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View Full Version : the thoughtlessness of the anti-tights people in superhero gaming



magic-rhyme
04-10-2012, 04:34 PM
I get very tired of the unthinking bias against superhero tights shown by many players when they first decide to join a superhero campaign. If they are really that ignorant about superhero fiction as a thriving subgenre with its own legitimate history and its own logical bases for its tropes and traditions, why would they pretend to want to play in a superhero campaign?

The original superhero tights were worn in imitation of the professional athletes of the time. For example, in the first half of the 20th century, macho wrestlers wore tights and then shorts on the outside for modesty's sake (and to camoflauge from the public any protective gear they wore over their "unmentionables"). Superman's original tights and shorts was similar to that of professional athletes in part to demonstrate his raw virility and masculine prowess.

The shorts worn by wrestlers of the time were just like the shorts many modern men wear when jogging or working out at the gym. Deriding those shorts as "underwear" is juvenile; it's like mocking professional basketball uniforms and baseball uniforms as pajamas!

All people who outlaw tights in their superhero games might as well outlaw the shorts of professional bicyclists, the tight wetsuits of SCUBA divers, the outfits of professional wrestlers, of baseball players, of basketball players, of soccer players, of rugby players, of weightlifters, of bodybuilders, of fencers, and of Olympic level acrobats, as well as the speedos and bikinis of Olympic level divers. They might as well outlaw the tight pants and tight uniforms of many military branches throughout history and the tight outfits of many professional martial artists. Any other response would be hypocritical.

Some people will claim that superheroes are warriors not athletes, but as I have pointed out, tight outfits are also found in many militaries and many martial arts competitions. In fact, in many martial arts competitions, tights are considered preferrable to loose clothing because tights provide nothing for your opponent to grab.

I have yet to witness anyone win an Olympic medal wearing a trenchcoat, and I can recall no professional basketball or rugby team wearing denim trousers instead of shorts during a serious game. Anyone who thinks poorly of men who wear tight pants needs to attend a Marines training camp.

On a related subject, some people also mock capes, specifically because they might be grabbed. They forget one major real world truth: that most capes if worn in battle at all were designed to be immediately detachable. Someone who grabbed a person's cape didn't end up inconveniencing the former cape-wearer but instead ended up with a faceful of cape entangling himself or herself. The jokes about capes in The Incredibles were amusing, but they were based on a fundamental ignorance about the workings of capes that appeared on military uniforms. Such capes were always instantly detachable!

Historically, in Europe, the rare cape-wearer who did not put aside his (sometimes her) cape just before a sword duel was bragging to his opponent that he was so skilled that his opponent would never even get the chance to pull off his cape. Thus, an opponent who lost the duel but managed to yank off the cape managed to attain coup against the cape-wearer.

The major reason The Batman wears a cape is that it looks cool, of course, and the major reason Superman wears a cape is that it reminds us that he is something of a modern paladin, but another early reason they wore capes was to show that they were so awesome they could get away with it.

Obviously, if the game is not a superhero campaign but instead a military bughunt campaign with superpowered PCs or a campaign about a biker gang with superpowers fighting an evil cyberpunk empire, to list only two possible examples, none of the above necessarily applies.

Additionally, some of the grittier superhero comic books have turned away from capes and tights as a statement against idealism -- but they have done so to make a statement, not as a thoughtless reaction against something they failed to understand. Again, in those cases, the above does not apply. Yet on the other hand, the classic gritty superhero has been The Batman, who has yet to abandon his cape and who could probably clean Rorschach's anti-cape clock without sweating.

Whenever I meet a potential superhero player who mouths this kind of anti-tights, anti-cape inanity, I find it hard to imagine that player could be anything better than a disruption in any authentic superhero campaign. Does this person really know anything about superheroes at all?

Sometimes such players simply don't know any better (I've met players who think Wolverine was created before Superman!), but more often, this is a player who has absolutely no interest in superheroes but only wants to hack and slash in a modern city. (Often, the same player also scoffs at capes on superheroes -- but loves the cape on his D&D or WoW character!) This is great for a superpowered hack'n'slash campaign, but what about those of us who want to game actual superheroes?

Zedek
05-01-2012, 07:46 AM
Thank you for the lesson on superhero tights, magic-rhyme. I honestly didn't know much of what was said. Any chance you might be looking to dm a superhero game?

magic-rhyme
05-02-2012, 07:20 PM
Thank you for the lesson on superhero tights, magic-rhyme. I honestly didn't know much of what was said. Any chance you might be looking to dm a superhero game?

I've GMed a superhero campaign almost every year since I started gaming more than a decade ago. More than once I have run several superhero campaigns the same season, each for a different group of players.

I know I was a little rantish in the way I expressed myself, but honestly, what happened to the age when geeks held themselves to higher standards than the mundanes? I miss the days when the pre-game session chatter included not only movie quotes and gossip about the latest SF or fantasy novel but also eager discussions of Aristotelian virtue ethics and good-natured debates about the latest scientific theory touching on human nature -- and gamers cared enough about such topics that no one needed to consult some online cheat sheet (especially not one that oversimplified thoughtlessly) to remember who Aristotle is or what counts as science.

I remember once when a DM assigned a would-be player to read LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea before he would allow the player to join his campaign, and the player felt grateful to be initiated into the community. These days, the player would probably whinge "Uncool!", sulk, then either give up tabletop for World of Warcraft or skim a wikipedia article and lie about having read the book -- whichever took the least thought and effort. We used to expect our friends to help us become more than we already are, but these days, many people expect their friends to make it easier for them to slack.

If someone wants to play in my superhero campaigns, I expect him to know about superheroes! When did that requirement become controversial among gamers?

Skunkape
05-03-2012, 11:20 AM
You do realize that gaming is becoming more main stream and no longer open to just us geeks!:biggrin:

Zedek
05-03-2012, 07:29 PM
If you do so deem to start a Play-by-Post superhero game anytime soon, color me interested. I've been looking for a suitable game for ages now, and I would appreciate any alert you might give me(specifically PM ME PLEASE! ;))

magic-rhyme
05-04-2012, 05:26 AM
You do realize that gaming is becoming more main stream and no longer open to just us geeks!:biggrin:
Yes, and I have met too many people who claim to be major fantasy devotees and then boast they have never read a single fantasy book or short story in their lives because "ah, that's too much effort".

Giving the mainstream access to geek culture should have resulted in large numbers of mainstream mundanes rising up to greater levels of intellectual engagement, sophisticated literacy, and imagination. It should have meant even the average person could access the insights of philosophy, physical science, social science, scholarship, art, literature, culture, and basic reason and evaluation in their discussions and political activities.

It should have democratized and popularized learning, intellectual growth, and development of the imagination so that everyone could and would benefit from them and not simply a lucky minority of people.

It should not have resulted in large segments of geek culture sinking down to a slacker level of indifference to reading, to learning, and to any engagement with life and the world that might take an effort.

---------- Post added at 05:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:23 AM ----------


If you do so deem to start a Play-by-Post superhero game anytime soon, color me interested. I've been looking for a suitable game for ages now, and I would appreciate any alert you might give me(specifically PM ME PLEASE! ;))

I'm flattered, but I have never enjoyed PBM or PBEM gaming. I prefer the intimacy and immediacy of face-2-face RL tabletop roleplaying. Sorry. :(

Golden Age Superhero
05-08-2012, 01:03 PM
I think it is amazing that players will accept such foolish and silly things in a fantasy but complain that a supers game is "unrealistic". As far as I am concerned, a superhero game is just another type of fantasy game and yes some people just want to play a D&D game with guns and complain that they have actually act like a heroic character instead of a murdering hobo.

magic-rhyme
05-09-2012, 09:33 PM
I think it is amazing that players will accept such foolish and silly things in a fantasy but complain that a supers game is "unrealistic". As far as I am concerned, a superhero game is just another type of fantasy game and yes some people just want to play a D&D game with guns and complain that they have actually act like a heroic character instead of a murdering hobo.

Take a look at any representative sample of films from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and today, and you will notice the "cool guy" is always the one with a three-foot-thick cast-iron psychological shell of feigned indifference because he's so desperately terrified that he'll get hurt or embarrassed or tricked if he ever lets anyone see his honest humanity and capacity for compassion. The "cool guy" is just the guy who's most afraid of human warmth.

In the same way, it's far emotionally safer for most guys to play an ersatz sociopathic "cool guy" out for himself and incapable of recognizing any commonality with his enemies, i.e. the typical hack'n'slash campaign found in some D&D and in some cyberpunk/spacepunk, whereas the courage needed for the idealism and optimism of classic superhero campaigns is too frightening a breach of their real life comfort zones.

I don't think it's a coincidence that, when one of my gaming groups decided for a group project to help out in real life at the local soup kitchen, it was only the players who could enjoy the occasional superhero campaign who showed up. As one of the hack'n'slashers (who later "forgot" to show up) said when he was arguing against the idea, "It's depressing enough knowing there's poor people without having to look at them. Let's stick to killing orcs and being heroes" (close approximation of his words) without ever noticing the irony.

Golden Age Superhero
09-02-2013, 10:08 AM
Yes, and I have met too many people who claim to be major fantasy devotees and then boast they have never read a single fantasy book or short story in their lives because "ah, that's too much effort".

Giving the mainstream access to geek culture should have resulted in large numbers of mainstream mundanes rising up to greater levels of intellectual engagement, sophisticated literacy, and imagination. It should have meant even the average person could access the insights of philosophy, physical science, social science, scholarship, art, literature, culture, and basic reason and evaluation in their discussions and political activities.

It should have democratized and popularized learning, intellectual growth, and development of the imagination so that everyone could and would benefit from them and not simply a lucky minority of people.

It should not have resulted in large segments of geek culture sinking down to a slacker level of indifference to reading, to learning, and to any engagement with life and the world that might take an effort.

---------- Post added at 05:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:23 AM ----------



I'm flattered, but I have never enjoyed PBM or PBEM gaming. I prefer the intimacy and immediacy of face-2-face RL tabletop roleplaying. Sorry. :(

I think it is so very sad that people don't read anymore. We seem to be creating a generation of under-educated people.

Golden Age Superhero
09-02-2013, 10:16 AM
I asked my wife about this and she says that as a woman she thinks men in tights are hot!

Golden Age Superhero
09-02-2013, 10:25 AM
I have always looked at superheroes as just another fantasy setting. Modern setting but fantasy nonetheless. Also Batman wears a weighted cape that confuses his enemies and acts as a gliding cape and a deflector.

nijineko
09-03-2013, 10:36 AM
Giving the mainstream access to geek culture should have resulted in large numbers of mainstream mundanes rising up to greater levels of intellectual engagement, sophisticated literacy, and imagination. It should have meant even the average person could access the insights of philosophy, physical science, social science, scholarship, art, literature, culture, and basic reason and evaluation in their discussions and political activities.

It should have democratized and popularized learning, intellectual growth, and development of the imagination so that everyone could and would benefit from them and not simply a lucky minority of people.

It should not have resulted in large segments of geek culture sinking down to a slacker level of indifference to reading, to learning, and to any engagement with life and the world that might take an effort.

public education should have resulted in our shifting to a democracy from a federal republic as well, yet it did not, for the same reasons that your shoulds and should nots resulted in what they really did.

geeks used to be elites in the same way highly educated individuals are elites. why? for the same reason. education. when any piece of knowledge, culture, or learning is re-packaged for the masses, it is unavoidably diluted down. the people who wrote "frodo lives" in the subways of new york were highly educated people, most of whom also had the courage of their convictions to divorce themselves from the "Rat Race" (another historical reference that has passed into popular language, but most do not know the real origins of) and explore other ways of progress. and right there was a test. a geek would either know what i meant by "Rat Race" because they are already educated, or they would have stopped, and gone to look it up. whereas those who are... shall we call them 'casual or young geeks' would have been satisfied with what they think it means or might have mentally shrugged and gone on reading.

lets look at a couple of famous examples from history:

1)the bible. setting aside the issue of the fact that whole books, passages, and key words were removed from and/or changed in the text before it could be translated, the end result suffers from numerous translation errors which are further exacerbated by the removals and changes. we have over 800 various sects of christianity alone, all claiming slightly different things.

2)the lord of the rings and the hobbit: i know quite a few people who love the movies, but can't be bothered to read the books (and a few of those can't be bothered to read any books). we don't need to get into an involved discussion as to the omissions and changes introduced by the movies as compared to the books.

the culture shift over time is also something that must be taken into account. for example, tolkien's works were out there for quite a while before they became wildly popular in the american renaissance era. in fact, the reason it is such an icon of the fantasy genre is not because it is fantasy, or even because it is considered a well written work (it is not, in fact considered such by most critics). the reason it occupies the position it does, is because of what it represented to the generations that enshrined it as a symbol of rebellion and freedom. THAT is why those books are held in such regard. from the people who thus felt about it, were raised our parents and ourselves. in fact, we hold tolkien's works in high regard for an entirely different reason than those who taught us that it had value. so much so that the original reasons for that regard have been mostly lost and forgotten - subsumed into the current mix of ideologies and values.

your complaints and observations (while certainly containing value, truths, and meaning) are no different than that of any previous generation regarding and commenting upon the uprising generation.

yet the converse is also true. one can completely disregard the historical context of tights and capes, dislike them, ban them from games, and still be a true lover of the superhero genre. you risk the same danger as that you claim of those who you complain against when you apply such judgements so broadly. so what if one doesn't know much of the history of the golden or silver (or maybe even the bronze) age of comics. so what if most of one's knowledge of superheroic genre comes from anime and video games.

their paradigms are just as valid as yours within their own context. as we continue through the information age, which is combining unfortunately with the reoccurring social plague of instant gratification that most so-called first world countries are falling prey to, yet again, this is leading to a new generation of superheroists who define their superheroes not by the "outmoded" and "no-longer-relevant" viewpoints of the 1900s, but by the newly spawned and remixed ideals of their own (and popular media's) devising.

and yet, there is something to what they say. WHY are the viewpoints on what it is to be an American, and the relevance of the symbols of tights and capes no longer valid or relevant? just as athletes and warriors you cited were revered in their time, and thus the symbols used by and crafted from such by those generations were likewise revered, so it is true that todays athletes and warriors no longer resemble the symbols of old, and new symbols have been crafted to resemble them which are seen as relevant to the modern generation.

todays heroes are likened to modern military warriors, and popular media 'athletes' such as rappers, gangsters, rock stars, and occasionally an actual athlete. they want heroes to look like them, (which in and of itself might be viewed as part of the endemic shift in cultural focus and yet another aspect of the instant gratification syndrome) rather then be bothered to change themselves to look like someone else... which is rather ironic when you stop and think about how such people figure out what they want to look like.

thus the "modern" generation reforges heroes to match their "modern" viewpoint, or casts them aside and crafts new ones. hmmm, something about idols comes to mind with that thought - but let's not disturb those who may not be educated in such old-fashioned and outmoded things. (oh wait, that's yet another bible paraphrase... guess humanity really doesn't change much as a whole overall. =P )


anyhows, just some random thoughts evinced by your speech.



{{{please note that i am postulating in general, not necessarily presenting my own personal viewpoint.}}}

Thorn
09-03-2013, 12:34 PM
Thank you for the very interesting discussion here, it has help out in my understanding of superheros in gaming.

nijineko
09-03-2013, 05:47 PM
*gleep*

did i really go on that long about something that wasn't even posting my own personal opinion?

oh my, i think i need more sleep. =P

Golden Age Superhero
09-05-2013, 10:48 AM
It's amazing how much creativity can result from lack of sleep.

nijineko
09-05-2013, 02:13 PM
You remind me of the 'RP Game Creation' skill in TMNT that grants you +1 PE for all those 'sleepless nights struggling with your creation'.

magic-rhyme
09-09-2013, 09:02 PM
yet the converse is also true. one can completely disregard the historical context of tights and capes, dislike them, ban them from games, and still be a true lover of the superhero genre. you risk the same danger as that you claim of those who you complain against when you apply such

While much of what you have written has worth, you somehow overlook a glaringly obvious point. That disappointed me more than usual because it surprised after so much else you had written here had impressed me.

Yes, it is possible to consider varying from the traditions of capes and tights for logical, intelligent, or aesthetic reasons -- but these are almost never the case with the majority of internet posters who dislike capes and tights.

Perhaps the fault is partially mine: I considered the point so obvious I did not state it outright, a danger in any internet posting these days.

To avoid a repeat of that danger, I will subdivide my point into two points for added clarity.

1) Many people who want superheroes without tights and capes are nothing more respectable than one more iteration of those people who want to plunder the style of something they fancy while discarding its substance as too difficult or too sincere and revealing for them to make the effort to bother to grasp. The people who claim to enjoy superheroes while despising tights and capes are ethically and intellectually identical to the people who adamantly insist they count as full-fledged rock and roll stars because they can manage a decent air guitar performance and know how to pepper their talk with "authentic" slang; they are identical to the people who honestly expect everyone to consider them "playahs" because they have a drawer full of never-been-used devices purchased in plain brown wrapping and a water bed with a mirror on the ceiling over it; they are identical to the people who become angry if you do not treat them as experts in philosophy because they have managed to pick up the right jargon in a city college survey course on philosophy they dropped out of during the fourth week of school because the readings surprised them by being difficult. They remind me of my 9 year old nephew putting on a T-shirt a certain way, sagging his pants a certain way, growling "dawg" a certain way, and then convinced this should be all the effort he needed to put forth to convince us all that he was a basketball master equal in talent to the professionals he saw on television.

They are identical with the posers, the phoneys, and the self-deluding sorts who genuinely believe that style is all that is necessary.

2) Most people who want superheroes without tights and capes are, at the heart of it all, desperately ashamed to admit they enjoy superheroes. So they try to hide it by making it "real" with R rated violence. Or they try to cover it up by removing the moral compass that has been part of the genre for most of its history. Or they try to disguise it by getting rid of capes and tights and codenames and anything about it that really made them fall in love with it when they first encountered it years ago.

These are the people who whimper, "But tights are so totally g**!", desperately warding off their terror of this non-existent challenge to their masculinity with a mild homophobic slur.

That is the most galling part of it all. These people do not act out of ignorance but out of a PRIDE in their ignorance. They do not dislike capes and tights because they see a possible evolution but because they can not imagine any reason to consider substance instead of style in their calculations.

Worse of all, these people hate capes and tights because they are ashamed to admit that they like superheroes as superheroes, so they have to disguise it as something else. Shoemaker explains this concept fairly well here: http://www.reddit.com/r/comicbooks/comments/1k9m6h/dan_slott_everyone/cbmqoj4

The two above seemed so obvious to me that I never mentioned them. Your intelligent post leads me to suspect they might not be as obvious as I had thought, a rather disenheartening possibility.

As I acknowledge at the start of this post, there are those rare individuals who decline capes and tights for aesthetic, intelligent, and rational reasons, but they are very rare, and they never start off by denying the rich history of capes and tights or otherwise ranting against all of time and space over their horror that capes and tights have ever existed in superhero comic book stories.

nijineko
09-10-2013, 03:34 PM
While much of what you have written has worth, you somehow overlook a glaringly obvious point. That disappointed me more than usual because it surprised after so much else you had written here had impressed me.

Yes, it is possible to consider varying from the traditions of capes and tights for logical, intelligent, or aesthetic reasons -- but these are almost never the case with the majority of internet posters who dislike capes and tights.

...shortened for quoting purposes...



i do not believe i overlooked either of your salient points. i think that rather, i too, fell victim to considering it too obvious to mention. or possibly i simply forgot to mention it entirely by virtue of exhaustion... i believe i was rather tired when i submitted that stream of consciousness post. though i do not spend as much time online as some, i have also seen all too much of those who not only spurn, make game of, publicly despise, insistently encourage others to their view, bash any who oppose or even seem to oppose, and voluminously decry some particular thing; but are quickly revealed as almost, if not completely, ignorant of the subject matter of which they have gone on about at length, and at length.

i instead focused on the fact that there are at least two groups, possibly more, whom be they ever so few, have valid reasons for differing opinions. one, those who have arrived at their conclusion through contemplation and careful consideration; and two, those who have not been exposed much, if at all, to the representations in question - such that they develop their own sets of values and ideals which for whatever reason, will not allow for such representations to be seen as acceptable.

i also mentioned the danger of becoming what is being fought against. while i may not agree with the values and symbols being used, if i wish others to carefully consider my viewpoints, then i had best do the same for them, unless the object in question violates some belief or ideal of my own - in which case i would politely deal with the situation.

there may even be some value or learning in the new paradigms being adopted, or at least a time and place where it would have ascendancy.


i recall one time, when i was standing upon the steps of an indiana university classroom building, and someone was going on about a particular subject, bashing and otherwise making various claims about it. i asked them for some details, asked a few leading questions, and quickly determined that they didn't have the slightest clue of what they spoke, but were rather parroting what they had been told by someone else and had taken for verily fact.

whereupon i made some counter claims, and when challenged, backed them up by revealing that i happened to be a subject matter expert, having experienced first hand of my own volition all of the things they claimed to have known about, and more. the person glanced around and then quickly, quietly faded into the background, and swiftly left.

but so seldom does it turn out that way... usually they will just shout you down and go with emotional manipulation and public acclaim - mob psych.



despite all that, i quite agree with you... most people do not seem to bother to educate themselves, contemplate other possibilities, or to even attempt to consider viewpoints that take time, effort, or are even a bit different from their current view, whatsoever that may happen to be.

it is furthermore seriously annoying when people mistake surface for substance. as you alluded to in your examples there are many who seem to feel that adopting a mannerism or appearance is the same as sweat, tears, blood, practice, more practice, even more practice, drudgery, exhaustion, effort, failures, more failure, even more failures, and perhaps a bit of talent or even luck.

on the other hand, especially in children (and those whose maturation level has never grown beyond such) such copy cat behavior is the natural form of roleplaying that all humans engage in.



it just so happens that i just came from an email discussion with a friend where i was accused to projecting my own beliefs and views onto phenomena which my friend considered innocent of such associations... when the entire point i was attempting to make was contemplating if there was any possibility that the phenomena in question were instead projecting such characteristics upon the rest of reality, including us.


^^

Golden Age Superhero
09-11-2013, 01:19 PM
It amazes me at times how people can have an opinion about something without really looking into the subject matter and actually trying something out first. I had one guy named John who made it clear that he didn't ever want to play in a superhero game. When I asked him why he stated that he didn't want to be confined to playing highly moral character like Superman and that superheroes where too hard for him to believe in. Of course he apparently hadn't either seen a superhero movie, read a comic made since the 70's and thought all the superheroes where like Adam West's Batman.

nijineko
09-11-2013, 02:20 PM
so many humans take one incident, experience, or hearsay, and apply it categorically to the whole subject matter... and to whatever else seems to be a nail for that hammer. =P

Golden Age Superhero
09-12-2013, 02:32 PM
So true.

Thorn
09-14-2013, 10:08 PM
I agree.

Eshaiel
02-21-2014, 12:27 PM
I feel like you run great risk of making your foes of straw. Your points are quite valid and largely things I've discussed in my own group, but it seems like you would do better trying to inform the casuals you rail against rather than rant about them. Clearly you come from the informed and intellectual old-school. Pass it on. If the conventions and standards you're discussing are so important to you make them valuable to your targets. The culture of instant gratification can only really be fought by giving people the gift of fulfillment that comes from doing the leg work. You've said very eloquent salient things about the corruption of geek culture and the beauty of deep moral heroes. Geek culture doesn't need another rant. It needs a hero.

magic-rhyme
02-22-2014, 04:18 AM
I feel like you run great risk of making your foes of straw.

In explanation: this post appeared in large part as a response against several anti-tights anti-shorts anti-capes rants here and elsewhere I had encountered in the same week, as part of a general zeitgeist about the matter occuring at penandpapergames, and when read in the context of those other posts, does not come across as a rant but as the least inflammatory of them all.

However, you make a valid point. Without those original posts, this post risks coming across poorly; when I wrote it, I neglected to consider that it might be read weeks or months or even years later, long after the overarcing context of penandpapergames posts had disappeared. For that, I express my regret.


The culture of instant gratification can only really be fought by giving people the gift of fulfillment that comes from doing the leg work.

Except the culture of instant gratification induces them to avoid doing the leg work as much as they can. In this case, I have done the leg work for them, and yet in such situations, they often complain that the effort of reading anything longer than half a paragraph fails to gratify them instantly enough, responding only with a complaint about "blocks of text" or "tl;dr" or "data-dumping". I have seen people accuse a ten line post of being a "block of text" or "data-dump" because they considered ten lines too much effort to read.

If you have suggestions, I am quite open to them, here or by way of private contact.


You've said very eloquent salient things about the corruption of geek culture and the beauty of deep moral heroes. Geek culture doesn't need another rant. It needs a hero.

Perhaps, but because modern geek culture tolerates the self-deluding posers and phoneys in its midst without ever expecting them to improve or better themselves, the resulting geek culture tends to induce lifelong burn-out in the very heroes it needs. And because we live in an era when speaking any uncomfortable but verifiable facts is condemned as an intrusive act of bad taste, modern geek culture often censors (and censures) anyone who disagrees with the posers until we end up with the current situation: sincere thinkers isolating themselves into closed cliques of other thinkers because they've been enervated one too many times by the free reign of the posers, and the overall geek culture weighed down by the unthinking posers who play victim whenever they are asked to learn anything as a surefire method of avoiding learning anything -- and weighed down by the loss of the input of all the thinkers and heroes it has allowed the posers to silence.

Constantly dealing with posers and phoneys is like speaking face-to-face against a sand-blaster: eventually, every part that can speak or hear is worn away until only shiny bits of bone and a few blood stains remain, and the sand-blaster is no more wiser than it had been before one began speaking. The only way to survive an argument with a sand-blaster is to walk away when it begins spewing at one -- or to surrender to it. The only way to survive an argument with a self-deluding poser who refuses to hear is to walk away as well, but then the poser will rally the geek community to condemn one as "mean" or "stuck-up" or "unsympathetic" for walking away, until most thinkers and heroes eventually learn to surrender to the posers while they are still something more than shiny bits of bone and a few blood stains.

So perhaps we need heroes, but do you have any idea how heroes might survive the community as it now exists in the first portion of the 21st century?

I can assure you that it didn't used to be this way. I remember a time when geeks who spoke off the top of their heads without anything but stubborn emotionalism to back them up were called on it mercilessly -- not ostracized or excluded, but never allowed to use verbal and emotional browbeating as a substitute for thoughtfulness, reason, and proof. I remember a time when any new geek found himself or herself with a dozen mentors willing to loan books by the best philosophers, scientists, scholars, and of course the greats in fantasy and SF writing and the greats in comic book art and writing. Today, most people who claim to be geeks will respond to an offer of a book by Nietszche or Hawking or Eliade with, "Why I gotta read that kind of stuff? I know what I know!" -- just before spouting uneducated nonsense about the ubermensch, the universe, or comparative mythology.

(I will never forget meeting some alleged geeks who proudly insisted that Star Wars must be worthless because its SPFX were out-of-date. Or the alleged geeks I've heard say that the Hobbit movies are better than the books because they provide a way to avoid having to read a book to know what The Hobbit is about.)

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," they say. For the geek community, I would add, "and if you insist on letting those horses use mob rule to take over your herd, you have no right to complain when you have a herd that is dying of dehydration."

So if you have any solutions, I am in all sincerity eager to hear them, and if they are viable solutions which I can implement in both my real life and my online existence, I will be happy to do so.

nijineko
02-22-2014, 11:35 AM
ummm. not to put too fine a point on it... but that does not differ from any society, any clique, any gang, any government... in short any group of humans. as each generation of humans is raised, cultural concepts - artifacts if you will, are passed down, cast aside, taken back up, lost... and so on over the succeeding generations. each generation is exposed to a slightly different set of norms and claims, tend to polarize into for, against, or don't-make-waves; and thus form the altered norms and claims that the next generation is exposed to. these pass in literal waves through time and culture.

it only takes four generations (minimum) to completely change a culture, though it often (usually) takes longer and is a staggered, rather than even, alteration. you see hints and echoes of it in fashion, collectibles, religion, and so forth, they come and go in waves of about 40-80 years on average, depending on numerous other factors - some specific trends take much longer to cycle around. when the waves in the various aspects of human experience coincide, there is a great alterations - the tower of babel, the dark ages, the renaissance, the industrial revolution, the 60's... to name only a few.

the only solution, if you can call it that, is to stand as a light on a hill, a light house, a candle on a stick and weather the waves of ignorance, unbelief, and antagonism. start up a wiki, or some other archive, write articles in the field, do research... leave cultural artifacts that themselves will in turn be treasured, passed down, cast aside, lost, and perhaps recovered and treasured again. you need not look at what future generations will or won't do with it... your fight is to do what is right, now.

in a way, it is much like the ongoing story of the secret true creator of the batman. only in this generation is his name becoming known, recognized, and his descendants are finally receiving the pittance royalties that is all the legal arrangements between the copyright owner and the titled author-whose-name-happens-to-be-on-the-cover allow. several someones stood strong, dug deep, uncovered the truth, and are fighting for his recognition. it has been a life-long work, one which outlasted the actual author, and has been carried on by his son, among others.



how will you, and your works, be remembered?


^^

Eshaiel
02-22-2014, 12:18 PM
So perhaps we need heroes, but do you have any idea how heroes might survive the community as it now exists in the first portion of the 21st century?

The same way the always have, willpower, clarity and determination. Nijineko is absolutely right, be the light on the hill. Stand firm even if you have to stand alone. Our people have changed and will continue to change. When that is a problem for you, you have to stand up and help guide that evolution. If you do truly care as much as it seems push the discussion, be honest and firm in your conviction. Most importantly be open. Most people have a hard time dealing with a real and earnest person these days and that enough to give them pause for thought, its a hell of an opening.

magic-rhyme
02-22-2014, 02:11 PM
but that does not differ from any society, any clique, any gang
You do a nice job of encapsulating some basic social science insights, and on a large scale, what you write has merit.

However, what you write also risks implying that what has gone wrong always goes wrong and therefore one should never expect better.

In my own lifetime, I have witnessed a better era in the history of the geek subculture, and once I had more age and learning, I was able to verify that my personal experience was far from unique.

That experience was a time when the geek subculture encouraged each and every member within it to better himself or herself in terms of intellectual depth and breadth and (as a culture) wanted nothing to do with those who adamantly rejected making any sort of effort -- the very opposite of large parts of the subculture today. Today, in many geek forums, if someone posts, "I've never read a book or learned anything about the world, but my opinion as a geek is just as good as anyone else's!", if someone else posts, "If you've never read a book or learned anything, you aren't really a geek", then half the time if the original poster whines or rages, a moderator will ban the second poster. Back in the days of bulletin boards or the early days of geek forums, if the original poster had whined or raged, the moderator would have responded, "No, you deserved to be told that -- go out and read some books about this topic or otherwise learn about it before posting on it!" and a few people might have written to the second poster, "I was thinking the same thing."

To adapt some of your later metaphors, "shouting about it from the hilltops" as I have done in many of my penandpapergames posts is one of the ways by which I try to reassure my fellow geeks it is possible for the subculture to reach for the heights again by reminding them that there was a time in the past when our subculture did exactly that. By making it clear there was an era in the geek subculture when no one could censor a fact and eliminate that fact from all further acknowledgement simply by yowling that the facts hurts their feelings, I reinforce that it is well within our abilities to resurrect such a time.


leave cultural artifacts that themselves will in turn be treasured, passed down, cast aside, lost
Before one can leave behind cultural artifacts, one must first encourage a world in which the silent majority no longer indulge the desires of the self-deluding posers and phoneys to vandalize, vilify, and erase from history whatever artifacts they find it convenient to ruin this week.

It takes only one person to burn down an isolated town's library -- intentionally or because of a smugly apathetic carelessness with a match -- and condemn the entire town to the ignorance that results. It takes an entire town no longer willing to indulge such arson to ensure that not a single person feels free to burn down its library intentionally and not a single person feels free to be careless with a match around the library.


how will you, and your works, be remembered?
No one knows for a certainty whether there will be a tomorrow, but we know there is a today, so we start out by trying to improve what is going on today.

We do it in large actions, such as our ongoing political activities; in small actions, such as this afternoon pulling a couple of dollars out of the wallet and tossing it down when the person in front of us at the check-out line suddenly realized she is two dollars short of what she needs to buy necessities; and in public discussions such as this, which hope to inspire or prod to thought perhaps one or three people who had never considered this before -- and know better than to have any greater ambitions than inspiring or prodding just a few, because sometimes a few are enough.

For myself, I know there are already many ways in which my work will be remembered, long after my name has been forgotten, even if I never write or say another word, assuming there is a tomorrow.

And assuming enough people stop indulging in our community the self-indulgent posers and phoneys who feel that they can cling to ignorance about history, science, scholarship, art, philosophy, etc. while the community protects them cost-free from every negative consequence such ignorance might bring them.

nijineko
02-25-2014, 03:10 PM
While it was not my intention for there to be a conclusion drawn along the lines of 'never will change', I can see how one might see that in my posting. My intent, rather than to spread nihilism, was to rather promote the call-to-arms approach.

So long as evil exists in the hearts of humans, the sorts of things I described as opposing such enlightened activities will perpetuate and continue, despite best efforts. However, that is not in any way to indicate that those best efforts should not be made. I turn to the words of another, words I do not think I could better for this instance:


Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

Neither should one wait upon or even require a world environment which is positively or even neutrally disposed towards the cultural artifacts which one desires to leave behind. I do not intend to imply that as your intent, but as a general admonition.

Perhaps I should even borrow and say...:


In brightest day, in darkest night,
No ignorance shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship nihilistic might,
Beware my power, the True Geeks light!!!


Some lights shine brightest in the dark.



^^

magic-rhyme
02-25-2014, 06:44 PM
My intent, rather than to spread nihilism, was to rather promote the call-to-arms approach.

So you meant to join in with me at lighting many candles against the darkness in general (albeit perhaps not by using tights & masks in superhero games as one of the hills upon which to stand, if I may be forgiven for mixing my metaphors)? I apologize for not recognizing that.

To be blunt, the most common response I have encountered in most online gaming forums and in the chatroom here has been to blow out the candle I am holding -- because in the dark, no one can see the other person's alleged flaws or willful ignorances or low self-esteem.

A professor I once knew said that too many modern Americans genuinely believe that lighting a candle to drive away the darkness is a privilege only of the "beautiful people" and believe that by lighting a candle they arrogantly deny the rights of the intellectually and/or spiritually ugly to remain in a darkness which makes everyone else appear to be no less ugly of mind and/or spirit than they are.

He then added that lighting a candle is a way to remind people that no one is ugly -- unless by choice, and if they insist upon being ugly, eventually we must respect that choice and stand back to let them suffer the terrible consequences for insistently choosing to be ugly.

To bring this back to the original discussion, those who decry tights and masks (and belittle all who appreciate tights and masks) out of a thoughtless reaction against something they smugly don't bother to understand have made that choice to be "intellectually ugly", and I regret that current geek society exhausts us by trying to force all of us to protect these people from the consequences of their choice to be "intellectually ugly" about the matter.

(Obviously, I am not referring to those who speak out against tights and/or masks after genuine thought about it, such as some of the anti-tights superhero comic book writers, or those who dislike them because of personal aesthetics.)


Neither should one wait upon or even require a world environment which is positively or even neutrally disposed towards the cultural artifacts which one desires to leave behind. I do not intend to imply that as your intent, but as a general admonition.

I concur.

But one artifact I would love to leave behind is a better world environment. I'd like to do my part to re-create a geek environment which is positively disposed once again towards thoughtfulness, research, intellectual integrity, historical awareness, learning and education and then more learning and more education -- and which must, by definition, therefore have no place in it for people who persist in being aggressively and self-pityingly hostile against the notion such thoughtfulness, learning, etc.

ChildofAeon
02-25-2014, 11:49 PM
In my eyes Supers campaigns offer one key thing that no other setting type can call their own (for complete universes): They mix many genres of fiction in the origin stories of the heroes, yet find a way to make it work, and make it their own. THAT is what I see as key to my enjoyment of the Genre. Nowhere else can you find aliens fighting mystics and have a plot that makes a lick of sense. No where else can fantasy and sci-fi tropes coexist. THIS is to me what makes Supers enjoyable. It's the one environment where mixing genres can be done well.

Ignoring moral depth, as a writer, is a major problem that supers universes have dealt with by antiheroes... but do we really need antiheroes, or do we need more complex moral choices and consequences for heroes, better villain origins, etc that prove that such a moral depth exists in comics?

Do we really need capes and tights, or are they just an aesthetic choice for heroes that hearkens back to an age where morality meant something different, and athletics was bound by those rules?

Do we really need the superhero genre to be the only bastion of mixed genres that can do it well, or should other writers who wish to mix genres just throw out their preconceptions on how it works or doesn't, and actually try to figure out what does and doesn't work?

In the end, the answers to these questions will be different for you and I, I feel. I mainly like supers stuff for the variety of things it allows within it, and how they fit together. You seem to love the idealism, but I am a bit more jaded on that front. I don't think idealism and hope can coexist with the real world as much as many comic universes allow it to coexist with their settings, and instead of rallying against that and trying to give myself hope for human nature using comics, I ask instead for the option of having a dismal universe to read about... which is why I enjoyed Neuromancer, World of Darkness, Lovecraft's Mythos, and Dark Sun so much, Why I get a laugh out of the fact batman's sending so many people to such a terrible place in the comics, and so on. It's just how I am. I see dismal and I love it, I enjoy laughing at the problems of fictional people.

nijineko
02-26-2014, 09:56 AM
It seems that we will find ourselves at opposite ends of the spectrum in some regards then.


I feel that moral depth and reality does not preclude or lessen hope or idealism. If you truly wish to gain hope for human nature, i suggest interacting directly with a broader range of humans than you currently do, rather than turn to any form of media.

My experiences directly interacting with mendicants, addicts, yakuza, CE*s, rich, poor, middle class, ignorant, educated, random people on the street, and so on in multiple countries has led me to have an increased hope and belief in human nature, which in turn has caused me to be branded as idealistic in a negative sense... interestingly enough, usually by those who do not have nearly the breadth of experiences that I have had, meager and few though they may be.



^^

magic-rhyme
02-28-2014, 02:55 AM
Nowhere else can you find aliens fighting mystics and have a plot that makes a lick of sense. No where else can fantasy and sci-fi tropes coexist. THIS is to me what makes Supers enjoyable. It's the one environment where mixing genres can be done well.

I quite agree -- and you will find many professional critics of the superhero genre who agree with this sentiment also.


Do we really need capes and tights, or are they just an aesthetic choice for heroes that hearkens back to an age where morality meant something different, and athletics was bound by those rules?

Do we really need them? Of course not. What we really need is for people to think -- and rejecting capes and tights because one fails to understand why the trope exists in the first place or rejecting capes and tights because one is smugly thoughtless is the opposite of thinking. And people who celebrate a lifelong and incessant refusal to use their minds and their learning and their wisdom may be as human as the rest of us, but they are not geeks, nor do they belong at the gaming table. Nor, for that matter, do they merit any real respect.


I don't think idealism and hope can coexist with the real world as much as many comic universes allow it to coexist with their settings

Except that NOTHING can exist with the real world as much as superhero comic books, which function according to the Rule of Cool and to myth and metaphor rather than adhering to scientific principles about the world and about human nature -- and which is why we can have "aliens fighting mystics" in them as an everyday occurence.


My experiences directly interacting with mendicants, addicts, yakuza, CE*s, rich, poor, middle class, ignorant, educated, random people on the street, and so on in multiple countries has led me to have an increased hope and belief in human nature, which in turn has caused me to be branded as idealistic in a negative sense... interestingly enough, usually by those who do not have nearly the breadth of experiences that I have had, meager and few though they may be.

When I meet people who have only a negative image of idealism, I know I am likely meeting people whose credibility is now in question, for to perceive idealism entirely negatively requires a fairly stubborn dismissal of reality, and if their views fail to match up to reality on this issue, on what other issues do they fail to match up to reality as well? (That, or a confused perception of what the term means.)

Soft Serve
03-03-2014, 06:32 PM
I read everything.

Now I want to watch the Avengers.

magic-rhyme
03-20-2014, 05:25 AM
If they are really that ignorant about superhero fiction as a thriving subgenre with its own legitimate history and its own logical bases for its tropes and traditions, why would they pretend to want to play in a superhero campaign?


some of the grittier superhero comic books have turned away from capes and tights as a statement against idealism -- but they have done so to make a statement, not as a thoughtless reaction against something they failed to understand.


Whenever I meet a potential superhero player who mouths this kind of anti-tights, anti-cape inanity, I find it hard to imagine that player could be anything better than a disruption in any authentic superhero campaign. Does this person really know anything about superheroes at all?


(I've met players who think Wolverine was created before Superman!), but more often, this is a player who has absolutely no interest in superheroes but only wants to hack and slash in a modern city. (Often, the same player also scoffs at capes on superheroes -- but loves the cape on his D&D or WoW character!)

The entirety of this thread all circles back to an old saying we had in the geek community and the gaming community for most of their existences but which seems to have been forgotten the past couple of years:

" Never waste time talking with, gaming with, or giving any respect to people who are intentionally stupid. "

A key point is the phrase *intentionally* stupid. This says nothing about ignorant people -- they can always learn. This says nothing about people with health issues disrupting their intelligence. This says nothing about people who are still in the midst of their educations. This says nothing about people who hold different opinions.

This wonderful old saying refers only to those people who go out of their way to know nothing, understand nothing, and value nothing. This wise old saying refers only to those people who are stubbornly anti-intellectual and obnoxiously indifferent to history, science, scholarship, and any other body of learning.

There are many ways to recognize people who are intentionally stupid so that one can avoid wasting time talking to them, gaming with them, or giving any respect to them.

When it comes to superhero roleplaying games, an easy way to recognize them is by their thoughtless, kneejerk, proudly ignorant hatred for capes and tights (as opposed to the worthwhile people who may dislike capes or tights but do so for thoughtful, measured, intelligent reasons of their own, whatever such reasons might be).

Or they claim to hate all capes (but love the capes in LOTR and Game of Thrones) and claim to hate anyone who wears trunks over their tights (but love the boxers, basketball stars, and Olympic medalists who wear trunks over their tights) but smugly refuse to notice their hypocrisy.

We would all be better off as a community, as a country, and as a species if we thought more and tolerated thoughtlessness less.

nijineko
03-20-2014, 04:56 PM
That's funny, my single criteria (of two parts) for determining whom I game with filters out those sorts of "intentionally stupid" almost automatically.

magic-rhyme
04-06-2014, 12:43 AM
That's funny, my single criteria (of two parts) for determining whom I game with filters out those sorts of "intentionally stupid" almost automatically.

Unfortunately, the infamous geek fallacies http://plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html are still with us even today.

When it comes to this thread, the important thing is that people have an opportunity to understand the logic and wisdom underlying the original use of tights and capes in superhero comic books (and later superhero films and television series).

Those who choose to go without tights and capes even after understanding their origin have every right to do so, and I support fully their right to make this choice even though I disagree with it and will choose otherwise in my own gaming circles.

Those who can't be bothered to understand what they condemn (such as those who condemn tights and capes without bothering to understand them) aren't worth thinking about or knowing -- but the infamous geek fallacies make people forget that, so it is worthwhile to remind them every once in a while.

nijineko
04-06-2014, 01:44 PM
just tossing in here as a side comment, but i laughed quite amusedly when the "no capes" inversion of the trope was made in the incredibles movie.

magic-rhyme
04-11-2014, 03:30 AM
just tossing in here as a side comment, but i laughed quite amusedly when the "no capes" inversion of the trope was made in the incredibles movie.

Yeah, that was one of the many great moments of the film! Inspired by Alan Moore's original Watchmen series no less.

It also makes sense even in a pro-cape comic book: rubber characters like Elasti-Girl and speedsters like Dash never wear capes in the comic books, and the only "hard light" manipulator like Ultra Violet who wears a cape is the Alan Scott Green Lantern from the Golden Age, I think (and he wore the easily detached sort of cape worn in real life by soldiers and adventurers in the past). I can't remember any brick character like Mr. Incredible wearing a cape, either; it's always been those who could fly in addition to any superstrength who wore capes. (Of course, not one of the bad things which happens to the cape-wearers in The Incredibles would have presented any problems for Superman, Thor, Supergirl, The Batman, etc., who are either too tough for even a jet engine to threaten or too skilled not to escape.)

That scene has been a little ruined for me after hearing too many players quote it at me and then later admit they had never in their lives read a superhero comic book or novel and never seen a superhero film or cartoon other than The Incredibles so they really had no idea what they were talking about.

But their contemptible ignorance does not lessen how hilarious the anti-capes argument was in The Incredibles!

Especially when the dialogue all comes from Edna Mode!

nijineko
04-12-2014, 07:16 PM
personally i've always wanted to look good in a cape. ^^ based on my limited experiences and opportunities, i believe i favor the more victorian era opera capes, sometimes combined with a trench coat. somewhat holmesian or steampunk, i understand.

magic-rhyme
04-14-2014, 03:28 AM
personally i've always wanted to look good in a cape. ^^ based on my limited experiences and opportunities, i believe i favor the more victorian era opera capes, sometimes combined with a trench coat. somewhat holmesian or steampunk, i understand.

Or perhaps a Sherlockian cloak?

nijineko
04-17-2014, 11:44 PM
what about shamrockian? ^^

magic-rhyme
04-18-2014, 05:15 PM
what about shamrockian? ^^

Fake stone?

nijineko
04-18-2014, 05:23 PM
shamrock-ian. ^^