Watching movies has always been a huge part of me and Katy’s lives. 2017 was a year that a lot of bad stuff happened, but luckily we had a lot of great films to get us through. Here are our top picks of movies this 2017 in no particular order!
In this remake of It by Stephen King, they hit all the right marks for a great horror film. The children gave truthful and hilarious performances, while Skarsgard found a balance in Pennywise’s disturbing gleeful mania. Every single element that you would want from this Stephen King novel was implemented well to the movie. It was a treat for any horror movie addict out there that loves the classics along with the new age of horror.
You could be captivated by just watching all of Coco’s amazing animation and concept art. Coco’s story, however, adds so much more and does not disappoint. Along with 2016’s Moana, Pixar is exploring what it really means to love your culture and family. Coco explores what it means to pursue your passions while also learning to keep in touch with where you came from.
Wonder Woman was the movie that we needed in 2017. It gives you everything you need. Kick-assery, beautiful designs, impeccable acting, and most importantly LOVE ETHICS. This was a hard year for many people, and Wonder Woman was the perfect movie to get you out of your funk and KICK ASS.
Get Out was just so good. This was a horror movie, but it went so much deeper because it explored topics and things we see every day. What seems to be a microaggression has a far more insidious undertone that Peele explores with this movie. Get Out conveys the reality of many Black Americans today. Peele creatively flipped classic horror tropes on its head by revealing that there’s more to be scared of than just ghosts.
This movie is a masterpiece in that it’s an ode to joy and sisterhood. Girls Trip had all the right elements of heart and comedy that was perfectly balanced. All the actresses were hilarious, especially break-out star Tiffany Haddish, who stole the show. It’s a great feel-good movie that you won’t regret watching.
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece. He masterfully crafted a movie that celebrated “otherness,” beauty, acceptance, and love. From beautiful design, a captivating story, and impeccable acting, The Shape of Water is a masterpiece that should not be missed.
That’s it for our top 6 movies of 2017! Be sure to come back for more sweet content!
2017 has been a great year for games: from Breath of the Wild to Dream Daddy, Cuphead to Night in the Woods, Doki Doki Literature Club to Super Mario Odyssey— we’ve seen so many innovations and cool worlds. For me, 2017 has been the year I got into Itch.io and into so many indie and alt-games, particularly seeking out ones with queer characters and cute graphics. So, with the year coming to a close, I decided to look back at the creators and games I loved this year. So, with that in mind, here are 5 short and free games that you can ring in the end of 2017 with.
1. Butterfly Soup
Where can I begin with Butterfly Soup? I agree with PC Gamer on this one, who said that,
“What makes it great is the character writing. You play multiple protagonists, and each time you switch you gain insights into the others. When I was athletic but shy Diya her internal monologue enriched every situation with jokes and memories, like recalling that the cool rebel Min ran away from home when she was younger, but only because she didn’t want to eat a tomato.”
It’s just a great, well-written game. Not only does it provide a voice to the queer, Asian, and teenage demographic, that I haven’t seen represented much before, but it’s just good writing. I love, in particular, the use of group messaging. As someone of mixed Asian heritage, it was great to see Asian characters not so much as a statement, but just varied teenagers living their lives. I love that they were funny and awkward and nervous, most of all real. I know there’s been some controversy over PC Gamer choosing this as their Visual Novel of the Year, especially with Doki Doki Literature Club, a great game in its own right, making such a mark. DDLC showed how you can really manipulate the Visual Novel form and was disturbing in a way I haven’t seen other visual novels done. But, Butterfly Soup, I believe had much better writing. While the programming was great for DDLC, it doesn’t take you 2 hours to get to the heart of Butterfly Soup. From the get-go, it’s a heartwarming and wonderful experience, with full characters. While the choices you don’t make don’t really matter, I loved just being in Brianna Lei’s world and living in each of these characters. Of course, you can read all about this when I covered it earlier this year, but it really is a story you should not miss.
2. Mermaid Splash! Passion Festival
This is another game I’ve already covered this year, but it’s just so cute. Playing as a mermaid trying to improve in a particular skill and getting closer to a variety of friends, it’s a short and sweet game with tons of endings. In addition, it features a POC protagonist, features romancing other female sea creatures, and as a semi-spoiler, there’s even a trans narrative.
I also just love the overall look of this game and Sofdelux games in general. If you love this game and want more, they also released Disaster Log C for this year’s Yuri Game Jam. If you want to check out individual creators, it’s composed of Nami and DarkChibiShadow, who also make very great games solo as well.
3. Love on the Peacock Express
Loved Dream Daddy but wished there was a Dream Mommy? Ever wanted to do a story about a lesbian Private Investigator a la Sherlock Holmes? This game provides both of those things, in about an hour. Using beautiful environments and well written characters, you solve mysteries and romance 3 different inhabitants of the Peacock Express train. It’s fun, short, cute, and the artwork is amazing. In addition, as you beat each ending, the journal in the main menu provides tons of adorable achievements. It’s a short one and the team assembled only for the Game Jam it was created for, so we probably won’t see a sequel, but it’s a solid, fun game to try before someone inevitably makes a more full-length Dream Mommy.
“Porpentine’s work is in conversation with troubling feelings and subjects players may not normally talk about. Her pieces regularly deal with trauma, harassment, abuse, and precarity – all of which Porpentine has described personally experiencing as a “trash” woman – but for all the real-life heaviness of their themes, they operate in something like an extra-linguistic realm. Instead of offering direct, accessible commentary on the state of the world, as much science fiction does, her work elaborates hyper-specific slivers of speculative ecosystems with singular rules and behaviors.”
Working with Rook, sound designer and creator of exploratory games like Fallow and Wire Wood Daughters, they have created the first episode of a captivating new adventure. Following various characters, including what seems to be one trans wolf, you go to work at a facility where you gather definitely radioactive trash. Exploring one character’s home, watching her masturbate, and pick through trash that contains her estrogen doses and “girl chunk”, which seems to be a mix between a drug and a lube. The game also has a sitcom like feel with beautiful pixel environments. Fusing Porpentines more text-based stories with Rook’s pixel-oriented character design and immersive sound design, the game is a beautiful and captivating experience. Including a trans character and the anxieties that exist coming with that along with being able to explore an interesting, almost cyber-punk world makes it worthwhile. There’s only one episode so far, but it’s sure to be quite a journey.
If you’ve played Mermaid Splash: Passion Festival (which the creator of this game helped create) or any other visual novel that involves scheduling your days with specific people, Tomai will feel very similar. Essentially, you play Tomai, who has 13 days before he starts working with his father in local government. You get the choice to spend that time romancing one of your friends or spending time with your father or “The Lady”, to get a head start on what your job entails. That being said, this game is more complicated than meets the eye. As a pro tip and slight spoiler: spending all your time with one person won’t *necessarily* get you a good ending. I haven’t played the game in its entirety, but I’ve gotten two pretty bad endings just trying to play visual novels the way I usually play them. What I love is that it includes the option to choose a PG-13 or an R-18 version of the game, as well as non-romanceable characters for non-romance related endings. The writing, art, and representation are great, and it’s just an overall good time. So in terms of inclusion, it checks a lot of my boxes: it has gay and poly representation, a POC main character, inclusion for ace people that don’t want to see sex in a game necessarily, and overall great gameplay.
EXTRA CREDIT: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY!
Everything is Going to Be Okay! may not be a necessarily a game or queer and a lot of people will find it more disturbing than cute, but I find it one of the most important gaming experiences to come out this year. It deals with mental health, attempting to recover from trauma, and what it means to be an artist. Presented in a glitchy, Microsoft OS environment, you go through all of Nathalie Lawhead’s poems and beautiful moments and I find it was one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced this year.
And those are the picks!
I hope you have a Happy New Year and whether you spend New Year’s Eve playing alt and indie games or not, here’s to 2018! If you want to find more LGBTQIA+ inclusive games, don’t forget to check out Queerly Represent Me, which has the most maintained, ongoing catalog of inclusive games on all platforms. Cheers!
I remember growing up and hearing the timeless adage, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”. As adults we realize this translates to such things as networking, planning, forming contingency plans, and acting with informed deliberation. This saying always aroused a sense of trepidation and anxiety in me, calling to question the irresoluteness of anything. It is difficult as a child to accept that sometimes there are things in the world that will not be foreseeable, calculable, or even preventable. Agency in a child is a very fragile, growing thing. This is true for adults as well.
North Carolina’s Elevator Queen
When I think of local elections, I think of Cherie Berry, and how I’ve seen that name in a North Carolina elevator for nine years. That’s just the time I’ve been knowingly aware of her as a force of influence; Cherie Berry with her artful gaze encasing that indulgent smile as she imparts the stature of a stately representative with managerial skill and the acumen of an effective communicator. Cherie Berry has been the commissioner of labor for almost seventeen years. That is longer than two Presidents each serving eight years. I wonder exactly how it is that with every election I seem to be presented with candidates that are too young, too dispirited or uniformly cut to their role, too ego-maniacal to be effective past a lobbyist wet dream, or too connected and entrenched in a system of nepotism that has its reaches into the nexus of every civil service job in the state. If someone suitable as a political representative came up to me and shook my hand, would I even begin to know how to tell if they were authentic?
Commander in Chief or CEO?
Some people put their all their eggs in the basket of the White House. Let’s call this the trickle-down vote. People believe that as the CEO of the country, the Presidential office is the most important role. That it is the vote that matters. Now, I’m not arguing that it is a vote that greatly matters. It is a crucial vote to name the person who becomes the figurehead and commander-in-chief of our country. Yet, return back to the idea of the President as CEO. Chief executive officers of companies, while holding extremely powerful positions, are acting as agents of the company’s board. The board and its members control the company. We can see this in the long list of ousted CEOs from companies such as Equifax, JetBlue, and Groupon. CEOs may be the face of the company, but there are powerful figures in the background that are the pivotal players.
The Room Where it Happens
Sadly, the background of politics is where everything happens. Contrary to its long-winded performance, C-SPAN does not show everything. Part of raising that curtain is becoming a participant in state and local elections. I’m not a newly christened voter, and I haven’t been a consistent voter since I turned eighteen. Part of my own reluctance to be engaged was my skepticism of both parties, the lack of transparency in government leadership (including the actual process of voting itself), the lack of elected representatives able to provide an individual record of administering professional and ethical public service (think of how all candidates, even those running again, make claims of what they are going to do and rarely refer to specific examples of past experience), and the persistent feeling that I was complicit in manufactured democratic agency. I don’t think I was alone in not voting so that I could feel a sense of personal integrity maintained.
Now I’ve come to realize that every vote matters. I’ve come to this conclusion for a multitude of reasons, but one of the most crucial is the recognition of the efforts made to intimidate voters. The New York Times released an article that exposed state police officers in Florida who decided to “randomly” go door-to-door in a neighborhood of elderly Americans, mostly African-American, and question their voting in a past mayoral election. This timely questioning occurred as voting for the 2017 Presidential race was in its consequential stages.
Now I’m not saying that the SBI or the local sheriff office is sending in quadrants of armed men to canvass neighborhoods and create an atmosphere of fear and repression. These events of political oppression do not happen on a grand scale, they happen in small towns or in small communities within cities, and they often happen because of rationalizations that are unchecked, unfounded, and derelict of moral oversight.
In my state of North Carolina, there has been a pushed political agenda that is focused on capital gain for lawmakers, lobbyist, and the myriad network of venture capitalist, investors, and private companies with shared interests who demonstrate such a keen level of concern in our state’s affairs. One new law allows restaurants in North Carolina to serve alcohol at ten in the morning, instead of the afternoon. Instead of serving better or even maybe cheaper dishes with Sunday specials, restaurateurs are set on serving mimosas and mojitos. What could possibly go wrong even though a Center for Disease Control reports shows that North Carolina is above the national average in age-related drunk driving fatalities in every single age group? That’s not all folks. North Carolina legislators are currently reviewing Bill 746 that allows gun owners to carry concealed without a permit. It also has a provision allowing firearm safety classes as elective classes in high schools. Again, what could possibly go wrong?
It Doesn’t Matter Who Your Party Is
Government is an indecipherable web of unfatigued schemes, artifice, and calculated misdeeds. We know politicians didn’t cultivate their skills through simple reflection and a devout attention to spreading goodwill. We know members of each party have acted with less than scrupulous means and compromised ideals. What that doesn’t have to mean is a citizenry that is disengaged and unrepresented. It is true that local elections can be extremely confusing. There is a general lack of transparency in what an alderman or commissioner does. Each county is different in the number of years an elected official holds office. In Asheboro, a member of the board of education is a seated official for six years. This is a long-term for such an important, influential role in the community. When more and more people become aware of the political distinctions and divergences in their county as well as their state, Americans can gain a greater sense of political agency and more adeptly feel the winds of change that come with recognizing oneself as a politically expressed and active citizen.