ones if you buy the "expansion pack."  We have since seen enough to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this, and  there are some red flags here.  Most notably that the "hard mode" is part of the expansion and not part of the regular release.  What could possibly be the reason for that?  If it were free DLC then ok, it means they missed a deadline or something, but making you pay for it would only be justifiable if "hard mode" meant that a completely new type of enemy would now be included in the game where it previously was not.  The second red flag is that they're including in-game clothing...  That's lazy.  I know that sounds like a standard, but when a company throws a a whatever on a character it seems like they are using a very cheap solution to compensate for a significant shortcoming.  It's like someone giving you a free iPhone in the hopes you don't notice that they crashed your car into a tree.  With Nintendo being tight lipped and only releasing a vague "please trust us" video, there is not much to go on.  Furthermore, there is always the looming all-encompassing peril of an incongruity of sensibilities between Japan and the rest of the world.  What might have Japanese consumers ready to go into "shut up and take my money" mode, might have virtually no effect in other markets around the world.  I think they're making the right choice to make the expansions more of the same thing as the game, you can never really get enough Hyrule, it will probably be a moderate success.  But with Nintendo's world-famous ability to piss away success like a freshmen on spring break in Mexico pisses out used Corona, they've probably pinned all their hopes on this one thing, that just will not be big enough to carry it all.  It might be  helpful new revenue stream, but in the grand scheme things it's like bringing a garden hose to a house fire.  Yes it will spray water on it, but without something fundamentally different, that house is burning down.


Would this face lie to you?
Of course not, he's not saying anything of substance at all.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jan-Feb 2017 Recap and Leftovers

I can see clearly now... well not really but it's better.
So I've been having some eye procedures done.  In about 2006, my vision went from regular bad to borderline legally blind, and there was really not much to do about it until recently when some new technology was invented.  It isn't gonna fix anything but it will stabilize things to keep anything from getting worse and then maybe I can start wearing contact lenses (regular glasses don't fix what I have).  So being legally blind in one eye and having difficulty with the other, it's hard to read small print and impossible to drive at night.  The treatment I got leaves your vision blurry for a while, so that is why I haven't posted anything or been doing much keeping up with stuff. The effects have worn off and my vision having returned to what it was previously, I can get this going again, so lets see what's what.


I seeeeeeeee you



Nazi-Punching.
Mostly everyone knows the incident involving Richard Spencer at this point.  From Kotaku to to those busy-body hippie SJWs over at Cracked.com, everyone seems to be weighing in on this by asking the absolute wrong question:  "Is it ok to punch Nazis" "Is is right to punch Nazis" "Can we punch Nazis"   These are all the wrong questions, because terms like "ok" "right" and whatever the third question implies, all bring the matter of subjectivity to the situation.  Subjectivity in this matter means that if you ask 20 people you are going to get 20 different reasons for one of 2 answers. The question that should be asked is simple and explicit: "Is it legal to punch Nazis?" And in case you haven't guessed it, the answer is no, you can't just go up to someone and punch them even if they are espousing Nazism or something that is generally thought to be deplorable in ways both socially and morally.  Again, I think this is the 5th time I've had to bring up the Supreme Court case of National Socialists of America v Village of Skokie which affirms that equal protection under the law applies to everyone, even if they are supporting something you don't like. 


And what's not to like?

So yes, out in public, if Nazis are saying Nazi things in their little Nazi outfits, then physically assaulting them, or stealing their stuff, is indeed a crime.  No matter how deplorable the message of someone, it can not decriminalize your own actions.  Is it good to punch Nazis? Yeah.  Is it rewarding and a source of pride to punch Nazis?  Of course.  Is it legal?  ...no.  Lots of fun things aren't legal, so for better or worse their right to not get punched in the face legally supersedes your own butthurt. Deal with it. Like. An. Adult. For fucks sake. Very few people in the fandom seem to be approaching this with a true impartial logic based on American Case Law and Constitutional Values, but some have.  It's worth a read.  So is its sequel.




It's OK to be a grown adult and like Dragon Maid.
Dragon Maid is an anime.  It's what it sounds like, a dragon becomes a Maid (this is Japanese pop-culture "Maid" and not someone paid minimum wage to clean up your nasty ass hotel room after that conference you went to which had an open bar).  Now it sounds like a ridiculous premise, but our linchpin character in this series is a working adult.  No, not a high school student, no, not some magical girl from a different universe, and no, not some alien with superpowers.  She's a regular working stiff, like lots of other grown adults out there.  Yep, that's the game-changer.  If you're a grown adult and you watch a series about stuff happening to other grown adults, you might find it easy to relate to.

 
And....... you're hooked.

You might be saying to yourself, "yeah, but there's dragons and fantasy and other totally unrealistic things in there so how can you call yourself an adult and like it?" to which I would respond, "Is that Game of Thrones your talking about?" ...yeah, shut up.  Not for nothing but I'd feel better having Dragon Maid on in a room with children than Game of Thrones. 

HaHa.... boobs.


Disturbingly or not-so-disturbingly depending on your own personal feelings, this is a major reason why there are so many adult fans of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.  Almost all the characters (especially the main characters) are very much adults.  They don't live with their parents, they are well out of school, they own their own businesses, they have employees, deadlines, some have the highest level of government security clearance, they go on diplomatic missions, one struggles with a clear case of schizophrenia, and one is a member of the military and also a member of the most elite flying squadron in the entire Air Force.  They are pretty much all late 20's if not older.  So people in their late 20's can relate to those characters. When combined with a well-written and technically well animated TV show, you've got something interesting, even if it did grow out of a terribly made 30 minute toy commercial from the 1980's.


Owns 3 boutiques, manages 10-20 employees, deals with a shady land lord, is a celebrity designer.
You don't do that when you're 13, you do it when you're 33.

There is no shortage of anime and manga made about and made for adults who work at companies, are home-makers, or creative professionals, but they often get overlooked for the traditionally popular genres of "ninjas" "mecca" "magical girl fill-in-the-blank-moon-card-captor-blah" "High School X" "my girlfriend is a vampire" or "boobs ...totally boobs"    ...that's a lot to deal with just there, so something about an overworked ad executive who finds a moment of Zen in a small park in Osaka one day during a sunset isn't gonna catch a lot of attention, but there are plenty of people who that would resonate with.  Enough to make it worth licensing?  No probably not.  But this segment does exist and it's only going to get bigger.

 HaHa.... boobs again.

That's fan-art by the way, not a scene from the actual show.


 Crunchyroll is having their own convention.
 Here: http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/02/09/crunchyroll-announces-its-own-anime-convention 
Slippery slope fellas.  It's sexy but not a money maker.  Get ready for some loss-leader deductions for 2017.  Also it's in California so ...meh.


http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2017/02/09/crunchyroll-announces-first-ever-crunchyroll-expo-convention
Can't you just feel that excitement.


Annoying Prince Trumperdink.
So there's this thing where you are supposed to write postcards to The White House and address them to "President Steve Bannon" and Trump gets mad and stuff.  I have no idea if that's really what happens but as a committed troll I am so gonna do that.  DON'T use your good anime postcards.  #1) you will wish you had kept them.  #2 They are going to go straight into the shredder with an anime image on them, think for a minute junior.  What I am gonna do, is I am going to go to Columbus Circle and get some post cards that have Trump Tower on them... that way maybe he will actually want to see them then right?  Either way, I went down to my local US Post Office and bought a sheet of these stamps to use.  Hopefully the symbolism will get through.

Man the 90's sucked for American Comics.


Anyway, I don't think he's doing a good job as President.  So I am going to voice my concerns.  If anyone wants to know specifics then we can have it in the comments section.


I'll be wearing my Xmas gift while I write replies.

 
When Life Gives You Lemons
So I am continuing to have everything implode all around me and it's just about 100% of my own doing.  Sure there's the occasional unexpected thing breaking or bad weather messing something up, but the shitstorm of my life is pretty much my fault at this point.

You ever get one of those realization moments when you know you should just throw in the towel?  Mine came over Christmas, when I was hoping to get some alone time to shape up and do the warrior under the waterfall thing you always see and get my shit together (not an easy task but still had to try).  Instead I got a depressing talk in the woods in an entire situation I had actually convinced myself a few weeks prior I was going to be able to avoid.  I always play along but somewhere in the background I heard the game-ending buzzer go off and looking at the scoreboard I was way behind.  Did I feel the need to get some overtime and make things right and finally stop being so terrible?  Yes.  Was it enough to make me do anything?  No, clinical depression is kind of like a boat anchor that keeps you from doing anything for an irrational and indistinct fear you're just going to make it worse or just continue the parade of fail that has become your life.  Hell, my house could be on fire right now (from the lemons) and I probably wouldn't even bother getting up and leaving. I'd just take the batteries out of the smoke detectors so they would stop making that annoying sound.

It's not that I want to call it quits either.  But looking at the wall of insurmountable uncertainty, one can simply freeze in a mild panic which metastasizes into a process of thought which becomes as second-nature as breathing or blinking.  Then you just live there hoping for change from outward force, which never comes.

So for all of you people out there who don't like me, take solace in the fact that I am doing way worse than you and will probably stay that way.

Third time's the charm maybe...


Do you smell that?
Ramen is oft-maligned as cheap, un-creative, yuck-food that only college students and Naruto eat on a regular basis.   Sure some big cities have actual Ramen shops where you can get the real deal, but they tend to be crowded and more expensive than they should be.  To that end, I now give you a recipe that anyone can make anywhere in America that will rival the best corner dives of Tokyo.


 Om nom nom


How to make TanTanMen:
You will need:
1 brick of cheap-ass Maruchan or Nissin ramen (throw away that soup packet.  Never use the soup packet).
Ground Pork (cheat code; Ground turkey works fine, AND so does sliced roast from the deli if you want to save time, but if you use roast beef you still have to cook it though, until it gets all nice and shriveled).
Assorted veggies (whatever you want really.  Recommendations; show-peas, bean sprouts, thin sliced carrots... never broccoli).
Half an onion finely chopped.
Mashed garlic (boiling it before-hand makes it very easy to use.  Smooshes up just like toothpaste).
Worcestershire sauce
Soy Sauce (dark, like San-J Tamari)
Pepper flakes (pepperoncini like they have at the pizza place works just fine)
Oil (olive or sesame ...or whatever, just not 40weight)
Hot sauce (Louisiana red works great.  So does sriracha but that stuff can be expensive).
Beef bullion cube or beef broth
Mirin
Big bowl
Hot water

OK so oil up a frying pan and start cooking your meat, pepper flakes, and onion (leave out the garlic for now).  We will be intentionally over-cooking it so just make sure you don't burn things.  We are drying out the meat so it can absorb the flavorful soup base later.  At the same time put the brick of ramen in your bowl and start your kettle or boil some water.  Once it's boiling, pour it on top of the noodles and they'll soften up after a few minutes (they're already cooked, remember).
While the meat is cooking, add worcestershire and soy sauce.  Add a bit more than you think you need since we're going to make a soup out of this. 
Once the meat is dried out, add veggies (we don't want to overcook those), and garlic and mirin to taste.
Drain the ramen.
Pour the whole contents of the pan on top of the ramen and then add hot water, a third of the bullion cube, and hot sauce to spice it up.  Top w/ sriracha if you really like hot stuff.  Throw a shot of sake or vodka into the soup  and it will really help the flavor.
Eat the thing.


1 pan, a few minutes, and cheap eats that don't suck.

If you're looking to cut salt, ditch the hot-sauce for more dried pepper flakes and just use worcestershire, with a low-salt beef broth.
If you're looking to cut calories, leave out the ramen itself (I know, blasphemy), and replace it with shredded cabbage.  It's not the same, but it's nice and filling with way less carbs.
If you don't like spicy (I know, blasphemy), then swap out the pepper flakes for something like mushrooms or sweet potato or whatever, and use your favorite BBQ sauce, a teaspoon of molasses, and a shot of whiskey along with the water and soup stock (if you are using beef not pork, then use a shot of Tequila).  I've never tried that but it sounds like it would be pretty boss.

Next time I'll show you how to make your own teriyaki come out just like it does at the restaurants because you know you're doing it wrong.


Remember the Alamo
If you live near an Alamo Drafthouse, they are still celebrating the works of Hayao Miyazaki with cinematic screenings.  Most of the major hits are on the menu like Totoro, Sen/Spirited Away, Nausicaa, Mononoke, and I think some locations have Ponyo.  Conspicuously absent seems to be Porco Rosso for some reason. Keeping kosher I guess?

Don't worry, we still love ya you glorious fat bastard..

The Alamo Drafthouse is really movie-going as it ought to be.  And I will sure as hell be bringing my trusted cell jammer with extended battery life for the shows I have tickets to.  Seriously as I've said before, some people just don't know how to behave in public.  So you still have time in some places.  See it before your eyesight goes, it might happen faster than you think.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Laxatives and Turnstiles: Long hiatuses and cable TV paywalls hurting good shows.

-
Is that you Mr. Poopybutthole?  It's me, Margret; Are we not doing "Phrasing" anymore?

Oh we are getting into some stuff.

If there is one thing Mr. Poopybutthole has shown himself to be, it's honest.  And so when rumblings of the potential "a year and a half, maybe longer" thing might not be so "longer" after all, Rick and Morty fans were quite enthused.  Well, so much for that.  With America about to be controlled by a hairpiece-wearing human-shaped condom, full of a combination of manure from the Four Horses of the Apocalypse and melted Creamsicle, we are needing all the laughs and meta-humor we can get, and they can't even figure out when the show is coming out although it's been 17 months since Mr. Poopybutthole said the words "a year and a half, maybe longer" to the audience.  We're now in "maybe longer" territory because there's no way the thing is coming out in just the next few weeks.

And what is the sinister force behind all this?  Well, you can argue about production setbacks but I think any setbacks that do exist are the result of Viacom executives not liking something and demanding changes.  Lets not forget that Viacom executives are the ones who kicked Legend of Korra off the air because Korrasami became a thing.  They're also wise to the South Park strategy of getting things in just under the wire, which then can't be altered because of deadline constraints. But you really can't do that with Rick and Morty so it's possible they are demanding to see the entire season before green-lighting anything.   Whoever is calling the shots over there is probably such a fossil that they are still using a Blackberry (and they're mad that their daughter is in college and going through, "the phase," so now everyone has to suffer).  But then again, this could have been a minor delay which caused real scheduling issues, and sometimes if you miss a window for a time-slot, the next one isn't just gonna show up right away.  I've been around enough to know that it's probably both that are happening.


Cancel that show!  No animated lesbians!  We're gonna make America Great Again!


Above is just half of the kick in the nuts though.  The other ball is getting slammed by the fact shows like Archer and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are getting punted over to FXX as well as their continued absence from most streaming services in terms of recent episodes (except the FXX website itself).  Additionally, it seems as if everyone involved in the creation and making of Archer in particular is intent on killing the show as hard as they can without actually canceling it. 

In addition to a delivery method and schedule that would be right at home in 2005, the show-runners themselves seem to think that pouring the main cast into a jar, shaking it up and then painting spiral pictures while on LSD which have patterns that only really make sense to them, is a great way to develop a show going into an 8th season.  It's kind of obvious that this whole season 8 is going to be some sort of coma-dream that Archer is having because of the way he ended up at the end season 7 (way to phone it in guys), and it might be that he's somehow reliving Woodhouse's life and we might actually see a loose end or two tied up for once, but I am not gonna count on it.  Conceptually, sticking a reset-button into a show as a plot device isn't a bad thing, it works great for Higurashi When They Cry, but that was built-in from the beginning, not smashed into an existing potentially incompatible template, because some creative type had an existential crisis and needs "new directions" and shit.  Just keep doing what you're doing, cash your giant check, and shut the fuck up.  The desire to just take your show in a "new direction" for your artistic needs or whatever shows contempt for an audience that made the show valuable in the first place.  It's not impossible to do, but it's easy to fuck up.  Audiences don't like being fucked with, especially when it comes to something like a plot-point regarding the identity of a main character's parentage.  Might want to talk to Matt Stone and Trey Parker about what happens when you do that.
TV never learns until it's taught a lesson. Remember that South Park cliffhanger that was supposed to reveal Cartman's dad? Remember how the show played April Fool and substituted the scatological Terrance and Phillip cartoon? Fans rioted. Some jumped ship and never came back. The lesson: Pay off our expectations, or you'll be sorry. Just because one show jumps off a cliff doesn't mean everybody has to do it.
 -July 13, 2000, By DIANE WERTS Newsday
This is still true.  Much like "Brevity is the soul of wit" and "drinking mercury will kill you" some things just stay true no matter how old they get.

Cord-cutters aren't a large percentage of TV viewers as a whole right now, but there are two important things about them that TV executives are going to ignore; #1 they are disproportionate in terms of their age and tastes in pop-culture/media entertainment, so a certain kind of advertiser is going to find value in targeting them, and #2 that's going to mean certain shows will have not only a higher demand to be available on other internet services, but an audience with both the know-how and willingness to seek out unlicensed sources because fuck you Time Warner I don't need Animal Planet, The Hallmark Channel, and 7 different ESPNs just to watch the like... five shows I wanna see - it's Torrent time!  Actually, I know a few people with full cable accounts so I just use their login info to watch shit straight from the website.  Remember when TV show websites didn't do that?  Ah, to be an early adopter.  Human nature works against agents of change in these situations because people rarely have lasting memories of instances in which things improved, but they will take the indelible memories of the times when things got even the slightest bit worse all the way to their grave.



Remember when she was ugly?  Probably not, but if she went uggo now you all would throw such a hissy-fit.


Right now there is someone who made the call to port everything over to FXX who is about to find out that entertainment brands really don't have draw anymore.  The only brands in the world that actually do have any significant draw left at all are sports teams, booze brands, somehow Lady Gaga, and the WWF (I will never call it the WWE you panda bastards!).  Millennials were just blamed for killing the paper napkin industry because of some distorted idea that we give a shit about the environment and not that you people don't pay us enough in general. People are going to behave with associated price points and expenses playing a much stronger role in dictating behavior than it did to you baby boomers in the 80's and 90's.  So the price hike for the needed extra channels in cable packages is not going to be met with a "whatevs, fine, now let me get back to my skinny jeans and artesinal mustache wax because I have important Millennial things to do."  It's going to be more like a "WTF, hell no, you already suck and now I have to pay more? Eat a dick."  When all of a sudden the expected migration of viewers/customers doesn't happen, there is going to be someone over at FX going... "I don't get it" and that's gonna fuck a whole lot of shit up by causing a panic. Meanwhile in the back of the office that 29 year old they pay $18 an hour to fix all the spreadsheets on their own computer which they had to bring from home, is thinking, "Yeah I could have told you that shit wasn't going to work."


 The best laid plans can still mean that no one wants your bullshit.

I think I used the wrong word in the previous paragraph.  "Migration" isn't applicable.  This isn't an attempt to get consumers to migrate.  Migrate would imply leaving something behind for something else.  No this is just a situation where the providers are simply saying "Buy more stuff if you want to see these titles."  It would be like Barnes & Noble putting all the anticipated best sellers behind a turnstile and then charging customers admission to the section just to be able to buy whatever book at full SRP.  At least Costco gives you bulk pricing discounts for something like that.

While I don't think the expansion of channels is going to have an impact as damaging and negative as paywalls, it is going to mean that programs that are closer to modern sensibilities are going to be marginalized and programs that currently exist that are too smart for your parents are going to end up on life-support long before they otherwise would.  The day when media entertainment embraces more progressive and cerebral concepts, jumping across mediums that the old guard would have refused to even accept the possibility of, will now be longer in coming.

 Phrasing. Boom.


And before you start thinking "Oh, but they already announced they're going to be ending whatever show you're talking about and blah blah blah" just get fuck your face off because that's a moot point.

-




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Un-Doomed: Bethesda's healthy failure-acknowledgement and the cancelation of Doom 4


Doomed if you do, Doom-ed if you don't.

Bethesda, not just a town outside Washington D.C. where Boaty McBoatface's extended family lives and where you can possess one piece of spent shotgun ammunition without getting arrested, oh no it's so much more.  It's also a company that makes the video gameseses.  Not just teh video gamesezz, good vidjya games.  So it came as significant news when they announced that they were canceling the highly anticipated title they were working on, Doom 4.  Yes I know Id Software was making the game too, but it was Bethesda that made the announcement so that's why we're talking about them.



Unlike the sad death and inexplicable release of the lifeless corpse of Duke Nukem Forever, the construction and intended release of Doom 4 was undertaken by a team which not only had a clear goal they wanted to achieve, but a very strong understanding of the benchmarks they were setting out to meet said goal.  Additionally, there was obviously very effective communication during that process, and an important divestment of personal feelings and cognitive identity from the concept of Doom itself.

The professional detachment that allowed for this self-titled "right decision" is such a valuable asset for an entertainment media company.  This implies, healthy amounts of flexibility within management, abilities of setting realistic goals, and also the capacity for failure-acknowledgement. Now, failure-acknowledgement is a very important quality for just about any company to have.  It is not the same as sunk costs, but the two do go hand in hand in that they can and do cause poor decision making from people who's decisions are ones that impact projects and possibly the entire company in significant ways.  Sometimes those decisions are to delay an announced (and pre-ordered by retailers) release to fix quality issues that a later patch, to surrounding yourself with no one brave enough to say "no George, Jar Jar is a terrible idea and shouldn't be part of this," and the results are often so obviously apparent to everyone except the person with their hands on the wheel.

There are a number of well known disasters ranging from animated movies to full corporate  insolvency brought about by the lack of failure-acknowledgement.  Notice the term is not failure-recognition.  Recognition is what you do to a failure that you're not involved in.  Failure-acknowledgement is what you have to do when it's your own, and sooner rather than later is always good.  A CEO or other executive being able to say to themselves "well, swing and a miss" is so very important to the health of any company that has the intention of existing for more than 12 months (seriously the quick-buck investment bank mentality has really hurt knowledge assets in many countries and will probably continue to wreak havoc for years).

A look at what is happening to SEARS right now shows that a brand and entity can be around for over a century and still be destroyed by a dumb-ass who insists they're not driving the wrong-way down a one-way street, and powerful enough to make sure no one else questions his assertions even as that truck is barrelling straight towards them.  Here's a nice way to visualize the difference of what it probably is like between Bethesda and SEARS in therms of simple internal communication and environment:


BETHESDA


SEARS

I am using SEARS, but this could just as easily be Samsung or Dentsu, but with so much being published in English language news media about the toxic Organizational Behavior at Sears, and how their CEO Eddie Lampert seems to be doing a flawless job of running it straight into the ground, it just seemed like the easiest example to use, even though they are not really an entertainment media company.  That is, unless you take into account their continued flaming death-spiral shenanigans because that's some pretty entertaining stuff.  Kmart and even Sears itself were once significant forces in packaged media retail, but even if they were doing great, but that's a dying industry all by itself unless you're Amazon.com (just ask Best Buy). 

Not being open in interdepartmental communication and further open to the ideas of others when it comes to whether or not the crow's nest can see something coming that the bridge can't, does not necessarily mean any media company is going to do poorly just because of that one fact.  Look at Disney, they have one way of doing things and probably a literal dungeon where they throw people who step out of line in there.

So it works for some, but if you're a company that's found what works and can just use your money to buy more money, then you may not need failure-acknowledgement.  Very few entities fall into that category, with Bethesda being smart enough to realize they are light-years away from it.  However they have generated some serious elements/assets during the development process.  Will they make it into something great, or simply ham-fist it into another existing property where it might not be helpful?  Only time will tell on that one.  I actually trust them not to fuck it up too bad, even though;

I'm actually still angry at Bethesda for their lack of action as a licensor in the whole Jones Soda Target exclusive disaster where Target managers and employees ended up purchasing all the bottles of Nuka Cola (a beverage product based on the popular Fallout franchise from Bethesda) before they were ever made available to the public.  This happened twice, and first time is understandable, but second time they could have been more involved.  But if anything it shows that Bethesda is smart enough to wisely pick its battles, and the majority of the responsibility and subsequent fault, lies with Jones Soda and Target,  So that's just more smart decision making.  And wage-slaves are going to take every chance they get to make extra money on the side, and if selling collectables to people willing to pay for them is what it takes, then just plan on them to do that).  Target isn't known as the nicest place to work, and Target customers aren't the nicest people to be around, so for some abused clock-puncher there's no incentive not to hoard the stuff.


I'M AT SODA!

It's never pleasing all of the people of the time, just remember that sometimes it about not pleasing all of your people all of the time either.

...fucking soup.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Problem With Vampires: How estate law and technology are about to impact the entertainment industry.


D.O.A.
So Carrie Fisher died.  (oh, IRL spoiler alert).  People are scratching their heads saying "oh but she was just 60 and people live way longer than that now" which is true, but there are two important factors that come into play in this case; #1 it was a heart attack on a flight from London to LA so the amount of immediate treatment that allows for people to survive heart attacks was most likely extremely limited, and #2, she did have pure cocaine for breakfast 20 years straight so that will probably take some miles off the ole' odometer in the long run.  

Anime-wise, this in and of itself isn't significant until we come to the fallout.  That being, posthumous use of any and all of her images as an actor, whether it be pre-recorded material/archive-footage, or (more importantly) future use created digitally.  There is already a movement to tell Disney to please DON'T use a CGI Carrie Fisher in any more Star Wars movies they plan on making.  See where we're about to go with this?

No... just, no.


Seiyuu Seimee, Sei it together, that's the way it should be.
Fans and casual consumers alike often voice distaste for the idea of using within a film, a CGI version of a deceased actor, or even a very much still living actor (Tron suck-fest anyone?), because of quality issues.  As humans, we are so attuned to looking at other human faces and gaining non-verbal implicit information from them that we can't shut that off. It just never looks right.  This is something that will most likely be surmounted as technology continues to become more capable, but as of now, it's not really there yet

But what about voices?  The voices!  Well, that's not as hard to pull off, and things like that go back pretty far.  Granted, examples like the Thief and the Cobbler have had their principal recording of their own specific lines while the actor was still alive and simply released posthumously, but with sound technology being what it is, as long as you have a large enough phonetic base to work from, you can make almost anything digitally without the actor present, or even aware, that it's being done.

The more astute among you will undoubtedly already be aware that this type of use has already happened to a living actor, one Crispin Glover, who very much did not appreciate it (see Crispin Glover vs Universal Pictures, via Hollywood Reporter).  So much so, that there is existing legal precedent regarding this type of thing and SAG terms covering use of likeness and pre-recorded media.  It is not enough to cover everything out there, but it can at least serve as the cornerstone for an entire body of new legal protections for actors and performers when it comes to synthesized use, posthumous or otherwise.

 Can ya hear me now bitch?

Allowed unless prohibited, or prohibited unless allowed? 
Notice how those two aren't exactly the same... (right now I am sure there's some contract law student going "HOLY FUCK OF COURSE THEY'RE NOT THE SAME YOU RETARDED RETARD!").  But for the rest of us normies, the latter is usually how entertainment and service contracts work, if it's not in there, it's not allowed until it is.  But this doesn't mean that synthesized voice performances aren't a potential reality.  Living actors might jump at the chance to receive 2 paychecks at once while they work on project A and project B simply uses the database to get most of the same work done at the exact same time.  Sure one check might be less than the other but getting both was never an option before so why the hell not?  This might actually be an enticing incentive to currently living voice actors.

Additionally, wills and estates will undoubtedly cover any such likeness or performance use for all posthumous purposes.  If actors actually like their kids, why not keep them on the gravy train by allowing for your voice to be continuously used for future productions, all while generating revenue at the same time?  Hate your kids, hell you can still earn money from your long dead voice and just have it go to some charity, or to pay someone to come around and kick your kids in the baby-maker once a month.  There will even be the oh so humble ones that simply allow for free use, making any future synthesized use, completely public domain.

This is all bad.  The reason is that this industry is competitive enough.  If all of a sudden as an actor, you're competing with dead people, then you might as well just start showing up to your auditions with a hatchet.  Think about it, they are never going to try to renegotiate halfway through a gig, miss a recording session because of a dentist appointment or traffic, age too much, clash over "creative differences," get pregnant, they are never going to get a cold, and they can be in 100 places at once. 

If vampires actually existed, upward mobility in society would be basically impossible.  They'd be around forever, hanging on to what they have and never letting it go, ensuring any future generations had no access to the same opportunities and resources they had (kind of like what the baby boomers are doing but times a million).   Thanks to the abilities of media technology, voice actors are going to be facing such a situation without the causal factors of the un-dead.  This means that 30+ years from now Megumi Hiyashibara might still be voicing new characters for whatever the hell kind of anime that they beam straight into your brain or however they're gonna do that, all the while the new talent sits on the sidelines, trying to get noticed online while their own work is stolen out from under them thanks to terms and conditions that give internet outlets ownership over "acoustic re-purpose rights" or whatever they are going to call it.



Welcome to the future.  It sucks here.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Who's Suin' Who: The "Hideaki Anno sues Gainax" non-story.


There’s a buzz buzz buzz about the recent legal action filed by the firm Khara Inc, filed against Gainax to the tune of 100million yen.  But like the buzzing of a bee, is it causing an unnecessarily overly energetic reaction to those it otherwise doesn’t pose a real danger to.  Are people making this out to be more than it is?  Cries of “Anno sues Gainax!” have already bee echoing through the interweb tubes and people are reacting like it’s the goddam Cuban Missile Crisis.  But let us not forget that 100,000,000 yen is (at the time of publication) the equivalent of US $879,275.06 which could be described the high-end of ass-wipe money in the grand scheme of things.  So even if Gainax can’t pay a single yen, Khara Inc may not necessarily come away with a tremendously significant ownership stake in the company (hell, with the price of wagyu the way it is, they’ll probably just end up getting ownership of a steak).




Notice how the legal action does not include outstanding royalties, just the loan principal (doesn’t even mention interest, of which there may not have been any).  Outstanding royalties could easily be more than 100 million yen, depending on how long they’ve been outstanding.  This development could mean anything from the genesis of a real animosity between Khara and Gainax/Anno and Yamaga, to something like a side-step deal where Anno can take control of some of Evangelion IP assets in a way that keeps existing creditors and other debt issues out of the picture.  With Gainax showing very unhealthy income (in the article it is not mentioned if it is gross-adjusted or anything), their past failure to produce significant revenue since Evangelion may indeed invite the crows to pick the eagle sooner rather than later.  Although the beating of a dead horse may yet create gains if tenderized horse meat is what you have to sell, there need to be people willing to buy, and even then that only works once.  What I mean by that is; bringing back Evangelion again and again most likely is not going to be a successful survival strategy, you're going to lose out on the opportunity cost end.  The question then becomes, is there even any potential survival strategy that’s worth implementing?  Sometimes the answer is no.  While I hate to think about something like that for Gainax, when your best friend has to sue you for repayment of a (probably) zero interest loan, it doesn’t send a message of confidence to any other potential sources of financing regarding future projects. 
 
Without actually taking a look at the books and other accounting, the situation is very difficult to gauge in terms of the general temperament of the parties involved, as well as being able to know how much Gainax has gone the way of the cicada husk, presenting a rigid exterior while having been hollow inside for a long time now.  Maybe it’s exactly that, or maybe it’s not even close.  Regarding this kind of symptom, and based on how Japanese companies do things in general, I think Gainax may indeed be past the event horizon. 

I'm sure there's an easy solution.

So is this some sort of major event?  Well maybe not, since it involves less than $900,000 which for a company like Gainax shouldn’t be too hard to manage.  But it isn’t nothing either, it made the news, since not being able to just “handle it” is the position that Gainax seems to find itself in.  So it’s news. 

This mystery is going to make itself evident in the next year, possibly even before that.  Perhaps Anno really needs that money for his Dragon’s Dentist, or maybe this is a way for his good friend to get the best silverware off Titanic and into the right lifeboat before the thing finally starts going down.  That way Anno can keep his baby before insolvency ties it up and parcels it out.  That might be a good thing, but not for the reason you think.  Anno and Khara Inc might take Evangelion to Hollywood.  No one wants to do the same thing forever, and if a Hollywood Eva movie means that Khara can get financing for other projects as well, we might see something genuinely and creatively new, so why not tap that well...?  Anno is kind of a weirdo though so this could be well outside something he’d be willing to do.  But if a live action shit-stain of an Evangelian movie creates an opportunity for a Portal animated series (it won’t, but something equally awesome might be on the table), then it’s worth it. 

To truly understand what this situation might be, go watch U-571.  Remember that part where they put budget Ralph Maccio in the torpedo tube after that Nazi bastard killed him?  It was so that when his dead body and the rest of the junk floated to the top, the destroyer chasing them would think that they had sunk the thing?  Eventually that plan buys enough time to line up another plan (one that ends in ka-boom), and get out with the objective intact which was actually an Enigma machine and code book.  The bad news?  Despite once being state of the art, the battered U-571 ends up sinking.  Gainax may itself be a sinking ship, but the nexus of creativity can be kept alive and brought to where it can flourish, all by using the dead corpse of Evangelion to buy time (seriously people, stick a fork in it, just come to terms with the fact it was fun while it lasted). 


 You mustn’t run away.

As previously mentioned, the situation is far too vague for me to call that a lock in terms of what is going to happen.  This whole thing could just as easily turn some kind of ugly, and the vultures will pull everything apart in a terrible and damaging gut-splattered frenzy.   But I don’t mind engaging in a bit of wishful or nostalgic thinking every now and then.

20 year old coffee in a can anyone?
These are for sale if anyone wants them, as we try to raise funds to get new software for Pinky Mixology. Only $879,275.06! (Nah, but they are really for sale.  1997 edition, un-opened.  Message me or something).

Either way, one major problem no matter which direction this develops, is that it can be very difficult and quite tricky (some may even say impossible), to appraise or assign an explicit value to intellectual properties.  They are considered intangible assets, and so unlike financial instruments, they can not truly possess a net present value or be factored into the kinds of ratios that go into all that business stuff your roommate studied in college while you were wasting your time with Japanese Language 102.   Creditors and financial entities are going to have a very difficult time valuing Gainax for this reason.  It is not easily foretold how much revenue an entertainment property will produce.  Even companies like Disney and Fox have a hard time actually saying how much their flagships are worth in terms of actual real money on any given day, and they have entire rooms foll of math-people who's job is to do exactly that.  So while equations do exist for putting a monetary figure on entertainment IP (as opposed to patent IP... very different thing but IP none the less), they often aren't really allowed to sit down at the grown-ups table when it comes down to finalizing things, the same way polygraphs are used by law enforcement, but aren't admissible in actual court.  So if insolvency is a real possibility, then assigning a value to assets is going to be a guessing game at best and a cluster-fuck at worst.  Especially if more than one person is holding the leash to Evangelion.  This in and of itself may be an impetus for such a preemptive move to get Eva off the sinking ship sooner rather than later if that is in fact what is happening.  Much like electrons in the dual slit experiment, monetary value in entertainment properties only manifests as real when people look at them.  Finicky things these intangible assets are.  So we may be witnessing a great escape style egress of Evangelion, but pulled off out in the open for everyone to see.

Then again... all this might just be an epic disaster in the making.  Watching the company that fucked you over slowly go down in flames is always satisfying.

Yeah.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cosplay Police Part Two, Cultural Appropriation Boogaloo


-

If you would like to read Cosplay Police Part 1, click_here.  It is unrelated to this piece however, it has to do with the interplay of cosplay and copyright law.


The First Amendment is a Thing.
From the we saw this coming department, Halloween costumes were in the news again a while back.  In this particular instance however, what certain universities are doing may go beyond the standard knee-jerkery of regressivist reflexes of shouting like a 12 year old and holding their breath, and into actual legal mechanics which inevitably go all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States and blah blah blah.

Enter Tufts University, which is a nice place I am sure, but they seem to have stepped into a legal grey area in terms of differentiating between University Policy and the Legal Rule of Law.  If you are unaware of what I am referring to, here is a link to the story from ABC news.   

One can take offense at literally anything.  The fact that I just wrote “One can take offense at literally anything” is offending someone right fucking now.  So it should come as no surprise that some costumes which rely heavily on the aspects of amplified or even insensitive caricaturism, can be perceived as both jingoist and racist (a lot of the time, people say “racist” when what they really mean is “jingoist”, because it has to do with a national identity and not a racial identity).  This is an indelible truth about Halloween costumes, some of them do deliberately evoke those feelings.  Is that a bad thing?  Well, it can be; why would you want to go out and deliberately belittle someone by making a mockery of them?  Oh, you didn’t know that’s what would happen?  Well maybe you’re just not woke as they say… Oh, you did know that and you’re doing it on purpose?  Then by the laws of the United States of America you are not forbidden to do that, so go for it if that’s what you wanna do, but don't expect not to get fired.   



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/nyregion/hikind-defends-wearing-blackface-to-purim-party.html


There are a significant number of Supreme Court cases which have shown that, in addition to spoken or written words, the ability to put on a costume, uniform, cloth marking (like an arm band to protest the Vietnam War) or face-paint, is something that has an absolute protection under the First Amendment of The United States.  They all cover what can be considered costumes, for any reason or occasion, which includes none at all.  So the legal standpoint is that you can put on whatever you want whenever you want with very few exceptions, and no, a college campus isn’t a place that can restrict that.  And yet Tufts University specifically mentioned that “offensive” costumes would be investigated by Campus Police.  You know what Campus Police are?  They are Police, fully sworn in and legally mandated members of a real police department.   Hence, they are subject to the same laws as any other police officers are.  That means Constitutional Law is something that they must adhere to (all be it unfortunately sometimes only retroactively when forced to by a judge).  So a “we don’t like what you’re wearing and you’re under arrest for it” argument is not something that will legally stand up, and conversly, there are quite a few legal legs to stand on for someone who should vest themselves in any outfit/costume what-so-ever. This puts them in the absolute zone of the First Amendment:

Cohen v California
A case where it was decided that simply wearing an item with a slogan or symbol on it in public can not be considered Disturbing the Peace/Disorderly Conduct or incitement to violence.  So the argument that the slogan or symbol are "fighting words" or "fire in a theater" (which are not protected by the First Amendment) does not apply.

But now you’re saying “Hey, that case is just about some guy with Fuck The Draft written on a jacket during the Vietnam War back in the stone age.  The First Amendment can’t possibly extend to something so horrible like blackface or a Hitler costume!”  ...Oh, well you see it does, because:

National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie
You don’t even have to know any legal history to have an idea what this one is.  Remember that part in Blues Brothers where those Nazi guys are on the bridge there?  Yep, that’s a reference to this real case.  The Supreme Court ruled that a group cannot be prevented by any government from marching or assembly, using images or slogans (including any and all clothing), or exercising their right to assemble, even if it pisses other people the hell off.  So Nazis get to march down the street whether you like it or not because even they are entitled to equal protection under the law.  You might be thinking “Oh, well they must have had a whole bunch of anti-Semitic white nationalist lawyers try every trick in the book for this to-“  Let me stop you right there.  It was a Jewish lawyer from the ACLU.  You know, the ACLU, that group famed for its right wing militancy apparently..? 

“Well, that’s not college campuses.  Campuses are different, they are a safe space!” you say as you grasp at the next straw.  …No.

Papish v Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District,  California Education Code § 94367 (aka "The California Leonard Law" upheld in Corry v. Stanford), Stromberg v. California (regarding “symbolic” freedom of speech).
Without going too much into it, it’s basically a wall of case law that says that anyone’s First Amendment rights don’t end just because you’re on a campus or in a school.

 
Overruled, dingus. 


 Oh, this is about Cosplay, isn't it?
So now that I just shoved all this in your face, you’re starting to wonder why you’re even still bothering to read this.  Well costumes aren’t just Halloween stuff.  They’re fandom stuff.  Conventions are so full of cosplayers that sometimes there are more people cosplaying than not.  Small conventions often happen on college campuses, and that is where these two converging forces are going to meet and quite possibly butt-heads.  People who feel that what they are as individuals, is somehow devalued by someone else who does not racially or ethnically resemble them engaging in dressing a certain way, may try to stop that activity via misuse of law, or even (as has been the case all too often) disruptive violence. 

These bubble-dwellers will not care if you’re cosplaying as a fictional character.  Even if that fictional character is pretty much a giant racist incarnation of every stereotype about that group when you go back and think about it.


Ever notice how Shampoo is pretty much only one step away from the ching chang chong level of Chinese caricature?
Which is both racist and jingoist if you think about it.


So would a White/Black/Hispanic/Indian/First-Nations person cosplaying as Shampoo be considered racist?  Would a Japanese person cosplaying as Shampoo be jingoism because Shampoo is Chinese not Japanese (not exactly a friendly history there between those two very different cultures).  Will SJWs come and attempt to physically cut off what people are wearing based on their own bruised sensitivities a la the legend of Bonita Tindle and the great dreadlocks war?  Well, the answer is that might happen, but it is also illegal (especially that last one).  As has been well established, any cosplayer is entitled to equal protection under the law, so assaulting them is a crime.  It's not excusable as some sort of cultural-appropriation self-defense, because with apologies from one Hubert Mungus, that’s not a thing.  For anyone to take things to such an extreme shows they clearly do not understand how the First Amendment and the related case law work at all, and also shows a further ignorance of how absolutely important it is in order to protect everyone in America from the violent extremism that is the inevitable result of having thought police, whether they are policing thoughts about sushi being cultural appropriation, or someone thinking you're using the wrong bathroom.

Apply these dynamics to the world of cosplay reductio ad absurdum, and you end up with the near incomprehensible entity that is The Anti Western Cosplay Movement.





If you have a strong enough stomach to read this stuff, it will quickly become apparent that this is most likely some dude/dudes who just see any non-Asians cosplaying as boner-killer and are mad about it.  Even in my drunkiest of drunken blackouts I’ve written more coherent and better stuff than this (seriously, there are at least a few articles I’ve written with a BAC of “call 911” somewhere on here).  The word “Asian” is in there so much it makes me think that the guy is probably from Singapore or Hong Kong but wishes he were Japanese. And notice how the topic of people from India is not addressed at all.  Or maybe it is, I’m not going to spend too much time at the site.  But don’t worry, it addresses all the issues about why non-Asians shouldn’t ever cosplay as anime characters, even if that anime is Rose of Versailles where everyone is French, Vinland Saga where everyone is Nordic, or you’re someone who was gonna dress up as Guile from Street Fighter.  No non-Asians (that means no black people also but they don't say that one out loud).


 Pictured: Example of a typical "Asian" man... apparently.

The Anti Western Cosplay Movement is just the 50 yard line in the natural progression of injecting extremist SJW sensibilities into cosplay fandom.  Once you get into field goal range then begins the jingoism; a Japanese person can’t be Chun-li because she’s Chinese, a Malaysian can’t be Tenchi Masaki because he’s Japanese, and if you’re Vietnamese then you’re probably just shit out of luck.  What would the end-zone of such a progression even possibly look like?  Only a Trans person can cosplay as a Trans character and you're Transphobic if you think otherwise and believe anyone should be able to cosplay as any character they want to?   Who would want to still participate in that?

To return to an oblique politicality for a moment, this scenario comes from the fact that the concept of “cultural appropriation” itself, defacto reduces culture to the equivalent of a bowl of M&Ms.  Simply put, it’s the notion that if you take some then there are less for me, and they’re my M&Ms goddammit!  That’s not how culture works. It isn't tangible, it is not a finite resource. In assigning a needed tangible value to what could be called culture, it is actually devalued more effectively than any insensitive imitation, antithetical movement, or straight up racism ever could hope to accomplish. 

Cosplay should be a fun activity where people practice and improve their skills in embracing characters and concepts they enjoy.  In order to remain so (especially somewhere as diverse as The United States), it can not be shackled and dragged away by the soldiers of ideological authoritarianism.  We stand now at the edge of this slippery slope, and it is my hope that enough people see it for what it is in order to avoid it.  Cosplay needs to stay fun.



Like OMG Stop saying SJW, THAT'S HATE SPEECH!
I caught a lot of flack for using “SJW” in its original definition back when I wrote about Wizard World and the efforts of self-described SJW Matt Santori-Griffith.  I received a torrent of all these angry messages and other stuff like “You’re a White nationalist and ALT-Right and should die!” and other stuff like “You MRA types are ruining fandom!” and of course the regular buckets of “Go Fuck Yourself” and “You’re a gun-nut.” Despite never having owned a gun in my life, I don’t think a fact like this would have stopped that comment though.  There was also something about Gamergate but I still really don't know what that is.  However, the worst messages I received were the occasional ones appearing to “support” notions of jingoism and xenophobia.  Stuff like “Don’t give in to the Lib-Tards” or “Something something WALL something TRUMP something something, isn’t it great?” (How the flying fuck has anything I’ve ever written on here related to the stupid Wall, Trump, or the GOP’s atrocious record on everything they do?)  It was cringeworthy to say the least.  But I definitely overreacted as well in an extreme manner.  I should have realized how intense I was getting but I didn’t until much later.  Don’t worry, I’ve stopped foaming at the mouth. 

Now, not knowing what MRA or the ALT-Right was at the time, I decided to go find out.  I really wish I hadn’t.  Such a toxic environment of which I completely regret scratching the surface, let alone actually digging into.  That place messed me up.  I now know who Milo Yanap… Yanapopple… Yaponial…  the guy with the hair is (and wish I could go back to not knowing, because then I could go back to not caring), and at least I was able to avoid Alex Jones because I actually remember from the 1990’s when he was out there flinging buckets of Grade-A crazy all around the place.  These people are quite antithetical to a lot of progressive values that I support.  However what was so stunning were the actions of their opponents, which all too often seemed to degenerate into physical violence in the name of… well nothing really, these people straight up are saying that since they don’t like the message that the others are saying it is their duty and somehow their right to physically stop them.  Yeah, that’s the same argument Bull Connor used when he thought the fire hoses were a great way to stop those pesky civil rights troublemakers (I know you're gonna have to look that up so here is some student's research project to go watch).  Not a good philosophy.  It always backfires and also is quite illegal, since things like assault, theft and destruction of property are rarely effectively justified for the reason of “I didn’t like the guy”.  



 Pictured: not reality.


So what does that mean about the use of SJW as a term?  Well, I don’t know when it happened or why people think that SJW is a broad term that covers all Progressives.  It’s kind of like the spectrum of

The Vegan at a BBQ:

Vegan A comes and brings some nice bean dip or nice fresh pico de gallo, and eats a bunch of vegan stuff, talks to other people about a variety of topics, enjoys a few tequila shooters and then goes home when it’s over.
A Moderate.  Think... Bernie Sanders

Vegan B comes and brings some nice bean dip, eats a bunch of vegan stuff, and talks to just about everyone…only about veganism.  They’ll tell them why they think it’s a good idea.  They’ll try to change your mind by espousing any positive aspect they can.  They are mildly annoying sometimes but they’re the one who brought the tequila so it’s ok.  If someone is even illegally processing animal products they’ll bring attention to it by exposing it in the news.
A Progressive.  Think... Amy Goodman

Vegan C You know they’re on their way in because you can hear them before they’re even in the yard.  Just the smell of anything non-vegan to them is a direct physical assault on their vegan-ness and now they are going to make sure NO ONE shall dare do something outside their strict philosophy.  So before you even start wondering what that’s about; they’ve kicked over the grill and thrown all the cheese in the river.  They will steal all the leftover meat including what's been kicked to the ground, and bury it in the back yard with a full funeral.  After that’s done they’re going to spend plenty of time pontificating on how eating a cheese burger makes you worse than Josef Mengele, and then storm off before anyone can even come up with a counterpoint (but they’ll try to break everyone’s camera because they know they just committed property damage and criminal mischief or assault and don’t want evidence of it anywhere).  Then you just finish off the tequila right there.
That’s the SJW.   Think... ...how about this nutjob;


 Yes, this exists.

These are extremists, who disregard the Constitutional Rights of others whenever it suites them, and are willing to engage in violence to suppress what they consider unacceptable thought, whatever it may be.  When you go around smashing cameras and microphones of people who have a platform contrary to your own, you are no better than that riot cop who goes into the crowd of Civil Rights protestors and yanks the American Flags out of the children’s hands in Mississippi Burning (it’s in the trailer).   

If you’re still not sold on this way of characterizing things (maybe like Clarissa from AWO who is also not reading this anyway because she hates me now), then take a look at the trailer for East Side Sushi.  


…what exactly is going on here?  Gender inequity?  Cultural Appropriation?  Meat eating and cruelty to animals?  Mexican sushi?  It gets hard to rationalize when your mirrors of self-confirmation and cognitive dissonance end up facing each other.