Clicks: What a Troll Wants, What a Troll Needs

In a recent episode of Rebel FM, co-host Arthur Gies discussed how he has anxiety every single time he posts a review. Knowing the consequences of his actions if he should be found wanting. This was all couched in the further ludicrous notion that his employer, Polygon, pays him to essentially live on social media and have to contend, daily, with the slings and arrows of trolls and haters. Because he also uses social media to keep in contact with friends and colleagues, he literally has not other choice.

To which I say: Good. The anxiety part. I don’t really care that Mr. Gies has an addiction to being triggered on social media over the stupid things he writers.

One of the great things to happen in the gaming community over the recent years is the audience not falling line and doing as told when it comes to the games press. I love that there is now push-back to stupid notions that wander in to a review or preview that have no real place there. That games punditry, for good for ill, is taking hold with more and more games press standing up and speaking for themselves, not hiding behind some authoritarian “we” nonsense.

With all of that newfound freedom, should also be a generous dose of fear of a mass audience rejecting opinions and notions laid bare before it. Mr. Gies has long been a profiteer of click bait reviews with slip sliding scores, hamfisted editorials, and a ridiculous Twitter feed full of hyperbolic nonsense that has to be seen to be believed.

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It’s in that spirit that we turn our attention to the recent “controversy” of everyone’s favorite “consumer advocate” Jim Sterling giving The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 7!

It’s been a while since I’ve covered “consumer advocate” Jim Sterling, mostly because I don’t want to turn in to a Jim Sterling type: doggedly covering the same four topics repeatedly, ad nauseum with an occasional “controversy” being stirred up so he can get attention. You’d think with all of his lawsuit shenanigans he’d learn to take a break from all the attention whoring, but a girls got to eat I suppose.

You notice I didn’t say “clicks” because Jim Sterling loves to state that he is a pure “consumer advocate” and doesn’t make any money from ads on YouTube or his website! Which is true, and all well and good, but that’s not the real point here. He does LOVE the attention and it sure as shit didn’t hurt his Patreon numbers, garnering him a lot more donation money for his continued “advocacy”.

If the giving Breath of the Wild a 7 and inducing nerd rage sounds a bit stale and familiar you’re not wrong. Something similar happened when Jim Sterling reviewed No Man’s Sky last year and pretty much the same thing happened. Except, No Man’s Sky was indeed an average game deserving of it’s 5/10, in a review that read like a game that was a 5/10.

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Breath of the Wild, well, not so much. Unlike a fair amount of Nintendo fanboys that raged so hard at Jim Sterling, I in fact read the review to see what all the fuss was about. That proved to be a bit of a problem as his website had been toppled by a pure Zelda nerd hate fueled rampage. Nevertheless, with time, I was able to read it and really look to see if the text matched the score, as you’re wont to do in these situations.

Because far be it to notice that the review was coming in close to two weeks after the game was released. Before the dark times wrought by the 7/10, Breath of the Wild’s Metacritic score was a glorious 98 and all was well with the world with near universal acclaim. This was predominantly because he didn’t have a copy of the game to review, Nintendo having stopped working with him long ago due to his constant need to badger and provoke Nintendo fanboys. More probably, because he’s Jim Sterling…why would anyone work with him?

But whom are we kidding here; this is what Jim Sterling really does for a living: he trolls gamers and video game culture for clicks and views. The only differentiating factor between him and your run-of-the-mill YouTube whore is that he has a foot in a games press past. However, he has always behaved this way. Drumming up “controversy” and driving traffic to whatever website decided to avail his “consumer advocate” services in the past.

Now, I don’t expect readers to be familiar with the Sterlingverse, but on his podcast, the gag inducing titled “Podquisition”, it was readily apparent in the wake of Breath of the Wild’s release that he was leaning on whatever his co-host Laura K was saying about the game and immediately had a visceral reaction to the weapon degradation elements. This is on top of his open derision to anything open world related, with the Ubisoftification of open world games being a prime target. Already, things weren’t looking good for Breath of the Wild getting a stellar review from Jim Sterling.

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The thing is, the world would’ve have kept turning had Jim Sterling not even bothered to review the game. Nothing in his review would lead anyone to believe he played enough of it to fully form an opinion outside of the one he had long before ever getting his hands on it. In fact, the review reads more like a firm 8/10. The review takes a turn at the end as if he, or someone helping him edit the review, noticed that it didn’t read like a 7/10 or more sinisterly, that an 8/10 wouldn’t lower the Metacritic score, but a 7/10 would.

So insert a bunch of paragraphs knocking the game for nonsense that Jim Sterling personally doesn’t care for, but aren’t actually issues with the game proper and some facsimile of a 7/10 review score appears. Additionally, what glorious trolling it would be to lambaste this most perfect Zelda game ever created? The Nintendo fanboys would lose their fucking minds! And up went the review.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to even bother defending Nintendo fanboys and legitimize what they said and did in the wake of Jim Sterling’s review. Those people are monsters of the first order, something even I wouldn’t have believed until a few months ago.

In the lead up to the Nintendo Switch launch, I found myself watching videos on YouTube by some of the most ardent Nintendo fans lavishing love and adulation for the company and everything they did. I had heard legend of these fanboys, and how voracious they could be. In fact, to this day they are still giving Jeff Gerstmann shit for his review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, awarding it with an “8.8”. Yeah, that’s not a bad score at all. Yet Nintendo fanboys are still up his ass about it over a decade later!

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Jim Sterling is no stranger to this Nintendo fanboy rage either, yet he seems to keep drawing their ire. To the point of wondering why someone would keep fucking a beehive then complain about being stung?  He’s gleefully done this for clicks and attention for years, yet he expects they will just grouse on social media and forums and leave him be?

There is no sympathy to be found for Jim Sterling because he knew what he was doing. He knew that giving Breath of the Wild a 7/10 was going to enrage Nintendo fanboys and that they were going to come for him. Now, is this mob attack mentality gross? Of course, it is, but as will all things The Interents, there is a teachable moment to the people who use to make a living. You don’t stick your dick in a beehive.

As the video games culture grows and moves ever more mainstream, the hope is that these self-appointed pundits will actually have something of value to offer new gamers. The sad old whoring days of purposely giving a stellar game a low score for attention should be derided for the pathetic gesture it is. Regardless of fanboy malfeasance, gamers must move past those of the games press that hold on to a antiquated view of gaming culture and lack due respect for their audience and their intelligence. No matter how lacking it may appear at times.

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Clicks: What a Troll Wants, What a Troll Needs

Movie Review: Logan

Just how low is the bar for comic book movies when something like Logan comes along and is lauded as some great and wonderful thing, when it’s just as turgid and banal as most of the X-Men movies its pretending not to be?

Logan eschews the Wolverine moniker that’s been stapled to these Hugh Jackman led films about the titular hero and his mutant rage induced deeds across time. I guess this is a nod in the change of “tone”, the hard “R” rating that allows to show all that glorious Wolverine carnage and allow actors to say “Fuck!” or “Shit!”. Yep, pretty much it. Oh, and a lady shows her boobs in a scene. Hooray…and totally worth it.

20th Century Fox looked to give Logan a wide a berth possible by just calling the film Logan. If it fails, then it won’t do much to the stellar X-Men film franchise. But if it does succeed, we can now go on to this heretofore unknown realm of a “R-rated” superhero films? If they are as boring, bland and cliché ridden as this film, then I’ll pass.

Logan has peak and valley pacing that makes itself quickly apparent, on top of it’s trope-addled script and hamfisted nostalgia boner churning you’d come to expect from a comic book movie.

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The cliché train barely pulls out of the station as we’re introduced to Wolverine, now just Logan I guess, visibly older and riddled with movie cancer (coughing up blood every two minutes). Apparently his sweet adamantium covered bones are poisoning him and since he’s older now, can’t quite heal fast enough. But that’s cool, he wants to die anyways.

In the mean time though, he’ll be a chauffer.

It is during one of these driving gigs he is accosted by a woman who wants to enlist Logan’s help. What’s that help you ask? Well, she wants Logan to take a feral little girl named “Laura” (Dafne Keen) to some place called Eden. Meanwhile, a bad guy with a robot arm (Boyd Holbrook) wants Laura returned to the evil scientists or the bigger bad more like. Basically the same old X-Men story we’ve seen again and again, and then Logan adds in clichés and tropes from other movies, cobbling together something different, but not altogether good.

Not that liberally borrowing tone and pacing from other films is necessarily a bad thing. But it becomes tedious when viewing Logan, the quiet moments are there for some sort of resonance that is never earned. Putting a like-minded little girl in a film doesn’t suddenly make Wolverine more relatable. Making them father/daughter less so. Adding some sort of old man wisdom fueled all knowing “familial love is the best” subtext with having Professor X (Patrick Stewart) be some sort of father figure to Logan and also this sheppard of “Logan is actually a good guy” doesn’t cement that notion anymore.

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More damningly is that Logan resides in this meta-universe where X-Men comics are a thing, and that the movie is basically ripping off the classic western Shane. Some would say “quoting” or “referencing”, but I get the idea that the filmmakers thought the comic book nerds and young people would have no real reference so “quote” away! Logan leans heavily on this “last of his type””part of a dying breed” trope so hard, that the notion that an old man and a little girl can “fix him what right” so absurd in the first place.

It’s where I start chaffing with the whole kid and old man element of the film. Perhaps I’ve just grown too cynical and I am beyond tired of comic book movies no matter what they try to stand apart from others in the “genre”. I preferred the direction the last Wolverine film, The Wolverine, over this one.

Director James Mangold mistakes slow and turgid with expansive and engaging. Thinking that if he just holds the camera in tight on an emotional scene with swelling orchestral music that that somehow deepens the film on something it never earned to begin with.

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The “R”-rating allowed visceral elements of Logan get washed away by their utter frequency and sameness. This is doubly so if you’ve been following the X-Men film franchise, wherein Wolverine is wedged in to every one of them to…well…Wolverine his way through a scene. Seeing blood spatter and limbs fly is effective once, but over and over and over…on top of adding a young clone Wolverine and “Laura” a little girl Wolverine type to the mix, just makes it tedious. Then add gun fights and children with super powers being chased by men in black fatigues and body armor, you got yourself a classic, boring ass X-Men movie!

This has been a problem 20th Century Fox has had with it’s comic book movies, they’ve been safe. Even the much lauded Deadpool was mired in telling an origin story and added a lover interest to make the character…more relatable? This “R” rating has done nothing to elevate either Logan or Deadpool. It’s allowed a freedom of sorts, but the most part its been squandered adding more blood and potty mouthed characters.

What’s even more alarming is that the Metacirtic user score for Logan is 9.0.…what the shit? Well, I guess the masses have spoken.

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Logan doesn’t transcend the comic book movie in to real movie excellence, regardless of its efforts to the contrary. The film is well acted, and shot beautifully, but that’s about the extent of it. The films up and down pace grows tiring after the second fight scene in to third quiet driving scene shows up. The grounded film making only works if the character on study is worth investing in. Wolverine as a character in the comic has plenty of that to draw readers in, the film version of him does not. There appears to be a purposeful drawing away from X-Men references to ground the film in realism, so there’s one Jean Grey reference, but no real reference to the last film and the things Logan went through in that one…let alone X:Men Origins and the other twelve times Wolverine showed up some where.

Just giving Wolverine “movie cancer”, lifting plots of classic westerns and tasking him to takecare of an old man and a kid just isn’t enough. Having him learn a life lesson just as he’s about to die isn’t either. That being said, it isn’t the worst of the X-Men film franchise and I wait with breathless anticipation for a new actor to be cast as Wolverine and the eventual relinquishment of rights back to Marvel so they can just reboot the whole damn thing.

Movie Review: Logan