Rabbits Full of Magic

10 September 2013

 

Video Game / Cosplay / Pop-Deism Rant

Saints Row IV

The thing is, nerds used to be uncool, or at least a thing that was not targeted by the Multi-Armed Vampire Squid Succubus Corporate Matrix Terminator that has now found a way to mainstream Cosplay, of all things. Cosplay is some weird internalization and inversion of traditional cultural interaction. There is no secret that nerd culture embraces Dragons and Wizards and Magic and makes Gods of actors and Goths are sort of a pale shade of nerd and Witches are a more legit form of Goths and Metalheads love Lord of the Rings and cosplaying as your favorite Superhero/Superheroine is directly related to Invoking A Familiar. Actors are such a mainstay in nerd culture because the audience knows that THEY TOO have invoked. The actor playing Batman or Xena or whoever is the First Cosplayer. The original wizards and sorcerers of the Dark Ages too dressed and acted in the manner of their Familiars to focus their magical will. Substitute a fallen angel for a superhero and what you have, ritualistically, is the same phenomenon, acted out to a lower degree among a far greater population. Plus these days a cosplayer is more likely to win their own TV show than get burned alive as a witch.

You see people fighting about Ben Affleck vs. Christopher Nolan vs. Michael Keaton vs. Adam West, etc, and it really is like they are separate cults, fighting amongst each other over what is the right interpretation of their fabled hero. Yet Adam West is not God. The Batman he portrays, the pop rituals of the cartoon lettered brawls, the "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!", the walking sideways up a building, etc. ALL OF IT is only fragments of the abstract Batman God underneath. There is an idealism there, an abstract perfect Batman that is beyond mere words or comics or movies or ANY AND ALL HUMAN EXPRESSION. Yet all of his being is illuminated through these works. If Batman's power is that strong, being a fictional character, have we just invented Pop-Deism?

Yet God died with the birth of modern Democracy, with the birth of the Printing Press, the Telephone, the Television, the Moon Landing, etc. But ALL of these things have taken His place. There is a religion and it is POP culture. The more widespread and known something is, the more potent and important it is. The more power it contains. You could invent your own Superhero, but you could invent your own messiah as well. Why not pick one that is currently well-known, that has a following, that is something you can TRULY BELIEVE IN*?

The Belief is the most important element in the practice of Magick. An OG Magician would take a cosplayer's level of pain-staking detail in researching what Osiris looked like, what he wore, what positions he would form with his body, etc. He/She would create a magical space using rituals very specific to their own Magical Community Tradition, because the archetypes and symbols used would be imbued with the most cultural-psychological-instinctual meaning for them. The Magician tries to BECOME the God, to have that power, to give them strength. Osiris pulls a David Blane inside a pyramid, Jesus performs as Iron Chef Cannibal.

*Heroism (altruism) if you're a kid, Box Office receipts (money) if you're an adult.

(The previous rant started out as a review of Saints Row IV, which follows:)

Ok I played the 3rd one for about 10 minutes before my GPU over-heated and the CPU powered out. At first I was annoyed with the characters and the story, which is all Hyper-Mainstream Millenial Game Fantasy. It sort of reminded me of the few times I've been socially nerdy (like a Doom II and bootlegged movie-swap LAN party) and hearing a lot of "Oh yeah, bitch!" and "Fuck you, asshole!" and extra-machismo laden taunting that enabled kids that had been picked on their whole lives to BE A BADASS, to self-medicate their teenage alienation with these power fantasies. It freaked me out the first couple of times I heard it-and it continues to freak out people who do alot of armchair pop-culture psychoanalyzing-it seemed like the Bullied had become the Bullies. It was that Alpha Male crap you would expect to come out of a jock's mouth. Or the kid you know nothing about who insists on viciously slandering your mom to your face, turning every ride home an experience in torture. These people aren't your friends. They are assholes. You will have plenty of opportunities over your life to deal with assholes, so my personal advice is to just cut them off and devote your preciously dwindling life-breath to more neutral, or even positive people! There are lots of people in the world! It is a big world!

The big problem with open world games (Hyper Real)-and The Video Game Industry at large in a global and corporate sense of the word-is that it is built on the patriarchal power fantasies that littered the Bible and all of pre-20th Western civilization, necessitating the cult (cult being derivative of 'culture'). The good news is that if you look at the worst Xenophobic tendencies and stereotyping that fills movie, tv, book, film, music, and all of pop culture, you are witness to the last gasps of the Reptilian brain.

This game is great, though. It's shiny, it's bright, it's loud and flashy. It sounds like a really new pop CD. Where all the instruments are really glistening and clean and expensive sounding. Like a Transformers movie on acid. Reportedly though, it's made by a smaller team than most big-budget new games, so that may be why it has so much personality. It does get in the way of the extremely DREAMLIKE quality of this game, which is the big plus. The plot is more or less meta-post-Matrix cyberpunk, where you are in a simulation, and you gain superhuman abilities. Running through the city at hundreds of miles and hour, blowing past cars that fly off the road as if you were Moses parting the Red Sea, you jump into the sky hundreds of feet into the air, the lit-up city block zooming down beneath you, your body now glowing in the moonlight. It looks like a dream I had, parts of this game. The lighting somewhere between early morning and the first rays of sunlight, with glowing shimmering glinting patches of blue crystals holograms tucked away among the rooftops like a thousand nightlights. There are a thousand or so of these collectible 'data clusters', so you can just forget about shooting aliens and throwing cars with your mind and jump from roof to roof exploring the giant world. The combat & violence is part of the deal, and it's done well enough, but it's the dis-corporate-feeling and ever-evolving gameplay that really makes Saints Row IV a treat. It's a dream and a nightmare all in one.


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