Nov 8, 2021
The other day Tantz Aerine wrote a newspost about an article critical of Squid Game. The crux of things was that the Squid Game creator had said their message was anti-capitalist, while this critic was saying that the author's message with the Squid Game was an anti communist critique and not a very good one at that. The issue here is that isn't how you do criticism. At all. You can give an interesting reading of something and tell us why YOU think it's anti-Communist, or tell us how it looks through the lens of post-colonialism or new wave feminism etc, but you can't say that is what the author is saying or what the work means, especially if the author explicitly says WHAT they are saying. This may seem like a small distinction but it's actually very, very important. Bad criticism often tells us what the creator is saying. Don't do that. Don't be that person.
Topics and Show Notes
When you have a creative work to look at, you can't tell us what it means or what the author means, only the creator can do that. You CAN tell us what it means to you though. You can tell us about the commonly agreed meanings of various tropes and symbols too as well as their meanings within different cultural frameworks and contexts, but not why the creator used them, that's up to the creator.
The Squid Game is based on the deathmatch trope from anime and manga using all the clichés from that form including poor ordinary people caught up in something dangerous that they don't fully understand, a callous attitude to life, normally innocuous games turned deadly, twists and turns with who's really behind the whole thing, betrayal and so on. We can say that for a certainty because it's provably true. Why did the author co-opt the deathmatch trope? We can't say, but we can theorise they used it because it's popular in Korea and Japan. We can also talk about the history of the deathmatch trope, different examples of it like Running Man, Deathrace 2000, Gantz, Btooom, Danganronpa, Deadman Wonderland, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, and many more which all follow the same pattern. We can use those examples to talk about why the elements of those tropes exist but we can NOT talk about their use in Squid Game in isolation. That would be like talking about the use of the word “and” in the English language without talking about the use of similar words in other languages and the origins of the word in German.
It's important to remember that things do not exist in a vacuum but also that intent is up to the creator to define, not the critic.
This week Gunwallace ha given us the theme to Secrets Of Uncrom - Secrets, hidden knowledge, secret cult meetings in guttering candlelight, murder most foul, and plots thickening! This atmospheric electronic tune has layer upon layer of interesting and disparate sounds, suggesting mystery, darkness and hidden things.
Topics and shownotes
Tantz's newspost on conflicting with the author intentions - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/oct/22/flipping-off-the-author/
Sapling - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/nov/02/featured-comic-sapling/
Secrets Of Uncrom - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Secrets_of_Uncrom_The_Balance_of_Life_and_Death_/ - by Secretsofuncrom, rated M.
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/
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Oct 4, 2021
Tantz explains why she really hates a bunch of tropes that are super commonly used in things, stuff like very obvious plot armour for the protagonist so that you KNOW nothing can seriously hurt them so you stop caring what happens to them and in the story in general, child-led stories where the adults are all useless and ineffectual because it takes away your suspension of disbelief, and amnesia where a huge bunch of the story is erased so the writers can just repeat stuff over and over. Banes and I join it to talk about stuff we hate too!
Jun 7, 2021
Taking on more than you can handle - i.e. James Cameron and JJ Abrams are good directors and writers but neither could handle the demands of a complex Sci-Fi project that needs full world building and internally consistent logic etc (Avatar and Star Wars). They're great with more simple SciFi that's based on 21st century earth and simpler stories, but epic SciFi was clearly a long way beyond the capabilities of either. We're talking about when WE have been caught taking on stuff we couldn't handle, how we dealt with that and also how other creators dealt with it too.
Apr 12, 2021
Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.
Mar 14, 2021
Today we chat about the disappearance of another Drunkducker. This fellow was a politician in his daily life and a furry in his downtime. On DD he was the author of the adult furry comic Tina's story, an exceptionally well written slice of life comedy comic with adult elements, staring an anthro poodle lady and her human partner. This man had his online activity taken and used to destroy his political career. The comic which was his passion was used as ammunition to ruin him. We chat about this in our Quackcast! In light of what happened to Gina Carano for her silly words this is interesting.
Aug 26, 2019
Cooperation Vs Competition. For decades the mantra was competition is good: it produces progress and makes things better… Well that's actually false. Competition is what you're forced into as a response to limited resources, so you do what you have to to win, which mainly involves losing everything that doesn't serve that specific objective. Competition is massively harmful to progress in general, it ONLY helps you excel in one small area to massive cost. Think of it in terms of an Olympic sprinter: they become the fastest runner in the world, but to what point? Only the artificial structure of a sporting event… they spend years training, exercising, eating right, wasting a huge portion of their lives, creative, and intellectual potential on that one meaningless goal, and IF they achieve it they might get a bit of fame and money and a footnote in history because someone else will inevitably take their spot. More likely though they won't achieve the goal and instead be forgotten.
Aug 19, 2019
Today we compare and contrast two ways of making characters: starting with a pure archetype and building it with tropes, or creating a character organically through circumstance and interaction with other characters.
May 20, 2019
Betrayal is an interesting thing to use in fiction. You can have betrayal of your nation, your organisation, friends, lovers, religion, beliefs, self. In stories it can be used to add a nasty twist or completely change the flow of events and alter the balance of power in a dramatic way! It can be devastating in relationships. The story of Judas betraying Christ for 30 pieces of silver is one of the most famous betrayal stories and became so iconic that the phrase “30 pieces of silver” or just the word “Judas” became synonymous with the act. Of course the inspiration for the best treachery and betrayal comes from real life and the names of the betrayers often echo down through history. IFrom Rome we have Brutus, in the USA the name “Benedict Arnold” has a similar meaning to “Judas”, the 20th century gave us the term “quisling” after the Norwegian political leader Vidkun Quisling who sold his country out to the Nazis.