One of my favorite things about doing this blog is seeing how people find this blog. Blogger has a great stats feature that lets me see referencing URLs as well as search strings. This week's search strings ranged from the bizarre (sexy zelda sex) to the eye rolling (getting to second base) to the "this is not the blog you're looking for" (gay for hot man sex).
There was one search, however, that made me think and then made me feel guilty. It was "city of heroes valentines heteronormative."
My first thought was "That would be a great post" followed closely by "Why haven't I made that post?" And the cold, dark truth is this - I didn't think about it. So thank you, anonymous Googler, for bringing that gross oversight to my attention.
For all its faults, City of Heroes has never had a problem when it comes to how they treat their LGBT playerbase. In fact, they at one time had a gay community coordinator who made great strides in ensuring that the forum rules and regulations protected LGBT players from hate speech. There has never been a gay controversy in CoH the way there has been in some other MMOs.
So for me, City of Heroes has never been on my radar about having LGBT issues (though they certainly have rampant misogyny problems), and I just didn't think about it. Mea Culpa. But the Spring Fling is, indeed, heteronormative and this year's event takes it to a whole new level.
I must warn you that the rest of the post has a lot of spoilers. Read at your own risk.
In the past, the Spring Fling has consisted of four missions from two contacts - Ganymede (for heroes) and Scratch (for villains). They involved forced, cross-faction teaming in order to either save Aphrodite's girdle (yup, you read that right) or recover tainted water from the Well of Furies. There was also the repeatable mission from DJ Zero to take down a Red Cap named Snaptooth who is trying to destroy DJ Zero's interstellar portal.
This year there is a new story arc, given out by Ms. Liberty (or Jessica Megan Duncan, as she's trying to be incognito by standing in Pocket D wearing the Liberty Belt and Excalibur) and Arbiter Hawk. I say it is one arc because even though one is supposedly for heroes and one supposedly for villains, they copy and pasted the entire dialog from one to the other. There is no discernible difference at all, save for a couple responses the player gives the contact, and Arbiter Hawk's total inability to explain the plot at all. Ms. Liberty goes into great detail about how Longbow psychics have divined what's going to happen, and Hawk just says "Yeah some people somewhere think it's a good idea. You in?"
The plot involves the resurrection of Lord Recluse's former love, Red Widow. Yes, you, as a villain, are supposed to think this is a good idea just from Arbiter Hawk going "Yeah, it'll be gnarly dude. We'll, like, rise to power and shit." Oh, not his exact wording, but that sums up the amount of effort put into the villain side of the arc.
So you go about doing this thing, that is in no way at all a bad idea, and then it predictably goes horribly wrong. You then have to steal Cupid's arrow and shoot Red Widow with it so she'll fall in love with Recluse again and not want to kill him.
This is all true. I'll give you a moment to stop drooling on yourself before I continue with the stupid.
At the end of the arc, during a cut scene, Recluse himself states that he knew all along about the Cupid's arrow spell. And at the end of the hero one, he says he'll need to thank Ms. Liberty for her help. And you never, ever confront her about it. Instead, Longbow Barbie is all "Golly gee that sucked! Better luck next time!" and continues to hang out in the intergalactic night club with her Peggy Hill feet.
For your efforts, you get the Widow Maker badge, so you have that going for you.
The other new thing added is a new mission by DJ Zero. It is an epic set of FedEx missions where you go around in the world looking for lost Valentines which you then have the option of either delivering to the intended target or misdirecting to someone else in an attempt to make mischief. Seven correct deliveries gets you the Match Maker badge, and seven misdirects gets you the Missed Connection badge.
So here's the thing - not one of these Valentines, nor any of the missions and mission arcs, indicates that anyone in the CoH universe is gay. The Valentines are full of a shocking amount of robot sex, but even those pairings fall within male/female pairings. For a company that has always been LGBT friendly, this is disappointing. And sad.
This heteronormativity wasn't so obvious, at least to me, until this addition of the Valentine run. It got really frustrating after a while, and after I got the badges with my badge collector character, I stopped doing them. Yes, there were some surprises within the Valentines (finding out Mynx and Arbiter Sands are a thing for one, though I could have done without his super sexist commentary), but in the end everyone is heterosexual (or in Positron's case, asexual, as he rebuffed every Valentine I took to him; granted they were from robots and a giant Rikti monster, but still).
Paragon Studios knows that there are LGBT folks who pay to play their game, and yet it doesn't even occur to them to have some LGBT content? That's baffling to me. I can only hope that next year they take the LGBT community into consideration and that some changes are made.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
News of the Geek
- 17-year-old Afghan boxer to compete in the Olympics. Oh, and she's also a woman, making her only the third woman ever to represent Afghanistan in the Olympics. While things are 100% better for female Afghan athletes (or Afghan women in general) yet, it's improving. Under the Taliban, when in Afghanistan couldn't even participate in sports, and now three of them are representing the country in the Olympics.
- The state of Washington signed same-sex marriage rights into law. On the day that Rick Santorum was campaigning in Tacoma. Double awesome!
- Google had an adorable Google Doodle for Valentine's Day yesterday:
- Also in time for Valentine's Day, the letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning are now available online. Elizabeth's family didn't want her to marry Robert, to the point that her father forbade it. So they ran off to Italy to marry and her very wealthy father disinherited her. But she didn't care; all she wanted was Robert. They spent a lifetime writing some of the most touching and poignant love letters ever composed.
- I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,-and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write,-whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me-for in the first flush of delight I thought I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration-perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of hereafter!-but nothing comes of it all-so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew...
- Liz Trotta of Fox News says women in the military should just expect to get raped. She went on to say that women in the military should get out if they get tired of being raped too much. So um, yeah.
- Speaking of a total disregard about violence against women, singer Chris Brown was allowed to perform, twice, at Sunday night's Grammy Awards show. Actor, writer, and geek extraordinaire Wil Wheaton took to Twitter about this, and had this to say about the reaction he got:
- This is a typical Chris Brown supporter on Twitter. This makes me so sad.He beat Rihanna so severely, he put her in the hospital, and there are people in the world who are totally okay with that because he’s a famous musician. Well, I am not one of those people. Violence against women is never, ever, ever okay. Chris Brown should be shunned from public life, as should all batterers.
- Jon Stewart had this awesome thing to say about the contraception/insurance debate:
- Geordi LaForge's visor may become a reality soon. Really awesome news!
- Spaceballs comes to life as Syrian president's hacked password revealed to be 12345. Oddly enough, it's the same combination I have on my luggage.
- City of Heroes launched the Super Pack yesterday, and it's all kinds of awful and I hate it. Fortunately someone more articulate than I wrote about it, too.
- The point is, this idea is a terrible one even at face value. People tolerate gambling because, you know, there's a chance at real money. People tolerate random drops for instances because you can run them again -- and as the years have gone on, game designers have realized that even that doesn't really fix the problem, hence the growing number of games that give you currencies to help offset any and all loot gaps. The idea of selling a player an item that might contain what said player wants is an exercise in terrible thinking, combining the worst aspect of two systems into some sort of Ruination Fairy.
Good Internet Reads
- An excellent read on the bullshit social conditioning we teach little girls.
- When the fuck was it decided that we should start teaching our daughters to accept being belittled, disrespected and abused as endearing treatment? And we have the audacity to wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? How did society become so oblivious to the fact that we were conditioning our daughters to endure abusive treatment, much less view it as romantic overtures? Is this where the phrase “hitting on girls” comes from? Well, here is a tip: Save the “it’s so cute when he gets hateful/physical with her because it means he loves her” asshattery for your own kids, not mine. While you’re at it, keep them away from my kids until you decide to teach them respect and boundaries.
- YOU are beautiful. Period. Lately there have been a lot of stupid images going around Facebook and other social media outlets that feature really thin women and women who are more on the national average. They say things like "When did this (thin women) become hotter than this (average women)?" or "Bones are for the dog. Meat is for the man." Supposedly they're supposed to be empowering, but it's just trading one kind of misogyny for another.
- But some women have skinny bodies. Some are curvy. Some are fat. Some are tall. Some are…all kinds of things in between. And when I hear women tear other women down because they happen to meet some conventional standard of beauty, I have to wonder…how is this better? We’re always crying “oh poor us, society has this unrealistic standard that we just can’t meet!” Then, we turn around and do it to each other all over again.
- Not a read, but this is a great video of the best "I Love You" moments from Hollywood:
- In one of those surreal moments in life where you just stare at your computer screen and go "...ok," I was contacted via Twitter yesterday by Toby United. According to their (rather spartan) website, their goal is to "unite the Tobys of the world." I'm not sure to what end, but I followed them back and am amused to see where it goes. Maybe it's just a support group to learn out to introduce ourselves to LeVar Burton without feeling awkward.
- Ever had a cold so bad you wished your tissues could come to you of their own volition? Well wish no more!
- Jewelry, for great science!
- Geek confession - I am not a Joss Whedon fan. No I didn't like Buffy, no I've never seen Firefly/Serenity, yes I liked Dr. Horrible. I don't hate him, but I don't get the same thing out of his work that others do. However, this is all kinds of awesome, and I thank my friend Ben for sharing it:
- And finally, the most wonderfully geeky, awesome, adorable infographic you will ever see. It also totally raises the bar on what is romantic (click the link for full size):