Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Make Duke Nukem relevant to the Human Condition

There is an Alien Life Form inside Me

I like to think of myself has having a basic grasp on human emotion and empathy. Part of what I love and keeps me going back to books and videogames is the major empathy trips that come with completely seeing the world, or a world, through another person's eyes. Books and to a greater extent videogames not only entertain us but teach us about ourselves. Despite events taking place through the eyes of Gordon Freeman, Link, or John/Jane Shepherd, very rarely will events be recalled other then: "I defeated Gannon and saved Highrule," "I defeated the combine and freed mankind from the alien dominion," "I found the reaper conspiracy and saved the galaxy." Interactivity makes videogames profoundly more about discovering things about ourselves. As opposed to books where we can feel the emotional tension along with the characters but rarely do we personalize them because the actions in books are not our actions. Nothing confused me more than the radical switch in tone that I was subjected to in Duke Nukem forever, despite the fact that I was expecting it.

There are two bimbos on the cover and advertising for DNF (you are supposed to yell all caps letters ALWAYS IN YOUR HEAD) I'm sure they're smart girls they were just in a bobbly mood WHEN THE ALIENS INVADED. But I still formed a certain kind of like for them. It seems they are doing community service or volunteer work humoring a brain damaged war vet. Before playing the game I was reading a review of DNF and in it explained that these two selfless girls die in the game to no concern of Duke at all! Though to the credit of Dukey, the article claimed that not only are the two woman kidnapped, imprisoned, and are infested with alien larva, but on top of all that actually frightening stuff that they blocked a doorway and the only way for you to proceed is to shoot them. Which, on a purely will of the player/will of the character/story expressed in gameplay reasoning REALLY PISSED ME OFF. I don't want to shoot woman that for all intenseive purposes have been raped. This made me so angry that I did not honor my preorder and did not buy the game.

To the games credit, and my disappointment in the article I read, Duke cannot shoot the girls. It is actually impossible to shoot them, instead you have to wait listening to their unanswered questions to reach the point where there words are stifled in their throats and the diminutive aliens attack you from their minced corpses. Alternatively, you can dick around the room because you found a trampoline and not notice the doorway twins popped. How’s that for will of the player shining through? The best things to come out of the whole experience, that is to say better then whatever DNF set out to do, my thoughts where dawn to a deeper understanding of aliens as a metaphor and rape.

Conceptually, I think that aliens are a very adept metaphor for rape. Rhetorical question, what accounts from real people usually say? They are in a familiar but secluded place. Strange lights appear in the sky, but what threat could lights in the sky be? Then lights surround the abductee. Then float. Gravity our constant anchor is gone leaving them powerless. The person is stunned and confused. They find themselves naked and vulnerable as if powerless was not enough. And all they can do is watch as they are embarrassed, used, and probed.

The aliens come to earth unopposed. Humanity doubts their threat. Then they make their attack and all resistance is quelled almost immediately. Any able bodied males where killed with little effort. Women are teleported away in literal blinks of light. The woman are stripped and restrained in an unfamiliar place they are powerless to stop the aliens from defiling their bodies with alien life forms.

This is the point where the game drops the ball where I am concerned. All the women, that the aliens take, die. Duke Nukem saves no one. Think of how powerful a motivator it would be if one of the twins survives, with the loss of a leg or the use of her legs, the loss of her career being a singer/dancer, loss of a chance of desire and ability for physical intimacy and the loss of her twin sister. The emotional force of a character like that would be incredible. Not only for Dukes motivation for revenge but coupled with hope. I would argue that DNF does not have a story because there is no character growth. Every character is unrepentantly stuck in their single trait. Being stuck in one trait means no change. NO change means; no growth.

As much I hate rape I see no reason why it cannot be a serious theme in a game. There are rape simulators, why not being raped? It is foreign? It won’t happen to anyone you know or meet? How about because it wouldn't be fun? Honestly at this point of reading you have metal and I should cut you more credit. The purpose of such a game would be empathy. Rape is serious and horrible. It is terrible and not a fantasy or a joke.

Bringing it back to Duke Nukem. Imagine how powerfully a sequel would be devoid of duke Nukem. Instead we are put in the perspective of a woman whom was taken by the aliens in the previous invasion. As a cruel twist the aliens’ insemination not only strains the host near death but also triggers a huge influx of hormones to feed the parasites. Hormones trigger complete consciousness of the host, adrenaline keeping their minds racing that they dwell on every detail and remember it. She survives only by mutilating herself to purge the glowing parasites from her body. Years later, when the aliens return, she has renewed pain in her scars and continues to deal with postpartum depression. She arms herself as she feels completely alone. Men and the army failed to protect her the first time. She must fight her ghosts, flashbacks, physical pain, and selfishness to help others and find hope for the future.

Duke Nukem was a huge disappointment for everyone. It was not 12 years of game. It was fun at times but over all distasteful and stupid. If we are going to make brash games lets make games that make learn about ourselves under the worst situations and give us hope in our everyday problems. If Duke cannot change let's have the emotion for the story be carried by a companion. If there is going to be terrible subject matter of force impregnation and hopelessness, let us not skirt over it. Let us let duke shut is mouth and let the player reactions do the talking. If we are stuck viewing the world through our own eyes, lets find a way learn to empathize through the mediums given us. Lets skip the rape and abortion jokes and make us feel the repercussions and tragedies of those actions.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hello, all readers. Welcome to A Closer Look with Jestersloose618. I am Jestersloose618, but you may call me TheJester and this is my very first post! *wild cheering* In this segment I'd like to go through some of the more obscure movies I watch and, good or bad, analyze them. This time around we're gonna take a look at Jumper! *Booing, people throwing rotten fruit*

For those of you unfamiliar with the story here's how it goes:


Our story begins with our typical brooding loner wearing a hoodie named David. David is a high school (for lack of a better word) loser who has a thing for a girl in school named Millie. Now I say he is a loser in that he has no friends aside from Millie and all the other kids proceed to pick on him, calling him names and just overall directing him to become a future suicidal depressed desk-worker who drowns his problems in alcohol and spends his precious spare time writing posts about movies for a blog site, or an ax murderer, but hey, anything for a cheap laugh and boosting your own self esteem, right?

David buys Millie a nice snow globe and intends to give it to her, as a gift. But wait, what's this over the horizon? Oh dear! It's douche jock #675, he likes Millie too, and doesn't like David. . . . What's that fiend doing now!? *GASP* He threw the snow globe onto the frozen river! The FIEND! Oh no now Millie will never get it . . .

What? No, David no! That's lunacy! Don't walk onto the frozen ice! That's foolishness! As soon as David grabs the snow globe, make sure you're sitting down for this next part: the ice breaks and he falls through. The funeral was nice, but David's still dead. The End.

Oh, right. Samuel L Jackson has yet to make an appearance. Guess we'd better continue the movie. Hmmmm . . . what if the kid can teleport instantly from one place to another? *Poof*

And thus our main character discovers his power of "Jumping." It turns out certain people in our world are born with the natural ability to teleport anywhere in an instant effortlessly. Teleporting is called "jumping" and those who can do it are called "Jumpers," (college-level stuff I know, but you'll catch up.)

So David disappears for awhile. His dad is not incredibly supportive (We see him do nothing but yell at David for getting the carpet wet for the first 20+ minutes of the movie, despite the fact that his son might be going through hypothermia. (He can tough it out. Builds character.) And with David's mom having *jumped* ship (let the booing commence) when David was 5, David doesn't have much reason to stay home when he can go anywhere.

David now masters his power of jumping and decides to rob a bank. He claims he won't steal much, and even leaves IOUs for the bank and police and Jumper police to track him (but we'll come back to them.)

One decked out penthouse later our loveable David transforms into the scourge of Star Wars himself- no, not Jar-Jar. That's right! It's Anakin Skywalker from Episode II and III. Dear Lord Eject and get your money back now.

David gets Millie in trouble as Roland holds her hostage to get to him (And right after he slept with her, what a **** blocker . . .)

David teams up with another Jumper named Griffin to take down Roland once and for all. (very long story short, but I'm filling alot of pages here)

The Background

Jumper is a Doug Liman film (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Borne Identity) that stars Christian Bale (Star Wars II, III and *shudders* the rerelease of VI) and Samuel L. Jackson (every movie ever) based off a 1992 science fiction novel by Diane Lane, who you might remember from Lonesome Dove as Lorena Wood (Never seen it), Murder at 1600 (The Wesley Snipes film. Seen bits and pieces) and as Judge Hershey from Judge Dredd (Never see- wait, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY!?)

-several quotations of "I am the Laughugh (law)" later-

Sorry, where were we? Holy Crap! Judge Hershey wrote a sci fi book!? This chick is hardcore! But apparently this movie is only loosely based on the book, and was actually re-written right before final production. So how does the movie hold up (keeping in mind that I have never read the book)

Opinions and Review

I felt like the movie started off really strong, with David and Millie having some good chemistry, and actually feeling sympathetic for David. Not that I'm saying the performance was Oscar-worthy by any means, and David is kind of bland, but I think that's what the character is supposed to come across as: Someone with very little social skills, that or Christiansen's blandness rubbed off on the actor playing the younger version of him . . .

The kids at school are calling him Rice Ball throughout the movie when they appear. Why do they call him rice ball? What is the context of that? Is it because he's white and super pale? did he choke on a clump of rice and get ridiculed for it? Why isn't this explained? I feel like this is something that's explained in the book or a deleted scene. Either way, this detracts from my movie watching experience and should've been dumped or explained.

Another instance of this is the fact that David teleports to the library when he first jumps, and one other time in the movie. I feel like there's some explanation here, like David always went to the library to be safe from his dad, when he got abused to much, or maybe he really loved reading . . . but otherwise I feel the only explanation is a poster that says "Escape to your local Library." Weak. Really though, so far we have very few nitpicky problems and overall the movie isn't bad. I feel like the time skip is when everything comes crashing down.

Now one thing you should know about me is I HATE CHRISTIAN BALE. His acting is bland, his characters whiny, and this movie is what really pushed him from dislike to hate status for me.

The first thing (Christiansen) David does is head to England and snog it out with a blonde chick. Classy guys, real classy. I feel like this is just sleazy. Now I'm not completely 100% adverse to having movies imply that sex is going on, but this just feels dirty. Even when he finally gets it on with Millie it doesn't feel right. It feels like a one night stand. I don't know why particularly. Maybe it's the acting, either way, this does NOT feel like a near-perfect chemistry that Ironman displayed between Tony and Pepper. It feels wrong, I felt more chemistry between the high school actors.

Up next we have Roland, the bad guy. This guy is a cool villain, albeit archetypal. His one goal is to kill jumpers. One of his lines is "I hate Jumpers." He is a typical Terminator (as I'll refer them) meaning he won't negotiate, he rarely tires, and will not stop until his goal is accomplished. This makes for a nice bad guy who we can hate, he'll hunt your family, he'll kick your puppy, he'll club a baby seal with a whale and make the bones into a toothpick for fun. Jackson does a good job playing this character, but as always, I'm painfully aware I'm watching Samuel L Jackson. I didn't really ever believe he was someone else despite the white hair . . .

Finally for characters we have Griffin *Wild cheering* played by Jamie Bell (the kid on the ship in Jackson's King Kong) *polite applause* Griffin all around does a great job playing the closed off, lost-my-parents type character and seems to have the most fun in this movie. Also, he's just plain BA. No real complaints here. No real nitpicks, but also no Oscars. Just tons of fun.

And speaking of tons of fun we finally come to the special effects. These are really what made the movie. I'm a huge Nightcrawler fan from x-men and seeing teleporters fighting everyone else makes me salivate out of awesome, pulling off some really cool and creative stuff. For example, the best scene in the movie is when Griffin does a mego teleport punch into Roland's face that makes him go flying. The jumpers are always coming out of jumps with a little momentum, but what of you Portal Gun that momentum and follow that momentum with a punch . . . oooooooooh good stuffs, maynard.

Overall though, even though this movie is a decent B-lister sleeper hit, all I see when I watch it is a ball of wasted potential. It's not bad, but it makes me sad because with decent writing and . . . well pretty much any other actor ever for adult David, this movie would've been phenomenal. as it stands, I would not spend more than $3 (not counting netflix) to see this movie.

Final Verdict:

Fun, great special effects, phoned-in story, bad acting

Buy it, Borrow it or Bag it:

Borrow this from a friend or rent it, do not buy it for full price (not that you can anymore)