Author Topic: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)  (Read 27035 times)

Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #50 on: December 28, 2015, 09:24:21 AM »
Star Wars is all about the Demigods and always has been. While greatness might be a universal human trait, doing great things is reserved for the people chosen by fate or who had the right parents.

"Wars not make one great." Kicking ass at the highest level isn't what Star Wars is about, although it's easy for someone to come out thinking it is. That's the allure of the dark side, believe it or not - thinking that being the strongest is the way to win. I know Lucas' ideology and where he came from, and the kinds of characters he believed in. You can argue he screwed up in Star Wars and failed to make the movie he intended, but I can guarantee you he didn't intent to write a trilogy whose takeaway would be "those with the most entitlement and power win while the losers watch from the sidelines and hope they're saved." A cynical person can watch the original trilogy and come to this conclusion, but I'd say such a person would have learned the wrong lessons and taken the quick and easy approach to inspecting why the Empire lost.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 09:26:53 AM by Fenring »

JoshCrow

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #51 on: December 28, 2015, 09:34:47 AM »
We know a lot about Rey. We know she's willing to turn down at two months of food (more like 4 or 5 given her luck at scavenging) to help someone she just met and who's actively keeping secrets from her. We know she's survived doing incredibly dangerous and unprofitable work on not enough food. We know she's good with machines and capable in a fight (someone pointed out that her lightsaber style is a lot like her staff fighting).

Rey doesn't need to switch on because she's never off. Luke has the liberty of indulging in sulks about his life; Rey's too busy not starving to death. Her journey in this movie isn't to step up to a challenge she's afraid she might not be able to might but to abandon the child's hope that her family will show up and make everything all right; to let go of the things that are tying her to the life that will kill her.

NH, that's about the level of characterization we get for a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. It's a character with zero inner life or relatability, whose defining personality trait is "tough-as-nails and did we mention she's tough Maybe you didn't hear us she is very tough." She is basically Milla Jovovich's character from Resident Evil.

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #52 on: December 28, 2015, 10:04:08 AM »
I didn't think of a Mary Sue when I came out of the theater, but I should have.  I described Rey to my wife as performing the roles of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia all by herself.  She pretty much walks into any bad situation with the near magical ability to have or instantly develop the right skill package to come out victorious.  I was less troubled by her one with the force instant lightsaber upgrade, it was at least foreshadowed and plausible that the force could guide her, than her near instant development of grade a piloting skills such that she could fly through the superstructure of a wrecked star destroyer (and contrary to certain poster's assertions Luke was a well regarded t-16 (not a land speeder) before he got an x-wing).   I found it entirely plausible that beating Darth Emo wouldn't take that much skill, he seemed barely trained (I thought of him kind of like the bumbling serial killers in Scream).  By the way, his improvement for movie 8 was also foreshadowed by the request to bring him to have his training completed.  He was no superbly trained Darth Maul, or Dark Master like Vader or Dooku.  And not selling BB-8 just showed us that she wasn't willing to become a slave trader (or at least not for a pile of food).

And that's before you consider the secondary Mary Sue-style character of Poe, who can shoot down 4 tie fighters (or was it 5) and blast a storm trooper off Han's shoulder in single pass of an X-wing.

Can someone explain why there is a "resistance" when there is a Republic?  Why create a tiny cell group when presumably there are entire divisions of Republic troops and ships available that should be concerned about the First Order's actions?

If you're assaulting a base, wouldn't you want a few bombers like a good ole y-wing or b-wing?  Speaking of assaulting a shield generator protected death star, where were the ewoks?  At least on Endor the poorly guarded back door was a deliberate trap, it took a trick to get through it the second time.  Why did the first order leave a door to their secret base open and barely guarded.  I mean did you see how many troops they had on that planet.  The planet killer was always the worst part of original trilogies to me, I get the dramatic necessity, but having a bigger one doesn't make the story better.  In fact, they could have made it more plausible and frankly scarier with a less grand scale, maybe a ship that used some of kind new biological weapon.  And now, with the score being Death Stars 2 (I'm counting all of Corus*censored* as 1), Planets 3, will the Dark Side get the picture that they aren't worth the investment.  Why is it that the rebels could see the planet killer from the ground, were they in the same star system?

I think they should have done more explanation with Finn.  Kind of hard to understand how one stormtrooper, one time shows any signs of being human, without any thing to hang a hat on.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #53 on: December 28, 2015, 01:45:52 PM »
"Wars not make one great." Kicking ass at the highest level isn't what Star Wars is about, although it's easy for someone to come out thinking it is. That's the allure of the dark side, believe it or not - thinking that being the strongest is the way to win. I know Lucas' ideology and where he came from, and the kinds of characters he believed in. You can argue he screwed up in Star Wars and failed to make the movie he intended, but I can guarantee you he didn't intent to write a trilogy whose takeaway would be "those with the most entitlement and power win while the losers watch from the sidelines and hope they're saved." A cynical person can watch the original trilogy and come to this conclusion, but I'd say such a person would have learned the wrong lessons and taken the quick and easy approach to inspecting why the Empire lost.
If he didn't intend that, he shouldn't have made six movies focused on one family. Or rely on people with inheritable powers that make them "better" than everyone else.

I think this thread shows that the term "Mary Sue" has broadened beyond usefulness. If for no other reason than it can't encompass both its origin as a specific failure mode of original characters in fan fiction and it's current usage of describing a protagonist that is "too" capable or poorly characterized or whatever.

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #54 on: December 28, 2015, 02:29:40 PM »
If he didn't intend that, he shouldn't have made six movies focused on one family. Or rely on people with inheritable powers that make them "better" than everyone else.
What's interesting is that until the Skywalkers it was kind of implied that neither the Sith nor the Jedi really had children/families.  I don't want to speculate too much, but having a massive program to go out and find force users in the general populace, when it can easily be bred, certainly points to a history of defect in or problems with the inheritance of the force inside families.  Certainly, the Skywalker line would seem to prove that out.

Still baffled by how any Jedi but a moron would think a prophecy about bringing balance to the force in an Era of overwhelming light side users, could be a good thing.
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I think this thread shows that the term "Mary Sue" has broadened beyond usefulness. If for no other reason than it can't encompass both its origin as a specific failure mode of original characters in fan fiction and it's current usage of describing a protagonist that is "too" capable or poorly characterized or whatever.
Why do you think its beyond useful?  Characters with flaws make for better stories.  All that's been dropped is a concept of author insertion.  It still describes an essentially uninteresting character.

Bet you big time that Rey develops power flaws out of no where in the next movie, and it'll be just as illogical that she suddenly can't do everything as it was that she suddenly could.  Plus we'll get a "well loved" miticlorian-style explanation for why she was so good in the first place.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #55 on: December 28, 2015, 03:15:41 PM »
There's already a word for uninteresting characters: uninteresting. The author insertion bit has been dropped pretty cleanly but there's still the implication that she's distorting the story and taking attention away from other characters. Let's not even touch the gendered aspects of it, eh? The term no longer describes a specific thing at all but is a catch-all term for several different failures of characterization. Failures which aren't necessarily related beyond their basic type.

I think we'll see Rey in situations where being a pilot, mechanic, fighter, and force sensitive will no longer be enough to carry the day. If done well, she won't lose the skills she has but be forced into situations where they don't help. I think her aptitude for the force will be explained by her heritage as I'm pretty convinced she's a Skywalker.

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #56 on: December 28, 2015, 03:24:00 PM »
True, but "uninteresting" is a bit broader of a category than what we're talking about.  Do we really need to invent another new word to describe a character that is uninteresting because they just happen to have or instantly develop what ever top of the line skill they happen to need to get out of any situation.  What does it add to create another term?  In what way does it detract from understanding the objection to the character to use the term Mary Sue?

I forgot to add that she's apparently as good as (if not a better) mechanic than Chewie (which is actually justified with her limited backstory) and apparently able to speak droid, which makes her a C3PO as well.  She's a five-in-one bargain, unless you want to count her as a Wedge as well (though Poe out-wedges' Wedge any day).  I guess given her pseudo relationship with fake-Watto on fake-Tattoine, she could count as child Anakin as well - I'm sure she would have been a crazy good pod racer.  If she demonstrates mad hacking skills, as well as the ability to pull out a random plug in any mechanical structure and generate  whatever effect she wants, she can be R2 as well.  Lol, I grant you I'm getting a little far.  Overall, I liked her, it's hard not too.  But she's total a fan service Mary Jane at this point.

Overall, I just thought the movie had a poor plot and way too many retreads of existing scenes.  Still liked it, just didn't love it.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 03:32:04 PM by Seriati »

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #57 on: December 28, 2015, 03:31:54 PM »
Did we really need to appropriate (:p) an existing word?

The problem is that Mary Sue not only means an unreasonably capable character but all the other things I mentioned. The term has been broadened to apply to canonical characters but hasn't lost all of the baggage gained from it's origins in fanfic.

JoshCrow

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #58 on: December 28, 2015, 07:40:26 PM »
A good breakdown of the overall problem with the film: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/critics-notebook-how-star-wars-851209

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Of course, Lucas later went on to squander an entire universe of good will with his trilogy of Star Wars prequels. But even those unloved movies were rich in intellectual ambition and grand ideas about society, power, courtly love and the darkly seductive allure of fascism.
 
The prequels were rightly criticized for their annoying characters, creaky dialogue and enslavement to CGI technology. But Lucas made his biggest mistake in overestimating his audience's appetite for moral complexity and novelistic depth. It turned out most of us just wanted to see more wise-cracking space cowboys, Pixar-cute robo-pets and teenage wizards with Daddy issues. Which is where J.J. Abrams comes in, revitalizing the Star Wars saga by infantilizing it. And us.

Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #59 on: December 29, 2015, 01:25:59 AM »
Wow, JoshCrow, that article is brilliant. I especially liked this concluding remark:

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In his prime, George Lucas dramatized complex adult ideas for kids. J.J. Abrams has made a children's film for adults. Behind its dazzling visual wizardry, The Force Awakens is essentially Harry Potter in space. As a commercial brand, Star Wars has never been stronger. But the original concept — visionary, experimental, morally challenging, imperfect but wildly ambitious — has been exiled forever to a galaxy far, far away.


Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #60 on: December 29, 2015, 07:51:13 AM »
I was less troubled by her one with the force instant lightsaber upgrade, it was at least foreshadowed and plausible that the force could guide her, than her near instant development of grade a piloting skills such that she could fly through the superstructure of a wrecked star destroyer (and contrary to certain poster's assertions Luke was a well regarded t-16 (not a land speeder) before he got an x-wing). 
There's plenty in the dialog to infer that she also had piloted more than just the basic hauler that we saw her on by the time the movie found her, even just the fact that she pointed out that she had piloting experience as they were looking for a ship suggests that she had likely been behind the controls a few times when that kind of work was available. And by the time she aimed herself at the freighter, she was letting her instincts take over instead of trying to actively control the ship, which means it was the force, not personal skill that got them through.

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And that's before you consider the secondary Mary Sue-style character of Poe, who can shoot down 4 tie fighters (or was it 5) and blast a storm trooper off Han's shoulder in single pass of an X-wing.
Poe's survival is something the move could have done better at telegraphing. IT didn't rule it out, to be sure, but this is sci-fi, not comic books, so usually you need something more than just not seeing the body to leave the possibility of survival open.

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Can someone explain why there is a "resistance" when there is a Republic?  Why create a tiny cell group when presumably there are entire divisions of Republic troops and ships available that should be concerned about the First Order's actions?
Because the Republic had signed a treaty with the first order and was refusing to put any resources into the battle. This is covered in the novel, but there was no point where it would have made sense to drop it into exposition in the movie. It wasn't essential to the internal plot and it would have required a break of character and action to shoehorn it in.

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If you're assaulting a base, wouldn't you want a few bombers like a good ole y-wing or b-wing?
I'm sure the resistance would have loved to get a hold of them, but unlike the old rebellion, which was an alliance of several planets, with full fleets trying to push the Empire back, the resistance was pretty much exactly as much as we saw on screen. A very small splinter group scraping for any resource it could get its hands on.

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  Speaking of assaulting a shield generator protected death star, where were the ewoks?  At least on Endor the poorly guarded back door was a deliberate trap, it took a trick to get through it the second time.  Why did the first order leave a door to their secret base open and barely guarded.
Did you miss that it took an insane trick to get through the shield?

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I mean did you see how many troops they had on that planet.  The planet killer was always the worst part of original trilogies to me, I get the dramatic necessity, but having a bigger one doesn't make the story better.  In fact, they could have made it more plausible and frankly scarier with a less grand scale, maybe a ship that used some of kind new biological weapon.  And now, with the score being Death Stars 2 (I'm counting all of Corus*censored* as 1), Planets 3, will the Dark Side get the picture that they aren't worth the investment.  Why is it that the rebels could see the planet killer from the ground, were they in the same star system?
Hosnia, not Coruscant. Given the position of the latter in the Empire, if it wasn't explicitly under First Order control, I wouldn't be surprised if it was still being held by some faction of Empire loyalists, since there had been more than enough time for the Emperor to build a loyal base there.

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I think they should have done more explanation with Finn.  Kind of hard to understand how one stormtrooper, one time shows any signs of being human, without any thing to hang a hat on.
The had trouble fully keeping the clones in line, I can imagine that, over time, the probability of a break slowly increased. Especially with a hothead like Kylo deciding to take green troops out on a slaughter mission. If you're going to massacre innocents, you should probably bring troops hardened enough to have build a wall of rationalization and justification around it not first timers that might still have a personal sense of right and wrong.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 07:54:59 AM by Pyrtolin »

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2015, 08:06:49 AM »
Wow, JoshCrow, that article is brilliant. I especially liked this concluding remark:

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In his prime, George Lucas dramatized complex adult ideas for kids. J.J. Abrams has made a children's film for adults. Behind its dazzling visual wizardry, The Force Awakens is essentially Harry Potter in space. As a commercial brand, Star Wars has never been stronger. But the original concept — visionary, experimental, morally challenging, imperfect but wildly ambitious — has been exiled forever to a galaxy far, far away.

NEver seen a better example of nostalgia and reverse justification out there. Completely forgetting that the original only paid lip service to complexity by trotting out a few classic adages, but was really a pretty cheesey kids action movie, that later got back-filled with deeper meaning once the stage was set.

Pete's kids have got the right of it, and in 30 years they'll very likely be defending the deep complexities that it brought to the table in similar service to the grandiosity of their childhood experience.

This is the first act in another three part production; complexity really has no place here, just excitement and small early victories to engage the characters and the audience, while leaving as many loose ends as possible for the next part to pick up and weave into a more complex and nuanced product by introducing the deeper conflict.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2015, 08:18:57 AM »
I forgot to add that she's apparently as good as (if not a better) mechanic than Chewie (which is actually justified with her limited backstory)
Our limited knowledge of her backstory. I'm sure the novel gives a little more, but really it's up to the later movies to help fill in the important details, not something relevant or even remotely appropriate to the first.

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and apparently able to speak droid, which makes her a C3PO as well.
Needing to feed her self importance by translating the droid for everyone (mostly the audience) would do that. Not simply showing the same understanding of droid-speak that everyone who works with them for any amount of time seems to pick up.

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If she demonstrates mad hacking skills, as well as the ability to pull out a random plug in any mechanical structure and generate  whatever effect she wants, she can be R2 as well.  Lol, I grant you I'm getting a little far.

She tried and failed miserably at that one when trying to protect Han from his creditors, so I guess R2 is safe for the moment.

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  Overall, I liked her, it's hard not too.  But she's total a fan service Mary Jane at this point.
Which one? Fan service might be a more plausible explanation, but, by its nature is the inverse of what Mary Jane is. The former plays to the audience without adding value to the story, the latter plays to the wishes of the author at the expense of the audience. Even if you abstract away the sense of author avatar from Mary Sue- the overriding theme of the concept is very directly that it's an authorial wish fulfillment device that alienates the general audience.

JoshCrow

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #63 on: December 29, 2015, 09:41:32 AM »

Pete's kids have got the right of it, and in 30 years they'll very likely be defending the deep complexities that it brought to the table in similar service to the grandiosity of their childhood experience.

Within 10 years this film will be regarded as flawed in a completely different way than the prequels. The prequels suffered from being overstuffed with garbage. The Abrams films will be remembered for being spiritually and emotionally hollow, and lacking meaningful nourishment in story. They will be remembered as like a sugar rush.

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This is the first act in another three part production; complexity really has no place here.

It's also Episode 7. There's plenty of existing material, themes, and even characters. It was full of squandered opportunity to touch on those, but settled on nostalgia and spectacle over storytelling.

I still have (a new) hope, that with the next one Luke will serve to ground things and make it unavoidable that characters will have to do more than run and shoot and bounce from one macguffin to the next. I hope the most exciting scene is simply Luke training Rey and them having long conversations about the Force.

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #64 on: December 29, 2015, 10:04:28 AM »
There's plenty in the dialog to infer that she also had piloted more than just the basic hauler that we saw her on by the time the movie found her, even just the fact that she pointed out that she had piloting experience as they were looking for a ship suggests that she had likely been behind the controls a few times when that kind of work was available. And by the time she aimed herself at the freighter, she was letting her instincts take over instead of trying to actively control the ship, which means it was the force, not personal skill that got them through.
A point that is undermined by her initial moments of flying the Falcon.  She said she's a pilot, we have to accept that, even if it makes no logical sense for a scrounger on a desert planet who's living day to day on rations.  But we don't see a good reason for that level of instant development.

I wasn't complaining about Poe's survival - I just expected that - but his beyond ridiculous piloting.  I cited the specific instance at Orange Yoda's temple that seemed bizarre.  It's not like we haven't seen inside fighter cockpits before and what it takes to get a target lock on a tie fighter.  He shot down 4-5 on a single spin around the temple, then bulls-eyed with an X-wing scale blaster (which previously was causing concussion blasts - much like a bowcaster that seems to sometimes cause a concussion) a stormtrooper standing right beside Han.

But now that you mention it, its another well known silly character trait that top level movie pilots are also for some reason often treated as top level commando's as well.  At least with Poe it makes sense with a scout background that he'd be good at both.
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Can someone explain why there is a "resistance" when there is a Republic?  Why create a tiny cell group when presumably there are entire divisions of Republic troops and ships available that should be concerned about the First Order's actions?
Because the Republic had signed a treaty with the first order and was refusing to put any resources into the battle. This is covered in the novel, but there was no point where it would have made sense to drop it into exposition in the movie. It wasn't essential to the internal plot and it would have required a break of character and action to shoehorn it in.
Yes it is essential to the plot.  I wondered at the time when the first order crazy was going on about the Republic government whether he was making justified claims.  If what you say is true, then he was, the Republic signed a peace treaty then allowed a terrorist group to operate.  Whether they should not have signed such a treaty with the First Order is a different question.
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If you're assaulting a base, wouldn't you want a few bombers like a good ole y-wing or b-wing?
I'm sure the resistance would have loved to get a hold of them, but unlike the old rebellion, which was an alliance of several planets, with full fleets trying to push the Empire back, the resistance was pretty much exactly as much as we saw on screen. A very small splinter group scraping for any resource it could get its hands on.
How about a single line, "wish we had some bombers for this mission."  Or even a secondary line, "the -Mon Calamari- took them with them when they rejoined the Republic" Ackbar could have even sighed or rolled his eyes after.  4 seconds and it makes more sense, of course that's enough time for Poe to destroy at least 3 tie fighters so maybe too much.
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  Speaking of assaulting a shield generator protected death star, where were the ewoks?  At least on Endor the poorly guarded back door was a deliberate trap, it took a trick to get through it the second time.  Why did the first order leave a door to their secret base open and barely guarded.
Did you miss that it took an insane trick to get through the shield?
I left that out on purpose, are you really siting to the Star Trek style solution they used to get through the shield?  If that works, why not just accelerate a projectile to that speed and crash it into the planet?  Or heck, fly your x-wings inside the second death star's shield, surely Poe could have just done the mission by himself.  ;)
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Hosnia, not Coruscant.
Missed that entirely, thanks!  Still don't understand how they could watch the blast and the destruction from the planet the rebels were standing on?  Was it in the same system?
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The had trouble fully keeping the clones in line, I can imagine that, over time, the probability of a break slowly increased. Especially with a hothead like Kylo deciding to take green troops out on a slaughter mission. If you're going to massacre innocents, you should probably bring troops hardened enough to have build a wall of rationalization and justification around it not first timers that might still have a personal sense of right and wrong.
I totally agree with you, but the only chance they took to explain it in the movie (to my recollection) was a conversation between the General and either Phasma or Ren, where they said he had the normal conditioning. 

I understand your complaint about fan service versus author wish fulfillment, but honestly, who cares?  The objection about the character doesn't hang on either condition being true, it's based on her being a prototypical Mary Sue heroine.  Would it really make you happier, if we could pull out a writer, lets call her "Ray" who is a giant Star Wars fan-girl who wrote every line for Rey?  You're missing the forest for the trees on that complaint, though I get you also seem to be disputing that she is in fact a jack of all trades, master of all trades character.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 10:07:49 AM by Seriati »

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #65 on: December 29, 2015, 11:03:21 AM »
The prequels suffered from being overstuffed with garbage. The Abrams films will be remembered for being spiritually and emotionally hollow, and lacking meaningful nourishment in story. They will be remembered as like a sugar rush.
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Absent nostalgia the same could be said of the original if you were to judge it on its own terms with the same jaundiced eye. But that's because the first of the set is the appetizer, not the main course.
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[qoute]
This is the first act in another three part production; complexity really has no place here.

It's also Episode 7. There's plenty of existing material, themes, and even characters. It was full of squandered opportunity to touch on those, but settled on nostalgia and spectacle over storytelling.
So what you're saying is that, 30 years later, it should have tried to pretend that is still had inertia from the originals and tried to build on their momentum? That would have been a film that might have satisfied the diehard fans, but would have left the broader audience cold. This set of movies, while absolutely grounding itself in the lore and continuity, needs to create new momentum and gather in a new audience, not to mention pick up from the fact that the previous story was fully resolved.

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I still have (a new) hope, that with the next one Luke will serve to ground things and make it unavoidable that characters will have to do more than run and shoot and bounce from one macguffin to the next. I hope the most exciting scene is simply Luke training Rey and them having long conversations about the Force.
The next one absolutely should ground things more, Use the momentum to pull people into the deeper part of the story, but it will fail is it's height of action is its answer to luke lifting the statue or facing himself in the swamp. Because, Star Wars, at its core, is an action franchise. The philosophy gives it some depth and anchors it, but it was born to showcase spectacle and sell toys and breakfast cereal to kids and needs to keep that kind of energy and engagement going even as it get to the point where it can take a moment to present a more nuanced story behind it. Otherwise is strays too far into territory that Star Trek is far more grounded in and better at exploring.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #66 on: December 29, 2015, 11:32:21 AM »
I think the "Someone updated"warning ate the post that I tried to make from my computer yesterday to Fenring, but this covers most of the relevant detail pretty well, even if the title is a little overstated:

http://comradekalinka.blogspot.com/2015/12/every-guy-who-whines-about-rey-is-fake.html

I will take this on, because it's specific to our conversation here:
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I feel you've avoided entirely address the main point I was making, which is that TFA was in no way a film about someone wanting to go out and become who she felt she was supposed to be.
Of course it wasn't. And if your only point was that it told a different story, we wouldn't be arguing here. Of course it told a different story. One that's a Little more Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, less Taran the Pig Keeper. But you're not arguing that the story is _different_ you're arguing that it's bad for telling a different story. Not, perhaps, that the story doesn't speak to you, but that it effectively fails to speak to anyone.

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Rey was a wrecking ball dragged through events and winning them, but her agency in the matter (i.e. achieving her own goals) was never a part of it until she decided that finding Luke was better than sitting at home.
That's what resisting the call to adventure looks like when made the focal point of the story (See also, as above, the entire plot of Lord Foul's Bane regarding Thomas Covenant). The central conflict on her part was getting to to lift her eyes fro the ground to the starts, culminating in as literal a rendition of picking up the sword as you can get in context. The decision wasn't to go look for Luke,m bu rather to accept a forward looking destiny instead of clinging to her past and either fleeing back to it when Finn tried to pick up the fight or perhaps dying in the process of getting out (After all, for the purposes of the story, returning home to wait was pretty much indistinguishable from being killed and left on an exploding planet. She's as good as dead either way.) The need to look for Luke, to seek a guide and mentor, rose as a next step necessity from that choice, just pushed in a little earlier than Obi Wan's prompt for Luke to go find Yoda to allow for Hamil to show up at the end.

Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #67 on: December 29, 2015, 12:21:36 PM »
The next one absolutely should ground things more, Use the momentum to pull people into the deeper part of the story, but it will fail is it's height of action is its answer to luke lifting the statue or facing himself in the swamp. Because, Star Wars, at its core, is an action franchise. The philosophy gives it some depth and anchors it, but it was born to showcase spectacle and sell toys and breakfast cereal to kids and needs to keep that kind of energy and engagement going even as it get to the point where it can take a moment to present a more nuanced story behind it. Otherwise is strays too far into territory that Star Trek is far more grounded in and better at exploring.

What in blazes are you talking about? Is it your position that the scenes in Empire where Yoda trains Luke is not "Star Wars at its core"? The whole movie is about how rushing into action is spiritually dangerous and can lead to the dark side.

But if this is your real belief about the series it becomes entirely clear why you think TFA is an exemplary Star Wars tale. This is no counterargument to this, other than "you're wrong."

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #68 on: December 29, 2015, 12:45:21 PM »
That was an interesting read Pyrtolin, but I think it really fails in trying to paint everyone who thought Rey was a Mary Sue as someone who would have been perfectly satisfied if she were a white male instead.  No, just no.  If Rey were a white male, the only difference would be everyone would be criticizing the character.  She's likable as a character, but the character is a part of what was wrong with the movie as a whole, she's not the only character that was true about.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #69 on: December 29, 2015, 02:36:50 PM »
While I can't, obviously, say anything about specific claims made by specific people, I think there would be a lot less fuss about Rey if she'd been a male character. "He" would get more of a presumption of competence that blunt some of the criticism. There would still be complaints, but they'd be of a distinctly different flavor.

JoshCrow

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #70 on: December 29, 2015, 03:33:39 PM »
While I can't, obviously, say anything about specific claims made by specific people, I think there would be a lot less fuss about Rey if she'd been a male character. "He" would get more of a presumption of competence that blunt some of the criticism. There would still be complaints, but they'd be of a distinctly different flavor.

As has been noted, if Rey had been a male, there would have been fewer people interesting in defending him or his blandness - he would have been much more widely panned as a dull stock-figure action hero (kinda like Sam Worthington in everything he's been in). I think we're so used to seeing it by now it would not have attracted specific "Mary Sue" complaints but they would have been more annoyed at the blandness than the competency. I'm comfortable acknowledging that the "Mary Sue" term is mostly because having made her both a woman and kick-ass with no faults, people can "smell" the political agenda behind it rather than assessing the character directly. But at least a male lead wouldn't have had lines like "don't hold my hand"... or who knows, maybe they would have made Finn gay to compensate and keep the diversity flame going.

Rey is no Katniss Everdeen. Not many people questioned her as a character - frankly because she had one.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 03:41:58 PM by JoshCrow »

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #71 on: December 29, 2015, 03:49:37 PM »
But at least a male lead wouldn't have had lines like "don't hold my hand"... or who knows, maybe they would have made Finn gay to compensate and keep the diversity flame going.
What? Didn't you notice the chemistry he had with Poe? I'm pretty sure Finn/Poe is getting a lot of attention from the slash happy part of the fandom :P


Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #72 on: December 29, 2015, 03:51:57 PM »
While I can't, obviously, say anything about specific claims made by specific people, I think there would be a lot less fuss about Rey if she'd been a male character. "He" would get more of a presumption of competence that blunt some of the criticism. There would still be complaints, but they'd be of a distinctly different flavor.

This is no doubt true of some people, but to assume that this statement somehow addresses what's being said is, remarkably, more sexist than anything wrongly being said about Rey. "Criticism of her is probably unwarranted because she's a female." Something to this effect. I found Pyrtolin's article to be entirely unconvincing, but the most telling part of the article wasn't any particulars where I thought it was wrong but rather the opening statement when its central thesis was that Star Wars was to be declared a success story for social justice. This avowed statement that entertainment should double as social and political propaganda undermines the article far more than any point it made could have done. It's a sad state of affairs that the moral worth of a film is being weighed against whether or not it aligns with the credo of a progressive social movement. The comparison with Fury Road (even though the article strangely implied that Fury Road quite exceeds Star Wars as a triumph of social justice) is itself saddening since what we're seeing now is film with female characters being co-opted by blog forces who trumpet them as standing for their movement. This is understandable but obviously brings with it a kind of defensiveness where the material becomes sacrosanct and criticism of the female lead unsavory since it feels like it's coming off as a repudiation of the feminist stamp branded on her character.

This is the one area that I think needs to be clear. I don't care about the fact that Rey is a female as such. It's cool to see a female Jedi, and if I wanted to write a SW fanfic I'd almost certainly make the hero female. But I take this film on its own merits and when I'm sitting in the cinema I'm not interested in what the film means vis a vis the larger culture or the implication of having a strong female lead. I'm not sitting there saying "Oh! She's a woman AND she's strong!" I've too far down the fantasy literature gauntlet to care about that any more, although I can see how 'sheltered' people in popular culture might see it as a novelty. I can still inspect this point in hindsight when analyzing the film, but my main concerns have been the content of the film as such exterior to progressive social movements and alternative casting.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #73 on: December 29, 2015, 04:02:40 PM »
I haven't read the article Pyr posted, but you've got my point backwards. Rey gets unwarranted criticism because she's female. People who'd have no problem with a guy being generic action hero are suddenly all up in arms about poor characterization and unreasonable level of competence.

Entertainment is always social and political propoganda.

JoshCrow

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #74 on: December 29, 2015, 04:10:45 PM »
Hayden Christensen got it much worse, trust me. :)

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #75 on: December 29, 2015, 04:14:18 PM »
Criticism of Christensen was in no way unwarranted. Unless it was better aimed at the script or directing.

Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #76 on: December 29, 2015, 04:28:05 PM »
I haven't read the article Pyr posted, but you've got my point backwards. Rey gets unwarranted criticism because she's female. People who'd have no problem with a guy being generic action hero are suddenly all up in arms about poor characterization and unreasonable level of competence.

Entertainment is always social and political propoganda.

I think you've got my point backwards. I'm saying that you're calling it unwarranted criticism because she's female. I've seen fun and stupid action movies, and when I come out I might well say "that was fun, but dumb." The occasionally superlative action movie is one where the hero is not merely invincible but is written in a more complex way. A great example of this is First Blood, where the entire tenor of the film is that Rambo does not want to fight any more. His victory at the end is ashes. But for those action movies where the main character is little more than a wrecking ball I shrug and enjoy it if the story and action were good. If that's all I can take away from TFA then that is the main thrust of my criticism; that it was little more than a forgettable Christmas blockbuster. It's true that male characters in dumb movies are not held to this kind of scrutiny, and the reason I criticize Rey is because TFA has reduced Star Wars to that level. No worse, to be sure, but this wasn't supposed to be The Fast and the Furious.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #77 on: December 29, 2015, 04:36:35 PM »
You are wrong about my objections.

Also, please note that I'm talking about the mass of criticism and not anyone in particular.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #78 on: December 30, 2015, 12:58:15 PM »
Quote
Rey is no Katniss Everdeen. Not many people questioned her as a character - frankly because she had one.
Well sure, Katniss is the essence of a character with minimal agency getting by despite being in completely over her head, only making one real choice at the very end of the story. Rey, at least is equal to the challenges, but, as noted, serves more as a wreckingball than agent until she stops echoing Thomas Covenant and instead chooses to by into the struggle and take an active role.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #79 on: December 30, 2015, 01:02:25 PM »
But if this is your real belief about the series it becomes entirely clear why you think TFA is an exemplary Star Wars tale. This is no counterargument to this, other than "you're wrong."
No. The answer is "we have different tastes and subjective experiences, neither of which are right or wrong." THe point where you're wrong is asserting that your opinion about the movie amounts to an objective evaluation. The declaration that it's a _bad movie_ on any terms, rather than acknowledging that you didn't like it but that many others may yet have found it interesting and engaging.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #80 on: December 30, 2015, 01:10:55 PM »
Quote
y Sue" complaints but they would have been more annoyed at the blandness than the competency. I'm comfortable acknowledging that the "Mary Sue" term is mostly because having made her both a woman and kick-ass with no faults,
Of course, people wouldn't be making the completely false accusation about her having no faults if she had been a male character. The fact that people are glossing over her faults to present the claim is part of the problem.

Quote
But at least a male lead wouldn't have had lines like "don't hold my hand"
Indeed. A male character would never have needed them in the first place, because he wouldn't have received that kind of diminishing treatment in the first place to need to speak out against it.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #81 on: December 30, 2015, 01:20:46 PM »
A male lead having the lines about hand holding would have also had subtext. I'm undecided if the context would be more about the gay or about the person grabbing the hand implying the hand owner is incapable or childish.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #82 on: December 30, 2015, 01:34:11 PM »
Quote
Something to this effect. I found Pyrtolin's article to be entirely unconvincing, but the most telling part of the article wasn't any particulars where I thought it was wrong but rather the opening statement when its central thesis was that Star Wars was to be declared a success story for social justice. This avowed statement that entertainment should double as social and political propaganda undermines the article far more than any point it made could have done. It's a sad state of affairs that the moral worth of a film is being weighed against whether or not it aligns with the credo of a progressive social movement.

That's ridiculous. Entertainment cannot separate itself from its role in presenting and propagating social ideas. It cannot help but make a statement, regardless of the intent of the authors as to conformity to or pressure on the social norms of the time.

While the fact that it decided to make itself accessible to a wider audience than white male kids and geeks with escapist fantasies is a great mark in its favor, the bigger overall victory is one step further toward breaking down the false assertion that you've got to play it safe with leading roles so far as casting decisions go.


Quote
The comparison with Fury Road (even though the article strangely implied that Fury Road quite exceeds Star Wars as a triumph of social justice) is itself saddening since what we're seeing now is film with female characters being co-opted by blog forces who trumpet them as standing for their movement.
You may want to do some research there to clear up your confusion. FUry Road was written with an explicit eye on promoting equity in representation and bucking the status quo.  They went out of their way to respect feminist ideals in the process of writing,casting, and directing the movie. It's unlikely that TFA went as far as Fury Road in actively havingtechinicaly advisors on hand well rooted in Feminisim and Social Justice concerns to help address areas where it might have been problematic, but then that's part of the victory that it managed to pull off, because they became less necessary for films that came afterwards as other directors had already been shown that they could be successful without playing it safe to tropes that promote rather than buck the biases of a harmful status quo. FR helped to change the status quo for the better.

Pyrtolin

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #83 on: December 30, 2015, 01:38:44 PM »
A male lead having the lines about hand holding would have also had subtext. I'm undecided if the context would be more about the gay or about the person grabbing the hand implying the hand owner is incapable or childish.
For a regular maile lead, the hand grabbing wouldn't have happened in the first place, unless they explicitly wanted to communicate a subtext, rather than implicitly communicating it without thinking as happens when a female hand is grabbed. The "Don't hold my hand" line is a pretty clear lampshade on the behavior, it calls direct attention to the diminishing nature of the act and the fact that it's just not something that would happen to a male hero in the same position.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #84 on: December 30, 2015, 03:19:26 PM »
For a regular maile lead, the hand grabbing wouldn't have happened in the first place, unless they explicitly wanted to communicate a subtext, rather than implicitly communicating it without thinking as happens when a female hand is grabbed. The "Don't hold my hand" line is a pretty clear lampshade on the behavior, it calls direct attention to the diminishing nature of the act and the fact that it's just not something that would happen to a male hero in the same position.
Well, yes, that was kinda the point.

TheDrake

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #85 on: December 30, 2015, 04:38:12 PM »
I enjoyed the film. It was a fun action-adventure. I don't care that there wasn't much character development and backstory, nobody wants to sit through it. Even Lord of the Rings didn't do much of that, and that took three hours. I'm completely spoiled by the series like Big Love, Deadwood, Dexter, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, etc. No two hour film can approach what that format can accomplish.

To me, theater movies are mostly now about eye candy. They don't bother writing new scripts for today's films, they just retread them, so I'm not surprised that TFA is a retread of earlier star wars films. Star Destroyers in 3D are cool.

Seriati

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #86 on: December 30, 2015, 05:03:51 PM »
For a regular male lead they wouldn't grab his hand, they would talk past him and call him by diminutive nicknames, just like Han Solo did with Luke early in the original film.  And pretty much no one objected in the least to that.   If Luke had been a girl, that same behavior would be criticized here as sexism.  It's unreasonable to pretend that all these objections would disappear if the gender flipped.

Frankly I think that Pyrtolin's whole argument on this is a side track.  Go find people who are criticizing Rey because she's a girl and grind your axe with them.  Meanwhile, it's perfectly reasonable for everyone else to criticize a movie for thinking that making a character female does not wipe away any otherwise valid objection to the quality of the character.

I mean honestly, I can't give a lot of props for taking the "huge" risk of casting an attractive white female and black man as the leads in a movie.  Why not take a real risk, and cast unattractive characters, or cast a black woman as the lead.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 05:09:50 PM by Seriati »

Fenring

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Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« Reply #87 on: December 30, 2015, 09:00:06 PM »
While the fact that it decided to make itself accessible to a wider audience than white male kids and geeks with escapist fantasies is a great mark in its favor, the bigger overall victory is one step further toward breaking down the false assertion that you've got to play it safe with leading roles so far as casting decisions go.

I've got news for you - Hollywood has been casting attractive white women as the lead in films since the 30's. This is not new, and treating it like it's remarkable is some kind of combination of sexist and revisionist. The same goes for having a black man in a supporting role, which is sadly an old cliche also going back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Great strides were made in the 80's and early 90's for black people in film and TV, where numerous hit TV shows starring black families became household names (Cosby Show, Different Strokes, Family Matters, Fresh Prince, etc.) and the strong backbone of America view of black people became part of popular culture. The same was true in film where even when paired with a white leading actor the black supporting actor was often taken far more seriously than Finn was taken in TFA. Think back to a series like Lethal Weapon, where Danny Glover was technically the sidekick but actually provided the sane input to the story (involving his common sense, his family, etc.) to balance Gibson's mania in the film. That was quite the role reversal from what we see all too often where the black character is the loose cannon or the comic relief or something equally insulting (see: Chris Tucker). We've come a long way since the 90's...backward. We've regressed, and so has Hollywood. If there was an element of the superficial in Hollywood in the Golden Age, that is true now as well but amplified significantly. Now people cheer when a woman leads a film alongside a black comic relief supporting character who is made to look foolish much of the time. Not only is this nothing new, but it's to an extent a retread of a cliche that we'd do well to leave behind us. I think the historic nadir of black people in film was in Dungeons and Dragons, where the black sidekick was so zany and extreme that he appeared to be in the wrong movie. It was really racist, like the kind of stuff black people were made to do to amuse white people back in the plantation days. Finn is a few steps advanced from this but not that many. I wish he had been given a character and a real role in the film rather than be useless and make extreme faces the whole time. If someone is going to do a favor to the black community in Hollywood this isn't it.

But there is one thing novel about having a female lead in TFA, which is that while almost every genre in film has already seen plenty of female leads - not proportionally equal, but still many - this has not been true to the same extent in dumb action films. The reason for that is pretty obvious - those films have always been marketed to young males. Not only that, but the prevailing wisdom seems to have always been that women don't even like watching movies like that to a significant extent; the amount of rolling eyes I've seen when females were informed of an action flick... But that being said if females want in on the genre all the power to them, I think that's great. Let there be women action stars and I'll be very happy. I've already enjoyed the Resident Evil series which did this, as well as (god help me) Tomb Raider. But if this is the special mark TFA has made - having a female starring in a dumb action movie - then I suppose that's worth something but it's a little sad that such a big deal is being made about a starring role in the lowest common denominator of film other than B horror. I guess I shouldn't wonder that Resident Evil wasn't cheered as a great feminist movie; I guess it was ignored since it wasn't touted as a marvel of casting.

I agree with Seriati completely that if they had wanted to do progressive casting then they could have cast average looking people, or indeed, a black female star. Or heck, there are plenty of options. Have we ever even seen an Asian Jedi? The idea that casting a hot, fit woman in a leading role is 'progressive' is...well, it's just funny really.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 09:06:03 PM by Fenring »