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Personal opinions and commentary.


The Videogame Fandom That Wrote the Book on Their Favorite Series

Dark Souls and Bloodborne are titles that tell wonderfully weird stories in a fragmented and ambiguous way. Dark Souls is a series in which humanity attempts to manifest itself in a world that has forgotten it. The player plays as an Undead warrior, tasked with determining the fate of mankind in a world of fire and monstrosity. Bloodborne, on the other hand, combines cosmic horror with a Victorian Gothic aesthetic, in which beasts run rampant in a place called the Nightmare. The player is a hunter who must traverse the realms of the Nightmare in order to put a stop to the Scourge of the Beasts.


Anime, Video Games, and the Texans Who Love Them: A History of Rooster Teeth

How does a team of college kids go from getting drunk and reviewing video games to producing an animated series with hardcore fanbases in both the United States and Japan? It sounds like an unobtainable geeky American dream, but it’s the true story of entertainment company Rooster Teeth. From Halo machinima videos to magical girls and mecha shows, let’s take a look at a how a team of six fans became a major studio conquering just about every corner of modern media.

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Frasier is Anime

Launched as a spin-off of the popular 80s sitcom Cheers, nobody could have seen Frasier coming. Of all of the characters populating the famous Boston bar—the dumb but sweet Woody, the biting Carla, the wry Sam—the bumbling, ineffectual psychiatrist Frasier Crane seemed the least likely to land his own series. And yet he did, kicking off one of the greatest anime of all time.


The Gospel of Marge: Fargo and the Fallen World

The tropes that the Fargo TV show shares with the film—the Minnesota accent, the quirky humor, and the “true story” title card—can make the franchise seem as blanketed in sameness as the vast stretches of snow that serve as the movie’s opening shot. But the appearance of uniformity is deceiving: beneath the snow, the terrain varies. Old dirt forms the shoulder for the newly paved road. Cracks and fissures split the hard frozen ground.

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Why Adventure Time’s Lesbian Romance Matters

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the finale of Adventure Time.

The only fanfiction I ever wrote was about Marceline and Princess Bubblegum from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. Unlike a lot of my fellow quiet, nerdy friends, fanfiction was never really my thing. I liked television shows and movies, but reading and writing about characters I liked in different, often unhinged scenarios seemed a little odd.


Making Monsters: The Enduring Appeal of Star Wars’ Creature Design

A rusted portcullis rises, concealed machinery rattling as sand falls from the bulwark’s blunt durasteel teeth. Beyond, a pair of pinprick eyes gleam in the deeper darkness. Gnarled talons unfurl, and the snorting breath of massive lungs cuts through the laughter in Jabba’s court above. The rancor, portrayed by a foot-tall rod-operated puppet designed by Phil Tippett and the artists of the Lucasfilm creature shop, appears for all of perhaps a minute and a half, but its impact on both the field of special effects and the minds of the millions of children who saw Return of the Jedi in the spring of ‘83—and the tens of millions more who’ve seen it in the decades since—has been tremendous.


What Do You Get When You Cross Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Satanism, and Birds With Knives?

Italy: there is perhaps no other country with so rich, so bountiful a culture of the arts. It’s the soil from which opera grew, the birthplace of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Caravaggio, the hub of the fashion world, and it’s the very land where La Rotunda and the Colosseum stand to this very day.

But it’s their inventiveness in the art of the cinematic pseudonym that towers above even the most celebrated of structures. Each finely crafted by the artisans of the industry to soothe the average American with a strongly-rooted aversion to foreigners. To fool one into believing you’re watching a film that is totally not from Italy, we swear.


Driving Across America in a Van Full of Videotapes

In terms of literal size, the United States is about a fifth as big again as Australia. Driving across the country, though, the US feels substantially smaller. Even driving through the least densely-populated states in the lower 48—Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas both North and South—it’s impossible to drive for a few hours in any given direction without finding yourself suddenly nestled within the bosom of a town. Australia is not like this. Australia is big and empty. The state I live in is about three times the size of Texas and has just one sixth the population—it’s not even the emptiest one. We fall just about in the middle, population density-wise.

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How Bisexuality is Shaking Up Reality TV

I have something to confess: I love reality television.

This might not be a huge surprise—reality television is a big market in the United States, often filed under guilty pleasures and the “treat yourself” mentalities we cling to in times of chaos. It gives us comfort and lets us take a break from our brains in a way that no other type of media can.


Am I Your Girl? The Female Gaze in Horror Film

As a genre, horror focuses overwhelmingly on women. Our bodies are its medium, whether sensuously posed and slathered in gore or twisted into monstrous forms to reflect our fears and anxieties. Think of Dario Argento’s lovingly butchered maidens covered in gallons of vibrant red paint, or the Alien Queen hunkering bloated and distended among her thousands of eggs, a monstrous reflection of Ellen Ripley’s maternal instincts. But for all horror’s fixation on our suffering—sometimes gratuitous, sometimes revelatory—and inner lives, horror films actually written and directed by women are few and far between.


The Rise and Fall of Canuxploitation

In 1967, after members of the Canadian film industry lobbied to expand funding of homegrown filmmaking, the government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson approved $10 million CAD for the funding and creation of the Canadian Film Development Commission (CFDC). In 1968, offices opened in Toronto and Montreal, and the CDFC offered a 100% tax incentive for new films made in the country—Canadian filmmaking was ready to chart a new course.

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How Fandoms Fail Black Protagonists

I’ve been in and out of fan spaces for movies, books, and TV shows since I was in high school. I love fandoms because of the a shared sense of community and creativity that enhances the enjoyment of any story, and I’ve also met many wonderful people in these spaces. Unfortunately, over the years I’ve noticed that all fandoms I’ve been in also have one negative thing in common—an unacknowledged undercurrent of racism.

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How Nickelodeon’s Doug Helped Anxious Kids Cope

Editor’s Note: NickSplat is now available on VRV! It includes Nickelodeon content from the 1990’s and beyond, including “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “CatDog,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Doug,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “The Angry Beavers” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” among others. To celebrate, we’re sharing our childhood experiences with these shows and inviting you to rewatch these classics with us.

Of all of the cartoons I watched as a kid, none left quite so strong an impression on me as Doug.


Four Nickelodeon Game Show Challenges I Would Totally Have Aced

Editor’s Note: NickSplat is now available on VRV! It includes Nickelodeon content from the 1990’s and beyond, including “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “CatDog,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Doug,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “The Angry Beavers” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” among others. To celebrate, we’re sharing our childhood experiences with these shows and inviting you to rewatch these classics with us.

As an 80s and 90s kid with cable, I inevitably watched tons of Nickelodeon. In particular, I was a fiend for their game shows: Double Dare to start, and then the 90s onslaught of programs like Guts and Nick Arcade. And if there’s one thing I know about those shows, it’s that I could have done everything on them perfectly.

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A Primer on Defense Against the Demonic Arts

On the list of things that can really put a damper on your day, demons are surely up there. Vomiting, speaking in an extremely deep voice, and being forced to disembowel your friends in a secluded cabin are but a few of the common annoyances a demon can bring into your life. In rare cases, they can even lead to the kissing of Satan’s butthole. To protect yourself from these threats, you must first know your enemy. Which is why I’ve decided to teach this advanced course in demonology.

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I Was a Teenage Gym Leader

I can remember the first time I played a Pokémon game better than I can remember the first time I rode a bike. It was my birthday, and I unwrapped a gift from my best friend to find a copy of Pokémon Blue, the first game—along with Pokémon Red—released in the series in North America.