meet the staff

We pretty much owe our staff a blood debt for all of the fantastic work they put in.

Thanks, guys.

In case you were wondering what, exactly, makes these two great nations so different, here’s the answer, according to a rudimentary Google Image search:

1.SUPERHEROES

America favors the six-pack, while ‘Murrica favors the 30-rack stuffed in a backpack.
Or this guy.

2.PAGEANTRY

Noooo comment.

3.FOOD

via createtv and imgur

This was actually one of the only pictures related to food we could find under “America”.
‘Murrica, on the other hand, had that. And this.

4.GUNS

America just likes piles of guns. ‘Murrica likes BAYKAY-47’S, YO

5.PATRIOTIC PHOTOSHOPPING

America = eagles, and statues of liberty, and red, white, and blue.
‘Murrica = fireworks, Uncle Sam, Obama, aggressively sparkly gifs… and eagles again.
(or this).

Which one will you be celebrating tomorrow?

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by

break something

You oughtta be pissed the fuck off. Stupid as you basement-dwelling e-baboons are, you can’t be okay with the legions of McMansion-bred husks wandering our world, leaving a sticky yellow discharge of ignorance and axe products in their wake. It’s not hard to troll the deserving, yet here you sit. feeling superior. on the internet. fp isn’t impressed.

So outta the goodness of my big ol’ bleedin’ heart (seriously, it’s real swollen…shoulda done a smaller line before writin’ this shit) I’m gonna help ya enlighten these fucks by making them a lil’ more uncomfortable in their own world. And I’m even gonna make it easy on you, with fp’s patented five step troll, illustrated by the night some pranksters and I made 30 pieces of glittered-up trash piss themselves in a hip dc bar.

 

Step 0) Target. Find a place where large numbers of deserving, self absorbed pricks like to spend their parents’ money. Ya need to get offline, go where they congregate and feel safe. Remind them that douchebags don’t get to hide amongst the herd.

For our example, I draw your attention to a trendy little outdoor bar that cropped up in the U Street area a few summers ago. By the time a garish sign had been erected with the teeth-grindingly vacant name “Tiki Bar,” I’d decided this place would suffer. Sand floor, umbrellas in drinks…these assholes had they heads so far up they asses they had flip-flops for you to fucking rent. Now,

 

Step 1) Weakness. Locate the squeeze point of the bar – the spot with the most people wishing they were somewhere else. Look for lines, crowds without drinks, or bros without ladies to pose for. fp’s go-to weakspot, and the focal point of our story, is the bathroom.

The owners of this hawaiian-themed hell-hole didn’t realize that if you’re gonna pull in a couple hundred pretty faces to get piss drunk in your bar, you want more than two single-person bathrooms in a shitty trailer, stuffed into a dark corner of the lot. Before we showed up, both lines were already 15-20 miserable motherfuckers long.

 

Step 2) Victim. Who deserves your wrath, and who’s in a position to receive it? This should be pretty easy, even for you dipshits. Find them. Observe them. Talk to them. The better you understand your victim, the more difficult you can make their life.

In our case, the whole bar deserved a wake up, it’s true, but only those in the bathroom line were in a position to receive their punishment. That meant whatever the troll, we were gonna need to get these bathroom lines stretching all the way back to the bar. This leads to,

 

Step 3) The Set Up. Do whatever is necessary to get people in the right place for their trolling. This varies by your ‘event,’ and is best taught through example, so wipe that chipotle grease off your face, sit up, and pay some fucking attention.

To ‘enhance’ the lines, a prankster and I patiently waited half an hour to get to the bathrooms. Once in, we locked the doors and slipped out the back windows. By slipped, I mean smashed with a rock…but the noise from the bar was enough to cover us. It was barely ten minutes until makeup-caked biddies up and down the line were doing the time-to-piss shuffle.

Unseen in the shadows behind the bathroom trailer, pranksters had begun piling in through the windows. With each bathroom as full as all those unfortunate bladders, it was time for fp’s favorite step,

 

Step 4) The Turn. Step 4 is when pumped-up frat boys weep and peroxide-scorched sorority girls flee. Step 4 is when you unleash cackling hounds of prankster hell upon the placated masses. Take one last deep breath, smile, and then show them how you really feel.

With a quick knock on the shared bathroom wall, the floodgates opened and my band of madmen flowed from our sweaty hiding spots. Pranksters ran down the lines of cross-legged khaki shorts and ass-flashing skirts, delivering swift and merciless punches to the bladders of the unsuspecting. By the time the rest of the bar began to notice their vapid revelry was under attack, nearly three dozen grown, useless adults lay crumpled in the piss-soaked sand.

 

Step 5) The Escape. You never want to stick around long enough to find out if you’ll be banned or charged with assault. No matter what you just pulled, act like it wasn’t you. Walk slowly, look at the chaos but keep moving away from it. But, uh, if a big guy in a black t-shirt makes eye contact, bolt.

As we backed away from the chaos, pranksters pulled off into the crowd, adopting looks of doe-eyed confusion. Someone would spot us soon, though, so we all kept moving toward the back fence. With everyone ready, I gave the signal, and using whatever barstools, tables, and patrons were necessary, we hurled ourselves over the wall and into the black freedom of the alleyways beyond. I doubt they heard us laughing as we ran, concerned as they were with all the acrid-smelling sand and soggy egos…

Want more from the Fallen Prankster? More misadventures here.
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posted 6.28.13

posted in articles

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Resident Distributor of Snark

Awwwwww yeah, we’re pulling out the big guns and rating the Khaleesi.

SPOILER ALERT: George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire and the HBO show derived thereof, Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen is the last living¹ member of the Targaryen family, former monarchs of The Seven Kingdoms, the fictional nation in which much of the series takes place. She’s also a Khaleesi, or female tribal leader, within the Dothraki culture and the adoptive mother of the first living dragons for centuries. Thus far, HBO’s portrayal of Daenerys has been fairly faithful to Martin’s original character.² Her character is so new and unique within fantasy culture that there aren’t many different incarnations of her: she’s only been played by one actress, Emilia Clarke, and there aren’t really Daenerys comic books or other merchandise in the mainstream yet.

except this.

via atomictoystore

Her family, while not exactly innocents themselves, were tortured, raped and murdered by insurgents, while only Dany and her brother Viserys escaped to the island nation of Pentos as children. In other words, girl’s got a huge chip on her shoulder. In addition to spending her childhood hiding in exile, Daenerys learns at young age that certain types of men will always attempt to take advantage of her. The series does, after all, take place in a fantasy realm that seems vaguely based on Medieval Europe, and let’s face it: most women probably did not have a great time in Medieval Europe.

Viserys being creepy with his sister Daenerys
mostly because of creeps like this dude.

via gilbertcuriosities

Perhaps fittingly, then, young Daenerys is incessantly sexually harassed, particularly by her own brother, sold as a slave-wife to a stranger by her so called “benefactor”, then raped³ by her new husband/owner, Khal Drogo. All in all, Dany’s early days are par for the course for a lady in Martin’s (pretty fucked up) world. But man oh man, does she bounce back in a big way.

Dany’s saga is too complex to fully relate in this column, but suffice it to say that she gains confidence as she matures, becomes a Khaleesi, reanimates some petrified dragon eggs, and kicks ass on her way to reclaim her family’s former glory as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. As a conventionally beautiful teenager and heiress, a lot of people try to take advantage of her in various ways; but when this happens, she doesn’t just rebuff them – she waits until they think they have the upper hand, and then she motherfucking destroys them.

Daenerys is HBIC

via tumblr

Some examples: the warlocks of Quarth think that they can kidnap and use her to keep her dragons alive, reducing her value to that of procreation – so she commands her dragons to burn the fuckers down. When the merchant Xaro Xhoan Daxos betrays her, revealing that he was basically trying to get into her pants while making a little cash on the side, she locks the motherfucker in his own vault to die. Later, in Astapor, the slave trader who owns the slave army Dany wishes to purchase assumes she’s just some naive little girl who doesn’t speak Valyrian (she does), and says so with a healthy dose of bigotry, thinking she can’t understand. Again, her dragons burn him down, not to mention she frees all of his slaves.

It is no coincidence that so far, most of Daenerys’ enemies have been men, all of whom demonstrate attitudes towards women that are either paternalistic, predatory or both. Daenerys is such a compellingly feminist character because she wields people’s assumptions about her, many of which are gender-based, as a weapon with which to achieve her own goals (getting hers) and defend the oppressed (like the slaves of Astapor).

She doesn’t start doing this overnight exactly, but she does experience a turning point one night when she takes the experiences life has dealt her and makes them her own: namely, sex.

Daenerys with her handmaiden, learning Worldly Things

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Daenerys first becomes the bad ass that GoT fans knows and love when, one night, she takes control of her situation and gets on top – of her husband Drogo, that is. All of Dany’s young life, she has been treated as though sex is one of her only assets. When she gets on top of Drogo, she is making a statement: “I’m going to stop doing this (having sex) because I’m told, and start doing it because I like it. And Dothraki customs be damned, I’m going to do it the way I like4“. Sexual empowerment leads directly to political empowerment when Drogo impregnates Dany with an heir, lending her the cultural capital she needs to become a leader in her own right alongside her husband.

Daenerys with blood, like, all over her mouth
did we mention this?

via tumblr

While conventional family life doesn’t pan out for Dany the way she might have hoped, her pregnancy is the indirect catalyst that leads to Daenerys’ eventual greatest source of power: the three dragons, who are as much a part of her as a biological child would be. Basically, all of Daenerys’ power and badassery can be traced back in some way to one night when she decided to assert herself sexually.

It should be mentioned, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, that Dany is a surprisingly maternal character for someone so young.5 As “The Mother of Dragons,” she identifies motherhood, be it adoptive or biological, as a powerful state of being that can also be wielded as a weapon. In the era of Twilight, in which motherhood is a scary affliction that can literally kill you if your baby-daddy happens to be a vampire, this is pretty progressive.

FUCKING DRAGONS
f*ck twilight

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As awesome as Dany is, she can’t be perfect. Appearance-wise, Dany very much looks the part of your standard fantasy heroine – long hair, flowy dresses, unnaturally colored eyes (they’re purple).

Pretty princess Daenerys

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with this of course, but it does reinforce the concept that heroines still need to look like delicate little “princesses,” even when they’re so much more than that. There is also an issue in that the love of Daenerys’ life, her husband Khal Drogo, did rape her initially. Personally, I find it very hard to wrap my head around this idea; however, in a world where arranged marriages and rampant misogyny are the norm, it probably makes sense contextually.

On to the Female Empowerment Meter! (Need an explanation? Check out my first article here!)

F.E.M. Ratings: Daenerys Targaryen

Breaks with gender stereotypes – 7
If Daenerys weren’t a contemporary heroine whose canon is still unfolding as I write, I might give her a higher score. But she isn’t quite as groundbreaking as some of the ladies who paved the way for her yet, so let’s keep things in perspective for now.

Resists/returns the male gaze – 9
I almost want to give her a perfect score here, mostly because Emilia Clarke as Daenerys has one of the best “Don’t Objectify Me” stares that I’ve ever seen.

Daenerys' Don't Objectify Me stare

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Possesses agency independent of men – 8
Again, Daenerys does really fucking well in this area, and the completion of her character arc might require a revision of this score in the future. But a lot of her agency (mostly that which comes with her political power) is derived from the patriarchal structures of the realms she inhabits. I’d like to see Dany take some more deconstructive action against these systems, like she does when she frees the slaves.

OVERALL: 8 / 10
You go, Khaleesi.

Daenerys says, Yes, all men must die, but we are not men

via tumblr

Want more nerdy feminism? Check out Milly’s article on Princess Leia here!

¹  Well, after a certain “golden crown” incident, anyway.
²  Full disclosure: I never got past the second book because I’m a bad person.
³  A lot of people do not consider what happens when Daenerys and Khal Drogo first have sex to be rape, and to that I say: dude, SHE’S THIRTEEN. Not to mention the power dynamics and the language barrier that make it impossible for her to give consent, but most of all, SHE’S THIRTEEN AT THE TIME.
4  In both book and show, Daenerys seeks advice from Doreah, her Western handmaiden, who tells her about the joys of cowgirl – something not really “done” in male-dominated Dothraki culture.
5  In the books, she would be about 14 or 15 by the time she gets to Astapor, and although her age is a bit more ambiguous in the show, I would still place her in her late teens/early 20’s at the oldest.

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Resident Distributor of Snark

Princess Leia made me the nerd I am today. Star Wars was my entry point into a lifetime of science fiction fandom, and Leia was my idol. I used my allowance to buy her action figures. I spent hours trying to replicate her hairstyles. And of course, I passed a lot of time pretending to be her as I rescued Han from various perils and generally kicked outer-space ass. Leia was tough as nails and willing to get dirty, attributes that can be all too hard to find as a young girl in search of a role model.

But, for all the good that she did me, there are aspects of my childhood Leia-worship that are troubling in retrospect. Why was I so obsessed with her beauty and stylish clothes, rather than her weapons or her skill sets? Why was her romance with Han so much more important to me than say, her spiritual relationship with The Force? And, perhaps most of all, why was it so damn important that she was attractive to men?

The answers are complex, and they are the result of an amalgamation of the many representations of Leia: on screen, in print, in the toy aisle and in the eyes of her fans. The heroines of nerd culture break boundaries simply by existing, as heroines rather than heroes; but the ways in which they are represented often build those barriers right up again. These fictional women typically engage in activities and behaviors that could be interpreted as advancing feminism, but their appearances, their costumes, and their roles within the universes they inhabit lessen their credibility as feminist role models. In this column, I hope to parse the mechanisms through which the ladies of nerd-dom are alternately empowered and disenfranchised, revered and objectified. I will examine a new fictional character with each installation, comparing her various iterations, and eventually giving each a completely arbitrary rating regarding her viability as a feminist role model.

I should acknowledge that there are several problems inherent in the way I’m going about this; it’s gender essentialist and it reduces women to numbers, for two. But unfortunately, the majority of fictional female characters that populate our cultural zeitgeist today are still oppressed through the structure of a gender binary, and there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. As for reducing the characters to numbers – well, they’re not real people, and it’s kind of fun, so deal with it.

I have devised what I call the “Female Empowerment Meter” as a rudimentary ratings system with which to evaluate the subjects of this column. I will assign each character a number on a scale of 1-10 based on the character’s achievements in 3 categories (1 being she does not to do this at all, 10 being she does this extremely effectively):

So there you have it, the Female Empowerment Meter. Let’s see how The Princess fares.

Princess Leia Organa, as portrayed in the original Star Wars trilogy, is Princess of the Alderaan system, a senator in the Imperial Senate and a member of the Rebel Alliance, although her actual role in rebel politics or the ruling of a planetary system is never clarified in the movies. We the viewers first meet her as a mysterious young woman dressed in virginal white, just before her capture by Imperial troops. Her title alone, Princess, situates her within the “damsel in distress” trope, but she begins to tear down those expectations almost instantaneously.

Her coarse language doesn’t sound like that of a traditional princess, and she sure kills a lot of storm troopers for a “damsel”. Especially given the year the original movie came out (1977), Leia represents a major break from the traditional role prescribed to women in movies. She is loud-mouthed, headstrong, physically tough, and generally an all-around badass. At least, that’s the way things appear at first glance.

via giphy

One of the biggest issues with Ms. Organa as a feminist icon is the cycle of failure in which she seems perpetually trapped. Throughout the original trilogy, she consistently follows a pattern: she starts with a conventional character trope (e.g. a damsel in distress). Then she valiantly breaks with that convention. But ultimately, she fails in her endeavors and returns to her original status. On the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope, she shatters all expectations of a typical damsel by bossing Han and Luke around and taking over her own rescue mission.

Then, about halfway through the garbage chute scene, all of her girl-power gusto seems to putter out. Yes, she helped them hide from the storm troopers… in a trash compactor that is also home to an aquatic garbage monster. In The Return of the Jedi, she completely reverses the hero-damsel roles by sneaking into Jabba’s palace to rescue Han… only to fail, get caught, and need saving by Luke. This arc even exists on a larger scale across the entire trilogy, to a certain extent. For all the progress she makes, at the very end she is essentially reduced to a love interest for Han and a sister for Luke – a mirror to the men around her.

via fanpop

And then there’s the gold bikini.

via fanpop

In many ways, Leia started the unfortunate trend of sci-fi women in needlessly, often inexplicably skimpy clothing (especially in a genre otherwise obsessed with in-universe coherence). Her sex appeal isn’t inherently problematic, but the ways in which “Slave Leia” has become an intensely objectified target for the male gaze are. Let’s face it; Leia in the gold bikini has been masturbation material for teenage boys² for longer than I’ve been alive. What’s troubling about this isn’t her bare-midriff; it’s the fact that “Slave Leia” = sexy Leia. Generally, a collar and chain-link leash as integral parts of a “sexy” outfit are never a great signifier of female empowerment.³ Yes, Jabba assumedly forces her to wear it. But all aspects of how she is framed within the structure of the film (not to mention fan responses) while wearing the gold bikini place her front and center for male voyeurs.

She isn’t owning her sexuality when she shows off those abs; if anything, her sexuality is being used against her as a tool of degradation, a way to make her feel vulnerable and identify her as a slave.

At the end of the day, Leia is not a real person – she is George Lucas’s creation, and we have to take the lens through which we see her character into account when considering her. Add to this the wealth of representations that exist in materials associated with the Star Wars franchise, and things start to get complicated. For instance, most Princess Leia action figures portray her as your traditional, overtly sexualized sci-fi vixen, complete with a boob job and inhumanly sculpted abs. I mean, yes Carrie Fisher’s Leia was pretty damn sexy, but she wasn’t constantly stopping to pose coquettishly or gaze longingly at her male admirers – she was too busy running around with guns.

But as a fictional character, all of these different Leias – movie Leia, action figure Leia, internet porn star Leia – factor in to the greater cultural icon that is Princess Leia as we know her.

F.E.M. Ratings: Princess Leia

Breaks with gender stereotypes – 6
She does break with gender stereotypes quite a bit… but then she kind of circles back and re-inserts herself within them all over again.

Resists/returns the male gaze – 5
The gold bikini kind of ruins this one for her, even though it’s not her fault. Basically, without the gold bikini she could receive an 8 here; with it she gets a 5.

Possesses agency independent of men – 6
Yes and no. She acts independently quite a bit, but this is almost framed as a hindrance, given that her various escape/rescue attempts never go too well. She certainly functions as more than a romantic interest, given that she’s a diplomat and rebel leader – but how much time is actually devoted to those endeavors within the movies compared to, say, her flirtations with Han?

OVERALL: 6

Basically, Leia herself is awesome, but Lucas’s scripts and story are riddled with problems when it comes to treatment of gender. So… when the sequels come out, can we get lots of scenes of say, Leia commanding a Starfleet? Or discussing diplomacy with a colleague? Or, best of all, rescuing Han and actually motherfucking succeeding?! I’m looking at you, Lucas. You (and now Disney) better get your shit together.

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