18 May, 2008

Titular Appellation

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but I can't promise to stick to anything that doesn't hold enough interest for me to expend the effort on it. Okay, maybe that's unnecessarily harsh; it's just tough for me to sit down and write about the stuff on my mind every single day. I could say that it's either because nothing of note ever happens in my life, or that things haven't changed enough to really warrant commenting on (both of which are true, at least to some extent), but from an honest perspective, that would just be making excuses.

I could talk about everything that happened yesterday, and everything that happened in the past week, and everything that happened in the past month, but that's too much work. So I'll talk about what happened today. Though I might have to fill in some blanks.

I got a couple small packages (nothing compared to the big package I got a couple days ago) today. One of them is a CD I was expecting, and another was a DVD that I forgot I was expecting, even though I just ordered it recently, along with (though separate from) the CD. But it was a nice surprise to be reminded of it when it's already there at your doorstep. I have a very relaxed approach toward having things shipped to me. I trust the gears to turn, and I try not to get "package anxiety", where every single day you get your hopes up that the package will be there only to be disappointed again and again until it finally arrives. Let the chips fall where they may, and when it arrives, I'll be pleasantly surprised to see it. Not to call names or anything, but I have a friend, and I've been noticing lately that he seems to have a strong desire to know exactly where the package is at every step of the journey, and exactly when it's scheduled to arrive at the doorstep. Whatever his reasons are, to each his own.

So the CD was an album from 1968 called Living With The Animals by a band called Mother Earth. Somebody who read my Michael Bloomfield guide on Amazon.com emailed me and alerted me to the fact that Bloomfield plays guitar on at least one track on that album, so naturally I had to check it out. It's a pretty good album, with a pretty good strong-voiced female vocalist (Tracy Nelson) on a number of the tracks, and the title track Mother Earth, which clearly features Bloomfield's leads, is pretty smokin'. It's not something I'd probably have come across on my own, without knowing about Bloomfield's contribution, but I consider it a worthy addition to my album collection.

The DVD I got is a British exploitation film that I saw a trailer for in my latest Grindhouse Double Feature purchase, after which I was convinced that it was a film I had to see. The title is Virgin Witch, and I think that really tells you everything you need to know. I haven't watched it yet, but I can't wait. The reviews I read for it said it was a terrible film, which is really not surprising. Whether or not I'll like it remains to be seen, but I think it's safe to say that it's not gonna be a high-quality production. And that really irks me. Why can't an exploitation film that borders on softcore pornography be approached with a level of sophistication? It's like you have to sacrifice sex and nudity for professional merit or something.

That makes me think of a related issue that's been grazing my mind lately. There's a nudist forum that I've come to check regularly in the past couple months, and within it I recall reading over a discussion on how to increase public interest (or at least acceptance) for nudism by means of a wide-release "nudist film" - obviously, a film that promotes the wholesome values of nudism, and not what the sex-crazed perverts and religious prudes think that "nudist film" is really a codeword for.

Well, the opinion seems to be that the best way to go about it is to do a kind of film where the topic of nudism is broached, maybe tell a story of a person getting his friends into nudism, and the issues that come with learning about the lifestyle - that sort of thing. Personally, though it gets the job done of getting information out there, it just seems preachy and too documentary-like to me. My idea, though it may have less to do with "resort nudism" or "nudist etiquette", is just to do a normal film that has nothing to do with nudism, but have everyone in it spend as much time on screen naked as is practical. What better way to get across the message that being nude is a non-issue?

I think it would be a great idea anyway, but it's possible (probable) that society isn't ready for that yet. (insert irate tirade against society and how it oppresses me)

Whew, now that I've got that off my chest! Actually, there's another thing that I've been thinking for a long time, and I've wanted to talk about it, to someone - anyone - but I haven't really had the chance. So I'll do it here. It's about Nude Raider. You know, the nude cheat for Tomb Raider, that makes Lara Croft completely nude. Frankly, I don't see what the huge fuss is about it. The bottom line is, Nude Raider does in fact exist, but it's not popular among the company/loyal fanbase. On the one hand, Lara Croft has always been a sex symbol. Just because she's an empowered female character doesn't mean that she can't be sexy. (Let's not get into the issue of how twisted feminism has become here - I believe in the divine feminine, and I support goddess worship, but some people get the most twisted ideas about what sexuality is supposed to be about - a sexy woman is a strong woman, not an oppressed, misguided woman -- but I didn't want to get into this issue here...)

Anyway, I've always fantasized about guiding Lara through the tombs in naught but her backpack and gun holster (or even minus that). And, to be honest, with the amazing graphics (but unfortunately inferior gameplay) of the recent Tomb Raider Anniversary remake, I've gotten the chance to realize my dream. In fact, with the amazing amount of fan-driven customizability in Lara's texture mapping, I've even had the chance to transform Lara into a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty, in addition to taking her clothes off! But my point is, just because I get a kick out of watching Lara run around naked, that doesn't mean I want her having sex with all the animals she comes across, or engaging in any number of other lewd and crude activities. But mention "Nude Raider", and the forces of the publicly-deemed "righteous" instantly label you a disgusting perv. Would it make any difference if I called it Nudist Raider?

And that's a serious point. Plenty of nudists enjoy so-called "freehiking". How is "free-tomb-raiding" any less meritorious? Nude Raider is not Sex Raider. Roaming the world in the nude doesn't have to be about getting a sexual thrill, it can be about getting a sensual thrill - the thrill of life, freedom, and the air on your body. And just because guiding a character isn't the same as experiencing the world yourself, it doesn't change the nature of the situation. I'm not gonna go into the issue of "fictional character empathy" and all that.

Maybe this is another reason why I can't get myself to write regularly. There're so many connected threads that I get going in one direction and then all these roads open up and I just can't stop. It becomes such a time-consuming and effort-expending experience that the next time I think about doing it, I decide that I can't afford it in my busy schedule of nothings, so I scrap the idea. I'm already getting tired of this entry, and I feel like I should move on to other things I have (have as in "have available", not as in "must") to do, and I haven't even talked about my experiment with body paint! And I haven't mentioned a stitch about Guild Wars, which, from the hikikomori's perspective, should be the central topic.

But if you really want to know every thought that goes through my head, then you'd have to be in my head, and I'm not currently open to sending out invitations.

And then of course, it always seems to come down to the existential point of "who cares?" What does it matter if I do this or not? In the end, it won't make a difference. So what's the point?

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Plus, I'm a perfectionist, and that makes everything harder. Though I think I should exert less effort on perfecting these entries, since hardly anybody reads them anyway.


  1. Speaking as the guy that has to know where packages are all the time... it's just another form of entertainment.

    I wake up, read slashdot, read Google News, check all of my RSS feeds (blogs and comics), read the stuff that shows up there... and packages are just another serial element. Something (ideally) changes every day, so I can look at it and bask in the knowledge that something changed and I know time is passing.

    In, say, high school, there were always vacations, events, tests, whatever... tons of different kinds of things. Whether we realized it or not, they marked the passing of time; I guess that's why it seems like time moves so slowly in high school... you mark it that much more closely because there's so much going on. It's higher resolution, so to speak.

    Once you're out of that rat race and taking a part of the daily grind (whatever form it may be), what is there to mark the changes? The passing of the seasons? Vacations? You do the same thing every day, five days a week, all year... sure, you might be able to mark the passing of time with vacations or birthdays, but what is that, five, 1o points? Compared to the 40 or 50 you would have easily marked down in high school?

    So time seems to pass quickly for us; we've not done anything, not remembered anything. In a sense, I guess we value time less though we complain about there never being enough.

    So when something unusual like a package comes along -- even better that it changes daily for a period of time -- it's nice to check on it and mark the passing of time... and in this case, its passage through space.

  2. Nude Movie -- I think that's more than a perfect idea. Just a regular movie, where everyone happens to be nude when the oppurtinity presents itself. And that's true nudist art, since 'true nudists' aren't focusing on the nudity in the first place. If you ever write a script and want to make a film...

    Tomb Raider -- I always felt Nude Raider would be pointless with those computer graphics (back in the day) but I always loved the idea of it. The first pornography I ever saw was a maybe minute long clip I downloaded off of Kazaa where a live action Laura Croft character is held up on a bus or something and takes her clothes off. It totally ruled.

    As for society... gosh, I hate it more with every passing day. But, of course, my hatred for "society" is just a scapegoat. Society doesn't do me any harm, it can't even touch me. What I hate is the pain that the REAL influences in my life cause, and they work independentally of (albeit in line with) society. But hey this isn't my blog...

  3. I seem to recall Megan Fox some years ago expressing an interest in doing a nude movie like you describe; I'm assuming nothing ever came of it, though. People will sexualize whatever they want to sexualize, but it's tough to separate sex from nudity when there aren't many positive examples of sexless nudity in the media. The only examples of nudity without implicit sex appeal in movies and TV that I can think of are commercials and news reports regarding disasters and poverty, and nudity used as a sight gag (see: Austin Powers).

    I was at the Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg, PA, this weekend, and one of the things my wife and I liked about the art was that any nudity really wasn't the point of the painting. Both the men and the women were frequently naked or half-naked, but they were painted to be attractive in a "whoa, they're so cool" kind of way, and any sexiness came from the personality they exuded, not the lack of drapery. Refreshing.

    I remember Nude Raider being this huge thing, because sex simply didn't exist in video games at the time (at least, not the ones ported to the US that anyone had ever heard of). Lara Croft is attractive, sure, but I think the novelty is what made it a thing. Well, I suppose those were the days when video games were still kind of viewed as a toy and not as valid a form of entertainment as books and movies, so there was probably an element of people having trouble wrapping their heads around making a perceived children's toy into something less than wholesome. And I love that Tomb Raider II has a "nude code" that, once successfully entered, makes Lara explode into little pieces. What a sneaky surprise from the developers!

  4. That reminds me of some of the ignorant complaints I used to hear about anime decades before it went mainstream in this country. At a time when shows like The Simpsons and South Park and what have you were either young or still half-formed ideas, people viewed "cartoons" as children's shows. And so nobody had the context in which to place all this adult-oriented animation coming in from Japan (well, there wasn't that much of it back then). People used to think it was all hentai; now it's just another cartoon on Netflix. Although I still get the feeling that sex is a taboo in video games, despite it being a perfect medium for it (interactivity!).

    I definitely think society needs more exposure to non-sexualized nudity. But at the same time, I would caution society against over-policing what constitutes "sexualization". Pornography is one thing. It deserves its own separate category. But naked bodies, alone - they can be sensual or they can not. And it has a lot to do with interpretation. Nudists are kind of uptight about this because they want to demonstrate how non-sexual nudity is, when in reality, nudity can certainly be sexual (even without the sex). What we need is a mature approach that recognizes that when there's not actually sex being depicted on the canvas, then it either exists in the viewer's mind, or not at all. And when it does, it's entirely the viewer's responsibility.

    But I'd really just love a more nonchalant approach. I can't tell you how many times in a TV show or movie or video game or whatever, a perfect opportunity for some casual, real life nudity was glossed over to preserve the fragile sensibilities of a conservative audience. It just adds fuel to the fire of this belief that there's something shameful about the human body, that it's such a huge taboo, we can't even look at it. Hell, if you accidentally expose yourself to the wrong person, you could end up in prison! And I don't think that contributes to any kind of a positive body image, or a healthy sexual attitude. If I were prone to melodramatics, I'd say it's killing us as a culture.

    And as for that nude code - sounds like the typical American approach: to replace "sex" with the much more acceptable and family friendly subject of violence. By all means, Lara can go around wiping out endangered species and killing rival archaeologists with her dual pistols and dry, unaffected wit. But try to get a peek at what's under those shorts? The only thing you're gonna see is the barrel of a shotgun. :-p

  5. "I can't tell you how many times in a TV show or movie or video game or whatever, a perfect opportunity for some casual, real life nudity was glossed over to preserve the fragile sensibilities of a conservative audience."

    That's what bothered me about the Mass Effect series. In the first game, there's the option to get romantically involved with one of your teammates. There's a short, very tasteful sex scene with incidental nudity. No problem there. But then in Mass Effect 2, the universe has gotten a lot darker and grittier. More violence, lots of swearing, tobacco use, etc. Decidedly an "adult" game. But then you've got even more romance options, and almost every single one is practically Puritanical in the presentation. Like:

    Garrus: "Do you...want to get it on?"
    [fade to black]
    Garrus: "I guess we got it on last night, huh?"

    The worst offender is Mass Effect 3, where there's a romance option that involves sexy shower time...wearing underwear. Seriously, if you're going to include "adult" options in an "adult" game, either commit to them or don't bother at all. It's just silly and breaks the illusion that you're living in a fantasy world and not just playing a video game.

  6. This dovetails with a lot of other issues (and I apologize if this gets long), but one of the reasons I like the horror genre is because it's more likely to explore the transgression of taboo. And I know the focus in horror is more on violence than sex, but there's a long history of horror catering to both vices. And, anyway, if we're going to be honest about human nature... But too commonly I'll find some depiction of the darkest depths of mankind, where seemingly anything goes - rape, torture, murder, etc. - and yet, a prudish mentality prevails.

    Maybe it's the case that violent crime often stems from an ultra-morally conservative worldview, or one that is fostered by a belief that our sexual natures are abhorrent (leading one with an unstable psychology to inadvertently seek satisfaction by lashing out against others). And it's likely true that filmmakers don't want to risk making any of these atrocities appear "sexy" by including nudity (although, frankly, I'm disgusted by the implication that a viewer can't or isn't responsible or mature enough to be able to separate their response to a naked body from the horrors potentially being depicted alongside it).

    But it just doesn't make logical sense for a crackpot to strip his victim, leaving her vulnerable and humiliated, but still in her underwear! And it says something, that even with all the backlash against gratuitous violence from the more conservative sectors of society, there's something uniquely terrible about the human body. Sure, it's not everyone's thing - and that's fine. But content creators and producers seem to be so scared of the minority of the population that rallies against these things that they're willing to cater to their demands, and affect the media available to the rest of the population.

    That, to me, is the downside of the politically correct, ultra-sensitive mindset we're surrounded by - when the fear of offending some affects the choices available to us all.