Archive for January, 2010

Metal Gear Solid: Piece Walker

It seems to be some kind of multiplayer jigsaw puzzle game where the objective is to fill more jigsaw pieces than another opponent, I guess.

Anti-Sec

Short post.

I’m sure everyone remembers this.

If not, then in summary; over a year ago, ImageShack was hacked by an anonymous group of black hat hackers called the Anti-Sec movement. Every link to every ImageShack image was instead redirected to an image of their manifesto instead. Because many users rely on ImageShack to host images such as forum avatars, etc., a large number of websites were also indirectly affected by Anti-Sec’s efforts to establish a presence on the internet.

The topic, however, is not the group itself–It’s the user response to their actions and subsequent message. What I want to bring up is that, until the moment they hacked ImageShack, they were a largely unknown group. By hacking into a well-known host for images and forcing users to read their manifesto, Anti-Sec was able to incite an immense social response. Their presence was widely reported virtually everywhere on the internet–forums, public media, (newsprint) blogs, and so on. And, as indicated in the above article’s comments, the response was largely negative.

However, the moment of fame that they held for hacking a high-profile site has since been quickly forgotten. In fact, no one pays attention until a group like Anti-Sec is party to another major endeavour such as this one, and their attention span tends to be rather short–but when the user’s attention is attracted, the results are often dramatic.

John Freeman Saver of Humens

The advent of the internet means increased accessibility not only to information, but of publishing privilege–namely, the capability to publish media and text content. And at the same time, our standards in quality are drastically reduced. This, in turn, questions our own cultural norms and our own intellectual values. One prime example that illustrates this is fan fiction, a term that refers to fiction written by fans of an existing work, usually without the consent or knowledge of the original creator. Fan fiction is not something that is particularly new–early forms of fan fiction have existed since the 17th century.

Contemporary fan fiction is notable, however, because of the aforementioned decrease in quality standards–while there are online measures that attempt to ensure that fan fiction remains quality material, much of it delves into the realm of wish fulfillment and literary self-destruction. Enter Squirrelking, an author who is completely notorious and infamous for what is allegedly one of the worst pieces of fanfiction–Halflife: Fulllife Consequences. A text so notoriously awful, it has somehow become an internet phenomenon.

What most people don’t realize, however, is the possibility that Squirrelking is a massive troll:

In 2006 I was first exposed to the sub-genre of intellectual garbage known as “fanfiction.” But, like an anthropologist witnessing his first human sacrifice to the Sun God, I wasn’t disgusted or appalled… I was intrigued. I wanted to know what could drive the human mind to commit such atrocities. I wanted to step inside the brain of a 12 year old love-child between a crack addicted mother and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Society as we know it was at stake. … I am as intelligent as they are dumb, why can’t I write something? Why can’t I write a story so mind-numbingly bad that it stands the test of time as one of the worst things ever written in the English language? Surely I could beat them at their own game. It was then that I heard the choir of angels and knew what has tobe done.

Taking this into context, Full Life Consequences can be construed as a kind of deconstruction of fan fiction–it questions the reader’s intelligence deliberately, and it critiques the genre of fan fiction, and our perceptions of it, as a whole.

This is a film adaptation directed by Djy1991, and probably the major reason Squirrelking’s work has become rather extraordinary. This was recorded in Garrysmod, a sandbox modification for the game Half-Life 2. Garrysmod lets you do virtually anything with the Source Engine and any related game assets, including the recording of nonsensical movies such as this one.

More skits based on Squirrelking’s work here:

Halflife Fulllife Consequences 2: WhatHasTobeDone
Halflife: Hero Beggining
Halflife Fulllife Consequences: Free Man

And there is also the work of Peter Chimaera

Over Nine Thousand

“Honestly I never intended any of my videos to produce memes. They’re just movies that were made to be funny. I guess a successful meme is just something that’s funny.” -Kajet, 2008 Japanator.com interview

This particular meme, first posted in 2006, is derived from the original Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z. Kajetokun’s videos are remarkable because, while they are simply mindless humour, they have attracted a large following. A large number of users on the internet have seen this video by now, in addition to Kajetokun’s other videos, which parody other infamous quotes from various animes and cartoons. This includes a parody of Captain Falcon’s Falcon Punch, Gutsman’s Ass, and some other, equally silly things. As a meme, however, the Over 9000 video is notable because it has been viewed over five million times, and possibly still counting. It’s also quite a phenomenon. Many people on the internet can recall the quote, be it fondly or negatively. It has attracted the attention of the likes of DBZ fans, imageboards such as 4chan, and so forth.

It’s interesting how only thirty seconds worth of anime can create such a widespread phenomenon, just as how a single animation frame can. Kajetokun has inadvertently created a work of art with just a few seconds of animation he found amusing. The art, however, isn’t embedded within the Over 9000 footage itself–it is the social reaction to the footage. I wonder if this social reaction, and its subsequent acceptance of an internet oddity as a cultural norm, is worth exploring and deconstructing.

Why is Spinzaku a meme?

An internet meme is a piece of content which is naturally unremarkable by itself. What makes an internet meme remarkable, however, is not the content itself. Memes are the result of cultural propagation. They spread from user to user, eventually transforming a simple image or catchphrase into an immense phenomenon. Memes can take on many forms, be it a simple text quote, an image, or a short video clip. The above image is one of thousands of examples symbolizing this phenomenon, albeit a rather old and overused one–the Spinzaku.

The Spinzaku is named after Suzaku Kururugi, one of the main characters of the Japanese mecha anime series Code Geass. (Code Geass R2 if you’re inclined) This sequence takes place during one of the more memorable scenes in the beginning of R2, a flashback which depicts Suzaku’s capture of his best friend, Lelouch Lamperouge, (the main protagonist) featuring a jumping spin kick to disarm his opponent. The actual scene is actually not intended to be humourous–Code Geass is a military anime, after all, and it relies on similar themes commonly associated with its genre–war, political intrigue, the critique of nationalism, etc.. I personally do not find this image funny. Rather, I find it a curiosity. Why is this image–this exact frame at this exact moment–a meme?

There is one seemingly obvious answer–because it’s funny. This is not entirely correct, though. Not everyone finds it funny–humour is subjective. The humour is derived from the absurdity of the intended animation, and the ridiculousness of the exact pose (above screenshot) at this exact frame. What makes it a meme, however, is not the fact that the image itself is “funny”–it is the propagation that resulted from this particular image. In simple terms, a number of anime fans found unintentional humour in this one frame, at the time the episode aired. As a result, the Spinzaku began to circulate, propagating from a single image to a vast number of variations on a single meme, alluding to how widespread the Spinzaku has become.

Kojima Productions Report #108

Bragging rights time.

Just mentioning this because apparently I got a mention for giving a bonus answer for the final KP Report contest. The question was “Name three countries that appear in MGS: Peace Walker”. I answered under the name Noel Shourai.

Too bad I didn’t win the actual draw.