Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Duty Calls

Currently (as any who read some previous posts know), I am participating in a contest on that is a heart-based contest. What this means is that I have to get as many people to read my entry to get as many votes, or 'heart,' as I can on it. In order to get my entry read, I usually have to promise people I'll take a look at something of theirs and leave feedback in return.

It's a time-consuming and exhausting process. Each vote is a battle. It takes hours to accumulate any significant amount of votes on entries. The success at seeing oneself slowly rise to a winning position is glorious and relieving because of how much time and effort was put into it.

Recently, I've noticed two contestants rising in the ranks . . . because they're asking for something Figment users would deem a 'heart-swap.' It basically goes: "Hey, can you heart my story in return for a heart on one of yours?" Seeing this, after working so many hours on trying to honestly accrue votes and struggling to win this battle--it can make one a little more than irritated.

One of these contestants posted thrice on my wall; the first two times, I ignored her heart-swap request and simply deleted it. The third time, I decided to take a look at her story simply so I could get her to stop bothering me, and also to tell her that I feel heart-swaps are unethical--basically cheating. I will relay the comments to you.

Miss Camacho's swap request:
Could you please heart my story? (it's only 750 words) I will comment and heart any story of yours up to 2,000 words! Please help me by hearting it!

Me (in the comments of No Title):
No, I will not heart your story; firstly, I feel it's rude to ask for a straight-up heart swap when others are trying very hard to honestly swap to win this contest. People are spending hours in front of their computers reading story after story and giving the best reviews and comments they can in order to help others improve their stories--it's just not right for you to ask for a heart swap. This is the epitome of the reason everyone hates heart-based contests; they put so much effort into trying to win and then someone just comes in and swoops up the victory unfairly. I cannot stress enough to you how unethical I find this. 
Secondly, I didn't really like this entry. The idea is good, but I think it's currently just a start; it feels too inconsistent. His parents are loving, but then they're not because everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. He has the power to come back to life, but he apparently also has a power of super hearing? What about when he dies and comes back to life--the first time he died, he came back with no memory; what about the other times? 
There's also the concern of other people noticing that Andrew dies repeatedly--how does he avoid that? 
It just doesn't feel cohesive to me and I didn't feel any emotional impact from the character at the ending. He woke up and he was kinda, "Oh, everyone is dead. Okay."
Take my feedback into consideration or don't; I suppose I was already biased against your story because of the approach. 
Miss Camacho's response (on my profile):
I just said if you heart mine I would heart yours and give you a comment. Either way YOU had the better deal. YOU ARE THE RUDE ONE. WHAT DID I DO THAT WAS SOOOOO AWFUL TO YOU?????? if you didn't want to you could have said no thanks on my profile. Only rude people do that on someones story that they worked hard on.
Miss Camacho's responses (on my story):
I just said if you heart mine I would heart yours [... ((see the rest of 'Miss Camacho's response (on my profile)'))]
and (as a second comment):
And yes I am being rude since you attacked me on my story first.
My reply (on Miss Camacho's profile):
I'm sorry that it came off as an attack on your story. That wasn't what I meant to do at all. The issue I had was your heart-swap request. 
I never said you were a rude person. I simply pointed out that the act of asking only for hearts--whether or not I get the better deal--is wrong. You did nothing that was 'so awful' to me, and I'm not sure I did something so awful to you to merit this reaction, other than tell you my honest opinion about your swapping approach--"No thanks" would not have conveyed "this is unethical." 
By they way, thanks for the feedback on "Beloved." :) 
Miss Camacho's reply (on my profile):
 uh huh, You meant to be rude otherwise you would not have written it on my story. How would I not have felt attacked????? If you wrote that on anyone elses story I guarantee that they would have been upset and felt attacked because that is exactly what you did.
My response (on Miss Camacho's profile)
Dear Melanie Camacho,
Attacking your story would not have been leaving potentially helpful feedback. You feel attacked because you don't like that I called you out, and therefore do not want to listen to anything I have to say. 
Example of attacking a story or person: "This story was awful! There were so many mistakes I spotted that there's just no hope. You have no chance of winning. Loser!" 
I did not state that. I stated that, currently, it is inconsistent and I would suggest revising it, along with the fact that I fervently do not approve of heart-swaps. Perhaps the comment 'because then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked' could be taken in a condescending manner, but it was meant to be a light-hearted jest about the similarity of the line 'but all of that changed when my brother was born' to a recurring line of a popular show. 
The other parts of my comments were exactly what I would have left on "No Title" if it were written by someone else; they are something I would have said even if I agreed to swap with you, for they are concept issues and points that I feel need to be addressed. Perhaps I could have presented them in a less brusque manner, but they are the feedback I would give, nevertheless. I sincerely did not like the entry because of its inconsistency; I would have not voted for it even had it been presented by a different author in a different manner. 
I believe it can be made into a contest-winning entry, but it needs work. What you have currently appears to me as only a beginning of potential. 
I also mentioned that you could ignore my feedback if you'd like, since I didn't know if you would be inclined to care about anything I had to say after you learned I do not approve of heart-swaps.
If I meant to be rude, I would have gone about it in a different way. I would have left a comment on your story with no relevance to the story whatsoever with an attacking statement about you being an awful, rude person. 
I did not do either of those things, although you seem to have interpreted it as such. Since I was not asking for a return to your swap request, I did not post on your wall with my thoughts; at the time, I believed I could leave a single post with honest opinions without being retaliated upon and therefore relieve you of the inconvenience of having a thousand emails in your inbox from me about something you clearly do not care to hear. 
I regret that you took it in an unintended manner, but I will not apologize for wanting to be fair: Heart-swaps are not fair to your competition, and I do not believe informing you of this merits hate-spam on my wall or stories.
Miss Camacho's response (on my profile):
You cry that you didn't mean mean to be rude BUT the fact remains that you were. Also saying that you were biased because of the heart thing doesn't help either. Spoilsport just because I was catching up. Most of you had weeks more than I did. I wrote mine five days ago. You were just mad because I was almost beating you.
Also have I mentioned ANYTHING about the review part??? Nope. Sorry. I've only mentioned your rant at the beginning which you could have easily put on my wall but no you chose to try to make me look bad instead.
My most recent reply (on her profile):
Dear Miss Camacho, 
I'm sorry; I misread the lovely comment on "Beloved" as 'you attacked my story' and not 'you attacked me.' I was confused.  
Nevertheless, I am not irritated because you're catching up. I have not been irritated at the other nine contestants in the competition for jumping over me, or getting so ridiculously far out of reach that I couldn't ever beat them since they had weeks more than me to gather votes. I am irritated because heart-swaps are unethical and not honest; people who have been struggling to even come close to being in the running for winning now have to work harder against unfair odds. 
The better way to approach catching up with other contestants would be promising to get to your side of the swap as soon as the contest is ended; it's only a few days away, so many people would figure that that's enough time for honesty to be kept. 
It was not my intention for her to blow up at me like that, though I may have known it was coming. However, I do not feel I am in the wrong, nor do I feel I am a rude person for not voting for an entry that I do not think should win over mine. I have voted for some of the other entries, but Miss Camacho's story was not up to par. I am of the belief that all she wanted to hear was, "Ohmigosh this is so good I hope you keep writing and you totally have the contest in the bag," accompanied by a heart.

Apparently, she values lying or ignorance more than honesty. Would she rather she end up like Spongetta Parrish on American Idol with "I'll be in my Studio?" I firmly believe Sanderson will not be impressed with her entry at the level it is currently written.

I am currently holding 6th place in the contest, and I have worked for over a month to get there. There are other people who have less time than me and possibly better entries than me that are struggling to get into the top ten before the deadline cuts them off--which is exactly one week from now.

It is unethical to approve of or participate in heart-swaps; this is the greatest downside to any writing site I have ever been on, but it's ever that much more prevalent on Figment.

I'm thinking of starting another blog specifically for these sorts of things and name it Summer Glau Letters. I suppose arguing with someone foolish makes me foolish, though, doesn't it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What Disney Teaches Me: Flynn Rider

"You leave me no choice . . . here comes the smolder."
When I first watched Tangled, I was in love with everything--especially Flynn. Who couldn't love the swashbuckling, dashing, and hilarious thief with the adorable sob story and who appears to be entirely entranced by an innocent, naive, young Rapunzel? 

They appear to be the 'perfect' couple; Flynn's dry humor added with Rapunzel's positive outlook make for fantastic foils. He protects her when danger comes by, but isn't exempt from being saved by her (see: "I've Got a Dream" prelude). And let's be honest: it can make some of our inner fangirls squee when he looks at Rapunzel, or tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.

However, thinking over the film brought me to see Eugene Fitz Herbert in a more insidious light.

"Guys, I want a castle."

First, we see the daring thief with his two thieving companions--obviously, from his charming looks and charismatic opening, we can instantly see that Flynn is the more likable of the trio. He's friendly and jovial, while the Stabbington Brothers are big, scary-looking, and mean-sounding.

"Hay fever?"
Flynn further endears himself to viewers as he casually makes conversation with a guard while in the act of robbing the kingdom, resulting in a chase, which he appears to be entirely okay with--going so far as to comment on a poster of himself, delaying him and his companions (and also conveying what could be either lighthearted joviality . . . or possibly narcissism disguised as such).
Oh, you poor thing.
And then the real problems begin. Merry chase through the forest, and then they're cornered. It was right of the two brothers not to trust Flynn with the satchel . . . 

"I am wounded!"
. . . because he wasn't planning on letting them have their part of the payout. He left them to die, while he made off with the bounty; he told the Stabbington Brothers that they could trust him, but then steals the satchel and takes off. He stabbed the Stabbingtons in the back (pun wasn't intended, but it happened), and it was possibly premeditated: he was the one that alerted the guards to their presence. Perhaps he planned that he would dupe them out of the crown beforehand.

Now, this could have easily been redeemed, if only Flynn had heard them talking about betraying him first. In that scenario, it would have been perfectly acceptable for Flynn to do what he did; the Stabbington Brothers would be the ones who were in the fault. But they didn't. 

Flynn betrayed them without any provocation. 

Later, he tries to scare Rapunzel into chickening out back to her tower and just giving him the satchel. Kudos to our spunky heroine for not doing that and bothering Flynn further. 

He's greedy. One could argue that this changes, because he gives the crown back to the Stabbington Brothers at the end of the show, but by then, he has the girl with him who can grant eternal youth (and who is later revealed to be the lost princess!). 

"A fair trade: a crown for the girl with the magic hair."
What makes it worse is that Flynn receives has hardly any consequences for doing these things--mainly the one about stabbing his partners in the back. He appears to change from a scoundrel to a loving, tender-hearted gentleman in under three days. People don't change in three days. 

I don't think 'fairy tale rules' apply here, considering that, to the best of his knowledge, two people were going to die over his betrayal.

The only repercussion for betraying the Stabbington Brothers he receives is it eventually puts him in a position where Rapunzel thinks he's betrayed her. 

Now, Flynn might have some redeeming qualities. After all, he went to find Rapunzel after she thought he had betrayed her. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save Rapunzel; he didn't know that her tears could heal him, nor did he know that cutting off the magic would kill the witch. 

However, in the words of Kuzco, "Nobody is that heartless!" (Emperor's New Groove). Or, at least, no one with half a heart. Rapunzel was willing to give herself to a life a slavery to save him. Wouldn't it be a little guilt-tripping to know that every breath you take has been bought by the enslavement of another person?

It'd have been like selling a baby to someone, considering how naive and innocent Rapunzel was.

"I've got dreams like you--no, really!--just much less . . . touchy-feely,
and mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny~ on an island that I own
un-arrested and alone! Surrounded by enormous piles of money!"
Besides, Flynn then asks Rapunzel to marry him--then he gets a castle, an island that he owns, and a lot of money.

Well played, thief. Well played.