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Personal opinions and commentary.


A Day in the Life of a Cosplay Camgirl

Any online sex worker will tell you the same thing—the job is so much more than what we put on social media, and frequently our only real breaks are to sleep or do something else that’s essential to our offline lives. This is especially true for me and people like me, because of my interests and my niche—games, animation, and net aesthetics—the introverted creative independent’s special.


(Mis)Understanding One of the Greatest French Filmmakers of All Time

Robert Bresson was a French director who made thirteen feature-length films and one short between 1934 and 1983. Adored by the New Wave of directors who sprang up around him during the 1950s and early 1960s, the much older Bresson stood at a remove from any cinematic movements of the period, making films sporadically when funding was available before retiring and falling silent between 1983’s L’Argent and his death in 1999.

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The Complicated Role of Race in Boys’ Love Stories

It’s generally agreed that the origins of the BL (boy’s love) subgenre of manga can be traced back to the influential Year 24 Group, a loosely classified group of female shoujo mangaka who were said to have revolutionized the shoujo scene. It’s also generally agreed that the two “canonical” works of BL made by members of this group are Takemiya Keiko’s Song of Wind and Trees and Hagio Moto’s Heart of Thomas. BL is a twisty, self-contradictory genre almost by definition—the entire premise is essentially “male homosexuality for girls”—with a lot to unpack, and these early works only double down on the complexity by the ways in which they racialize their protagonists.


Spoiled Milk, Fresh Meat: Beauty and Feminine Competition in The Neon Demon

In many ways, womanhood in the Western world is a zero-sum game. You’re the “it” girl or you’re nothing. You’re beautiful or ugly. You’re virtuous or evil. You’re fresh or you’re spoiled. But where does this brutal, winner-take-all model leave friendship between women? Or romance? If another woman’s beauty could spell irrelevance for your own, how could you feel anything for her but paranoia and jealousy? Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 horror thriller The Neon Demon, the story of a young, beautiful ingenue breaking into the modeling scene in LA and running afoul of a coven of envious women, digs its gleaming talons deep into that question.

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Media Franchises I Only Know About Because of Fanfiction

Teen Wolf

Derek Hale is a werewolf, part of a pack that lives in the town of Stiles Stilinsky, a normal human boy who maybe looks like the gawky kid from The OC. Various supernatural threats slither through the town and it’s up to Derek and his werewolf powers to keep everyone safe. Derek and Stiles have tense chemistry. They are in a gay relationship.


Organizing a Course on Harry Potter in India

When I sat down and read the entirety of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the day it was released back in 2007, I thought I couldn’t love the series more.

I was wrong.

Since then, once a year I’ve revisited all of the books, finding new things to enjoy each time. Harry Potter made me want to be a writer. Looking at this wonderful series, so dearly loved by millions, all I wanted in the world was to be able to write a story that might be beloved in the same way.


Metamoroid Luluco and the Mechanics of Transforming Figures

Hi! I’m Dave, and I want to talk to you about toys. I’ve been digging in the toy, statue, and figure subcultures for years, and the craftsmanship and engineering of these little mass-produced art pieces have never ceased to fascinate me. In this regular feature, I’m going to share some of the more interesting pieces I’ve come across, ranging from videogame characters like Street Fighter’s Chun-Li to Freddy Mercury. Yes, the one from Queen. Toys and figures have come a long way from GI-Joe.


The Time Tiny Tim Tiptoed Through the Tulips and Into a Slasher Movie

Let’s be honest—some people are just really fucking boring. They lack that spark, that magic element that makes you sit up and take notice. They can’t help it, of course, but that doesn’t make things any less maddening.

Director Bill Rebane is really fucking boring. The ukulele player who used hemorrhoid cream as hand moisturizer, however, was not. Together, they made Blood Harvest.

I should explain.

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The Baseball Series That’s All About Mommy Issues

When you look at stories about sports, you start to see some commonalities pretty quickly, regardless of the sport in question. This is especially true when it comes to the question of why the characters are playing sports in the first place. “For the love of the game” comes up a lot. Right next to it is “to be the very best”, which you’ll find in a lot of shonen (young boys’) sports stories. For rivals or villains, the motivation will often be the baser desire to make money or an urge to dominate and humiliate their rivals. But one major motivation that pushes people ahead in sports—especially below the professional level—tends to be forgotten. Stories of high school athletes fighting rivalries or to win someone’s love, like you’ll find in Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk or Oota Moare’s Teppu leave out a very important factor that deeply affects almost everybody’s participation in high school sports: our parents.


Napping Princess Is a Fairy Tale for Car Lovers

My first encounter with Napping Princess was through a series of news pieces during its production. AlI I knew at the time was that it was a Kenji Kamiyama film, it involved a parallel dream world, and the trailer had a criminally beautiful cover of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” sung by the lead voice actress.

My intention had always been to watch it at some indefinite future point, as what little I saw in clips featured an appealing mix of technology and fantasy. So what could I expect from it? I’m not sure. But I do know that whatever you’re expecting, this movie isn’t it.

Gentle readers, Napping Princess is a car movie.


How a Crooked Movie Theatre Arcade Game Ruined My Life

It was an iconic summer day. I had just watched Surf’s Up and was ready to tell the masses about the best penguin movie ever released—sorry Happy Feet, you were just aight.

As I stepped out of the theatre and into the sticky hallway, I saw it for the first time. Tucked to the right in an awkward little nook, almost as if hiding, was a real life arcade.


TIFF in a Jiff: Genre Films to Watch Out for From the Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival—now in its 43rd year—ran from September 6 to 16. This was my third TIFF, and perhaps the biggest change I’ve noticed from year to year is the increasing size of the circus. Spend some time at TIFF and you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by the pomp, the circumstance, and the corporate partnerships. Rushing from venue to venue, trying to fit three, four, five films into a single day begins to take its toll. Faced with this daunting gauntlet, how do you maintain a critical eye—much less the stamina to stay standing?

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Why Lois and Clark is the Greatest Superman Story of All Time

Every Saturday night at fifteen minutes past six, I rushed into the living room and sat, legs crossed, eyes fixed on the television. Like so many before me, I was captivated by the most iconic of superheroes—the Man of Steel, Superman. But the show that held me spellbound wasn’t primarily about speeding faster than a speeding bullet, being more powerful than a locomotive, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. It was Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and it explored the relationship of Kal-El and Lois Lane in a way that had never been seen before.


Made from the Red Soil: Fantasies of Misery in Neon Genesis Evangelion

The giant mecha genre is, at its heart, a teen power fantasy. Step into a cockpit and suddenly your body is a hundred times larger, armored and invulnerable. You can fly through space, dodge missiles, and cut starships in half with swords made of diamond-edged light. Nothing can stop you. Neon Genesis Evangelion—Hideaki Anno’s brutal, convoluted 1995 anime in which three teenagers must bond with and pilot the bio-robotic constructs known as Evangelions to prevent humanity’s annihilation— turns this central conceit inside out so violently you’d need an umbrella to keep the spatter off.

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Sigmund Freud Watches Death Note

Light Yagami, the protagonist of Death Note, is a perfect example of the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the world of Death Note, people can obtain powerful notebooks owned by Shinigami—Japanese Gods of Death. If somebody writes a person’s name in the notebook with that person’s face in mind, they will die.


In Defense of Remakes

I was two years old when my Cuban immigrant parents uprooted our family from the life we’d built in Florida over the course of three years and moved to Puerto Rico to get their college degrees. Neither of them had an education past the sixth grade, and I don’t think they fully understood how much work and sacrifice it would take to put themselves through college with a teenager and a toddler to look after. But they were determined to make a better life for us, and Puerto Rico was the place to start.


Gaming? In My Classroom? It’s More Likely Than You Think

Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, and Dungeon World, have become more popular than ever thanks to podcasts and shows like The Adventure Zone and Critical Role. For many, the appeal of tabletop games is about returning to a local, communal style of play that’s also cooperative, a stark contrast to online competitive games.

One area where gaming has seen a significant increase in attention is academia, where games are found inside the classroom as objects of inquiry and pedagogical tools, as well as outside the classroom, where they serve social and psychological functions for students.

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Moderating the Hacienda: How Not to Run a Convention

I am not capable of liking things a normal amount. Liking things and talking to people about the things I like gives me enormous, almost inhuman energy—I can stay up until 5 AM on a work night reading about something just because I am so incredibly into it that it’s giving me something like the experience of falling suddenly and deeply in love.


The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 2

Last week, things got a little out of hand. It all started with the rise of the camcorder trash-auteur—but soon there were woodchipper massacres, black devil dolls from hell, and the carnal delights of an invisible ghost son sexily blowing at his mother’s hair.

You’ll be begging to go back there soon enough.