The “Failing” of My “Great Idea”.

Few years ago, I was surfing the internet one day, and came across this picture:

o-sexist-avengers-poster-kevin-bolk-570

And I laughed like there’s no tomorrow.
“This is fucking brilliant!”, I said to myself. The reason why I said that it’s because I believed that the creator of this is using comedy or humour as a weapon to make a powerful statement. He even got The Huffing Post to talk about it.
So I spam-messaged this picture to my friends, and I shared it numerous times on Facebook (as many other internet users usually do). I even got interesting conversations and arguments about it with my friends. Then, I simply carry on with my life.
And that is till recently,it naturally re-surfaced from the back of my mind when I was thinking of an idea to poke fun at gendered marketing for my Creative Proposal project for one of my class.
“Okay, so instead of making of fun of how they market stuff for boys, what if we make fun of how they market stuff for girls as well! Oh! What if… We reversed the gender roles! Yeah, that will funny! Haha!”, I told myself, slowly building the confidence to this “great idea” of mine.
I did some research, trying to find the perfect vehicle for my “great idea” and walla, the perfect candidates for it:

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“Video Games, YES! It’s perfect! These games are totally the polar opposite of one another! This is going to be good! It’s going to be funny, haha!”I told to myself while doing a small victory dance in my small, cramped up studio apartment.
So I’ve done the proposal, came up with contigency plans just in case I have to downscope my idea and finally, I submitted it. The facilitators/lecturers feedback about it was positive.
“There’s no reason to stop this train! IT’S GOING FULL SPEED AHEAD! CHOO CHOO!”, I boast to myself and to my friends. I was pretty confident that it’s going to come out good at the end.
And that is, until I actually executed the plan. This is what I came up with at the end:

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Mind you, the artwork wasn’t originally mine, I simply piece it or “collage it” together (with some editing and masking to some of the original files) with Photoshop.
Now, do you notice anything wrong with it?

Yeap, that’s right. “Where is the humour?”

I showed this to my friends and the facilitators and the responses I got from them are at best, lukewarm. And I don’t blame them. They were expecting funny pieces or funny “something” from me. And these “something” aren’t funny at all.
I think long and hard about this and there are two conclusions that came into mind:
  1. I lack the ability, skill and time to pull off the desired effect like what Kevin Bolk did with his work (the Avengers’ reversed gender pose) and;
  2. This topic is no longer funny to me.
This blog here is mainly about the second conclusion.
So why is this topic is no longer funny to me? It’s simply because this topic (regarding to gendered marketing) is starting to become personal to me, and I’m getting tired of it. I changed from an outsider who observe and laugh at what is happening, to a person who is fighting for a cause.
“What is that cause you’re fighting for” you say? Simple; I want better, and stronger representation of women in entertainment media, such as video games. I want a world where my future daughter can come back home from highschool and play a game that look like this:

god-of-war-for-girls

“But Fedya, haven’t you notice it? Female representations in video games are getting better and better. And Fedya, like you us male gamers want it as well!
Yes, I know. But the scale is still noticable. It is still male dominated.  And we must not stop fighting for it. The keyword here is “STRONGER representation of women”.
There’s an article regarding to “Gender Breakdown of Games Showcased at E3 2016” are there some points made about it that I honestly think, going against what Feminist Frequency is actually fighting for.
No offence to Carolyn Petit and her article, but I believed the problem does not lie as to whether or not there are more games with “violent-oriented” mechanics than “none-violent mechanics. But on what end of spectrum are the female characters in those games. I believed by having those games with women as their protagonist, it would tip the scale much more to their favor.
Alright, I don’t want to go off-tangent with my rant. But bottomline, my project has “failed” in becoming a humour piece that I intended for it to be. Instead, it became a reflective piece to my own conscience. And I would like to share that with you, the reader of this blog. Have a nice day. Fedya out.
p.s. Gamers, play a game with strong female characters like Beyond Good and Evil, or play as Saryn or Valkyr in Warframe. Creators, write/create/design female characters that is a force to be reckon with. Okay, I’m officially out.

 

Links to resources/artwork used for the “failed” piece:

  1. http://vgboxart.com/browse-resources/
  2. https://www.redbubble.com/people/zfischerart/works/13810125-female-kratos-from-god-of-war?p=poster
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Classification_Board
  4. https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91pfM8FP6XL._SL1500_.jpg
  5. http://www.dafont.com/forum/read/34400/barbie-font
  6. http://www.dafont.com/dollie-script.font?text=Barbie&psize=l
  7. http://www.pixeden.com/photoshop-text-effects/psd-candy-text-effect
  8. https://img1.etsystatic.com/040/0/7788333/il_fullxfull.655098471_5rue.jpg
  9. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/7d/90/39/7d9039fd8d7568434897310a55cf2af6.jpghttp://www.freepik.com/free-vector/park_799949.htm#term=park&page=1&position=10
  10. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0363/6845/products/77166d0be58e59ad6217baee137edffe.jpg?v=1471627600

 

References for the blog:

  1. https://feministfrequency.com/2016/06/17/gender-breakdown-of-games-showcased-at-e3-2016/
  2. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AsherEinhorn/20150813/251201/The_misrepresentation_of_women_in_games.php
  3. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/violent-video-games.aspx
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/06/23/more-than-half-the-games-at-e3-let-gamers-play-as-female-protagonists/#10a65c3192a6
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/avengers-movie-poster-sexist_n_1507914.html
  6. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/67902/20150710/study-shows-that-boys-want-better-female-representation-in-video-games-too.htm
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/07/10/the-slow-evolution-of-women-in-video-games/

 

Deconstructing “Fedya”

Who is Fedya?

Fedya is me. “Me” being this person who was born in tough-but-caring mix-Asian family. But Fedya wasn’t always called Fedya. In fact he is known by his birth name “Firdaus”, meaning “heaven”. Until now, he is still not sure how he feels about that.

Okay, so how did Fedya got to be called “Fedya”?

Fedya got his name from a group of Kazakh an Russian students who studied under the same university as him. They see him as good friend, one that they can trust whenever they have social/cultural problems in Malaysia. Fedya almost always never say “no” to help them when they in need. And Fedya also love learning Russian language for some reason. Blya nu hui ego znaet, chto on dumayet. V rezul’tate, eto muzhik Porusskyi neploha.
But that’s not how Fedya got to be called “Fedya”, no.

So what’s the real story behind Fedya being called “Fedya”?

The story of why Fedya is now known as Fedya is less cooler than that. Fedya was called Fedya after a pronunciation snafu of his real name. From “Firdaus”, it turned into “Firdos”. And from “Firdos”, it turned into “Fedor”. And finally, “Fedor”, turned into “Fedya”, because in Russian slang, people with the name “Fedor” are often nicknamed as “Fedya”. And the rest is history.
Fedya sees himself as this great observer or “tourist” of life. But many misunderstand him as a person who is an anti-social and a person who hides his true self beneath a mask. Does Fedya what people thinks about him? A little. After a good meal, and a good sleep, he feels as Fedya as he can ever be.
But something changed in Fedya recently. He stop Fedya-ing. He conforms himself to…

To…?

Nah, too lazy to write about myself. I said the word “Fedya” way too much now. I don’t want people to think that I’m narcissistic now. Take care.

…What The Fuc-

Language, you dingus.
You know, I never really like you anyway.

What? Who? Me?

Yeah, you, “me”. You like talking to yourself. Why? That’s a trait only an insane person would do.

Oh please, you created me. I didn’t even want to be here in the first place.

…You know you’re talking to yourself right?

Yo dingbat, you’re the one who is talking to yourself. I am talking to “you”, not “me”. 

You know that’s the same thing, right?

No it isn’t.  

Yes it is.

No, it isn’t.  

Yes, it is.

NO IT IS NOT!

YES IT IS YOU NARCISSIST. Oh my God… You’re Narcissist.

I SAW THAT!

Saw what?

I SAW THIS!

screenshot_335

Checkmate, Fedya.

 

…I don’t understand…?

You spellchecked your spelling of “Narcissist”! That’s lame.

Oh my God, you just did the same thing. But on “spelling”. Like who on Earth can’t spell “spelling”?

You also can’t spell “spelling just a moment ago “speeling”? Hahahahaha!

Shut up! Narcissist! Hey, look I found your Doppleganger!
WWF-Lex-Luger.jpg
Oil up, and hit the gym with The Gaming Historian, you Narcissist!

Dear Lord, do you know how many people would not understand that reference at all?!

Like seriously, I rather be that, than being a blob-y black tofu, like you. Which I am!

And also, DON’T YOU DARE say anything bad about “The Gaming Historian” or I’ll slap you.

Oooooh, that’s a lot of writing for a silly pic. Someone’s piss-y.
And slap me? HA! Prove i-

HAH! How does it feel now?!

Ow, ow, OW! OW! OW! STOP! YOU COULD’VE AT LEAST WAIT FOR ME TO FINISH TYPING YOU BITCH! SINCE WHEN YOU CARE ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING YOU?! NARCISSIST!

And here’s a GIF to represent how it played out:

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It was magnificently, weird. 9 out of 10, would do it again.

 

NARCISSIST!

Okay, is that the only thing you got? Calling me “Narcissist” over and over again?

No, I got “this” too.

…I can’t see it.

What do you mean, I’m holding “it” in front of you.

You mean you’re holding it in front of the monitor? That’s not “me”, you idiot.

OH, SO YOU DO KNOW I’M HOLDING IN FRONT OF THE MONITOR. WHO’S THE IDIOT NOW?! I’m going to-

TIME-OUT! The readers don’t know what you’re holding! Maybe add a picture of what you’re holding on this blog?

Woah, no. This is too private. Are you crazy?

Oh please, you’re trying to MacGuffin it.

No…Yes.

Plus you’re not actually holding anything. It is nothing but just a figment of your imagination. You’re writing this way to engage with you readers more while also telling them about you, but at the same time not really telling them much about you.

Well, you got me there! Woohoo! Mr. I Know Everything! Well, guess what, you’re a figment of my imagination too!

Yeah, I know. But I am still “Me”, and You’re still “You”.

Is this a “Goodbye”?

Maybe. If you want to. I miss talking to you sometimes. Why didn’t you talk to me back after all these years?

I changed. Everybody changed. I thought I wanted to be normal. I wanted to conform.

What made you changed back?

Fedya?

Are you there?

Ah, that’s right. You’re not “You” anymore. You’re “Me” now. Hehe, quite the trickster you are, Narcissist.

Welcome back, Fedya.

The Big Talk About ‘Creativity’ and a little bit about ‘Motivation’ (at the end).

Note: I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a long long time. But at the same time, I don’t want to make it sound rant-y. But then again, this is a blog, and I should forgive myself being rant-y, at my own blog. But I didn’t have any idea on how to glue the whole thing together, till my previous blog about a birthday wish to a filmmaker that I deeply respected.

A BIT OF BACKSTORY ON HOW A MOVIE SHAPED MY FILMMAKING PALETE

Note: Please excuse the language.

It was 27th of November, 2005. I was eighteen at the time. Young, clueless, and like pretty much like every other teenagers, I gave up on life.

I was in the 2nd Semester of my Graphic Design course.I was at my student apartment, in my room, riddled with assignments that I have no interest on finishing at all. I sat on my table and I blew a candle on my birthday muffin and slow clapped to celebrate another miserable birthday celebration.

“Yeap. I suck at everything. Even in art and design. Sorry Mom. Sorry Dad.”, I said to myself.

It was 12.05 a.m. and I  have made up my mind that I have no zero talent, zero creativity and zero interest in what I am doing. I ate my disgustingly cheap birthday muffin, shoves all of my assignments that was on the table to the floor, turned off my crappy laptop who kept on crashing every time I made circle shape on Illustrator, and went straight to bed.
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“Fuck you, assignments. Fuck you Illustrator. Fuck you Life.”, as my flipped off my last flip to my ceiling while lying on my bed. It wasn’t long till I dozed off to the familiar nothingness.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK goes my door at late night. I took my pillow and stuffed it over my head.

RING! RING! RING! My cellphone rang and I was hesitant to pick it up. It’s Amir, one of my ex-classmates from Game Design course I used to be in. What the hell does he want at this time?

“Amir, do you know what time is it? I’m sleeping man. Go away.”

Babi (pig), open the door. You asked me to come over to celebrate your birthday last year, remember? Because I missed it. (Do you) Want to watch movies with me, or not? If not, I’m going back”, said Amir who was weirdly breathing heavily on the phone. Guess he was angry at me for pissing him off.

Sial, kejap. (You bastard, hold up)”, as I leaped of from my bed and went straight to the door.

We sat on the floor of the balcony that was close to my living room. I offered a cigarette to Amir who was sitting opposite of me at the balcony as I popped one into my mouth. He refused and went inside the living room.

“Something I did? What’s up?”. I lighted my cigarette and looked to the distance.

“Stop trying to be cool and come and watch this movie with me.” as he popped a DVD movie into my Playstation 2. He got me good when he said I was trying to play it off cool.

“Fuck you Amir. You read people too well.”, I thought to myself.

I got back in and sat beside him and grabbed one of his soda can drinks. He wasn’t too happy about it at first, but then he passed me his bag of chips and punched me on the arm as act of silent disapproval. Ah, sweet Amir. Always a giving fellow.

Then, at that precise moment, as I took my first sip from the soda can, I heard a piano tune that caught my attention. I turned to my TV and saw this:

Like the gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like the bird from the hand of the fowler, I free myself from everything around me. It was South Korean movie called Oldboy. And my whole world has been turned upside-down.

 

OKAY, SO WHAT DOES THIS MOVIE GOT TO DO WITH ‘CREATIV-

Shhhh, I’m getting there. I won’t go too much detail about what this movie is about. But I do want to say that this movie has changed the way I think, see, and act as a creative artist in three big ways:

1. Working within the confines of the limitations, aka “Less is More”

See, I grew up in a family that could not afford to buy me an expensive laptop with an expensive tablet to do my assignment. No. All I got is a laptop with an Illustrator program and that’s it. I always hated the fact that other kids has more intricate and smoother art in their designs, in comparison to mine.

But after after seeing how some scenes in Oldboy uses available lightings and locations to their advantage due to the budget they have, I realised that I was just fooling myself. I don’t need all of that bells and whistles. All I need to do is to use my situation at my advantage.

 

2. Using passions to generate interest on other things.

So, remember when I said I have zero interest in what I was doing back in 2005. It picks right back up after watching this movie. See, after I watched the whole film with Amir, I borrowed it from him. For months. I didn’t give it back. I was studying the film. From title credits, to timing, to its fonts and overlay and composition, to shots and angles, etc. I made this movie my personal Bible.

post-22987-Ive-seen-things-you-people-wou-O9nZ

Like any other artist, I “borrowed” design elements in the film and implemented to my work. It got praise, by classmates and lecturers. It got me pumped to do another design inspired by Oldboy. One thing lead to another and before I knew it, I picked up a lot of software skills along the way, just because I want to make that text effects that I saw from Oldboy. From typography elements, to Bauhaus design movement, all because of a movie.

And it didn’t stop there. Which leads to,

 

3. “Creativity is not a talent, but it is a way of operating.”

Okay, I think I cheated a bit by using John Cleese quote on this. But that’s exact how I feel about about ‘creativity’ back in 2005. You see, I always thought that the best artist, designer, and even filmmaker were born talented. Till I found out about Park Chan-wook (the director’s Oldboy) history as a filmmaker.

To summarise what he did to get where he was at that time, he made a move from being a film-goer(opened a film club at the place where he was studying), to an amateur filmmaker (to which his film were considered a failure by many), then a film critic (because he needed the money) and then back to being a filmmaker again (because he wants to do it).

So his story got me thinking, what if he decided to just give up and settled in by being film critic? Then there wouldn’t be Oldboy and I would probably stuck in Malaysia, doing half-ass graphic design works due to my lack of interest in doing it. Park Chan-wook loves film and he ultimate resolution was to be a filmmaker. So the least thing he did is staying close to his passion at all times. And he did it. He became a filmmaker. A well-respected filmmaker. He got creative with the way he got in.

And that, inspire me, once a graphic designer to stay close with films as well. I slowly made a change from doing physical artwork to digital. And then to motion graphics. Then to video. And finally, I made a short film as my final assignment that got attention from Film and Television students who got interested in getting me to work in their final semester assignments. And the rest is history.

 

OKAY, THAT’S FINE AND DANDY AND ALL. BUT WHY TALK ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW?

See, there was a class this trimester about creativity. And in that class, I was convinced that I have lost my ‘creativity’. This is because I performed horribly in a task that requires ‘creativity’ to solve it. I thought to myself,

“Gee, I sucked at it. I guess I’m not that young anymore. I guess I’m not that goo-WAIT A MINUTE…”,I shouted and I slowly paced myself down to halt when I was walking to my car.

I’ve been through this before… Back when I was 18 years old, in my crappy apartment with my crappy laptop. This feeling of not being good enough for what I’ve done. Ever since I studied in Australia, I kept on telling myself that I’m not good enough because of this and that, and it annoys me. Mind you, that I’m not being delusional by saying that I did a great job (which I didn’t). All I’m saying is why I am deprecating myself for not doing well enough, instead of realising I have something new to learn and to look forward to?

Oh wait, I should asked myself, and not you readers. Sorry about that.

 

O…KAY… SO WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO ABOUT IT?

It’s going to sound pretty anti-climatic, but I’m sticking to those three rules I’ve established back in Malaysia. I need to stop being sorry for myself, stop blaming on myself or others because of the state of my being and start doing things that made me love doing this whole “filmmaking” thing.

REKINDLE The Flame.

RISE To The Occasion.

PLAY The Unplayable Piano.

SWIM Against The Curre-… You get the point. 

 

THAT’S IT HUH?

Yeah, that’s it. I was thinking about sharing video of Shia Lebouf “Do It” video for a bonus gag, but I found something better. Something that is sort of personal to me. Basically, I  had the same situation with my parents, but it didn’t register to me immediately. It took like a few years to finally realised it. But I’m glad Rocky’s son didn’t take as long as me:

 

생일 축하합니다 (saeng-il chukha-hamnida), Park Chan-wook.

Not many know of you over here, but in Asia and Europe, you are a commercially successful and critically well-respected filmmaker.

I have been looking up to you as a filmmaker since the day I started filmmaking. You,  Joon-ho Bong and Kim Ji-woon. That was 10 years ago. Geez, how time flies.

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Some have called me shallow, and many have called me weird for adoring your films. Oh well, cup of coffee in the big time.

Your films have always been THE FILMS I go back to from time and time. And when I do, I always learned something new.

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I really can’t wait to see your new film, The Handmaiden. This time, you’re adapting it from a novel called Fingersmith.

I wonder if it’s going to its own direction, just like what you did with Oldboy. Please don’t stop making films even the screen quota issues you’ve been dealing with recently.

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Just as I was giving up on everything else in the world, your films have forged a crazy, adventurous pathway for me. I hope to see you in the future and just shake your hands and say,

“Thank you, for pulling me into your worlds”.

Studio 3 has begun. Clearer, calmer mental state is needed.

My aim this year(or in the this trimester) not just as a filmmaker, but as a creative artist is to be in a more calmer, more meditative mental state. To go back to the beginning of things, retreading my past works, thoughts and things. To understand why some parts are left out and some are still kept close to the vest.

Will it help me perform and produce better works? Probably, who knows. That’s why I want to do it in the first place. A wise man who left this world too soon once said to me, “there’s only one thing to do, when I feel things becoming, unbecoming; I seek My Peace in My Chaos.“.

Will it help me perform and produce better works? Probably, who knows. That’s why I want to do it in the first place. Studio 3, let’s tango.