Fandom Heresies: Thoughts On The Batman (2022)

Greetings, my fellow random response generators! After the numerous disruptions of last month, I am getting back on schedule for this week and, hopefully, for the rest of this month. So one should see new updates to my fanfiction, No Blood for Business, Brockhall and Legends of Infernia. I make no promises, but that is the plan for now.

Today, however, I want to talk about The Batman (2022). I saw it last night (yes in the theatre; HBO MAX isn’t available in Canada) and, opininoiated pain in the neck that I am, have thoughts

Thoughts I’m gonna share with you whether you like it or not!

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70 Billion Dollars!?!

I had a different post planned for today, but then Microsoft dropped a bombshell that will no doubt reverberate through fandoms for decades to come:

They bought Activision-Blizzard for 68.7 billion dollars. That’s billion, with a ‘b’. Aside from the stupid amounts of money involved, this buy-out (to be completed by the end of Microsoft’s 2023 year, according to Bobby Kotick himself, as seen here) has wide-ranging effects on the game industry, some negative, some positive.

But mostly negative.

Bye-Bye Bobby

Let’s start with the obvious: in July 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard detailing behaviour that wouldn’t be out of place in a Dilbert cartoon. Or maybe in something Garth Ennis. You can read the whole sordid mess here.

Now, I dropped out of the Blizzard fandom a long time ago (and I was never much of an Activision fan; all the games of theirs I liked were developed by different studios and merely published by Activision. Most of them were screwed over, too), and all this did was convince me that was the right decision. And horrify me, of course.

But, clearly, Activision-Blizzard’s scandal had greater effects on the wider industry. Players like Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser, Playstation’s Jim Ryan and Xbox’s own Phil Spencer all expressed horror and revulsion at Activision-Blizzard’s actions and committed to reevaluating their relationship with the toxic company. Those responses can be read here: Bowser, Ryan and Spencer. Of course, little did we know that one of these gentlemen had both the resources and chutzpah to… correct Activision-Blizzard, forcibly if they had to.

A-B wasn’t idle while their world burned down around them, of course. They released one of the most mealy-mouthed, butt-covering statements I’ve ever read, and my Prime Minister is Justin Trudeau. You can read it here, near the bottom. But this attempt at damage control, woefully inadequate in any circumstance, was undermined by accusations by The Wall Street Journal:

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision-Blizzard, knew all about his company’s corrupt, sexist culture and did nothing about it for decades.

For what it’s worth, I believe WSJ. Rot starts from the top, and Bobby Kotick has been at the top of A-B for a long time. There is no way he didn’t know about his company’s awful behaviour, and was likely involved in some of it.

Although a walk-out was probably planned for a while, the allegations in WSJ were definitely the trigger. And can you blame them? Management has been abusing video game employees for a long time, with crunch being the current buzzword but only the tip of the iceberg. That alone would be enough to stage a walkout, but the particular abuses of A-B was the dump truck of straw that broke the camel’s back.

Now, something that confused every observer on the planet was why did A-B’s board of directors keep Bobby Kotick on? Kotick was a disease, single-handedly driving the company’s stock down with his arrogance and stupidity?

Last week, Phil Spencer provided the answer.

Phil Spencer, Warchief of Xbox

Phil Spencer is a snake. A cunning, patient predator with long-term plans, he has swiftly overturned Xbox’s reputation from the disaster that was Xbox One. He did it by mostly pretending to be a good guy, saying all the things gamers want to hear and downplaying the Console War’s toxicity.

Last week, Spencer revealed his true colours.

Oh, I don’t think Spencer is entirely insincere. But his primary motivation is definitely expanding Microsoft’s market share against competitors like Sony, Amazon and Google. That’s why he went after Activision-Blizzard; to grab IP’s like Call of Duty out from under Sony.

And so as long as Spencer was negotiating for A-B, the board wasn’t going to dump Kotick. For practical purposes, if nothing else: ditching your chief negotiator in the middle of high stake negotiations is a daft thing to do. Plus, Kotick was about to make them all rich (although, funny enough, Kotick was allegedly opposed to the buy-out).

WSJ figures Kotick will be out as soon as the deal closes, and that makes a lot of sense. He’s already made all his cronies rich, he’s made himself richer, and he’s old and close to retirement anyway. Plus, I don’t think Spencer likes Kotick much. The two men have very different styles and goals: Spencer, while undeniably a villain in the overall video game space, is hell bent on building a more inclusive, less toxic gaming space. It’s just, you know, he does it by buying everybody else out.

Kotick, on the other hand, is indirectly culpable for the suicide of one of his employees.

Monopolization

Technically, strictly speaking, Microsoft buying A-B isn’t monopolization. It’s something called ‘vertical integration’, as explained here. And, I gotta say, ‘vertical integration’ sounds a lot like monopolization to me.

And whatever you want to call it, ‘vertical integration’, ‘corporate consolidation’ or monopolization, it’s incredibly unhealthy for the video game industry. As more and more IP’s fall into fewer and fewer hands, competition and artistic drive will dry up. Unionization efforts, probably a necessity for the industry to survive at this point, will start running into serious complications as large and powerful companies like Microsoft union bust.

Now, me, I’m a Nintendo player. Oh sure, I play some games on PC (Warhammer 3 in a month!), but I play Nintendo games. I’ve been playing Nintendo games since the SNES, and it is with Nintendo I’ll stay until I die or Nintendo goes bankrupt. All other consoles are, to me, side consoles.

So this acquisition doesn’t hurt me much, personally. But I fear a future where, in order to survive, Nintendo is forced to buy up as many third-party developers as it can. I fear a future where the only choices in gaming are Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft; no truly third-party developers left.

Phil Spencer is okay with that future; I’m not.


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Fandom Heresies: Metroid Dread And The Future Of Samus Aran

Greetings my fellow random response generators! It is I, falconlord5, here with yet another Fandom Heresies post. Today, we will be talking about Metroid Dread and what it means for the franchise continuing forward.

First things first. I have acquired a new laptop (and phone, but that’s a different issue). Which means, yes! I can get back to writing consistently. Everything is still delayed by about a month though, as I get back up to speed. I might, might mind, be able to update some stuff this month, but it is gonna be an irregular update schedule for January. I will, as ever, endeavour to keep you guys updated.

In the meantime, if you like this kind of content and wish to support me, you can check out my Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

Spoilers for Metroid Dread beneath the cut!

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Fandom Heresies: The Killing Joke; Or How Alan Moore Doesn’t Understand Batman, Part One

Hello my fellow random response generators! This week, as long promised, we’re going to dive into The Killing Joke, Alan Moore’s most famous work for DC and unarguably his worst. No, seriously: even Moore himself hates The Killing Joke, and with good reason: it’s a deeply misogynistic tale, complete with the use of rape imagery to titillate the reader (yes, I know Moore has said the Joker didn’t rape Barbara. The imagery is still there), thoroughly abelist and generally just a nasty, pathetic little story. While a lot of the problems we would see from Moore in later years (seriously, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is just one long thematic sequel to this steaming pile of crap) are here, it’s not hard to see why he’d reject this story in particular. The Killing Joke is nothing more than an exercise in Alan Moore’s worst tendencies and darkest fantasies.

Today, we’re going to set up a little background for Alan Moore’s most infamous work. But first, if you enjoy my writing you can support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

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Fandom Heresies: Thoughts On The New The Batman Trailer

Hello all you happy people! Yes, it is I, falconlord5, here to discuss more fandom shenanigans! But first, some housekeeping. If you enjoy my inane ramblings, you can support met on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

On that note, I will also start posting preview chapters of my upcoming novels No Blood for Business and Brockhold next month.

Today, we are going to discuss the newest The Batman trailer, starring (shudder) Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman.

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Fandom Heresies: Some Thoughts On No Time To Die

Hello everybody and welcome to another round of Fandom Heresies! I am Josh Stoodley, known on the internet as Falconlord5, and this series collects my thoughts on various fandom shenanigans. We will discuss everything from comic books to Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings. Today we will discuss the newest James Bond movie, No Time To Die.

If you enjoy this series, please either support me on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/joshstoodley?fan_landing=true) or buy me a Ko-Fi (https://ko-fi.com/falconlord)

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Fandom Heresies: The Dick/Babs Romance Is Bad For Barbara Gordon, Part 3

Greetings, my fellow random response generators! Falconlord here with another round of Fandom Heresies, where I discuss my more controversial opinions on various fandoms. Other related series will include Fandom Orthodoxies, where I discuss ideas that the fandom at large and I share, and Fandom Funnies, which is random miscellanea I find amusing. Like, for example, discussing what Dungeons and Dragons classes the main cast Tales of Symphonia would be.

This sub-series discusses the Dick/Babs romance, and how it contributed to a steady devaluation of her character. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Today, we will discuss how the Dick/Babs romance came to be and how it coincided with a steady downgrading of Barbara’s accomplishments.

And yes, before anyone objects, Oracle is a superhero. Bite me if you think otherwise. And remember, if you enjoy these posts you can support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate

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Fandom Heresies: The Dick/Babs Romance Is Bad For Barbara Gordon, Part 2

Greetings, folks! It is I, Falconlord5 with another round of Fandom Heresies! Today we’re going to talk about how and why Barbara Gordon was created, her relationship to Catwoman, and how she was routinely positioned as a love interest and equal to Batman rather than his sidekick. Part one of this series is here and part three is here

But first, I have a simple question: would it kill Kevin Feige and his crew over at Marvel actually read the comics their less-than-stellar movies are based on? Watching Black Widow this weekend was like watching Smallville in its last days. Random, incoherent cameos and shout-outs to various Marvel properties that are supposed to give comic readers a jolt of recognition despite not resembling their comic book namesakes. It’s just, ah, aggravating especially when you consider that the original comic book characters were engaging and interesting in their own right and didn’t need all this kerfuffle.

Bah. But I digress. We’re here to talk about Barbara Gordon, and how she came from the last good live-action adaptation. Join me under the cut!

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Fandom Heresies: The Dick/Babs Romance is Terrible for Barbara Gordon Part One

Hello and welcome to Fandom Heresies, where I talk about all my controversial opinions regarding different fandoms. DC, Marvel, Disney, Nintendo… I have heretical opinions about them all. And, because heretics gotta heretic, I’m going to share them with you.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of the many ways DC has screwed over the original Batgirl, everybody’s favourite redhead Barbara Gordon (we’ll discuss how DC likes to screw over the other two Batgirls, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, in a later post and possibly different series. After all, it’s not like DC’s horrible treatment of those two characters hasn’t been a source of fan complaint for what? Fifteen years now? Something like that. Hardly heretical). Specifically, we’re going to talk about how, since the 90’s, DC has continually de-aged and undercut Barbara to serve Dick Grayson and the Dick/Babs romance. We’ll talk about how Barbara started out life as a replacement love interest for two different characters (Kathy Kane’s Batwoman and the Eartha Kitt version of Catwoman, respectively) for Batman, how she evolved into her own character (with some bumps along the way; I’m looking at you, Frank Robbins) and how, starting in the 90’s, DC began undercutting Barbara in favour of Dick. This is part one of three. The other two are here and here.

Remember, if you like these posts, please support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

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