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.

 

 

Trope-a-Day: The Future Will Be Better

The Future Will Be Better: Well, obviously. We’re working to improve the present all the time, and we’re fundamentally awesome, so there’s basically no way the future can’t be better. Why would you even ask that question?

(In Earth-relative terms, the Imperial cultural climate successfully blends 1920s-1930s Gernsbackian utopian futurism and 1950s cultural self-confidence into a heady and unshakeable brew powering the Golden Age That Never Ends. Make Way For Tomorrow, Today —

— hold the irony, and banish the cynicism to somewhere beyond the outer rim colonies, m’kay?)

Trope-a-Day: Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect: Generally averted, due to the historical greater continuity of civilization (“It has been 7,921 years since the last interregnum.”), general better record-keeping (thanks to the Repository of All Knowledge, et. al., and a religious climate that favors the burning of book-burners, and so forth), and, of course, people who live a long, long time and don’t forget much.

 

X-anity

2016_X(Alternate words: none. Also, for the avoidance of doubt, I’m assuming you submitted it in the spirit of my single usage of it in this trope-a-day back in 2014, rather than as the more-commonly-seen abbreviation of “Christianity”, because it’s not like there is any of the latter *there* to write about.)

“What is X-anity, you ask?

“(Apart, that is, from a rather ugly portmanteau in Eldraeic that I strongly suspect will not be improved by translation into any of the other languages of the Accord.)

“It’s a general term referring to a different quality for each species: kar mkaeth for the kaeth, lishólen for the ciseflish, ësseldrae for my own species, except that we use that term to refer to an ideal, not a current state, and so forth. As for what those mean, well, it’s six things, and therefore none at all.

“First, and most usefully, in biological terms, it would mean the psychological characteristics that members of that species have in common. So for us that would be things like mélith as a sense and instinct, or for the kaeth, trasered vandthel, or for the dar-e’sevdra, estrus, or for the tennoa, utilitarianism, and so forth. That each species has its own unique essence in this way is undeniable; promoting these unique points of view is much of the motivation behind uplift, for example.

“That being said, most academicians and professionals who might need to reference it go out of their way to find some other term, because secondly, it’s an example of the applied naturalistic fallacy, in which people declare such psychological characteristics terminal rather than instrumental values and insist that they cannot possibly be modified lest they change the X-ane experience and thus destroy X-anity from within. Something that has been invoked to justify the retention of everything from hyperbolic discounting through envy and xenophobia to morbidity and mortality –

(Many loud interruptions from audience.)

“The bioconservatives are out in force tonight, I see.

“Thirdly, in an extension to the first definition, people have used it to define a larger number of common characteristics, which are typically cultural norms – meaning modal averages – for a given species, by reference claiming them as innate to some degree or another. Apart from the inaccuracy of this – any functioning sophont brain is necessarily remarkably plastic, as manifested by the high levels of cultural interchange in polyspecific societies –

(Heckler makes reference to interspecies mating.)

“That wasn’t actually the kind of ‘cultural interchange’ I had in mind, but it does make a good example. As it happens, the Empire does have a high xenophilia rate, as do most polyspecific societies, although I am rather pleased to be able to say that ours is one of the highest. Which is exactly what you would expect, since the way that instincts manifest is shaped by cultural imprinting in all sophonts and even many prosophonts, including what and who they find attractive.

“And biological cultural determinism, therefore, is so much arrant balderdash, despite which evidence, fourthly, this definition is so often misused by authoritarian culture-groups, either as a means to deny another culture-group membership in X-anity, at which point they no longer merit consideration as fellow sophonts, or to equate their culture or their preferences with the optimally X-ane, and use X-anity as a hammer to enforce cultural conformity.

“These multiple definitions, in any case, render X-anity as a concept both controversial,. fifthly, in any context in which it might be even slightly ambiguous, and sixthly, therefore useless in any serious debate.”

– Academician Vallis Archíël, sophontologist,
student’s transcript from a guest speaker session, Academy of Loryet