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Craverguy on The Interstellar Cockfight
at 08:45 on 02-03-2015 - link
Why the races in the game are fighting each other isn't clearly defined beyond some sort of twisted mountaineers logic (why are we blowing up that other fleet? Because it's there that's why!)
There is no peace among the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods.
https://me.yahoo.com/a/A2uDAFBom5Q0GcmnP1T.GiRRs1WGGbA-#6bab2 on We Need to Talk About Conan
at 06:10 on 02-03-2015 - link
“OK, fine. In People of the Black Circle Conan declares his intent to rape someone. In Red Nails he paws at a woman he finds attractive without her consent and shows no inclination to stop when she objects. In addition to these very big red flags, we know that Conan considers himself to be the big important in-charge-man in any particular relationship he is in, and doesn't consider his partners to be adult human beings capable of making their own decisions; the most striking example of this is at the start of The Slithering Shadow, in which he contemplates murdering Natala rather than allowing her to die of thirst in such a way which makes it clear that this is him unilaterally making the choice for both of them, as though she has no say in it.”
OK, thank you, then here we go. So that means for the point that it is in character for Conan to rape women we have:
-People of the Black Circle: Conan declares an intent to rape (1 point)
-Red Nails: Conan paws at but doesn’t rape Valeria (0 points, due to no rape. Conan also shows concern for her safety when she is hurt in battle)
-The Slithering Shadow: Conan is about to kill Natala rather than let her die of thirst (0 points, due to no rape. Again, this thought was motivated out of a desperate sense of mercy)
-The Frost Giant’s Daughter: Conan is definitely trying to rape Atali (1 point)
So that gives us a total of 2 points notwithstanding that not one rape has occurred.
Now for the point that it is more in character for Conan to defend women with his life than rape them:
-Black Colossus: Conan saves and attempts to save the princess Yasmela on several occasions, even ending with her begging him to stay with her. (1 point)
-The Slithering Shadow: Conan directly fights the demon Thog to protect Natala. (1 point)
-The Pool of the Black One: Conan fights a giant black humanoid to save his captive, Sancha. In fact, her saves Sancha several times and doesn’t save a tortured Zingaran boy. (1 point).
-Shadows in the Moonlight: Conan saves the character Olivia from Shah Amurath and later the man-ape. (1 point)
-Queen of the Black Coast: Conan tries to save a Belit who has gone mad. He cannot save her but avenges her by killing the winged monster. (I think half a point is fair as he wanted to save her. But if you want to say 0 points, that is fine)
-The Devil in Iron: Conan fights a colossus to defend Octavia and carries her when she is too weak to run away from it. (1 point)
-People of the Black Circle: Conan kidnaps the Devi Yasmina first against her will. She then comes around to his side as he saves her multiple times and eventually returns her to her country. (1 point)
- Jewels of Gwahlur: Conan gets his hands on those eponymous jewels but abandons them to save the slave girl Muriela. (1 point)
-Shadows in Zamboula: Conan strangles the strangler Baal-pteor to save Nafertari, the mistress of the satrap. (1 point)
-Red Nails: Valeria is a capable fighter but Conan fights alongside her and saves her when she is trying to save Techotl. (1 point)
And there you have it. The final score is 9.5 to 2. Or if you like, 9-2. What would that be in the eyes of an audience watching a soccer match (or football, if you like)? I think it would be called a pretty unambiguous ass-kicking. Especially when you consider that the only points you can manage are not for Conan actually raping a woman but for me stretching the rules to allow it. And the examples to find of Conan fighting to protect women are pretty clear and unambiguous. I can admit that you have a point about humans being complicated and multifaceted and it is possible to be a rapist and do benevolent things but isn’t that just taking it from one extreme to another? Is it really so hard for you to admit that it takes real courage to put one’s life on the line to defend someone against often towering monstrosities, and that such a person is not to be written off as “vile” so easily?
Now before you spend any energy to sweep all of this aside and tell me how we can safely ignore all of these examples as they are nothing but a patriarchal bully out to keep a firm grip on his property (pussy)… just save it. Seriously, just save it. There is your answer to why some people will downplay the rape and focus on other aspects of Conan like his good side. Because it was clear to them what is and is not in character for Conan. And bear in mind there are several things this doesn’t take into account like every time a woman promised Conan a “special reward” which he turns down (as in Shadows in Zamboula). And this only focuses on one aspect of Conan’s positive side and says nothing of his courage, his generosity or his trustworthiness.
Would you like to play again? Are you going to tell me that Conan is a bully and brute? OK, let’s put that, every example you can find of Conan pushing other people around unnecessarily just to make himself feel big, on the line against all of the times that he demonstrated beyond average courage. Every time he refused to back down in the face of overwhelming odds. Every time he faced an inhuman monstrosity that was much stronger and quicker. Every battle that was not one-on-one or two-on-one, but a minimum of three-on-one. Say the word and we can play again, or else honestly, I have grown tired of this game of uncompromising telephone tag and rationalizations.
Do you understand why I made this game in the first place? Let me just say a couple of things before I get out of your hair forever:
We have been playing this game of back and forth for quite a while but what it mostly boils down to is one person’s viewpoint against another’s. I will never agree with, among other things, your idea that we are meant to enjoy a person about to be raped and you will probably never agree, among other things, that Conan is actually a good protagonist and good guy. So I wanted to draw our conversation away from “I think this” and “I believe that” and more into “Conan DID this” and “Look at how often he DID that” as a means of judging the character and even to an extent, the writer. And when comparing comparably noble and ignoble actions, Conan’s nobility far outweighs his bad side.
And the point that you don’t seem to be getting or don’t want to admit to is that moral considerations really are different in the world of Conan. Our protagonist, right from the beginning title, is a red-handed barbarian. The whole intrigue of the character is that even though he has the power to bully everyone around him and exploit his superior physical strength in cruel ways, he doesn’t really do it. The effete civilized people, on the other hand, do exploit any petty advantage they can wrangle over others. The whole point is that the world itself is cruel, something that Howard himself believed of the real world, but even though one must be strong to survive it, one doesn’t necessarily need to give up one’s humanity and be needlessly cruel and Conan is not. Call him harsh and brutal and I will say sure, but cruel and petty? Sorry but that’s just not who he is.
I often likened it to sports because it is quite appropriate to the character, a man judged on his actions and not someone’s interpretation of those actions, and in that arena, Conan will win every time. Every sports team and every sports player has their ups and downs. So collecting all of the footage of every time Michael Jordan failed, got blocked, missed his shot, has a warping effect on the audience member. You have collected all of the failings of a character and there is no taking them away. Jordan was blocked, stolen from, missed easy shots. There is no denying the bad side’s existence. But it is not a reasonable way to judge how great a basketball player he was and will leave a false impression in the minds of people watching your little lowlight reel.
So every time you write a section called, “Conan the Rapist”, I will ask you where is the section called “Conan the Woman Defender,” a section that can theoretically be about 9 times as long. Every time you say, “Conan the Bully”, I can say what about “Conan the Courageous”, again a much more substantial and unambiguous section. And every time you tell me that Conan’s world isn’t above moral considerations and that this is “what the text supports”, then I will ask you why we need focus only on the bad side of a character to judge their morality and suggest you look more fair-handedly at what the text says. I can at least admit with no reservations that Conan certainly does have a bad side. But if I am just being a cute puppy-dog for asking you to admit that there is a good side to the character, then I will continue to stick by my assertion that your article is glib, one-sided and misleading. It is essentially a guy bitching about a barbarian acting like a barbarian and about a racist who lived in a time of overt and socially accepted racism. Now we can stay on opposite sides of the fence and that’s fine: there are perfectly logical arguments to make no matter how one sees Conan and Howard. But I have demonstrated that I will not say down every time you say up, which is why I feel justified in my apolitical stance. You have yet to demonstrate any fair-handedness and you have yet to convince me why I should shun perfectly well-written and interesting stories. It’s a good thing I had personal experience reading the stories or else I might have just gone along with the crowd and avoided what I now know to be great stories.
So my last message for you Arthur is: either play the game, either show me how a comparable judging of his sins and his virtues weighs against him or don’t be surprised when I wave away your opinions and rationalizations.
And my last message for any others reading this: don’t take either my or Arthur’s opinions on the matter as written in stone. If there is one point I want to emphasize the most it is to read and judge everything for yourself on an individual basis. Read the books for yourself and if you agree with Arthur and want to shun them and not recommend them to people you know, you will hear no word of rebuke from me (unless you write a public article telling the general public at large to shun them). If you are ready for hardcore and gritty fantasy action with a protagonist that, love him or hate him, has carved out his own rightful and uniquely distinct place in the history of literature, I couldn’t recommend them more.
Girr, MRA Bob, the puppy-dog (arf-arf!)
https://me.yahoo.com/a/A2uDAFBom5Q0GcmnP1T.GiRRs1WGGbA-#6bab2 on We Need to Talk About Conan
at 06:10 on 02-03-2015 - link
Thank you for the comments. Again, I do understand what you are saying, and I have told Arthur at the times that I think he has it right that he has it right. So there are reasons I see that people would have a problem with reading the Conan material and anything else by Robert E Howard. But on the other hand, the good things in something like FGD would be lost in the shuffle, as with anything else good, so Orion had a good suggestion to mention what I like and it seems to be making the most progress in the discussion.
Not to go into another long tirade about it or anything but the point I mentioned that fighting for women is inherently seen as noble and fighting for men as ignoble is not a reflection of what feminists think or are concerned for. So that doesn’t contradict what you said about most feminists you know actually being concerned for the rights of men. I was using that only to demonstrate that feminists, regardless of what they do say and believe, have a natural advantage in the eyes of the public. I have heard the range from many famous feminists like Anita Sarkeesian saying explicitly that they don’t care about men or many Jezebelites and Tumblrists even discussing eugenics and the possibilities of cutting down the male population of the world. The point is that in the sense of gaining actual votes for political causes, regardless of how good or bad the people are, in the eyes of the mainstream, feminism and its causes are generally seen as benevolent and worth fighting for. Did you see the Academy Awards the other day when Patricia Arquette said:
“To every woman who gave birth, to every tax payer and citizen of this nation. We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
So here is my point: The idea that a woman should get the equal pay a man gets for doing the same job sounds on its face as a perfectly agreeable and noble cause, and as such, her sentiment was loudly applauded. Now if a person feels that in reality a woman often doesn’t make as much as a man because of factors other than cruelty and oppression like for example prioritizing family over work, or the necessities of childbirth, etc., this is not the kind of thing that one can announce in front of an audience and expect to gain any support over. So it is hard to debate her point without having people accuse you of trying to keep women down. Even if Arquette cannot objectively prove the point that women are being treated unfairly, she will be seen as ultimately noble for championing the cause. And on the other hand, people who called her out later, notably Stacey Dash, are ultimately seen as ignoble, just hating on a concept that everyone with a conscience should be behind.
So if you know feminists that you think are fighting for the cause of true equal rights for everyone, I am not saying that that is not true and there are not good and intelligent feminists out there. What I am essentially saying is that it is naturally hard to be in direct opposition to feminism no matter what you or they actually believe. One can’t really go the other way on that and get in front of a crowd and say, “We need to fight against false rape allegations because they destroy innocent men’s lives” and expect a roar of approval. Even if false rape allegations are a major problem or even if they are not, the sentiment will not meet with instant, enthusiastic approval.
And on the point that you say that it takes a level of cognitive dissonance to be able to enjoy something, again, I see what you mean and I think that it is a fair example. I must admit I fell off of the Star Trek train back in the 90s with The Next Generation, but yes, there is no inconsistency with not liking a specific point within it that offends you. I will admit that Arthur has the right to be turned off by what he perceives as horrible which is this crime of attempted rape in FGD. But in all of this, I think it really is fair to acknowledge that in the world of Conan, it really is different from most other works in the genre. So if we are talking about Star Trek, we have things that fit into something of that mold like Babylon 5 (one of my all-time faves) or Stargate of The X-Files or something like that. There are certain normative standards that they all play by like minimal sex and violence. But there are some other things like especially certain sci-fi movies where the audience knows that it is R-rated and the level of sex and violence is higher. Well, Conan is for the hardcore. We know Conan with titles like Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, The Savage Sword of Conan. We kind of know right from the get-go that it is not really for the faint of heart. Writing such a scathing review of hardcore material for being hardcore is kind of like a critic who specializes in soft jazz complaining about how loud and abrasive that heavy metal band is and telling everyone that they shouldn’t listen to it. But very simply, there are many fans of hardcore material and a review should be written with them in mind.
So there is nothing wrong per se with a review that points out Conan’s character flaws, but if it doesn’t take into account the entirety of the character, especially in its context, then there is something missing in it. Arthur certainly exceeds my knowledge of Conan but reading his review, it is like we didn’t even read the same books. And especially how confrontational he was towards those who like the books or would look to defend them, I felt compelled to chime in.
Ashimbabbar on The Reading Canary: Fighting Fantasy (Part 5)
at 01:36 on 02-03-2015 - link
"Query: what on Earth is the point of having randomised starting stats for player character in these gamebooks? "
As I understand it, the basic idea is that you need several readings to map the connections and figure out the wrong turns, traps, mandatory items etc. So a weak character, if he survives the early fights, can be used as a 'belgian mine-clearer' to try suspicious places and see what happens - no great loss.
re what I wrote earlier, Andrew Chapman's novel is Ashkar the Magnificent; here the Banshee's captain is called Starg, wears a cape of tanned human skin and slays a few of his men who raped maiden prisoners ( since virgins fetch a much higher price ). It would have improved Seas of Blood somewhat to include those details, I think.
Orion on We Need to Talk About Conan
at 22:25 on 28-02-2015 - link
Not quite. Michael Dunn did try the "stand your ground" defense, but he didn't get away with it. He did convince one jury not to convict him of first-degree murder, but they still voted to lock him up for decades, and then a second jury convicted on murder and put him away for life.
Back on topic, I actually would question the assertion that "murder is a worse crime than rape." Honestly, I think comparing crimes is tricky business, and dangerous in some of the ways comparing oppression can be. I certainly wouldn't turn round and say that rape is a worse crime than murder. I do think it's important to remember that each word covers a huge range of scenarios and that if you want to talk compare them you need to be very clear about both what assumptions you're making and about what you think "worse" means. In Illinois, where I live, sexual assault carries the same penalty as second-degree murder, which I think is pretty reasonable. In real life and especially in fiction, murderers often think they have good reasons for what they do, which can make them more sympathetic and lead us not to see them as "evil", despite their crimes. Rapists don't and pretty much can't have sympathetic motivations.
Robinson L on We Need to Talk About Conan
at 15:39 on 28-02-2015 - link
Arthur: Well, you know what they say: an armed society is a polite society that has guaranteed that whenever its members snap they do as much damage and bloodshed as humanly possible.
Brilliantly put, Arthur, and all too true.
Although, correct me if I'm wrong, Orion, but wasn't the point of at least one of those stories that the killer claimed "Stand Your Ground" to defend their actions and got off?
Girr: this is likely my last post as it seems the relevance of debating with you, which came to a head about two posts ago, has slowly ebbed away.
Guys, we need to stop talking about Conan, 'kay?/obligatory joke
Girr, I want to say - in the interests of playing at least a little into your game - I appreciate the way, in an earlier comment, you describe what it is about Frost Giant's Daughter you enjoy. Especially the part about the dialogue - as a fantasy writer, I've encountered the problem of trying to write dialogue which sounds at the same time archaic and natural. On balance, it's not enough to convince me to read the story, but I like hearing about what you think Howard got right with the piece.
I also like the way you make sure to welcome other voices into the conversation, and you do your best to exercise fair play, as you see it.
All of which said, I think many of your arguments are not nearly so clinching as you seem to believe. I won't speak to most of the Conan stuff because, again, I've never read it. But I get the sense a couple of times that it is the premises of your arguments which people are objecting to, and you don't seem to be getting that.
For instance, given that there is no political party or organization in the US which wields enormous power and is explicitly anti-feminist, it does not follow that feminism reigns supreme and unchallenged in the country, which is what you seem to be arguing (feel free to correct if I misconstrue).
Also, this characterization:
The principle is simple: feminists are seen as fighting for the rights of women which is seen as an inherently noble act, whereas fighting for the rights of men is inherently seen as ignoble and selfish.
... Is a gross misunderstanding of how feminism operates pretty much everywhere I've encountered it. Most of the feminisms (it's not monolithic) I'm familiar with are concerned about men's issues, men's rights, and men's problems. Hell, the first time I encountered a serious discussion of the particular hardships faced by male rape survivors or even just the term "misandry" were on explicitly feminist blogs. The thing is, the feminisms I am familiar with do not fault women for men's problems (or men for women's problems, for that matter), but ascribe both to a destructive overarching system of oppression.
in actuality and despite the general public opinion (which is overwhelmingly influenced by feminism), the crime of murder is worse than the crime of rape.
And I don't actually think there are many people who will argue the assertion that murder is a worse crime than rape. I do think that for various reasons (i.e. the aforementioned system of oppression), rape is a much more politically charged and contentious issue than murder (except when the victim is a black youth or a brown person on the wrong end of a predator drone).
In other words, you will go to great lengths to rationalize why we can accept killing but not rape, instead of just admitting that both acts are just as morally unacceptable.
You also seem to be missing the point that the rules for how people respond to fiction are different from how they respond (or should respond) to such issues in the real world. There are several very good conversations to be had about how violence is depicted in popular culture and whether that is or is not a good thing, but those are very different from the conversations we need to have about real violence.
I don't think I'm explaining this very well, so let's try an example: I'm a pacifist, but my favorite books, movies, and television are positively steeped in violence. Heck, my all-time favorite fandom has "war" in its frickin' title. So yeah, pretty much all of the stories I enjoy involve some level of cognitive dissonance, which I accept for the sake of entertainment.
There's no logical inconsistency to my enjoying the hell out of watching Captain Sisko and Starfleet conduct a war with the Dominion, even though in real life I oppose wars on principle. Nor is there an inconsistency with my accepting the Dominion War, but getting turned off by Sisko colluding in the assassination of a Romulan senator and his escort in order to trick the Romulans into entering the war. What I can accept from fiction is different from what I can accept in real life, and there's nothing wrong with that.
You are just overselling the egregiousness of rape and underselling the virtue of standing and fighting to protect someone.
As others have pointed out, the two are not mutually exclusive, and the virtue of standing and fighting to protect someone does not negate the egregiousness of attempted rape. (I'm going to be generous and assume you mean that Arthur is overselling the egregiousness of the alleged attempted rape in Frost Giant's Daughter, not that he's overselling the egregiousness of rape as a phenomenon.)
Again, coming at this from the perspective of an outsider who's never read Conan - and from that perspective, you're said little to convince me that Arthur's characterization of the stories is inaccurate, or that his recommendation against reading them is irresponsible, which I believe were your original points (again, correct me if I'm mistaken)?
- Craverguy on The Hipster On the Seas of Fate at 04:55 on 28-02-2015 - link I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on "Modem Times," Moorcock's most recent Cornelius novella. I've seen some good reviews of it, but it sounds like more of the "Socratic dialogues" that you didn't like in "The Camus Connection" and "Cheering for the Rockets."
- Craverguy on Pawn's Playtime at 04:50 on 28-02-2015 - link The Pawn mechanic sounds like it could be fun. But what's the plot? And are there loads and loads of sidequests? That's what I play CRPGs for.