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Whether or not …

Whether or not the Mishapocalypse was annoying to some people on Tumblr, it actually is way better for him with the network than things like sending letters to the CW. The network honestly doesn’t care if a particular actor has the cult clout to get a few hundred impassioned fans to write a letter or send a tweet. Frankly, just about anyone can do that. But when that actor without even asking can make something go viral – the golden buzzphrase of the decade for money people in suits – to the point where it gets coverage from non-fandom traditional media outlets and completely inundates a social media platform? Now we’re cooking with kale.

-By andythanfiction,

Who may not be a PR practitioner, but can certainly think like one.

Link original post: http://andythanfiction.tumblr.com/post/79997008808/whether-or-not-the-mishapocalypse-was-annoying-to

What is the Measure of Non-human

What is the measure of a Human

So, while surfing the net for material to talk about in today’s post I ran across this little gem that I think serves well as an introduction to the topic of this Blog:

5465-Relics

Now I’m a long time fan of Mr. Chipman and I think this video makes quite a few good points.  I’m also taking Ancient History this year so it makes sense to me that racism has existed in human civilization for thousands of years. That in mind, I’d like to take a look at how it exists in our newest art form: Videogames.

If you are an avid gamer, or at least live with or know an avid gamer, you may already be aware that this particular topic really only begins once games started having coherent narratives. After all Pong wasn’t exactly a game that dealt with racial issues. It’s really only since the technology has evolved to the point where the artist can start playing with it that games have started to explore this concept. Of course, the civil rights movement and others connected to it makes it difficult to explore this idea outright, unless your game is based in the historical genre, which few people will want to play. That said as most video games deal with the removal of some threat to humanity, developers will typically go the non-human route (in all the games I play anyway), which is to say: monsters, aliens, robots and other assorted fantasy creatures. This has led to the creation of the trope “What is the Measure of Non-Human”, which is the inspiration for the title of this blog. See in more detail here:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatMeasureIsANonHuman

Now, there are quite a few games that refuse to deal with this in game explicitly I will only be exploring the Legend of Zelda for this type of game. I will more often than not be exploring the games that actually deal with this question in their story in this blog.

For today though let’s look at The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This game was actually the game that made me start thinking about this topic, as it is the first Zelda game that literally states the superiority of humanity. Behold the opening cinematic:

Here’s what bugged me about this: Why was it just the humans the goddess decided to save? She literally puts them above the other land-dwellers by raising their kingdom into the clouds. And the game states she joined forces with the other land dwellers to seal away the evil that was killing them all in the first place! So what was the point of singling the humans out for preferential treatment? The other land dwellers I’ve met in the game thus far (and I should state I’m not even halfway through it yet) are really nice people, so why place humanity above them? Answer: Humans are just valued more. The game also states that Link and Zelda are the Chosen Hero and the Spirit Maiden who will seal away the great evil. Other than tradition (this franchise has been around for 25 years now) there is no real reason for the saviour of Hyrule to be human.

Are you guys seeing the problem? The developers made a choice to portray humanity as the best thing you could possibly be. There is even a side quest dedicated to finding ‘Gratitude Crystals” for Batreaux (a pleasant, sentient demon living below Skyloft), in order for him to become human.

He really is just a nice huggable guy.

He’s a nice guy, and yeah he looks a bit scary but is there anything wrong with him as he is? Not really. He’s nicer than several of the human characters you meet in the game, but in order to be accepted by Skyloft society he must conform to their aesthetic sense. He is quite literally the outsider. His home is even made below Skyloft. He is physically placed to show how he is devalued.

See what I mean? This idea of what makes a human is worth looking into.

-Danni

-imported from Ethics blog

Video

Can Dungeons and Dragons Make You A Confident and Successful Person?

From The Youtube Page:

There are some deeply ingrained stereotypes about Dungeons & Dragons, and those stereotypes usually begin and end with people shouting “NERD!!!” But the reality of the D&D universe is a whole lot more complex. Rather than being an escape from reality, D&D is actually a way to enhance some important real life skillz! It’s a chance to learn problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, people management… the list could go on and on. Plus, there are some very famous non-nerds who have declared an affinity for D&D, so best stop criticizing and join in if you want to be a successful at the game of life.

Let us know what sorts of crazy ideas you have, about this episode and otherwise:
Tweet at us! @pbsideachannel (yes, the longest twitter username ever)
Email us! pbsideachannel [at] gmail [dot] com

Shady Sorcerers, Commoner Knights and the Servant Queen

Merlin: How class is dealt with and deconstructed in Camelot.

So, this wasn’t actually going to be my last topic, but I’ve been sick the last couple of days and like most people, I tend to avoid work when I’m feeling unwell. So rather than do another look at print culture, let’s look at television!

I’ve spent this week alternatively sleeping, taking cold medicine, feeling generally crappy and watching re-runs of anime and BBC America shows, and it was nice to realize I could actually use what I’ve been watching on the BBC in my blog. So I’m taking this opportunity to look at season 4 of Merlin.

Now personally, I’m not actually sure this show is what I’d call good. There’s a lot going on in it, Arthur and Merlin have good chemistry, and all the actors are well cast but the writing tends to be a tad schitzophrenic. It causes the episode quality to vary from episodes I’m really engaged in to episodes where I skip half because it’s so painful to watch. But underneath all that and through a haze of illness I realized there’s actually quite a bit going on in Merlin that deals with issues of class and race that the writers never address. Not being someone to miss an opportunity I thought I’d examine it in my Blog.

And rather than explain the background of the show, I’ve decided to let Wikipedia do that for me, as it does a far better job than I can right now:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin_%28BBC%29

Assuming, you’ve clicked on the link and spent the 5 minutes necessary to read the plot summary you’ll now be aware of the biggest stake in the show: Magic is punishable by death in Camelot, and Merlin has magic. This statement drives the entire plot of the series not just the individual seasons. It gets played for laughs quite frequently, though the subject has taken a darker turn in season 4. Basically, in Camelot possessing magic immediately classes you as an undesirable, irregardless of any other factor. It is the bottom rung on Camelot’s class system, a fact which the shows contrasts with Morgana, a member of the royal family. In previous seasons Morgana possessed social status equivalent to Arthur, but after she is revealed to have magic in the third season, the fourth season has her living in squalor in the woods and worse off than most peasants. Yes, I realize the fact she committed treason is part of the reason she has a death sentence on her head, but I find the choices the show made in regards to her home as proof of the devaluing of sorcerers. Exhibit A:

Morgana’s chambers in previous seasons. Ignore the creepy guy, he’s not the point of the picture.
and Morgana’s house in season 4. How the mighty have fallen.

In contrast to how sorcerers are devalued in the show, Merlin seems to spend quite a bit of time attempting to break down the barriers of the noble and the peasant class. In the season 3 finale Arthur throws off convention and tradition and knights Lancelot, Gwaine, Percival and Elyan despite none of them being of noble birth, which is Camelot’s first requirement for knighthood. In the season 4 finale (after this being a subplot of basically every episode) Arthur finally marries Guinevere, who is both a commoner and a servant.

Our heroes return… and the only noble is Sir Leon on the right atop the brown horse.

But perhaps the biggest class breaking attempt of all is between Arthur and Merlin. Arthur may not know Merlin has magic (and is basically his equivalent in the magical world come to think of it) but he is Arthur’s servant. As the series has been following their evolving relationship it was nice to hear this in the finale:

Now, let’s just hope this relationship can survive the eventual magic reveal and anti-magic prejudice, if the writers ever actually decide to go there.

-Danni

-ported over from my britlit blog and written before season 5.

Casting of Castes: A Critical Look at Sorting Pt.2

Alright, the second part of my argument: Hogwarts Houses.

So on top of that Blood Purity Caste I discussed in the previous post, there’s a  secondary caste system a work in this book which is much more prominent: The Hogwarts House System. Dear God is it ever prominent. For those of you who haven’t actually read these books I’ll give you a quick summary: When the new students arrive at Hogwarts they are brought into the Great Hall and ‘Sorted’ (I just love this word don’t you? Not ‘Placed’. ‘No ‘Divided’. Sorted. As though there are only four types of people in this world.) by the Sorting Hat, which will sing a Sorting Song highlighting the traits about each House.

The four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. The traits you require to be sorted into each house are:

Gryffindor: Courage, Bravery, Chivalry

Hufflepuff: Hard-working and Loyal

Ravenclaw: Wit and Intelligence

Slytherin: Cunning and Ambition

So with these lovely personality traits (which I’m sure all people possess in varying degrees) comes certain stigmas attached to each individual house. These stigmas are at work in all the houses, but especially for Slytherin (partially for reasons discussed in the previous post).

“There’s not a Wizard or Witch that never went bad in Slytherin!”

Draco Malfoy’s entire rant a Madam Malkin’s

“All of Voldemort’s Death Eater’s were Slytherin” etc,

And this is before Harry even gets on the train to  go to Hogwarts and already he’s being programmed to reject one-quarter of the student population. Really? Really JK Rowling? Had to make it that blatant. I get that his was to set up a contrast between Harry and Voldemort, The hero overcoming his roots and all, but I somehow dealt that all of the eleven year-olds sorted into Slytherin are evil. I mean really, since when are cunning and ambition bad things to have? Also, none of the Slytherins strike me as all that cunning. Malfoy’s just a bully and Crabbe and Goyle are hired muscle men with no ambition to speak of except to follow Draco. Slytherin must be rolling in the grave somewhere to see his house reduced to this. So  Harry, of course, rejects Slytherin for Gryffindor, the House of Heroes, because if he hadn’t we would have had a protagonist with some depth.

And while we’re on the subject of Gryffindor: Peter Pettigrew. I have no idea how the man got into that House because not only is he coward when he’s finally revealed, actually no, that’s the only point I was going to make. So Gryffindor evidently produced a Death eater as well. So, if eve Gryffindors can be evil, logic follows that not all Slytherins are evil too. Then there’s Hermione, who is probably the most intelligent person in the books. And probably should have been in Ravenclaw, because I suspect she would have been happier there.

So Gryffindor has a resident genius and produced the traitor that killed Harry’s parents, Slytherin House seems to have forgotten to have either ambition or cunning, that just leaves Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

Ravenclaw doesn’t get much spotlight, except in the form of Luna Lovegood, who while intelligent is also a little bit crazy. But crazy in a good way. She has quite the imagination and is always searching for things even the Wizarding World doesn’t believe exist, rather than relying on books for answers.

Finally we have Hufflepuff: the House of Leftovers. Which I really don’t think is fair. Work ethic and loyalty are far from bad traits to have, they just don’t sound as cool as Courage and Wisdom. Secondly their mascot is a badger. Have you ever seen the damage a badger can do? Also, let’s not forget that Cedric Diggory, the Hogwarts Champion was a Hufflepuff. But Hufflepuff is the most devalued House of them all. No one wants to be a Hufflepuff. (Except me evidently, I think they’re a pretty amazing house).

This system is on display in every book, particularly in the case of the House Point System, which I’m sure was originally a way to encourage students to be competitive academically but has since twisted into a system for promoting rivalries and bigotry. The point I’m trying to make is that Hogwarts literally classes its students into a system that indoctrinate them into prejudice. Rowling gives us several examples that the broad categorizations made by Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasely are categorically wrong, but the books themselves never address this fact. I highly doubt all the eleven year-olds in first year are evil, but when enough people hate you and tell you this on a regular basis, you tend to start thinking they are right.

Dumbledore preaches about acceptance, but his own school is a time-bomb he does nothing to stop or change. By allowing House Rivalries to run rampant, he allows another generation to be indoctrinated into this cycle of prejudice.

And this is a problem even the Magically Animated Talking Hat recognizes.

-Imported from old blog “British Literature”

Casting of Castes: A Critical Look at Sorting

Blood Purity in Harry Potter.

So let’s talk about Harry Potter. If there ever was a contemporary British novel about the Caste system and steeped is racial themes: This is that book.While I was considering this, I realized I’d have to do this post in two parts.

1. The Blood Purity Argument

2. The Hogwarts House System

Both deal with a specific type of caste value system and in both these castes your position is unchangeable. So, let’s talk about Blood Purity.

If we are going to explain the Blood Purity argument, we first have to explore the reason Rowling gives the prejudice against Muggleborns. That reason is Salazar Slytherin.

And here’s his chocolate Frog card. Note how even his illustration and posture makes you think “This man is evil and not to be trusted.”

Now for some news that will BLOW YOUR MIND: Salazar Slytherin wasn’t actually the evil guy the books make him out to.

Yes, he didn’t want to teach muggleborn students magic. Yes he believed that magic should be restricted to magic only families, and yes he left Hogwarts over an argument about this issue. But is that the measure of evil in a ma? Not necessarily (and yes, I KNOW about the basilisk, but I’ll get to that later.)

What everyone, including the students of his house, tend to forget is that Slytherin lived approximately 1000 years before these books take place and therefore you must take his views in that context. And when you consider just what was going on at that time in Britain, Salazar’s viewpoints make sense.

1. Muggleborns should not be taught magic at Hogwarts.

Well at this time most of these muggleborns would have been illiterate peasants, rather than scholars and thus would be incapable of reading and writing, two very important skills integral to scholarly learning. That’s not to say they couldn’t have been taught, but ask anyone who struggles with literacy and they’ll tell you it’s not easy. The students of magical would probably be literate, due to their parents having schooled them before coming to school. Also, the rise of the Church and the witch burning made muggleborn children a security risk; the Founders would essentially have to kidnap them and never allow them to see their families again. Now, children typically left at that age for apprenticeships or younger, depending, but can you imagine the problem of extracting a muggleborn Aristocrat?

2. Muggles are inferior to wizards

So, 1000 years ago, it was the Dark Ages. Seems like an obvious answer doesn’t i Remember what caused the Dark Ages? Answer:the collapse of the Roman Empire. Once the Empire collapsed, quite a lot of knowledge was lost that humanity had to  rediscover. My theory is that wizards never had that problem and their magic allowed them to retain that knowledge and standard of living while  the rest of the populace struggled to get by. This would have put most magical families on par with the muggle aristocracy or at least the merchant class.

Now let’s take a look at who, 1000 years down the line, is promoting these outdated viewpoint:

Harry’s Slytherin contemporaries.

These kids worry me, because they’ve been born introduced into the symbolic order by their parents, who have taught them to be racist against those with muggle ancestors. Which I’m pretty sure includes their own families. The wizarding population is so small, that it has to breed with muggles in order to survive and not produce mentally unstable or deformed children. Which includes squibs (those from magical parents without magic themselves and are therefore lower than dirt). My theory is that all muggleborns have a squib ancestor in their own family tree somewhere and the magic gene is a recessive trait.

Voldemort: The main antagonist of the series.

And then there’s this man, the self-styled Lord Voldemort. Whose stated goal is for supreme rulership over Britain (and then the world presumably) and the elimination of those with muggle ancestry. And if this is reminding you of the logic of another historical figure and his ideas then you aren’t alone:

This promotion of the superiority of wizards and Purebloods especially is incredibly hypocritical. Considering that Voldemort himself is a half blood, he literally has no foundation to stand on, except for the fact he is apparently a very persuasive speaker. Which only makes sense because for all his propaganda of a master race god knows Hitler certainly wasn’t Aryan.

They play this issue really well in the movie, In fact the entire scene at the Ministry of Magic scared me far more than the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort:

It frightens me, because everything Dolores Umbridge accuses the muggleborn witch of is very similar to not only the Nazi regime, but also the interrogations of the Cold War. And that’s a terrifying thought, that a government can be corrupted in this way. (PS. digital cookies for anyone who can spot all the Third Reich symbolism here).

Most of the equality problem here stems from the lack of an Industrial Revolution. They never really needed one. As there appears to be a small population there was no need for migration to the city and magic would have allowed them [wizards] to create what they needed  efficiently without the need of factories to mass produce it. The Wizarding World, prior to this, was always far ahead of the muggle world and could be secure in that superiority. By 2011, when the final movie came out, it occurred to me that this is no longer the case. Muggles have far surpassed wizards in every area, for instance communication: Owls and the Floo Netwrok sound and look cool, but the Internet is much faster and easier to communicate with. We’ve even walked on the Moon.

The Muggleborns are needed now more than ever for the Wizarding World, because they`ll force it to change, mostly by innovation. This class oriented society, which even with marriage you cannot move away from the label they stick on you, is in a state of stagnation when Harry finally vanquishes Voldemort. It is in a state of decay, which is proven by the fact that these are the only books I’ve read that don’t actually RESOLVE any of the conflicts, except obviously the elimination of Voldemort.

In the end, I think we must consider Dumbledore’s words in book four as a wake up call:

“It is not who you are born, but who you grow to be that truly matters in this life.”

-imported off my old Blog “British Literature”