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Badger Pod Nerd Cast 8: Attack on Titan

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Indie game developer Zoe Quinn was revealed to have been sleeping with five guys at the same time, none of whom were her boyfriend. Infidelity aside, it’s who those five men are that is the cause for controversy. The men in question are

Nathan Grayson: a gaming journalist for Kotaku and rock paper shotgun;

Brandon McCartin: the creator of Fez;

Kyle Pulver: indie game developer;

Robin Arnott: creator of deep sea;

and Joshua Boggs: Quinn’s boss and creator of the award-winning game FRAMED.

This exposure is being criticized as slut-shaming, but in truth it is less about her sleeping around and more about what this says about the gaming industry. It is evidence that not only are game developers in bed with the gaming media, but that it also may be commonplace. The reaction to this information and the suppression of it on sites like Reddit, YouTube, and various gaming websites alludes to the friendship between developers and gaming media being more than commonplace.

Attack on Titan

By Rachel Edwards

Shingeki no Kyojin, known to American audiences as Attack on Titan, is a widely popular anime and manga series. While it uses many previously existing anime tropes, it manages to accurately portray the full agony and desperation of war with a very simple concept. For those of you who don’t know, Attack on Titan takes place in a universe in which human beings are plagued by giant humanoid creature called Titans, or Kyojin. While there are some exceptions, for the most part they live to mindlessly destroy mankind, wandering the land like zombies. They don’t need to eat or sleep, and they devour human beings seemingly for no reason. The last remaining humans live in fear of the Titans and survive in a vast walled enclosure. The story follows the lives of three children—Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert—prior to the fall of the outer wall. Each of them are affected in different ways. Eren dedicates himself to the pursuit of vengeance, Armin dedicates himself to the pursuit of knowledge, and Mikasa dedicates herself to being a tireless protector. Homeless and devastated, the three decide to join the military in hopes of having some control over their bleak futures. The story is an uncensored look at the expendability of soldiers, and the apathy of war-torn youth. Knowing their own mortality, they resolve to find a way of stopping the Titans instead of staying within the slightly safer confines of the walls. Ultimately, they realize that no one is safe, nothing is promised, and that all they have to look forward to is another day of life. While we have all the classic anime trope characters present, they’re all dropping faster than House Stark in Game of Thrones. If you’re a long-time fan of the shounen anime, it’s time to drop what you’re doing and give this story a chance. It’s not perfect by any means, and many of the characters are rather textbook and cookie-cutter, but that’s not why you should watch it. You should watch it because it’s a bunch of angsty medieval spidermen killing giant naked people with oversized box cutters. I rest my case.

Eraserhead

By Doctor Randomercam

On some kind of surface, Eraserhead appears to be about one unfortunate and confused man’s struggle with a bleak and helpless post-apocalyptic nightmare vision of parenthood. The delicate and nuanced challenges faced between father and son, man and woman, between generations of human intricacies … are not explored in this film. What is explored are those precious early moments in a child’s life when it’s a deformed alien-headed tentacle thing and all it does is cry and get sick. Accompanied, of course, by a series of hellish apparitions and shrill noises. If it was made by a man who has indeed fathered a child, you have to commend him on his raw honesty over his inability to deal with the very concept of fatherhood in any palatable or optimistic light. But you might question his mental facilities. If it was made by a man who is simply throwing this shit randomly against the wall without a thought for what the hell it might be doing to the brains of actual parents who dare to watch it … then you have to commend him for having the very nerve. But you might question his mental facilities. If you ask David Lynch what Eraserhead is about, he will not tell you because he does not know what Eraserhead is about. Lynch spent five years dicking around in an abandoned stable, occasionally filming windows. And radiators. And people standing. And nothing. Eraserhead is what happens when you throw three things at a film: time, money, and bollocks. Okay, so that would be four things. And when I say bollocks, that is not necessarily a bad thing. And it is by no means necessarily a good thing either. That is how it works in the world of David Lynch, in the middle of the rainbow road, where you’re always too confusing to be either good or bad. If you have just enough budget to look like a real movie, you can be as amateur and incoherent as you like. In fact, let’s start over: David Lynch is what happens when you throw three things at a career: time, money, and one inexplicably deformed bollock.

A familial analysis of Sons of Anarchy

Spoiler warning!

By Sage Gerard

Sons of Anarchy (SoA) is a drama by Kurt Sutter about a motorcycle club (MC) of the same name. SoA has a fresh comic book series and an upcoming video game to appeal to nerd culture. The series is fraught with gratuitous violence and unrestrained breasts, making it an indulgent thrill. I am only going to offer my analysis based on the first two seasons, so as to soften the blow of any spoilers for those still unsure about watching the show.

In order to develop an understanding of gender in SoA, we need to examine the (figurative) family structures of the MCs. Since MCs are organized crime syndicates populated by outlaws, maintaining club unity is an ongoing challenge. SoA is an organized crime syndicate underpinned by hyper-traditionalist values, which as we know is a formula of success in Hollywood if Godfather-esque media is any indication. The concept of family is central to the unity of the Sons, especially since they are the original charter of the club. The SoA original charter calls themselves SAMCRO, or Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original. SAMRO is based in Charming, a fictional California town. Drug runners consider Charming to be prized territory for distribution channels, and the local police force wants to prevent the nastiness that comes with drug running at all costs. But since the department is relatively small and weak, the cops have an arrangement with SAMCRO. SAMCRO keeps the drugs out of Charming, and the cops will look the other way when SAMCRO smuggles military-grade arms.

MCs in the show are formally ruled by a fatherly figure, which gives a surface appearance of a patriarchal arrangement. But SAMCRO, the club we are meant to root for, is the only MC that submits to the whims of a matriarch. Enter Gemma. Gemma is a pivotal character, and a widow to the dead founding member of the Sons, John Teller. After Teller dies under mysterious circumstances, Gemma ends up married to Clay, the current President of the Sons at the start of the series. Gemma is a steely-eyed realist with an almost clairvoyant wisdom about people. She usually can read a face and pieces together an entire back story with eerie accuracy after a 12-second conversation. Her dominating demeanor is only tamed by her passive, overwhelming desire to be a mother to her Sons.

So why is Gemma interesting? If you pay close attention to the gendered power structures in the MCs, SAMCRO holds her as a matriarchal figure. SoA’s rival motorcycle clubs are categorized by race, ethnicity, or a hatred of either. The Mexican Mayans, the black Niners, the Nazi Nords are recurring examples. All of them are led by an unquestioned male leader, but only SAMCRO has Gemma. Gemma holds no formal title, but her opinion and well-being is valued to the point of inciting suicidal behavior in the Sons. Other SoA charters lack screen time, so one cannot much comment on them over the first two seasons. SAMCRO already risks their lives every day delivering guns for organizations like a renewed Irish Republican Army and rival MCs, so additional threats to the SAMCRO family tend to throw their already violent, unstable, miserable lives into a panicked, gore-smeared chaos.

In the second season, a white supremacist drug tycoon arranged for Gemma’s rape to dismantle the club. The goal was to force her to run to Clay and tell him to “stop selling guns to color.” At the time, SAMCRO was nearly broke after a long run-in with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This left them with no real options for cash, and made all of the members question each other’s loyalty to the club after resisting pressure from the feds. A central conflict occurred when Jack “Jax” Teller, the Vice-President stud-muffin of SAMCRO and protagonist of the show, learned that Clay accidentally arranged for the murder of a member’s wife after trying to kill that member himself. The conflict erupted in violence several times, and was just about to tear the club in half. This is where we start to see the gynocentric values at work. All members of SAMCRO either cause or witness death on a nearly weekly, if not daily, basis. They are apathetic to the suffering of male victims, and will even succumb to bodily mutilation, threats of rape, and savage beatings for even slight infractions. There is one episode where an excommunicated MC member was chained to a post and immolated with a welding torch because he still had a SoA tattoo on his back. All male suffering is the cost of business.

Female suffering, on the other hand, is only seen as forgivable when other women execute it. Jax’s girlfriend Tara, for example, threatens the life of a porn star trying to hit on Jax with a six-shooter. Tara even screws Jax right in front of the porn star to assert her claim on Jax. But when a young girl and Gemma gets raped, the entire world of gun running and handling rival MCs is put on the back burner until the culprit is isolated and butchered. Jax and Clay even put the accidental murder of the member’s wife aside on hearing of Gemma’s rape. “Yeah, a member’s wife was murdered by our scumbag leader and his henchman, but our matriarch was raped!” The Sons are right to be angry, but they are only emotionally invested in either the club, decision-making power over the club, or women. In SAMCRO, rape is considered the worst thing that can happen, but only if the victim is female. Meanwhile, there is an episode where Jax tackles a corrupt porn tycoon and threatens to rape him with a bat on camera for distribution. The murder and rape of men is considered a hilarious means for glory or revenge. The men of the show are reduced to bags of flesh to be cut, burned, bludgeoned, and minced if they even so much as smell funny. One could argue that the women were a vulnerable core to MCs that had to be protected in the obviously unsafe circumstances, but this ignores two facts. First, the women are just as prepared to murder as the men are. Gemma has a shoebox full of guns, and she is seen packing two into her purse. The women of SAMCRO are by no means defenseless. Second, SAMCRO has always had the option to “earn clean,” meaning that they perform a legal service, only crossing the line when protecting Charming or their investments. Most of the fights SAMCRO ends up in are initiated by Clay’s gun running. Almost none of the conflicts SAMCRO ever finds itself in would have happened if guns never changed hands, which means that the threats to the women they are so fond of thwarting could have never existed to begin with.

This brings us to the show’s redeeming factor, the protagonist, Jax. SoA is a show about Jax, a rebel, rebelling against other rebels. Despite the name, Sons of Anarchy has a strong internal government of its own. Jax is an agent of change who wishes to follow the vision of his enigmatic father, John, for the sake of a new Sons of Anarchy, and his obstacles are found more inside SAMCRO than outside. I like the show, personally, and those of you who enjoy the thrill of brutal violence, dysfunctional families, and a completely shitty existence would get a kick out of Sons of Anarchy. But note that the chivalrous, gynocentric values of the club seem to stand as a government that even these anarchists may not be able to shake, even after Jax reforms their operations. I leave this with a question: Are the Sons slaves?

Rachel Edwards

Rachel Edwards

Rachel is a former host of Honey Badger Radio, a recurring member of the Tales from the Infrared crew. She wanders around the web researching feminist insanity, poking people with a large stick, and keeping everyone in the silly place. When she isn't doing any of those things she spends her time doing even more blogging, grooming her rather large fluffy cat, nerding out with her favorite people, and burying herself in various fandoms. Pinkie Pie is best Pony! (You spelled "Fluttershy" wrong. -- Zen)
Rachel Edwards

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