Cultural Crossovers #5: Captain America

You know how this works at this point…

  • Ooh, glowy cube. Wonder if it’s an actual tesseract inside?
  • Yeah, you can see where Tony got it from.
  • And this, gentlesophs, is what we call estxijir.
  • Ooh, we like her.
  • The culture that makes a point of the importance of spiritual values to the sentinel daressef is nodding along with Dr. Erskine here. They are, as it were, the hardest and most vital part.
  • So, on the topic of qualities one wins wars with… and hell, this civilization doesn’t even have vector stacks.
  • Impressive results. Now someone get him a steak dinner.
  • Even more impressive for someone presumably still suffering from ‘shell dysmorphia.
  • And that’s what happens to you when you Obstructive Naysay a supervillain.
  • And the audience gives a standing ovation to the local taste in musical propaganda, despite the waste of fighting talent. The idealist school always plays well.
  • The Red Skull, incidentally, makes a superb villain for this audience, even without knowing the local politics. It’s not at all hard to read in him the Renegade-perverting-technology-and-awesome-to-ill-ends archetype that all their best villains are made of.
  • Now that’s how you pull off a rescue!
  • Nicely unspoken, Colonel.
  • Vibranium, huh? For once we’re going to try hard to just roll with the impossibilium.
  • Got to give it to the old Crimson Cranium, the Valkyrie‘s a really nice ship. On the other hand, HYDRA have a ridiculous salute and a slogan that by rights should kill morale.
  • Manned bombs? Seriously? Are they trying to grow more heads?
  • And that’s why you should take great care when playing with paleotechnological artifacts.
  • It’s not that the Imperial audience can’t appreciate a heroic sacrifice, but at some point, I think, someone needs to explain to them why we have so many of them in our media, being generally in favor of Taking a Third Option themselves, which their media reflects.
  • Seriously, SHIELD? Lies do not become you.
  • (Although this, along with differences in how the us.gov has been portrayed here and in the previous movies, is really playing into a “lesser sons of greater sires” vibe in their eyes.)

So, overall, yes – would work very well. Some cultural translation required, partly because the background does rather depend on having The War in your history, which this audience does not. Also, explaining why everyone seems to have a single-sex army given how much ass Agent Carter kicks right there on screen.

(And why you might not need to explain the concept of bullying, you might have to explain to the less cosmopolitan members of the audience why society at large doesn’t stomp on it with the vigor which they would expect.)

 

Cultural Crossovers #4: Thor

Y’all know how this goes by this point in the series, so let’s get right into it…

  • I love the smell of science in the evening.
  • Ooh, Asgard is shiny! And flat! When did they start filming in our neck of the woods? (Seriously, feels familiar.)
  • Oh, that’s what it is. (See previous entry in this series.)
  • Impetuous, aren’t you, Thor? Good quality in an adventurer. Less so in a statesman.
  • I refer you to the Things You Are Not Allowed To Do List in re appropriate answers to “are you a god?”, lightning or no lightning.
  • Okay, when we invent translocation, and in particular interstellar translocation, it needs to look that awesome.
  • Yeah, definitely rocking that adventurer attitude.
  • …loving the cloak that stays clean even when you fly right through something’s head.
  •  You go, science team! Pursue that evidence!
  • Well, that’s quite the fuck-you to inertia.
  • Yeah, mortality kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
  • …Odinsleep really does look kind of like a healing vat.
  • A lot of smarts in that hammer. (Meanwhile, someone from the Eye-in-the-Flame Inadvisable Research department is on to their second notepad, over in the corner.)
  • Ah, yes, magic and technology. Good answer, Jane.
  • Loki, you treacherous weasel! Throne and family in one go, and you still thought Mjolnir might accept you? (Good hammer.)
  • Now that was some magnificent bullshit, Dr. Selvig. Shame Coulson bought exactly none of it.
  • Also, kudos for the attempt to keep up with a godly liver.
  • Ah, so Yggdrasil would be this tech’s version of a stargate constellation.
  • Man, Heimdall is good.
  • You might want to specify something a little less general than “Destroy everything” to your robot weapons system. Just sayin’.
  • This is a terrible plan. Noble, but terrible.
  • Yes, actually, that is your god.
  • …ooh, a double betrayal. That would have been a good plan if you could have kept Thor off the board. At least until Odin woke back up.
  • The many uses of an inertialful hammer.
  • Even the Imperial audience would have to feel a mite sorry for Loki in the end, being that cracked in the brain-pan. Not that that would count for a whole lot of mercy, but it might get him some clemency.
  • Necessity is, as ever, a bitch. Still, one presumes that having built one once, they can always build another.
  • Now that’s an ominous-looking glowy cube. Hey, don’t we have one of those in [REDACTED]?

As for overall: you don’t need to do anything. This one works perfectly.

 

Cultural Crossovers: Iron Man 2

Wow, our watching cycle is short these days. Maybe I’ll start dribbling these out, oh, once a month or so, so they don’t eat the blog.

Once again, I live-blog in-culture:

  • Oh, yeah. Tony’s entrance to the Expo is exactly how they do it in Mer Covales. The audience loves it.
  • (Of course, I’ve mentioned before how I based the second movement of the Empire’s anthem on Make Way For Tomorrow, Today.)
  • Also, he just won all the points with the audience for shutting down and openly mocking Senator Thieving Assclown.
  • The audience that saw the first movie is undoubtedly cheering on his choice in successor, too.
  • (To step out-culture for a moment, I personally love the Elon Musk cameo.)
  • Kudos to Vanko for coming up with a functional equivalent of the mollywhip which isn’t suicidal to use. (This falls under “acceptable breaks from reality”.) Still not a very practical weapon, but it is showy as hell.
  • Man, the “suit-case” is some awesome tech-porn.
  • Vanko’s not wrong about what happens when the illusion of invulnerability is broken. The military guys nod along. (Remember, one of the key doctrines in their way of war is “shock and awesome”.)
  • Man, mortality sucks and makes folks crazy. Still, hell of a way to end a party.
  • And yeah, an intervention probably was called for…
  • …WHICH STILL DOES NOT MAKE TAKING THAT SUIT OKAY, RHODEY.
  • (Even if Tony did set it up.)
  • SHIELD has some… interesting ethics. (Especially if they knew what they were hanging onto all these years.) Of course, they are more or less this universe’s version of the Fifth Directorate, complete with the awesome-mixed-with-squick sensations.
  • The public safety people just cringed at the thought of all the folk about to go out and build particle accelerators in their basements.
  • Oh, God, Hammer, you are such an asshat. Also, an idiot. Also, a walking cliché of everything a businesssoph shouldn’t be or do.
  • On the other hand, it’s a pleasure to watch Black Widow work. And without benefit of PK-fu, even.
  • I could have said this at any number of moments through the movie, but Pepper is definitely one of the best executors to have ever executored.

In general: yeah, as I said regarding the previous one, with minor cultural fluency tweaks, that’ll play just fine.

(Oh, and regarding the stinger: well, that’s a funny-looking KEW.)

 

Cultural Crossovers: The Incredible Hulk

So, remember this?

Well, now that our long-delayed rewatch of the MCU is restarted, we’ll be getting the rest of them, starting with The Incredible Hulk. What do our merry protagonists think of this, the hurling of popcorn at the screen to yells of “Gamma rays do not work that way!” aside?

Let’s find out as I live-comment in-culture:

  • So, we only get to see the enhulkification experiment in the credits? That’s going to confuse people who don’t already know the outline.
  • Blood-transmissible? Gamma radiation REALLY doesn’t work that way.
  • Seriously, General, your plan to catch a giant green berserker is to send a bunch of regular dudes with standard weapons to hunt him down, without briefing them on the target? You have the tactical acumen of a rutabaga.
  • (Also, 200 bpm? I can buy experimentally discovering the hulking point, but that is a… suspiciously regular number. The sort of thing that, yes, the eldrae audience will care about. Careless, y’know?)
  • (And could someone please hang a lampshade on the conservation of mass issue for the sciency audience? Since the Hulk obviously ain’t made of Styrofoam.)
  • “That man’s whole body is property of the US Army?” Welp, you just grabbed the villain ball right hard, didn’t you?
  • So, you have one giant, uncontrollable berserker and your weapons plan is to make more just like him? So, your balls are the villain AND the idiot.
  • Ooh, fancy sonic weapons. (Also, you’re a lousy family man, too.)
  • So, not only is the general an idiot, but his minion is also an idiot. Seriously, who let these asshats into the military? The Legions would have cashiered them ages ago.
  • Awww, the big green guy has a heart.
  • Oh, man, adrenaline-triggered powers are so Blessed-With-Suck-esque.
  • Ah, Mr. Blue, you’re our kind of scientist. “More curious than cautious”, indeed. Nice ambitions, too.
  • Okay, let’s forget cashiered, and go for shot.
  • …and this is why you need a control group. Hey, General Asshat, how d’you like your new weapon?
  • Guys, you’re bringing a rocket launcher to a KEW fight.
  • The audience makes “collateral damage” jokes right about now.

So, to sum up: you would need a lot of work, but you could salvage things: you’d need to firm up the handwavium (the standards even for comic books are higher in such a scientifically literate culture) and remove the subtext about Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, but the basic thematics on power and wrath and self-control would resonate nicely with the eldrae, so you’ve got a substructure there to work with.

Also, the antagonists are going to need work, because no-one outside the cosmopolitans is going to believe that any vaguely civilized culture is going to let those guys be in charge of, or in, anything military. Professionalism, don’ch’know. Also, competence.

 

Cultural Crossovers: Iron Man

So here’s a question I was asked recently:

In the vein of questions about media, let’s throw at the Eldrae the 70mm IMAX versions of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (note, entirely cinematic, nothing from TV) with enough cultural footnotes to understand the context. Assuming all movies are available up to the end of Phase Three, what would the Eldrae opinions be on each of the movies and if they wouldn’t work in the Eldrae market, what sort of revisions/alterations would make them work?

…this may take some time to answer as a whole, ’cause I’m going to have to rewatch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to really give it a fair shot, so I guess I’m turning it into a post series. You see the terrible, terrible burdens I’m prepared to undertake for you, gentle readers?

Anyway. Starting with the first – well, with Iron Man, we have a really easy one to do, because there’s very little you would have to do to make this fit perfectly into their extremely popular “Awesome People Being Awesome” genre.

The only things you might want to tweak a little would involve cover minor cultural fluency issues, like explaining to the audience why people disapprove of the size of Tony Stark’s ego, rather than that being somewhere between normal and appropriate; explaining some banter in terms compatible with the local sense of humor; and explaining why anyone might want to cover up the existence/identity/activities of Iron Man in the first place. But those are relatively small deals and optional tweaks: the fundamentals of the movie would work perfectly in the Imperial market.

 

 

In Which Reality Is Exactly As Strange As Fiction

In today’s news, it turns out MSNBC’s legal correspondent, Ari Melber, has proposed treating “fake news”, or more technically “disprovable media claims” as a species of fraud along the same lines as fraudulent advertising – and therefore something the FTC can protect the public from.

Long-time readers may notice a certain similarity to the Empire’s  long-standing principle that “the freedom of speech is not the freedom to deceive” that establishes lies on matters of fact as criminal fraud, only aggravated by the number of people you’re lying to.

It’s just a more limited (concentrating only on “deceptive businesses” and keeping the government away from “actual journalists” and “citizens exercising their right to lie” – O tempora! O mores!) and government-centered (rather than creating a cause of action for anyone lied to) version of it. Which differences probably make it worthless anyway, but just in case anyone’s getting ideas from my fictional politics…

…it works there because of a millennia-old tradition of intellectual integrity (“right to lie, indeed!”) and of principled valxíjir and of not being a bunch of malevolent means-justifying sons-of-bitches. Both I and my fourth-wall-breaking characters strongly anti-endorse the notion for use here, where approximately none of those conditions hold true.