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.


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.

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 First Amendment protection:

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 just some dude/dudes who see any non-Asians cosplaying as boner-killer and then they get 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.

However, on a conceptual level, 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.

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... 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. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

You Pay What You Get For. Legal protections for creative professionals, it's a good thing.


I wanted to write about the knee-jerk insanity over Halloween costumes and what seems to be some sort of absolutism by specific groups to try and use law enforcement to take clearly unconstitutional steps in maintaining what seems to be a secific agenda.  One wonders how it may not be long before that threat transitions to anime cosplay events at conventions and other places, (actually remember when I brought up legal threats from other sources regarding Cosplay?  Of course not, it was 9 years ago, and what were you doing 9 years ago? ...It never amounted to anything anyway). 

However, that subject will have to wait.  This entry will have to take a legal “Chun-Chun” and change the whole plot to another something law related.

Such an issue is the recent passing by the New York City Council of legislation specifically protecting freelance artists from wage theft by failure to pay.  It should be apparent by now that small creative businesses have been routinely getting stolen from by large business entities, who sign contracts, accept work, and then simply pay part or even none of the agreed upon price.  It's a major problem.  Even Middle America’s favorite presidential candidate has made that a common business practice.

If you’re a finance major, this actually makes good business sense.  You are a large corporation that retains a permanent legal counsel.  That permanent legal counsel is getting paid the same rate every 30 days no matter what, for their ability to fight off potential litigation.  So why not just count on a statistical analysis of how many small independent artists wouldn’t even have the resources to file the paperwork to even start legal action let alone be able to go through with it.  Then realize that a significant portion of your obligations (aka bills) will never have the resources to be able to collect them should you, as a company, simply choose to say “fuck you” and simply not pay.  You save a shit-ton of money that you keep for yourself and spend on hookers and blow.  What are they gonna do, sue you?  Ha!  Seriously, somewhere at Viacom there's a "Ford Pinto" type memo that actually outlines how this is good business and even has ratios for how much they can stiff different studios for what kind of work.

Hold on... I'm calculating exactly how much we can screw you, so I can add it to the spreadsheet. 
This is gonna get me at least 4 extra drink tickets at the Christmas Party.

So that’s been happening for the better part of two decades now, and like every loophole discovered by large money-grubbing companies run by baby boomer Gordon Gekko types, they’ve abused the shit out of it until it’s become painfully obvious that something needs to be done.  That something is a legislative bill, INT. 1017-C which has passed The New York City Council (unanimously) and awaits the signature of the current Mayor (and major walking disappointment) Bill de Blasio.  He will probably sign it, but let’s not forget that the importance of the matter of time he takes to sign it.  If it happens quickly, then we can assume that the text passed is what will become law.  But in a bit more time, the more of it that passes, it is more likely it is that the following is taking place;

NYC is home to… Viacom, NBC Universal, Marvel, DC Comics, ABC, FOX, Bad Boy Records, PBS, Pacifica Radio, Random House, Reuters, McGraw-Hill, Harper Collins, and a shitload of companies  you’ve never heard of but who all own their own skyscraper in Midtown somewhere.  Not to mention Ad agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, and Blue Fountain Media.  All of these companies are going to figure out something pretty fast;  A veto is worthless.  If the thing passed unanimously, there’s no way a veto won’t end in an override, those companies can’t get enough City Council Members in their pockets fast enough to prevent that. (Seriously, they have entire floors full of lawyers who argue all day about exactly this kind of thing).  What these companies are going to do is ask for time, time enough for them to go over it so that they can do some housekeeping and then change their boilerplate to something that circumvents this law. And from our ShitStain of a mayor, they'll get it.

Forgetting the obvious fact that even these new penalties are nothing that these massive companies can't just ignore (seriously Viacom farts $1million a day in executive catering… like they’re gonna care about this stuff), it’s important to always keep in mind that this is a New York City law.  Nobody remembers, but I once wrote something regarding how the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has a huge sway on almost every Japanese area of business and politics because in terms of industry and head offices, all the eggs are in one basket over there, and the same is true for the majority of any Japanese market’s regular customers.  So as Tokyo goes, so goes the land of the rising sun.  NYC may be large and we may be so much better than the rest of the hyucklybuck red-state Walmart-shopping ‘Murika out there, but in terms of all the eggs in one basket we in NYC hardly are.  Most times this is a strength, but here is it is a glaring weakness. 

That weakness comes in the form of enforceability and boilerplate.  Everyone who has ever done work on spec knows that in your contract usually somewhere on page 6 there is going to be an article that reads like this:

The parties submit all their disputes arising out of or in connection with this Agreement to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of [pick a state]"

That’s called a Jurisdiction Clause or sometimes a Forum Selection Clause.  After reading this bill, I can’t see an explicit part that addressed this issue.  § 20-931 comes very very close, (read the thing if you want I’m not cutting and pasting that whole thing here), but it really seems to not cover the following situation:  A freelancer living in Queens gets contracted by a large media firm in Manhattan, and after all the details are hashed out they are ready to sign.  The big media firm asks the freelancer to actually come to their White Plains office to execute the contract because “oh, that’s just where the person who needs to sign it happens to be that day” but don’t worry, they’ll totally send a car for you or reimburse your traveling costs.  Well not what?  You have a contract drawn up and executed in White Plains, with a Jurisdiction Clause that almost certainly reads The parties submit all their disputes arising out of or in connection with this Agreement to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of The State of New York, The City of White Plains".   So yeah, now what?  Just because the freelancer is based in NYC can they use this legislation to enforce a judicial order of payment?  Yes, § 20-931 mentions that the "director" will decide the jurisdiction (meaning the state will decide the jurisdiction) but has no language to specifically supersede a jurisdiction clause. You KNOW the big company is going to fight the hell out of that jurisdictional argument and if they can’t shred it to pieces right there, they’ll just drag it out like they do with everything else.  What if they had actually had this contract executed in a Newark, or Hartford office, in an entirely different state?  It has yet to be seen if this law will force an osmotic movement of freelance hiring out of the New York Limits by large companies that have done this for so long it's not just standard practice for them.  No way to know until this is really put to the test.

Caption is redundant.

 Well, when De Blasio vetoes the thing (and he will for some bullshit), then it will come back in 2-18 weeks for him to sign.  Someone should check to see if  § 20-931 is still intact.  It actually doesn’t matter because the other “first thing” these massive media firms are going to do is start hiring freelancers that live in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester Counties, and New Jersey.  Not like that’s gonna be hard to do. 

Not to worry, signing at the White Plains office is exactly the same as signing in Manhattan.
Would this face lie to you?

So why does this matter?  Well it fucking should.  Don’t you like animation, and manga, and games, and online content, and music?  Why should you be ok if the creative person who worked on it gets screwed just because some major media company feels like straight up not paying them?  These creatives are massive sources of fan generated content that keeps the fandom alive.  Artist Alley at Conventions, Youtubers, Podcasters, webcomic artists, and so many others make their living in these creative fields doing commercial work.  Being exposed to this literal injustice hurts these people who participate in the fandom, and Patreon is NOT going to cut it.  When an artist gets screwed out of $6,000, that’s 3 month’s rent, and if they can’t make it, the first thing that happens is we see the word “Hiatus” on the websites of their fan projects.   That’s why these protections are important to fandom across the board, and that’s why whoever you are and wherever you are, you can urge your government representatives (Local, State, and Federal) to follow this examples and make sure that a good fan artist or great animator is able to make it to that convention because they no longer have to worry about having to wait 6 months to get half of what they agreed on for work they have long since finished.  A printed letter and a stamp is literally the least you can do.  Yeah, I know snail mail is prehistoric... but so are our reps, and it's the only thing they understand.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Isn't it Awfully Nice to Have a Penis: How a Porn revolution is Japan's last best hope for a piece.

We're gonna go straight into the gutter and bulls-eye some sexy sexy Womp Rats in a T16. 

Links are relatively SFW but the Wikipedia page for the Kanamara Matsuri has photos of endless penis sculptures. So... there's that.

Some messed up but not surprising news out of Japan

There is obviously some sensationalism going on, but let's shake the dew of this lily anyway shall we?  Hikikomori is a bad thing, but the Japanese keep on using that word.  I do not think it means what they think it means.  You see, there's a literal meaning tied to it, meaning that you never leave the house, but at this point there's more to it.  There is another kind of Hikikomori, one lost soul in a big fish bowl... with lots of other fish there too but they don't really do anything.  Alone in the big city.  Simply put, people who go out and work for a living and do stuff, but don't really bother with human contact past a utilitarian function.

There is basically not enough banging going on in Japan.  In terms of causal factors, it may not be just because people are too uptight.  It's actually because of 1950's American Puritanism and the very strange "obscenity" laws that exist in Japan.  This has led to some weird portrayals of sex in both regular media, but also more importantly teh pr0nz.  Seriously, have you ever see Japanese porno?   It's all censored out isn't it.  That's because of laws that were put in place during the American Occupation.  Yeah, the geniuses running that decade thought it best that even 70 years later, no one should ever actually be able to see what the naughty bits do when you want to get laid.  So what happens?  Well besides the inevitable evolution of tentacle porn, it relies on over emphasized actions, fetish outfits, and for some reason no music what so ever (seriously, haw can you have happy naked time on video without a little bow-chick-a-wow-wow)?  I know music isn't something that is showing up in modern stuff, but that's a few generations ahead of what we're talking about.

Oh wait, did I say happy?  Forget that, because if you've ever seen Japanese porn you'd already know that it comes across as more of a portrayal of genuine torture rather than consensual humping. Seriously you never see someone having less fun during sexy time than a woman in a Japanese porn. Here is why that's a pretty bad thing;

We are in the internet age.  Women are gonna see it at some point.  They just are.  And if that's what they see, it's no wonder they're thinking "why the fuckshithell-hellshitfuck would I wanna do that?" or at least be like ...ew.  Not only does it come off giving the impression of being about as pleasant as getting cavities filled with no anesthetic, you can't even really see what's going on so your imagination is going to conjure up something that is the reason for what is portrayed as the obvious painful condition resulting from banging.  If you've never had sex before and your first time seeing it is in a video where a woman is literally crying through the entire experience, it's going to give the impression of something unpleasant.  Something has gotta change there.

Yeah, totally looks like she's having oh so much fun there.

Enter sex-positive porn directed by women ...and some dudes also. Seriously, live or animated, decent porn is going to change young attitudes towards sex and in turn, various relationships.  They're not gonna be deep though because, let's face it, nowhere in human civilization does there come a deep emotional understanding before the humping impulse, male or female, gay or straight, anything in between, when you're that age.  For everyone at that age, it's humpy time first, and "what's your favorite color?" later (don't tell me it's not, you're wrong, I said so, so there, infinity, nany-nany boo-boo).

Porn, no matter what you want to call it (awesome, obscene, bad influence, necessity), is still art.  Maybe bad art sure, but life doth still imitate it.  Think about your early sexy-time having.  Yeah sure it was probably a bit awkward, but what if all you had to go on before that was Japanese porn?  Yeah, it goes from awkward to horrific.  And it's not going to get any better unless obscenity laws are changed and they legalize the whole shebang sans mosaic censoring.  Soft, hard, hetero, gay, lezbot (no I actually mean lesbian robots, it's a thing, you can look it up) amateur, Inu Yasha and Kagome but like... both of them having a good time, it's not that hard to do.  And it's not wrong to do.  What, you think Inu Yasha and Kagome didn't want to just friggin get it the hell on even once?
Oh yeah, you know where this is goin'...

"But Dojinshi totally fills that need!" some non-Japanese otaku are saying at this point. Quiet, you. No it doesn't... How could it?  It's being made by the same sex starved idiot morons that have grown up in the sexually suppressed world of post-war Japan.  And even if it did, c'mon, Dojinshi?  How many regular Japanese women are going to keep that stuff around where they live let alone actually go to the kinds of places you have to in order to buy it (I'll give you a hint, it's somewhere between zero and who gives a shit percent of the population).  Besides Doujinshi is more part of the problem than a solution, since some stuff I've seen comes from sources that obviously have no idea what so ever how actual fucking works.

What Japan needs is a big fat shot in the arm of nice fun SEX... While like they say in Kinky Boots, "sex shouldn't be comfy" which is kinda true, it also shouldn't be unpleasant, so that needs to be dealt with.  And while people are into all kinds of stuff (yeah even you ladies, we know), there are general ideas and trends that you can use to put your best foot/boob forward.  And while we can say that most American pornography may portray things a bit unrealistically, it's because it is mostly the positive aspects that are enhanced for the audience that it works, you can just as easily amplify the worst parts about sexy time until it actually looks like something you'd prefer not to do in favor of stepping on thumbtacks with bare feet.  Seriously, it's not hard to make porn look like fun on at least a very basic level.  I think there are things about it that make it pretty easy to do that...

I'd say that the government should not only drop the obscenity laws that prevent even seeing sex parts, but also actually try to foster startups which produce material that will appeal to a wide audience between the genders.  The problem is, that's probably about as likely as the Saudi Royal Family opening up a Dinosaur BBQ Pulled Pork Palace right in the middle of Riyadh.  The powers that be in Japan seem to have a major problem with a certain part of the female anatomy.  Whether it comes from a long tradition of just not liking "icky" things or a stuffy prudishness which somehow almost all old people on earth seem to have, there's one part of this equation that they don't like even admitting that it exists, let alone somehow allowing anything glorifying it.  Even though it's an important thing to have around, especially when they keep talking about a dangerously low birthrate.

Not wireless headphones.

Not only weeps the crow, but also weeps the popinjay.  Enter long suffering artist and activist Megumi Igarashi, AKA Rokudenashiko ...come on you know I couldn't cover this subject without bringing her up.  She was put under government scrutiny for simply cartooning a vagina in a published work, and then arrested for paddling a kayak with the opening 3D printed in the shape of her own hoo-ha which should have obviously been seen as not a pornographic representation of anything, just weird art.  She might have a good idea, or she might just be some weirdo, but the mere fact that she got arrested sends a clear message of pure hostility regarding nudity in any form as something that will not be tolerated.  And like I said here already, that leads to people thinking poking at a woman randomly through soaking wet white underwear is somehow sexy, enjoyable, or fun for anybody.

This official stance of what seems like hating sex and beating it like the Fratelli Brothers beat Sloth tied to a chair in the basement has turned the mere concept of it into something that people are now simply finding unappetizing, and who can blame them?  In Japan there are several festivals that are all about giant dicks everywhere but a Vagina kayak will get you jail time?   What does that even mean?  This ridiculousness is a symptom of governments around the world and Japan is no exception; of knowing the solution to the problem, and simply refusing to do it because... reasons.  Until people in government don't just nervously dip their toes in the water of true gender equality, but actually just jump in feet-first, this is only going to be one of the reasons that Japan continues to evolve into something that's too weird for its own good.

This kind of thing is dumb. It will always will be dumb.

Social aspects play another major role and we haven't covered them as they apply to porn.  It's almost as if they're made to punish the women to participate in it simply for being involved.  They can come from marginalized groups like Burakumin and if you did a study, you'd probably find a higher percentage of that group than average doing the porn thing (actually I'll bet there's already a study out there but I'm not going to go looking for it, this is long enough as it is).  So there's that working against the acceptance of pron as well.

This is not even about birthrates (again, something I've talked about before ...8 years ago).  Having children is a whole separate issue, and until Japan falls out of love with Tokyo and actually starts developing areas by economic sectors, none of this younger generation is going to find that prospect appealing, since housing, commuting, and employment (or lack thereof), all make child rearing seemingly inaccessible.

Maybe another branch of government will be able to help.

I've just been informed that womp rats are in no way sexy at all.
Good night, good luck, and おまんこございます.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lost at Sea: When you build a house of cards on the ocean, it falls down.

For Producers.
That's not my department.

There's no business like show business.  But there's many businesses that, well business.   One of the repeating themes written about here, is that manga, anime, games, and the like, are indeed products of businesses, and as such, those businesses require certain business functions to occur and to be sustainable.  Another aspect that is equally important is Business Architecture, Supply Chain Management, and how it fits into Corporate Governance.

The large publishers and studios are part of much larger companies which are sometimes part of sizeable Keiretsu.  From the obviously diverse such as SONY or Fujisanke, to the 'you probably didn't realize one of their biggest divisions is food-products' Bandai, or the 'you think they're just publishers but guess where their assets are' Kadokawa and Shogakukan Inc.  Just because a large company doesn't  have any divisions or subsidiaries outside their core industry, doesn't mean that all their assets are in that industry too, that's what investment banks are for (even you Kosdansha).

So they have their chips spread out a bit, that's good for a big company right?  It certainly can be, but every once in a while something can come along and actually truly mess that right the hell up. The collapse of global shipping is one of those "somethings" I just mentioned.

What, Me worry?

If you aren't already, you really should be aware of the giant mess that's still going on because of the insolvency of Hanjin.  You know, those shipping containers on those trucks you have to drive past on your way to work at the mall.  See, that's a big company and the stuff you're selling at your job at the mall is in that truck right there heading to the mall right next to you.  Hanjin was one of the largest global shipping companies in the world.  Don't think for a moment that this won't mess up all of global trade and the entire economy on some level.  There are still ships stranded at sea right now because ports won't accept Hanjin ships without payment up front (oh yeah, you didn't know? Parking isn't free at these places), and deadlines are way out the window at this point.  Second to a $20/hr minimum wage, this is Walmart's worst nightmare.

Pictured: Not a viable option.

Another thing you shouldn't go thinking to yourself, is that this won't effect the Japanese economy as a whole -just exporters or whoever- and thus anime, manga, media entertainment will stay immune.  That's like thinking just because Hanjin was a Korean company it's only going to effect Korean interests and like, your Samsung Galaxy is gonna be 2 weeks late.  One of the biggest sectors hurt by this (shipping in general, not just Hanjin) is German banking.  Large companies lean on each other more than they themselves even realize and a supply chain fiasco for 7-11 Holdings could easily end up causing another company to spin off their animation or manga division to focus on their core (the core is never anime and manga).  SONY starts missing its rare earth element shipments for whatever and all of a sudden selling Aniplex seems like an easy choice to make.  I'm using SONY as an example because it's an easy simple one, but I am sure there are all kinds of interwoven relationships that connect just about every company to this.  So that's just a direct example.  Investment banks losing out means they can drag other unrelated companies down with them and all of a sudden there's no one around to finance a non-Miyazaki Gibli film (what, you thought they paid for those things 100% out of pocket?).

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a docking slip today.

This is the kind of thing that most areas outside the core industry (global shipping) don't feel the effects of until the better part of a year later.  Like a Brown Recluse Spider bite, the poison is in, but the damage has yet to manifest.  It's a domino effect that can either go on for a long time or stop short, depending on who does what, and none of the answers for what to do are easy ones.

So will this have an effect on the producers themselves?  Most certainly, but that effect could be everything from a minor hiccup in which a project or two gets delayed, to a full on mass-extinction event where only small studios and independent producers or entities with more of an international footprint come out of it mostly unscathed.   But what kind of consumer environment will they emerge into?

For Consumers.
But what about the rioting?

Howdy, Neighbor!

What I mentioned above is just one part of the situation.  The other part is the potential devastation on a socioeconomic and political level that another big collapse can have for Japan itself.  Japan has already got some serious problems despite the rosy picture those employment statistics are portraying, and an economic cluster-fuck that involves something like global shipping (that thing Japan really needs), could make those problems seriously worse.  People often think certain places are simply immune to civil unrest, but the actual reality is that those places just need a different recipe for it than what we commonly see.  Japan itself is no stranger to such things, from good old fashioned riots, to the inevitable police overreaction, political assassinations on live TV, and even a whole entire attempted coup in 1970 (spoiler alert, it did not work. But the fact that they still give tours of the building -still an active part of the JSDF Boesho Complex- and the room where Mishima bit it makes you wonder...).

Remember that diversity thing I mentioned in the last post?  Well that also has the potential to turn ugly if the economic and social climate deteriorate enough.  If you can imagine things getting just tense and bad enough, then one day in Tokyo these guys are gonna run into these guys on the street and it will go beyond dirty looks and simple posturing.  When things turn to recession as the norm, the first groups to receive negative attention are the ones that weren't there before.  Instead of being something that strengthens Japan, a certain climate exacerbated by this global crisis could make it a flashpoint for injury.  If that happens, this kind of thing is going to make it hard to keep up business as usual for manga because it's kind of impossible to do said business as usual when the book store is on fire.  That's an extreme.  What is more likely is that it will simply effect domestic tastes in entertainment media as well as purchasing power of consumers as a whole. Times of fluctuation like this are hard but usually met in the long term with a greater overall strength (just look at the UK or US in the 1960s).  It is during that time that there is also a genuine surge in the progression of popular and contempora-nanity (that's contemporary + inane) culture, where new things which were barely conceptually thought of become reality in record time.  So this is going to be one hell of a ride either way.

But I luvz mah Bubble... Luvz mah Bubble

Don't fart.

I know there are still some people out there who think that because they read their manga digitally and that anime isn't something that gets on a container ship and goes through the Straights of Malacca, that Hanjin going down like the Titanic won't change anything regarding the entertainment media they love (yeah you love it so much you devalue the license by reading and watching bootlegs you monsters).  There's nothing I can really show you here that's going to change your mind, because it's all over the horizon outside a direct field of vision.  But don't worry you'll know when it gets here.

What, You worry?