Outsider art, female game protagonists, and…earworms? It’s all here in this week’s What I’ve Been Reading.

  • This is one of the most thoughtful pieces I’ve read in a while. By using Stephenie Meyer’s works – The Host and The Twilight series – as examples, Bob Chipman examines how outsider art is condescendingly analyzed by insiders. In Meyer’s case, this takes the form of pop psychology, where so-called critics interpret her work as the product of her supposedly oppressive Mormon upbringing, with no regard for the fact that she may possess agency herself. I consider this piece to be required reading.
  • Last week, the Penny Arcade Report ran an interview with the creative director of the upcoming cyberpunk platformer/beat-’em-up Remember Me, Jean-Max Morris, in which he stated that the developers had had trouble finding a publisher for the game because of its female protagonist. Specifically, he stated that giving the game’s protagonist a male love interest could cause discomfort for male players, according to publishers. This sparked a firestorm of fury from various gaming commentators (even those who normally don’t comment on gender issues), most of whom reacted with an “Are you fucking kidding me?” Here’s Becky Chambers’ take at The Mary Sue. Of course, Morris probably couldn’t name names, not wanting to burn bridges with any publishers, but it’s disheartening to hear that so many of them are stuck in an outmoded mindset. It’s even more disheartening – not to mention insulting – for them to think that watching a female player character kiss a dude will awaken latent homophobic tendencies in me. Publishers need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that it’s the twenty-first fucking century. The time for sexist bullshit is over.
  • Finally, on a lighter note: have you got an annoying, catchy song stuck in your head? The solution to getting it out of there may be to solve a relatively uncomplicated brainteaser, according to John Stevens of The Daily Mail. I’ll pull out the crossword next time Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” comes on. (By the way, sorry for linking to the cesspool of tabloid idiocy that is The Daily Mail.)

That’s all for now. See you next week for a new batch of links!