eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
I kind of want to hold off on this post until more countries have seen Thor 2, but if I do, I'll forget what I wanted to say.

Spoilery for Thor 2 and Iron Man 3. )
eleanorjane: N7 special ops logo from Mass Effect video game (n7)
I've been stretching my gaming wings lately, trying things that had fallen by the wayside in the last half-decade of MMO playing, and naturally I've been thinking about it fannishly.

My current addiction is Mass Effect, an amazing RPG from BioWare (and yeah, I'm probably the last gamer in the world to have played it. I blame WoW, okay?), where you play Lt. Commander Shepard, a human soldier hunting down an alien agent. Shepard's quite customisable, both appearance-wise and storywise - you can choose several key features of your past, and your ongoing personality is approximated by storyline options that award 'paragon' or 'renegade' quality, which opens up more character options and plot points.

And several of my friends are playing it too, and of course we've been talking about it, and naturally I went looking for Mass Effect fic, too. And there's this weird cognitive dissonance that keeps striking me.

When it comes to fanfic about books, TV, movies, anime, whatever, I'm used to the canon version of a character (and usually the fanon versions too). And in most video game fandoms, you've usually got one of several situations:

- Games where the extent of characterisation is 'what they look like' or 'what unique skills they have' (most FPSes).
- Games where the characters have personalities but they're fixed and the player experience doesn't change them (eg Left 4 Dead).
- Games where there are a bajillion permutations of class/race/gender/personality/storyline, so the characters are effectively OCs and fandom tends to focus on the NPCs (most MMOs).

And then you've got this odd little niche of RPGs, where the player characters are the ones people (mostly) write about, but there's actually no true canon for them. Lieutenant Commander Shepard can be a military brat or a former street kid; a paragon or a renegade; xenophobic or pro-diversity. My Shepard is a fierce red-headed woman, capable and compassionate, the very model of the noble Systems Alliance soldier. My friend's Shepard is a big tough guy with manly stubble and a mean squint, who doesn't deal well with authority but who gets the job done. And J. P. Fanwriter's Shepard is, clearly, different again.

All of which means that Mass Effect fic winds up making me want to yell "...but Shepard wouldn't do that" because I'm so attached to my Shepard. Which isn't the writers' faults, it's just the nature of the beast - but it's something I hadn't really articulated to myself until the last few days, and it makes me rather glad I didn't request Mass Effect fic for Yuletide after all.
eleanorjane: Filmstrips with frames from vidding source, captioned "Vidding". (vidding)
I don't know how I missed it before, but on [personal profile] thefourthvine's rec I just watched [personal profile] heresluck's incredible Star Trek vid, The Test.

It's an incredible vid, and I recommend it unreservedly; on a technical level it's absolutely masterful, and on a story level it's one of the clearest, most narrative vids I've seen. (Which may, actually, be why I like it so very much.)

The funny thing is the effect it had on me, though. I consider myself very much as part of fandom -- I read voraciously, I think Deep Meta Thoughts (although I don't post nearly as often as I should) and I'm thoroughly polyfannish. But my fic output is very low, and part of the reason why is an inferiority complex, and part of it is the feeling that all the stories have been told already. (Which is, tangentially, why I love Yuletide and write for it every year; because in the small fandoms, there are plenty of stories left to tell.)

My vid output is also low, but that's mostly due to procrastination; for some reason, I have plenty of ideas for vids, and the fact that lots of other people vid in my fandoms doesn't put me off in the same way it does with fic writing. And although I still have a terrible inferiority complex regarding my vidding work (and possibly with good reason) -- when I look at a good vid, my instinctive feeling is "I can do that too one day", and I don't get that with fic. And I really don't know why.

And the weird thing is that I should like writing more than vidding, in the sense that I am a fairly 'explicit' person; I like things to be spelled out, and I very often miss vague inferences. Writing allows you to do that, whereas vidding is almost entirely about the vague inferences; vidding makes you interpret what you see and decide for yourself, because the vidder (usually) can't explicitly tell you the point they're trying to make, given the constraints of source footage. It is surprising to me that I like vidding and vid-watching so much, under the circumstances.

(This is why I suspect I'm not a very good vidder; because I'm not particularly good at putting together a narrative using inference and implication. I'm hoping I get better at it, with practice.)
eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
I've mainlined four and a half seasons over the last week or so, like a good little addict (although I admit to skipping through some of the embarrassment 'humour'), and I find I have Thoughts!

The strength of this show is really, really in the characters. The plots of the week are interchangeable, and have some pretty noticeable holes -- if you're looking. I, personally, don't tend to look, because I would rather enjoy my entertainment than find reasons to dislike it. But I've definitely noticed some, and I'm sure people who look see a whole lot more.

But the characters! I love everyone; this show is so good at making you care. I love the whole Jeffersonian team; I loved Sweets from the first moment he appeared; I even love Assistant Director Hacker in all his dorky glory. I love the rotating interns, especially Wendell and Vincent, and I love Angela and Hodgins and Cam and Caroline and Max (and I loved Dr. Goodman and Cullen before they disappeared), and above all I adore Booth, who is so totally the type of character I love: endlessly competent, but dorky and goofy and totally endearing. (Although I do not love his sex-negative anti-kink totally vanilla mindset.)

Funnily enough, Brennan herself is actually the character I love least, because she's written with least consistency. I find it really hard to sympathise with her because I don't understand how she can so consistently get humans and emotions so wrong, to the point of rudeness (although I've heard that she's unofficially meant to be non-neurotypical, perhaps with Asperger's; if that's the case it solves that gripe) and I find it hard to believe that an anthropologist a) would be so dismissive of cultural mores and b) would be so dismissive of psychology.

I am a little annoyed at myself, though -- I meant to keep Bones on hold to tide me over the hiatus this year, and look, I've nearly run out of episodes to watch already. Oops.

...also, I'm going to need to make icons.
eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
So, I've just finished Festivids, which was an interesting experience. Yuletide - and being more involved in the Yuletide community - meant that I left the majority of the work on my vid until after New Year's. Which was a tactical error, albeit - knowing me - an entirely predictable one.

I was matched to my recipient on the Galaxy Quest fandom, which amuses me, as Galaxy Quest is something of a fannish text itself. The recipient asked for 'Don't Stop' by Fleetwood Mac as the song, but didn't give any further details, prompts, or ideas - and didn't post a Dear Vidder letter, either, at least not that I could find.

thoughts about vid creation and process and stuff )

I don't know whether I succeeded with the vid in its current form, although I'm happier with it than I expected to be. Looking back, I can see a few things I'd do differently now. I learnt a lot while making this vid, particularly in terms of storytelling and story construction, and I hope it worked for other people.
eleanorjane: Tony and Ziva (partners)
I just finished watching the most recent episode of NCIS: Los Angeles - "Missing", episode 13 of season 1.

Thoughts inside, and spoilery stuff. )

I had more, but I've been awake for a ridiculous number of hours. I must sleep!

(Cross-posted to LJ, as I know a few of my LJ flist watch.)
eleanorjane: Neal and Peter, partners in (solving) crime. (caffrey and burke)
I just watched the last couple of episodes of White Collar before the end-of-year hiatus, and I think I'm just not on the same fanplanet as everyone else.

Spoilery. )
eleanorjane: Neal Caffrey (liar)
I've been dutifully watching White Collar like a good little fangirl, since it's the Flavour of the Month and since I was very enthused when I heard about it, but I've found that it just hasn't grabbed me like I expected.

I mean, I do enjoy it; I like the cast (although Natalie Morales is woefully underused), and I like the snark and banter. But I'm not hanging out for each new episode, I'm not thinking fannishly about it, I'm not searching out fic and fanworks, and I couldn't work out what was wrong. Why didn't White Collar ring my bells?

And then I realised: it's totally not what I was expecting. I was expecting a caper/heist/con show - both from the way the show had been pimped to me, and from its inclusion as a fandom at [livejournal.com profile] thebigstore. Instead, what I got was a buddy cop show. It's cut from the same cloth as Castle, The Mentalist, Bones, and so on - it's a show where the quirky civilian with specialist expertise teams up with a by-the-book cop partner to Fight Crime. Sure, Neil pulls some (very) short cons, but no more than any competent undercover agent, and we never get to really see him do his thing.

And it's good enough in the Quirky Civilian + Straight Cop genre to be enjoyable, but I have other options to fill that niche (specifically Castle, which I love), and it's not what I wanted from White Collar.

So, I'll go on watching, but I'm going to unsubscribe from the fic comms I joined; I've given up waiting for White Collar to push the buttons I was hoping for, because that's not the kind of show it is.
eleanorjane: Frank n' Furter looking bemused. (wtf)
So, Leverage. I posted this on an external blog a while back, but no-one really reads that blog, so. Here I am, recycling content already!

When I first posted about Leverage on LJ, I said:

It feels like it's trying to be Ocean's 11 for television - and given that I loved the Oceans movies a lot, that is not a bad thing in my books. It has a lot of similarities; each episode shows you the job, the setup, and then plays out the con to keep the suspense rolling. Critical things happen behind the scenes so that the viewer can be surprised, but it's never just handwavium; they'll usually cut to a flashback scene showing how the team set things up. There are serious personal issues motivating many of the characters, but on the surface the banter flies, and I spend most of an episode laughing as I watch.

The similarities extend as far as the soundtrack; Leverage uses a lot of the same music as the Oceans movies, particularly Ocean's 11. Not just the same style; I'm sure some of the tracks are identical.

It even shares the same language of cons, where the characters suggest cons to each other without ever going into detail about what each con entails.

Nate: ...And besides, we're going with a much bigger scam. *smirks*
Parker: The London Spank?
Hardison: The Genevan Paso Doble?
Eliot: The Apple Pie.
*pause, everyone looks at Elliot*
Eliot: [defensively] It's like the Cherry Pie, but with lifeguards.
Sophie: Oooooh.


Lifeguards. I love it.

Although it's not doing anything really ground-breaking, one of the things I do like about it is that it really pushes my 'competence' buttons; I love seeing people being effortlessly good at something, and this delivers in spades. Eliot is a perfect example; he's the team's muscle, and the first episode makes it clear how ridiculously good he is at his job. So, you're inclined to write him off as The Thug.

Except, except; he's nearly as good a scammer as Sophie, the team's actress, con artiste and grifter. Or Hardison, the team's computer genius, who does a fantastic line in impersonating FBI agents. It'd be so easy for the show to play them as pigeonholed cogs in the ensemble, having them fumble and bumble when they're out of their element for comedy value; instead, they're professional and effortlessly competent, and it's just a joy to watch.


That line about being glad the writers avoided the temptation to paint the characters as one-note stereotypes certainly resonated with me a couple of weeks ago, when I watched a recent NCIS episode - which is a show I generally enjoy a lot, even if you can't take it too seriously - and saw how not to do it.

To wit, the following exchange. (McGee is the team's computer-savvy agent; he's got a Masters in forensic computing, and is generally a stereotypical geek.)

McGee: Actually, I met someone.
DiNozzo: What's his name?
McGee: Her name is Claire. [smugly] She's a computer programmer.
Ziva: Where did you meet?
McGee: Well, actually, we, uh - we haven't met in person. We met online.
DiNozzo: [laughing] Of course you did. Go figure. [McGee is beaming in the background.]
Ziva: So, when is the first date?
McGee: Hopefully as soon as possible. This girl, Ziva, she's perfect - she's gorgeous, she thinks I'm hysterical. And... she's a level five sorceress.
DiNozzo: [holding his head and laughing] Oh god.
McGee: What?
DiNozzo: No! The sadness, when I hear you talk like this! You don't know who these people are - it could be a forty-five year old overweight man in Minnesota. I mean, like you said, you two haven't even met yet.
McGee: What part of level five sorceress don't you understand?
Gibbs: [entering] All of it.
McGee: Boss, to be a level five sorceress, you have to conquer ... it's not important.


McGee refers to the "level five sorceress" thing at several other points in the episode, too, as though it's a measure of Claire's awesomeness as a person. Every time it happened I died a little inside. (Bear in mind, for those of you who don't follow NCIS: this is a character who graduated top of his class from FLETC, the law enforcement training program. He has had girlfriends. He's supposed to be capable of dealing with people, not just computers.)

And really: a level five sorceress? I can't think of a single game where being a level five anything is much to brag about. It has the dire ring of the writers skimping on background and just throwing a couple of nerdy-sounding phrases in approximately the right order - and this is far from the first time the NCIS writers have been lazy about backing up geek cred with solid research.

Compare it to this conversation from Leverage 1x08, where Alec Hardison - the team's hacker and token geek - is posing as an employee to infiltrate a company's headquarters.

Hardison: [leaning against a counter in the break room, looking bored] ...yeah, they transferred me from the second floor.
Cheryl: Well, I don't know what it was like down in Consumer Integration, but let me tell ya, I have been working my butt off on this account. But Steve? No, he's just sitting back waiting for me to fail so he can swoop in and save the day. I swear, it's like he's a rogue and I'm a mage and we're part of the same guild, but secretly he's working with the Alliance to undermine us.
Hardison: [looks startled and impressed] For the Horde!
Cheryl: For the Horde. [They fist-bump.] You play World of Warcraft?
Hardison: You kiddin'? Did you get the new expansion pack? Woman, I was up all night. I mean, Burning Crusade was great, but this new one is mindblowing.


There. Was that so hard? All the NCIS writers had to do was say "okay, guys, anyone got kids who play Warcraft, or one of those games?" and spent five minutes asking 'Okay, so, how do gamers actually talk about their characters? What would a gamer say if they were bragging?'

As it is, NCIS's pandering to the cheap-and-easy mainstream jokes at the expense of the nerd brigade is uncomfortable to watch, and it sends the message that their show doesn't care enough to appeal to a geeky audience. With a tiny bit of effort, Leverage's writers produce a scene that's just as funny as the NCIS jokes - but it's positive, inclusive humour that ultimately just leaves a better aftertaste.

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eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
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