Sunday, 30 June 2013

Get Mad: Why Its okay to be Angry

We've all been there. Something pisses us off, we complain about it and then someone else says we shouldn't complain and instead should give thanks for being so fortunate. Don't like the food? Be happy you've got food, some parts of the world they'd kill for what you've got. Dad messing up your plans by insisting you give him a lift into town? He's been chauffeuring you around all your life, show some fucking gratitude.

It gets brought up a lot. First world problems some people call it, to suggest that you shouldn't complain about trivial little things when there are people fighting for survival. They wouldn't even be able to conceive why you'd think something like that was an issue. You've got a roof over your head, money in the bank, and food in the cupboard, why the hell are you getting so worked up about the possibility that the new Star Wars films are going to disregard the expanded universe painted by its spin offs?

My name is Jack Harvey, I'm angry that the new Star Wars films are going to disregard its expanded universe. I get angry about a lot of trivial little things, and I'm going to tell you why thats okay.

A little background for this first example, but I'll get through this as quick as I can. George Lucas originally planned the Star Wars series to be nine films. The initial trilogy, the prequels and a follow up. After the original trilogy his creative process kind of got bogged down by turning the whole thing into a media empire, hence it wasn't till many decades later that we got to see the prequels. After years of tinkering, critical displacement and fan backlash Lucas was pretty much done with the Hollywood machine, handing the whole thing over to Disney and moving on to smaller projects/and or retiring, and who could blame him?

Star Wars was always bigger than the films though, and during all this many great, and not so great, writers fleshed out Lucas' world in ways the films couldn't even attempt to cover. As a result, the further adventures of Luke and co has been told in depth by the books, comics and games. There are plenty of sources online where you can find a detailed break down of events, but I'll run through how the story unfolds real quick. Sorry for the info dump and do bear in mind light spoilers are in effect.

After the fall of the empire Luke Skywalker essentially sets about bringing back the Jedi order, while Leia, Han, Chewie and a cavalcade of side characters go about bringing the rest of the galaxy together. This does not run smoothly, at all. Luke ends up flirting whith the dark side thanks to the Emperor having a bunch of back up clone bodies. After that they have to deal with the remnants of the empire still causing trouble, namely this blue skinned badass called Admiral Thrawn. Along the way Luke meets this choice babe (literally the best way of describing the character) called Mara Jade who he falls in love with.

So numerous adventures and escapades continue over the years. Leia and Han have kids, Luke and Mara have kids, the republic is on the up and up, the Jedi comes back. Everyone lives happily ever after right?
No. This is when the shit hits the fan and everything goes batshit crazy.

The whole universe essentially gets invaded by a bunch of sado-masochistic fascist aliens. Oh, and they're not affected by the force either so forget about all that. They basically turn up like the Romans in Gaul, forcing the republic and the empire and finally put aside their differences and set up a galactic alliance. Characters die, planets explode, kids turn over to the dark side and you can never go back.

Then a century later we follow the adventures of Luke's junkie descendant being used as a pawn in a Game of Thrones style civil war.

Thats pretty much the gist of it, and theres other great stuff like Jedi space truckers, rogue imperial guards and Boba Fett being Boba Fett.

So naturally, when they announce the new films I think “Oh man, I hope they don't plan on contradicting all the comics and games and books with the new films!”. Yet, lo and behold, Abrams and co come along and say they're not to concerned about trying to stick to the boundaries of the spin offs. When I hear this, I get mad. Real mad. Boycott Mad.

Now fair play to the new films, there is a logic in this. If you have the time I suggest you take a look at Bob “Moviebob” Chipman's justification. He's a pretty clever guy, if you're not following him, you should be. The video is about five minutes long, its okay, I'll wait.

Done? Good. Now Bob sums it up pretty well there. Trying to accommodate the expanded universe would be logistical suicide, and it would also stifle the new team's freedom, maybe even preventing them from creating something truly great. It makes no sense in getting mad over it right?


I got mad, I'm still mad to a degree. I understand why they're doing it but I still won't be happy. Why? Because I'm human. Because It's my basic human right to want something. Because I don't want to go and see a Star Wars film which goes; “Remember Mara Jade? Tough, she doesn't exist any more, now watch Luke fall in love with some other woman. Remember how Boba Fett came back from the dead? Tough, he's dead again. Remember the Vong invasion?” etc etc.

It's selfish sure, but hey, why can't we be a little selfish now and again? This Star Wars film isn't for me, it isn't for die hards who have obsessed over the spin offs for years on end. The new Star Wars is for new viewers and fans who never went much further than the films. When it's put that way, why wouldn't it be justified to be just a little bit pissed off?

See this is just one example, there are many other little things that piss me off in the worlds of film, TV, games and comics. I get mad when games drop certain characters to cameo levels in sequels. I get mad when a film of a comic changes something for one reason or another. I get mad when a certain part of the fanbase gets favored over me. I get mad when comics reboot back to the start and throw out the things I liked. I get mad and that's okay.

Why was Kelly Chambers relegated to such a tiny role in Mass Effect 3? I get why Pepper and Tony get together in the films, it makes sense in the context of the story, but damn it I always loved Pepper and Happy as a couple. I'm an old skool (sic) Doctor Who fan and I never liked Rose Tyler, so it makes me fucking rage whenever she's treated as THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPANION. Also I don't like it when the Doctor kisses people. Never ever ever talk to me about the Power Girl comics coming to an end and then being restarted without bringing back Terra. I cry myself to sleep about that sometimes.

Every one of those examples has a good reason why it was done, but that still doesn't make things easier. I'm still angry. I'm still angry about a lot of those things. I'm sure you can think of a lot of examples for yourself, and upon bringing it up with a friend get told; “Well they had to do it that way,” or “It makes sense that they did that though,” or “They're a business, they exist to make money,”. You can concede defeat, shrug your shoulders and accept that argument and try to repress the rage.

I'm here today to tell you that you don't have to.

No matter how trivial, no matter how pointless, no matter what arguments there are to the contrary, It is your human right to feel this way. If someone tries to talk you down, argue your point. Get online and let the world know what you think. Stand on the rooftops and shout it to the heavens. You are angry about something, you have a right to let that be known. You deserve to feel that way.

Now, before you say that this attitude is going to cause a toxic atmosphere lets put it into a bit of perspective. Just because you have the right to get mad, doesn't mean you have the right to take it out on others, nor should it give you a sense of entitlement that everything should be your way all the time. Its your opinion, there is no right or wrong answer. Remember the first law of the internet:

I don't like Rose Tyler, but in no way does this reflect my opinion of Billie Piper, who I'm sure is a wonderful person and has done some great stuff over the years. Put me up against a Rose Tyler fan and I'll explain why I feel this way but I won't think that I'm a better person than they are, or think that it gives me an excuse to call them a moron or an idiot.

Remember, you have a right to get mad. You don't have the right to be a dick about it.

Getting angry should provoke debate, it should seek to create discussion. Getting mad should ultimately lead to refining the art form into something enjoyed by everybody. It's an important part of the evolutionarily process of popular culture. Raging can lead to pointing out flaws that others may not have previously noticed. Anger shouldn't stifle creativity, it should encourage it.

And sometimes it can change things. Another example; 2012 saw the release of Mass Effect 3, the final installment of a computer/video game series which garnered a dedicated fan base due to its detailed focus on the relationships between the main character and the game's cast, through romance, friendships and rivalries. The series is pretty damn solid, the storyline is hardly the most original but the characters and setting really drew you in. It created a hell of a lot of emotional investment with its players, who would later go on to be some of the most dedicated fans you'd ever see.

And the ending did not go down well. At. All.

ME3's ending has a lot of problems and different people tend to have different opinions on why. Minor spoilers in effect, many felt that it was too grim in comparison with the optimism shown in the rest of the series. Some felt it was too brief for a game that, up until this point, spent so much time making you face the consequences of your actions. Some just wanted blue alien space babies.

For my money, the endings real fault is that it doesn't match the tone and themes that were the focus of the games. It's as if you went to watch Star Trek with the last five minutes of Blade Runner. Up until that point you were watching a campy sci-fi actioner and all of a sudden you're being asked to meditate on what it really means to be human, what it really means to have a soul. It comes out of nowhere, It really does feel like somebody got the script mixed up with something else.

So many, myself included, got mad. We discussed why we got mad and word spread so fast and so loud that the writers had to go back and release a DLC to 'fix' the ending. I'm still not sure if caving was the right thing to do, or if the writers should have stuck to their guns. Plus the DLC didn't really change that much, just elevated it from 'bad' to 'acceptable', but it goes to show that when people get mad other people listen. Were they acting like a bunch of entitled little shits? Maybe, but when you've got a billion people acting like entitled little shits it gets you to thinking that maybe they have a point.

Getting mad can do good in many ways. You may think it pointless being pissed off about one little thing in a video game that only you seem to care about, but hey, that guy in the pub you were talking to about it may one day go on to be a video game developer, and he may remember what you said and think; “Is this action justified or is it just going to piss people off?”. You could be sitting there moaning about this or that change to a character in a comic book film and this might be overheard by someone who one day goes to work on a comic book adaption and say; “We need to keep this character the way they are in the comic, it's just going to piss fans off if you change it.”

And it can run deeper than that. I'm pissed off that every book, film and game I pick up these days seems to star white heterosexual male. Gimmie a change guys. As someone who wants to get into writing, I make it a conscious choice to create a protagonist who doesn't fit this mold. Why would I want to write about a white heterosexual male? There are plenty of good stories out there about those characters already.

And people will say to you; “If only you could get as passionate about important things instead of your stupid hobby,” well screw them because who's to say you won't? You've had the practice, one day you might really want to make a difference about something important. It could be about the poor treatment of migrant workers, or womens rights, or poverty or the cure for cancer. Remember that time you got so angry that you got a video game company to admit they were wrong and change the ending of a game? You've had the practice, one day, those skills might really come in handy.

Get angry. It may seem selfish, it may seem childish, but it's your right, and one day you might do something good with it.

In closing, here is an abridged list of trivial (and some less trivial) things that I'm angry about:

The new Star Wars films are going to disregard the expanded universe.
Kelly Chambers having such a tiny role in Mass Effect 3 and not getting a proper romance
Jack not being an f/f romance in Mass Effect 2.
Morrigan not being an f/f romance in Dragon Age.
DC finishing the Power Girl series and then restarting it without Terra as a character.
The Doctor having lots of romantic interests in Doctor Who.
Pretty much anything Games Workshop does.
Allicorn Twilight.
People who insist a humanized Twilight can't have a dark complexion.
Default male Shepard being the focus of all the marketing for the Mass Effect series.
Male Shepard being the intended protagonist of a proposed Mass Effect film.
People who read manga but refuse to even touch a comic book.
When western properties make an official anime spin off film when the style is unsuitable.
That there are never major gay characters (barring a few exceptions) in anything Star Wars related.
Superman and Wonder Woman being in a relationship when they have never had any chemistry.
Changing the ending of the Surrogates film.
Rose Tyler.
That Native American Indians never get to star in anything outside westerns.
Jonny Depp is playing Tonto.
That the Drive-By Truckers aren't bigger.
That Laurie J Marks' Elemental Logic series is so obscure.
Fans of Doctor Who who have no intention of watching any of the original series.
That Paul McGann never got a Doctor Who series.
Unreal Tournament 3 losing everything that made the series great to work on better graphics in a game where nobody cares about graphics.
The lack of Planescape: Torment fan art.
Brian Blessed not being cast as Odin in Thor.
No development on Half Life 3.
The new Command and Conquer not having a single player mode.
That nobody makes traditionally animated films anymore.
That they changed Deadpool's character completely in X:Men Origins: Wolverine.
That nobody makes expansion packs any more.
That Dark Messiah never got a sequel.
The affinity system in Dragons Dogma.
Despite the success of The Avengers people still keep fucking up superhero adaptions.
It taking a year for each Game of Thrones season coming out on DVD.
Adventure Time and Regular Show not being out on DVD in the UK.
The IDW Dungeons and Dragons comic being canceled.
4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules.
Tieflings in 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

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