Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Misogyny and Trainwrecks, Pt. I

Hopefully everyone had a great New Year. I managed to stay up until midnight, and my girlfriend found a good quote summing up the experience: "Youth is staying up because you want to, middle-age is staying up because you're forced to." This year, since the kids made it to midnight, meant the latter.

On to the continuing Dark Phoenix Publishing trainwreck. When we last left off, a sockpuppet review of Vampire: Undeath had appeared. Other than that, the amount of crazy and/or stupid stayed at a pretty low level for a few days, but things changed quickly when they posted a preview of their new bloodline sourcebook and hit a nerve in their portrayal of their all female vampire clan, the Lilliana.

This time around, I'm going to examine several choice sentences from the preview and my first reaction. Next time I'll relate it to similar subject matter in modern gaming.
"Try not to think of the Lilliana as whores or cheap thrills. They’re so much more than that. More akin to trophies that every man, alive or dead, would die to have on their arm,[...]"
Yes, because being a trophy is the pinnacle of what any woman would want and, even as a vampire, is the most that they can aspire to become.
"Instead of walking the streets attempting to sell their bodies, Lilliana gain pleasure from having benefactors give them gifts. I mean, why should you degrade yourself when you can have several benefactors who are dying to give you their money?"
So they are not only trophies, but gold diggers? I actually can't begin to communicate what's wrong with this. Because being attached to someone who is wealthy solely for the purpose of material gain isn't degrading, but prostitution is?
"The Lilliana aren't supposed to be understood. They can’t be understood. Humankind can never understand what it takes to be one of them. The primping… the pampering…"
Andrew Dice Clay: "Women...who gets them? With the primping and the pampering and ayyyyyy!"
"As long as they know how to dance better than anyone else at the club they’re sure to get our attention."
Now for a little sidetrack to set up my next thought. In the last decade and a half or so, the goth/industrial scene has been overrun with socialites and other "style over substance" types who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on imported club clothes, dance in only one prescribed manner seen on a "How to be a goth" video, and wear gas masks and/or goggles for no fucking reason. The phrase "dance better than anyone else at the club" screams this to me for some reason. Which then reminds me of this song from HexRX (who are a great bunch of guys). There's even a cringe-worthy video to go along with the song that fits the image I have.

 Fuck gas masks. Especially gas masks.
"When we say “basic rights” does that include my make-up and travel accessories or?"
Again, with a statement hitting every bad stereotype of feminine superficiality there is, presented in a "Oh, we're trying to be entertaining but wound up being more than a little misogynistic, but isn't it great anyway?" manner.

Predictably, many of these points and more were called out in the Facebook thread announcing the book's preview. Mykal Lakim bobbed and weaved as much as he could with gems such as, "It's one of the largest previews and we've received nothing but great feedback on it from those we opted to release it to before this release." and "According to the majority of our feedback, the writing is not misogynistic. We have seen from Amy and Theresa that they believe it to be offensive to them and their interpretation of the preview." Interspersed through all of this were unattributed quotes from anonymous reviewers written in the same style as Mykal Lakim and the bizarre notion of playtesters who don't want to be associated publicly with the product. The surprise guest was the book's editor, who showed up to the party immediately after creating a Facebook account. She did a passable job in trying to explain why she personally likes the Lilliana book, but wasn't very convincing with regards to the finished product not being full of the same tripe.

In a completely different discussion, apparently the artist who Mykal Lakim stole the Dark Phoenix Publishing logo from has been trying to get hold of him. The message was not, "Thanks for using my work for free, you keep doing that!". It goes a long way toward explaining why suddenly the graphic disappeared from their Facebook page, but that leaves all the rest of the web pages, PDFs, etc. where the logo hasn't been changed.