Imperial Command of the Raccoon General

Thoughts and Memoirs of a Ring-tailed and Masked Dominator of the World

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General of the mighty Raccoon Army

Monday, January 30, 2006

My Treatise on Warrior women!

The last of an era where gigantic leviathans battle with each other face to face in a manner of speaking, is all but a page in history. The days of the majestic battleships are long gone, replaced in it's wake weapons that make killing a far more inhuman and distant act. While not a major factor, but then perhaps that the modern day warfare and all it's long range unmanned precision that saps the human spirit from a conflict, could be part of the reason war has become so horrendous these days. Nevertheless, for me one of the last truly epic battles at sea, was the contest between the German battleship, Bismarck and that of the British Royal Navy's battlecruiser, Hood.

For those ignorant to these names, there came a time when, in 1941, the German Navy's modern (for it's time) battleship, the Bismarck, escorted by the heavy cruiser, Prinz Eugen, came into battle at the Denmark straits againts the British battlecruiser Hood and the yet-uncompleted battleship Prince of Wales. (which later sank not far from the coasts of my country Malaysia, in the South China sea). The British forces charged at the Germans but excellent German gunnery supposedly scored good hits on the British forces, quickly sinking the Hood and sent the Prince of Wales to flight. It should be noted that the Bismarck is 20 years more modern than the Hood, and it had much better fire control and protection than the Hood. However, what the British lacked in modern technology of their fighting ships, they made for it in numbers, which just days later, circled and destroyed the Bismarck. (the Prinz Eugen having been detached not long after the battle with the Hood)

But that's beside the point. The main thing here is why these things matter to me. I personally find naval combat interesting (and this is not about naval combat either) because the navy has for the large part been a masculine affair, the great citadels of steel battering each other out as one would finally slip into the waves towards a glorious end ala Samurai way of combat. However, even as ships themselves can be named King George for example, they are and seemingly always will be referred to as "she". And there is something about that which is intriguing. The objects we champion, as combatants even, as a 'she'.

And there, after a lengthy, almost off the point paragraphs, is the issue at hand. Female combatants. Warrior Women.

There is something deeply mythical and captivating about the concept of women warriors, the women who fight in battles as men do. This has been the case ever since the ancient times, as old as even 600BC. The Greeks, in particular, told of tales of the Amazons, warrior women without peers that are fearsome on the battlefield, yet beautiful at the same time. Evident to this is the account on the mythos on the Siege of Troy, where apparently the great warrior Achilles, who fought against the amazon's Queen who allied themselves with the Trojans, and after striking her down he was mesmerized by her beauty and regretted what he did. Going further in time even, the warriors of the steppes, the Sarmatians were legendary not only as horsemens, but also for having their women fight alongside the men. Indeed, it is even said that the Sarmatians were in fact the byproduct of Amazon and Scythian mixing. However the main thing of this account, myth or otherwise that differs from modern imagination is the fact that the women are primarily fighters and not seductresses. To that end there are accounts that mentions these women to have cut off their right breast in other to better wield weapons, although by miost ancient illustratings this was not ever shown, but nevertheless shows that beauty was secondary to combat prowess for these women.

Going down the road of history, we see many paramount female figures, all I'm sure equally worth noting though foremost of all these, many of us would have heard of Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who rallied the French into defeating the English in the early 1400s. Again, the figure in question was more noted for her skills, contribution and devotion than her looks. All the way until the second world war with women actually fighting for Soviet Union on the Eastern front, we could see this trend, or rather this reality, for that is what it really is, combat prowess being primary for the domain could ill afford the tiresome and totally unrelated question of looks. That of course is history and reality.

Most notably with the medias in the United States in the 20th century, especially in the mid and later half of it, there has been the rise of heroines, women heroes who not only prove to be strong protagonists but also of beauty. Foremost among these is of course DC Comic's Wonder Woman, perhaps one of the first female heroes in comic history. Soon a vast phalanx of hot, powerful female characters begins to invade the realm of imagination, myth and storytelling. TV had its own share with Charlie's Angels, the trio of hot, ass kicking private investgators. So does the world of cartoons and animations, dominantly in my mind Cheetara of the Thundercats and She-Ra, the female counterpart of the He-Man series. The most interesting point to put here is of course that such areas were once populated with the typical weak, damsel in distress types whom, if anything, has proved to be more of an annoyance than interest, at least for me. Women are not weak, and while I am no support of feminist types, I can't stand to see characters who crumple under the slightest hint of danger. That said however, we, as I most certainly do, always would love to see beautiful, sexy women in stories, thus while we do away with the weaklings, the beauty should remain. It is after all still the domain of fantasy, no?

Going further into detail, there are still a number of annoyances that stereotyping and, of course, individual preference of the makers, has caused to emerge even in the ranks of the popular warrior women ranks. Let's take the previously mentioned examples. Wonder Woman for starters didn't start off sexy, but was more geared to promote the position of women rather than looking good. I took time and several innovations (her garments getting... shorter and shorter) before she actually became 'hot. Charlie's Angels for starters is at least half of it mainly, about looking good. But much effort to the beautification has caused the sexy PIs to look more like models trying (albeit with great success) their hands at detective work rather than detectives who are pretty. In the cartoon business, warrior women are a welcome ffrom the usual disney's fragile princesses. However in the case of She-Ra and any of her types, she was hot and sexy (I mean that short white skirt of hers was cool) but nevertheless she didn't, on most ocassion, didn't seem feminine enough in personality. This maybe in part as a result in her being the female variant of He-Man, so as to become powerful and all, she can seem more like a typical hero. She wasn't THAT bad, but she didn't hit my mark either.

Cheetara, of the Thundercats however, is a slightly different issue. Without doubt for an 80s child like myself, I consider her to be the first babe ever known in my life. Oh, she was hot... sexy. Going about in what seemed like a swimsuit, and with great hourglass figure. She was feminine. Her voice was seductive and her manner did not exhort masculine authority but sleek feminine presence. And she definitely kicks ass. Cheetara can run circles around her enemies and she is extremely agile and dexterous; traits of good warriors. She was without doubt, for me at least one of the first characters that best juggle the demand of strength in battle and feminine personality.

The lesson she gave at least has been carried forward and I do see some characters that balance the demands out just as good as Cheetara did. Comics and TV and even movies alike. I myself have been, in the arena of character design and creation, a student of such a lesson. But before I go on with this, a few words on why the hot and sexy thing being a factor. (for all you FEMINISTS who think women should be portrayed regardless of looks.)

One, I love pretty chicks. And I'm sure a lot of people, guys and girls alike, love pretty chicks. One can remain in denial that looks do not matter, but you're only fooling yourself because billions of people out there think otherwise, even if they dare not admit it. Secondly, women are beautiful, perhaps even in ways more than one. Men have their positive traits and for women, beauty is one such traits for them. To deny that as a factor, trait, edge and positive thing about women is just.... wrong. Women are beautiful and so they should be portrayed, especially in cases of being central characters, as beautiful. the media may have preference on what they like to see, but then so do all of us. We each have our own preferences so you can't expect to see every form of what every invididual think is nice. Thirdly, for God's sake you freaking feminists! This is the realm of FANTASY, you nutcases! FANTASY! Am I a monster. a degenerate, a freak, or inhuman SIMPLY for having the figures in my fantasy hot, sexy and beautiful?

Back to the previous issue... I was saying I am a student in the lesson of making the best possible female character. The fact is you can't be perfect in it, not only because imperfection is beautiful, but also because what is beautiful is too varied, based on personal preferences. SOme like big boobs, some like em small, some like them well proportioned. Some even life large women. That's their choice and welcome to it. I can't cater to EVERYONE's taste so the best and ultimately most important is that I cater to mine. After all I will be the one creating the character. Currently though, I have two babes in my sleeve (not literally, but metaphorically); Alexandra Yalena Koslova and Katarina Celestine. Both are identical largely in appearance (due to the fact of having... the same genetic make up) but I made necessary differences in their character. Whereas the former is wilder, more open and expressive, the latter I chose to be more shy, reclusive and quiet. But both should be feminine, pretty but still kicks plenty of asses to boot.

The last thing to note is that not only in women warrior characters, but ANY character for that matter, regardless of how hot and sexy and alluring you want your character to be or how much ass she can kick, the main thing in any character is a flaw, a main weakness, like Superman's kryptonite. This is central to what makes a character has depth. Invincibility is boring and without the protagonist being tested and held in check due to her (or his) weaknesses, there would not be a compelling story.

The story is a car, and no matter how well built and polished to perfection, it is still never good enough without a good driver to match. Characters are the drivers of stories.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Oh the whole Black Metal thing resurfaces...

Well, it's the new year and frankly, I'd start off by saying how despite the few good things I had then especially in due part to my friends and bestfriends, 2005 has been a bad year for me and seeing it pass into the pages of history is a bittersweet experience. Bitter because all the pains it left me to endure and sweet because maybe, just maybe, it will all be over.

In Malaysia however the coming of the new year was heralded by bad tidings, though for myself and the people around me, it felt neutral; as if little changed and nothing was occuring. However, the country is now in a state of another paranoia; one of which we had seen several years ago and thus far has seemed to resurface. This is not some study or report, and at best this my educated guess of the whole issue.

2005 thus leaves the legacy of this whole... 'Black Metal' issue for us to deal with in the midst of the new years (I say 'years' because January this year has the distinct occurance of having 3 new years; the solar calender, chinese new year and the muslim hijrah new year) . And frankly, I see this trouble already dividing us into three distinct factions.

The first faction I see are of course the Black Metal people themselves. I've never met one of them, but from what I read, neither would I hope to meet them at all. If Satanism and the fall of religion are their main doctrines, then I am very much not with this sect. Indeed, it can be said that while I am usually neutral to the opinions and actions of others (live and let live policy) this is one of which I feel that neutrality would just not do. I am no pious disciple of religion and I am a far cry from the model muslim, but I believe in the teachings nonetheless, and this whole thing that the Black Metalists are preaching seems just to offensive for me. From the coverage the local media gives them right now, I can guess that some of the people in the group aren't too happy with what is being said of them while some relish in the spotlight given to them.

The second faction would be the authorities, police and perhaps religious groups seeking to stem this dark tide. In what is being said of these people thus far is that of the abuse of power. This is in fact a delicate matter, one which generalizing, mostly through lack of understanding or uncomprimising nature, guides these people to perform their tasks to the extreme and not caring who the victims are. This is somewhat like how Nazism and other totalitarian regimes would solve their issues, and to some extent the religious sect's "witchhunt" as some people put it, seems very similiar to the times when the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages went all out with their Inquisition to supposedly ferret out heresy and witchcraft.

The third group are the other musicians, gig-goers and such young people. There are no 'everyone else' or 'people as a whole' in the sides, because for those like me, and perhaps thousands of other 'everyday people' we are far too detached from the scenes that are dragged into the whole issue. People of the third group are typically victimized by the second, whom perhaps out of power abuse or through misunderstanding, groups up this third sect along with the first one, which in turn leads to them crying out on the infringements of invidual rights and freedom.

For the most part, I think the whole problem is simply a matter the lacking in tolerance. Tolerance for the most part, and hand in hand with understanding, can keep people united, and the very fact we can dissect people as a whole group into sects, means there is a lacking in the said values. People of the third group are quick to jump on the 'individual rights' bandwagon and start blaming the authorities for their mistreatment and all, and not for one strive to think how the other side works; how they think, what they perceive and what errors in their judgement that could be fixed through an open hand. Authorities on the other hand, most especially I think the 'Islamic religious patrols', have little tolerance for the whole new-age-youngster thing, that anything that does not remotely resemble themselves, are thus the enemy. Music scenes, and in fact the entertainment industry as a whole, should not suffer the treatment the former is giving, even under the pretext of this whole black metal issue. Religious matters are a delicate subject to debate and my views (which aren't anywhere near black metal-ish at all, but nevertheless more liberal I suppose) would be fiercely opposed by the conservatives, but I will say this, even in religion, somethings persists while some change to adapt to the times. I dare as far as vanture to propose this because Islam itself is a religion based on the texts of the Qur'an and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad S.A.W, serving as a basis or sort of a constitution, which as I recall advocates men (and women of course) to think. And that fact is one of the reasons why Islam is suitable for all ages and times. Creative, tolerant, wise and adaptable people are what I think is needed by the authorities to handle the matter.

But on the whole Black Metal idealogy thing, the listeners of the music can claim that they only listen to the music and that for them the idealogy and religion issues are a seperate thing for them, but don't delude yourself into thinking that there aren't any of the listeners who actually become influenced by it enough to do devil worshipping and the like, or try to bullsh*t me by putting that up as a cause for an argument. The fact is Black Metal carries an idealogy that is being spread and preached through their songs, and some people do convert themselves into that idealogy. Secondly, there is no isolated exceptions or clauses which you can hide behind by that "I just listen to the music" defence. The truth of the matter is, if you buy their stuff, attend their gatherings, you are supporting them and thus are part of them. Generalizing? Maybe, but consider this, you buying their stuff provides them with the resources to expand their influence, and you showing up at their gatherings would only serve to encourage them further. Add that to the fact that all the doses of their music might somehow touch your subconscious, I would therefore say don't bullsh*t me by claiming your isloation from them.

I will not denounce their idealogy, for i leave that to individual minds to decide, but for me, if one of you, as is being reported, do things like drinking blood, denouncing God and worshipping the devil as well as desecrating religion and the belief of others, not to mention indulge in acts of savagery, butchery, and barbaric (Let me clarify, all the blood spilling, spike wearing and horrific make ups and outfits, rudeness and indescent attitudes), then this is one idealogy I am against.