Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Patriotism is not only ridiculous, but potentially downright dangerous.

Coincidentally, lions are really fucking dangerous too.
(Good thing they don't actually live in Britain, then.)
Look, I'll get to that education bit at some point, ok? For now something important has come up which I think needs addressing. So I will address it, and there's nothing you can do about it! Muahahahahahhaaa!

Well, unless you hack my account and do something about it yourself, or come to my house and force me to do something about it, or just outright kill me in one of the many imaginative ways humanity has murdered one another for the past few millennia...

Besides I don't really know why I apologise or make an explanation for not staying on track, from what I can tell I've lost what little audience I had anyways... *sniff*

Anyways, this is actually quite a serious topic (again I'm drifting closer and closer to a political-arsed blog... I'll write something about the British Juggling Convention or something after this to make sure that doesn't happen. Yes I did just pretty much confirm the education post will be postponed. Again.), and has come about due to a single event: the upcoming (for now... if your reading this afterwards, its pretty much completely pointless.) royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Now I'm sure many of us in Britain and elsewhere honestly couldn't give a flying shit about this wedding; its only a wedding after all, why does this need to be announced on the news alongside more important stuff like the ongoing Libyan civil war and other such significantly more important things?
I'm also in this "whatever" camp of things - I don't give a shit about the wedding (or the royal family in general for that matter), just like any other stupidly over-reported celebrity marriage.
However, I'm not here to blabber on about the wedding - I'm actually more concerned about the recent rise in patriotic symbolism here in England, as a direct result of the royal wedding. Everywhere I go these days there appears to be plates, cups, and other items stapled with the Union Flag (NOT Jack) in honour of the royal wedding. I'm going to assume at this point that the same flag will soon be draped across streets in cities and towns across Britain, if this hasn't already happened. This worries me in the same way that I felt incredibly uneasy about the massive number of American flags I saw in the USA and how bloody sensitive many American's were about the flapping piece of fabric. One man even threatened to assault me when I said I didn't care about the flag for pete sake!

Memorabilia mousepad - actually cause for serious concern.

In fact, that last sentence kinda says it all - threatening another man over a flag with some vague symbolism over it? Are you kidding me?
This is my biggest problem with patriotism - in the same way that religion can cause people to kill themselves and many others around them in the name of a deity, patriotism can cause such callous disregard for human life in the name of something that is truly petty and insignificant.
Take for example the common phrase "I will die for my country". As bad as this is, generally speaking it actually means "I will kill for my country".
Why? Why should one feel so attached to the ground they live on? Is it really worth committing that most tragic act, the removal of another person's life?

and thats exactly what makes me scared of you.
Before I go on I should point out that this particular post is more directed to my friends and associates living in the United States, easily the most patriotic of nations on the planet. While the whole royal wedding thing has increased the patriotism in this country slightly, I do not think that it will have any lasting effects over here, and the whole shenanigans will probably boil over after the happy couple are all wedded and whatnot. The USA, however, is possibly one of the only nations, and quite possibly the single major international power with such a strong and prevalent sense of love for one's country. And I, personally, think its a serious issue.
First of all, if you, dear reader, are patriotic, I want you to think hard, very hard, about why you love your country. Why should a patch of what is essentially just earth have sway over your feelings? Yes, that patch of land may be beautiful, and you may have lived on that patch of land for many years, but is it really worth sacrificing your life, and, more crucially, other people's lives over?
Thats the thing, honestly - people dying over tiny bits of land which, in the long run, are inconsequential and, in the short run, causes pain and mourning for the relatives and friends of those who have died fighting over said bits of land.
Is it really worth such sacrifice? Why is it worth such sacrifice? People have even invaded other people's countries in the name of patriotism for their own country (a fact that I find most ironic) - the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were primarily in order to 'protect' our own nations (and tooootally not to take their oil! Honest). Surely there's a better solution to the problem of terrorists than invading, killing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of innocent civilians, and in the process causing people to fight against us in the name of patriotism for their country, one of the primary reasons for our invasion in the first place?

Carl Sagan put it rather well, in his fantastic speech 'the pale blue dot': "Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot." Thats all that people are killing and dying for in the end - a fraction of a dot. Is a fraction of a dot really worth being patriotic over?

Instead, I urge you, mr/ms Patriot, to love people rather than nations. Love one another, not just of your own country but those of other nations as well. Cause in the end, whether we're British, American, Japanese or Stupid (some may say that they're all one and the same), we're all human at the end of the day. Fight, if you must, not to protect nations but to protect people. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are certainly not protecting people - they're simply killing lots of people while keeping the West (not so) safe from the very slim possibility of a terrorist attack.

...This post has gotten all too serious.


NYAN CAT TIEM!11!!!111

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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ponies. Yes, ponies. (This only gets worse, by the way.)

Yeah, I know, I said I was going to do a continuation on the whole "what I believe" (melodramatic title FTW!) thingymegig, but then I realised that my blog was totally becoming an uber-serious political blog similar to a certain someone. Now, don't get me wrong - I like politics and stuff as much as your average, er, political person... (can't really say Mr Average Joe likes politics!) but I really don't want to gain the reputation of being a dude who'll always talk about the big world-changing problems. Now, I will be coming back to the whole "ooooh I think this should happen blah blah" thing later, but for now? I'm gona go all 'and now for something completely different' on y'alls arses.

So, ponies. Not just any old ponies, though, I'm going to talk about a certain cartoon involving ponies. Specifically, I'm going to be talking about the TV series 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic'.
I told you this was only going to get worse.

So, why exactly am I talking about this show? Well, basically this apparently girly-kiddy friendly show has steadily accumulated a rather, well, odd cult following. Of fully grown men.
is popular with:

I'm shitting you not.
Yes, thats right, 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' is incredibly popular amongst men. On Youtube at least (where episodes are commonly found), statistics show that the TV series is most popular amongst males aged between 18-24/25-35. Comments for 'My Little Pony' related video's are filled with people saying "I'm 20 and I'm unashamed of watching this", "Oh God, what have I become?!", etc etc.
There's more. 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' has gained a significant enough popularity with this audience that multiple fan sites have popped up, such as PonyChan (in similar context to the popular 4Chan website), and Equestria Daily, on what appears to be this very site, Blogger (although the url lacks the whole .blogspot thingy that everyone else has).

Why has this show gained such an odd cult-following? It's not exactly like other popular cartoon series in which the older fans have at least some semblance of the demographic said show is trying to pull (for example, a lot of guys still say they loved 'Dexter's Laboratory' as a child... understandably, that show was awesooome!). What we're talking about here is a not insignificant number of people being attracted by a show that is completely outside of the target audience. Not only that but we've even got freakin' memes coming around now based on this show. Like, people who hang around on /b/-type memes. Memes! Of a TV show for little girls! Coincidentally I am now using italics to emphasise every key point in my blog! It makes me ranting about some completely inconsequential crap look dramatic! (yeah, thats right, pulling out the bold words, biatch.)
Oh dear God.
So, anyways, back to ponies. (One has to wonder how the hell do you get to the point in your life in which you write a blog about ponies.)

There are a lot of things to contemplate here. I'm not actually the first one to try and analyse the growing popularity of 'My Little Pony: Friendship of Magic'. Previously mentioned Equestria Daily has been keeping a continuous monitor of the show's popularity, and web-culture site Know Your Meme has an entire article on the growing phenomenon. They've pretty much covered everything about its growth, and what kind of influences the show has had and stuff, so what I really want to do is figure out a) just how the fuck did this happen? and b) what kind of atrocities might happen in the future because of this?

Right then, firstly, the ultimate question to everything: why?
Well, having had a bit of a sniff around, the common trend that tends to draw people in appears to happen in 3 different steps:

A typical example of a troll being damned.
- First, a perfectly sane and normal troll of the interwebs stumbles across some kind of reference to 'My Little Ponies', and notices that its strangely popular, not with little girls, but with fellow trolls. He (note: not 'she', in this instance I invoke Rule 30 of the internet) then goes and finds the first episode of the show and starts watching out of curiosity. Immediate reaction is "wtf is this gay crap?"
- Second, troll starts getting insnared about 3-5 minutes in. Initial "wtf" reaction is eventually replaced with "well I guess the animations are pretty well done..."
- Third, the troll has finished watching the show. By this point they have forgotten about any technically-driven praises of the show and are loving what they see because of the characters, setting, etc. Troll by now has a favourite pony, has replaced the words "everyone" and "someone" with "everypony" and "somepony" (respectively), and will commence an all-nighter watching the rest of the currently 20-odd shows on Youtube. Troll is no longer a troll - troll is now what is known as a 'brony'.

So, from my analysis (remind me why I'm analysing this again?) it appears that 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' is a well-laid trap: the good quality of the animations acts as bait for the unsuspecting troll, and the characters and charm snare him in, by which point he has no escape.
It's a terrifying fate for any troll.

Next question: what is going to happen with this growing army of bronies (brony's?) in the future?
The worst case scenario.
First things first, its really worth getting the good news out of the way - bronies are not dangerous, at least on the level of "they're probably not going to hunt me down, brutally rip out one of my lungs and then block the air passage to my other lung with it." type dangerous. Reason? Bronies are known to wanting to emulate the methodologies of 'My Little Pony', that being a policy of friendship, love and kindness. The worst that they will try to do if you really provoke them to the point of no return is "tolerate and love the SHIT outta you."

A much more dangerous prospect, however, is not the threat of one's annihilation, but rather one's assimilation - it is far more likely that you yourself will become ensnared by this show.
These guys are nothing compared to 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic'.
For you see, thats the real threat of this phenomenon - the internet, this cold, perilous, unforgiving paradise is being attacked by these ridiculous notions of 'love' and 'kindness'. Worse still, for the first time, the trolls are losing. The trolls of the internet are being converted. Lets consider this for a second - many of these trolls will also come under the banner of Anonymous. Anonymous, whom have crippled Scientology, aided the Middle Eastern Revolutions by hacking government sites, taken on the likes of HB Gary, and even stuck its middle finger up at the US government, is now under threat by a little girls show; 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' has been likened to Boxxy, the internet phenomenon that caused all-out civil war within 4chan, the generally-accepted home of Anonymous. While 'My Little Pony' is nowhere near as far-spread as Boxxy was at her prime, MLP is still growing, slowly but surely. Not only that, but MLP also has significantly more videos, and new episodes are released weekly - those ensnared by the show are more likely to remain with the show, instead of drifting away and forgetting about it, as happened to Boxxy.
Basically? I'm totally trollin' on your arsesThis show could potentially bring about the end of Anonymous and the trolling community as we know it.

So I implore you, dear readers (well, possible 'reader' singular but whatevs) - beware! A new threat is upon us and it is in the guise of magical ponies! Don't get ensnared by it like I already have! Though, if your really curious, here's the first episode of 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' for your viewing 'pleasure':
So until next time (I swear I might do something more serious next time!), you've been reading The (really) Random Babbling of a Slightly Odd Student! Thanks!