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Was It Justified? A Helpful Flow Chart On Whether Or Not That Black Dude Should’ve Been Gunned Down

Recent events have seen a rival of our national discussion on police, racial minorities, and the seemingly unending instances of violence being inflicted by the former on the latter. In light of this, we here at Culture War Reporters thought it might be helpful for everyone to break down this complex (or perhaps not so complex) issue with colorful boxes and simple choices.

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Why TF2 Doesn’t Have Female Characters [And Overwatch Does]

I’ve played 31 hours of Overwatch to date. Now that pales in comparison to the 322 I’ve clocked on Team Fortress 2 [often shortened to TF2], but the former has only been out since late May and I’ve had the latter for several years now. There’s time to even the scales, is all I’m saying.

31hoursNow those 31 hours may not communicate this this very well, but I am all about this game. As a self-proclaimed Blizzard [the studio behind the game] fanboy who has spent actual cash money on every one of their recent releases save for World of Warcraft I’ll admit that I was already primed for it, but where Diablo III: Reaper of Souls languishes half-finished I don’t see any excitement drop-off in sight for Overwatch.

Counting herself as a fellow member of the game’s 10 million or so players, Polygon contributor Susana Polo’s interest stemmed from a different place. To wit, the presence of so many playable female characters was a huge draw for her in spite of not being “a big shooter fan”. While as a whole the its roster is startlingly diverse [it ostensibly only has four Harveys; see here for an explanation of the terminology] it’s Polo’s perspective, primarily her comparison between Overwatch and Team Fortress 2, that I want to focus on.

Comparing Apples Blues and Oranges

Her article has its foundations in a conversation she had with a former co-worker, namely regarding the fact that “It’s shitty that Team Fortress doesn’t allow you to play as a woman”. As another class-based shooter with a focus on objectives over kills juxtaposing the two only makes sense.

Team Fortress 2 was released by Valve in 2007. The game offers a total of nine different classes to choose from, most of them White, all of them male [as far as we know]. While there has been much speculation about the Pyro [who is fully masked] being a woman there has been no confirmation from developers at this point.

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Overwatch has 21 heroes, with Blizzard already teasing another on the way. Of these characters eight of them are female. While not as close to 50% as the actual number of women in the world, it should be noted that of other 13 two are Omnics [robots] and another is a hyperintelligent gorilla.

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Now what we could do is chalk up the creative decisions made by the studios as simply matching the current climate surrounding consumer expectations. While female gamers have always existed it’s within recent years that they’ve become more vocal and made their presence more known, something which the industry appears to have tuned in to.

Given that TF2 was created nearly a decade ago maybe we can cut Valve a little bit of slack for merely keeping up with the times, such as they were. Having made that decision let’s instead change gears and ask a different question: “Why hasn’t Valve added female skins to TF2 in the nine years since it was released?” Continue reading

The 3 Best Pieces of Advice I’ve Received in 3 Years of Marriage

I started writing for the blog a little before I got married. Around the time of my anniversary each year, I’ve written a post about my married experience. For my first anniversary I shared “4 Things I Didn’t Expect” (about marriage) and last year I gave you “4 Reasons Why Marriage is Worth the Risk (Even in the Age of Ashley Madison)“. This year I was thinking about what sort of married life wisdom I could share with you, and the only thing that came to mind was advice that older and wiser people had told me. So, as my third wedding anniversary approaches (next month) I’ve decided to share the three best pieces of advice I’ve received during my marriage.

1. Go to Bed Angry (Sometimes)

I’ve always been a fighter when it comes to my relationships. I think that discussing an issue can allow you to unearth the deeper problem and talking things out can keep you from feeling resentment. By the time I got married I had also heard and/or read one piece of marriage advice over and over again: don’t go to bed angry.

I’m glad someone told me to cast that advice aside.

Instead, they suggested that sometimes we really should go to bed angry. Because sometimes, even the best of us want to strangle our partner for a reason that will seem pretty silly the next day. Often, by postponing that impulse to vent your irritation, you can avoid making an argument out of something that doesn’t really matter.

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Bernie and Rebecca and Melissa Kent: On Her Directorial Debut, Its Creation, And More to Come

bernierebeccaposterLast month marked the first screening of Melissa Kent’s directorial debut, Bernie and Rebecca, at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Centred on the first date between the titular characters, the short film is a fascinating look at what so many of us dream about when put into similar situations.

On top of being able to review Bernie and Rebecca for myself, I was also given the opportunity to interview Melissa Kent via email about the process of its creation and her work both past and future.


Like so many things in life, you can only have one directorial debut. With that in mind, what made Bernie and Rebecca the first [of many, I’m sure] story that you wanted to tell?

Bernie and Rebecca is about a couple on a first date who imagine a not-so perfect future life together. It provided an ideal showcase for my skills directing romance, comedy, drama—basically a lifetime of love, laughter and tears—in a short 14 minutes.

Having edited so many feature length films what was it like directing a film that clocks at just shy of 14 minutes?

Actually, the filmmaking process is exactly the same, just with a much abbreviated running time. It was exciting to be making all of the pre-production decisions from casting to design to locations, and then of course being on set directing, which was a 3-day shoot. After that, the film required what they all do: editing, music, color grading, and sound mixing.

What was it like both shooting and editing your own footage? Did you ever find yourself skipping ahead in the process, knowing that certain shots would inevitably be thrown out while you were filming them?

There was only one insert I didn’t love while we were shooting so that got nixed, but everything else got used in one way or another. Being an editor probably helped my shot selection to be very efficient.

Given that so many of your past projects are either dramas or comedies [including a personal favourite of mine, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2] would you say that Bernie and Rebecca falls into a comfortable genre for you? Have you ever considered branching out into any others in the future?

Besides dramas and comedies, I have edited true crime (Captive, An American Crime), science fiction (Supernova) and even a 3D dance movie (Make Your Move). A good story is a good story and as a filmmaker I would not rule out any particular genre. It is more fun to go between genres whenever possible.

A few months ago The Guardian reported that between now and 2018 20th Century Fox and Paramount have no films directed by female directors being released.

Conversely, next year’s Wonder Woman was directed by Patty Jenkins, and Marvel appears to be specifically searching for a female director for their own Captain Marvel the following year.

Do you have any comments about the state of the industry as it stands now in regards to other women in your field?

Much respect to Jenkins and I can’t wait to see Wonder Woman.

Your next project is the upcoming American Pastoral, which both stars and was directed by Ewan McGregor. Is there anything you can tell us about that film, and if you have anything else to watch out for?

The trailer was released a few days ago and can be seen here.

It will be in theaters in October and I hope everyone will check it out!


Bernie and Rebecca is currently screening at the Madrid International Film Festival until July 9th. Watch the trailer at www.bernieandrebecca.com, and learn more about Melissa Kent’s extensive editing career at www.melissakent.com.

Bernie and Rebecca: A Short Film Review

bernierebeccaposterThey say you only have one chance to make a first impression, a proverb that veteran film editor Melissa Kent may have reflected on during the creation of Bernie and Rebecca, her directorial debut. Appropriately enough that’s also at the heart of the short film, which centres on a blind date between the titular characters.

In a way mirroring the existence of her own extensive filmography, Kent eschews showing us the couple’s initial meeting, choosing instead to focus on their evening coming to a close. A lot has already been said and done by that point, but even with all of that behind them there’s the promise of more to come. A lot more, as the short film will eventually reveal.

Bernie and Rebecca is a work that takes the wonder and the “what if”s of any budding relationship as far as they can possibly go. The conversation being had about the lives that they could one day live is fantastic, to say the least, but it’s also sobering in the stark realism of what’s been laid out. In spite of this the tone never gets too dark, instead staying relatively lighthearted by virtue of the duo’s performance.  

Rebecca never masks her emotions, and Brianna Barnes’ expressions say just as much as, if not more than, her actual lines do. Her face falls and lights up in response to every word out of her counterpart’s mouth. On that note, Kyle Davis’ greatest strength as Bernard is in his delivery, which bears a whispery, Tobey Maguire-esque quality. Not everything he says is entirely truthful, but all of it is heartfelt. Between the two of them the stars of this short film allow the audience to feel like they’re witness to something very personal and, in spite of the premise, very real.

Bernie & Rebecca doesn’t feel abrupt, nor does it overstay its welcome. You can only muse about the future for so long before you run out of fictional details. As a short film Melissa Kent’s directorial debut is short and, negative connotations of the word aside, sweet. A snapshot of a couple doing what we’ve all done countless times before.


Bernie and Rebecca screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 16th. It’s next screening will be at the Madrid International Film Festival, from July 2nd to July 9th. Tune back in soon for an exclusive Q&A with director Melissa Kent.

Why Do I Love Graphic Novels (When I Was Never Really Into Comics)?

I was never a big comic book reader as a kid.

This was probably due to my mom’s irritation with any form of entertainment that used a woman’s body as a key selling point.

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Yes, I know, #NotAllComics. Photo courtesy of Public Domain

As an adult, I tried to start reading comics but I ran into the same issue I had with weekly released television: I couldn’t binge it. After finishing one issue of a series I would be suddenly and irrationally angry that I couldn’t read what happened next. By the time I finally had access to the next issue, I was so irritated about being forced to wait that I refused to put myself through the process again.

This problem is sometimes solved by bundled comics, but my few experiences with these generally left me unsatisfied. In some cases, it was because even the bundled versions still left me on some sort of cliffhanger (i.e. The Walking Dead), but sometimes it was because the writing was kinda terrible (Marvel’s Superhero Secret Wars). More than likely, I just gave up too soon (I’m hoping Evan will leave me a few suggestions in the comments that will change my mind), but generally speaking, my brush with comic books has left me wanting more. I wanted more characters who I could relate to, or writing that I could find more inspiring, or a more complex style of storytelling and/or illustrating. Continue reading

CWR’s Brexit Breakdown

Well folks, it happened. In a move that continues to shock the world, Britain has dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

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And make no mistake readers- the Brexit is the worst thing that has ever happened. Or the best thing. Or…

Well, something.

For all the outrage, jubilation, and wild speculation, the reality of the situation is that most folks have been caught off guard by this decision- and probably none moreso than folks on this side of the Atlantic.

Plenty of conservatives- including potential American president Donald Trump- have applauded the Brexit, claiming it to be a victory for small government, autonomy, and “making Britain great again.”

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Which is something that should probably concern the rest of the world…

On the other hand, liberals have been howling that the Brexit represents a secession not simply from Europe but from progressive values, freedom of movement, and a commitment to peace and unity in general.

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With all that noise, dear readers, it can be tough to hear the truth.

And unfortunately, we don’t have it either. The reality is that this is an absurdly complicated issue with far-reaching implications and plenty of ramifications that we can only guess at. So rather than add to the din, we here at Culture War Reporters have gathered the most pertinent issues for your own consideration. Continue reading