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January 31, 2001
Bandwagon


I finally succumbed to the StorTroopers bandwagon and created action figures based on myself and M (which stands for Marie, by the way, a middle name that I like a lot). They don't quite look like us, but hey, it's a damn cartoon and it's the best I could do given the limited choices provided by the Java applet. I should tell you, by the way, that my three-year-old computer crashed every time I worked with the trooper generator, so be warned. The company hogs a good chunk of your system resources (as well as retaining the copyright to the image below).

Stortroopers

But back to the question of resemblance. [A big part of me says this is not worth wasting brain cells but it'll only take me a few minutes to write, so...] I don't expect there to be precision at the Web site that would enable us to create Madame Tussaud-style, lifelike models, but I was bothered a little by how everyone, save for a tinge of orange or brown to establish "race" and lipstick or lack thereof to define gender, started off with the exact same body. I guess the world has no need for fat action figures, eh?

I don't want to go all PC over this, understand, it's just for entertainment purposes, after all.

And I'm not going to blow a gasket over it like Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter did over the film Starship Troopers. (He had, you may recall, called the film's muscular, strong-jawed, perfect-teeth-sporting characters a product of Nazi imagination, or more precisely, part of a depiction of an imagined future that had evolved from a Nazi victory. Apparently Mr. Hunter had never encountered an American comic book before.) But the "trooper project" certainly looks like it's a part of a trend of Eurocentric, imagined amalgamation (as opposed to the real world that's heading toward a future where "races" combine and consequently the construct itself loses its meaning), where our depictions of ourselves are slowly but surely sliding toward an ideal defined by Western shampoo commercials.

If you follow Japanese comics (anime, manga, hentai), you'll have seen what I'm talking about. Asian names are considered unfriendly to the West, so they get Anglicized bit by bit, and the approach comes to define the rest of the artwork and writing. Characters slowly lose their distinctive racial features and start looking like androgynous European automatons. With touches like these, the strip is cleansed so thoroughly of its origin that if you turn the page and see an establishing shot showing a Japanese or Taiwanese street scene it's a jolt to your system.

In all fairness, though, the concept of self-hatred, which pervades countries like Mexico, Turkey, and others -- where looking blond, Western, etc. is considered a significant asset and commercials and films frequently juxtapose different ethnic looks and overtly assign to them specific positive and negative traits -- did not start with the dotcom kids of StorTroopers; and they might be able to build for you any kind of custom applet you want. If you pay them.

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All text and images © Aziz Gökdemir's Archive unless otherwise indicated or credited.
The current banner photo appeared briefly on the journal menu page last month. A non-watercolor version can be seen in an October entry (18th). It was taken in Ouranopouli, Greece, on October 3, 2000.


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