Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Disney”

ElCicco #CBR4 review #46: Darths and Droids by The Comic Irregulars

Darths and Droids  is a free web comic that role playing gamers and Star Wars fans (groups with significant overlap) will love. A group of such guys in Australia began developing this comic in 2007 after being inspired by DM of the Rings — a web comic that imagined Lord of the Rings as played by a bunch of gamers. Darths and Droids is about a group of guys playing a RPG and using the images and characters from Star Wars Episode I but creating an alternate story line. In this imaginary world, Star Wars doesn’t exist but the gamers invent a similar universe in the course of their play. The characters (Qui Gon, Obi Wan, etc) are being played by guys who don’t behave at all as the movie characters but are dead on gamers of the type you might know — the tech fanatic/min-max gamer who loads his character with specialized skills at the expense of more humanizing traits, the guy who just wants to fight and find loot, another guy’s little sister who tags along for lack of a babysitter, and a GM whose best laid plans get completely screwed up by his friends.

The use of actual stills from the movie makes this so much fun to read. I wish they would go back and reshoot the movies using this dialog as it is hilarious and entertaining and Lucas’ characters play against type. Qui Gon is a battle happy treasure hunter, JarJar is a genius, R2 is arrogant, Darth Maul is …. not at all what you would expect. Qui Gon and Obi Wan from the moment they enter the Trade Federation ship ruin the GM’s plan and pretty much act as lawless rogue forces, causing political trouble and unnecessary destruction. Qui Gon immediately wants to search for treasure and steal blasters. Really if you have ever played RPGs you will recognize all of your gaming friends in this comic and if you have GM’d you will commiserate.

Qui Gon is the funniest character. In addition to his distinctly selfish and martial instincts, he has a habit of massacring the GM’s specialized vocabulary (Jedi Knights are Cheddar Monks), trying to “cast spells” instead of using the force (“I summon bigger fish” has become a catch phrase among devotees of the comic), and forgetting what their mission is. The deal he makes with Watto regarding the pod race is so convoluted and ridiculous, you know that true gamers were involved. And the stills used to capture Qui Gon’s expression in any given scene are just laugh out loud funny.

The best scenes involve the introduction of JarJar and later scenes featuring Yoda and the Jedi council. A girl named Sally makes up JarJar from her imagination. “Mesa got biiiig long floppy bunny ears … and a tongue like an anteater. And mesa face is kind of like a pony … and mesa coloured peachy, pinky white!” She also turns the Gunguns into carnivores who prefer human flesh and eventually turns JarJar into a skilled and respected general.

When Anikin (played by a young woman who seems to be the object of all the gaming guys’ fancies) meets Yoda for the first time, there are several truly hysterical scenes. One involves an extensive rif between Yoda and Anikin on the “Fear is the path to the Dark Side” scene. The other is Episode 142, “The Source of the Force, Of Course, Of Course,” which deals with the whole “balance in the force” business and why creating more Jedi via blood transfusions (which Qui Gon does) is a bad idea. Every time I read the last panel in this episode, I laugh out loud.

Each page of the web comic is a numbered episode with a title, and at the bottom of each page is a commentary by the Irregulars along with a transcript of the page. The writer commentaries are often as funny as the comic itself, with ruminations on Star Wars, gamers, other RPGs and more. The writers are still producing this comic, going through every Star Wars movie. Now that Disney has bought out Lucas and is planning to produce more, it looks like they’ll be working for a long time. Yay! This is really funny and creative, and it’s the kind of thing you can put down and come back to later (much like an RPG). It was a nice break to read and now I want to go on a campaign.

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Mandazon’s Cannonball Read #CBR4 Review #2: Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a great book to read if you are new to media analysis and feminism, or want to gain an elementary understanding of the challenges in raising a daughter.  I appreciated Ms. Orenstein’s personal look into the gives and takes of raising a media-conscious daughter in a sex and body conscious society, but I was disappointed in the dearth of statistical evidence to back up her claims.  I would also not recommend this book to anyone who has taken an Intro to Women’s Studies class – you already know everything in this book.

Cinderella At My Daughter focuses on the animated and manufactured Disney princesses  (everyone from Cinderella to Miley to Mulan), our culture’s obsession and pressure for girls to associate with the color pink, consuming, make-up, dieting, and performing, and the virgin-whore dichotomy.

My favorite chapter in the book, “Just Between You, Me, and My 622 BFFs” focuses on the problem of living your life already through your next tweet or your next profile picture or funny status update.  As Ms. Orenstein summarizes, it’s “processing daily experiences as they occur, packaging life as you live it. ”   I started a Facebook account when I was a Freshman in college, when it was still known as “The Facebook” and it was only open to select four-year universities.  We had the option of posting a single profile picture, and there were no status updates, no photo albums, and no chat features.  Still to this day, every new status update I make or picture I upload makes me stop and pause – will this come back to haunt me in a professional or political future life?  What would my friends think of me if I post this?  Every part of my social identity is on display, and I am well past my anxiety-ridden adolescence and I still get concerned.  Ms. Orenstein explains that young girls are already so adequately primed to experience their sexuality and their emotions through how they look, that they are primed to consume and take part in these social networking sites that make every part of their identities on display: “Six hundred twenty-two people can witness everything she writes, every picture she posts.  Six hundred twenty-two people can pass that information on to their 622 friends.  Six hundred twenty-two people are watching her, judging her, at least in theory, every hour of every day.  How does that influence a child’s development?”

As I stated in the opening paragraph, this book has a lot of excellent qualities, but I do wish the author provided more statistical evidence to support her ideas.  I gave this book 3 stars – a good piece of non-fiction if you are new to media analysis or feminism, but I would also suggest this book to anyone who has a new daughter, niece, sister.

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