The Truth Behind the ‘Candyman (2020)’ Paper Puppet Teaser!

Side note: This post covers topics and events that are sensitive in nature. I tried to tell these stories with respect, and with accurate information. If I have written anything here that comes across as insensitive (beyond the retelling of the events themselves), please let me know. I only had two intentions when writing this post: 1) Discuss my interpretation of a truly artistic video, and 2) Bring to light some crimes that are truly horrific and should be better known. It is not my intention to cause offence to anyone.

Click here to see the trailer!

Candyman is an upcoming sequel to the 1992 movie of the same name.

I want to focus on this paper puppet video, rather than the upcoming movie itself. I’ve watched this powerful 2 minutes 45 second video more times than I could count. It’s obvious to us all that this video serves a larger purpose than simply building on the lore of a fictitious horror movie character’s origin story. Each tale features the unjust murder of a black person at the hands of white people. The haunting scenes capture the fear of each victim as they attempt to protect themselves from whichever mob is hunting them. We know these things have happened and still happen to this day. The truth is that some of these are pulled directly from true stories, and they are absolutely heart-breaking.

Overview of the Trailer

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I suggest that you go and watch the video if you haven’t already. It’s truly a work of art! The clip uses animated paper puppets to show a series of separate yet connected stories. These scenes depict injustices being carried out against black people at the hands of white communities. The key feature of each is that the victim is innocent but is targeted by an aspect of society. Throughout each piece of this film, we see a character painting these individuals, as if projecting their story onto canvas. This may reference a new character in the Candyman (2020) movie, but I think it’s also meant to highlight something larger, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Story 1

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In the first story, we see a man who works in a candy factory giving treats to children. The police chase this man into a basement and beat him to death. Obviously, this is meant to highlight the corrupt and racist police system, whereby the law can be taken into their own hands. This is an idea that isn’t new, and yet still seems to go largely unchanged and unchallenged. Police in the US frequently murder black people, often with zero consequences. Many don’t even lose their jobs! It’s not that ALL police are racist, it’s that the system allows racist people to sit in a position of power. As Rage Against the Machine famously sang: “Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses.”

An interesting aspect of this story is that an argument could be made that the man had committed a crime. He could be a paedophile who is trying to lure children to his lair with candy taken from his place of work. But that’s nothing more than an assumption. People will naturally assume that this man has committed a crime in order to justify the action taken by the police; much like what happens in real life. It’s as if committing a crime waives your human rights and leaves you open to whichever punishment officers of the law deem just. This also raises a second issue: even if that man is guilty, does that justify the forfeit of due process? No, of course not. I’ll talk more about the judicial system when I reach story 3.

However, this first story suggests that this man is from a working-class background. He works in a seemingly rundown factory and lives in a building covered in graffiti. Where I’m from, this type of building would be called a tenement. Class appears in different forms within each story. It serves to illustrate that while racism (particularly systemic racism) may exist in different forms across the class spectrum, it’s ultimately still present in all of them.

Story 2

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In the second story, we see a black man moving into a new house. When a mob gathers outside, he is dragged out by working class white men (they might not be working class but that’s my interpretation based on the car and general situation) who murder him. We don’t see any details, but the hook being attached to the car suggests that the victim is being dragged to his death. Here we see racism within just one aspect of the community, but it highlights the idea of certain racial hate crimes remaining below the radar of the police or simply being ignored altogether. It’s no secret that there are communities that police try to avoid, and there are undoubtedly crimes which don’t receive the appropriate level of attention.

Although this scene depicts violence, as do they all, it also highlights the fear and alienation that a black person may experience when moving into a white neighbourhood. When the man looks out of his window, he shows confusion and terror. Despite being a paper puppet animation, we feel real emotion. Most of us couldn’t imagine the horror of such a situation.

Story 3

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In the third story, we see a young boy riding his bike. In a similar manner to the previous tale, his neighbourhood turns on him. We see systemic racism being played out step by step, all within a story that lasts little more than 30 seconds. We see the child being accused by various members of his neighbourhood/community. We’re not sure what for, but he’s soon arrested. We like to imagine that courts are a place of fairness and justice, but that simply isn’t the case. Courts can only be as good and as fair as society allows them to be. Without a precedent for an action, a court’s decision will likely follow the status quo. If that status quo is built around racist ideals and systems, then only one outcome is likely.

In the previous two stories, we’ve seen action being taken by the police and the people, but here we see the system turn on the very people it should be protecting: the vulnerable. The jury is made up of identical figures, who look Trump-like in appearance, but are certainly meant to represent middle class white men. They find the child guilty, and so the judge rules him guilty. The final moments of this story show this child sitting in the electric chair, watching with fear and confusion as the helmet is placed on his head. A priest stands in front of him, reading from a Bible, and policeman stands behind him, waiting to activate the power.

It’s normal for a priest and a police officer to be two of the people within the chamber when someone is executed. But I also feel that they are shown here in order to represent something deeper. The priest represents the concept of faith. We can hope and pray for change, but ultimately those hopes and prayers won’t stop people from meeting a cruel and unjust end. As for the policeman, it’s ultimately highlighting that the police are the executioners. They may not all be bad, but that’s not to say they don’t all play a key role in allowing a racist system to continue. Police are supposed to protect and serve, but who is being protected when a little boy is executed?

Story 4

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The final character we see is pulled from the origin story of Candyman (1992), but it also highlights the final section of society: the upper class. In the original movie, we learn that Daniel Robitaille (a.k.a. Candyman) was the son of an ex-slave who amassed a fortune through shoe production. Daniel went to the best schools, experienced high society, and became a painter. While capturing the prominent status of a wealthy white woman through his art, they fell in love and had a child. The father of the woman then sends a mob after Daniel. They cut off his hand, attach a hook, cover him in honey and allow him to be stung by bees, all before burning what’s left. While fictional, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility in the slightest and highlights a very real problem: the rich and powerful can exert racist power over those they deem “less” than themselves. They can manipulate the system for their own benefit, no matter how vile and criminal that benefit may be.

Finally, I just want to mention one more interesting aspect of this video. Even though all the paper puppets are made of black material, we can tell which ones represent white people and which ones represent black people. I believe that this is meant to highlight the arbitrary differences focused on by racists. Ultimately, we are all the same and should be treated as such.

I now want to discuss two of the scenes in more detail, as both represent real stories. These acts of cruelty, unfairness, and evil may have taken place half a century apart, but this only serves to highlight the need for faster change.

Scene 2 – James Byrd Jr

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In Jasper, Texas on the 7th June 1998, three white supremacists named John William King (23), Shawn Berry (23), and Lawrence Brewer (31) offered James Byrd Jr (49) a ride home. The term ‘white supremacist’ cannot be understated when used to describe these three. For example, John King was covered in racist tattoos. They included the words ‘Aryan Pride’, Nazi symbols, a black man hanging from a tree, a KKK member in white robes, a burning cross, and a patch representing the ‘Confederate Knights of America’, a white supremacist prison gang. Brewer had similar tattoos.

Instead of driving James Byrd Jr home, they headed down a country road…

The three men claimed that they had slashed James Byrd Jr’s throat before dragging his body behind their car for three miles, and this was the story that the public were told for a large portion of the trial. Only after a forensics team had carried out a thorough investigation, did they discover evidence that James Byrd had been trying desperately to keep his head off the ground for most of the dragging. It wasn’t until he collided with a culvert due to the manic weaving of the truck (which has been suggested to indicate the ‘fun’ that the men were having while dragging the poor man behind their car), that he died, as the impact caved in his skull and ripped an arm and shoulder off his body.

When police were first called to the scene, it was in response to calls of James Byrd Jr’s body having been discovered, seemingly the victim of a hit and run. After discovering what they believed to be tyre tracks running 2 miles along the road, police started following the trail. The further they went, the clearer it became that these weren’t marks caused by rubber tyres at all. Soon, the horror of the 2-mile long blood and skin tissue trail became apparent. Police soon found a tank top, t-shirt, a pair of shoes, and even dentures. In fact, police stated that there was a total of 81 spots where Byrd’s remains had been found.

James Byrd’s disfigured body was dumped outside a cemetery, one where the graves of black people and white people were separated by a fence. Many of these people experienced segregation in life AND in death!

The Aftermath of the James Byrd Jr Lynching

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There is a documentary which covers the town of Jasper during the trial of King, Brewer, and Berry. White crews filmed the white community, and black crews filmed the black community. 1998 may have been over two decades ago, and much has changed in that time, but we still see the same infuriating responses from white people. I’m not saying that ALL white people hold this opinion, but it’s an opinion that is still shared nonetheless: the actions of the victim before their unjustly death often take priority over the nature of their murder.

When white members of the community discuss the incident, we hear statements like:

“I thought he spent most of his time in jail.”

“I still don’t think that no matter what kind of person he was, that he should have died that way. I think that it’s wrong what they done, I think it’s very wrong what they done, and I don’t think there’s any question of that…BUT…still, I want the defence to come and tell who James Byrd was and what James Byrd was, because James Byrd wasn’t the pillar of the community that they make him out to be.”

“I think you ought to be judged by the way you live, not the way you die.”

“I don’t think he ought to be put up as a role model for our children.”

Some white residents stated that they don’t feel that Jasper has any more racism than anywhere else in the US. Going as far as to say that black people, no matter where you go, will always feel that the town/city they are in is racist. Arguably, the second part of this statement is likely true, but not in the way that this man intended. The same man goes on to tell the cameras how he was raised to say “hi” and “bye” to black people, but no more than that.

Scarily, we see the same optimism that times are changing; that the incident is “bringing things to light”, a statement that I’ve been hearing a lot since the murder of George Floyd. The reason I describe this as scary is because while things are changing, they are doing so at an incredibly slow pace. We also hear black members of the community expressing the fact that when similar instances have happened in the past, just within Jasper, they weren’t allowed to talk about it out of fear of being silenced.

Small changes do begin to take place within this small town. We see the joining of black and white churches in an effort to unify the community. Residents share how they feel that the two communities had made more of an effort to come together since the murder of James Byrd Jr. We even see the graveyard having its segregation fence removed, with members of the community questioning whether the burial practices will change as well.

We follow each of the trials of the three men and hear from the black and white community members about their views, including the families of the victim and his murderers. When the guilty verdicts are announced, we see John King leaving the courtroom with a smile on his face. He would later write a letter to Brewer stating:

“Regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history. Death before dishonor. Sieg Heil!”

Throughout the trials, we see white members of the community stating that people are more easily offended; that words such as the N-word were never used in a derogatory fashion, or that somebody having racist tattoos doesn’t indicate racist beliefs. Again, this is something we still see within our society today. People’s blatantly racist attitudes are often dressed up as “jokes”, and while I believe free speech is important, white people shouldn’t get to decide what is considered racist and what isn’t.

All three were convicted of capital murder. Berry was sentenced to life in prison, Brewer received lethal injection on 21st September 2011, and King was executed by lethal injection on 24th April 2019.

Scene 3 – George Stinney Jr

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As you likely recall, story 3 showed a young boy being accused by his community. He was judged by a white jury and given the death penalty. Ultimately facing the electric chair in the company of just a policeman and a priest.

This is the tragic story of George Stinney Jr!

George Stinney was a 14-year-old boy living in Alcolu, South Carolina with his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters. On 24th March 1944, George and his sister, Aimé, were playing in the garden when two girls walked past. They asked George and Aimé if they knew where to find “maypops”, the local name of a purple passionflower.

The next day, the bodies of the two girls were found in a shallow ditch with blunt-force trauma to their heads. They were aged 7 and 11. For no other reason than having spoken to them the day before, George Stinney and his brother were arrested. Johnny, George’s older brother, was let go by police. However, George was not so lucky, and everything just got worse from there. He was ultimately found guilty of the murders and was sentenced to death. Here are just some of the insane aspects of this trial:

  • Aimé stated that she had been with George during the window that police had clai,ed the murders had likely occurred.
  • There were different reports surrounding the weapon used by the murderer, with one stating it was a blunt weapon, like a hammer, and another stating it was a railroad spike.
  • No written or recorded confession from George Stinney exists.
  • In court, two police officers provided contradictory statements about George Stinney’s confession.
  • George had been questioned without his parents or an attorney being present.
  • After his arrest, George didn’t see his parents again until his trial, and he had no support of any kind during the 81-day period between his arrest and the end of his trial.
  • The entire trial proceedings took less than a day, including jury selection. The jury was made up entirely of white men, as black people didn’t have the right to vote and therefore couldn’t be selected for jury duty.
  • George’s defence counsel (court appointed) didn’t call a single witness and didn’t question the police officer’s, whose testimonies of George’s confession were the only evidence against him. Similarly, he didn’t challenge the prosecution’s presentation of different versions of events on the day of the murder, including two entirely different motivations for George’s decision to murder the two girls. One of these stated he’d done so in self-defence.
  • There was literally no physical evidence linking George to either of the murders.
  • Only six witnesses were called to give testimonies: three police officers, the two doctors responsible for the post-mortems, and a local Reverend who had discovered the bodies.
  • The court allowed rape to be discussed as a possible motive, despite the fact that neither post-mortem had suggested any evidence of this.
  • The entire trial presentation lasted 2.5 hours.
  • The jury came to a decision in less than 10 minutes.
  • No appeal was filed in George’s defence.
  • There is no transcript from the trial.
  • George was sentenced to death by electric chair.
  • In a letter, the Governor of South Carolina would later accuse George Stinney of killing one girl so he could kill and rape the other, later returning to rape her again but stopping because the body was too cold. Of course, there was zero evidence to support any of these accusations.

On 16th June 1944, George Stinney Jr became the youngest person to be executed in the United States in the 20th century, and the youngest person executed by the electric chair in the United States ever. This poor child was only 5ft 1 and weighed only 90lbs. He was so small that the executioners had to place a Bible on the electric chair for George to sit on. Apparently, George had carried a Bible with him throughout his trial and time in prison. The black hood which was covering his face was too big, and so when the electrical current was turned on, it fell off and revealed his tear-soaked face. In the end, he was buried in an unmarked grave.

70 years after the execution/murder of George Stinney Jr, a group of people collaborated to have him exonerated. This included a local historian, South Carolina lawyers, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) and Northeastern University of Law.

Furthermore, one of the lawyers stated that an individual had confessed to the murders on his deathbed. This man came from a prominent, white family whose members included those on the initial coroner’s inquest jury who had pushed the guilty verdict of George Stinney Jr. An affidavit was also introduced from Reverend Francis Batson, the man who had found the bodies of the two girls. He had claimed that upon finding them, he’d noticed a distinct lack of blood around the ditch, suggesting that it was more likely that the girls had been murdered elsewhere and then dumped in the ditch afterwards

The End of the Video

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As the video nears its end, we see the painter throw his brush down in anger. These injustices have understandably enraged him. In this moment, we see the victims of the previous story rising up. The idea of victims of racism, discrimination, injustice e.g. the black community, rising up is something that terrifies their oppressors. I’ve genuinely heard gammons talk about how they think black people are trying to start a race war. Generally speaking, it’s the white racists who want the race war, not the black victims. Victims of racism just want to bring an end to this type of systemic injustice and tolerated hate. They just want to feel safe in their communities, for their children to live full lives, and for the police to protect them just as much as any other race or group.

In my opinion, the rising up of victims at the end of this video doesn’t represent a vengeful spirit (at least not outside the fact that this is a trailer for Candyman (2020)). It symbolizes moments that force change. Each of the injustices told within this story cut the painter deeper and deeper, until he simply can’t handle any more. The victims rise up, not against white people, but against those who would seek to protect unjust and racist systems. They rise up because the society has failed them in every way. They rise up because what other option is there?

Ultimately, I feel like this short video draws attention to very real and terrifying issues. Some of the events it references may have taken place in 1944 and 1998, and the time difference may show that certain aspects of systemic racism have changed…but they still exist! Progress is slow, and some people are happy in the knowledge that change is taking place. But at what cost? Slow progress allows more people to fall victim to a barely changing cancer that grows within our society. We need to be aware, we need to challenge, and we need to make change happen. Otherwise, the blood of those who die within the society we describe as being “developed” is ultimately on our hands!


Thanks for reading! Please be the change you wish to see in the world!

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Peace!

Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok – What I Want to See

Little has been confirmed about the next chapter of Ubisoft’s somewhat messy, disorganised, and inconsistent ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise. Don’t let my negative words fool you though; I am a massive fan of the franchise, for the most part. Three words I never expected to hear, and yet fill me with joy and excitement nonetheless, are ‘Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok’. So, what do I hope Ubisoft brings us with this (potentially) up-coming game? Let’s take a look!

The Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok Rumours

Assassin's Creed: Ragnarok

image via PSU

It seems that leaks on various websites show Ubisoft’s planned release of a ‘Valhalla Edition’ of the game, which of course only points to one logical era: Vikings. With a map that will allegedly span across the whole of Northern Europe, including some of the Viking’s most notable and infamous raid destinations (such as Paris and York).

It’s worth mentioning that nothing has officially been confirmed by Ubisoft, so why would the Viking era be the next logical step? Well, in many ways, the illogical step is also the logical one. You see, gone are the days where Assassin’s Creed formed a story. After scaling Damascus in 1191, we found ourselves in Rome in 1476. These time jumps made complete sense due to the modern-day story. Nowadays, Ubisoft seems content with the modern-day story simply serving as a platform through which the main storyline can be told, rather than a story of its own. It exists purely to set up the premise of us entering a machine to experience the genetic memories of a long-dead individual.

I could rant for days about the directions the modern-day plot could have gone in, and the many ways the chosen direction has failed repeatedly, but let’s focus on Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok. In summary, we have almost nothing concrete to go on, including the time period or name of this next adventure. So instead, here I’m just going to run with the idea that we are getting this game, and so here’s what I’m hoping for.

More Mythology, Please!

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image via Game Informer

I’ll admit, when Origins and Odyssey dropped, I had incredibly mixed emotions. I found the inclusion of the mythical beasts largely illogical with concepts presented in earlier games. Not to mention that these creatures rarely made sense within the context of each game’s story either! However, once I stopped thinking about the older games and simply played the reboots as their own stand-alone stories, I enjoyed them a lot more.

If I were to name you three time periods with the richest mythologies, they would be Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Viking Era. We’ve explored the pyramids, we’ve battled at Thermopylae, and so it only makes sense that we sack York for the mighty heathen Gods of Norse mythology!

Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok (which I hope is NOT the chosen title of the game, due to Thor: Ragnarok being fairly recent), could allow players to delve into the depths of Norse mythology, from Jörmungandr, the terrifying sea-serpent to the monstrous and ferocious wolf, Fenrir. From the tricky God of mischief, Loki to the sensual, romantic, and beautiful Freya. Would Thor’s hammer appear as a piece of Eden, much like the spear of Leonidas? There’s really no telling, but the game could really make use of the Viking ferocity and desire to reach Valhalla as a great mechanism for mighty and violent battles.

Suffice to say, if this game doesn’t fully delve into the immensely interesting Norse mythology, it will be a major disappointment.

Sea Battles and Ship Customisation

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image via Well-Played

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am NOT a big fan of the sea gameplay in Assassin’s Creed games. I enjoyed it in Black Flag, but one game was enough for me. Having to repeat it in Rogue was truly unbearable. However, Odyssey found a way to make ship battles exciting again. The customisation of your ship was relatively simple, but I think that worked in its favour.

The idea of travelling by ship appealed to me far more than massive, drawn-out missions or nearly impossible ship battles, something that Odyssey did well. Given the importance of ships to the success of Viking conquests, I have to imagine that we’ll see this mechanic bumped up a bit from the most recent game.

My hope is that Ubisoft makes travelling more challenging, such as sailing through storms or having to navigate without proper direction. I want to see something that resembles what ship travel may have been like. It shouldn’t simply be the case of following a marker or having an entire map readily available; I want to feel like I’m exploring unknown territory as I voyage out to conquer new lands. Of course, I imagine defending against enemy ships would be part of that, but I just can’t bear the thought of another Black Flag or Rogue. After all, the most famous battles involving the Vikings took place on land, not the sea.

Do Choices Matter or Not?

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image via RPG Site

With Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, we started to see the weight that our choices could make. Sadly, Ubisoft didn’t fully commit to this concept, and so your choices and their consequences rarely impacted the overall story. Given that Ubisoft seems to be planning the game-to-game plot about as much as the latest Star Wars trilogy did, I see no real reason why the player can’t make much larger and influential decisions.

This could be anything from battle tactics (something that Red Dead Redemption 2 has done incredibly well within its missions) to deciding the fate of certain characters. Our choices should have consequences, rather than simply making us feel like every decision we make is wrong.

One thing that has been suggested (but also not confirmed), is that players will once again select the sex of their character. Again, I had doubts about this working in Odyssey, but I actually enjoyed the concept in practice. Ubisoft feel content with abandoning the previous rules set up by earlier games in the franchise, so I think we need to just cut the rope and move on. Let’s go full RPG!

There have been calls to make the new character female with no choice on the matter, but frankly I don’t see the benefit of that. Most gamers are male, particularly within this particular franchise. Allowing choice on the matter makes far more sense (and appeals to everyone) than offering no choice whatsoever.

Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok or Rogue?

Assassin's Creed: Rogue

image via The XBox Hub

One problem that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok may have is fitting the Brotherhood into the Viking ideology. How can you have a group of raiders, murderers, and rapists who also stand for the freedom of all people and the betterment of humanity?

I have a few ideas on this matter. For starters, we could have the Vikings as a sort of Rogue force. With England already having been presented as a hub for the Templar Order, why not play on that? Syndicate, Black Flag, and AC: III both touched on this concept in a variety of ways, but they aren’t particularly close in time to the Viking Era.

Another option would allow a more in-depth exploration of the Norse mythology. We could have different parts of Scandinavia rising up behind men and women claiming to be Gods, perhaps influenced or powered by Pieces of Eden. These factions could present the threat, perhaps Templar, perhaps not, and therefore provide a motivation for a group of Vikings to stand together as a rebellious force. Why not scrap the Templar’s entirely and simply have different factions of Vikings, each worshipping different “demi-Gods”, with one faction being the Brotherhood, which ultimately aims to unite the groups?

One final option could succeed where Assassin’s Creed: Rogue failed. We could see a true Rogue (or Rogues) rise up against both the Templars and the Assassin’s. We could have a character who has witnessed the destruction caused by this war, but rather than joining one side or the other, they simply aim to stop both. Perhaps their ideology stems from the idea of destroying the few to save the many. Ideally, you would be an ex-assassin.

All of these suggestions would allow the one thing I hope for most from this game: a deep exploration of Norse mythology. I’m working on a post that will cover the more specific storylines I would love to see in Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok, but for now I’ll leave you with the above ideas.

Tattooing Progress

Far Cry 3 Tattoo

image via Far Cry Fandom

One thing that I would LOVE to see, but almost definitely won’t, is a system similar to that of Far Cry 3. In this game, the player’s journey was marked by new tattoos which represented experience (skills) gained. This is something that would fit with the Viking Era more than any other Assassin’s Creed game. Unlike Far Cry 3, Ragnarok could allow a more personalised version of the tattoo, allowing players to select the symbols, location, and style.

Ultimately, Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok would focus on the warrior aspect of Vikings. We would see a character, possibly one who claims to be descended from Odin himself (which could tie perfectly into the Assassin’s Creed lore as we’ve often played as characters descended from the Isu). As such, this character strives to earn his recognition throughout the world as the fiercest of warriors.

Combat and Stealth

AC Stealth

image via Polygon

Personally, I have become a massive fan of the new combat system used by the franchise. The main problem I had with Odyssey was the lack of Brotherhood lore. Sure, additional content supplied us with a bit of backstory (for a price), but ultimately, we weren’t playing as an assassin, but rather as a warrior. My hope is that while Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok will focus on the warrior aspect, it will also make time for the assassin aspect too.

Odyssey allowed players to often choose between storming a fort or base head-on or sticking to the shadows, slowly wiping out the enemies undetected. This only really worked outside of the main missions though, and I feel that measures could be taken to make the assassination style more immersive and challenging, but also more rewarding.

One of the many rumours surrounding Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok is that wars will be even greater than that of Odyssey. I certainly loved the war element, as it added fresh gameplay and kept things challenging. However, the wars often felt inconsequential, and strategy as a whole was unnecessary. They always followed the same format, and this made them a bit repetitive. Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok could allow players to order troops, possibly planning a style of attack beforehand based on scouting information or previous successful raids. Maybe we could pick the location of the battle, set traps, use weather or the environment to our advantage, and take steps beforehand to improve our chances.

Landscape, Architecture, and Weather

Odyssey Landmarks

image via US Gamer

I think that it’s important that if Ubisoft intends to create a massive map, they do so with finesse. My worry is that we’ll have far too much empty space or repetitive scenery. They will also need to find the correct balance between historical accuracy and impressive and interesting structures. One thing I liked about Odyssey is that while paying homage to Ancient Greece, we still got to explore areas that certainly didn’t exist. Given the time period that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok would explore, I’d expect a combination of old Roman temples and new Viking structures, as well as some crazy Isu shit, hopefully in a way that feel new and doesn’t simply repeat previous games.

I seriously hope that Ubisoft continues in the direction they’ve been heading in with Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Odyssey, whereby more and more can be discovered without it being part of the main storyline. The Isu temples in Origins were often discovered by accident and could be explored without having completed other parts of the story. I always loved the Glyph puzzles from Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, and while I don’t want to see that repeated, I would enjoy something just as challenging, thought-provoking, and seemingly secondary. Having some Norse temples that reveal hidden secrets and forgotten stories about the Isu and their descendants.

Creating weather that fluctuates, and in doing so creates new problems or allows for different styles of gameplay would certainly make the game more exciting. You can imagine hiding in a snowstorm as you sneakily wipe out enemies or struggling to cross a mountain due to hazardous weather conditions. Ubisoft have touched on this throughout many of their games, even going as far back as Assassin’s Creed III. And yet, other than the occasional sandstorm or the tedious walk through snow, they haven’t fully utilised this system.

They could use this to challenge the players in different ways. For this of you who watch Vikings, imagine a character-forming journey like Björn Ironside, where you head out into the snow and ice to find yourself.

Modern-Day Storyline

Layla Hassan

image via Euro Gamer

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the modern-day storyline for Assassin’s Creed is royally fucked! Ever since Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft has lost all direction in regard to Desmond and his team. The games following the main character’s death essentially scrapped all threat and instead focused on repeating the same narrative again and again: beat the Templars to finding a POE. Why? For no real purpose whatsoever as the game often ends immediately after this moment.

After Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I suggested that Layla would ultimately end up using the Animus as a sort of time machine, one that would allow her to actually live in the past and make decisions that would impact the present day. I also suggested that this mechanism could be used to save Desmond and ultimately set humanity (and the Ubisoft games) back on a more structured path.

Sadly, despite everything it did well, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey further muddied the waters of the modern-day storyline and any direction it may or may not have had. We find Layla with a new team, searching for a staff, and yet we have no real mention of any sort of goal or threat beyond that. Her decisions throughout the game make little sense, and I don’t imagine that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok will follow Odyssey in a way that will make any real sense either. Undoubtedly, we’ll be searching for a Viking-Era POE in a race against the Templars, with no real character development or explanation of what endgame we’re heading towards.

My hope is that they either commit to a new direction or scrap it entirely. Watching Layla’s shoddy character development unfold has actually become painful and unbearable. I’d rather return to the first-person gameplay we got during Black Flag and Rogue. It lacked any real storyline, but that’s preferable over a poorly written one. If Ubisoft had actually thought ahead (which history tells us they haven’t and won’t), they could have used Origins, Odyssey, and Ragnarok as a sort of trilogy/reboot of the franchise, one that firmly plants Layla and other characters in a new and exciting journey.

Earlier games allowed us to follow Desmond, Lucy, Shaun, and Rebecca in a way that felt organic. We learned more about each character and they actually felt like they had personality. This is something that Odyssey and Origins severely lacked.

The Lineage

Aya

image via Game Informer

Back when Desmond was the main character (and even after his death when we still explored his ancestors through blood collected from his corpse), we were repeatedly introduced to the idea that his lineage was special. Altair, Ezio, Edward, and Connor were all special because they were part of the same lineage, hence their central role with any POE during their corresponding time period.

There were even theories that Bayek (the main character from Origins) was also one of Desmond’s ancestors, due to the similarity he shared to him and all the other connected ancestors, including the scarred lip that all possess. However, this idea doesn’t make sense as Bayek doesn’t have children and so can’t be an ancestor of Desmond. This begs the question as to why Ubisoft would include such details in the first place.

The lineage or bloodline is touched upon more heavily in Odyssey, with Alexios and Kassandra. This is the idea that they are “descended from Gods” i.e. the Isu. One theory suggests that the reason William Miles (Desmond’s father) appears at the end of Origins is to allow Layla to use his son’s blood in order to better locate the POE, as Desmond was the joining point of two powerful lineages. We then learned Alexios/Kassandra is the ancestor of Aya. So the fact that Aya and Bayek don’t have children that then connect to Desmond feels like a missed opportunity to connect the games.

I would love for Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok to fully explore this aspect and perhaps tie loose ends together. We’ll obviously play a character who is descended from the Gods, believing the God to be Thor or Odin or someone else, rather than simply a separate species. But much like my hopes for the storyline, I hope that Ubisoft have a long-term plan for the characters that we’re exploring, rather than them simply being random people from different time periods.

Final Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok

Assassin's Creed: Ragnarok

image via The Gamer

I have plenty more that I’d love to discuss in relation to Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok. But as always, I’ve drastically exceeded my initial post length, and so I’ll wrap this up by simply stating my overall hope for this game. If nothing else, I ask that Ubisoft spend the necessary time creating a new type of story. We’ve had the Templars, we’ve had the Ancients, and we’ve had the Cult of Kosmos, so can we get something that feels a little bit different to hunting down a hidden order?

More than anything, I want a real character’s journey. As a fan of the show Vikings, I have to use that as a reference point. We follow Ragnar Lothbrok from being a young farmer to an old king, and when his story ends, you truly feel like you’ve followed this man along an epic journey. So far with Assassin’s Creed, we’ve only had this experience with Ezio. From the very beginning, Ezio always felt like a very real and likeable character, and while his tale was spread across three games, there’s nothing to stop Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok creating a similar feeling in just one.

One way or another, I’m excited to see some legitimate information drop in relation to this game. A few years ago, I swore off the entire franchise, but I’m happy to say that Ubisoft has well and truly pulled me back in. I am excited to earn my place in Valhalla alongside my Vikings brothers and sisters within Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok.


Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the idea of Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok? Let me know down below!

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Peace!

Is the BBC Impartial?

Over the past month or so, the BBC and its impartiality have been under scrutiny. I often find myself wondering whether any news broadcaster can ever be truly impartial, as they all have something to gain or lose depending on the political movements that are underway, especially based on those which may or may not be in power. This game of chess sees the people of our country as little more than pawns, so what does that make the BBC? I want to use this space to discuss my current views on the BBC’s impartiality, the action I’ve taken to question it, and whether new measures should be put into place to challenge such a powerful and influential organisation.

Understanding the BBC

image via BBC

Before we dive headfirst into a discussion about whether the BBC is impartial, biased, or possibly just incompetent, we need to understand why there is so much pressure for the company to remain neutral. The UK government website states that,

“The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a British public service broadcaster. Its main responsibility is to provide impartial public service broadcasting in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.”

We know that many other broadcasters hold blatant biases towards parties, political leanings, individual candidates, religions, movements, and more, so why is the BBC any different?

One of the primary reasons relates to funding. The BBC is funded by the people, for the people. Unlike Channel 4 or ITV, which make their money through advertising, the BBC collects funds through other means. The prime example of this would be TV licensing. According to their website, around 92% of UK adults will use at least one BBC service every week. For this reason, more than 90% of the money raised through TV license fees is given to the BBC. A small amount of this money does go to local channels, news outlets, etc, but that’s less than 10% divided up between them.

Unsurprisingly, the sale of TV licences has dropped by 37,000 since last year. This is attributed to streaming services (such as Netflix), but we have to imagine that many people are deciding that the BBC simply isn’t providing them with a worthwhile service, not just in terms of content, but also in terms of their political leanings.

The BBC and Scotland

image via Dorset Eye

Back in 2014 during the Scottish Independence Referendum, many people called out the BBC for its support of the ‘Better Together’ campaign, its rigged panels and debate show audiences, and its simple lack of impartiality. An independent Scotland would likely have influenced the future of the BBC in many ways, and so you have to wonder whether there was a conflict of interest in regard to the likelihood of impartiality.

Research into this suggested that the ratio of ‘Better Together’ coverage to ‘Yes Campaign’ coverage was 3:2. This is largely attributed to the fact that the BBC often invited more guests from the former of these groups than the latter, something that is still happening on BBC Scotland today. This led to protests throughout the year, with one in June and another in September. But perhaps most importantly, this left doubt in the minds of Scots for years, and so you have to wonder whether there’s been a chance for this to change.

I didn’t set out to make this post Scotland-orientated, and unlike the BBC I don’t make the claims that I’m neutral or impartial, but I do find that the most noticeable examples of their bias are in relation to Scottish politics. Maybe I’m in need of a tinfoil hat, maybe my desire for Scotland to be independent forces me to see the BBC in a negative light, maybe I’m simply incapable of accepting “the truth”, or maybe the BBC has lost its credibility.

Is the BBC Impartial?

image via Metro

I could rant all day about past events, but the reason that I’m writing this article at all relates to the current political climate within the UK. The general election is set to take place on the 12th of December (5 days from the time of writing), and the BBC obviously has a major role to play. As such, I want to simply highlight some recent moments that call the BBC’s impartiality into question.

I want to pose a question prior to this. Is being dangerously incompetent just as damaging as holding a repressed bias? The reason that I ask this question relates to the instances I’m about to discuss. All of these have happened, and each one has been commented on by the BBC. So, while the BBC’s intentions behind these actions may innocent or not, there’s no denial of the fact that its capabilities in relation to broadcasting impartial media can be fairly called into question.

Placing the Wreath

image via Express

As I discuss each of these points, remember that only two possibilities exist. The BBC is either being biased or it’s being consistently incompetent. With each instance we discuss, you’re going to wonder how many times a company can shrug its shoulders and simply say, “my bad!”

I’m going to source as many of these moments from the BBC as possible, just to demonstrate that they have been acknowledged by the company. With that in mind, let’s begin with a relatively harmless, all be it embarrassing moment. During a Remembrance Day Service which took place on Sunday 10th November, Boris Johnson placed the ceremonial wreath upside down after setting off too early to do so.

Listen, we all make mistakes. I’m not here to call Boris Johnson out for an error. However, the BBC’s coverage of this event cannot be ignored. While discussing the event on the morning show, the BBC aired footage of Johnson carrying out the same action, but in 2016 rather than 2019. Of course, they would go on to blame a “production mistake” for this error.  Julian Barton, who worked at the BBC for several years, claims that such a mistake would be incredibly challenging to make given that the footage from 2016 would be stored completely separately from that of 2019.

The only footage I could find of this event comes from RT UK, which says a lot about the mainstream media of this country. After all, if the BBC is truly apologetic about airing the wrong footage, why isn’t the real footage readily accessible?

Debate Coverage

image via The Guardian

Let’s assume that the above example was truly a mistake. Somehow or another, the footage from 2016 got mixed up with that of 2019 which led to it being aired accidentally. Fine! But what about when we come to instances that can’t simply be brushed off as “mistakes”?

One prime example of this comes from the BBC’s coverage of the Conservative’s manifesto launch. Let’s ignore the fact that the BBC’s title for this article was “General election 2019: Boris Johnson vows to ‘forge a new Britain’” or that the accompanying videos comes with the tagline, “Boris Johnson says ‘prevarication and procrastination’ over Brexit have undermined trust in politics.”

Instead, let’s focus on the question that Johnson was asked about the Conservative Party changing its Twitter handle to ‘FactCheckUK’ during a live general election debate. Not only did he completely fail to answer the question, and not only did he push blame onto Labour several times, but he also managed to spend a total of 2 minutes and 16 seconds talking about “the riddle of the sphinx or the Bermuda triangle”. I can’t do his nonsensical rambling justice, so click here to see it for yourself.

Of course, you can perhaps excuse this instance as well. After all, the BBC may simply choose to avoid focusing on the negatives of any given party. However, if I were a journalist, I would be curious as to why Johnson claimed not to know about the name change and yet still felt able to compare the actions to those carried out by Labour.

When it comes to questionable editing though, the BBC isn’t off the hook just yet. During the ‘Question Time: Leaders Special’ event, Boris Johnson was asked, “how important is it for someone in your position of power to always tell the truth?” The question alone led to the audience bursting into laughter before Johnson could even get a word in.

And yet, when the BBC chose to edit this clip, they removed the laughter completely while leaving the applause in. Not so that it appears to be applause for the question, but rather it appears to be support for Johnson. Again, we have to turn to RT UK for footage of this moment. The BBC would then state that the editing was “a mistake on our part.” And yet, how many times can we let such mistakes slide? Can we truly believe that these are in fact mistakes and not something far more sinister? It seems that the BBC is incredibly keen to have Johnson appear as the obvious choice for this upcoming election, while doing whatever it can to silence the opposition voices.

What about the SNP?

image via The Telegraph

When we’re discussing those parties that stand against the Conservatives, the obvious opposition may be Labour, but that simply isn’t the case in Scotland. The SNP holds 56 of the 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland, and so you might imagine that the 3rd largest political party in the UK is fairly represented by the BBC.

Sadly, that does not appear to be the case. Obviously, you can’t expect a Scottish party to receive the same level of national coverage as say the Conservatives or Labour, but you also have to think about it from a logistical standpoint. Many of these debates are aired across the country, including Scotland, and so to only present two parties (3 if you include the Lib Dems, which is often the case despite them being the 4th largest party) is to deny an entire country with the full picture.

Again, I’m not in denial of the fact that I hold biases in relation to Scottish politics. I’m not a supporter of the SNP. I’ve never voted for them and it’s possible that I never will, but I am a supporter of Scottish independence and I’ll happily root for the party most likely to provide that. More than anything, I just wish for Scotland to have its voice heard within the London parliament (i.e. Westminster).

During the BBC’s review/breakdown of the Leader Debate, which was titled ‘Election debate: Who won the Question Time Leaders’ Special?’, there was literally zero mention of Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP, despite the fact that Scotland had been one of the most talked about points after Brexit, and despite the fact that many people across the country commended Nicola Sturgeon’s performance. Instead, we’re given a brief clip of Johnson’s verbal diarrhoea and then discussion about all other parties, except the SNP.

The fact that the BBC seems so intent on removing any opportunity for Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP to promote their party or agenda speaks volumes. Following the debate, the BBC held a small discussion show which features not one, not two, but three prominent ‘Better Together’ campaigners and not a single person from the other side.

And yet, the BBC feels that telling us about Boris Johnson’s scone eating habits is important on the run up to an election. I’m sure this has absolutely nothing to do with humanizing a liar.

Calling the BBC’s “Impartiality” into Question

image via Press Gazette

When it comes to discussing whether the BBC is impartial or not, it’s probably best to go straight to the source. We’ve already covered several examples of instances that could be simple-minded incompetence or tailor-made bias, but we’ve yet to consider what the BBC actually has to say on the topic. I want to take a moment to explore the opinions of those who actually work for the BBC. Let’s start off with the BBC board by considering the opinions of Tony Hall, the Director-General.

Hall admitted that in recent years there has become more of a “need to stand up for impartiality”. He even went as far to say that in relation to the BBC, “making sure all sides of a debate are heard – all different views and voices – is fundamental to our mission”.

A more recent example of this discussion of impartiality by employees of the BBC comes from Fran Unsworth, the director of news and current affairs for the BBC. Writing an opinion piece for The Guardian, Unsworth made the claim that, “…some people have chosen to ignore all of this and focused instead on a couple of editorial mistakes that they suggest are either emblematic of all our election coverage, or damning evidence of an editorial agenda that favours the Conservative party.”

Unsworth then goes on to blame conspiracy theories for this agenda. That’s right, if you believe that the BBC holds a bias that favours the Conservative party, you’re a tinfoil hat wearing nutjob and your opinions don’t matter. These might not be her exact words, but it’s ultimately the tone that the article provides. In relation to criticism of the BBC, she states that, “sometimes it’s from people who’ve actually watched or listened, but nowadays often it’s from those simply consuming others’ impressions of it.”

We’ll ignore the fact that the BBC failed to book Boris Johnson in for the Andrew Neil interview, and only revealed this information after several party leaders had already faced the interrogation-style interview which was broadcast nationwide.

Reporting the Problem

image via BBC Watch

On a day where I was feeling particularly frustrated by the BBC’s actions (and their continued denial of such a problem existing), I decided to use their website to make a complaint. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the report, but I included many of the examples that I’ve covered within this post. What do I expect to happen as a result? Absolutely nothing. I’m sure the response I’ll get will be automated, or at the very least, generic.

However, after Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr (not to be confused with Andrew Neil), people were outraged at how the interview had been handled, or more accurately, how Marr had failed to handle it at all. Many people were outraged that blatant falsehoods uttered by Johnson were never challenged, criticised, or called out. Others felt that Marr’s outbursts interrupted Johnson’s responses.

As was stated by Fran Unsworth, the BBC is criticised by the left and right in “almost equal volumes”. However, the BBC’s response to this matter doesn’t suggest that, and again, we see examples of them pushing the idea that Johnson and the Conservatives are the sensible option for any vote.

Following the Andrew Marr interview, the BBC changed its system to account for all the complaints related to the show. Rather than leaving the options neutral, this is what visitors would read when selecting the option to make a complaint about this specific interview:

image via BBC

“Some viewers have complained Boris Johnson was interrupted too much and the interview was biased against him.”

As you can see, their options aren’t exactly balanced or impartial, are they?

Final Thoughts

image via Consumer Complaints Numbers

Is this evidence of bias? I’ll leave such judgements up to you. However, just for those of you who are sitting on the fence, I will mention one more detail regarding the BBC. I already discussed why the BBC aims to remain impartial, but how can a company truly avoid influence from the government? The short answer is that it can’t. You see, the BBC is controlled by a board. I mentioned Tony Hall, but there are 14 members in total. The Queen selects the Chairman and the “non-executive members” based on recommendations from the government, which has been the Conservative party for the last decade or so.

You may imagine that the other board members are selected in a more “impartial” manner, but that would be false. The members selected by the Government/Queen then play a role in choosing the other members. So, regardless of how impartial the BBC may aim to be, it’s control ultimately stems back to the government, and this decides the direction of the entire company. This isn’t even some conspiracy theory, you can read as much on the BBC website.

Once in power, do you believe that it’s natural for a political party to willingly hand that power back, or would they do anything they could to continue to gain the public’s votes? I’ll leave you with this quote from a wise TV show character:

“Power is dangerous. It corrupts the best and attracts the worst. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.”


Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the BBC’s impartiality? Let me know down below!

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Also, if you suffer from anxiety and wish to discover scientifically-supported techniques for reducing these feelings, click here!

Peace!

Fincas Fuster: Letting Agency from Hell!

This isn’t quite my usual type of post, but I’m in need of a platform: a place where I can post this content and then use the link as a point of reference. Unless you’re planning to move to Barcelona and have the misfortune of almost renting a flat from ‘Fincas Fuster’ letting agency, this entire post will be of absolutely zero use to you. It’s unlikely to be even slightly entertaining to read, unless you’re some sort of sadist.

In the Beginning…

Fincas Fuster letting agency

image via YouTube

This tale of cunty behaviour begins in summer of 2017. My partner and I had just moved into a temporary flat in Barcelona while we searched for a more permanent residence. We were still adjusting to the seemingly arbitrary charges that Spanish letting agencies use for new tenants. For example, if you’re paying 800€ for a flat, then they charge you that amount purely as a fee, along with other charges that are slightly more understandable (e.g. administration costs).

After viewing several flats, and with time running out for us, we settled for one. It was a little bit small, but it had a lovely terrace and was affordable. We had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong with the flat, or that the Fincas Fuster letting agency is essentially owned by a scam artist. The problem with renting a flat in Spain relates to their completely moronic bureaucratic system. At this point in time, I had a job but none of the necessary documents, such as my NIE (essentially a national identity number), whereas my partner had her documents but no job.

This meant that Fincas Fuster needed extra deposit money, to the sum of 6,000€+. We understood why this might be necessary, and while it was, and still is, a gut-wrenching amount of money, it seemed to be a common enough practice as we’d encountered in when enquiring into other flats.

We also met Albert, the owner of the letting agency. I don’t feel bad using his name. He was charming, had a good sense of humour, and seemed completely empathetic of our situation. I thought he looked and acted a bit like a Spanish Ryan Reynolds. Until the last couple of months, I naively believed that this man was doing his best to help us.

Moving In

Fincas Fuster letting agency

image via Daily Sabah

We signed the documents, acquired the keys, and moved into out new flat. No inventory was taken. When receiving the keys, we weren’t shown around the flat or told about any problems. Fincas Fuster made no mention of its cleanliness, the contents of the flat, its functionality, etc. Originally, we had been shown some blurry photographs and asked to sign and say that these represented the condition of the flat. We were never given a copy of these photographs and they didn’t include any text related to some of the rather immediate problems.

I’m going to dive right in and simply list each of the problems. The first set of problems mostly took place within the first couple of days, but I have included some additional related problems which happened slightly later. The second set took place after a month or so.

The Initial Problems

Fincas Fuster Letting Agency

image via ConversionXL

Problem #1

The mattress on the bed (which had been covered by a sheet and duvet when we viewed the flat) was red and yellow. We were genuinely concerned that someone (or multiple people) had been murdered on the bed. Words can’t describe how gross this thing actually was. You see mattresses that have been on the street for days or week that are in better condition than this one. In Barcelona, there are people on the street who genuinely had cleaner mattresses than us. We just used a mattress protector, but we always felt incredibly disgusted while using it.

Problem #2

The owner had left bits of wood lying around in various parts of the house, mostly in the kitchen. Not to mention he’d also left hair in the bottom drawer of the cupboard under the sink, and the drawer itself was warped and damaged (important for later). We had to clean the entire flat from top to bottom, and if it had been cleaned, it had been done poorly. I’ve moved into student flats that have been cleaner than this one. The handle for the bedroom door was actually so broken that part of it was sitting on top of the cupboard.

Problem #3

The toilet was leaking into the flat below. A problem which had been happening prior to us moving in, and yet was never once disclosed to us before putting down our deposit. Not only was it leaking into the flat below, but it was also leaking into our flat, creating a smell which got increasingly worse over the following month.

The annoying thing about this was that the letting agency didn’t even apologise for having not mentioned this. Instead, they acted as if we were fully aware of the problem. We even had to pay for the work to be completed, and while we were reimbursed financially, this is just another example of the general incompetence displayed by Albert (the owner of the letting agency) and Fincas Fuster.

A separate problem developed as a result of this: the repair man broke our toilet seat while moving the toilet in and out of the bathroom. When we went to Fincas Fuster to reclaim the money we’d had to pay for the repairs, we mentioned this to Albert who assured us that it would be fixed (it wasn’t, and we were charged for it upon leaving).

Problem #4

The washing machine was unreliable and stopped mid-wash several times on its first few uses. This was particularly annoying because our contract meant that the letting agency wasn’t responsible for replacing appliances, and so a broken washing machine at the start meant we either had to buy a new one or live without it. The fact that it was already broken means that either the owner already knew it wasn’t fully functional, and therefore added it into the contract to avoid having to pay for it, or zero checks had been completed in regard to the functionality of appliances.

Problem #5

The doorbell to the flat didn’t work, and the buzzer on the ground floor frequently broke. This meant that on several occasions, we had to walk down 5 flights of stairs to collect packages, food deliveries, or let people in.

Problems #6 & 7

6) None of the windows locked, like literally none of them.

7) We quite quickly discovered that the fuses would go under any of the following circumstances:

-Using both the hobs at the same time,

-Using the oven and a single hob at the same time,

-Using the washing machine and the air conditioning/heating at the same time,

-Using a hairdryer and any one the above items at the same time,

For a brief period, using none of those things caused the fuses to go, including the power for the fridge and freezer, which leaked into the flat. When my partner messaged Fincas Fuster letting agency owner (Albert) about this, he told her not to message him unless it was an emergency.

In theory, I completely understand his point. However, contacting the Fincas Fuster staff by any other means than directly through Albert proved to result in nothing being fixed and our problems being left unsolved. Anna, one of the ditzy members of staff, would frequently forget about whatever had just been discussed days before.

After the First Few Days

Fincas Fuster letting agency

image via YouTube

Problem #8

The roof of the bedroom began leaking significantly. Luckily, it didn’t rain too often, but when it did, we were collecting buckets-full of water. The leak was right above the wardrobe where all of our clothes were. It took 6 weeks for this leak to get fixed. Due to this ridiculous length of time, the leak spread across a large section of the roof.

The damp roof and walls led to mould growing everywhere, including on our bed, clothes, and shoes. The damage to the walls wouldn’t be fixed for several months, meaning that all through winter we had to keep windows open and/or spend a fortune turning on the heating as we only had a heater in the living room which was down the hall from the bedroom. Unsurprisingly, the letting agency made to effort to assist us in any way. They certainly didn’t offer to contribute to bills. By this point, we had realised how empty their apologies truly were.

However, this led to Albert and the Fincas Fuster letting agency revealing something else to us: the roof above the living room had leaked just before we moved in. This relates to another problem that appears later.

Problem #9

The terrace had started leaking into the flat below. They tried to blame us, implying that we hadn’t been keeping the drain unblocked, but this was absolute nonsense as they then redid the entire terrace which wouldn’t have been necessary for a blocked drain. Besides, there wasn’t actually anything in or near the drain. The only thing that went down it was rainwater and water from the washing machine.

During this repair work, the owner’s plants (of which there were 15+) were moved into the living room for what was supposed to be 3 days, then 5 day, but ended up being a week, all just before Christmas. I have a severe and debilitating phobia of spiders, and within 5 minutes I’d had to kill 5 of them. I can’t describe the constant stress I was under as a result of this.

Problem #10

Just after the above point, around January or February, the shutter to our terrace jammed. We could close it, but it only opened halfway. This had happened a few times, and there’s no way to get into the mechanism without ripping a panel off the wall, which we obviously weren’t going to do. We’d managed to get it wiggle it free before this point, but this time we couldn’t. Our contract states that we must make the agency aware of any problems within 7 days, and so we did. Again, this will be important later!

Problem #11

The walls in the living room, which as I already mentioned had been the spot of an earlier leak, were beginning to rot. Our walls looked like they had cancer! A man was eventually sent to paint the living room, the bathroom, and the bedroom. What did he do? In about 30 minutes, he scraped stuff off the walls, painted over them, and left. He didn’t go near the bathroom and only did one wall in each of the other rooms. This was NOT a solution, and all the parts that had been painted over soon turned yellow and began peeling in the same manner as before.

Problem #12

The sink in our bathroom started leaking, apparently into the flat before. Fincas Fuster didn’t even acknowledge that there was a problem or suggest their desire to find a solution (despite our immediate e-mail telling them as much) until it became a problem for the flat below sometime later. Did they fix it? Not really. After several visits from insurance people, a man with a hammer and a blowtorch patched it up, leaving a horrific mess in our bathroom, stopping the flow of hot water almost entirely, and leaving the mouldy shelves rotting away.

Remember I’d mentioned the warped sink drawer? It turns out that it was from a leak in the pipe below the sink. It was a relatively small leak, especially in comparison to that of the bedroom roof, but over time the bottom drawer simply couldn’t absorb any more of the water, which is when we noticed it. Clearly this had been a problem prior to us moving in, and yet Fincas Fuster had clearly completed little to no checks relating to the condition of the flat.

You’re probably wondering how many of these problems were resolved. Well, out of 12, a grand total of 3 problems were fixed, and never in a timely manner.

Beyond the Confines of the Flat

Fincas Fuster letting agency

image via OSXDaily

Sadly, and somewhat horrifically, this only covers some of the problems that this letting agency put us through. I’m now going to mention some of the problems we had with them that weren’t directly connected to the flat itself.

Additional Problem #1

On several occasions, Fincas Fuster notified us that people (whether it be workers, Albert, or someone else entirely) would be coming over. We’d be given a time, would get up (having cleaned the flat), and would wait for these people to arrive, only for them to never show up. On several occasions, we’d be hanging around the flat for hours before contacting the agency. When asked, they simply responded with, “sorry, I forgot”, or something similarly incompetent.

Additional Problem #2

The stairwell and entrance corridor of the building were a mess. The day we moved in we were told that it would be getting fixed. Did it? No, it got half fixed, and this only started a couple of months before we were due to move out. An incomplete job is something we experienced several times with Fincas Fuster. Incomplete or half-assed word was no longer a surprise when it came to the solutions offered by this letting agency.

What was a surprise was coming home to find the entire flat (and I mean literally every single room, item, and wall) covered in dust due to the morons neither notifying us that work would be getting done, nor doing anything to shield our flat from the ridiculous levels of dust created by their literal destruction of the stairwell walls.

Don’t even get me started on being hit by falling debris from walls that were being torn apart by workmen who looked no older than 15. The letting agency and these “men” seemed to have some sort of working relationship as they were always the go-to guys to “fix” any of our problems. Despite this, Fincas Fuster (who were of course fully aware that this work would be getting carried out), made no effort to warn us about this.

Additional Problem #3

When the owner of the flat (who was using Albert and Fincas Fuster to rent out his flat) visited our flat, he was truly apologetic. Albert was quite obviously embarrassed by the state he’d allowed the flat to get into, but despite many apologies, he actually did nothing to make up for it. By this point (as it was in the final month of us living there), I suspected that Albert wasn’t the kind man he made himself out to be, and so, I recorded the entire visit on my phone. He mentioned over and over again that none of these problems were out fault, and that more should have been done on their end to fix them.

In the End

Renting Problems

image via YouTube

By the time we were moving out, it was a welcome and exciting day. With so much money resting on our deposit, a list of problems, and a clearly shady company (or at least an incredibly incompetent one), we were nervous. We’d considered consulting a housing lawyer early on, after the first 7 or so problems, but had decided against it, putting trust in the idea of human decency.

Signing out of our contract, Albert of Fincas Fuster didn’t mention any charges. In fact, he stated quite clearly that we wouldn’t be held responsible for the shutter. The one question we wanted answered was, “when will we get out deposit back?”. The response? “15 days at the absolute maximum”. 21 days later, with nothing in sight, and no word from the agency, we contacted Albert and Fincas Fuster to learn more.

At this point, we discover that Albert is holding us responsible for the mattress, the oven (which wasn’t damaged at all), the toilet seat, the rug (which we’d rolled up and put under the bed because it was disgusting), the shutter, and cleaning costs. Bearing in mind that we were told to “leave the flat as clean as we found it” and yet left it drastically cleaner. It’s also worth noting that while the shutter was broken, we didn’t break it, it broke. We didn’t do anything to it other than open and close it like any other shutter.

You can imagine the sheer stress and concern we feel at this point, having already moved out of Spain and with no way of actually challenging the Fincas Fuster letting agency. I’d love nothing more than to contact a lawyer and go after these people. We lived in conditions that were not liveable, and other than apologies, no effort was made to make up for this. But in reality, it would cost more than we’d gain, and the effort and stress would be horrific.

With no other course of action, and with a growing rage towards Albert and Fincas Fuster, I feel that all I can do is warn other people. I’m going to include just some of the photos I took, but if you are with this company and have had similar problems, please contact me. If you’re considering renting from this company and wish to know more, also feel free to contact me. I’m happy to send all the videos and photos I took, as well as provide further explanation on any point I’ve made thus far.

Google Reviews

Lies from Albert

Just when it all seemed to be over, I tried to leave a negative Google review on the ‘Fincas Fuster’ page. My review has since been taken down which is frustrating, to say the least. However, I noticed a couple of things far more disturbing than that.

Since leaving, Albert had been in touch with us. He claimed that what happened to us wasn’t his fault. He claimed that he did everything he could to help us. He claimed that due to what we went through, he was no longer working with the owner of the flat, whose name is Luciano.

Now, you might be wondering what the above image is. This is a response from Fincas Fuster letting agency to a Google review. Throughout it, you will spot various contradictions to the tale that I’ve just shared with you.

There was never any doubt on our end or on theirs in regards to their failings. Did we see any compensation? Absolutely not. We barely had our problems fixed!

This gets worse given another review, one from Luciano himself.

Fincas Fuster Luciano

For some reason this one didn’t translate automatically, but it reads as follows (thanks Google translate):

“Some professionals. I have known them for 8 years and for my part they are clear, honest and try to solve all the inconvenciences that occur. I am not writing much but when someone deserves it and I can recommend it is great!”

Now, I have audio recordings of Luciano (the owner of the flat) stating quite the opposite of this when he told us that he was ashamed of the conditions we’d been left to live in.

What’s Next?

Letting Problems

image via EFF

Why have I written any of this? More than anything, to vent. For the last year, we laughed and joked about how terrible Fincas Fuster is as a letting agency, but now that we’re actually being robbed as a direct result of their incompetence, it’s not funny. Quite frankly, it’s disgusting!

We suffered through mould, dust, leaks, accessibility issues, crumbling walls, power cuts, false promises, deception, horrific smells, incompetent workers, just as incompetent letting agency staff, lies, and more. I wouldn’t wish our experience on my worst enemy, and that’s without the financial burden that living in one of the Fincas Fuster letting agency’s flats comes with.

I expect nothing to come from writing this. I would love to believe that by having this story out there, floating around on the internet, that somebody searching for information on Fincas Fuster might just stumble across it. Maybe that person will read what I have to say. Maybe they’ll look at my photos and videos, and maybe it will lead them to think twice. In this unlikely scenario, that person might just save themselves stress, time, and money. How? By choosing a better, more competent, less cunty letting agency than Fincas Fuster. If nothing else, I’ve managed to get all my thoughts and experiences out of my own head slightly!

My plan is to upload some of the photos and videos (you’ll find some below). I took these during my time living in the abomination that was a Fincas Fuster letting agency flat. This will likely be done via YouTube. Albert (the Fincas Fuster owner) may play the victim, but he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In truth, whether he’s a bad person or not is impossible to know. At the absolute least he is dangerously incompetent. When people’s health, livelihood, and finances are put at risk because you can’t run your own company, that’s an indication that you need to make some changes. He complained to us on several occasions that while he feels bad, he “needs to feed his kids”. Yet, he still profited from our situation, while we still lost money.

Example Images

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1 Week of This

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Dust Without Warning

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Leaking Sink & Toilet

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Moulding Walls

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Workman Mess


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or simply wish to know more about this experience, don’t hesitate to comment down below!

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and the Death of Star Wars

Star Wars, Star War, Star Wars…what is there to say that hasn’t already been said a million times over. This post is going to serve a singular purpose: I’m going to highlight why ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be better than ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’, but still a bitter end to a rather disappointing and ultimately empty-feeling trilogy. We’ll have to consider the way this trilogy has been written (including structure and tone), the backlash of the middle movie, and the desperate grasping at straws that presents itself in the form of Ian McDiarmid i.e. Emperor Palpatine.

The Trilogy Structure

Jar Jar Binks Star Wars

image via Reddit

Star Wars as a cinematic universe has its fair share of problems, especially since being bought over by Disney. The ‘Disney Effect’, (similar to my ‘Sequel Escalation Theory’)which involves the churning out of as many movies as possible, has led to an oversaturation of Star Wars, live-action remakes, and superhero movies. ‘Solo’ is a bland, lacklustre disappointment. ‘Rogue One’, while unnecessary, at least packed a bit of an emotional punch. But ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ face a different problem. What’s that famous saying: Too many chefs spoil the broth?

When Star Wars returned with ‘The Force Awakens’, you had three writers behind the story. J. J. Abrams was arguably the driving force, but you also had Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. When you get to ‘The Last Jedi’, you have Rian Johnson. This marks our first problem. A trilogy is meant to represent one larger story, typically the beginning, middle, and end of a character’s/characters’ journey or a plot, typically demonstrated through conflict and change.

For example: The prequel trilogy represents the three stages of Anakin’s journey from an innocent, hopeful slave boy, to an angry, stroppy, emo-kid, to a child murderer. It also shows the uprising of the Empire, the moving of Palpatine from out of the shadows, etc. You get the idea; you’ve undoubtedly seen the movies or at least understand how a trilogy typically works.

The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

image via YouTube

Abrams set the first part of this trilogy into motion by setting up various questions: who are Rey’s parents? Why is she so powerful with the force? Who is Snoke? How did Maz Katana get Luke’s lightsaber? How did the First Order get so powerful? Why is Luke in exile? This movie cut many corners without explanation, but in terms of setting up the direction of the trilogy (all be it as a hollow copy of the original trilogy), it did a decent enough job.

My main issue with ‘The Force Awakens’ is that it went too big too early. I mean the idea of them making another Death Star is even commented on by Han Solo within the movie. What will they build in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, a Death Star that destroys entire galaxies? The end of ‘The Force Awakens’ marks the downfall of this trilogy, in my opinion. We see the Death Star being destroyed, we see Rey beginning to beat Kylo Ren (after mastering her force abilities in a matter of minutes), and we see most of the First Order being destroyed.

So, what comes next? The movie ends with Rey handing Luke his lightsaber, and then the credits roll.

The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi

image via Slashfilm

I’m trying my best not to rant endlessly about these movies, but ‘The Last Jedi’ was SO bad that I need to mention a few things. Firstly, I can appreciate what Rian Johnson was trying to do. Everyone enjoyed Game of Thrones because the unexpected could happen. Johnson’s aim was to subvert fans’ expectations. An admirable goal, one that he lacked the experience and knowledge to pull off.

Look at this way. Imagine Abrams is building a snowman. He builds the body, he gives the snowman a head and arms, but then his mother calls him in for dinner. So, he gives a box to Johnson which contains a range of hats, jackets, various items for facial features, and maybe even a couple of pipes. When Abrams comes back outside, he finds that the snowman is just a giant snow dick with misshapen, lumpy, cancer-ridden testicles.

Why? Because Johnson wanted to create something unexpected. He wanted to be funny (because we’re an immature species that for some reason laughs at cocks), but also serious (because cancer is a hard-hitting topic). That’s what ‘The Last Jedi’ is: a mismatch of dire, intense moments, with cheesy one-liners, out of place humour, and unexpected moments that are moronic rather than clever. Sprinkle in some unnecessary social commentary, and you’ve summed up the movie.

Who are Rey’s parents? Who gives a shit! Why is she so powerful! She just is. What is Luke doing in exile? Hiding for reasons that even Mark Hamill views as moronic. Where did Snoke come from? Fuck Snoke, he got killed by Kylo Ren despite being the most powerful person to appear in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Last Jedi’ divided the fanbase quite drastically.

The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Mashable

This brings us nicely to the upcoming movie ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Disney has received a lot of backlash as a result of their recent Star Wars movies. But the only new Star Wars movie I want to see (an Obi-Wan spin-off) seems to have been put on hold indefinitely, most likely as a result of this. I haven’t heard anything else about Johnson’s own trilogy (which I won’t be watching), and the writers of Game of Thrones and their own trilogy (which I also won’t be watching).

So, why do I believe that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be the best of this trilogy? Firstly, J. J. Abrams is writing and directing the final instalment. I don’t imagine that he would have accepted that role if he felt that the trilogy was doomed.

There is a lot of pressure on this final movie. Star Wars fans who feel let down by ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Solo’ aren’t going to give Disney unlimited chances. I’m not even that big a Star Wars fan (unless you’re talking about Star War Battlefront for Playstation 2) and even I’ve found myself abandoning the series. So, given that Disney has just invested a lot of money into new Star Wars themed section of Disneyland, they need to keep the franchise alive.

However, this is also why I feel that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is going to be a bitter pill to swallow. The easiest way to explain this is to consider the Star Wars universe as a whole, and how the threads connect between all the movies.

Star Wars: Forcing Nostalgia

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Wired

Once we move past the original trilogy, we rely heavily on the existence of already-established characters to make Star Wars movies feel connected. I’m not talking about main characters, obviously. We have Ob-Wan, Anakin, Emperor Palpatine, etc, who all appear in the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. However, we also get other characters pushed into the movies for the sake of making them feel connected, forcing nostalgia down our throats.

A prime example would be Jabba the Hut. There’s no reason that we need to see Jabba again, and yet he’s hosting pod races in ‘The Phantom Menace’. Speaking of which, Darth Maul pops up at the end of ‘Solo’. Why? Not to push storyline, but to add a sense of mystery that forces you to explore the non-cinematic sources of Star Wars storytelling. Through which you learn that Darth Maul didn’t actually die in ‘The Phantom Menace’. This would be all well and good if it led to an Obi-Wan spin-off, but as it currently stands its simply nostalgia, nothing more.

Why does Yoda appear as a force ghost in ‘The Last Jedi’ but not Obi-Wan? We’ve seen Obi-Wan as a force ghost too many times, yet Yoda only appears at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’. Chewbacca appears in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ for no real reason beyond fuelling fan theories. You get the idea.

What has this got to do with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’?

What We Can Expect

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Geek Tyrant

For those of you who have seen the trailer (which I’m sure is all of you), you’ll already be aware of where I’m going with this. The trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ ends with Luke saying, “we’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.” This is followed by the unmistakable cackle of none other than Emperor Palpatine. This is where the dread I hold for this movie originates.

Hearing Palpatine laughing means one of three things: 1) He somehow survived the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. 2) He is appearing as a dark side force ghost. 3) His consciousness has somehow been stored on some otherwise unheard-of Star Wars tech.

However, these three things combine into one reason why Ian McDiarmid has returned to reprise the role: they are grasping at straws. Disney need to drag everyone into this movie that they can in order to generate hype and reignite the passions of fans.

What can we expect? I’d imagine some ridiculously contrived story that aims to explain character actions and motivations in ‘The Last Jedi’ e.g. how Snoke was killed so easily, how Rey is so powerful, and why Kylo Ren seemed to be swithering between good and evil in ‘The Force Awakens’ before turning psycho in ‘The Last Jedi’.

Beyond how idiotic this will be for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, you also have to consider the larger implications of Palpatine being alive (if he is still alive). For starters, it kind of fucks up the entirety of Anakin’s redemption arc and the whole fulfilment of the prophecy. Sure, Anakin died saving Luke, which is lovely, but he wouldn’t have defeated the Sith.

The trailer alone suggests a near-endless string of call backs to the original trilogy. We have Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Carlrissian. We see the medals that the heroes were awarded at the end of ‘A New Hope’. Some of the speeders resemble those used in ‘Return of the Jedi’. I could go on, but the worst part is that we’ll still get nothing from the new main character: Rey. Luke had more development in the first act of ‘A New Hope’ than Rey has had in this entire trilogy.

In Summary

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Star Wars

Just to sum up this rather incoherent babbling: this trilogy isn’t really a trilogy, but rather a series of sequels that are connected through the use of the same main characters. It doesn’t perform the function of a trilogy at all, and we will see that this final movie will stoop to any low in order to desperately claw back any fans it can.


Thanks for reading! Are you excited for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’? What have you thought of the trilogy so far. Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Fixing Game of Thrones: A Fan’s Perspective!

Game of Thrones has become a bit…disappointing, to say the least. Where season 7 was a little lacklustre and illogical, season 8 has taken this to a whole new level. Decade-long character development and plot building has been thrown out the window in favour of tension building and shocking moments. It’s worth noting that I’m not a writer, I’m not involved in the movie/TV industry, and I don’t claim to have any knowledge or skills that would allow me to create something even a fraction as entertaining as Game of Thrones. I also haven’t read any of the books, so my knowledge is based entirely on the show. However, I am a fan and this post is simply a reflection of a fan’s perspective of how this season could have been improved. With just one episode to go (at the time of writing this) here are my thoughts!

At the end of the day, Game of Thrones is NOT my show and it’s not your show. What you or I feel should or shouldn’t have happened is irrelevant and we just have to accept whatever ending we are given!

The Problem

Game of Thrones

image via Know Your Meme

Entertainment news has been quick to jump onto the bandwagon of hating the show. For the record, I don’t hate season 8. Certain outcomes had been building for a long time (such as the Mad Queen), but the portrayal and build-up to these motivations has resulted in flaky character motivations and highly illogical decisions. With a petition titled ‘Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with Competent Writers’ gaining over a million signatures, is there a genuine problem with this season?

I think it’s important to address the aspects that aren’t an issue. Dany becoming the Mad Queen isn’t the problem, something that Bran actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright doesn’t understand about the backlash. He stated “[Game of Thrones is] unpredictable by nature. The fact that characters are not doing what people want them to do? It’s a good thing…”

Other stars of the show have expressed their dissatisfaction with the show’s final season. Perhaps none more so than Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) who stated that he took it personally when his character was side-lined for the last few seasons, before dying this season.

The Solution

Game of Thrones

image via Variety

So, what would I change and why would it make the slightest bit of difference? Let’s start with season 6 and work our way forward. Again, I’m not a writer. Everything that Dan and Dave, as well as George R. R. Marin, have put into this show is above and beyond anything that I could achieve in my lifetime. As a fan (and lets face it, sometimes fans can be the worst critics), this is simply how I feel the final season of Game of Thrones could have ended in a way that A) made more sense, and B) was more loyal to the character development that had already taken place.

Change #1: Tyrion and Dany

Game of Thrones

image via Metro

The first thing that would be essential to change would be the relationship between Dany and Tyrion. We see this becoming rather stretched and fragmented throughout season 7 and season 8. From as far back as season 6, I would have had Tyrion be the advisor we all imagined he would become. Even before he had gained valuable experience as hand of the king, he was naturally good at his job.

His advice wouldn’t always be perfect, and he wouldn’t always succeed, but more often than not his advice would be sound and lead to a favourable outcome. At the very least, he would just be outsmarted rather than simply making questionable decisions. As of season 8, we’ve watched the character become a bit of a moron, something Peter Dinklage himself addressed.

If Tyrion had been true to his character and remained an intelligent and strong-willed hand, Dany would trust him, and they would develop a deeper friendship. She would not only rely on his advice, but also turn to him when in need of emotional support. By the time we get to The Dragon and the Wolf (S7E7), Tyrion would be wary of Cersei (as he has every reason to be based on his entire life experience). Despite the episode unfolding in the same manner as it originally did, he wouldn’t be so easily convinced, urging his allies to assume that Cersei’s forces from the south would not be joining them, making him all the more surprised when Jaime turns up.

Change #2: The Tarlys

Game of Thrones Tarly

image via Watchers on the Wall

I would make a minor change in the Eastwatch episode (S7E5). When Dany is giving soldiers the choice: bend the knee or burn (a choice that ultimately leads to Randall and Dickon Tarly being burned alive), I would have Tyrion step in.

The scene would unravel in much the same way as before: Dany tells people to bend the knee, Randall Tarly would refuse, and she’d threatens to burn him alive. He’s a stubborn man and the way he died made sense for his character, especially after seeing his interactions with Sam. So, the same as before, he gets cooked.

When all the other soldiers bend the knee, Dickon Tarly still refuses. He wishes to respect his father’s choice and honour his memory. Dany is prepared to roast him but Tyrion steps in, convincing her to give the man time to think on his decision. Dany listens to her advisor, who at this point hasn’t made major mistakes and still fully has her trust. She respects his opinion and accepts that she doesn’t know exactly how politics and loyalties in Westeros function.

In later episodes (maybe as far ahead as when Dany and Ser Jorah meet Sam in Winterfell), Dany will consider the advice that Tyrion gave her to be evidence of his wisdom, but also as a control for her temperament. This will serve as evidence that Tyrion is capable of stopping the Mad Queen, should such a time ever arrive. Whenever the news is broken to Sam, he learns that his brother is still alive at least. This moment would remind Dany of her humanity and would demonstrate to Sam that she isn’t a monster, causing him to be less antagonistic regarding Jon’s claim to the throne (something that only really existed due to Dany killing Sam’s brother in the first place).

Change #3: Jon and Dany

Game of Thrones Dany and Jon

image via Uproxx

The next aspect, one that only develops in season 7 and then unravels in season 8, is the relationship between Dany and Jon. I wouldn’t change a great deal in regard to season 7 itself, I think that setting up the relationship in the manner they did made sense. I think the only real issue was Jon’s blind loyalty. There’s no denying that Jon is loyal and honourable, it’s something we’ve seen in him time and time again, but he also knows when to stand up for what is right. He doesn’t go against his own morals simply because someone carries the title of ‘King’ or ‘Queen’.

Going into season 8 and the discovery of Jon’s true parentage, I’d suggest a few major changes take place. Dany has always wanted the Iron Throne, it’s her birth right, but she’s also wanted a family. Jon is family: both in terms of blood and romantic interest. Rather than her becoming a paranoid, controlling mess, she should become more torn between the notion of choosing between love or the throne. Rather than just showing Dany to be heartbroken because she wants the throne, let’s show her struggle to decide which is more important to her, and as a result work towards a solution WITH Jon, not against him.

Jon’s love life has always been a bit forbidden. Ygritte was a wildling, the sworn enemy of the Night’s Watch, and yet he couldn’t stop being in love with her. I would have that same idea take place with Dany. Rather than having Jon begin to reject her after discovering that they are aunt and nephew, they would be madly in love for all of season 8, eliminating the need for ridiculous political plots, dodgy whisper exchanges, and shade being thrown left, right, and centre. Jon would view Dany as his Queen, sure, but he’d also be in love with her and wouldn’t see the Mad Queen signs beginning to appear. You could say that he is blinded by love!

Change #4: The Battle of Winterfell

Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell

image via Time

There are a number of changes I’d make with this episode. I’d originally stated that I’d have Rhaegal die during this episode, but I’ve since realised that his death could be put to better use. I also came up with a change related to the Night King and the outcome of the Battle of Winterfell, but I’ve realised that’s too complex to get into here. Instead, let’s assume that the battle must end the same way.

For starters, I wouldn’t have all the Dothraki be sent in at once. We discover in the episodes following this one that half of the Dothraki and Unsullied survived, even though both appear to get well and truly annihilated. Not to mention that in the finale episode trailer, her army seems to have actually grown. So, either you send less in and that explains why more survive, or you don’t have as many survive in the first place. Either of these makes more sense that what happened. One solution would be to have half the Unsullied inside Winterfell. After all, it makes no strategic sense to have that many outside the walls. Strategy is a whole other issue that I’m not going to get into now.

The Crypts of Winterfell

The Crypts of Winterfell just made no sense. If you have half a brain, you should be able to make a couple of connections. 1) You’re fighting and army that everyone refers to as ‘the dead’. 2) The bulk of this army are literally the undead, who have been raised by the Night King. 3) Many of the characters have witnessed this raising of the dead and have fought them on multiple occasions. As a result of these three points, you would have to be mentally challenged to not consider the likelihood of the dead being raised in any major battle. You’d have to be a whole new level of stupid to actually put all the vulnerable people in a room quite literally full of dead bodies.

One solution would be to have them block the doors to the crypts and then have the dead breakthrough into an area where the vulnerable people are actually being kept. An alternative would be to actually send them south, away from Winterfell, but have some of the dead catch up with them.

I would have a scene where Gillie is killed, along with many others, and Baby Sam is left lying in the snow, much in the same way he would have been at Craster’s Keep. Sansa could live or die. I don’t feel that her survival matters a great deal in terms of the plot going forward. Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei would live, but other than that everyone else who was originally in the Crypts could/would die.

Character Deaths

The next change would involve the main characters. Too many of them had super thick plot armour in this episode. We ended up with an MCU-style battle where the main characters appear to be overwhelmed at multiple scenes and yet survive. It was so ridiculous that I actually believed most of the main characters had died, and it wasn’t until episode 4 that I learned that they hadn’t. Here’s the people who should definitely have died:

  • Samwell Tarly
  • Mellisandre (her death was moronic; she should have died lighting the trenches)
  • Ser Davos
  • Brienne of Tarth
  • Grey Worm

These deaths are important for a number of reasons. For starters, they would reflect the threat of the Night King and leave the show feeling emptier (in terms of character number) and harder hit by the threat that has been building for 10 years. Losing Ed, Beric, Theon, and Ser Jorah didn’t really pack that much of an emotional punch. Speaking of Theon, we have the next change.

The Night King

Everything about Arya killing the Knight King was stupid. Yes, it tied into what Melissandre said seasons ago (although tying that into the Faceless Men felt good enough for me). Yes, it tied into why Bran gave Arya the dagger. Yes, it tied into her fight with Brienne, as well as several other moments. But why Arya? Her killing the Night King changed nothing about her story at all. It was meaningless! So, who should have killed the Night King? Jon? Bran? The Little Bear? A dragon?

The answer? Theon! Assuming we’re keeping the Night King’s death relatively similar to how the events unfolded, I would have Theon try to fight the Night King (although less in the manner he did on the show). Theon’s fight would be fantastic, and it certainly wouldn’t be long lasting. He would get stabbed, fall to the ground, still alive and about to be finished off by the Night King. At this point, if you want Arya to come flying out of nowhere like Spider-Man jumping through one of Doctor Strange’s portals in Infinity War, that’s fine. But have the Night King grab her by the throat and even if she manages to strike him, she hits the armour and fails. This opens up a small gap which allows Theon (who is in the final moments of his life) to stab him.

The way the Night King was defeated was incredibly anti-climactic. You can’t claim that you want a show to be surprising, unique, and distanced from the usual clichés, and then employ the same ‘kill the leader and the soldiers fall’ trope used in every similar battle where the allies are outnumbered.

Change #5: Rhaegal

Game of Thrones Rhaegal

image via Popsugar

Episode 4 could largely unfold the same way as it did, but more on that in a moment. We have to consider the death of Rhaegal. Not only was this moment stupid beyond belief. Not only were the 3 shots, over miles and miles of distance, while Rhaegal is on the move, all without being seen, and simply being explained with “Dany kind of forgot about the Iron Fleet…” But this move was entirely for the shock-factor and nothing more.

Rhaegal needs to survive in order for the rest of my changes to make sense. Jon and Dany would be riding the dragons together at this moment (as they are madly in love), and they would see the Iron Fleet (because they are fucking miles in the air and away from a large squad of very noticeable ships) and would try to attack. The threat of the scorpions would be too high, and Jon and Dany would realise that they can’t attack the fleet with the dragons, not only because they can’t risk losing the dragons, but because they can’t risk losing each other.

It kills them to do so, but they have to fly away, and can only watch in horror as their ships are then destroyed by the Iron Fleet. Dany and Jon fly down and take as many survivors away before the Iron Fleet catches them, including Tyrion, but many get captured (including Messandei).

This could happen in a number of slightly different ways, the important part being that Tyrion and Rhaegal survive, while Messandei is captured. Although, I have to say that the whole idea of her being captured and taken back to King’s Landing seemed absolutely moronic and again served no purpose beyond shocking audiences later in a more dramatic way.

Change #6: Mad Queen Set-Up

Game of Thrones Mad Queen

image via Inverse

Towards the end of episode 4, when Dany and Tyrion stand before Cersei to discuss her surrender, Jon would be there as well. They’d be standing much further back than they were in the episode. Rather than only Missandei being held by Cersei, there would be a number of prisoners (perhaps including Varys, but that would depend on the later changes), all lined up for execution. Again, I feel that this scene is moronic, but when you only have 6 episodes to reach a specific plot point, you have to work with what you’ve got. Tyrion, realising that Dany is breaking at the sight of seeing one of her few remaining friends being prepared for execution, pleads to Cersei.

Tyrion has two motivations: 1) He wants to help Dany by saving Missandei. He views it as his duty as hand to the queen, but he also loves her (maybe as a friend, maybe more) and wants to do whatever he can to end her suffering and make her happy. 2) He knows what will happen if Dany is pushed to the edge. He’s seen her snap, he’s seen the flames in her eyes when things don’t go according to plan (such as her burning fleets, the convoy from High Garden, and Randall Tarly). He wants to save the innocent people of King’s Landing, but he also wants to save Dany from becoming a monster.

It’s important to note that in ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ (S7E7) when Cersei agrees to Tyrion’s terms and lets him live, it isn’t out of some hidden affection, love, or respect for him, it’s because it’s a necessary step in her plan. She wants him to suffer and she wants everyone he is with to die, but the only way she can save herself and King’s Landing from experiencing the Mad Queen right then and there, is to make him believe that she’ll send troops north.

This isn’t the case anymore, and so Cersei (who has tried to kill Tyrion in the past and has made her desire to kill him clear many times) has no reason not to kill him now. Most of Dany and Jon’s forces are still marching down from Winterfell at that point, so forcing them to attack now would offer a strategic advantage to Cersei. So, Cersei kills the prisoners (including Missandei) and as Tyrion starts to realise that he’s in danger and begins his journey back to his own forces, Cersei turns the scorpions on him and kills him, beginning to fire in the direction of Dany, Jon, the dragons, and their forces.

Change #7: Character Changes

Game of Thrones Jaime Brienne

image via TV Line

This change actually takes place on either side of #6 and #7. I wouldn’t have Jaime hook-up with Brienne, since she’d be dead. But as he suffers her loss, he would begin to continue along towards the end of his character arc. Jaime has come a long way, and it’s only recently (starting with destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor and ending with Cersei’s lie about sending troops north) that he’s began to accept that his love for her has allowed him to turn a blind eye to both their immoral actions. He’s already snuck into King’s Landing at this point and is making his way to Cersei.

The importance of the relationship between Dany and Jon would become apparent in the next change. In the real version of events, there is a gap where Dany returns to Dragonstone to sulk after Missandei dies, and then returns to King’s Landing. She goes from Mad Queen, to depressed, to Mad Queen again. One of my changes would have her get angry and thirsty for revenge immediately. Jon would now be the only person left to keep Dany from becoming the Mad Queen. Episode 4 would end much in the same way it did, but episode 5 would start exactly where the previous one left off: with fire in Dany’s eyes and revenge on her mind.

Change #8: The Mad Queen

Game of Thrones King's Landing

image via Refinery29

With no other choice, Jon follows Dany (on Rhaegal) as she begins to wipe out the scorpions that are on the walls. They blast open an entrance to King’s Landing, in order for Dany’s remaining forces to enter. Working together, they destroy much of the Iron Fleet. As Jon goes to kill Euron, Rhaegal is killed and Jon flung from him, landing in the sea. Dany only sees this at the last moment and believes that Jon has been killed. In a fit of rage and without thought, she swoops down and kills Euron, who accepts his death, laughing hysterically as Dany swoops down to incinerate him.

With the small army of remaining Unsullied and Dothraki left, and with a gap in the wall having been blown open, the Golden Company begin their defence and are succeeding in defeating the attacking forces. Dany begins wiping out the defence, including much of the Golden Company, but she doesn’t know where Cersei is. Her rage is growing and she’s losing control. She begins just burning the place down, believing that the love of her life, one of the few people left in this world who she loves and trusts, has died. With most of her army gone and the loss of her dragon and Jon, she knows that no risk can be taken, so she burns everything, getting revenge on those who have brought her so much pain but also securing her victory, as she knows this is the one and only chance she’ll get.

Change #9: Arya and Jaime

Game of Thrones Aerys II

image via Nerdist

In the midst of all of this, we have a few other characters whose role we need to consider. Arya and the Hound were on their way to kill Cersei, and with Cleganebowl in full hype, I think we need a way for Arya to cross people off her list. Yes, having the Hound kill the Mountain with fire in order to symbolise the fact that his hatred for his brother is more powerful than the fear of fire that his brother created makes sense and is a satisfying conclusion.

Instead though, I would have the Hound say goodbye to Arya as he leaves to take his brother on alone. We see her following him, unwilling to let him die. With all the falling debris, the Mountain would have an advantage and would be ready to kill the Hound. Arya would block the killing strike and would finish the Mountain off herself. With the Hound dying and the building caving in, he asks Arya to kill him. She doesn’t want to but realises that it’s mercy. So, she is able to cross both names off her list (not that she says as much for the Hound given that he was no longer on her list).

Next is Jaime, who has found Cersei, having entered the city much in the same way he did already in the show). The thing is, we know that Cersei has to die, but what would she do that would force Jaime to take such action? That’s possibly the only benefit of having them be crushed by rubble. My first thought is the approaching Mad Queen. With Jaime having witnessed people being burned alive by the dragons already, he knows that Cersei is going to die one way or another, and so he chooses mercy over suffering, knowing that Cersei isn’t going to surrender. You could have Dany nearing, perhaps even having spotted Cersei, and so Jaime has mere moments to act.

Another option would be some sort of “fail-safe” which would kill even more people than Dany already has. After all, we saw explosions of Wild Fire during Dany’s attack on King’s Landing in episode 5. Some have suggested that this was simply leftover Wild Fire from Aerys II’s “Burn them all!” moment, but what if it was actually another plan of Cersei’s? We know that she had some leftover from destryoing the Sept of Baelor, so what if she opened the gates not just to use innocent people as a human shield, but to allow Dany’s forces to enter and be melted by Wild Fire? As such, Jaime’s arc comes to a complete end. It starts with him killing the Mad King and ends with him killing one of the Mad Queens (Cersei). Jaime had changed so much as a person, and him standing up to Cersei at the end of season 7 was an important turn for his character. Having him return to that because “he loves Cersei” and having Dany killing everyone because “she’s a Targaryen” are just awful reasons for characters to do something.

One thing we would NOT have is Tyrion plotting against Dany and the others in order to save Cersei’s life, because he would already be dead by this point. Not to mention that that was one of the most illogical and out of character moments in the whole show.

The Iron Throne

For Cersei and Jaime, I would have Cersei refusing to give up the Iron Throne. This would still tie into what I mentioned earlier about Jaime having to kill her. He would do so in the same manner he killed the Mad King, and she would sit on the Iron Throne, dying there before Dany could reach her.

When Dany does get there, she uses Drogon to burn Cersei which in turn melts the Iron Throne. This would be symbolic in a number of ways, but would also be a good way to “break the wheel” by breaking the throne. Nobody would sit on the Iron Thron (at least not literally) ever again.

 

Change #10: Jon, Dany, and the Night King

Game of Thrones Jon Snow

image via Mashable

The episode ends with Jon climbing out of the water, the city in ruins and in flames. Men, women, and children are all screaming. Dany can’t believe he’s alive, but she’s already lost a part of herself, and in destroying King’s Landing, has destroyed the person she once was. As her cruelty continues, driven by the fear of losing the throne, Jon would have no choice but to kill her. Jon would become King, abducating immedietly to leave it in the hands of someone he trusts to do a good job. The south isn’t for him, it never has been. His home is in the north.

At this point, if there was another season to go, I’d have Jon head north with the wildlings, possibly even with Drogon. Game of Thrones resonates with something that Mark Twain once said:

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes!”

We got little to no information about the White Walkers and the Night King. We only saw the Lands of Forever Winter (or whatever they are called) once in a tiny moment showing what happens to Craster’s inbred sons. I would have Jon and some of his closest allies head all the way north in search of a new home, where they would make a shocking discovery, one that would set things in motion so that 5,000-10,000 years in the future, the world will face another threat. This keeps the cycle going.

What if the Night King and his army were motivated not by some random-ass motivation of killing everyone and making Westeros suffer an endless winter, but by the threat of Dany and her dragons? The Night King wasn’t evil, but rather a balancing force that was necessary to defeat an equally as destructive power?


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Let me know down below! 

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If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

A Justification for the Criminalization of Tobacco!

Don’t let the title fool you, I’m actually a supporter of drug legalization. However, the hypocrisy in this country has to be called out. As misguided as many may view my opinion as being, I’m of the belief that as adults, we should have the right to choose what we do or don’t put into our bodies. If it were up to me, all soft-drugs would be legalized or at the very least decriminalized. We live in a world where it’s acceptable to eat, drink, and smoke yourself to death, provided you do so on the legal, taxable substances. Make no mistake: the most dangerous thing about soft-drugs is getting caught with them. Taking the government view on these matters into consideration, I’m going to explore the legality of certain substances in order to truly highlight the blatant hypocrisy and to demonstrate that public safety is not the government’s concern.

Understanding the Law

Tobacco UK

image via Wikimedia

I’m from the UK, and so I’ll be composing this argument with the UK government in mind. Depending on the information and research available, I will occasionally focus on specific countries within the UK, mostly Scotland and England. It speaks volumes that we have to travel all the way back to 1971 in order to view the law controlling drugs in the UK.

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) serves to classify illegal substances into one of three categories, known as the ABC system. ‘A’ represents the most harmful drugs and ‘C’ represents the least harmful (as far as illegal drugs are concerned). ‘B’ represents some form of arbitrary middle ground. Unlike many other countries, the UK does not attempt to clearly define the “entry requirements” for each class in the ABC system. As the parliamentary website states:

“The Misuse of Drugs Act did not specify why particular drugs were placed in Class A, B or C but did create an Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to keep the classification of drugs under review.”

Cannabis has an interesting history within the UK’s ABC system. Originally a class B, it was reclassified as class C in 2004. However, it was moved back to class B in 2008 as a result of stronger strains becoming available and the potential connection this had to mental health issues. Yet around 7.2% of adults (between 16 and 59) have used the drug, which is around 2.4 million people.

Soft Drugs vs Hard Drugs

Tobacco UK

image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned, the UK does not divide its illegal substances into categories based upon the addictive qualities and overall harm of the drugs. This distinction leads to terms such as ‘soft drugs’ and ‘hard drugs’. These are incredibly vague and don’t have a set definition, which can confuse matters. Typically, ‘soft drugs’ is used to “describe drugs like cannabis or LSD which cannot result in physical dependency.” While the term ‘hard drug’ “usually refers to drugs that are seen to be more dangerous and more likely to cause dependency such as heroin and crack cocaine…”

So, why am I mentioning the terms at all? Despite the definitions being somewhat open, there is certainly a clear distinction between the two. One group can be used in moderation without negatively impacting the induvial or society to any great extent, the other, not so much. You don’t have to have seen Trainspotting to know that weed and psilocybin don’t really compete with the harm of heroin.

My argument is formed around this simple point of view: when we explore the reasons why certain drugs are illegal (soft drugs such as marijuana, psilocybin mushroom, and DMT) and legal (such as alcohol and tobacco) we find that the justifications for each are flimsy, at best. If safety is the government’s main cause for concern, surely that must mean that alcohol and tobacco are safe to use, right?

Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via World IP Review

The UK’s history with tobacco is a little strange. Having arrived in England in 1565, tobacco didn’t seem to take with the British public. King James I spoke out publicly on the matter, describing tobacco as:

“…loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain [and] dangerous to the lungs.”

However, it soon followed the common path that most drugs take: it became a medicine. During the plague, it was believed that tobacco smoke could protect people from “disease miasmas” (a poisonous vapour carrying disease that could be detected by its bad smell) (somewhat ironic). The connections between slavery and tobacco imports are widely known, and this was a major issue until machines took over in the late 1800s.

Anti-smoking campaigners were largely regarded as “eccentrics” and yet they are primarily responsible for the introduction of a clause in the Children’s Act in 1908 which made the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 16 illegal.

Despite a connection between ill-health and smoking being widely known, the supposed stress-relief provided by tobacco came with “health benefits” that would serve as a major selling point. Sound familiar? Only recently have the supposed health benefits of “a glass of wine a day” been shown to be inaccurate from a scientific standpoint.

In the 1950s, the first reports linking smoking to the formation of lung cancer were released. The government, very aware of the economic domino effect that would follow a decline in smoking, didn’t speak out on the matter until the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that cigarette packaging included a health warning. In the 1980s, the risk associated with public smoking was raised, but again, it took until 2007 for the government to ban smoking in enclosed public places. It wasn’t until this same year that the government raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 18.

Is Smoking Harmful?

Tobacco UK

image via BBC

According to the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that 15.1% of adults in the UK smoke cigarettes as of 2017. This number varies slightly between sources as Cancer Research suggests that around 19% of UK adults smoke. This would be around 9.4 million people (which is nearly double the entire population of Scotland). They also suggest that smoking is the “largest cause of cancer” in the UK, with it being responsible for around 15% of cancer victims. It’s also worth noting that the same website reports the significantly higher prevalence of smoking within poorer areas.

We can delve into these figures a little more. For example, we can consider the hospital admissions related to smoking. According to NHS England figures, in 2016/17 there was estimated to be 484,700 admissions attributable to smoking, which is around 4% of ALL hospital admissions.

The above graph is also from the NHS England website. As you can see, adults who had never smoked were more likely to report feeling healthier than those who were ex-smokers or current smokers.42% of non-smokers described themselves as being in ‘very good health’ compared to 26% of current-smokers. 11% of current-smokers described themselves as feeling in ‘bad or very bad health’ compared to only 5% of those who have never smoked.

It’s important for people to realise that tobacco carries a mental health impact as well. You’ll often hear discussions about other drugs and how they cause mental illness (such as marijuana), and yet the same types of studies show the exact same thing for tobacco consumption. More in-depth research paints a fuller picture of the impact of smoking on neurological processes being akin to that the government/media claim is the case for marijuana consumption.

Death by Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via TidatBase

Given that we’ve explored the general health implications tobacco quite clearly has, does it cause death? Of course it does! Throughout the UK, there is alarming number of preventable deaths each year as a result of smoking. In Scotland, the number is 10,000 (one fifth of all deaths), in Wales the number is 5,500, in Northern Ireland its 2,300, and in England it’s a staggering 78,000 death. Every year in the UK, 95,800 people are dying from a drug that the government deems safe enough to be legal.

When it comes to passive smoking, which is arguably more horrifying given that nobody chooses to be a passive smoker, we find some pretty similar results. Research suggests that around 11,000 deaths in the UK each year are the result of passive smoke inhalation, with 20% of these being from smoking at the workplace and 80% being from home.

The impact of passive smoking is most noticeable in children, who rarely have a choice as to whether or not to be in the vicinity of smokers. Cancer Research suggests that there is overwhelming evidence to support that idea that second-hand smoke can lead to lung cancer (among other types), heart disease, strokes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and more. Children who live in a household where at least 1 person smokes are more likely to develop asthma, chest infections, meningitis, ear infections, and coughs and colds.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Tobacco UK

image via OPTO

One shocking statistic relates to pregnant women. According to NHS England, 10.8% of mothers were smoking at the time of delivery. Why does this matter? During pregnancy, it isn’t just the health of the mother that is a cause for concern. Research suggests that smoking during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on the child’s neurodevelopment. It has been suggested that this is a result of the carbon monoxide contained in tobacco smoke which limits the oxygen available for the baby’s brain. Smoking during pregnancy can also result in tissue damage which could include lung or brain development issue, or the development of a cleft lip.

Even pregnant women who simply inhale smoke passively (as well as those who smoke directly, obviously) are likely to give birth to a child with weaker lungs, which leads to a major increase in potential health problems in later life.

The negative health impact that smoking has isn’t limited to the development of the child though. When a mother smokes, she is more likely to enter premature labour. Given that the leading cause of death, disability, and disease among new-borns, is preterm birth, this is a huge cause for concern. This issue includes passive smokers. Mothers who smoke (either directly or passively) are more likely to give birth to a low-weight child, which typically has long-term health implications.

Even if the labour and birth seem to go smoothly, babies whose mother smoked during pregnancy or who smoke near the baby after birth are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This goes above and beyond choosing to consume a drug. This is quite clearly an epidemic that is impacting the lives of those who haven’t even been born yet! What say do they get in the matter?

Cost

Tobacco UK

image via Wallpaper Up

Since we’ve already established that widespread death and disease hasn’t been enough of an incentive to outright ban tobacco smoking, perhaps money is a better approach. The problem we have here is that the tobacco industry contributes around £12 billion in tax each year which is arguably the main reason that the government would never consider making the substance illegal. But how much does it cost?

Smoking costs NHS Scotland (a public body that gets its funding from the government) as much as £300 million each year, which in the face of £12 billion is barely a drop of water in the ocean. In England, this figure is as high as £2 billion though, which certainly begins to raise the cost.

There are other costs to take into consideration that go beyond health. For example, early death due to cigarettes causes an employee’s company to lose manpower, the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts and packaging, putting out fires caused by cigarettes, the loss of time (including in hospitals) of the extra breaks that smokers typically take, not to mention the lost time when people get ill as a result of smoking-related illnesses. When you add up all the costs of smoking, you find that it comes to around £14 billion, according to Policy Exchange.

Addiction

Tobacco UK

image via ECigarette Reviewed

The final point I want to make relates to the addictive nature of tobacco (or more accurately: nicotine). I discussed earlier that the ABC system for drug classification ignores the addictiveness of drugs and instead focuses on a more arbitrary approach based on the opinions of people who aren’t carrying out any significant research on the matter.

Most smokers would like to quit, yet only around 6% of smokers are able to quit each year. On top of that, it takes most smokers multiple attempts to successfully quit, if at all. Cigarettes contain a number of different chemicals that a person can become addicted to, but the main one is a result of the nicotine and its effect on dopamine, which ultimately results in the rewiring of neural pathways until what we consider to be addiction kicks in.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, withdrawal symptoms for nicotine can include:

 “…irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours after the last cigarette, quickly driving people back to tobacco use…withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days of the last cigarette smoked and usually subside within a few weeks. For some people, however, symptoms may persist for months”

When it comes to addiction, it’s difficult to compare one drug to another. One study from the 1990s by Henningfield and Benowitz used a set criterion for determining addiction (which included aspects such as withdrawal, tolerance, dependence, and intoxication) to rank the most addictive drugs. When it comes to withdrawal, nicotine was tied in 3rd place with cocaine, beaten only by heroin (number 2) and alcohol (number 1). Nicotine ranked first for dependence and 2nd for tolerance.

Results from more recent versions of this study support its conclusions. Other sources place nicotine as the 5th most addictive substance on the Earth, behind barbiturates, cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. The New York Times even wrote an article in 1987 about nicotine being harder to quit that heroin.

In Conclusion

Tobacco UK

image via The Truth Revolution

We often hear that you can’t compare one drug to another, which is arguably true as each drug varies from another in a number of ways. Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK which can land you up to 5 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for possession, and up to 14 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for supply/production. Could we compare it to tobacco? In several ways, yes. One causes undeniable mental and physical health issues which leads to thousands upon thousands of deaths every single year (including newborns and children). One costs the government and taxpayer and estimated £14 billion per year, which it doesn’t cover with the £12 billion in returns in tax. And one is legal and readily available in most shops to anyone over the age of 18. The other is cannabis!

The continued outlawing of marijuana and its consumers is largely a result of the government’s failed “war on drugs”. News articles use intimidating and misleading headlines to scare the populous into believing that cannabis causes mental illness (when using correlation as a justification for concluded causation) and yet ignore the far more relevant and blatantly obvious connection between tobacco, mental and physical illness, and ultimately death.

I can see no real justification for the continued legalization of this substance while still outlawing recreation marijuana use. Tobacco is addictive beyond measure, it’s harmful beyond what could ever be justified, and it costs more money to the government and the country than it makes. If life, health, and money are all being neglected for the sake of keeping a harmful substance legal, then what possible precedent could any government have for outlawing other, less harmful substances?


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on the legality of tobacco, particularly when compared to marijuana? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Get your Politics Out of My Movies!

When I’d originally started this post, it was titled ‘Ghostbusters 3 is NOT a Feminist Issue!’ I was simply going to discuss why forcing politics of any kind onto a movie (when the movie itself isn’t political) doesn’t do anyone any favours: fanbase and creators included. However, I rather unfortunately found that one my favourite movie franchises has been invaded by the same political self-righteousness. So, I’ve been forced to tackle the entire reason that politics and movies shouldn’t be forced together. I’m going to start with Ghostbusters 3 and then go on to discuss Captain Marvel and the future of the MCU.

Back to Sequels and Reboots

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Science Fiction

I’m sick to death of having to discuss sequels and reboots. However, with Ghostbuster 3 being announced, I have to revisit the topic. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: Ghostbusters should never have become political. Out of all the movies that have ever been made, why would anyone pick Ghostbusters as the target of anti-male propaganda? I’ve written on this topic rather extensively (unfortunately). So, if you want to know my opinions on the Ghostbusters reboot both before and after its release, then by all means click on the corresponding links. I wouldn’t encourage it though. This topic is already saturated beyond belief.

So, what has sparked me to write, once again, about the political issues surrounding the Ghostbusters franchise? Well, with the release of Ghostbusters 3 being announced, certain individuals feel that the movie carries anti-women sentiments, which is hilarious given how blatantly anti-male publicity was for the reboot. I’m going to summarise the issue before sharing my own view on the matter.

To cut a long story short: Ghostbusters is NOT a feminist issue. It never should have been in the first place, but it certainly isn’t now that we’ve moved away from the disgraceful 2016 reboot.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Forbes

For any of you confused by the Ghostbusters franchise, here is a brief history: In 1984, the first Ghostbusters movie was released. In 1989, a sequel (imaginatively titled “Ghostbusters II) was released. In 2016, some genius decided to reboot the franchise. This reboot takes place in a separate universe from the originals i.e. the events of the original movies didn’t take place within the 2016 movie universe (that will be important in a moment). In 2020, a sequel to the second Ghostbusters movie (1989) will be released, likely starring most of the original cast and following on from the original stories. It’s likely to be a “passing of the torch” movie and will apparently star 2 males and 2 females as the new, young leads.

So, this brings us to Leslie Jones who starred in the 2016 reboot as Patty Tolan. Mrs Jones is apparently outraged and recently tweeted the following:

Ghostbuster-Reboot-Leslie-Jones-Reaction.jpg

For starters, why bring Trump into this? Suddenly, making a sequel (which as I’ve mentioned will have a 50/50 gender split anyway) to a movie about 4 men a “Trump move”? I understand that she’s trying to label the move sexist, but that brings us to our next issue. Why is it a “dick move” to make a sequel but it’s not a dick move to reboot the franchise, switch the gender of every character, and turn the movie into nothing more than a punch in the balls (quite literally, if you’ve seen the reboot)? Surely if anyone made a “dick move” it’s the people behind the all-female reboot, right?

Another aspect of Jones’ Tweet relates to the reboot not counting. She says, “We dint count”. Well, did the original cast not count when you made the 2016 movie? Secondly, the reboot was an absolute flop. You can attribute that to sexist white male misogynists if you like, but the truth of the matter is that the movie lost something like $70 million. Why the fuck would any sane person drag that shit show back for round 2? If you remove yourself from the original franchise, you can’t then be angry when the original franchise continues without you.

Ultimately…

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

What this all boils down to is nonsensical political outrage. These days, people will grasp hold of anything that allows them to feel and share outrage, at anyone, anything, or anywhere. It is a trend that is spreading like wildfire.

When researching aspects of this post, I ended up on the most weighted ScreenRant article ever, which opened with: “Ghostbusters: “Leslie Jones Is (Understandably) Mad There’s a New Reboot”, before going on to state “However, the 2016 reboot was plagued all through its production and marketing by certain folks who weren’t happy with a Ghostbusters movie starring all women.”

This sort of writing annoys me because the hate towards the reboot was NOT because it was an all-female cast. That was an aspect, a very minor aspect, but it wasn’t the fact that the cast was female, it was the fact that A) The movie was anti-male, B) The movie claimed to be some sort of feminist breakthrough and marketed itself as such, and C) Even from the trailers, it was clear that the movie was not going to do the originals justice. I can’t say this enough but Annihilation is one of my favourite movies to have come out in the last few years and it has an all-female cast. Yet people like Leslie Jones and others never raise that example when holding white men responsible for their piece of shit movies flopping!

Ghostbusters 3

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Geek Tyrant

When it comes to Ghostbusters 3, what are my thoughts? Well, I think it’s a mistake. But I think it’s a better idea that a reboot. Why? When it comes to reboots, particularly when handled like Ghostbusters, you essentially scrap the original story and replace it with a modern take. People don’t like to watch their favourite movies being recycled to suit a modern audience. Having recently re-watched the original Ghostbusters, Bill Murray portrays an incredibly sexist and inappropriate Dr Venkman. Men don’t watch that nowadays and think to themselves “ahhhh, so THAT’S how you get the woman!” Regardless, if you released a movie that glorified and laughed at such behaviour nowadays, it would be slated by certain groups.

Sequels can encounter a similar problem, but this usually relates to continuity. If you look at Star Wars or Jurassic World, the biggest issues they faced involved remaining true to the original movies. Another example would be Jumanji. Welcome to the Jungle is sort of a sequel and a reboot, but it manages to make the movie different enough that you don’t really compare it to the original, but it isn’t so different that you don’t feel a connection between the two.

I’d love to see the original Ghostbusters cast back on the big-screen, but unless the can find the right balance between the original and modern-day movies, then it’s going to fail.

Captain Marvel and Brie Larson

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Adventures in Poor Taste

Sadly, this bring me to Marvel. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll find that I’ve written about Marvel more than anything else. I love discussing my hopes and concerns, my theories, and many other topics.

Prior to the release of the Captain Marvel trailer, I wasn’t that excited for the movie. Not because it’s a female character, not because I’m a sexist, misogynistic, pro-Trump, anti-LGBT demon, but simply because I don’t know the character. I wasn’t excited for many other MCU movies and ended up loving them e.g. Winter Soldier and Black Panther. Similarly, I was excited for other MCU movies and ended up having my expectations crushed e.g. Doctor Strange and Age of Ultron.

However, when the trailer was released, I found myself feeling more excited. The Skrull concept and being able to see a young Nick Fury in action seemed compelling. Not to mention that I’ve enjoyed Brie Larson in other movies, so I’ve always looked forward to seeing her performance within the MCU, even if I wasn’t all that excited about the movie itself.

Fuck the Fans!

Ghostbusters and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

Fuck…I can’t even bring myself to write about this nonsense. So, Brie Larson made a speech at the Crystal + Lucy Awards. To sum it up: “if you’re a white male and like Marvel movies but don’t enjoy Captain Marvel, then fuck you!” Larson displayed a complete lack of understanding for how the world works. Apparently, the fact that 60% of movie reviewers are white males is evidence of the patriarchy controlling and manipulating female-led films to fail. Larson’s solution? Equality of outcome: she wants to force non-white movie reviewers into the review role, along with more white females, in order to balance things out.

This, of course, ignores the fact that ANYONE can review movies. Want to write a blog about movies? WordPress is free and easy to use. I happen to write reviews for my own blog and MovieBabble, a movie review site that takes on anyone who loves to write about movies. ANYONE can start a YouTube account and review movies, it’s free and easy to do. ANYONE can review on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are frequently referenced by people such as Mindy Kailing, Brie Larson, and others.

I’m not sure what percentage of MCU fans are white males, but I’d imagine that it’s a majority or at least close to it. According to one website, a survey carried out in 2018 found that males make up the majority of MCU viewers within the US. Now, it’s one thing to call out to fans of different demographics. If Larson has said “we need more women in these roles” or “we need more women to watch these movies” then there wouldn’t be an issue but saying that white male critics can essentially go fuck themselves, just alienates a large percentage of MCU fans who have enjoyed the franchise for A FUCKING DECADE prior to Larson’s appearance.

Is it really any surprise that the projected box office figures for Captain Marvel have already by dropped below 50% since the initial projections? People don’t want their favourite franchises (i.e. the MCU) being combined with the individual political ideological ramblings of one ill-informed individual (i.e. Brie Larson).

There is always a backlash to stuff like this, and we’re seeing it with Captain Marvel. According to Complex, “Misogynists Swarming ‘Captain Marvel’ on Rotten Tomatoes Weeks Before Release”. Of course, as is usually the case with instances such as this, they are ignoring the real issue. This has NOTHING to do with the fact that Captain Marvel is a female. It has EVERYTHING to do with Brie Larson launching an attack against fans.

Black Panther

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Marvel

There is a right way to bring politics into a movie, and it isn’t by alienating other demographics. Let’s consider Black Panther. This is a movie that had an almost entirely black cast, and as such it was hailed as being a step in the right direction for the representation of minorities within Hollywood movies.

On the run up to its release, I didn’t once see Chadwick Boseman or Michael B. Jordan stepping up to a mic to say “listen, if this film doesn’t do well, then it’s white people who are to blame”. The movie itself even tackled race issues within the world, but it did so in a manner that wasn’t just sticking a middle finger up at other groups and actually made sense within the movie’s storyline.

I’m not petty enough to not see a movie based on the actions of one member of the cast, but I’d imagine that there are people out there who are. Larson is a classic example of a social justice hypocrite. Does Larson really believe that decade-long fans of the MCU are going to hate a movie purely because the lead is a strong female character? The only reason I will hate Captain Marvel, is if it’s a shit movie. If it IS a shit movie, I’m still going to watch Endgame and Far From Home and other MCU movies!

My MCU Prediction

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

I’m almost done ranting, but I just want to touch on one issue that I can see happening over the next few years. Endgame, which will be the movie to follow Captain Marvel, marks the end of the road for many character arcs. Tony Stark, Iron-Man, Thor, and others may not die, but they won’t be returning in the same capacity after this movie. Here lies my worry: Fans have spent 10 years following these characters: we’ve watched them evolve, face increasingly-difficult challenges, and we’ll see them leave. For many, Endgame will mark the end of a story rather than the end of a chapter.

How will the MCU group the remaining heroes together? Will there be an Avengers 5? In my opinion, Endgame should be the last Avengers movie. Let’s face it, the Guardians won’t be returning for a 5th Avengers movie. So, the next group movie should be different, and it should be new, otherwise, people will get very bored very fast! We can’t just see all available MCU heroes regroup every 3 years, particularly when the MVPs will be gone. Why is this a problem?

Well, as we’ve seen with Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, the wage gap, and other such movies/ideas, people have a tendency to focus on a connection while ignoring all other factors. You didn’t like Ghostbusters? Well, you must be a female-hating Trump supporter because there’s NO way you just didn’t like the shitty reboot and its horrifically matched cast and slanted political agenda!

When we say goodbye to Tony Stark, Thor, Loki, Steve Rodgers, Bucky, and maybe more (or maybe less, I’m not sure how many actors will step down after Endgame), the viewings of MCU movies is undoubtedly going to take a knock. My worry is that people will blame this on women-hating racists, rather than exploring the real reasons. Then, the MCU will become more politicized and ultimately destroyed.

In Summary

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Stream Play TV

In my opinion, there shouldn’t have been a Ghostbusters reboot in the first place! I’m all for a sequel, provided it isn’t just a reboot disguised as a sequel, but rebooting any classic typically fails to do it justice. Look at Jumanji: the reboot/sequel was entertaining, but it just wasn’t the same as the original. Too many things change over the course of several decades and so its impossible to capture the original movies. For example, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and of course Ghostbusters.

Global politics have changed, societal attitudes and perceptions have changed, actors have died, and a million other variables can be considered as to why making a reboot/sequel to classic movies a couple of decades after the originals will never work. Do you think a Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Fight Club would succeed if rebooted within the next couple of decades? These aren’t even good examples and they still don’t work!

When it comes to movies that are changing within our modern society, we have to remember that people aren’t watching these movies to support a political agenda. I watch Marvel movies because I love the characters and losing myself in a universe where people with superpowers exist is entertaining. I don’t watch the movies because I want to support Brie Larson’s incoherent babblings!


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts? Is Brie Larson forcing her political views into the MCU? Is it unreasonable to do a Ghostbusters 3? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

 

Atlantis: Myth, History, or Both?

Atlantis: myth or history? Growing up, I believed that Atlantis was entirely mythological and held no place in history. As a child, I loved the Disney movie ‘Atlantis’ which explored the Ancient City with its advanced knowledge and wisdom that was lost after a disaster. As it happens, I seem to have been drawn to this idea of an advanced civilisation that was lost, either to a natural or man-made disaster. Assassin’s Creed would be one example of such a storyline. Graham Hancock’s work would be an example of something more academic.

But today I’m going to explore the idea that Atlantis not only existed, but its footprint can still be seen today. Whenever I’m drawing from someone else’s research, I will provide a link to the source.

What is Atlantis?

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Science Rumors

It’s possible, all be it unlikely, that you haven’t even heard of Atlantis. The origins from the story of the Ancient City are often traced back to Plato’s dialogues: ‘Timaeus and Critias’, which were published around 360BCE.

“Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent…”

“…Fifty stadia (6 miles/9km) from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides…the central island itself was five stadia in diameter (0.57miles/0.92km).”

“But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.”

Solon and Egypt

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via The Famous People

It is possible that Atlantis is entirely fictional, meant only as an allegory for the stories of Plato. In Timaeus, a few passages stand out as being relevant to what I’m going to discuss:

“…if Solon had only…completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt…”

“I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us.”

“And whatever happened…they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.” (1)

Arguably, this is simply a part of the narrative that Plato was creating, but we must consider Solon if we are to explore the origins of the Atlantis legend further. Solon was an Athenian statesman and poet who was born in 636BCE and died in 558BCE. According to Herodotus (484BCE-425BCE), a historian, Solon travelled to Egypt (2). As we’ll soon see, this journey fits in with Plato’s tales.

It is said that during his time in Egypt, he visited with Pharaohs and priests, learning their history and philosophy. According to Plutarch, who was a much later biographer/historian, Solon visited with two priests in particular: Sonchis of Sais and Psenophis of Heliopolis (3). Seis is an Ancient Egyptian town that no longer exists, with very little trace remaining. Why is it important?

Seis, Egypt

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Jean CLaude Golvin

The Goddess of Seis was Neith. There is a connection here that I am willing to chalk up to coincidence, however, I still find it interesting. The Goddess Neith was believed to appear in many forms, but one of her most common non-human depictions is as a cow, connecting her to Hathor or Mehet Weret whose name literally means “Great Flood” (4). The importance of a flood within the story of Atlantis will become clear later.

The worship of Neith dates as far back as the Pre-Dynastic Period of Egypt (6000-3150BCE) and it is said that Sais was the ancient birthplace of the cult of Neith which allegedly dates back as far as the First Dynasty of Egypt (3100-3050), with Sais being officially formed in around 3000BCE (5).

Interestingly, Diodorus, Plato, and Herodotus all compared the Goddess Neith to Athena. Diodorus even connected Sais to Athena in another way: stating that while all Greek cities were destroyed during a great flood, Egyptian cities such as Sais survived.

Unfortunately, no traces of the town’s ancient routes from before 1100BCE have survived. This is due to the farmers recycling materials: anything that wasn’t currently serving a function was demolished and used.

Back to Atlantis

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Ancient Patriarchs

So, now that we have an idea of the origins of Atlantis, we can get back on track to exploring whether it exists. Plato stated that Atlantis existed 9,000 years before his time, so about 11,500 years before now. This just so happens to put Atlantis and its potential destruction at the end of the last Ice Age, which ended very rapidly and led to global flooding, possibly due to the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.

This hypothesis proposes that one or several asteroids impacted or burst within the Earth’s atmosphere between 12,500 and 11,500 years ago. The idea was dismissed due to the lack of an impact crater, something that has only recently been discovered under the ice of Greenland.

Atlantis translates from Ancient Greek as ‘island of Atlas’, referring of course to the God of the same name. The Ancient Greeks believed that Atlas had been condemned by Zeus to stand at the Western edge of the world (6).

Why is this relevant? Well, we must consider what the edge of the world was to the Ancient Greeks. I’m going to be referencing several maps throughout this article, the first of which is by Herodotus. First, let’s recall a passage from Timaeus:
“…and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles…”

b9ba39fc182a170ccffbd0594164ec89

image via Pinterest

As you can see on this map, the Atlas Mountains (M. Atlas) stretch across Northwest Africa. This map is from 450BCE and represents the known world according to Herodotus. You will see that just below the Pillars of Heracles (between Spain and Africa) are the Atlas Mountains, and below that sits ‘Atlantes’.

This could reference the name for the top part of the river, but as this is the Nile (named Nilus on this map), it could also be the name of the area or people, much in the same way that ‘Garamantes’ is used on this map to describe a “very great nation”.

Just to demonstrate the timeline here: Solon visited Egypt prior to 558BCE, this map was created in 450BCE, and Plato didn’t publish any mention of Atlantis until 360BCE.

Exploring Maps

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Ordnance Survey

The location of Atlantes/Atlantis, as described by Herodotus on his map, is important when we consider maps that appear much later in time. There are two in particular that I’d like to explore: The World Map by al-Idrisi (1154CE) and The Piri Reis map (1513CE).

The map created by Muhammad al-Idrisi (sometimes spelt as al-Edrisi), known as the ‘Tabula Rogeriana’, is considered the most accurate map of the world to have existed within medieval times (7). Al-Idrisi compiled a collection of maps from those brought by Norman voyagers, as well as those held in Sicily, in order to create his version.

tabularogeriana_upside-down

image via Alrahalah

Above is a picture of the full map, but below is a zoomed in aspect with a rather bizarre detail. Keep in mind that Herodotus described Atlantes as being south of the Atlas Mountains.

capture2

image via Alrahalah

Another interesting map was made much later, in 1513. Similarly to the al-Idrisi map, the Piri Reis map was created using a number of other maps, somewhere between 20 and 34. He used Ptolemaic maps, the Arabic map, 4 maps from Portugal, and even the map created by Christopher Columbus. It’s also believed that Piri Reis used maps that had been moved to Constantinople from the Library of Alexandria centuries earlier. These ancient maps have led many to believe that Antarctica had been explored long before originally believed.

pirireis

image via Ancient Origins

As you can see, this map shows parts of Europe, Africa, and South America, as well as Antarctica. The general accuracy of these maps has been confirmed in the modern day. If we zoom in, we can find one area of great interest: you’ll notice it circle in red. A city surrounded by water.

InkedPiri_reis_world_map-e1379556898352_LI.jpg

image via Ancient Origins

Eye of the Sahara

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Intrepid Travel

So, what does all this mean? Well, it suggests the location of Atlantis and explores the origins of the legend, offering a possible explanation for why it hasn’t been discovered: it has long since been destroyed. As such, it would appear on earlier maps (such as those used by al-Idrisi and Piri Reis), either as a ruin or possible even a city that was rebuilt on the ruins of what was once Atlantis.

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Google Maps

So here you can see the same rough area that I’ve pointed to on the other maps. I’ve just taken screenshots from Google Maps and so I can only apologise for the unprofessional appearance of these. If we switch to the satellite view, you will get a better idea of what I’m talking about and why I’m referencing Google Maps.

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Google Maps

If you look from the upper right corner of the image, through Mauritania, and down to Noukchott, you can see that the sand appears to have been swept away, almost as if a large body of water was either permanently or temporarily flowing over the land. However, there is another detail here that is of much higher importance: notice the circular disk just above the ‘Ma’ in ‘Mauritania’?

Let’s take a closer look!

capture5

image via Google Maps

The Richat Structure

The Richat Structure, which also goes by the name ‘Eye of the Sahara’, Eye of Africa’, and ‘Guelb er Richát’, is described as a geological formation that has existed since before the emergence of homo sapiens. The structure is essentially on a dome of magma which is causing it to be pushed upwards in a similar manner to what is currently happening with Antarctica.

So far, no major archaeological digs have taken place in or around the structure, but some smaller digs have unearthed many Acheulean artefacts. This is the term given to the manufacture of stone tools by a typically non-homosapien species such as homo erectus. There have also been fish skeletons and even whale bones discovered, which means that water flowed over this area recently enough for these remains to not have fossilized.

However, while searching around the area on Google Maps, I did notice something. This was already mentioned by BrightInsight, whose videos on this topic are deeply informative (he connected almost all of these dots), but I happened to stumble across it thanks to somebody marking it as “unknown structure”.

capture6

image via Google Maps

I can only imagine (without any knowledge of archaeology) that this structure is modern, certainly within the last 1,000 years. But I’m not basing that on anything. So, if this is the location of Atlantis then why aren’t there more buildings or structures? If we assume that Atlantis was washed away by a flood or destroyed by an earthquake, these are only minor details when compared to the fact that it would have existed 11,500 years ago.

To put it in perspective, if humanity died out today, it is estimated that the Hoover Dam would be one of the longest lasting structures. Estimates put its lifespan at around 10,000 years (although its turbines would stop after just two years) (8). But how long would it last if an earthquake brought the structure to the ground or an immense flood caused it to crumble?

It’s likely that given the various levels within the Richat structure, that it would have formed natural rings of water and land. This could easily have been adapted to become a city for a civilisation.

In Summary

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Letter Box D

So, do I believe that Atlantis was in this location? Did it exist at all? Frustratingly, we’ll probably never know. I think that the body of evidence that suggests that early humans are not exactly how we once believed them to be is expanding every day. We’re learning more about our past and one day we might have a much clearer idea.

For now, I think that it’s certainly something interesting and fun to consider and explore. I think that the worst thing we can do, is turn down an idea before exploring it simply because we’ve been led to believe that the notion is ridiculous. Was Atlantis a civilisaiton that powered flying vehicles with crystals like in the Disney movie? I highly doubt it! Does that mean we should rule out its existence entirely? Absolutely not!

Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense if Atlantis was an advanced civilisation of some description that allowed smart minds to grow and prosper? After all, the Ancient Egyptians seemed to have access to some sort of technology that we don’t fully understand. The Pyramids of Giza certainly weren’t tombs and we don’t even know exactly when they and the Sphinx were built. Maybe a group of survivors of the Great Flood passed this information and knowledge on, leading to some of the flood myths that exist around the world, varying from culture to culture.


Thanks for reading! Do you believe that Atlantis could have existed? Could it have been in Africa all along? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!


1) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html
2) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D30
3) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Solon*.html
4) https://www.ancient.eu/Neith/
5) https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/pharaonic-royal-city-sais-leaves-few-clues-researchers-002352
6) https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/gods/atlas/
7) https://archive.org/stream/historyofmoorish03scotuoft#page/461/mode/1up
8) https://delzottoproducts.com/2017/03/15/long-will-take-concrete-hoover-dam-cure/

My Hopes (and Concerns) for 2019’s MCU Movies!

With the bog-standard triple threat of MCU movies coming out this year, there is a lot to look forward to…which also means there is a lot to be concerned about. In just a few months, Captain Marvel will hit theatres, followed swiftly by Endgame, and finally: Far From Home. With the end of a 10-year story on the brink of ending, what are my thoughts on the run-up to these movies being released? Let’s take a look!

Captain Marvel

Marvel 2019

image via Geek Tyrant

With Captain Marvel due to hit theatres shortly before Endgame, I have many hopes and concerns towards Marvel’s next release. Surprisingly, my concerns aren’t so much with Captain Marvel herself but rather with Nick Fury. I mentioned in another article that Captain Marvel could be the movie that explains all of Nick Fury’s rather un-Fury-like decisions and actions during the MCU movies that follow this one (chronologically at least). I’m not going to explain it all again but click here if you’d like to read it.

Suffice to say, Winter Soldier painted a picture of a young Fury being ruthless, merciless, and ultimately ready to sacrifice whatever it takes in order to win the Endgame (roll credits…oh wait, wrong movie). I worry that Marvel are instead going to give us this sort of “cool dude” Fury. I guess I’m sort of hoping for more of a Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson role, which I can’t imagine Disney would be in favour of.

I am looking forward to seeing Coulson on the big screen again though. It will be interesting to see the relationship between the two of them in the early days, prior to later interactions. Of course, I want to see Fury losing his eye…pretty grim, I know. Not only that, I want to see him losing his eye entirely because he trusted someone, just like he claimed in Winter Soldier. It could be the case that he trusts someone (maybe even Coulson) only for them to be revealed to be a skroll…but I hope that there is a deeper level of betrayal than that, perhaps a rogue Captain Marvel. There’s always the possibility that they “…I lost an eye” in Winter Soldier was entirely for effect rather than providing backstory.

Endgame

Marvel 2019

image via BGR

Endgame is only a few months away and with trailers most likely misleading us (I don’t think Tony is randomly floating through space on the brink of death), we really have no real idea of what to expect. I am happy that Marvel are revealing very little about the plot because previous movies (Thor: Ragnarok, I’m looking at you) revealed WAY too much information. I’ve already ranted about that aspect of the MCU in the past, so I won’t go into too much detail about it now.

So, what are my hopes and concerns for Endgame? Honestly, I want death…a lot of it, which I know isn’t a likely outcome of this movie. Again, this is something I’ve already gone into, all be it prior to Infinity War. So as much as I’d actually like Hawkeye (definitely him!), Thor, Iron-Man, Black Widow, and Cap to all die (the latter of which is probably going to be Endgame’s only casualty), I am a realist and there’s just no way that Marven (and Disney) are going to take such a Game of Thrones approach.

So, if I can’t get deaths then I at least want sufficient closure on all the original Avengers. We know there is going to be a Black Widow movie which will most likely take place prior to the first Avengers movie but they wouldn’t kill her off in Endgame if there is a prequel movie coming out. I just want all the arcs completely tied up: no loose ends, to the point that never seeing ANY of those characters again on-screen wouldn’t feel odd. Is that too much to ask?

I think, more importantly, we also need a good set-up for the new Avengers. Far From Home apparently follows immediately after the events of Endgame and so there HAS to be some sort of PTSD-style shit going on in Peter Parker’s life, especially if the departed (if you haven’t seen The Leftovers, it’s the name given to the people who vanish) actually remember fading from existence. Similarly, Black Panther is going to need to be given a direction to go in.

Obviously, with rumours and hints towards there being a time-travel element in Endgame, I have my concerns surrounding that as well. Doctor Strange used the time stone in Infinity War, and even though part of me feels like Marvel are trying to misdirect us with the trailer, I think that time travel is the most likely route for bringing the dusted back.

But…will Marvel/Dinsey address any butterfly effect? After all, changing one thing in the past could have major implications for the future. If Cap isn’t frozen in the ice during WW2, he wouldn’t be there to help in Avengers, he wouldn’t stop Bucky in Winter Solider or reveal Hydra as still existing within Shield, and it’s possible that the events of Civil War would never have taken place.

A similar effect can be found by changing any character’s backstory, even if only a tiny bit. I’m worried that Marvel/Disney might gloss over any changes without really addressing there having been any impact. Stuff changes in the past but only has an effect in the present and so everyone is where they were but alive and existing.

If I could have one wish regarding Endgame, it would be this (aside from all the character deaths): If there is any sort of dimension/universe hopping, I want a Rick and Morty reference. It will NEVER happen, I mean why would it? But that would be my one wish.

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Marvel 2019

image via Bullshit Express

Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of things that I’m certainly looking forward to in the Spider-Man sequel: Ned, the Peter/Fury interactions, Aunt May, and of course, seeing Jake Gyllenhaal step into the comic book villain role of Mysterio.

However, there is a certain concern that only seems to stem from Sony and their Superhero movie, and it’s something that I found in both Venom and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (but also Green Lantern and even in Infinity War to a lesser extent) and that is these beings who don’t hold a physical shape but instead morph themselves into any shape they like. I really struggle to lose myself in a movie that uses this approach. When Iron-Man was fighting Thanos and kept just making these shields and shit, it broke the illusion that cinema usually holds over me.

So, if you’ve watched the Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer you may have some idea of what I’m referring to (although there is a very obvious explanation, but more on that in a moment). In the trailer, we see these “elemental” creatures or beings who are wreaking havoc across Europe. I hated it in Spider-Man 3 when Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man faced off with Venom (was that actually meant to be Venom? I always forget) and Sand-Man, and I hated it in Venom when they two symbiotes fight each other using various make-shift weapons.

My hope, but also my concern, is that this is all just Mysterio. I mean we know he’s going to be the villain, obviously…but wouldn’t that be the laziest twist in the world? I hope that is is Mysterio because if those creatures/being are real then I’ll be disappointed. However, I also hope that there is more going on than just Mysterio desperately seeking the admiration that the Avengers get and so he fakes attacks. He’s basically being Syndrome in Incredibles: using technology to fake an attack so he can be the hero, all to demonstrate being more powerful than the heroes he is actually jealous of.

One aspect of the MCU that I have thoroughly enjoyed has been this move from fantasy to sci-fi. I guess fantasy might be the wrong word…let me give you some examples: Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming wasn’t some bird-winged man but rather a regular guy making use of technology. Similarly, elements of “magic” have instead been given more scientific (and I use that term incredibly loosely) explanations. The exceptions being perhaps Loki, but even Doctor Strange dived into the idea of harnessing energy from various other dimensions, of which there are an infinite number.


Thanks for reading! Are you looking forward to these three MCU films? What are your hopes and/or concerns? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!