Of Dragons & Ruined Cities

Ipsen

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Arkhangelsk said:
We as humans only care about what is close to heart, and with good reason. If we were all to carry the burden of the entire world and shed tears for every single tragedy we read in the paper, we'd all probably hang ourselves before we could have our morning coffee.
Or, I dunno, perhaps we'd all just end up actually making the steps to help those people. If we're all feeling that level of tragedu burden, we're also probably much more used to actually helping people, in both individual experience and level of social acceptance.

But this is just optimism vs cynicism contention.

But boy, Yahtzee has an extended, excruciating hardie for internet comments, it seems.
 

Moth_Monk

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Yahtzee is definitely right about the misanthropy. Almost everyone I encounter these days seems to be a bit of a cynical misanthrope. It's probably not helped by over-enthusiastic scientists being quick to remind everyone about how big space is and how insignificant humans are...
 

The Real Sandman

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Why are we still going off on the ending to Man of Steel? It was fine, like the rest of the movie.

I thought it was all quite obvious.

For his whole life Clark was a demigod among men, and the arrival of Zod and his minions was the first time Clark's abilities were truly put to the test. On top of that, the antagonists were directly responsible for 90% of the damage done through out the film. If my memory serves me, Superman was doing everything he could to stop a group of all powerful genocidal maniacs who tried to kill everybody with their Intergalactic Gravity and Planet Altering Machine of Incomprehensible Death and Horror[small]TM[/small].

Man of Steel is not a great movie, what with the bland characters, liberal shaky cam and lens flare, and the out of nowhere "romance" of Clark and Lois, but the destruction WAS justified and not overdone or in bad taste. I mean how many times was Metropolis destroyed in the 90s Superman cartoon, or the dozens of direct to video/DVD animated Superman films? Why does the equally dull and exhausting Avengers get a free pass for all that film's "consequence free" destruction? Why are we still picking on Man of Steel?
 

KDR_11k

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There's a big range of how collateral damage gets treated. From Conflict Zone which was released when the term was coined and which counts your approval rating so hitting civs with your attacks actually sets your tech back to the stone age. To a game like Earth Defense Force which operates on the general principle of "we don't give a fuck" and the only goal state is you alive and every enemy dead, doesn't matter how much collateral damage or friendly fire you caused. You can execute allied soldiers on the spot and nobody cares. Some mech games by the same developer even include missions where you are tasked to "accidentally" destroy a fast food chain during battle as a favor to that nice girl at another restaurant.

Of course we shouldn't forget the term "collateral damage" itself which sounds more like "you won't get your full deposit back on that property" than "you just murdered innocent people". And we live in a society where countries target individuals with drone strikes. Which launch large missiles. Then the govt acts surprised that innocents die in the same blast. Of course then we make games like Call of Duty where you can blanket an entire city in howitzer rounds and won't hurt a single innocent person. Which is then countered by Spec Ops: The Line...

Hell, my most recent encounter with strange collateral damage handling was R-Type Final (which I played last month). The police fighters all have descriptions going on about how their weapons are designed for precision so they won't hit innocents when fighting in a city and how horrible it is to use some of the other weapons in populated areas. Then in stage 3 there's a bit where you can actually destroy city blocks for points. The city is clearly not evacuated, the roads are full of cars and you even see some ambulances drive around, you're there to destroy a large battleship that's dropping bombs at the city.
 

themilo504

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I find it funny that you mention man of steel considering how one of the biggest complaints about that movie is the large property damage, I think that this is less proof of a evil society and more proof of lazy writhers.
 

Karadalis

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roski said:
I didn't get any moral preaching from the article. I think it's just pointing out how popular culture had the need to raise the bar in terms of the scope of catastrophes. No one can deny that humans have a tendency to vicariously enjoy other people's suffering, even if they are fictional characters. It's just that today post-apocalyptic scenarios are mainstream when once they where the subject of underground culture.
There's more craving to those kind of scenarios maybe because society is hyper-connected and policing itself.
Its not the post apocalyptic settings thought, its the process of getting there that hes writing about, in a post apoc setting the destruction has allready happened. And catastrophe movies have existed since ever starting with the realy cheezy alien invasion flicks of yore and culminating in todays super hero movies wich basicly also are catastrophe movies if you think about the amount of damage caused.

And ofcourse its moral finger wagging, why else bring the whole thing up? The whole text is one big "what has society become?" when in truth society has allways been like that. Uncaring about other humans that have nothing to do with them.

Also finger wagging and preaching are different in my book. One is pointing out the flaws without offering solutions and the other one is rallying the troops without getting in the line of fire yourselfe so to speak.

Neither has ever worked very well in the history of humankind especialy since the people doing the pointing and praying rarely take action themselves and instead enjoy their comfortable live behind the frontlines.
 

Pyrian

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Pretty sure the ramping up of catastrophe has more to do with advances in special effects and the selling power of spectacle than any deep probing of our changing collective psyches.
 

nuttshell

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Interesting Dragon theory, allthough a little far-fetched, imho. I would like to ask is it just an intro for the cry for social justice or did that part sneak in unnoticed?
 

Bastard King

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Karadalis said:
Bastard King said:
The only countries in the world that actually are experiencing high birth rates at the moment are Honduras, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Papua New Guinea, and African countries south of Algeria and North of Namibia.
All countries where birth control is verboten or not readily available... just a little observation on the side.

Proofs that if people have the choice they take sex without consequences then sex that leads to pregnancy..
Not really. Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Malasia, Oman, India, Namibia, Botswana,* Turkey, Italy, Poland and pretty much all of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavian countries have quite low rates of contraceptive use, and all have low birth rates.

You're right that contraceptive use is also low in Middle Africa and Afghanistan, but even if contraceptives never come to those places in high quantity, their fertility rates are due for a drop sooner than you think.

*Which would ordinarily have a respectable replacement level birth rate of 2.9, but with an average life expectancy of 53, it's rather low.
 

beleester

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I disagree with this, because the annihilation of faceless crowds of our fellow humans has been a hallmark of video games since Grand Theft Auto.
 

strumbore

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"So that could be it. Or, then again, again, it could just be good old fashioned misanthropy. A very specific kind of misanthropy that has only become truly possible in recent years. You see, everyone has always liked to think of themselves as the lone voice of reason and intelligence in a world populated exclusively by idiots and timewasters who just can't seem to grasp their obvious inferiority. But it's only since the invention of the internet that this attitude can be enforced and confirmed within a few minutes of surfing. That's why half the internet is so fucking condescending now, stuffed to bursting point with patronizingly-written social justice Tumblr infographics, and 'comedy' articles with titles like "10 Things You Never Knew About Science Except You Totally Did Because You Paid Attention At School"."

That was very insightful, Croshaw, how did you come to realize all this, I wonder? ;)
 

Darth_Payn

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About that ticker-tape parade thing: San Francisco threw one for the Giants in 2010, when they won the world series. That was a blast!
 

Pyrian

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beleester said:
I disagree with this, because the annihilation of faceless crowds of our fellow humans has been a hallmark of video games since Grand Theft Auto.
You think Grand Theft Auto invented this? In 1997? Please. Front Line [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_Line_(video_game)] was doing this in 1982, and I doubt it was the first, just the earliest I can think of where you kill significant numbers of humans.
 

Therumancer

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Uh, this has been going on a lot longer than recently. I mean giant monster movies where cities got casually wrecked used to be hugely popular, under the thin justification of "it's a metaphor for nuclear war"... when really it was the fun of watching the "rampage" of two super cheezy monsters (dudes in rubber suits) having an equally ridiculous battle and causing stupid amounts of collateral damage while it goes on.

In super hero comics, stuff getting wrecked to crazy extremes ALWAYS happened. The 1960s (when Yahtzee talks about people being nice and content) is actually when a lot of the most popular comics from Marvel really hit their stride. Marvel are the guys who addressed the whole "wow, how does anything survive after all of this fighting" question by inventing an organization called "Damage Control Inc." which is under contract to pretty much run around and fix everything after huge scale battles and events. They even showed up in-comic a few times, and had their own (very limited) series.

Not to mention games like say "Rampage" where you take on the role of a giant movie monster and proceed to run around demolishing buildings for points, and devouring humans for health. :)

If you want to get technical, I think the reason why your seeing this kind of thing is movies is we've just gotten the technology to do it right (via current levels of CGI and Green Screen). While posted recently here is an old fight between Superman and Captain Marvel from "Justice League: Unlimited"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3tmtNqG3aE

The thing is that could be done in a cartoon previously (and happened all the time in comics) but it's just been recently that we could have things like the Kryptonian slugfests in "Man Of Steel" done with real people.

Of course I'll also be the first to point out that part of "comic reality" is the lack of realistic fallout to this type of thing, this is why you don't generally see innocent bystanders getting crushed (for example there is pretty much nobody dying in the backround of the "Man Of Steel" movie), and why neither Superman or Captain Marvel wind up suffering permanent PTSD from their duel in that comic over having killed a few thousand people in light of their respective codes against killing. Of course exceptions to this DO exist. In the cartoon "Superman Vs. The Elite" civilians are apparently shown being killed in the midst of a superhuman throwdown... but it's also faked, as part of Superman making a point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zexXH3lS8Uw

Sadly the first part of the fight (where he's apparently losing) isn't up, which actually can make a case for Superman being a huge troll, but well, you know. :)


Understand also that this is pretty much regular comic reality, there ARE comics universes and such that DO set out to be a lot more realistic about things, and the issues of collateral damage, mass murder, and the morality of the entire idea of superheroism is brought into question. Indeed this was kind of the point of "The Authority" (DC/Wildstorm) when Warren Ellis was at the helm. Were they good guys? were they bad guys? What they were doing was necessary, but at the same time you had bits about the actual cost of say stopping a transdimensional invasion when "The Doctor" proceeds to remove a portion of the alternate earth doing the invasion from the earth's normal rotation, causing it to be destroyed and killing millions of people (along with the clear message: mess with our dimension, we'll be back). They didn't pull any real punches with that either, which was kind of the point.... but that's also not the kind of thing MOST super hero fans want to see, they want heroes to be campy to get away from you know... reality.


-

That said, don't get me wrong, I'd like to sort of agree with Yahtzee on some of this, as many might know I'm a pretty extreme militant, and believe the world is both overpopulated, and that nothing gets done, especially in war, by the first world due to morality and concerns over collateral damage... as I've said many times you cannot break a people without attacking the people, not just the military... but that's an entirely different discussion.

The bottom line is that comic books tend to represent a "perfect world" of sorts where the damage is generally just for show, the good guys usually win in the very end (even if they lose battles along the way), and idealistic morality (even among dark heroes) can be maintained in doing so. Some can question how all this collateral damage can happen without killing any innocent bystanders, and people are still going to love Superman. If your going to ponder that ask why a superhero who has a secret identity, and might be "wanted" by the police even when they work with him (at least officially) and beat the crap out of some dude after committing tons of crimes doing things the police can't, and then turn him over to the authorities to maintain their code against killing, and then have that guy go to jail and all the evidence collected by this anonymous vigilante stick. Sure, in comics it doesn't ALWAYS work, sometimes the plot has the system letting a bad guy go when the plot demands it. Typically having the system work like it does in real life is intended to show "how rich and powerful the Kingpin Of Crime/Lex Luthor really is" more than the silliness of having turned the guy over for arrest to begin with (and the whole situation for that matter).

Of course there ARE comics and stuff that get away from that, and handle things a lot more realistically for "mature" audiences. Sometimes even oddly within the same continuity as more campy concepts, some people read this stuff exclusively and can't stand all the camp. Me, I tend to follow both when I read comics as each has it's appeal. Things like "Man Of Steel" might be stylized a specific way but are clearly in the camp direction... your not supposed to think about it that hard, otherwise the entire thing shows how dumb it all really is. :)
 

Gary Thompson

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JenSeven said:
Good stuff.
However, you missed a small tick.
Overpopulation.
Like a horde of rats stuffed into a very small cage.
The rats will begin to eat each other for space and nourishment.
Man might not be that different to rats.

And now that the world is more connected and you can interact more with people, become aware of more people and get annoyed by more people, I think we're slowly turning into those rats.
And with the problem of being killed or incarcerated for acting on our rat-like instincts of obliterating the nearest human being, virtual media takes it's logical position. With no real life consequences for annihilating virtual human beings this is the perfect place for the rats to party.
Overpopulation really isn't a problem though, the Earth can carry trillions of humans and still be comfortable, but that's beside the point.

If you look at the birth rates of the Western world, it's going down.
Especially in Japan and Europe, they're actually loosing people each year.
 

Therumancer

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Gary Thompson said:
JenSeven said:
Good stuff.
However, you missed a small tick.
Overpopulation.
Like a horde of rats stuffed into a very small cage.
The rats will begin to eat each other for space and nourishment.
Man might not be that different to rats.

And now that the world is more connected and you can interact more with people, become aware of more people and get annoyed by more people, I think we're slowly turning into those rats.
And with the problem of being killed or incarcerated for acting on our rat-like instincts of obliterating the nearest human being, virtual media takes it's logical position. With no real life consequences for annihilating virtual human beings this is the perfect place for the rats to party.
Overpopulation really isn't a problem though, the Earth can carry trillions of humans and still be comfortable, but that's beside the point.

If you look at the birth rates of the Western world, it's going down.
Especially in Japan and Europe, they're actually loosing people each year.
Incorrect actually, which is why I am such a pessimist. Resources are dwindling at an incredible rate, one of the few things the left wing is more or less correct about is the depletion of things like wood and metal, based on the rate forests are being cut down, and we are mining ore with things like strip mining. As things are now, we're going to deplete the planet. This is with only a relatively tiny amount of the population living comfortably, the first world is vastly outnumbered by the sheer masses of humanity living in abject poverty throughout Africa, South and Central America, huge parts of Asia, and other places. What's more while we're running at this kind of deficit the population is increasing by multiples each generation, yes the population in the first world is shrinking, but it's expanding elsewhere and all those people want to be able to live comfortably too. Indeed so called "developing nations" represent one of the biggest threats because the amount of resources they require to provide for their people and create infrastructure... before you even get into the fact that with a limited supply of resources increased demand drives up the prices, which is *partially* responsible for a lot of the issues hitting the first world economically. Simply put we wind up spending more money in order to get the same resources with more and more nations trying to compete for a relatively limited supply. It's just hard to see for a lot of people isolated in the first world, that does not really get how incredibly different things are elsewhere on the planet and exactly how many impoverished people there are.

In the overall scheme of things this is why I am so willing to actually break entire people, and see to the deaths of hundreds of millions, or even billions of people, and speak in favor of such ruthless and "anti-humanitarian" behaviors.

See, in the long term I believe our problems can be solved by reducing the population to roughly 10% of the current level, a good World War will do it, and then doing whatever it takes to prevent a resulting "baby boom". Less people will mean less strain on the resources produced by the planet and a chance for it to replentish itself and heal.

I'm a big believe in the space program and believe that as a part of any such war, the victor, hopefully someone that at least has humanitarian *PRINCIPLES* like the USA (principles we do not always live up to) is the idealogy that does it, will focus on getting up into space to obtain more resources and form colonies, at which point we can slowly expand our numbers along with our territory.

I am also a firm believer that this world unity is necessary for any real space exploration to avoid the duplication of efforts, and more than one political or cultural entity from coming into conflict. Once we have that kind of involvement off the planet the danger of any further conflict is simply too great since we'll be looking at possibilities like people firing meteors down onto the planet's surface and whatever else... and we just won't survive that kind of exchange.

This all goes well beyond the context of these discussions and I've mentioned all of this before. I simply think the world is a messed up place, where instead of working towards peace and life, the actual betterment of humanity at the moment requires mass murder and death. It's a morbid way of thinking but sadly that's where we are. To not do things this way will lead to resource depletion, and then sure, maybe trillions of people can live at a basic level, reverting back to barbaric animals, and killing and eating each other until the sun goes nova... but really that's not the kind of future I hope for when it comes to humanity.

That said super hero battles and watching the collateral damage has nothing to do with any of this (which was the original subject) as there just aren't enough people who think that way, and even those of us that do, see it as more contextual. Death not caused due to a sociopathic disinterest in the survival of others, but rather an unpleasant necessity for the world to continue. In say breaking cultures in the middle east or China it's not like I'm advocating it like some kind of joyeous event, where we party like "The Joker" and his cronies out of sheer love of death and carnage, or even view it with the dispassion of The Orkin Man getting rid of an infestation of rodents, but rather as an unpleasant but necessary task that needs to be handled with proper decorum, but handled none the less. They are human beings, but sadly the planet can only support so many of us in a state where we'll be happy, and those that it supports need to be able to unify everyone in a rational government and culture and get us out into space so we can expand our population.
 

Sarge034

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Wow, Yahtzee just keeps on becoming more and more jaded. I really think he needs to take a vacation or he might cease to enjoy media at all...

OT- Interesting psychobabble but I have another psychobabble theory. Perhaps people are just subliminally coming to the realization that conflict affects everyone, not just the "hero" and the "villain". In most cases the neutral parties have no control over the conflict and are at the mercy of the warring parties. Or perhaps people are just subliminally realizing that there WILL be collateral damage in large scale conflicts. It is inevitable and unfortunate, but a fact of war.

Gary Thompson said:
Overpopulation really isn't a problem though, the Earth can carry trillions of humans and still be comfortable, but that's beside the point.
This is false. It is estimated that the Earth can support up to 10 million people due to food limitations, and that is the high estimate.
 

thepyrethatburns

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Yahtzee seems to be having issues with long-term memory. If we look at comic book reality, this sort of thing has happened for decades with 9/11 causing a short downswing in the violence. Kansas got nuked in a pre-9/11 Superman story. Juggernaut knocked down the World Trade Center in 1991. Drax the Destroyer and the Hulk got into a fight which involved knocking each other into buildings and having them fall down. All of this took place in the 90s when we were all bubbly about the economy.

And Video Games? Those have been disaster porn since the NES. Even if we ignore the "murder everyone in front of you" gameplay, there have been plenty of games where you're burning the village to save it. This sort of gameplay is truly nothing new. Even the evil corporation/rich bad guy has been around as long as long as video games have been around so you can't even say that class warfare is anything new to this.

I don't know if this is a function of age where everything seemed more innocent in "the good old days" or he just needed a subject for this week's article but absolutely nothing that is talked about in this article is new or restricted to times of bad economy or world interconnection through the Internet.
 

P10Destiny

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Therumancer said:
You know how racist this kind of thinking this is right? You described underdeveloped nations as overpopulating themselves. You think mass murder this the best solution to fight. Therefore, the best people to mass murder are in underdeveloped nations. This is literally genocide level of racism.

Back on topic, the fact that people feel this topic worth discussing is proof that people care about the people who live in those destroyed cities. It may be that they pay more attention to what happens to others than to who.