Can Ghostbusters 2016 be fan fiction?

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People don’t like the new Ghostbusters movie, and that’s okay. The movie caught plenty of flack on the way to release for things like bad trailers, poor choice of music, and rebooting a movie from 1984 with a new all-female leading cast. But how valid the pain many Ghostbusters fans are enduring might be does not interest me as much as the pain itself, which I intend to cure.

Ghostbusters fans: if you don’t like the new movie, you can just write it off as fan fiction.

For the uninitiated, fan fiction is fan-made art (a picture, a video, a written story, etc.) that uses the characters, story, and/or setting of a popular work, but isn’t officially endorsed by the makers of the original thing it’s based on. For example, a Star Trek fan might write a story about Captain Kirk and Spock falling in love and knitting sweaters all day, but no die hard Trekkie will become enraged by such a story because it’s not an “official” story.

But isn’t the new Ghostbusters an “official” story and therefor can’t be labeled as fan fiction? No!

I will argue that audiences, and not creators of an intellectual property like Star Trek or Ghostbusters, are the ones who ultimately decide what’s “official” and what’s fan fiction. This doesn’t mean fans can deny creators their right to make money off an intellectual property, but it does mean fans can deny creators the credibility they seek from fans in recognizing their work as “official” or part of the established canon.

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, because it doesn’t have to. The goal here is not to see some greater Truth about the entertainment industry, but to understand how a different perspective can shield you from the pain of seeing your franchise twisted into something you no longer enjoy.

In practice, this allows me to thoroughly enjoy Starship Troopers as an insightful book from 1959, and I can simply disregard the lame 1997 film of the same name the same way I disregard all the other Starship Troopers fan fiction on the internet. I can also remain content with RoboCop being a single-film franchise, because neither the sequels nor the remake have any more credibility than a 3-year-old’s fingerpainting of Alex Murphy. And the bug-ridden “canonical” continuation of the Aliens franchise in the atrocious Aliens: Colonial Marines video game need be nothing more in my mind than a fan-inspired but ultimately unofficial story of what might have happened (but didn’t) on LV-426 after Ripley left.

The beauty of this “call the parts of a franchise you don’t like fan fiction” method of thinking is that it is ultimately just an opinion and therefor cannot be proven false; it can only be agreed or disagreed with. And those who agree with it can weather even the most unholy twisting of their most beloved stories!

So, if you you still feel the new Ghostbusters movie could kill your affection for the franchise as a whole, consider denying it is anything more than another piece of Ghostbusters fan fiction, and move on with your enjoyment of the 1984 original. And try to forget the lackluster Ghostbusters II from 1989.

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Black Lives Matter, As Does Democracy

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I am thoroughly encouraged by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and its efforts to draw attention to and reduce the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. I am encouraged to see that the institutionalized racism and prejudice integrated into our culture continues to be scrutinized in a nationwide campaign to bring these long-simmering issues to a higher place in the public conscious. Americans, white Americans in particular, should continue to be reminded of the systemic oppression and marginalization that non-white Americans face every day and the way that black American lives are far too frequently undervalued.

But this is not the way the way to deliver such an important and reasonable message:

I saw a lot of things in this video. Aside from the screaming, the confusion and the intimidation, I also saw people who clearly felt voiceless and powerless, and were acting out of desperation to draw attention to their cause. However, the use of physical force to bully one’s way onto a stage and silencing one group’s speech in order to replace it with their own is not only “unreasonable,” as the protesters said, it is also unacceptable.

The fact that police officers routinely get away with the killing of innocent black Americans is also unacceptable. The racial profiling of black Americans by police officers and the otherization of black Americans in American culture is also unacceptable. The report that 1 in 3 black men born today will likely be in prison at some point in their lives is also unacceptable. And the way that the death of an African lion garnered more widespread public outrage and sympathy than the deaths of African-Americans Samuel DuBose and Sandra Bland is also unacceptable.

However, others might argue that the legalization of abortion is unacceptable. I myself will argue that the U.S. government providing aid to Israel, which continues to oppress and murder Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, is unacceptable. The existence of human trafficking and child hunger inside the United States is unacceptable. The fact that countless Wall Street executives have not been held accountable for ruining the lives of millions of Americans during the Great Recession is unacceptable.

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Our society is filled with injustices that must be addressed, but one of the core tenants of our society is the peaceful and civil discussion of these issues. By breaking from these tenants, the protesters at Senator Sanders’ event on Saturday made themselves stand out more, but they also set a dangerous precedent with their actions. Because their actions are based on the premise that bullying others into silence is an acceptable means of civil discourse.

Following the maxim set by these protesters, it would have been acceptable for a gang of #AllLivesMatter fools to take the mic away from the protesters once they’d screamed at them enough. In the same way, it would be acceptable for Donald Trump to shove Obama from his podium during a press conference so the real estate mogul could demand another tax cut. Would you find it acceptable if protesters forced everyone to stop running at a Relay for Life event so they could read off speeches about climate change, the rights of transgender people, or American veterans suffering from PTSD because the protesters claimed those issues were more important than financing breast cancer research?

The last time I was in Seattle’s Westlake Center, I stood in the rain listening to Jon Stewart on a Jumbotron during the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, an event held to calm Americans during a time of widespread political anxiety and unrest. In his closing statements, Stewart said, “we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the Promised Land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.”

I believe we need to embrace that message. Loud doesn’t mean right. We should not endorse a culture where interrupting others is an acceptable means of conveying our ideas. The moment we do, we cease to be a democracy.

(Media credit: Top photo by Alan Berner from The Seattle Times. Video by KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. Bottom photo by Lindsey Wasson from The Seattle Times.)

Facing the Future and WWU Join Forces

ftf videoAlmost a year ago, when I was an intern for (prepare for long title) Western Washington University’s Office of University Communications and Marketing, I got a press release about how Facing the Future would soon join WWU. A higher-up in the department thought the press release about this acquisition should also come in video form, so I was tasked with doing just that: Turning a written press release into a video!

Oh, how I enjoyed this project!

I was aided with the actual filming and interviewing by another intern and my supervisor, but the editing (everything from trimming down the recorded material and figuring out how to arrange the shots, to adding music and credits before posting it online) was all done by me over a single weekend. Suffice to say, I’m very pleased with how the project turned out.

For reference, the full text of the press release can be found below.

Facing the Future, an award-winning developer of teacher’s guides, student textbooks and digital resources that equip and motivate K-college students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable world, has become an independent program of Western Washington University.

“We are thrilled to join Western Washington University and to work with such dedicated and inspirational faculty, staff and administrators. The university’s long tradition of excellence in environmental education, primary and secondary education, and business administration with ethics and justice at its core makes us so proud to become Vikings,” said Kimberly Corrigan, executive director of Facing the Future.

Facing the Future will retain its name, partners, and network and will work collaboratively with university faculty and experts on scholarship, research and outreach.

“Facing the Future is a leader that empowers teachers to ignite their students’ interest in complex environmental issues. Facing the Future will benefit from the environment, energy, and sustainability educational programs and research at Western. In turn, Western faculty, staff and students will have an outreach mechanism for sharing their educational programs and research with a worldwide audience,” said Steve Hollenhorst, dean of Western’s Huxley College of the Environment.

FTF’s staff will remain headquartered in Seattle, continuing under the direction of Executive Director Corrigan. FTF will be located in the university’s Seattle office, which also includes the WWU Foundation.

“Western Washington University has partnered with Facing the Future on a variety of projects over the last decade. We are very excited that they will now be a part of the Western family. Thousands of teachers in the U.S .and around the world use Facing the Future materials to help K-12 students at all grade levels explore a wide variety of global issues pertaining to the environment, economies and social justice. Now we look forward to working with the Facing the Future team in the months and years ahead to introduce their amazing materials to new audiences here in the U.S. and internationally,” said Victor Nolet, WWU professor of Secondary Education whose research has included sustainability in education.

FTF staff research and write global issues and sustainability curriculum materials that meet national education standards; provide professional development training to teachers on global issues, sustainability, and service learning; and help schools integrate global sustainability across their curricula.

Facing the Future curriculum is in use in all 50 states and more than 120 countries by teachers and students in grades K-college and across multiple subject areas, including science, social studies, and environmental education.

Facing the Future, founded in 1995, has received support from many prominent private foundations, government grants, individual donations and income from its various textbooks and other publications. As an independent program of Western, FTF will continue as a self-sustaining organization, reaching out to even more educators and students.

“In the years to come FTF will serve tens of thousands more educators across the nation and throughout the world, and will strategically expand the communities it serves to include higher education, business, government, and the general citizenry to more deeply understand the pressing local and global issues of our time and to work effectively to prepare young people to take leadership roles in building a just and sustainable future for all,” Corrigan said.

Facing the Future, highly regarded by educators across the nation and world, has won numerous prestigious awards, including: Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist from the Association of Educational Publishers, 2011; North American Association for Environmental Education, Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization, 2010 and 2006; International Association of Webmasters and Designers 2003-2004 Golden Web Award, and Eisenhower National Clearinghouse Digital Dozen Award, 2002.

Tear Down This Flag

ap photoThis is 150 years overdue.

This crimson background adorned with a blue cross bearing thirteen white stars is known by many names, but for all intents and purposes, it is known today as the Confederate flag.

It represents sate’s rights, tradition and heritage.

More specifically, it represents state’s rights to enslave black men and women and children, a tradition of savage violence and a heritage of racism.

The Confederacy was not founded on the principal of freedom or rebellion against taxation without representation as the United States of America was. The Confederacy was founded on, as Southern statesman Alexander H. Stephens said in his Cornerstone Speech shortly before the Confederacy began the American Civil War by firing on Fort Sumpter, “exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon, the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

The Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern Honor, which should not be defended, endorsed, or upheld in our nation. Southern Honor is a primitive code of ethical conduct where might makes right, and moral integrity and emotional control are disregarded in favor of valuing those who can best physically and violently dominate other people.

Southern Honor was what Representative Brooks used to justify viciously bludgeoning Senator Sumner within an inch of his life in 1856 after Sumner insulted Brooks. In the same way, the Confederate flag is what millions of racist Americans, Klansmen, lynch mobs, and other domestic terrorists including Dylann Roof, used to justify the centuries-long enslavement, oppression, and murder of countless millions of Americans.

No government agency anywhere in our United States of America should fly this symbol of treason and hatred any more than they should fly the flags of the Khmer Rouge, Rhodesia, North Korea or Nazi Germany.

Tear down this flag.

Why We Shouldn’t Fear Amiibo in Zelda U

Unrustled amiibo 3 Nintendo will probably integrate amiibo into some part of Zelda U’s gameplay, but we shouldn’t worry. While I count myself among those opposed to amiibo integration in Zelda U, a look at Zelda‘s history has convinced me we have nothing to fear.

Amiibo support in Zelda U won’t be a microtransaction scheme straight out of the Candy Crush Saga playbook, nor will we see major features like riding Epona or accessing dungeons restricted without player purchase of specific amiibo figures. In fact, amiibo integration in Zelda U will probably be much more familiar than many of us realize.

So, let’s all remain calm and take a look at how inevitable amiibo integration in Zelda U appears to be. But, let’s also look at how extra hardware purchases have not only been a major part of the Zelda franchise for most of its history, but have rarely tarnished Zelda games.

Nintendo Loves amiibo

amiibo-iwata-mario-vs-reggie copyFirst, consider how widespread amiibo integration has been with recent first-party Nintendo titles. Mario Party 10, Splatoon, and the latest Super Smash Bros. games are just a few of the recent Nintendo titles that support amiibo integration natively, while older Nintendo titles like Mario Kart 8 have been patched to support amiibo integration.

Furthermore, the recently released New Nintendo 3DS brought native NFC support to Nintendo’s mobile platform. Now, amiibo integration is as accessible for players on the go as it is for Wii U owners. In fact, native amiibo support is now a standard feature across all of Nintendo’s gaming platforms.

My interpretation of these facts is that Nintendo isn’t just flirting with the toys-to-life market. Nintendo has gotten down on one knee and tied the knot with this incredibly prosperous new segment of the gaming industry. Nintendo wants a slice of the toys-to-life pie, and it wants to give consumers as many reasons as possible to pick up these collectable figures.

Nintendo has made amiibo attractive and accessible for consumers with a wide variety of figures to choose from and an increasing library of games that support them. While the idea of purchasing extra hardware like amiibo for added functionality in games may sound sketchy to some gamers, it’s a natural fit for the Zelda franchise, which has frequently suggested or required the purchase of extra hardware for the last 16 years.

Zelda’s History with Extra Hardware

Zelda Hardware5 Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask suggested a Rumble Pak; Majora’s Mask required the Expansion Pak; a Game Boy link cable was suggested for Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons; The Wind Waker suggested a cable to connect and a Game Boy Advance to the GameCube; Twilight Princess was a GameCube game that had its release date pushed back by a month to suggest players buy the Wii port and a new Wii; and Skyward Sword required a Wii Motion Plus attachment.

That’s seven of the past 11 traditional Zelda games that have suggested or required extra hardware for a more fulfilling gameplay experience. And let’s not completely forget about how heavily Nintendo marketed the New Nintendo 3DS alongside promotions for Majora’s Mask 3D, or disregard spinoff Zelda titles such as Four Swords Adventures, Link’s Crossbow Training and Hyrule Warriors. In fact, Hyrule Warriors was sold with native support for amiibo.

Even though Link’s Crossbow Training was bundled with a Wii Zapper and the DLC in Hyrule Warriors was software instead of hardware, these games still support the trend of Nintendo using the Zelda franchise to sell consumers extra products besides the base game. And this has especially been the case for Zelda games released on home consoles.

So, seven of the last 11 traditional Zelda releases have either suggested or required players to purchase extra hardware. And home console releases make up the majority of those seven traditional Zelda games.

Remain Skeptical. Remain Optimistic. Remain Unrustled.

Don't be upset2Does any of this guarantee that the Wii U-bound Zelda U will block some features to players without an amiibo? No.

Nobody but Nintendo knows the extent of Zelda U’s amiibo integration, if it has any at all. But if amiibo support is announced for Zelda U, don’t let it rustle your jimmies; it won’t be as unusual and frightening as you may fear.


This entry was originally posted on Zelda Informer, and you can find it here. It was also featured in an article on Design & Trend.