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  • posted a message on The Dark Knight Rises
    Quote from Blinking Spirit
    DirkGently, if I'm reading you correctly, your core complaint seems to be that Catwoman is well constructed as a likeable character. You say that elements of her character are "overused", but saying that costumed criminals are overused in superhero stories is like saying that horses and revolvers are overused in western stories. These are building blocks of the genre, not clichés. A cliché is a story element that, through lazy use, draws attention to itself as a story element and thus pulls the audience out of their immersion in the story. For example, when you read the line "It was a dark and stormy night...", you do not imagine a dark and stormy night; you just recognize that line as a line. But, as you say, Catwoman's character has audience appeal. We like to watch her be sexy and snarky and thiefy; these qualities pull us into her story, not out of it. So it doesn't matter how many times we've seen them before. As long as they continue to appeal to us, they cannot be clichés.

    I would reword your first sentence as:

    DirkGently, if I'm reading you correctly, your core complaint seems to be that Catwoman has been artlessly constructed to (attempt to) be a likeable character by throwing on as many positive attributes as possible without giving her any believable depth.

    Personally I dislike things like having an anti-hero be a thief, or having the female thief be sexy, or having her wear a skintight suit, and it DOES draw me out of the story because of overuse, so yes, it's a cliche to me. Apparently she does have audience appeal, though, because I keep hearing that people like her. I'm saying that as an observation of people's response to her, not that I think it was good character construction.

    Batman is, in the stark light of reality, sort of a silly character, but he makes sense in the universe he's in. He's got a backstory that mostly explains his motivations and goals and why he likes to dress up and why he's such a badass. Catwoman gets a few sentences as a party that really don't explain anything. If she grew up poor, how come she fights like jason bourne instead of a street thug? How'd she get those high-tech glasses without her own R&D department? Why is she whining about the 1% when she's clearly stolen enough to get herself squarely into that bracket? Because bourne-style fights are cooler to watch than street thugs, because high-tech spy glasses are cool, and because whining about the 1% is topical and cool. She's got no depth, just a bunch of "positive" qualities stapled together in the hopes that something sticks.

    Being in a costume is part of the genre, sure. That said, want to do a count of how many female superheroes have costumes whose primary function seems to be to highlight their sexual characteristics compared to the men? Yeah, I thought not. Part of the genre, sure. Does that excuse the genre for taking lazy routes to appeal to its target demographic? Not in my opinion.

    And the same problem is what I have against the character of catwoman as a whole - she goes with the easiest, laziest, tried-and-truest ways to make her appeal to the audience instead of trying something original, edgy, or inspired.
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on The Dark Knight Rises
    Quote from Blinking Spirit
    Three of the most important traits of a Mary Sue character are that (a) she overcomes all or most of the obstacles in the plot even if it's more plausible that another character would; (b) she doesn't do anything wrong or make any mistakes; and (c) she doesn't develop because she's already perfect. None of these traits can be found in Hathaway's Selina Kyle.
    Contrary to (a), Selina overcomes only those plot obstacles which suit her well-established skillset: she's a good fighter, great seductress, and peerless burglar. When she teams up with Batman, they share the spotlight - their attack on the sewers is a strict alternation between Batman takedowns and Catwoman takedowns. And everything she does plays a supporting role. The major challenges are taken on by Batman. For example, a typical Mary Sue move would have been to get Bruce out of the prison by having Selina show up to drop him a rope; but of course Bruce got out on his own.

    Contrary to (b), Selina makes huge mistakes. She lures Batman into a cagematch with Bane, for God's sake! After that brutal beating, it's really astonishing how Nolan managed to preserve any audience sympathy for Catwoman at all; I think he only makes it work with the cuts to her face as she watches. She knows she's done something monstrous.

    And contrary to (c), Selina develops as a character. Her outlook at the beginning of the movie may be succinctly summarized as "**** the One Percent", and she talks about their imminent downfall with malicious glee. If she were a Mary Sue, this outlook would be objectively correct, and the movie would set about proving it with all the subtlety of a brick to the face. But it's not correct. She realizes, once she's actually seen the revolution, that she feels empathy for the people who were cast down, and that her earlier beliefs were terribly wrong.
    Conclusion: Selina Kyle is a strong, smart, sympathetic female character. These are good things. She does not inhabit an implausible, immersion-breaking role in the world or plot the way a Mary Sue does. None of what you say persuades me otherwise: the traits you identify are ones that a Mary Sue can have, certainly, but they're not traits that make a Mary Sue.

    Fair enough - I considered after I posted it that Mary Sue might not be exactly the wording I'm looking for - I prefer "indulgent" so I'll stick with that. That said, your 3 bullet points aren't exactly the universally agreed pon definition of a mary sue, which is partly what makes it a bad choice of words on my part - everyone's got their own opinion on what makes a Mary Sue.

    When I say she's "indulgent", what I mean is this-

    She does way too many things to be likable. You bring up the part where shebetrays batman, which is one thing going against this (and since you used the plural, I'm hoping you can come up with more than one) - but she apologized/repented/felt crappy/gave bruce some action to make up for it. But that's not really the reason why I don't think that plot point discredits by whining - she's not necessarily a "good" character. When she steals bruce's car, the audience wasn't mad at her for screwing over bruce - she's not trying to appeal to the audience that way, because it's not effective (which is also why no one likes superman anymore - pure goodness is just boring. you know, like the opposite of heroin). She's trying to be a lovable rascal, personality-wise, and while tricking batman into the cage match was certainly a bit beyond being a rascal, it's not nearly as difficult for the target audience to swallow as compared to if she was trying to be 100% good, and it's basically 100% mitigated by the aforementioned feeling crappy.

    This is a stupid thing to reference, but I'll do it anyway - in the 2nd pirates of the carribean movie, jack sparrow also sells out the "main character" to the baddy to resolve a personal debt. How many people really hated him after that moment? I doubt hardly anyone. Because he's not trying to be the knight in shining armor - that's not how he's appealing to the audience. That's what Bloom was trying to do, and it was super boring. Sure, his antics (sweet jesus, is it possible to talk about this without using old-person words? eesh) set the hero back, but we know the main character will be able to handle it.

    True, Catwoman's betrayal hit a bit harder than sparrow's (and wasn't played for comedy as much), but there's also nothing else I can think of that really gets anywhere near that moment in terms of character flaws for catwoman.

    Besides that, my issue isn't so much that she got nothing "wrong", but that she got too many things "right" - and I'm using quotes because too many things right feels manipulative and stops being right at all. It's like teenage mutant ninja turtles - how many "cool" things do you need to pile onto one character to make sure the audience likes them?

    -She's a thief. right out of the gate, this is a very overused thing for an anti-hero to be, because it's criminal, but not TOO criminal, so tons of characters try to use that role to appeal to the audience. One thing I love about the show Breaking Bad is that its main characters go a few steps further and (OH GOD SPOILERS) sell meth (WHEW), which is a lot, lot edgier. How many people have EVER disliked a character for being a thief because it was too edgy? Freaking nobody. It's the most obvious audience-appeal-driven profession since secret agent.

    -She comes from a poor family where things were tough, and she had to be hard to survive, etc etc. Again, really overused way to explain misanthropic behavior (like theft, and I suppose betrayal) and get audience sympathy points. Even though it doesn't really explain any of her current behavior which is clearly not based on need, it's thrown in there for audience sympathy. And I may have misunderstood what she said having only seen it once, but in what crazy version of the US are kids starving to death in the streets? I mean, adults maybe, but kids? c'mon. (again, though, only going off memory, but I think I remember her saying that she was starving and needed to steal as a kid. What is this, Agrabah?)

    -she wears skin-tight fetishy whatevers. Obviously this has mostly to do with catwoman as a character, and not her role in the film, specifically. The skintight suit is such a silly cliche, though. And I daresay I don't need to specify who it panders to.

    -she exploits her sexuality...yeah, same as above.

    -she always gets the cute one-liner, and always seems to know what's going on, be one step ahead of everyone, etc. Everyone likes a smart-ass.

    -despite being a klepto, she eventually comes around and helps save the day! I mean hell, she kills bane (oh, another major pet peeve of mine - the out-of-nowhere last-second intervention from certain death) and has a big role in killing Talia. She's almost as big of a hero as Batman. If there's one thing an audience likes more than a bad boy/girl, it's a bad boy/girl who gets all philanthropic in the 11th hour to reaffirm our opinion that they were really good all along, and were just misunderstood or whatever.

    -somehow she's a pro batcycle rider without any practice and barely any instruction. This is getting nitpicky, but c'mon, no one is going to be comfortable with that weird sideways spinning tire thing right off the bat. But she's never allowed to look foolish, so sure, she can drive it no problem.

    I'm not saying she doesn't change - she does, sure. I'm not saying she hogs the spotlight, because she doesn't. I'm saying she's too obviously designed to pander to the audience.

    sidebar - this is one of my bigger complaints about "strong female roles" in a lot of stories trying to be progressive - they try to hit too many positive qualities and it ends up being too easy to see what the author is doing. But that's a different, much longer discussion.
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on The Dark Knight Rises
    Quote from Highroller


    She's Catwoman.

    Well that's my point - it's not Nolan's fault for screwing anything up, or Hathaway's for not selling it properly - it's the character itself. She's an indulgent character without any real faults who's obviously designed to appeal to an audience.
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on The Dark Knight Rises
    I'm going to just throw this out there and see if it pisses anyone off, because it seems to be the minority opinion (after reading 2 reviews, and thus being an expert).

    Is it just me, or is catwoman/selina kyle one of the most painful Mary Sues ever?

    I'm not criticizing Nolan's use of her, per se, or Hathaway's acting, I think she did fine. But as someone who's read (and written, sadly, hindsight being 20/20) plenty of horribly indulgent characters, catwoman was kind of painful to watch. First of all, she's a thief, because thieves are rebellious and lawless enough to be cool, but not brutal in a way that would offend those with delicate sensibilities. There's even the tired she-did-it-to-eat justification thrown in there just in case we didn't feel sympathetic for her, although it doesn't really explain why she's stealing heirlooms, sports cars, or has super spy gadgets. And on top of that, she just wants to escape her life of crime, despite the aforementioned major commitment in the form of spy gadgets and high-profile heists, even after she's made it clear that she's trying to change her lifestyle. Yeah, I give her a week after "escaping" before someone catches her trying to smuggle candy out of a kmart.

    Then, on top of all the cool and sympathy we've layered on top of her, she speaks exclusively in one-liners, abuses her sexuality at every opportunity, wears impractical fetishistic outfits, and of course
    ends up with the hero at the end, despite the fact that he's sworn to uphold justice and she's a kleptomaniac who has nothing in common with him besides that they like to wear black and have pretty faces. Ok, that's one more thing than most movie romances have going for them, but still.

    So...I dunno. I just don't see any way that she works as anything other than a fan wank character. Feel free to hate me.

    EDIT: oh yeah, and the
    "oh the main character totally died, aren't you so sad? oh, wait, psych, he's totally alive! aren't you so happy now?" game of peek-a-boo with the audience has to be among my least favorite tools to manipulate viewer emotions ever. And yes, as a matter of fact that DOES include gandalf! Tolkein: also an overrated hack?
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on Moonrise Kingdom
    I will concur that it was a really good movie. It felt a lot like fantastic mr. fox to me, and I think a lot of that is that it follows a lot of the same citmatography techniques...which sounds like I'm trying to be pretentious but it's really obvious in this case. There's just tons of intentionally flat angles and straight camera movement that rarely happens in traditional movie fare (i.e. how often do to see the camera face exactly the same direction while moving laterally, especially between rooms?). Anyway, it's sort of hard to explain but you definitely notice it. I think it feels like he's making kids movies for adults, basically. It's also probably a really good date movie, for what it's worth.
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on How many counterspells do you run...
    running ~15 in teferi currently. Sort of depends what you're trying to do. My teferi always ends up with a huge board presence, so stopping wraths is crucial. Also it has a hard time dealing with hexproof/shroud so those often need countering too. Since it tends to make itself a target, counters become pretty necessary.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Ways to infinitely copy spells
    boy, you guys make really convoluted combos if you're STARTING from infinite mana.

    For a way easier way...

    mischievous quanar/echo mage/dual casting/mirror sheen/sigil tracer + turnabout gives infinite mana and infinite copying in 2 cards (one of which is pretty flexible). seems a lot easier than this 4-card combo silliness.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] General Discussion of the Official Multiplayer Banlist
    sorta been said, but yes, the problem with CV isn't that it's too powerful - if power level was top concern, sol ring, mana crypt, and druid would be banned - but that it's just lame. The RC has said that their goal with the banlist is basically to prevent people from playing cards that seem fun but turn out to be not fun. CV is basically the definition of a non-fun card...Either it straight-up wins, or it does nothing. Either way, yawn.

    And to people saying it's hard to set up - play a 5c deck with a good manabase. you can easily get 5 types by turn 3, reliably. and obviously your general covers 5 colors. Now sure, you'd need 13 mana to go off all at once, but who's going to freak out and kill cromat the instant it hits the field? Odds are very good you can untap with Cromat or some other mediocre 5-color general, and then either someone has an instant-speed answer or the game is over.

    yawn-o-rama. The card deserves to stay banned. this is probably one of the easier ones to justify, especially among the cards that are only banned in EDH.

    EDIT: I think another part of the problem is that it's just a boring effect. Even when someone gets a TaN combo that wins immediately, especially if it's a non-infinite combo the ending still feels ok. When I pull of a 100+ damage dragon assault with zirilan ftw, people are rarely super annoyed. If the card said, instead of "you win", "put 20 5/5 flying dragons with haste into play" I think it'd be a lot less loathesome even though it has the same effect basically. Winning by a card that says "you win" is just a really, really boring way to end a good game.
    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Talrand, Sky Summoner (Blue Spell Agro)
    got mentioned on the first page, but where's coat of arms? backfiring isn't really an issue, if you don't win the turn you play it, then something has gone horribly wrong.

    also got mentioned and ignored - gravitational shift. You've got very few creatures on the ground, so the vast majority will be your drakes...double power and taking less damage from enemy attacks is pretty rad. Even if your opponent has bigger flyers, more power makes it easier to trade silly drakes for expensive flyers, which your opponents aren't likely to want to do.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on How Many Decks to You Have?
    designed: 25+
    have actually made (including proxies): 15-20, maybe 21-24
    currently have together (including proxies): 10-14
    currently actually bring with me (including proxies): 5-9
    have ever actually built with real cards (proxies for duplicates): 5-9
    have ever built with 100% real cards: 4
    currently have built with real cards (proxies for duplicates): 3
    currently have built with 100% real cards: 2

    So yes, I still want a definition of "have".
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Playing Non-Green Decks
    Green generally is an aggro color. grixis is better (imo) as more of a control build. So sure, green player plays a ton of creatures and ramp, and you take a few hits, then drop damnation and cripple them with CA.

    Playing slow has tons of advantages in a multiplayer format, especially if you've got powerful control pieces that can take care of multiple problems at once.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on How do I make a deck that is fun to play, fun to play against, and still wins?
    simplest answer, imo: have multiple power levels of decks. You're not going to be able to make a deck that has a good chance against a small competitive table but doesn't curb stomp casual decks. So build a couple decks, one that's mostly fun stuff and one that's more competitive. for myself I went with zirilan of the claw (fun) and glissa (more competitive).

    You don't really need to PLAN to build more competitive and more casual decks, though...just build some decks, and find the ones that are most fun for their power level and keep them. Then use the deck that's most suitable to the playgroup.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on How Many Decks to You Have?
    what defines "having" a deck?

    100% real cards?
    mostly real cards?
    all proxies ok?
    do we have to be currently using it? I've got some decks 95% together that I've stolen a few cards from for other decks, but are otherwise intact and could be revived in 5 minutes.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Overvaluing Tucking (Why Remand is better than Hinder)
    you left out chaos warp and oblation, 2 very strong options.

    while keeping something on the field early is important to prevent opportunistic attacks, in most groups I've played with it's more important to avoid looking like the threat than to gain a tempo advantage. while there are certainly plenty of goodstuff decks out there, the most unique part of EDH is playing with a general, so most people I play against (and most decks I build) try to build around the general to some extent, and losing him (semi) permanently can drastically slow down the deck.

    Sure, if you're looking at the most powerful decks conceivable, many of them might not focus much on the general for consistency's sake, but it's a casual format and generals are fun, and tuck is effective against those decks. If you're saying that you can "just kill them" because you remanded their general...I think it's fair to say that your meta doesn't reflect most metas.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [SCD] Xathrid Gorgon
    Quote from timmiej
    What strategies?
    Let's have a look at the strongest decks my group plays:

    All those decks can easily play their general again and most of them depend on activated abilities.

    It's going straight to my Mimeoplasm deck.
    I think it's ten times as good as Avatar of Woe and Visara, but that might be because we play a lot of reanimate and stuff.

    except that 100% of those generals are cheaper than the gorgon. And if they're really so devastated by the thing, they'll just kill it before they play their general. And who's not running sac outlets these days?

    Alternately, compare it to empress galina. She's an even nastier form of immobilization, for cheaper (on cost and ability cost). But she still doesn't see a ton of play.

    To me, my biggest problem with it, perhaps, is that you can't use it to stop attacks that already happened. With visara, you can wait until someone tries to attack you or kill visara, then kill their general. With gorgon, you have to preempt the attack. proactive hate is much worse than reactive when we're talking multiplayer. Also, being forced to leave 3 mana up is a big bummer.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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