Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for June, 2012

Happy Accidents

Since I went teal in January, I’ve had a lot to learn about vivid color. Since it fades really quickly, I could go in to the salon for toner refreshes every couple weeks, or I could fuss with the color at home.

(Sorry E—-, I’d go broke trying to keep it up at the salon all the time!)

My hair had faded to this really neat blondish pale blue color. My mom described it as an icy tone. But it wasn’t my turquoise. My stylist had explained that I could cut the dark blue color that you see in my pic here on the site with some conditioner to lighten it. That’s what I’d been using to keep my color from fading quickly- only I realized I was being wary of using too much color and so I wasn’t doing very much at all.

So I bought a new conditioner meant to really moisturize my hair (sulfate-free, naturally) and mixed it up in my dye bowl (yes, I bought a dye bowl and brush. Makes my life so much easier- even when just putting on the conditioner with the hint of dye). I noticed it wasn’t getting any lighter, but it was getting thinner.

When I was halfway done with my hair, I realize I could hear it making a squishy sound as I painted on the color. A lathering sound to be precise. That’s when I realized- I hadn’t bought conditioner. I’d accidentally bought shampoo. So I rushed to rinse it out, thinking that at the very worst I probably just wasted some hair dye… and discovered that my hair was turquoise.

So I did what anyone would do. I blowdried my hair again, then finished dyeing the rest with the mix.

This is the final result. Not bad, but certainly- this isn’t how I’m going to dye my hair again. While I usually make a bit of a mess, the thinner mixture made a lot of a mess.

Disclaimer: Really, this was an accident. I don’t recommend using my method. I have no idea how quickly it will fade- just what I wound up with. I’m just the sort of person who has to tell the world when they were an idiot.

Tip: If you’re going to dye your hair a vivid color, make sure you have cleaning supplies at the ready after you’re done. You WILL need to scrub whatever sink/tub you rinsed in. And yes, if you use an abrasive cleaner like Comet, it will come out- but work quickly.

Brave. See it.

Here there be spoilers. This is both my review of Brave as well as a discussion about the movie- while I tried not to get too in depth with the movie, it’s hard to address some of the criticism the movie’s received without discussing the movie. If you want to remain spoiler free, the title of this piece and the paragraph is my opinion.

I saw Brave on Sunday morning with my boys. It was their first movie theater movie- and despite the fact that it was a much more intense movie than advertised, they survived. While it wasn’t quite to their liking- I loved it.

I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews about the movie, which baffle me. Most feel as though they watched a completely different movie than I did, or expected the movie to be about one theme and ignored the rest. Perhaps they don’t understand pantomiming bears. When Brave seemed to get more negative reviews than Cars 2, which was the most conventional, least imaginative movie Pixar has put out- there’s something else at work here.

Brave is, on the surface, the story of Merida. The oldest child of the King, Merida is reaching the age where she should be bethrothed to one of the sons of the three clan heads. Merida is just as you’ve seen in the previews. She’s brave (as the title of the movie suggests), athletic, and not very much of a girly girl. Her idea of a good time isn’t learning etiquette from her mother, but riding through the woods on her trusty steed while shooting at targets. She doesn’t think her mother understands her, though she doesn’t come out and say it. She whines, she groans- she’s a teenager.

Her mother, Elinor seems to be the polar opposite. She’s refined. She always knows how to act, what to say- though there are hints early on that Elinor is much stronger than she seems. She manages to quiet a room filled with angry Scots, without saying a single word.

Despite the fact that the plot includes will o’ the wisps and a witch, this actually feels like Pixar’s most realistic movie to me. It centers around the very real relationship between two very real female characters, and pushes them from being unsure of how to talk to each other openly to having to rely on each other.

As you might expect, the journey forces both of them to reexamine what they felt about the other. Elinor sees her daughter’s strength and stubbornness as more than something getting in the way of the princess she wants her to be, and Merida matures- realizing that simply because her mother is proper doesn’t mean that she can’t understand her. Or that her mother isn’t stronger than Merida believes her to be.

Merida and her family, from Pixar's BRAVE

It’s a remarkable movie for a few reasons. Merida is at times unlikeable. She’s selfish and ungrateful. It’s a hard mirror to look into for any adult- but we were probably a lot more like Merida than any Disney prince/princess. While she is right to want to speak up about the fact that she isn’t ready to be bethrothed, she’s wrong about a good many things.

Which brings me to my second reason. At the center of Brave is a complex relationship between two generations- one that feels a bit more honest and real than seen in most animated films. In most family movies, if there is conflict between a parent and child, the parent is wrong/prejudiced, the child merely misunderstood (see How to Train Your Dragon or The Little Mermaid). And if the child is wrong, it’s usually something minor. Brave actually dares to have conflict where neither party is right, but neither is totally wrong. It actually devolved into a harsh argument that felt real- the kind where it escalates until both sides say something they regret. It’s something you see often in real life, and in a lot of live action movies- but not often in a family film.

Plenty of reviews tried to criticize Brave for not having a story that supported Merida’s- completely overlooking that this movie isn’t just Merida’s coming-of-age story. It’s Elinor’s story too. The two stories fit together to make the whole.

Some people whined about it being TOO female heavy- which is a stupid argument to have. Both women have clear relationships with the four main male characters in the movie (Elinor and Fergus are seemingly as different as night and day, but there’s no doubt that he greatly appreciates her and indeed they both love each other deeply. Merida and her father are close, and understand each other because they have the same interests). Aside from Elinor and Merida, there’s only the maid and the witch as female characters. Everyone else in the movie is a man. Focusing on other relationships for the sake of “diversity” would have been silly – because the story was about Merida and Elinor.

Which bothers me- Toy Story and the sequels are ultimately about the relationship between two male toys and their male owner. Finding Nemo is about a father and a son. Monsters Inc is about two best friends who are guys. Ratatouille is about a rat and his boy. Oh and a son and his father. I don’t think that stopped a single woman from appreciating the stories. You could have adjusted genders in the movies and ultimately it wouldn’t have made much of a difference- because they’re relatable stories. You don’t need to be a woman to understand a coming of age story. Or what it’s like to think that your parents don’t understand you, or see that your children think you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be in their position.

I think that the damage comes from the sentiment that female centered movies are “chick flicks.” That there’s nothing in them for men. Thankfully, I married a man who watched chick flicks with his mom. So he knew that When Harry Met Sally might have been a love story, but it was a story about two real people. To him, movies were just movies. Sure, there might be some ridiculous movies that seem to pander to women (like Sex and the City), but there are movies that try to pander to men, too (see anything with Steven Seagal).

Brave isn’t a chick flick. It’s a story about two female characters. But the problems in their relationship could easily be problems that fathers and sons face- just look at Ratatouille for a Pixar movie about a strained relationship where father and son don’t see eye to eye. Or How to Train Your Dragon for a similar type of relationship strain. Nobody whined about Remy being unlikeable (when really, Remy was a snob)

I don’t want to give the opinion that I think criticisms of Brave are invalid- I completely understand people saying that the movie felt uneven (there were two directors that helmed Brave- Brenda Chapman was removed from the project, but the relationship between Elinor and Merida is undoubtedly as well-written as it is thanks to her). Or pointing out that the marketing campaign of the movie made it seem like it was a much lighter movie. That everything about the marketing focused on Merida, while not showing that the movie was about her mother, too.

But arguments that the movie is too female centric, that Merida isn’t likeable enough or that it didn’t feel like a Pixar movie- those are criticisms based on viewer’s expectations going into the movie, not the movie itself. Is Pixar not allowed to try to explore a darker more realistic story? Or are they supposed to keep making movies about things that all people experience, but in a way that doesn’t usually include human characters?

Finally- I saved the most ridiculous criticism for last. EW’s Adam Markovitz wondered if Merida might be gay. You know, because she’s a tomboy who says she isn’t ready to be married off. He even tried to point out that even Mulan had a love interest (when really, if you watch Mulan, Li Shang isn’t so much her love interest as she’s his- his storyline is about coming to terms with feelings towards a woman who isn’t what Chinese society accepts. She might have been attracted to him, but she knew that by pretending to be a man that wasn’t a possibility- and she was fine with that).

Many people in our society equate gender roles with sexuality. Assuming that a tomboy is a lesbian, or that a boy interested in ballet must be gay is wrong. People have interests. Not all fall in line with traditional gender roles. I babysat a wonderful little boy who loved ballet. His father didn’t want him to go into it because he didn’t want him to be gay- I told him I didn’t think he had a problem, his six year old son was busy telling everyone he was going to marry me.

Merida preferring a bow and arrow to working on needlepoint doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. It just means she’s an individual. So stop making assumptions, people. Don’t you remember that adage about assumptions?

For what it’s worth, Merida never said she wasn’t interested in getting married ever. She just wasn’t ready to grow up yet. The movie was more about letting people grow up in their time, rather than forcing them into something they aren’t ready for.

So what are your thoughts on Brave – and on the strange reviews it’s been getting?

Really, Facebook?

As I’ve said here many times, one of the things that frustrates me to no end is Facebook’s policy of changing your settings without telling you. They’ve done it many times already (I tend to do a check of my settings around the first of the month, even though I don’t really post much of anything there anymore). And they’ve done it again.

Facebook is putting your facebook email address on your profile/timeline. I know, Facebook has email? Sort of. Facebook has assigned everyone an email address based on their username, and if someone emails it, it will go into your message inbox.

Of course, their messages aren’t really great for email. One, they’re all threaded by who sent the message, so it makes it hard to find any particular message other than the most recent. So if you were looking for something your sister said, you’d have to look through EVERY message she’s sent you. Also, you can’t back them up.

Back to the real issue- Facebook’s settings now list your facebook email on your profile/timeline, even if you had it set so that it wouldn’t show your email. Where you’ll go to fix it depends on whether or not you’re using Timeline.

For people using the older profile, go to your profile page, and where it lists your personal information at the top, click on Edit Profile. Then, from the menu on the left, select Contact Information. Your email addresses will be listed at the top. You can adjust who can see your email addresses (the closest you can come to opting out is by setting it to “Only Me”) and next to it you can pick whether or not it will list it on your profile/timeline.

If you have Timeline, click on the Update Info button. Scroll down to the Contact Info box and click on Edit. Then you can adjust who can see your email addresses, and set whether or not you want to list them on your timeline.

For me, it’s frustrating that Facebook continues to change settings. If their IPO has proved anything, it’s that they aren’t as in demand as they think. Most people I know didn’t buy their stock because they remember the dotcom bubble bursting. They’ve seen websites come and go- remember when everyone had AOL? Now they’re struggling to stay relevant!

They like to think that they’re what people can’t do without, but all it takes is one website to give people what they want, and they’ll leave. That’s what happened to Myspace and Friendster. People left ICQ for AIM, then AIM for texting. It’s only a matter of time before one of two scenarios happens- either FB crosses a line with privacy that people are uncomfortable with, or someone creates a new site that makes you opt-in when they release new features.

People are funny.

Adam Carolla has a book out. In an interview promoting that book, he said that women aren’t funny. Yes, it wasn’t a coincidence. He trolled us all, knowing that that his name alone isn’t going to sell his book.

Unfortunately, the notion that women aren’t funny is everywhere. Don’t like a particular female comedian? Just say that she shows that women aren’t funny. I hear/read this all the time.

When the show Whitney debuted, the most common comment I saw online wasn’t wondering if the scripts were generated from a computer compiling every bad sitcom of the 90s- it was why anyone would think that a female led show would succeed. Because women aren’t funny.

With the release of Adam Sandler’s latest bad movie, I know I won’t see anyone complain about the movie by saying that it’s a wonder why anyone bothers to cast men in the lead- since obviously his failure proves that men aren’t funny.

TheBoy mentioned that he’d heard a stand up comedian on the radio mentioning how hard women had it- that if a woman bombed in a set, it was because all women weren’t funny. If it was a guy, then he was the only one who wasn’t funny. There’s a definite double standard.

Back to Adam Sandler. Nobody would ever really claim that anyone other than Sandler was the problem (though maybe the studios that keep greenlighting these projects).

For some famous people reiterating that women are funny, here’s TV writer/director/producer Ken Levine’s comment on it. And Rob Delaney’s post is pretty on the nose, too.

This touches a personal nerve. I worked at the World Famous Jungle Cruise at Disneyland as a skipper. A job that I’m proud to talk about. I learned a lot working there. And especially for one of the years I was there, I was surrounded by some tremendous talent- both men and women (Kaz and Alison, if you read this- you always had me in stitches). It was a supportive environment. Not sure how to make a joke work? You could get some feedback without being mocked.

But there were a lot of obstacles. The first being the idea that women weren’t funny. You could deliver the same spiel in the same way with killer timing as one of the guys- and while he’d pull in with everyone cracking up and telling him it was the best trip they’d ever had, it wasn’t uncommon for the women to pull in with guests giving them dirty looks and complaining about how bitchy the skipper was. Or the real punch in the crotch comment- they’d say that they missed the days when there were just male skippers because women aren’t funny.

Or even if you had a boat that was actually laughing, in all likelihood, you wouldn’t get the comments saying you should go into standup. They’d just say that you were “cute” or want to thank the guy who came up with that spiel. I have mellowed since having kids. I am still amazed that back in my stabby youth, I did not punch anyone.

But personal experiences aside, there’s ample proof that women are funny. Jenny Lawson is hilarious, and I love her book more than anything else I’ve read this year. On the list of books that I’ve been told I have to read are Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey’s.

So there. Women are funny. Some men are sexist. Oh, and let’s remember what’s truly important- don’t buy Adam Carolla’s book. While this is a great discussion to have, don’t reward Carolla for trolling to get attention.

Who are your favorite funny ladies?

Giving the Pirate Princess a new look.

We watch a lot of Disney Channel, and in particular “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” Pirate isn’t up there in the header for my blog for no reason- I’ve been a fan of pirates since I was little, and obviously, I’ve passed on that interest to my boys.

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote about how annoyed I was about the Pirate Princess. Voiced by Tori Spelling, she was rescued from a curse by Izzy (go Izzy!) and needs to be bailed out by the kids at every turn. Not exactly pirate legend. Granted, every “legendary pirate” seems to need to be bailed out by the kids. But still- she was the first female pirate other than Izzy, so I expected a lot more.

Ignore the weird wonky eye. This was a quick sketch to sort of get familiar with the current character design. Also ignore the blue pencil that didn’t erase. Oops.

Also, the sword should be her rainbow staff. Yep, she doesn’t even get a sword. There’s a gem at the end that makes rainbows.

Problems: Other than the ridiculous colors, the first thing that struck me was the overskirt. I know that the Pirate Princess isn’t a fighter (though she could be). How is she supposed to get any real range of motion with that skirt?

Speaking of range of motion- her top is off the shoulder, without actually being off the shoulder. That’s just not very practical at all. Nor are the white gloves, or the stupid corset! Or the lowrider belt.

Here’s my redesign.

I put a lot of thought into this. The corset design is unnecessary, and makes her look like someone tried to class up a sexy pirate Halloween costume. Give her a simple gold trimmed waistcoat, and it looks a lot classier.

Instead of the skirt, I gave her a lilac colored sash. I kept the sleeves for her top, but gave her a ruffled cravat instead of the off the shoulder shirt. I didn’t like the design on her boots, but that was just me.

And the biggest change, I actually made her wand a sword (instead of accidentally like with my first sketch). But instead of the gem at the tip, her sword has a rainbow on the guard- showing that she can make rainbows with it. And it could be charged just the same as her wand.

See? Visually interesting, and it’s girly without being a weird outfit.

Just ignore the wonky boot.

So what do you think? Am I the only one bothered by her outfit at all?

Boosting the Signal

There is another guy in my life, and he’s a dad- though definitely not a father figure for me. It’s Roby, the man behind Imagination Situation- a webseries for the whole family. We worked together back in our Disney days, and I’m thrilled to work with him again. I even blog over at Imagination Situation from time to time.

Over the weekend he posted an update about the series and fundraising efforts- we ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund a full “season” of episodes, which fell short of our goal. So he’s been taking direct donations and getting closer to what is needed to produce two episodes. If you could, check it out and take a look at the webseries. Even if you don’t have kids, maybe forward it to the parents in your life.


To the men in my life.

Happy Father’s Day!

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by some wonderful men.

First, thanks to my father.

My dad and me. Also, a bonus rhinoceros.

He worked very hard to provide for our family, and really enjoyed being able to take the time for the little things- like teaching me to use a circular saw. He’s always been there for me, whether it was just to offer a shoulder to cry on and a roll of lifesavers (Butter Rum) or some great advice. He had the patience to sit in a parking lot and not only teach me to drive, but then to teach me how to drive a stick.

Second, thanks to my husband. He is my partner in this mad life of mine- a great husband, my best friend, and a wonderful father. While he works the night shift, he’s constantly given up sleep and sanity to be there for us. Time and time again.

Third, thanks to my father-in-law. He welcomed me into his family and his home. While we might seem to be on the opposite ends of everything- him being a Republican and a Trojan (and me being more to the left and a Wildcat)… I have nothing but the utmost respect for him, and enjoy all the talks we have. Also a special thanks for taking my tastes in food to heart. Whether it’s making sure there’s a non-dairy alternative, to making sure that there’s something that isn’t extremely spicy.

I’m thankful that my boys have these in their lives. Three wonderful men to help shape them and teach them.

And last, today I think about my grandfather. A wonderful man who’s no longer with us- my grandfather taught me so much. About music, about having passion for your work and your family. But most importantly, about being kind. Life lessons that I intend on making sure that my boys learn.

Happy Father’s Day. To all the fathers, grandfathers, father figures in our lives.

The Old, the New and the Unknown.

We’ve reached another fork in the road for my little family.

First, the old. School came to a close, and now the Little Kidlet is headed off to summer school/camp. The Oldest Kidlet just finished kindergarten, and will be a first grader next year. Where has the time gone?

I admit, I’ve been sad about the end of this school year- but it has nothing to do with feeling old.

OK has been fortunate to have a truly wonderful teacher. She’s smart, kind, patient, and encouraging. Always encouraging. Just the sort of person you want to introduce your child to their years in school.

The Oldest Kidlet is smart. But he’s impatient, stubborn and a perfectionist in the worst way possible. He strives to please everyone, and any mistake he makes he takes personally. She’s worked with him, and even when disciplining him she makes sure he knows that he’s a good kid.

After his promotion ceremony, parents were given the chance to sign their kids out early to take them home- OK insisted on staying with the few other students that didn’t want to go home. It made me smile. I’ve seen him get upset when he realized it was a minimum day, or that his vacation was longer than a weekend. I figured if one extra afternoon was enough to make up for how long the summer was.

There was an upside. Because there were only four kids in the class, none of which needed to be walked to the afterschool program, it meant that I could spend a little time to thank her for all that she’s done.

She gave him a long hug, and told me how much she’d miss his infectious enthusiasm. That she knew he would wow his next teacher. And I was honest. I told her that she’d set the bar extremely high, and I had my fingers crossed that in a year and a half the Little Kidlet wound up in her class.

The Little Kidlet is in a new preschool class, as I sort of mentioned. He moved up to a class that they think will prepare him for the class he’ll be in during the fall.

I have no idea what this summer will be like. I have the Oldest Kidlet to entertain and engage during the mornings. I know already that it means that I need to switch around how I get my writing done.

I’m trying not to worry about the uncertainty ahead. Whether or not the new teacher for LK will be as good about his allergies as his last teacher was. Whether or not OK’s first grade teacher will be as amazing. Guess I can just make the most out of each day.

Catwoman, why are you bending like that?

For some reason DC thought it’d be smart to reboot their universe, and then issue a series of #0 issues to explain how the characters got to be who they were in the reboot.

This is the cover of Catwoman #0 (I know, it says #1- but the zero covers all have the characters busting through their #1 cover art). Ow. Ow. Ow. Bodies do not bend that way unless there aren’t any bones in the torso. And the internet is pretty annoyed.

Somewhere out there, I saw that DC thought that the internet outrage would sell issues (I went through my Twitter feed and found reactions, but no specific link, sorry). That mentality explains a lot about DC, specifically the fact that Rob Liefeld still is working on as many books as he is when he doesn’t seem to know much about human anatomy. (No, this cover isn’t Liefeld’s work. He does draw some broken spine women, and a lot of them seem to stand on pointe.)

But seriously, most women don’t have issues with women being sexy in comics. Yes, Catwoman is sexy and always has been. She’s one of my favorite characters- but there’s a point when you look at some of the artwork and wonder what they’re thinking. Like this. My husband took one look at this picture without my saying anything and immediately said ‘Ow.’

Unfortunately, DC is convinced that men are still their primary demographic. And they think that men will only buy issues if women are sexualized. The more people I talk to, it seems like DC’s latest survey that said that white men 18-35 are their main audience was based on a pool that was selected to give DC the results they wanted. They believe that women and children have no interest in comics, regardless of how diverse comic audiences really are.

I’m going to make this clear that I’m not advocating that children be able to read Catwoman. It’s rated T. What I’m trying to point out is that covers like this make women (and men, too) turn away from comics. It’s one thing to suspend your disbelief that every superpowered heroine has a tiny waist and giant breasts. Or the myriad of things in comic books- after all, the insane stories is part of the fun. But when artists basic anatomy like a spine on a character that isn’t Plastic Man? That actually sends the message that artists will do with women’s bodies as they see fit. Yes, women. It’s pretty rare to see men twisted around like that.

There have been some great reactions to Catwoman #0 on the net. The tumblr DC Women Kicking Ass explains why covers like this are problematic- in that images like this aren’t going to make a new reader pick up the issue. Gamma Squad has a slideshow of some artists parodies and mockups of the Catwoman #0 cover- including one attempt to see if it was even possible to render in 3D. And if you’re in disbelief that this is as widespread as comics blogs make it out to be- just stop by Escher Girls, a tumblr dedicated to showcase images just like this Catwoman cover.

I really didn’t mean for the last week to turn into me whining about the entertainment industry, but things just keep coming up.

I wanted to thank those of you who’ve shared the link and responded to my post about Lara Croft. Obviously, she’s a character I hold near and dear to my heart. Heck, I even bought a bunch of lame issues from Witchblade (and a spin off set in the future involving a wielder) because Lara crossed over into it.

I’ve had a few responses that seem to think I’m missing the point of the reboot. That the new Lara doesn’t take crap from anyone. Here’s the thing- Lara has never taken crap from anyone. The entire point of the games have been that Lara was on what started to be an innocuous archaeological quest and it spiraled into something serious- with bad guys and danger, and she stood up. She loses friends, sometimes gets betrayed by allies, but she keeps on- because it’s what’s right. My point is that there is no purpose to put Lara in a corner to get her to get involved. Or to threaten her with sexual assault. She already was a strong character.

When I look at the events unfolding in the new Lara Croft game (based off the demo and the interviews with the Crystal Dynamic teams), it seems as though the end result of Lara will be a lot less snarky and carefree than the Lara I love. I don’t mind the concept of a reboot- it’s been ages since there’s been a good Lara Croft game. I don’t mind the redesign. But if you’re going to change the character that much- make a new franchise. Her name recognition means nothing if you’re going to change the character from a Tomb Raider to a cornered victim. (Frankly, I’m tired of reboots- only because I think that movies, comics and video games could do with a few new stories)

If you still think I’m overreacting, read this post – specifically the quotes from Crystal Dynamics about their view of Lara. The link in it to a post by Chuck Wendig takes a look at the implications from a storyteller’s standpoint.

So why do I rant about these things? To some it must seem like I hate the industry. I rant because I love video games and comics. Seriously. I want my boys (and the girls I know) to be able to read comics and play video games that are filled with characters of both genders, not interesting men and damsels in distress or sexy contortionists. And frankly, there are some amazing artists/writers/creators out there- I just want comic book companies to ignore who has worked for them for the last 20 years and hire artists that understand basic anatomy. And to ditch the notion that only men read comic books. I would love to buy my boys comic books that were meant for kids- which is why I wind up buying volumes of webcomics like The Dreamland Chronicles instead of even looking for something from Marvel or DC.

Why I won’t be playing the new Lara Croft game.

An old sketch of mine. From 04, I think.

An old sketch of mine,
from 04, I think.
I don't remember why she's pouting. I might just have been better at drawing pouts

Back when I was in college, everyone had Tomb Raider. I was no exception. Not to mention- I liked Lara Croft. I am a huge Indiana Jones fan, and here was a female counterpart who had it all. She knew the history, could handle the weapons, and was clever enough to outwit the bad guys time and time again- even if it meant making a difficult choice along the way.

Frankly, I never had a problem with her breast size. I know women that are skinny with DD breasts. Naturally! While you don’t see it a lot, it’s not as though Lara wore tops that bared nearly all her breasts- they just happened to be there. She was beautiful and capable. Frankly, if eye candy is what it takes for guys to play a game with a female heroine, then so be it. (There are plenty of women who watched Indiana Jones movies solely because Harrison Ford is dreamy, and then stayed for the story.)

Crystal Dynamics unveiled a trailer for Lara Croft at this year’s E3 (their second year showing off footage). A reboot/origin story, Lara is 21 years old and not an adventurer yet.

The trailer has Lara waking up suspended in a cave after being shipwrecked on an island. She escapes, struggles to survive, steps in bear traps, and nearly gets sexually assaulted by a guy- but hey, it’s okay, she shoots him. All while Lara moans in agony, grunts and then in the end has a conversation about how she isn’t sure she can be a Croft (which apparently means be able to kill everyone).

It’s torture porn, plain and simple. It’s as though someone from Crystal Dynamics said, “Hey, everyone likes that Hunger Games book. But you know what it was missing? Nobody tried to rape Katniss. That would have made her a stronger woman.”

Just in case you think I’m making too big a deal over nothing, let’s swap this out for a similar franchise- Uncharted. Do you honestly think that anyone would decide to have Nathan Drake face the threat of sexual assault even though statistically some of the bad guys are probably gay? No, no they wouldn’t.

While Lara is victorious over the would be rapist, including the scene is part of the problem our society has. Somehow this is what Lara gets for being a pretty girl in this dangerous scenario. I’m not taking that too far- it’s what society tells women with its’ reactions to assault. It’s our fault for being raped if we went to a club. If we had a drink. Newsflash, it isn’t our fault. It’s the perpetrator’s fault. I’m not sure why writers think that the threat of sexual assault is an empowering process (it’s happened to plenty of female superheroes in comics). While it’s true that it’s something women deal with in the real world- it isn’t something we want to deal with in a virtual world as entertainment. The odds of any woman having been the victim of sexual violence is pretty high. According to some sources, one in three women are likely to be the victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. One in three. I’m pretty sure that it’s something that those women will struggle with, but certainly not the moment in their life that defines who they are.

I’m not advocating pretending that rape doesn’t happen. But is there a need to include the element (especially in promotional videos and images- I saw this still A LOT) when it doesn’t actually add anything to the plot? Lara already has to overcome vicious animals, scale precarious rubble, and escape from men who want to kill her. Those are the things that shape Lara into becoming the survivalist we’re familiar with. The rest is unnecessary.

The biggest sin of all is that it lacks why I loved Tomb Raider in the first place. Lara took joy in what she did and tried to save the world because it was the right thing to do- even if it meant dealing with dinosaurs. She enjoyed the puzzles and the adventure. This Lara grunts and moans. She’s impaled by a bone, she gets caught in a bear trap after trying to save her friend from being raped or killed. She isn’t comfortable with anything she’s doing. There is no joy. Even if she becomes the Tomb Raider we know and love, do we really need to watch her suffer through it?

So congrats Crystal Dynamics. You might have made Lara be a real girl in a grittier world, but between saying that original Lara had no personality, and saying that this will give her character… I’m out.

If you’re just finding this post, I added a little bit at the end of this next post to respond to some of the tweets/email I got about my thoughts on Lara.

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