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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Symbols of Stigma: a RARE Story

By RAWKHAWK2010 - She's got stigmas like you wouldn't believe~

As has been made clear in the past few days, select dudes were waiting with bated breath for someone like the Charleston church charger to come along. Not because they were in any hurry to feel sympathy for the victims or their families, but because it would incur a massive out-pour of guilt for said opportunists to jump upon like a goat on a hobo, so that they could achieve their own insidious ends and get everything banned/stigmatized/dead that they don't personally like.

And it appears to be working, beginning with total annihilation of the Confederate flag. Regarding whether the flag should remain at the Charleston capital after appearing in photos with Roof, Governor Nikki Haley said no, Mitt Romney said no, Jeb Bush said no, and even Lindsey Graham said nowhich means he just lost the few 2016 votes he might have actually had and will now be performing even more shittily in the Republican Presidential Primary Debate Super Contest than originally predicted. Not to mention that Wal-Mart has opted to pull all Confederate flag-branded items from their stores for being "offensive", despite the fact that just about everything sold in a Wal-Mart is "offensive" to one sense or another (from the ghastly produce to the third-world bar soap).

As the creator of such classics as "Rebel Crossing" and "I Wish I Was In Stoutland", I obviously won't take this sitting down. Well, I might, but I'm sure as hell still going to write about it. Because in defense of the Confederate flag, there's a timely story to be told here. A story about another powerful and beautiful symbol spat on and ridiculed by the "writers of history", which at long last Rose Again as it always knew it would.

The symbol of Rare.

Like the South, Rare always had a desire to self-govern; and for the first 10 years of the company's life, self-government was just what they did. From genuine innovators like R.C. Pro-Am (first boost zippers in a racing game!) to out-and-out looniness like Anticipation, Rare did whatever they wanted to do with whichever publisher would indulge them. And life was good. But when Rare finally became an official half-owned "partner" of Nintendo following the success of Donkey Kong Country, the seeds of something not-so-good were sewn. Because a pact with Nintendo was also a pact with Shigeru Miyamoto, whose "creative differences" would soon leave Rare with far less autonomy than they entered the deal with. Just as the North despised the South, Miyamoto despised Rare and had no respect whatsoever for their ability to self-govern. When Miyamoto saw Donkey Kong Country, its only significance was that it made Yoshi's Island seem less impressive, and that "it proved players would put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art was good." When Miyamoto saw Dinosaur Planet, its only significance was that Sabre reminded him of Fox and therefore it should be a Star Fox game instead. To his credit, Miyamoto did make the totally awesome suggestion to include Diddy in what eventually became Diddy Kong Racing, but combined with the previous example, I'm led to believe Miyamoto just wanted to retain full or partial rights to otherwise Rare-owned properties for when they finally parted ways. (And to think Rare Replay could have been an even BETTER deal.)

With the rest of Nintendo being as useless as a run-over dog and having their own crazy schemes such as forcing Rare to make those Mickey Speedway games, September 24, 2002 arrived and Rare formally seceded from the Nintendo Union. Going from 49% ownership under Nintendo to 100% ownership under Microsoft may not sound much like much of a "secession", but Rare was promised an unprecedented amount of creative freedom, as seen with how Grabbed by the Ghoulies was actually allowed to be released. And while some believe that a close Rare colleague named Ken Lobb was partially responsible for orchestrating the Microsoft-Rare acquisition (due to how he himself made a transition from Microsoft to Nintendo a year prior), I remain skeptical. What makes it so impossible that Ken Lobb made his move after he heard that Rare was likely headed there too, choosing state over country just as Robert E. Lee did?

Ken Lobb Rare Robert E. Lee
"It is well that Miyamoto is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of him."
- Robert E. Lobb

...Nah. Regardless of which side of Redmond he was on, a dirty Washington Elite was still a dirty Washington Elite in the end. And although things didn't close out with Rare being reabsorbed by the Nintendo nanny state, their secession was a failure all the same. They didn't adapt well to Xbox development, they couldn't reel in their old fanbase or cultivate a new one, and even if Kinect Sports wasn't really any more a waste of time than Paper Mario: Sticker Star (aside from there being three of them), Rare's image was eventually ruined. Being caught with the Rare logo in public would net you the same glare that the Confederate flag is receiving right now, and by the time of Kinect Sports: Season 2, it was earnestly believed that leaving Rare's name off of all marketing would only enhance reception.

If you asked a "progressive liberal" how to solve this conundrum, their answer would of course be to sink the Rare brand immediately. Because believing a symbol tarnished once to be a symbol tarnished forever means a liberal knows not how to create, only to destroy. But Phil Spencer is no liberal. Phil Spencer eschews the labels and focuses on what's important (aka Rare), which is exactly why Rare's reputation has done a complete (Xbox) 180 in the span of one Electronic Entertainment Expo. The Sea of Thieves trailer has more Likes than Dislikes! Rare Replay HAS THE MOST AMAZON PRE-ORDERS OF EVERYTHING ANNOUNCED AT E3! All because Phil had faith when others didn't. (And it's clear from Sea of Thieves that Phil has afforded Rare more self-governmentship than ever before.)

Phil Spencer The South Will Rise Again Rare Confederacy
Phil said "Rare Will Rise Again." And so it did.

Some will say that such a redemption could never be possible for the Confederate flag, that no matter how wonderfully-appropriated it is by The Dukes of Hazzard or Robert E. Stoutland, the symbol was bad originally and thus it will be bad forever. But wrong again! Upon release, Grabbed by the Ghoulies was criticized as if it were a manifestation of all the treason in the world, receiving vitriol from former fans and even the company itself for years on end. But then you look at where it is 12 years later, and it's playable on the E3 2015 show floor in all its 60FPS 1080p remastered Rare Replay glory with everyone loving it. And if Ghoulies of all things can rise again, I say this flag can too. 

Update 6/24/2015: Aaaaaand now the flag is being removed from everywhere en masse (including eBay even though literal Nazi memorabilia is still fair game), Hillary Clinton says this is just the beginning (although what difference, at this point, does any of it make?) and The Dukes of Hazzard, The The Dukes of Hazzard, will never have merchandise depicting the General Lee's rooftop ever again, and in all likelihood will be petitioned off TV Land by the end of the week.

(Maybe...maybe this really is the end.)

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