Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Asshole Effect: Fact or Fancy

I came across the above image on my Facebook news feed attached to the caption: "for some reason I believe that there's truth in this..." There's a lot of value judgement inherent in the image itself - two girls who look like they're plucked out of Girls Gone Wild, and the composer of the image clearly bitter about not being able to score with them. The crass statement, "fucked and chucked by an asshole" to me already indicates a level of respect that is not suggestive of a "nice guy."

I previously broke down a delusional male fantasy in the Cinderella Effect (one that I think many of us gentlemen have been prone to). Seeing the above image, I couldn't help but try to debunk the current presentation of the Asshole Effect. It's a pervasive concept in our society - one that I have at times felt is a compelling one. However, if I am to look genuinely at the sample of the circle of the people I know, it is one that is ultimately hollow. In fact, I think it's often just an excuse for boys with no sense of responsibility or introspection to blame others for their own shortcomings. Here's my response:

There's some truth in a lot of things... but often not enough to bank on. Fixing oneself on concepts like this can only add to one's problems. Is it true that women can be attracted to assholes? Yes. Is it true that men are often attracted to assholes? Yes. The girls in the above photo will probably end up with boys who match their personality. The boy who composed the photo above will probably end up alone.

It's easy to put the blame on external factors (like what women really want). We all, myself included, do so. It's the self-serving bias (I'm sure you could tell me more about this than I you). However, people tend to be severely lacking in introspection. In particular, people tend to ignore a) their side of the equation and b) their own expectations.

By ignoring their side of the equation, I mean people tend to expect a lot of others while not really critiquing themselves. Is it really the world that's gone and done them wrong, or is there something about the way they behave toward or interact with people that is contributing to their fortunes (and I'm not talking about "Oh, I am too nice" here)? Perhaps they spend too much time wallowing about how stupid the opposite sex is and composing photos "for the lulz", discrediting the way they act entirely. Maybe they're not actually so nice?

By ignoring their own expectations, I mean that in the same way they might think the opposite sex is attracted to questionable qualities, they themselves are attracted to similar qualities. These qualities might include attractiveness, hipness, party culture, or laughter in the face do danger. They might be attracted to someone on the basis of money or with the end goal of getting laid. While some of these qualities may not be negative, they may not match the seeker's own qualities - essentially they're emphasizing the wrong qualities, qualities which are not compatible with their own. "Oh, why does that girl I like who likes to party all the time like all those party animal boys?" Gee, I wonder...

People also tend to over-emphasize their own strengths. These may include attractiveness and hipness or maybe just niceness. Being unaware of our own qualities can be as devastating as being ignorant to the incompatibility of another's qualities. If all I do is chase Jessica Alba around all day, I'm likely to be disappointed all the time. The logical conclusion is that girls are stupid and value status over awesomeness, because I am awesome and Jessica Alba is definitely in my league both socially and in terms of attractiveness. Oh yes, and we also have so much in common! Right...

Now, I'm not saying that finding a compatible individual is easy. That's the hard part, and it can take years. I'm saying that people tend to target lots of incompatible individuals, and then blame the opposite sex in general for those incompatibilities, leading to interesting statements like the one above. People would do better if they paid more attention to themselves. Then, roll with the punches until you come out on top. In the end, there only needs to be one.

Of course, for me, the one is Sandlot. Hopefully I'm not an asshole!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Jennifer Hepler Effect

GameSpot recently published an editorial attacking "gamer entitlement" for what can only be described as a disgusting display of human crudeness - mass derogatory and sexist slurs and attacks against one of BioWare's employees for comments she made in an interview in 2006. [Read about it here] I agree 100% that this is unacceptable. It's disgusting.

What I take issue with is that the cause is "gamer entitlement" and the idea that gamers are not entitled to drive content - that game developers can do whatever they want to. Yes, they can - but at their own folly. My response is as follows:

"I don't think the issue here is gamer entitlement. Gamers are, in fact, to be expected to feel somewhat entitled to direct the way the gaming industry goes. They do so with their dollars, and they may verbally give companies the heads-up as to what kinds of changes will move those dollars. True, the actual decisions as to what goes into a game belongs to the developer - but a developer is likely being foolish to not heed the desires of fans or to insult them with shameless and half-hearted attempts to milk them for money (often referred to as "selling out").

The issue here, really, is that the Internet abounds with bigoted, crude, biased individuals who feel that under the anonymous cover of their PC screen, they can say anything. The problems are really those inherent to the flaws of individuals. Is BioWare right to set an example of these people if it's within their power or to exclude them from their community? Absolutely. The community can be no worse for wear as a result. It would be stronger, likely. I would respect this.

Are gamers entitled to express their dismay, disappointment, or (strongly) disgust at the direction of a company or games? Absolutely. They do so with their dollars, and in doing so with their words, they're merely instructing companies as to what's happening with those dollars. Games are a product. Development is a service. Gamers are customers. To wrongly point the finger at gamer "entitlement" as the cause for this debacle of shameful human conduct is merely to do another wrong, which is to propagate the erosion of service culture in North America."

As to all your idiots on the Internet who brought this issue to the fore, I may not agree with GameSpot's Laura Parker as to the cause, but I certainly agree with her about the problem. I think Aaryn Flynn said it perfectly, and I applaud him for doing so: "Whatever, f***ing moron"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Things she effing loves: Boys who are amazing...

In February 2009, just months before meeting yours truly, my epic love Sandlot wrote a blog dissertation on the type of boy she would dearly fall for. Three years later, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, how does her real partner in crime stack up to these lofty expectations?

1. Boys who are artistically inclined are amazing. Guys who can man a one-person band, are aspiring photographers, can dance or draw without being such an artist about it are pretty much amazing. If you can do all of the above, i will personally start up your own fan club (buttons included).

While, like any good Chinese kid, I played piano until Grade 8, I can barely pound out a scale anymore. I did buy a guitar with the aim of impressing Sandlot, but never managed to learn more than two chords. My artistic endeavors are limited to chibi doodles and my photography tends to consist of a smart phone and some soft blur. As for dancing, I can DDR. Does that count? I guess this explains why my fan club doesn't have buttons.

2. If you smoke, cuss like a sailor or have tattoos, then you are amazing. It's has nothing to do with the vice itself, but everything to do with the fact that you send out a big "eff you" to the system. I probably wouldn't date you, but i still think that you're motherfucking amazing.

I don't smoke or have tattoos, but on the plus side my chance of dying of lung cancer is much lower, and my ability to step into an MRI scanner without having my skin burned off is much higher. It's ironic that Sandlot, in effect, ended up dating probably the most compulsive rule follower ever. I'd also like to note, that when I do cuss people out like a sailor, Sandlot really dislikes it. I guess she's either grown up or... she lied!

3. Boys who are articulate and eloquent speakers are amazing. This is only to benefit and make up for my personal bouts of social awkwardness.

Finally, something I can pretend I'm good at! Despite having sometimes been called a human dictionary, my recent CaRMS interview tour hasn't exactly made me feel like a Barrack Obama level public speaker.

4. If you own a blog, you are amazing.

Check, check, and check.

5. Boys who are academic intellects are amazing. BA.MA.PH.D.MD. The more letters you have affixed to the end of your name, the greater the possibility that i will love you. Academic snobbery gives me the warm fuzzies on the inside. That, and i envision having such incredibly brilliant child prodigies who will eventually be shipped off to Mrs. Norton's Academy for Gifted Kids and Intellectual Geniuses because the public school system can't handle their profound intelligence.

While I might one day (with any luck) have some of these letters affixed to the end of my name, I'm not entirely sure I want a genius kid named Harvey's. We'll have to talk about that.

6. Boys who are ambitious are amazing. I find it strange that ambition tends to get such a bad rep because personally speaking, i would rather date the keener sitting in the first row of class with the 10-year plan then the dude who graduated university two years ago and is still working at pizza hut.

If by ambition, you mean achieving the rank of Commander in Halo: Reach and starting up a DDR Club in my alma mater, then yes, I've got that covered. At least, I don't see any Pizza Hut in my future... unless it's in my tummy!

7. Boys who are elitist about their music are amazing. If your taste in music is so obscure that even the members of your favourite band can't recall being in the band, or if you own the entire Billy Joel collection and know all the lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire", then you are amazing.

This is probably my biggest failure. The most obscure my music tastes dabble with is Linkin Park, but I can probably sing along to all the words of Avril Lavigne's Sk8er Boi. Maybe opposites can attract after all...

So that’s it. If you fall into all of these categories then i fucking love you and want to be your best friend, even if don’t know you.

So that's it, I can dubiously slot myself into 4/7 of Sandlot's pre-dating man-requisites. I've done the math, and that makes me only 57% of the man she envisioned herself ending up with!

Despite the discrepancy and the fact that I'm still trying to talk this girl out of sky diving, she is absolutely the one for me. So the question is... Will you be my Valentine, Sandlot?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Small World of Drama

So, after a long hiatus from Japanese drama (since Crunchyroll went legit and stopped carrying it), I've finally swung back into action. Because I'm a total girl romantic, I picked up a romantic comedy called Boku to Star no 99 Nichi - which I think translates roughly to something like "My 99 Days with a Star". I've only watched one episode so far, but I'm already getting excited for this show. It looks like it has the whimsical over-the-top comedy that I tend to appreciate in Japanese TV with less of the circular self-inflicted plot devices that Korean drama are known for.

The show follows a Korean popstar who is making her Japanese debut. She is assigned a bodyguard from a private firm. Her bodyguard has a strong sense of justice, but unlike most men is totally not interested in the popstar (which makes him perfect to fall in love with her as the show progresses). To complicate things, her co-star (a celebrated Japanese actor) has a huge crush on her, and she herself is looking for "someone" (long lost lover?). Love quadrangle!

What really struck me though, is that even though I've watched such a pithy number of Japanese drama, they all seem to intersect based on their star power. Also, while the same has not been true of the Korean drama I've watched, with this show, my Korean and Japanese drama experiences have also started to meld. It's uncanny! Let me demonstrate:

I have watched a total of 4 Japanese drama to date.
  1. Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (or Hana Kimi) - is about a girl who pretends to be a boy to attend an all boys school in Japan to try and help her hero, a former star athlete, return to glory. The dorm leader is played by Mizushima Hiro.

  2. Mizushima Hiro appeared unwittingly again as a major love interest in another drama I watched, Zettai Kareshi, about a robot who is designed to be the ultimate boyfriend. The engineer for this robot is played by Sasaki Kuranosuke. The leading girl is played by Aibu Saki.

  3. Sasaki Kuranosuke also played an Internist in the third drama I watched, Iryu (Team Medical Dragon) - a medical drama about a master surgeon. Again completely accidental.

  4. I followed Aibu Saki over to the drama Attention Please, a show about Japan Airlines flight attendants.
Now in Boku to Star no 99 Nichi, Sasaki Kuranosuke follows me for a third time, playing the famed Japanese drama star. What's more, the Korean popstar is played by Kim Tae Hee (the Son Yeh Jin wannabe) who played Seung Hee in... IRIS (terrible show, but one of the limited number of Korean drama I have watched)! Her fated lover is played by Korean popstar Taecyeon (a.k.a. Beast), one of the stars of Dream High, which is one of the few Korean drama on my to-watch list (because I'm a huge IU fan).

So there you have it. Although most of the time, I don't do this on purpose, the stars in the few drama I have watched continue to intersect. Either the drama acting pool is very small, or my great taste on drama prefers a particular set of talented actors. Must be that one. Hahahaha.