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Skies of Arcadia :: Help! I'm Stuck In a Box!
Reviewed by : Gunstar Heroine



PLOT: 0
CHARACTERIZATION: 0
WRITING: 0
SUBSTANCE: 0
(This whole fic is like some weird sort of zen exercise, I think.)

One of the most irritating trends on FF.net recently has to be the "randomness" fic. I'm sure you've all seen this sort of thing: the author spews out assorted nonsensical garbage that's accumulated in their brain, which has nothing to do with anything whatsoever, and then attaches characters from an established series to it.

Today, I'm finally bitching one, just to get the message out to people that THESE THINGS HAVE NO POINT AND CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO YOUR FANDOM OR TO THE INTERNET IN GENERAL. Not to mention they're supposed to be funny, but 99.9% of the time just leave readers wondering why they bothered to read it in the first place.

This fic is (mercifully) short but incredibly annoying in its mere existence. Just think, if all the time and effort spent writing all these exercises in stupidity were spent on writing a REAL fic with good stuff like plot and characterization, ff.net would be quite a bit less painful than it is now.



For those who are unfamiliar, Skies of Arcadia is an *EXCELLENT* Dreamcast and GameCube RPG from Sega about swashbuckling pirates in a world where islands, continents, ships, and creatures all float high in the sky. Two air pirates, Vyse and Aika, along with Fina (the obligatory mysterious girl), are dragged into a plot which seems cliched at first, but evolves into a huge, wonderfully entertaining story with some of the most likable characters to ever grace an RPG. Even the villains have clear motivations and personalities, creating lots and lots of material for fans to expand upon.

I'm Stuck In a Box doesn't use any of these possibilities. Sure, it's about one of the game's most interesting villians, Ramirez, but the Ramirez in the fic has absolutely nothing in common with the Ramirez I encountered in the game. With so much about Ramirez's background unknown and with his mind and emotions so complex, there's potential to write very good character exploration fic. Instead, we are given brainless crap like this.

An ICQ buddy first handed me this fic, asking me why it existed. I looked at it and was hard-pressed to explain why as well. We sat and tried to comprehend it for a moment or two, with him giving his commentary:

...when I think of Ramirez in a box, I think of those infomercials:

"But Charlie, what about those times when your *average* angsty white-haired bishounen villain just won't do?"

"Glad you asked, Mike! I've got the solution right here! Introducing..." (plop!) "Ramirez In a Box!"

(audience "oooooh"s!)

"Wow, Charlie! You mean now I can have my own Ramirez right here at home?"

"That's right, Mike!"


To the culprit behind that: you do not cease to amuse. XD

Anyways, I decided it was about time we finally take on one of these exercises in fanfic futility. You might want to shut your brain off first, as I am not responsible for any damages caused to it.

This little bit of insanity is about Ramirez stuck in a box. It might not be funny, but it's an interesting read! Review please! ~Lady Anubis

Part of this sentence is right, and the other is dead wrong. Can you tell which is which?

Over the course of rereading this fic to comment on it, I found writing snarkiness for this review to be considerably more difficult than usual. The fic pretty much kills ITSELF under the weight of its own nothingness.

It is a strange thing, being trapped in a box. If you move your appendages WHAM! There's the side of the box restraining you. And its frustrating, being cooped up in a box. There is no escape. Just walls and the scent of cardboard.

This actually isn't too bad, besides the punctuation errors, here. But tell me again... what exactly does this have to do with Skies of Arcadia?

And from this point, the fic takes us on a twisting road to ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE.

Many people claim I am insane. Ooooh yes, many fan authors have proclaimed me un-sane. Maybe this being trapped in a box, maybe this will prove to the world the authors are right.

ALERT! ALERT! MASSIVE BREACH OF FOURTH WALL AHEAD! PREPARE FOR IMPACT!

Some of you might be wondering, what is the fourth wall? In that case, here's a pretty good explanation.

But to put it myself, I'd say the fourth wall is the separation between the author/reader/real world and the fictional story. Characters talking to or interacting with the reader (outside of typical first-person POV) or author is "breaching the fourth wall." Usually references to the people reading, or pop-culture/real world references not valid in the fiction world also destroys this concept. In this case, Ramirez knows that fan authors outside his universe say he's insane.

Breaking this fourth wall in almost all kinds of fiction is usually a baaaaaaaaaad thing. It's incredibly disruptive, destroying the illusion of the fictional world the reader has been observing. This isn't always the case though: I've seen stories that somehow involve the awareness of the author/reader, and manage to do it very well. Managing to pull off a fourth wall breach WELL is something only very talented writers seem capable of.

BACK TO MY POINT! You see, after getting killed by Vyse and Co., I've taken up a rather simple life in a box. The afterlife isn't very entertaining, with 500 channels and nothing good to watch. There's the occasional spirit to talk to, and speaking to Galcian does get a little odd, especially his complaining (RAMIREZ! QUIT PEEING ALL OVER THE RUG! DIDN'T THE SILVITE ELDERS POTTY TRAIN YOU?!) But of course those are LIES! ALL LIES!

Point? This fic is supposed to have a point?

And look! POTTY HUMOR IS TEH FUNNIE!!!! LOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLLOLL!!!!!!!!!!!1111

Actually, if Ramirez were conversing regularly with Galcian in the afterlife, I'd expect them to be in the box doing... well, something other than complaining at each other ^.- I mean, after seeing how VERY VERY CLOSE to each other they were in-game. (I don't think you can deny canon slashiness after seeing one guy bawl and go insane over his comrade.)

Sometimes I go to the oxygen bar and get high on air. Other times I make balloon animals and throw them at unsuspecting victims. At random I will sing Adam Sandler's "Technical Foul" song which amuses me very much. I even beat my head against brick walls. Why? Well dead people don't gotta worry about losing brain cells. For no reason I have been known to jump out windows in fear of garden gnomes. DO YOU SEE WHAT DEATH HAS DONE TO ME?!

And what does this have to do with being in a cardboard box, again? Here we have the author throwing out their own premise so that they can chuck in EVEN MORE dumb crap we don't care about.

Adam Sandler songs? Oh boy, the author did it again.

(DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS FIC HAS DONE TO ME?!)

So with nothing constructive to do, meditating in a cardboard box isn't too bad. Other spirits come along and kick me, some electrocute me with my electric collar, frizz my hair in all directions, squirt me with ketchup, eat my food, take my lunch money, get attacked by my monkey George, steal my sword, use my sword against me, and chuck Nerf balls at my head. So hiding in a box is a good idea. My monkey George protects me.

Ramirez now has a monkey, as the author hath so decreed. Why a monkey? I don't know, but it seems like some people think anything with monkeys automatically = INSTANT HILARITY. I know this is true, because I have a coworker who thinks EXACTLY like that and has voiced this opinion on many occasions. (Everybody else in the office mocks him constantly, I may add. Not exactly the brightest crayon in the box...)

Nerf... major breach number 3. If this fic were a seacraft, it'd be sinking like the Titanic.

This box is so...inspiring. It brings me pleasant memories of Fina, when I locked her in a giant Pepsi can. Now I am no longer a happy Silvite but a solitary being shutting himself in a box. I am like a hermit from the rest of this pathetic world. Locked in a little pocket of joy and peace.

Say hello to another bad pop-culture reference and YET ANOTHER another dumb idea that doesn't go anywhere or belong in the Skies universe. That's major breach #4, but this fic was deep-sixed from the start.

AHHH! MY CARDBOARD BOX HAS BEEN SET ON FIRE!
The End.

Note: No cardboard boxes were harmed in the making of this fan fiction. Ramirez, however, was beaten up, set on fire, had Nerf balls chucked at his head, and was attacked by garden gnomes.


Random ending to a random fic. All you can think about, having finished this, are two things:

1. Why did I waste precious seconds of my life on this?
2. Why did the author waste precious seconds of her life composing this?

The reviews, sadly, don't offer much more hope for humanity:

id sighn in but then i couldn't post this idea i just had,

how about another chapter about Ramirez locking Fina in a giant pepsi can ^ ^
-


HELP.

Sadly, there's THOUSANDS of fics like this on FF.net. Want examples? There's another great effort, Fina Gets Hit By a Car, in this category, a Fatal Frame/Wizard of Oz fic which made Rebel Toy weep in the corner pathetically, as well as the Saiyuki "HIV IS HILARIOUS!" fic Leather Daddy mentioned a while back. It's obvious that if these randomness "fanfics" (I'm hard-pressed to call them that) were wiped from the face of ff.net, mediaminer.org, and all those other unmoderated submission fanfic sites, they would be cleaner, less congested, and at least somewhat higher-quality.

Maybe, if we all hope and pray really, really hard...

A Different kind of babysitter
Dante babysits the kid from hell: Calvin from Calvind and Hobbes. Whether you've read Calvin and Hobbes or not, you'll still love this story

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE


I really have no idea what to say in response to shit like this; like you said, it's just so much nothing. Words fail. Well, they fail me, at any rate; you pulled a pretty funny review out of it somehow.

NEVER MENTION FATAL FRAME AND WIZARD OF OZ IN THE SAME SENTENCE EVER AGAIN, YOU BITCH. Or I will kill you with a rusty pizza cutter. I'll CUT YOUR HEART OUT AND EAT IT WITH PARMESAN, DO YOU HEAR ME?! That fic made me weep. It wasn't even bad in a funny way. It was just BAD. WHY GOD WHY

I liked this bitching, though. There was some cutting insight in this review regarding the thought processes of people who think monkeys are equivalent to comedy.

The Fatal Frame xover is three chapters long?!? AAGH! Man, it makes me wish ghosts like Kirie *DO* exist to go torture fic authors who write these horrible, wretched stories.

Ugh. Just ugh. Great review--glad to see the mighty FicBitches can squeeze so much out of something so small.

....wow, that came out wrong. Can I start again? Please? Aw, come on.

For more examples, this "omgrandomnesswAcKyNSANITY!!!111" stuff is VERY much afoot in the Super Smash Brothers section of ff.net. Well, that and lots of Captain Falcon/Samus pairings. Tread cautiously. (At least the Ice Climbers lemon got taken down though.)

To think that this stuff would invade my beloved Skies though... (sniff)

Heh. Before the RPS smackdown at ff, the U2 section was completely overrun with "wacky" fic. There was no middle ground at all - you'd get a few serious slash stories, and then dozens of "fics" along the lines of "'OMG Bono!1!! Stop staring at teh sun!1!!' said Edge!!

'Hehe that's pretty good!1! i think Ill use taht in a song!1!!@!' said Bono

'GOOBER!!1!!!' said Larry who was of his meds LOLZ!!!"

Damn kids.

Gahh. I can't stand "randomness" fics. The Lord of the Rings section on FFN is lousy with them, most of them self-insert as well (and of course "OMG LOL PLZ WRIGHT MORE" reviews aplenty). I don't understand the point of recording one's mental diarrhea and calling it fanfiction...

At this moment in time, I'm feeling very, very glad that I abandoned FF.N when they did the whole abolition of RPS thing. Just reading the excerpts from that fic made me cringe, so I commend you for surviving the entire fic. And at least it was good for ficbitching, right?

Ugh. I can relate to you on the whole monkey-people deal, too. They're a nice breed of human being, aren't they? X\

"RANDOM = FUNNEE!!!1" comes up depressingly often on the internet. I can't even explain it. If I try, I start sounding like an enormous wanker, ranting stuff like "You poser, you don't know from humor!" ...I mean, I suppose they think it's funny, but I just don't see it.

And it tends to happen when people co-author fics, as far as I've seen. Maybe it's spawned from "you hadda be there" moments. Maybe? Grasping at straws, here.

I'm almost glad I know nothing about SoA at the moment, or I'd be seriously annoyed.

It's so nice to see other intelligent people who can't stand this kind of garbage. This kind of fic is mental diarrhea. You don't shit in someone else's house, or in the middle of a busy intersection for everyone to see, so why the hell would you post this kind of rambling nonsense on the web? I don't get it.

Then again, I also don't get the "MONKEYS = TEH FUNNY" or any of that other "humor," so whatever.

At least, for the most part, this fic had proper grammer, spelling, and formatting. It makes me sad when I see people who have a good grasp of language mechanics destroy any writing talent they might have with the giant rubber mallet of ficdom.

*sigh* I recall sifting through the Skies of Arcadia section of walls-of-flesh.net and this kind of crap was pretty much all I found. My mother used to say "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," but when it comes to fanfiction I think the phrase is "If you don't have something worthwhile to say, don't say anything at all."

@_@ ugh. That's my response to that fic. Ugh.

Though as I look at it more, I'm reminded of the DADA art movement. Dear mother of god and all things that are good and pure, I hope that this doesn't become a new major trend of writing, in general. I mean, hell, it could happen.

I'm not saying that every author that writes these "random" fics is deeply inspired or has a deeper purpose..but I'm saying that people who DO have that urge could see this stuff, and go "Wow, let ME try that!" it might be a good deal more interesting but...yeah. Fanfiction, it is not. But it could become the next big thing...
An example of this kind of storytelling?
http://www.yhchang.com
I suggest "Samsung Means to Come" or "Nippon"..and some of these ARE quite good, really but....this is the "art" of writing in the 21st century. Welcome to it.

Actually, "Lotus Blossom" is probably the one that is closest to THIS fic, although it has a greater amount of actual THOUGHT involved...

There is one major difference between this kind of fic and dada. Dada was cool. It had Marcel Duchamp in it.

This? This is unforgiveable. Even though it is my sincere conviction that monkeys really *are* funny, they are only funny in certain contexts.

You see, the whole point of "randomness" or "the absurd" in art is to add emphasis or unusual clarity to a specific point by use of an unexpected reversal of normal conditions. In order for this to work in literature, or in any other kind of art, there must both be a set of established conditions to upset, and a reason to upset them, be it to make an ideological statement, or simply to make a description more vivid or shocking. The meaning of this kind of technique is lost if it is overused. If all elements in a piece of artwork are chosen arbitrarily, its entire meaning and significance is dissolved; it literally could have been anything. Artwork like this can only be appreciated at all at an aesthetic level. And I think most people would agree with me when I say that there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this fic, or about the rape of an otherwise good and wholesome fandom.

Dada was cool, and fun, and a wonderfully wobbly table to play chess on, but you have to remember that the whole point of the movement was more or less a protest against itself. Art has significance and value only where it has design, that is, manipulation according to human will in order to achieve a particular end. Fanfiction should never happen by accident.

This fic is like knocking a bottle of ketchup over on a piece of paper, and then publishing it in the newspaper. The author may as well have just installed a random word generator on their computer; it would probably have turned out better.

Ah, yes, the pit of voles. The one place MSTers(like myself) & Fic Bitches(like I wish I was) alike can always look to for horribly shitty fanfiction. Why am I not surprised a fic totally devoid of content was found there?

I commend a Fic Bitch with a high threshold for pain to bitch Final Fantasy Cinderella" by Brad Bingham--who is such a bad writer that my little brother, having been exposed to a few of his stories, practically froths at the mouth should I ever bring him up in conversation, ranting about how anybody can get their grubby hands on a keyboard nowadays. (To be honest, his 20+ fanfics are something of a goldmine for a MSTer like myself.) I'd love to see that.

-Callisto

It looks like the Saiyuki fic I posted up there got taken town - if one of our readers was responsible for killing off that abomination, THANK YOU.

Well, anyways, if you're looking to see another, much longer and EVEN WORSE "random events" fic get torn to shreds, this would be a good place to recommend one of my most favorite MSTs EVAR:

http://www.dimfuture.net/elsewhere/mot/ep113.txt

This is a MST of a story called "The Dave and Dyne Saga", which is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Even thought the MST itself is incomplete (there's no "interludes"), it's still a hilarious read. It gets the GH stamp of approval!

Aw, the "hahaha, Gojyo has HIV, HILARITY!!" fic is gone. I shed a single tear from my heart onto a rosepetal.

While we're on the topic of MSTs (sort of) I'd like to point you all to an MST that is very near and dear to my heart. I sometimes go back and reread it to purify my soul after reading too many bad fanfics.

http://www.mindspring.com/~khabal/www/rst3k105.txt

It's an MST of an Utena fic. You can read the rest of 'em here.

And for those of you who WANT to be FicBitches...I'm warning you, it's a hobby for masochists. We deliberately torture each other with this stuff. "You have GOT to read this all the way through without crying! You are allowed to skim if the pain becomes too much!" Last night I was trolling one of my favorite houses of pain, and I found an old "favorite" that I inflicted on poor Gunstar Heroine. Heh heh heh. En-joy that, GH? If I hadn't already tackled a fic from the mountain of crap that is Star Wars fic, I'd work on that one. As it is, I think my next review will really have to deal with a genre of fic known as "insert kink here."

Bring it on. (Anonymous) Expand
oh, yeah? (Anonymous) Expand
Thank you! You have a done a service to all readers who have an IQ higher than their shoe size.

I blame Hollywood. All those Adam Sandler movies and teen comedies have warped the fragile minds of our nations youth.

Now anyone thinks they can be pants-wetting hilarious by throwing around a few pop-culture references, working in some fart jokes and of course using monkeys.

Comedy like any other writing genre takes EFFORT to make it work.


Icz

Why would someone do this to lovely lovely Skies of Arcadia, what never did no 'arm to nobody? Why? Why?

It makes my tummy hurt. But not as much as the piles and piles of terrible SoA Mary Sues to be found here:
http://soaworld.w00ty.com/fanfic/

w00ty?

(Anonymous)
I think that any site with 'w00ty' in the url is probably not going to have any valuable content whatsoever. Net speak is a horrible slaughter of the english language as it is, and using it in the first thing anyone sees of your web page is not going to help your reputation. That web page made my brain hurt from just contemplating the reasons for it's url...

Personally, I think the concept of "Ramirez in a Box" has some potential.

Just imagine, a seemingly ordinary Jack-in-the-Box toy. The only difference being that when you turn the crank and the song ("Pop Goes the Weasel", of course) stops playing, instead of a puppet, out pops an enraged Ramirez!