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@Charles Phipps You can have cynical or dystopian sci-fi that isn't cyberpunk (Frankenstein, 40K, War of the Worlds), so dystopian or cynical elements aren't what defines the genre per se. Aside from the cynical or dystopian elements, I typically define it by three other criteria: A certain aesthetic, an attempt to be a bit more "grounded" and portray a society similar to our own, and specific technologies in it.
You also can have dark-post cyberpunk, such as my work. Society is mostly good in it (though to be fair it definitely has its faults), though the setting is somewhat dark anyways due to a hostile environment and external threats.
Cyberpunk ultimately explores the effects advancing technology, globalization, corporations, and government have on our society. The original Cyberpunk works take a dark and cynical view of it — arguably too dark and cynical at times.
Post Cyberpunk by contrast explores the effects but tries to avoid falling into outright cynicism.
The original Cyberpunk holds the view that we can't really do anything about the systemic problems brought on by mega corps, repressive governments, etc.
Edited by M84 on Aug 23rd 2019 at 12:02:06 AM
This is like saying 'you can have shapes with right angles or six planes that aren't cubes, so right angles and six planes aren't what define the shape of a cube.
To which the answer, of course, is 'Yes, yes they are. They're not the only things that define the shape of a cube, but they're definitely the most crucial parts.'
Same goes for cynical or dystopian elements and cyberpunk. A work that has the cyberpunk aesthetic without the dystopian or cynical elements is not actually cyberpunk.
Hell, Star Wars has a lot of aesthetic elements from cyberpunk (the cybernetics, the neon-laden cities packed to the brim with people, Used Future as the standard design for anything that isn't cutting edge, etc...) and it even has some cynical and dystopian elements strewn about, but it lacks the specific cynical and dystopian elements that make cyberpunk what it is.
I'd say Overwatch highlights what Post-Cyberpunk is. It's got all of the problems associated with classic Cyber Punk works, as well as the awesome tech. But there's also a sense that things can improve. And there are people willing to work and fight for that.
Looking at the base page, I see a lot of examples under "having some elements."
It highlights Half-Life 2 nicely. At least until Gordon does his things and everything is in chaos eventually.
There's also System Shock, first game moreso than the sequel. You play as a hacker in first game even.
I like cyberpunk mostly when it has elements of it rather than full-blown cyberpunk.
I also really, really love Front Line Assembly's Tactical Neural Implant, which is one cyberpunk Industrial alright.
I would go as far as to extend this to the rest of the -punk subgenres.
A work of fiction that's Steampunk but doesn't examine the classism, racism, and sexism intrinsic to Victorian society is no way -punk.
What about Dieselpunk? It's actually my favorite of -punks (aesthetics and tech to consider now). It also has a lot of nazi imagery but... not all works explore what you mentioned. I would put Machine Games's Wolfenstein reboot under it because it does show actual horrors of nazis and a world conquered by nazis.
To be honest. I tend to like Modern Settings even on fantasy. I like contrasts between the mundane and the fictional.
Full disclosure, my favorite of the "Punk Punk" genres is...Cassette Futurism, the one that doesn't actually have -punk appended. However, as noted above, Steam, Solar, Cyber, Diesel, etc punk have common themes beyond the standard aesthetics of the genres. Does Cassette Futurism have common themes between works, or is it mostly an aesthetic rather than a genre?
Good taste then! I'm much the same way.
Edited by AzurePaladin on Aug 22nd 2019 at 1:27:19 PM
Cassette Futurism is more or less "person who grew up in the Eighties' idea of the future". It's an example of Zeerust.
So with news of the Amazon Rain Forest burning and other ecological horrors going on, how do you think "preachy" environmentalist stories that were once subject of mockery would hold up now?
Even before this, I think a lot of people here have become more sympathetic to stuff like Captain Planet and Ferngully.
Doesn't change that they're typically misanthropic rants that aren't very good.
To cite one more example of Afrofuturism but for the Middle East, the tabletop game Infinity has one such example as its main factions - Haqqislam, the New Islam - a modernised and reformed Middle Eastern faction that has recaptured the spirit of Islamís scientific Golden Age.
As for the difference between cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk and between post-cyberpunk and normal sci-fi, the base cyberpunk specifically focuses on exploring a future where cybertechnology is what the setting revolves around. People have powerful computers (by our standards) in their heads as microchips, people can enter a VR cyberspace, body modification and cybernetic replacement and transhumanism are commonplace, and societally, it's basically a corporate libertarian utopia. Corps run the world, and usually have almost equal if not greater authority than state governments (depending), very few of society's ills have been sorted out. Basic cyberpunk takes these elements and naturally has a very cynical view of the worldwhereas post-cyberpunk has a more hopeful outlook. The difference between post-cyberpunk and "normal sci-fi" is that normal sci-fi doesn't necessarily have all those tropes as a focus - for example, the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamilton has some cyberpunk tropes - everyone has a computer in their brain that they can use to not only essentially works as a thought-operated smartphone but also can control some bodily functions ( the series has a truly distracting number of sex scenes, and one character uses this in order to ... last longer in bed) - however the series as a whole doesn't focus on cyberpunk themes or many other cyberpunk tropes, being an epic space opera about humanity learning to cope with the truth of life after death.
Obviously there's some bleedover between all sci-fi and with some examples (like the aformentioned Infinity - a cyberpunk setting that is split between humanity's first dozen or so colonised planets and has mech warfare) the line between post-cyberpunk and standard sci-fi is very blurry. But I think post-cyberpunk itself is still distinct as a genre.
Edited by GoldenKaos on Aug 23rd 2019 at 10:25:18 AM
To be honest I got the impression that a lot of people's problems with Captain Planet were not really the environmentalist message, but more the characters and the plotlines.
Edited by akanesarumara on Aug 22nd 2019 at 8:33:56 PM
I distinctly recall Captain Planet being really cheesy even for its time. Skimming through the YMMV page, I get the feeling there's a bit of Accentuate the Negative going on, with some more reasonable criticisms of the show's handling of sensitive issues. Interestingly, these tend to be social issues rather than environmental ones.
The character Wheeler gets the most flak from American audiences for being the ignorant audience surrogate who needs the the rest of the international Planteers to explain environmental issues to him and for being kind of a jerk. Though apparently Wheeler's deal was that his expertise was urban issues, and these got drowned out by the overwhelmingly environmental issues his friend's episodes focused on 80% of the time. Ma Ti is a close second for allegedly being useless, but I can't recall how true that is though.
The villains had to occupy this weird place of being Saturday Morning Cartoon Villains and addressing real world issues at the same time in a way that Shredder or Skelator never had to. I do recall that the writers made them that way on purpose because they didn't want kids watching to think their parents who worked as loggers or at oil refineries were evil people.
Also, Fu Manchu Hitler. Also, puns.
Throw in the occasional research fail and there's plenty for older folks to complain about.
That said, given recent events I'm finding myself more and more appreciative of Captain Planet. Even if the message was preachy or sometimes poorly executed, at least it was getting that message out.
I think of Captain Planet like Twilight.
For all the flak it got, a lot of people watched and loved it.
I figured that the chief issue with old-timey Green Aesop shows wasn't merely the fact that they were pro-environment, but more the overly simplistic and black-and-white way in which environmental issues were handled.
Like, for example, humans as a species being treated as a blight on the Earth that's naturally inclined towards destruction and exploitation, or at least modern, technologically-advanced societies, with less-technological tribal societies being given the Noble Savage treatment, which is a whole can of issues in itself. Meanwhile, nature in general is treated as always good with no exceptions, and occasionally animals are treated as semi-sapient, which probably isn't what you want to be doing if you're trying to convey a serious real-world message, and I say this as someone who likes Talking Animal stories. :V
In other words, humanity and human civilization is treated as Always Chaotic Evil, while nature is Always Lawful Good.
On the other hand, with Captain Planet in particular, I'd argue that humans as a whole are not treated as always bad - though I would argue that it goes too far in the other direction and depicts environmental destruction as the province of obvious cartoon supervillains, thus sidestepping the reality that many normal-looking companies that the target demographic (and more importantly, their parents) like and buy from probably have an unintentional hand in such activities. So basically it falls into many of the same pitfalls as The Aggressive Drug Dealer, demonizing an inexplicable outsider rather than risk suggesting that the viewer should be wary of people or groups that they know and interact with.
Edited by PresidentStalkeyes on Aug 23rd 2019 at 4:48:21 PM
Yeah, the problem with most Green Aesop stories is that they tend to be misanthropic and miss the point of environmentalism. They tend to say humanity is evil, and environmental destruction is bad because it hurts *insert cute critter here*. This causes people to take on a sort of Then Let Me Be Evil attitude about nature.
The thing is, the actual victim of pollution is humans. Earth is our drinking water, we shouldn't piss in it.
I feel like Captain Planet got a bit too much flack for their Green Aesop and it was often the case of Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch. Yes, Doctor Blight was a supervillain who tried to give nukes to Hitler. However, the show actually did pretty good with a number of environmental episodes and their regular cast of supervillains. Sly Sludge, Hoggish Greedly, and Lootin Plunder may have had punny names but I'd argue they were mostly fairly accurate depictions of looter capitalists. They were motivated by money and got away with their crimes primarily because they were rich.
I did watch Captain Planet and the episode I most remember was oddly the least superheroic of all — The Planeteers show up at a convention where they're deputing the Tesla (it's not the Tesla but it's the Tesla in all ways that counts) which is a compact gas-free electric car. Hoggish Greedly senses the audience's reaction is completely bored and debuts a gas-guzzling monster Hummer variant that produces massive amounts of C2 but looks awesome. Soon its clogging up Los Angeles' air and making the highways of America worse than ever. It's also incredibly unsafe and Hoggish only ends up discontinuing it after his son nearly dies due to some design flaws.
They had some truly stupid episodes but I felt this was a really good one for a cartoon but accurate way of presenting the issues.
Ah yes, "Smog Hog."
Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 23rd 2019 at 9:36:55 AM
As a kid, Sly Sludge always confused the fuck out of me.
I was like 'Why does he have the 'no parking' sign on his gloves?'.
I haven't seen Captain Planet in forever and my memories of it are very fuzzy, though I do distinctly recall it being one of my favorite shows when I was very little. I do recall it avoiding the misanthropy flaw I mention above.
On a sidenote, if I understand and remember correctly (which I might not be), Ma-Ti was actually rather useful and a fairly good example of Heart Is an Awesome Power. This is in large part due to it being a children's show, which means that the person who specs into straight-up lethality is gonna be so very boned. The most obvious use of the fire ring, for example, is torching people, which isn't going to happen here. Even without that, Heart has a lot of versatility and utility. You can read minds, control animals, there's really endless possibilities.
I know that if Gaia came to me, offered me the position of Planeteer and told me I could pick any ring, I would...well, first I'd privately question her judgement (I've never really been the tree-hugging type), but after enthusiastically agreeing anyways, I'd pick Heart. Then I'd purchase a firearm to cover the lethality base, you don't really need a ring for that. Actually it'd be a strangely good combo, too, since small flying animals could distract enemies with guns, while I shoot them.
Well, that was a long tangent. But a fun one...for me.
I'll admit that the 'overblown looter capitalist'-type villains are probably going to be seen as Harsher in Hindsight what with the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro being increasingly brazen in their catering to such individuals. I suppose it could be argued they were always intended as deliberate satire as opposed to an accurate representation of that sort of real-life villain, but of course YMMV on if there's a limit on how obvious or 'in-your-face' satire can be before it becomes ludicrous.
Edited by PresidentStalkeyes on Aug 23rd 2019 at 6:16:37 PM
So many old cartoons are getting reboots these days, I wonder what a new Captain Planet would look like.
Even more ridiculously evil villains, in order to avoid comparisons to the even more cartoonishly evil real-life villains we've got these days.
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