My Thoughts on America’s “Culture of Violence” [18 December 2012]

18 Dec

This is going to be a hard post for me to write, but I feel as though it needs to be said. Also, forgive me for how inevitably rambly this post will be, I’m kind of just typing as I think.

Last night, when having a debate with my mother – and the TV – about everything that comes up whenever these mass-shootings happen…I asked questions of myself that I was not prepared to answer. The “everything that comes up” I am referring to includes the following – gun control laws, bullying, making mass-murderers famous, and the “culture of violence” that the media is always so quick to blame.

When Columbine happened, I was very young. Too young to even fully understand death – who does “fully understand death”? But I agreed whole-heartedly with the adults who said that we need to make it harder for these kids to get guns and with the ones who said that something needs to be done about the bullying in schools. However, when video games, movies, and music were mentioned…I no longer agreed. I was just a little kid and I played games and they were fun. I would never hurt anyone, I was just having fun and I didn’t know why these mean adults wanted to take that away from me.

I was in my early teens when the massacre at Virginia Tech happened. I knew a little bit more about people and the ways of the world, but I still held the same opinions on the issues of gun control, bullying in schools, and violent media. I wondered why the media seemingly made martyrs of and gave cute nicknames to serial killers and mass murderers. They made their livings off of real life pain, suffering, violence, and gore and yet had the nerve to condemn movies, video games, and music for “glorifying violence and violent behavior”.

Sandy Hook and the media coverage that came along with it have resonated with me in far greater ways than the other two school shootings I have mentioned. The combination of the fact that I am somewhat of an adult now, the absolute disgust I had with the Aurora shooting, and the fact that these were children caused this story to weigh on my soul more than anything I have ever seen in the news. When talking with my mother about this, I defended the media that I love (particularly video games) without listening at all to the other side. However, I thought about my own obsession with gore. I am the girl who will watch movies like The Poughkeepsie Tapes or Cannibal Holocaust specifically because other people said they couldn’t stomach them. I am always searching for something more shocking. That aspect of my personality began to really bother me. I had never even attempted to physically harm another human being, but what if I keep searching for the next shocking thing and that leads to watching snuff tapes or getting involved with real murder?

After letting the media scare me into believing that I am a monster and a murderer waiting to happen, I thought about some things. The major question was “Well, what draws me to these things? Is it the violence?” I then realized, that the reason I watch shocking horror is not because I want to see people die at all. It is more of an adrenaline rush, similar to skydiving. You don’t expect to die when skydiving and it’s the feeling of coming that close to death and surviving that makes it fun. Watching a movie that scares the shit out of my peers and coming out unscathed provides that to me. In horror more similar to The Walking Dead, it’s because I want to see people like Rick go through hell and make it out mostly okay. It shows us that we can go through the ringer and make it out mostly okay. I never watch anything only for the death or only for the violence.  If that were the case, action movies would be an entire army or squad coming in and killing a few people with no challenge. We want to see Frank Dux when the kumite because he’s just one guy with the odds against him. Our primary interest isn’t the blood. Of course, humans are fascinated by violence…and sick individuals can just see these forms of media as a way to indulge their blood fetishes. But I think before the media blames a “culture of violence”, they should look into why people watch these movies and listen to this music.

And now, here’s a relevant Facebook status that I made earlier…

“I have to admit, I had to do a little soul-searching with all of this talk of “violence culture” in the media recently. As you all know, I am a huge fan of the action and horror genres in video games, movies, and even in music. I had to ask myself, “why am I drawn to violence”? But I realized that I have always been repulsed by real life violence and I have never physically hurt anyone. There are most definitely sick people in the world who might try to imitate fictional violence. These people are sick independent of the media they consume. This sickness may be the result of mental illness or just a generally a hateful soul. Most of us don’t listen to the Misfits for the violence, it’s for the music and for the story. I don’t admire Bruce Lee’s roles in real life and in movies (just) because he kicked so many asses…it’s because it was a metaphor for overcoming adversity. And we don’t just play Halo for the headshots, we want the adventure. Of course, the primal love affair with violence is part of why I – and others like myself – take part in this “culture of violence”. But we are good people and we are old enough and mature enough to separate fiction and reality. And more importantly, we don’t just consume this media for the violence – it is meaningful to us. If you are sick enough that all you get out of playing Metal Gear Solid is wanting to put a gun in your hand and turn it against your fellow man…YOU don’t deserve to play that game. However, taking the media that I grew up with and choose to consume away from a harmless person like me…what good is that going to do anyone?”

– Hug your children and carry peace within your hearts

Kai xxx

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Babe of the Week [14 November 2012]

14 Nov

Okay, this week’s babe is an obvious choice. He’s in the new Call of Duty game – even though I’m not a fan of CoD at all – and he’s been all over my TV and social media sites.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you have to know that I am talking about former head of the CIA, David Petraeus. Some might think that my crowning of Petraeus as the Babe of the Week is a joke. But it’s not a joke. I mean, he’s been having affairs with young, beautiful women…so obviously people agree with me. But hey, this post is not about the scandal. It’s about the babeness of David Petraeus.

Let’s look at some of his accomplishments!

  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 6 September 2011 – 9 November 2012
  • Four-star general serving in the US army for over 37 years
  • Graduated in the top 5% of his class from the United States Military Academy in 1974
  • And his Wikipedia article is tl;dr

The man looks damn good in a uniform, has great hair, and is 60 years old but looks more attractive than most of the 20-something boys that I know.

Look at this babe!

Stupid Things [12 November 2012]

12 Nov

If you know me in real life – which hopefully no one reading my blog does – you know that one of my favorite activities is ranting about stupid shit. Or more specifically, things that I find to be pretty stupid.

And the thing that has been the subject of many a rant that I have gone on alone in my room is Nintendo’s new “But I’m not a gamer!” marketing campaign. I have always been fascinated by ads and different advertising techniques and I am aware of the fact that I do look too far into commercials. I mean, that’s why we have Tivo and DVRs – so we don’t have to watch the commercials.

Anyway, I seem to be getting distracted from my original point. Those Nintendo “I’m not a gamer” ads are stupid as hell. I understand why they are being made, but as a gamer, I pretty much hate them. The understanding comes from the fact that I am aware that handheld gaming is pretty much dying out. I – as well as my gamer friends – were not particularly excited or jumping up and down over Sony’s PlayStation Vita or Nintendo’s 3DS (and this was especially the case with the 3Ds). So, if the gamers aren’t responding to the product, what can you do? Reach out to the non-gamers! Yes, brilliant! And thus pretty faces like Glee‘s Diana Agron (I don’t know if that’s how her name is spelled, and right now opening a new tab is way too much work) have been enlisted to proclaim “hey, I’m not a gamer, but I bought this 3DS so that I can play [insert random puzzle game here]! It’s so fun!”.

This is where my problem[s] with these ads comes in. First of all, to someone like me – who is in fact a life-longer gamer – I hear something far…meaner when I hear those ads. What I hear is “hey, listen! video games aren’t just for nerds anymore! I bought this gaming device, but I’m pretty and not a loser at all! I only play it when I’m super bored! Us cool people don’t need to be embarrassed about playing video games, we’re just totally caje* about it!” *That’s meant to be pronounced like the first syllable in the word “casual”, by the way. I don’t know if this is me reading too far into things, as per usual, but there does seem to be something intangibly mean about having pretty girls holding up video games and making sure to loudly proclaim that they are “not gamers” before they endorse it. I feel like they would have to feel like there is something wrong with being a gamer to even feel the need to declare that they are not gamers. I don’t know, I just don’t like it.

And the second, more minor offense that this commercial commits in my eyes is that the message that it’s trying to convey is stupid, in my opinion. I don’t think “counter-productive” is the right term, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind. I mean, if you’re not a gamer and you only want to play fun little time waster games in between shooting your wildly successful television program…you probably already have games like that on your smart phone and/or tablet. So by that logic, why would you pay for a handheld gaming device and games when you are not a gamer and already have devices that you can play the types of games you want on. Not only that, but many games on cell phones and tablets are completely free to download and would be much more convenient for the type of person these commercials are trying to sell to. It just seems like Nintendo has been focusing too much on the non-gamer or casual gamer recently…but hey, maybe it’s working for them. Sony and Microsoft seem to have the hardcore gamer market cornered. Not to mention, that for many gamers my age, the path to waiting in line at midnight for Assassin’s Creed III has been paved with playing Tetris as a little kid or playing Mario Kart with your cousins in-between games of kickball.

I don’t know, maybe these ads will work out for Nintendo or boost their sales in some way (haha yeah, right). But at this moment, I just have to add these “I’m Not a Gamer” ads to my list of Stupid Things.

– Kai xxx

Artist That I’m Digging Right Now [12 November 2012]

12 Nov

For November’s Artist That I’m Digging, I decided to do something kind of different and go to an artist that I have loved for years but I have recently had a refreshed excitement for.

This band of course, is Shiny Toy Guns. Five years ago (almost exactly), I attended my first concert. STG were the headliner and this adorable band called Liam and Me had opened for them. It had taken Shiny Toy Guns forever to take the stage but when they did come on – I knew instantly that the bar was set extremely high for all of the concerts I would go to in the future.

Fast forward to five years later. I am still in love with Shiny Toy Guns, they’ve gone through a brief change in frontwoman, and they have just released their third studio album. It had been about three years since I had seen them last and during a late night twitter session, I saw a string of words that almost made my heart explode – Free Shiny Toy Guns Show. This was posted by my favorite concert venue (shout out to Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, NY!) and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was out of nowhere and according to the post, the show was going to be the next day. I had to go – even though I had injured my knee the day before.

And let me just say – bum knee or not – going to that show was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was there with two of my best friends in the world, the show was free* but we had to donate to victims of Superstorm Sandy – which I was going to do anyway, they played some of my favorite songs, and everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. After the show – even though they had to leave for New Jersey in a few hours – the band talked to me like I was an old friend and one of them even remembered meeting me five years ago. The level of love and kindness in that little club was off the charts and left my icy heart defrosted for at least a few days.  It made me want to go out and be kind and change the world – but then I decided to play Splinter Cell instead.

So of course after that, I have been on a Shiny Toy Guns kick for the past week. I have been blasting We Are Pilots and Season of Poison. But most importantly…falling in love with III. It’s so sexual*. *It’s important to note here, for future reference, that I sometimes use the word “sexual” in place of the word “sexy”. Songs like “Waiting for You” and “Fading Listening” have the classic dance/electro/party/awesomeness vibes found on the first album, the more seductive vocals established by the temporary frontwoman on the second album, and manages to maintain a sound that is distinctively…Shiny. As with all of the other Artists That I’m Digging Right Now, STG are a band that I didn’t think I would like and kind of accidentally fell in love with. My favorite bands in the universe (minus STG) are Chevelle, The Who, The Clash, The Misfits, and Queens of the Stone Age. So, it’s kind of hard to see how STG fits in there. But shit, you could say the same thing about any one of the bands I listed. I traditionally seek out punk, hard rock, shit like that…but when you see STG live it’s easy to see how they can unite music fans accross the board. When listening to “Fading Listening”, I saw how Shiny Toy Guns are like my beloved Clash. The Clash are given the “punk” label, and they make their fans fall in love with songs that bring in elements of reggae, disco, R&B – genres that are decidedly un-punk that the fans of punk music don’t generally listen to. Well, STG is labeled as dance/electronica – a type of music that I typically hate. Yet, they draw in rock, punk, R&B, and other elements and have a stage element that brings fans of all music together.

With that said…listen to III! It’s perfect! Don’t believe me? Check out my favorite song from the album, “Fading Listening”

– And yes, I do still play Splinter Cell. Sam Fisher is my bro.

Kai xxx

Babe of the Week [11 November 2012]

11 Nov

Yo!

In honor of his birthday today, I am going to make Sick Puppies’ frontman – Shimon Moore – my additional Babe of the Week (Daniel Craig was also my Babe and I know Sunday is technically a new week…but screw the rules!). Shimon is Australian, an excellent frontman, and a pretty damned good singer. Oh, and he’s tall as all holy fuck, so that doesn’t really hurt.

shim

Babe of the Week! [08 November 2012]

8 Nov

Hey there!

Since I have pretty much been slacking, I am going to do TWO BotW posts this week! So if they seem a little sped through, rushed, incomplete…well, they probably are!

To be quick and to the pointless, my first Babe of the Week is DANIEL CRAIG. *Applause*. I pretty much told you guys in my first Babe of the Week post – in which Liam Neeson became my inaugural Babe – that Danny boy would be my Babe the week of Skyfall‘s release. So, shame on you for being surprised!

Most nerds who are attracted to men probably have at least one Bond on their crush list. And how many people of all sexes have grown up wanting to be James Bond? He’s cool, fashionable, so sexual, has to best weapons, gets to use cool tech, and crashes Aston Martins for fun so he can drive a better one the next day. I mean, damn, baby boy is living the dream. When I was a little nerdlette, I would pretty much cry my eyes out if I didn’t get to be James Bond in the multiplayer of whatever Bond game my brother and I were playing at the moment. Pierce Brosnan was always the most attractive Bond to me…that is until I saw Casino Royale. Daniel Craig took Bond from Casanova to Solid Snake and still managed to be more sexy-fine than any Bond before him.

Yes.

It doesn’t hurt that CR was – possibly – the best James Bond film of all time. And I can’t wait to see what Skyfall has to offer.

Yes, Craig is 44. But since when do I care about a little thing like a 24-year age difference?

– Kai xxx

Democracy! [06 November 2012]

6 Nov

Okay, as is always the case when my posting is spotty…I am having laptop problems. =_= But today is important to me, so I had to make sure that I posted no matter what!

I am twenty years old, so if you can count, you realize that this is the first presidential election that I can vote in. And as females and PoC always state – so many people have fought and died and protested so that I could giggle as I wrote in Master Chief for New York State senate that it would be an absolute insult to them for me not to vote.

All jokes aside, I felt like it was my senior prom all over again. This night has been talked about for months, expectations were high, excitement was high, and I had four different patriotic outfits planned out for today. Seriously. I had a gorgeous red dress with a blue cardigan, blue slacks with a white shirt and red tie, my Bruce Springsteen “Born in the USA” shirt with jeans, or my Captain America t-shirt with jeans. I went with the Captain America shirt.

After hearing for months about how women and minorities could determine the results of the election, I actually got to participate in that process and make my voice KNOWN. It can be argued that because New York is traditionally a blue state and is guaranteed to President Obama – my voice doesn’t really matter and my vote was not important. There is some truth to that statement. But it would be possible – strange, but possible – for Mitt Romney to win to popular vote in NY and get our electoral college’s votes. And because I am a black woman and my demographic’s voice in this country is still relatively young, it will always be important for me to take part in democratic practices in this country. Always.

I was never around for the protests and the marches. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King Jr. all died long before I was concieved. Yet in this particular election, there have been people who actually have had the nerve to question the rights of people like me. Minorities who are legitimately registered to vote have been turned away at the polls and harassed by Americans who claim to be interested in “voter integrity”. The stakes were high in this election and I am so grateful that I was able to vote and that my vote will be counted. Even if it is just a drop in the bucket – my voice will be heard.

Make sure you go out and VOTE, people! Or all of the complaining will have been for nothing. (Even if you do write-in a video game character for one of the categories).

– Kai xxx