Last of Us | Left Behind – The Kiss

15 02 2014

Photo on 2-16-14 at 9.45 PMI haven’t posted to this blog in a while. The last time I did I was angry about something. Anger, which propelled me enough to write about it. Well, I’m angry again. (Just be warned this blog post contains spoilers for the game). I just completed the first and only single-player downloadable content for The Last of Us. The DLC, titled Left Behind, follows Ellie, the young protagonist from the main campaign.

The game picks up just after she and Joel (her father-figure protector) escape the university after a group of apocalyptic hunters try to feed them bullet sandwiches. Ellie finds refuge in a mall which reminds her of the last time she spent with her best friend Riley. In the flashbacks we follow her and Riley through an abandoned mall having fun in Halloween shops, horse carousels and photo booths. By the end of the end of their adventure it’s revealed that Riley wanted one last hoorah with her best friend before a radical group called the Fireflies took her away to another city to fight in the post apocalyptic world. What’s more is that it’s revealed that this whole escapade was a last time date for the two girls which ultimately culminates into a kiss.

Now this is what pisses me off. This is what made me angry, what made my blood curdle. No, not because two girls were sharing an intimate moment, but because, of course, what the YouTube comments said below.

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Now of course I expect trolls like these but what really got to me were the comments that were well-meaning but, to me, misguided.

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It’s like this user and others that wrote similar comments do not want to believe she is a lesbian even though she experienced a lesbian moment. Even though Ellie shared this wonderful moment with her best friend it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to taint it with being a wonderful lesbian moment. It’s as if it being lesbian belittles the situation and to rectify it we must say Ellie had a “slip of judgement.” Why can’t Ellie be a lesbian? Let us say Riley were instead Henry, another character from the main campaign, you would never hear someone say, “just because she kissed him doesn’t mean she’s straight.” Most would automatically assume she was straight or would not even pay it any mind. This comment pissed me off even more than the typical trolls because it seems as though this YouTube commenter was trying to make the scenario okay within their brain. ‘Oh, just cause she kissed her she’s not gay she was just in an extreme emotional state.”

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Initially as I was playing the game and this cutscene came along I cheered when they kissed. In the main campaign we saw vurnability within Ellie but never like this. I felt like I was her in that moment. I felt the love she felt for Riley, even before the kiss. I knew she needed this person in her life and that this person was very special to her. Most of all, the feeling was mutual. Riley takes off her FireFly pendant and throws it to the ground in a symbol of her choice for Ellie. Then they shared their kiss together, something so sweet and so innocent and so right because they both needed and loved one another. Only to be ruined by a group of infected that brings them back to their reality. I was in that moment with them and I felt it regardless of what their sexual orientation may be. But my real world ruined their moment for me too. The trolls who lashed out stupidly or the ignoramuses that try to sway Ellie to their perceptions.

And then I thought about it more. Why does it matter if she’s straight or lesbian? Why does she need a label at all? There was an article I read a week or two ago stating how homophobia actually hurts our overall sexuality. The fact that we are afraid to acknowledge it or repel it keeps us boxed in. Love is an emotional connection between two people regardless of who their partner is. Why are we so fixated on those couples being of the opposite sex? What is the virtue between a same sex relationship versus a heterosexual one? This scene between these two girls was possibly the most touching thing I’ve witness between two people in a long while. Perhaps because in standard relationships within the media each sex falls into specific gender roles.

With a same sex pairing like Ellie and Riley, I feel it’s easier to see the deeper connection between the two, not just the physical. In fact, Ellie and Riley’s relationship within the entire game was very wholesome and in many ways more mature and dynamic than most relationships audiences get to see. In most depictions of heterosexual connections it’s about something physical. We see the man swoon over a woman and compliment her good looks. Or we see the woman talk about his hot bod. But we hardly see them connect on a personal and more deep level. Instead we get the conventional cat and mouse chase. With Ellie and Riley’s relationship you never have them checking out each other’s asses or directing inappropriate comments towards one another. You merely see them being with each other and enjoying each other’s company just because their spirits, their personalities mesh,  regardless of their sex. There is no inherent virtue in either a homosexual or heterosexual relationship. Though, I feel this depiction of a homosexual relationship was far more honest than most heterosexual relationships we get in videos games. Also, nothing is wrong with a physical attraction between two people but so often we only see the physicality between two parties of a relationship. It was a breath of fresh air to just simply see two people connecting as Ellie and Riley did in this scene and in this game.

But we do live in a world where we have labels. So if we should label Ellie and Riley’s intimate moment we should call it exactly what it is: a beautiful lesbian moment. A gorgeous display of deep caring and intimacy between two female parties. We should not depreciate it as a bi-curious scenario or a lapse in judgement. It was not a gross act or an abomination. It was simply touching and sweet, and most of all, honest and true.

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Riley & Ellie (Last of Us: Left Behind 2014)

So far I haven’t seen any comments from Naughty Dog. If they do respond to their fans about the reason they had these two share a kiss, I hope they do not make a big deal out it. Just as we do not make a big deal out a heterosexual couple sharing a kiss in a game.

Great, this rant made me miss House of Cards Season 2. I have to go to sleep now.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I never understood the hate on a nigga’s preference/When every marriage is a same sex marriage/Same sex everyday, monotonous.”

– Childish Gambino

Peace.

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The Prince of Airbending: Donald Glover

2 06 2010

Last week this article and this site got me very angry at Hollywood and myself. Two huge tent pole movies this summer have been completely whitewashed and I was about to lie down and accept it. The movies I speak of are Disney’s Prince of Persia (released last Friday) and Paramount’s The Last Airbender.  Both films would have called for some ethnic lead characters, and yet, neither of these studios cast any Persians or Asians in the respective roles. Ultimately, I was not going to do this blog because I could not come up with a counter to the argument of why it was even important to have racial diversity in America cinema. But a comedian and a few Facebook users gave me incentive and motivation to stop being lazy and speak up! In short, I am heated.

It could happen.

A few days ago Donald Glover’s (Derrick Comedy and Community) name came up as a possible candidate to play the next Peter Parker after Marc Bernadin, a writer for the sci-fi site io9.com said: “In this day and age, why does Spidey have to be a white guy?” When I first heard reports of Glover as Spider Man I thought it was funny and I jokingly supported the idea but after reading Bernadin’s article I asked myself why does Spidey have to be a white guy? So via Twitter/Facebook I posted, “If The Last Airbender & Prince of Persia can be white. Then GODDAMNIT [Donald Glover] can be Spider Man!” I expected to get a lot of likes and agreements but I was shocked to see comments like “What!? He is an iconic character known for a certain look: The geeky white boy” and “Spider Man 3 was the last disaster, I don’t want to see another. “ WHAT!? I could not believe what I was reading! Movies like Dragon Ball: Evolution, Prince of Persia and The Last Airbender have leads that are completely whitewashed and no one seems to care but the second someone proposes the idea of a black Spider Man and people go mad! It does not make sense to me!

Some say that casting a black Spider Man would be a form of reverse discrimination and my respond to that is codswallop! Spider Man (and more notably Peter Parker) is the epitome of the “everyman character.” If ever there were a character that could be any race, whether it were African, Asian or Latin American, Spider Man is the one. On the other hand, the Prince of PERSIA is specifically Persian. Aang and Goku are specifically Asian, and yet, they are whitewashed without anyone batting an eyelash. I take great issue with the fact that we overlook the importance of racial diversity in today’s movies. If we cannot accept a minority Spider Man but allow several whitewashed movies something is terribly wrong with our current state-of-minds.

Aang in "The Last Airbender" (2010)

It upsets me that the only time we can get an ethnic character in any semi-leading role is as the villain. This year’s The Last Airbender previously had an all-white leading cast. Formally, Jesse McCarty was set to play the villain Prince Zuko but was then replaced by Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel. Paramount claims, “Night’s vision of ‘The Last Airbender’ includes a large and ethnically diverse cast that represents cultures from around the world.” The problem is that most of that diversity only seems suitable for the minor characters, background performers and antagonists.

American cinema should reflect American society. After all, art imitates life, right? It is important that we see more ethnic faces on the screen, especially as leading roles. At the very least we should see the same ratio of movies as we have in our population, but studies from racebender.com show that Paramount can’t even managed that! I don’t think it is important so much for adults as it is for kids. My favorite super heroes growing up were Blank Man and Meteor Man, though I’m sure most of you don’t know who either of those two are. For me, it’s really important to see someone on screen that I can relate to, whether that is socially or racially. I’m more prone to relate to the outcast character or the token black guy because I’ve grown up “playing” those roles in life. Kids are very easy to mold and manipulate and I don’t like the message the media is sending to them.

Meteor Man (Jefferson Reed, 1993)

There is some good being done in Hollywood and entertainment as well, don’t get me wrong. Green Lantern recently was depicted as a black man instead of a white one in one of the latest Justice League cartoons, Power Rangers has had a few ethnic leaders and recently we had our first black Disney princess in The Princess and the Frog (though we still have no black prince!). Still, it took me awfully too long to come up with those names and titles when I can spout off several heroes like Superman, Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, Neo, Rocky, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker off the top of my head. But I want to see more characters like Blade, El Mariachi and Bruce Lee and I feel some of the recent movies and television shows we’ve been receiving have not met that standard. At the end of the day, it does not matter if Donald Glover is the next Spider Man or not but I feel it’s really important that the entertainment industry sees past this as media hype and look more into its racial relevance.

UPDATE (6-26-10): One of my friends and mentors, Damian Gonzalez, has brought it to my attention that one of my statements was wrong and inaccurate. The blame should not fall on Paramount and Hollywood solely. Paramount, other movie and television studios are a business, they pander to the almighty dollar. As great web shows like Beyond the Trailer and Movie Preview Critic would say, it is up to us, the audience, to decide what movies we watch. Whenever we pay for a movie ticket we are voluntarily supporting that movie, though in the vast sum of ticket sales our purchase may seem small. So it is up to you and me to be the change we want to see in the world. For me, I want to see a change in white-washing practices in Hollywood. Therefore, I will not be watching The Last Airbender when it does come out and if you feel the same, you should too. In the great words of the movie preview critic: “Hollywood gives more of what we pay for so choose wisely.”

QUOTES OF THE DAY:

“It’s not enough to say that “everyone is equal” or “discrimination is wrong.” Those concepts are too complex for young kids to understand. Explicit, direct statements about race and skin color work best. “

– Racebending.com

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Ghandi

Bruce Lee

Peace and Much ❤





Billimarie

26 05 2010

I think it was two years ago when I met Billimarie. Initially, I met her through a mutual friend, Ashten ‘Whoopi” Winger, via the internet, which, oddly enough, is how I meet a majority of my friends. We were supposed to meet one another on several occasions but they all fell through. It wasn’t until CampusMovieFest came to Cal State Northridge in 2008 that we met each other and ended up making a short in one week!

I directed and she edited.  It was my first time ever shooting a movie and not editing the footage. In fact, it was my first time solely directing and having no direct hand in shooting or editing (Christian Valle directed and operated camera). It was a great experience and Billimarie was very nice and compromising. She never gave off an ego and never talked down to me.

She had trophies aplenty; most of them were achievements in filmmaking from festivals and such. Never once did she point them out to me, even when I asked she answered in a passing manner but with no tone of arrogance or conceit. Though her films and videos might not reflect it, she is very down-to-earth. I expect this was because of her parents’ guidance. They too were easy-going and friendly. She was the perfect role model for me and still is. She had all the qualities I wanted to have. She was gracious, humble, relaxed and most of all talented! In yet, I never felt jealous. I could only feel inspired.

A year ago she told me she was planning on making a then untitled film about people with box heads. At first, I thought of Jack in the Box (but then I realized that he had an orb for a head … I digress) but she was picturing something a little different. When I read the script for the first time, I admit, I didn’t get it. It took her several discussions and a few more drafts  until I was blown away. I had pictured a world beyond the page, not just the story that was presented. I really felt Billimarie created a nice and familiar yet unfamiliar world with a grand Matrix-like back story (at least for me). But what really got me was the theme of love; a theme that I think is championed when coupled with artificial intelligence and robots. I enjoy the thought that love can conquer all, whether it be hate, violence, war, tyranny or even a droid ;-). There are also some underlining motifs about government control and regulation, which was also thrilling for me.

The production of the film was really fun. I don’t necessarily think there were bad days on the set, maybe a hot day or a cold day but never a bad one. Everyone had a lot of energy and was especially friendly with each other. Billimarie put together a fine cast and crew, notably Sean Hill who was just as gracious and amiable as she. I remember the night shoot being particularly fun, especially with the visits from the cops and such. Just like most directors, Billimarie was frantic and scatter-brained but she never lost her cool, never raised her voice, always keeping into perspective that she was doing this because she loved it. She respected us and we respected her. More than that, she liked us as people and we liked her back for being her!

Production ended and we all parted ways and Billimarie went into a fortress of solitude and edited away! A little less than a year later and now she’s released her baby to the world. This past Sunday she had a small screening for the cast and crew (as well as a graduation/birthday part celebration) and I had forgotten how much I missed and admired her.

So this is to you Billimarie! For being such a great filmmaker and a great friend! Congratulations to your release of “Corrugated Hearts!”

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?”

– Benjamin Franklin

Peace & Much ❤

*Please be sure to repost/retweet the film if you enjoy it.*





Opening & Carmen

27 04 2010

It’s been a long time coming. Thanks to Ricky Elliott, over the next few weeks you’ll be seeing a lot of scenes posted up here. The film as a whole will be uncompleted but I will post up most of the scenes that I can get behind. It will make me feel complete and I can move on. I’ve mentioned already that I was not happy with the outcome of the film but I felt it was a good experience. Read more of that here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“And baby girl, what does it matter where your purse from?
Your hurr done, your nails did, your ass fat, but you’re dumb
Mix Melyssa Ford with Maya Angelou
Become a top model and Sojourner too” – Lupe Fiasco

Peace & Much ❤





VB 3-28-10

29 03 2010

This weeks I see Hot Tub Time Machine which was the definition of mediocre comedy! I also ask you all if comedies are even worth watching in the theater … especially since ticket prices can get really high around Los Angeles. That and I’ve got some Whoopi vs. SilentBat II stuff for you all to view! Enjoy!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter, he’s got to just know.” – Will Rogers

Peace & Much ❤

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Will Rogers





VBs 7,14,21!

21 03 2010

It’s been a while … but that’s okay, I know you guys didn’t miss me. Well I think I’m going back to my old video blogging days and stepping back from written blogs. I’ll write a blog if I feel stirred enough to do so (like Jamba vs. Robek’s) or if I every get a still camera again and take pictures. Like always, just follow me on Twitter and you can get updates from me almost every hour.

Enjoy the videoblogs below!





Sundance Days

5 02 2010

The video is a playlist. In all it’s 20 minutes. Enjoy!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace & Much ❤