They Lost the Power: Revelation

Well people of all ages, it’s that time again: Time for a creator to bring a new and creative spin to an existing franchise…and time for some “fans” to freak out about it. The most remarkable thing about any of this is that it’s actually not Star Wars for once. So what franchise are the woke elite after today? None other than:

Is nothing sacred!?!

Yes, today’s victim of the cruel SJW agenda is none other than He-Man, beloved action figure, not even remotely homoerotic hero of Eternia. I recently sat down to watch creator Kevin Smith’s new take on the Masters of the Universe…and really loved it. Like yeah, I hope the ending doesn’t stink but I’m very much onboard with this new exploration.

But of course, I never really watched the original show. It was a bit before my time (He-Man being really popular from roughly 1981 to 1987). I had the toys though, by virtue of having two older brothers. Oh lord did we have the toys. I’m honestly not sure if there was anything we didn’t have – we had all the characters, all the playsets, it was awesome. I say this to give my background as a He-Man “fan”…someone who likes the universe but really never got into it beyond as an action figure line, at least until Noelle Stevenson’s excellent She-Ra series came along in 2018.

Had all these and so much more!

After all these years, it’s wonderful to see such awesome stories coming from Eternia and Etheria. What’s less wonderful? Seeing continued toxic reactions to the efforts to update He-Man and She-Ra for the 21st century. I wish I could say it was a new phenomena, but sadly this has been around for a while.

He-Man and the Masters of Sexism

And you don’t need to take my word for it! Just give the He-Man episode from the Netflix show The Toys that Made Us a watch. One of the creators involved basically blames She-Ra for He-Man losing popularity. It’s been a while so I won’t try to quote, but what he said basically boiled down to “once girls had the power it wasn’t fun anymore.”

Boy does that seem to have some real truth to it now, doesn’t it? It truly does appear that certain people only care about having the power so long as it means taking it away from someone else. When women have the power? Ah they ruin everything! Just look at this planet largely ruled by men…hey wait a minute…

Not to get dramatic about it, but this is so tiring. First She-Ra “ruins” He-Man by daring to exist (all to bring more money to Mattel). Then Noelle Stevenson “ruins” She-Ra by daring to draw the character as anything less than a super feminine goddess. Now, even super geek Kevin Smith has managed to “ruin” He-Man by focusing and expanding upon a character that the old show was happy to have only as window dressing: Teela.

For the record…this was the She-Ra image that sparked the controversy. Wow, right? What a thing to get angry at.

I can’t wait to see how the upcoming cgi series manages to “ruin” the series next.

Change: A Never-Ending Story

As American culture continues into the roaring (or maybe frothing?) 2020s, it has become clear that the backlash against change will endure. Many “fans” have taken it upon themselves to become guardians and gatekeepers of the art they love and are willing to turn incredibly hostile whenever they perceive something new aka threatening.

And of course, since it’s the age of the internet, trolls are along for the ride, striking whenever and however they can. Some of these trolls are random idiots with nothing better to do. Others, well let’s say they have a bit more funding from a foreign source. Russia. I’m talking about Russia.

All of this to create a sort of constant culture war whenever anyone dares try to bring something new to an established property. And when I say something new, I mean something that doesn’t neatly fit into the original patriarchal image. See He-Man has been remade and rebooted before, once in the early 1990s and again in the early 2000s. I actually watched the latter. It was…a show? Like totally fine but not at all exceptional in any real way, at least in my opinion.

But both of those remakes were relatively safe. Both kept the focus exactly where it had been when interest dried up in 1987. Neither tried to really bring in anything new. Hey do you want to see He-Man fight Skeletor again? Well you’re in luck! Everyone else who doesn’t care about He-Man (aka the majority of audiences) went right on with their lives. This is why He-Man sank from a pop culture icon to toy collector obscurity. As American scholar Michael G. Cornelius puts it: He-Man is a narrow definition of masculinity, one that is only really focused on physical strength.

Can We End the Review Bomb?

Okay very witty, but what can we do? Well, the good news is that – so long as people keep their heads – we shouldn’t have to do much. Toxic people and trolls love to review bomb. It is their first weapon in the war to shut down the scary new. Next they will allude to these obviously fake reviews on their social media, thus trying to legitimize them in their own social circles.

Does it work? Oh yeah – been working like a curse in the American political space. Just say something is true and that everyone believes it over and over again without ever providing real proof until it is suddenly part of the cultural narrative. Masters of the Universe: Revelation is currently being review bombed on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, and probably Metacritic (I haven’t checked but it is super easy to review bomb on Metacritic).

Just as a refresher: review bombing does not mean that many actual people are complaining (that almost never happens so quickly). What it does mean is that a select few people are using bots and other online tools to create fake accounts for the sole purpose of driving down overall scores. Since many review sites now use aggregates to give first-glance appraisals, review bombs can have immediately visible consequences. For example, if I recall correctly – Last of Us II, a 20+ hour game, already had over 250,000 negative reviews on Metacritic inside of 12 hours of release.

Now we as normal people can’t really do much about this apart from writing said aggregate sites and asking them to improve their internal policies to stop this before it gets rolling. Rotten Tomatoes tends to purge every now and then, as does Metacritic – I’m not really sure what if anything IMDB does.

But sadly, Masters of the Universe: Revelation may have the same “controversial” label as The Last Jedi, Ghostbusters 2016, The Last of Us II, and anything else in the near future that dares take a property some “men” have dubbed theirs and empower women within the storytelling.

Is it a correct narrative? Hardly ever, but it is the one they’re desperate to keep us talking about. Why? Because someone else now also has the power, and that really upsets them. Personally, I can’t wait to talk about the themes of Masters of the Universe: Revelations once the story concludes in Part 2.

Oh, and since Netflix is doing so many new takes on He-Man, can this be a show:

Also for the record, nothing in this article was directed at those who actually watched Masters of the Universe: Revelations and just didn’t care for it. I’m specifically talking about the idiots who made up their minds before the show aired and were ready to start review bombing right away. You know, the people who heard the word “Teela” and immediately dubbed the show “woke.” That crowd.

Missing GoT Politics? Try…The Dark Crystal?

Hey remember Game of Thrones…that was a thing. If the success of Netflix’s The Witcher has shown anything, it’s that audiences still have a craving for more adult fantasy with moral ambiguity and political intrigue. That said, while I enjoyed the first season of Geralt’s journey into legend, it felt more like…well, like this:

Not that there’s anything wrong with being the next Xena. Definitely nothing wrong there. Much to my surprise, however, I found another Netflix offering did a much better job of scratching that Game of Thrones intrigue itch. If you want complex characters living in a fully realized fantasy world of political complexities and societal strife, you really should check out The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, or as I’ve started calling it: Game of Muppets.

Continue reading Missing GoT Politics? Try…The Dark Crystal?

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a Perfect Book for Broken People

I don’t like to do reviews on this site. I mean it, I’ve honestly never seen a lot of value in being purely subjective about art (books, movies, video games), which are by their nature open to interpretation and subjectivity. Personally, I try to use objective reasoning whenever possible to talk about subjective things (probably don’t succeed often but I try). I don’t mean to badmouth reviews at all – they’re fun, and the well put together ones can be very enlightening.

Maybe it is just that a review sounds so… formal and uniform for this, subject material that is anything but. I could write a glowing review talking about how much I loved Patrick Rothfuss‘ recent Kingkiller offshoot, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and go into how a well-developed character can carry a weak plot… but I feel like that would entirely miss the point, as well as be misleading. For one, it would imply that I think the plot is weak – I don’t.

Personally I'm not sure which is the better cover. It's cool how different they are.
Personally I’m not sure which is the better cover. It’s cool how different they are.

Yet Rothfuss’ own words describe what he must have felt writing it. The height of the action in the story is, and I am paraphrasing the author here, soap making. Yep, that’s it. Sounds thrilling right? Objectively speaking – as most good reviews try to incorporate – there isn’t much action going on in The Slow Regard of Silent Things, or much traditional plot structure at all. I’m not sure if I would say it has a climax or a resolution or a rising action or any of it. It simply begins, exists, and ends.

And in doing so, it is a story that celebrates the sheer beauty of writing in ways that few others do.

Opening the book, one is immediately greeted by a message from the author – one that pretty much says “don’t read this.” I am generalizing. It simply encourages the reader to not read this first, instead saying that one would be better off reading The Name of the Wind as an introduction to Rothfuss’ world and “true” writing style. It also warns that this book, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, will likely not be enjoyable.

Boy that Patrick, what a salesman! So yeah – pretty much a glaring “don’t read this. You might not enjoy it.”

Such a shame to begin with that much of a downer warning, although I cannot say that I fully disagree. I do not know if someone unfamiliar with the Kingkiller Chronicle and its world would enjoy this book, and it is true that Patrick Rothfuss is not entirely his usual self here. His writing is still superb, with excellent word choice that paints wonderful pictures in the reader’s head. That said, there’s no dialogue and no use of different storytelling techniques to fully flush out the world – staples of Rothfuss’ other works.

Unique to this book too are fantastic illustrations (done by Nate Taylor) that fit the mood perfectly.
Unique to this book too are fantastic illustrations (done by Nate Taylor) that fit the mood perfectly.

Reading this, I don’t think the reader could get any realistic idea of whether or not they would enjoy anything else Patrick Rothfuss has written. That, however, is far from a bad thing – if anything, it simply points to Rothfuss’ versatility as an author. Being able to write in two distinct styles well is to be applauded, whatever the circumstance.

See it’s funny to me how much this book always seems to need a disclaimer before it’s discussed. Like it needs defending before the first page is read. In a way, this is perfect and fully symbolizes the book’s theme and main character.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things can best be described as the journal of a broken human being, someone whose very thoughts have bent from reality. Rothfuss’ introduction at the beginning can be seen as a father interceding on behalf of his daughter.

The book’s main character, Auri, is not entirely true – again to paraphrase the book’s words. Something happened in the past to drive Auri away from people, away from the world above and into a silent and still world below.

Yet Auri seems for the most part okay with this, delighting in her world that, while devoid of other human beings, is filled with “people” for her to talk and listen to. Her friends include gears, candles, sheets, and soap. They don’t really talk, but they have a lot to say.

The giant gear, Fulcrum, who is one of Auri's main companions in the story.
The giant gear, Fulcrum, who is one of Auri’s main companions in the story.

What follows is, well, Auri’s life. The life of someone broken, who knows it, but is still trying to find beauty and be happy anyway. In this regard, Auri is a true to life and empathetic character. She is a rallying cry to anyone different who just wants to go their own way to a world that screams follow the steps.

It is nothing but spectacular that her book is the same way. Is The Slow Regard of Silent Things a great book? Probably not in the traditional sense – but that’s exactly what it isn’t going for.

Reading it, I couldn’t help to think that there might be another, much more difficult way to write stories. A way that is only possible when the author ceases all together and the book and the character become indistinguishable.

Who is it for: anyone who feels alone. Anyone who feels outside of the stream of common conscience. Anyone who just wants to stop for five seconds wondering “what should I be” and just be. Anyone who is a little broken, and knows it – but is okay with it.