actual lion

3

So the gryphons are big, and boy are they gaudy

Their builds come in thick, thicker and thickest, with immense strength behind their limbs and a real scary bite to back it up. Typical distinctions to look for are the feathered ‘manes’ which range from a top half to full neck, fluff stopping at the heel/elbow, paw-claw hybrid feet, and the dual layer tail.

They are proud beasts, easily offended and quick to snap you for it. Not to say they can’t be diplomatic mind you, but really who’d risk it.

6

Paladin Swap → Pidge as the red paladin 

The red lion is temperamental and the most difficult to master. It’s faster and more agile than the others, but also more unstable. It’s pilot needs to be someone who relies more on instinct than skill alone. 

This is one of my more popular posts, so revisiting it with some food for thought: Blue didn’t just connect to Lance, she arguably connected to the entire team when the barrier drops- everyone sees that vision of Voltron. But this doesn’t make sense, because Lance and only Lance is Blue’s bonded paladin, and all of Blue’s behavior before and after obviously favors Lance.

This makes me wonder if the scene where Allura seems to be assigning the Lions isn’t actually what’s happening- after all, Allura makes it clear nobody can force those connections and she barely knows these people. Unless Allura has an incredible capacity to read people on short notice that we haven’t really seen otherwise in play, it would seem odd that she’d be so certain about it-

But, explicitly, Coran opens this scene by stating that Allura’s connected to the Lions.

The Lions are also connected to each other.

My thinking? The Lions didn’t look through Allura and choose their paladins then. They chose them before, in Blue’s cavern. Blue found these people, found one that she liked- but found paladins for the others, as well. Which would suggest Blue basically scouted the team out for the other Lions. So what Allura is demonstrating in the scene where she identifies them by name is how in tune she is with the Lions, and able to communicate with all of them without being bonded to a single one. Red’s cold response to Keith was thus pretty clearly trying to test him, because she had chosen him before he was anywhere near Sendak’s ship.

But it also suggests there’s a particular amount of trust in Blue- that all of the other Lions trusted Blue that when she basically telepathically ran up to them like “you’ve got to check this out, look at these guys, they’re exactly what we need” they all obliged- including Black who at that point was trying to walk off an incredible traumatic experience with her last bonded paladin.

And the whole idea that Blue scouted the team gets even more interesting if we consider the only person who knew all the other members of the team?

Was Blue’s paladin. Lance.

Hunk doesn’t seem familiar with Shiro and only knows Keith secondhand through Lance. Pidge doesn’t have any idea who Keith is and vice versa. Shiro doesn’t seem to have had personal experience with any member of the Garrison Trio except possibly Pidge to a degree via his familiarity with the Holts in general.

Lance knew Hunk, because Hunk was his friend. He knew Keith because he specifically wanted to compete with Keith. He knew Pidge because they were paired with the simulator and he wanted to know what Pidge’s deal was. He knew Shiro, because Shiro was his personal hero.

The idea that Blue sort of scouted the entire team is interesting because to a degree, so did Lance, and it would suggest Lance and Blue are alike in both their fascination for, and being a quick study of, other people. 

blue pal coran

6

And all of those clichés I had about the country and the people, it kind of was all dispersed straight away. So we had a lot to talk about.

Dev Patel on his experience portraying the true story of Saroo Brierley in Lion

Horizon Zero Dawn and Cultural appropriation: A very different view.

For the first time EVER, I’m sitting on the other side of a discussion about appropriating native culture.  Why?  Well, let me lay the framework.

First off, I’m not a guy who “knows a Native American” or has a “Native friend”  I am a 100% Anishinabe (Ojibway) dude who lives on reserve and has fought racism, stereotypes, pan-Indianism, and cultural appropriation fiercely for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the victim of horrendous racial violence as a child, adolescent, and adult, and I’m also a gamer.

I am the first to point out anything that smacks of any of the above and after I saw the Dia Lacina essay on “Horizon: Zero Dawn” being culturally insensitive and appropriating Native culture, I felt for the first time in a situation like this that I had to say something in rebuttal.

Lacina takes issue with the use of the words Tribal, Primitive, Braves, and Savage being used in the game (fyi they’re used to describe predominantly white people in game and they’re White words we didn’t use to describe ourselves thus I claim no ownership of, nor want to, anymore than I want to be a redskin, Indian or Wahoo)  

It seems (IMO) that most of her beef comes from an apparent belief that numerous aspects of generic tribal culture that appear in the game (making clothing from skins, hunting with spears and bows, living in a Matriarchal society, etc) are the sole domain of the Native American and just to be safe and cleverly keep her POV less subject to scrutiny, she applies it even more broadly to indigenous people world wide (I will just refer to us in particular as NA cuz I’m lazy and I also don’t refer to myself as a Native American) and basically that anything that is remotely “tribal” shouldn’t be used in gaming without our or someone else’s permission.

 In fairness, I don’t know if she’s actually played the game but as someone who is currently in the midst of doing exactly that, I can tell you that I have a pretty good idea of what stuff triggered her being upset and why, and while I absolutely respect her right to get offended by whatever she likes, and she makes excellent points about some other games, I am going to point out that there are flaws with this logic.

First of all, the basics: HZD is set in a post-post-apocalyptic future where people are living in tribal groups in a very destroyed world.  Machines exist but as hybrid animal/dinosaur type creatures and technology is pretty much non-existent in day to day human life.  

The heroine of the story is a red haired, white girl named Aloy who lives as an outcast with her adopted father, Rost.  Without giving a lot away, they are fiercely shunned by the local tribe for something Rost did and also the fact that Aloy is motherless.  

Impressively and rightly, though somewhat dismissively remarked upon by Lacina, is the way women and especially women of color are portrayed so positively in-game as this particular tribe is a total Matriarchy run by elders of various ethnicity.  African, Asian, White, and a variety of undefined people of color are common everywhere in the game.  (The leader of one band of warriors is a very fierce, commanding, intelligently portrayed black woman with a powerful presence.)  It reflects a fairly global society from a “skin color” perspective without any horrible accents or broken speech.

They worship an “All-Mother” goddess and their culture is (at least how I saw a lot of it) fairly heavy on European i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc type symbolism and the rest is filled in with mostly generic tribal-ish stuff that you could find in countless cultures around the world.

 I really didn’t get a “Native American” vibe off the game.  Of course, I don’t automatically presume to claim sole ownership of things like tribal life, hunting with bows and spears, and worshiping spirits of various elements solely for my own.  Random fact: Because there are over 500 distinct First Nations in N. America, we, believe it or not, didn’t all ride horses, live in tipis, use bows and arrows, tobacco and sage, and worship Eagles and Wolves.  Why? Well…use your brain.  Tobacco and Sage don’t grow EVERYWHERE, horses came over with the Europeans (and if you saw where I live you couldn’t have and cant for the most part get a horse through the bush if you tried) Eagles and Wolves don’t live EVERYWHERE….get the point?  Anyways….

If you examine Rost, he like most of the men has a braided beard and other seemingly Viking/Middle Ages inspired features, is white, speaks clear, unbroken English, and is a loving, protective and very positive role model for the girl.   Aloy for her part, is also fairly Viking-esque (to the point of looking incredibly like Lagaertha from the show Vikings but with red hair) also Egrit from GoT, and is no damsel in distress who needs men to save her. NOWHERE in the game have I encountered any Tipis, wigwams, Sweatlodges, or Non-White people speaking in stereotypical “Me smoke-um peace pipe, He go dat-a way” fashion.

The  opening cinematic is very touching (and long) as we see the orphaned Aloy as a baby in Rost’s care being carried around in a bundle on his back (which pretty much every culture did in one form or another at some point in time) and him ultimately taking her to the spot where a child of the tribe receives it’s name.

I really liked this idea as it isn’t often portrayed in a lot of mediums outside of stereotypical “Dances With Wolves” bullshit. Also, naming ceremonies are not the sole domain of NA people and what occurs bears zero resemblance to any NA ceremony I know of.  (It was actually a little Lion King at one point lol) But it’s a powerful moment in the beginning with much more that occurs during it but I won’t spoil that either.

Aloy herself is a pretty complex character.  She’s extremely independent, defiant, and questions pretty much everything about why things are the way they are and wants to do something about it.  You actually begin playing her as a 6 year old which is pretty unique and even then she’s tough and fearless and determined to explore her world.  

She is in no way hyper-sexualized (I’m looking your way Overwatch) Her clothing and everyone else’s, is utilitarian and appropriate for the environments she lives in, and so far, I have not encountered anything with her or any other character that made me go “WTF?”and trust me, my radar for that shit is HIGHLY SENSITIVE.  This isn’t Avatar, people.  It’s not John Smith. It’s not The Great Wall or Pocahontas.  This isn’t white dude shows up and saves the helpless non-white people while helpless native woman falls in love with him stuff.  It’s a fictitious future where we maniacs blew it up, damn us all to hell!

But here’s the more annoying thing for me as an actual Anishinabe.  I don’t need people speaking for me or getting offended on my behalf.  I am very capable of doing that myself. I am also in no way writing this claiming to be speaking for any other NA people or persons. It’s based on my observations from actually playing HZD and examining the various fictional “cultural” elements in the game.

If you see a skin tied inside a hoop and automatically assume it’s a dreamcatcher” ripping off “our culture” (FYI Dreamcatchers are a 20th century thing whose popularity was a result of pan-Indianism that exploded in the 70s.) or if you see feathers on a spear or as part of a costume (nowhere is anyone wearing a single eagle feather in the back of a beaded headband or a Dakota looking headdress either) and automatically presume it to be ripping off NA culture, you’re REEEEEEEEEEALY reaching.  If you think caring for the environment, obeying matriarchs, worshipping elemental spirits, or making your own clothes is solely the property of NA culture, see previous statement.

By all means get offended.  Get offended by Chief Wahoo.  Get offended by the Washington Redskins.  Get offended that thousands of Native women have been murdered or gone missing and nothing’s been done about it.  Get offended by Johnny Depp or Robert Beltran playing Native people instead of actual Native people getting those roles.  Get offended by shit like Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” where a native woman is called a “hot piece of red prairie meat” or Depp’s “Lone Ranger” movie.

Get offended that my family was destroyed by the Residential Schools and that the 60s scoop took babies away from their families and people, that forced sterilizations took place and mass graves of dead Native children exist at former Residential School sites.

Don’t just jump on the I’m offended bandwagon because you saw some feathers or skins or spears or bows in a game and immediately grew indignant and wanted to claim them as OUR culture.  They’re not.  They’re almost globally universal in numerous cultures at various points in time.  Get offended, as she rightly mentioned, when the game Overwatch sexualizes the shit out of almost every female character and takes West Coast tribal art and makes a costume out of it.  

THAT is appropriation.  White people holding powwows in Europe (powwows are also pretty much not traditional and are extremely pan-Indian, not to mention full of us appropriating each other’s Native cultures ie. Dakotas wearing Jingle Dresses, Ojibway wearing Dakota regalia, etc) is appropriation.

This game……I’m just not seeing it the same way.  And I’m nobody.  I have no ties to Guerilla or anybody other than myself and my community.

Okay so I’m drunk but hear me out

What if when a paladin dies, their spirit goes into their Lion? So the sentience of the Lions is actually the spirits of their previous paladins

Now picture this

Lance dies in defeating Zarkon, and they get a new Blue paladin. They’re this quirky, fun little person and the other paladins are so sad that Lance is gone but are also like “he would approve of you.”

And this new paladin refers to Blue as “he” but the paladins don’t think a lot of it beyond “that’s weird, Lance always said Blue was a girl.”

But then one day out of nowhere they yell “WHEN I SAY VOL YOU SAY TRON” and everyone just freezes

And the paladins are like “where did you learn that”

And the Blue paladin is like “it’s something Blue and I do”

And they realize

Lance hasn’t left them

He’s the spirit of the Blue Lion.

Does anyone else realize that the only reason Nyma convinced Lance to take off with her was that she threatened to go with Keith instead?

He knew better, but then she threatened to go with Keith instead.

She threatened to go with Keith instead.

ocean man, take me by the hand lead me to the land,