“X Vs. Y”

I really think that there’s something wrong with how I think about certain things – and that troubles me because I feel quite disconnected at times from my fellow friends and neighbors in the geek/nerd/fan community.

I was never an athlete in school. I played sports sure, but I was never really truly competitive about it. I was bullied at several points during my school days, but nothing I would call traumatic or that affected me in a bad way – I learned to stand up for myself and on at least two occasions have stood up to someone much bigger and more muscled or capable than myself in the physical department. So on one hand its not surprising to me that I don’t get the whole ‘get in the ring‘ mentality.

But that forces me to ask the questions: Why do I feel that way? Why am I not caught up in this fascination with the whole “X Vs. Y” thing?

Street Fighter 5

Street Fighter 5

I mean, on a basic level I get it. Everything can be broken down into a fight. You can’t get away from conflict in any creative medium – The basic plot of any story can be described as either man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature or man vs.the self. It’s right there in plain black and white – everything can be broken down into a “vs.” situation. And we as a species thrive on it, it thrills us and excites us, compels us to keep moving forward, asking questions, striving to better ourselves…

I’m not questioning the nature of conflict, but, I really don’t get the whole ‘my dad is better than your dad’ aspect of some of the petitions and demands that fans of pop culture endlessly post and proliferate the interwebs with… Hulk vs. Superman! Godzilla vs. Gypsy Danger! Burger King vs. G.I. Joe!

Do I think they are silly? No, not really. Well…

I posted something to my facebook page, a really insightful and intelligent vlog from #DiggingDeeper about the Jurassic Park film franchise entitled Jurassic Park: Finding the Lost World. The gist of the video is that the first sequel to the enormously successful first film is really a  subversive argument against sequels in general – that some things are better when we just get one of them. There’s a lot more to it than that and also a pretty sound (and deserved) drubbing of 2015’s Jurassic World, and I highly recommend watching it. I posted a while back about the news that JW was going to get a sequel, and you can read that here if you like – it contains some of the same things that Digging Deeper brought up in their video, kinda-sorta.

The traffic I got on the post was minimum: a bare handful of likes and only one comment.

It was that comment that prompted me to write this post because it was basically a request for me to share a petition – an “x vs. y” petition. The petition is one that asks for a rematch between the T-Rex and the Spinosaurus as depicted in the 3rd film in the JP franchise – The Lost World.

T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus

T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus

To be honest if I was aware of this in the past I had forgotten about it, but when I saw the comment and followed the link and read the description in the ‘about’ section of the FB page which reads: Let’s show Universal Studios how many fans were devastated (emphasis mine) that Jurassic World ignored the rematch between T Rex and the Spino that we wanted since 2001 – I have to admit I scratched my head and wondered: Is this really a thing? And were people really devastated?

I then followed the link to the Change.org petition = Petition to have a T Rex Spinosaurus rematch in Jurassic World 2 which as of this writing has been active for (as near as I can tell) about two months and has 34 supporters/signers. The Facebook page for the petition has about 4300 likes, so much better than the actual petition itself… but really, why?

Now, I’m not highlighting this petition to poke fun at it … I’m actually genuinely intrigued that it exists. The language of the petition is pretty sophomoric and what it boils down to is a very loud  DEMAND that Universal (the studio I assume that holds the JP film license) address the issue – by creating, filming and presenting to the public – a re-match between two CGI creatures that “accurately” depicts what “should be” the real outcome of the contest – with the T-Rex emerging victorious.

Obviously the owner of the petition is a big fan of the T-Rex and feels slighted that their hero was defeated so shamelessly in JP3 and was cheated of the re-match in the Jurassic World film… but really, in the grand scheme of things, why would we need to see a re-match? Why has energy and passion been dedicated to this?

I see this kind of thing a lot actually, being a part of an entertainment franchise (albeit in a small way), as fans of that franchise are always posting about this ranger vs. that ranger, or asking me at conventions or online the dreaded question: “Who do you think would win in a fight…?”

The question itself bores me; its just a dick measuring contest, another ‘my dad is better than your dad’ throwdown that has… what purpose exactly? Bragging rights? The chance to stand up and shout ‘boo-yah! in yo face!’?

I’m sure this isn’t a new thing, speculation must have taken place in other time periods, right? I have to wonder if the ancient Greeks or Romans sat around at the forum or got into fistfights over whether or not Hercules could take Horus in a fight.

“Look, Herc’s got super-strength, and an impervious lion’s skin!” “Yeah, well, Horus can fly and survived getting hacked to pieces!” I’m fairly certain there’s a papyrus scroll out there with thousands of comments from trolls and haters sniping back and forth about it.

In the end… who cares? If you want Ironman to beat Captain America, he beats him. If you want the Red Zeo Ranger to beat the Aqua Dino Charge Ranger, he beats him. If you want the T-Rex to beat each and every other dinosaur, it does. Because that is what you want to happen. And yeah, I linked to that video in an earlier post, but I think its spot on.

In the end, its ridiculous to argue if this fictitious character is better than that fictitious character because they only exist in out minds.

Our entire history as a species is steeped in struggle, violence and one hero/force/idea triumphing over another. Fighting is everything, as I noted in a previous blog post.

It seems to be the only language that is universal between the peoples of the earth – it’s all either violence/struggle/fighting. You could say, yeah but what about love? Love is a fight of another kind, so it too is very much lumped in with the whole “x vs. y” thing.

Actually the concept of “x vs. y” doesn’t cause me to scratch my head so much as the alarm I feel about the crowd clamoring for such contests. We haven’t evolved too much from those mobs that flocked to gladiatorial fights and howled for blood… so it’s not the contest that I struggle with – its the voracious crowd that makes me take pause.

For me the fighting, the action has to have context… it has to have a why behind it.

Minions vs. Rabbids

Minions vs. Rabbids

It really does seem at times that what people want is just to see is just the action – to see these characters go at it, in long protracted scenes of violence and struggle… bloodied faces, broken bones, staggering and throwing punches until one or both finally collapse in exhaustion – a scene we’ve already seen over and over and over again in cinema and film.

But why? I guess because, while watching the films, we are, for a brief moment, those characters – we inhabit them and so it us up there on screen throwing punches or kicking them off a cliff or taking on six different attackers at once and emerging victorious.

Every time I’m asked who would win or each time I see a fan page holding a contest or pitting one Ranger vs. another Ranger I have to bow out – I honestly don’t think these characters would battle it out, and as a mentor – I can’t see how Zordon would encourage or condone it.

Yeah sure I guess you could manufacture reasons – it’s for training, it keeps them sharp or in a state of preparedness.

I guess the whole thing boils down to one persons opinion or reasoning as to why this one character or creature or idea is better than that one or that or that one.

And perhaps that is reason enough. If you find it enjoyable to list reasons, or debate powers, to howl to the moon that this one is better than that one, great.

But for me, it makes no sense to me to pit these characters against one another – which I talked about at length elsewhere a year ago.  I don’t think its worth the time and energy to think about… or to create a petition demanding you see the proper outcome of a fictitious ‘fight’ because, dammit, it’s just not fair!

I am not a fighter, never have been. I will stand up for myself, but that’s different. I’m just not one to engage in a physical altercation because its just not who I am – WWE or the UFC? Not my thing. Professional Boxing? Not my thing.

And so that’s something that bothers me, quite a bit.

Because it puts a barrier between me and my fellow humans… I’m not that way because I want to be separate from them or to affect the attitude that I’m better than them… in fact I think makes me lesser than them. I’m just not uber-aggressive.

My thinking is this: Hector fought Achilles thousands of years ago. And we keep re-telling that tale over and over – keep putting it up on screen over and over and over – only with new faces, new costumes and different settings.

We do that because… it’s entertaining. And yet it just seems to lose meaning after a while, at least to me. Is it any wonder that blockbuster films have to keep upping the ante when it comes to fights and spectacle just to keep our attention? Because, otherwise… people will boo or walk out or boycott.

ranting-homer2_1

“Gimme my T-Rex fight or I’m going to give you such a pinch!”

I’m going to see Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice when it arrives in theaters in a couple of weeks. And in May I’ll sit through Captain America: Civil War. I’ll sit there and be thrilled or at least entertained by what Zack Snyder and the Russo brothers and their crews have put up on the screen for all of us to consume.

I’ll watch these films because there is a definite why behind the conflict going on in these “x vs. y” stories.  But in the end, I’ll walk out of the theater and ask myself the same question – what’s different? How exactly has this changed things?

And I have to wonder if after it comes out, some fan or other will throw up a petition or post a  demand that the studios and film-makers go back and make changes because “it just didn’t go the way it was supposed to” – well, at least according to them.

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