I should be offended – but I’m (mostly) not. Amazon ‘adult content’ sim in SL

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few months now… because it might really annoy some people who don’t get what I’m trying to say…
Amazon River Sim

As some know, while my avatar in Second Life is African, I am actually part Amazonian Indian. I describe myself as Asian-Mulatto these days, but for most of my life I presumed one half of my heritage was Andes Mountain Amazonian and Native North American. DNA has recently shown my North American heritage is actually North and West African (from roughly where the Kaje or Berom people are) – quite a shock that raises some questions about family stories.

But as to the Amazonian heritage…

One of the first things I did when I first came to second life was search for terms like Amazon and Inca (yes, quite a bit of Peru is in the Amazon, and Inca are a cousin ethnicity). This is how I discovered SL was somewhat obsessed with Gor and misogynistic styles of eroticism (as opposed to a more balanced approach). If you look for those terms in SL, you will go down a strange journey of explicit venues that have all of nothing to do with either Amazonian people, Inca, or even the Amazon legends of ancient Greece. Well, it often does blend in small bits of the first and third, and then casts it into a Gorean angle of a world where women are highly exploited, explored as if this was a virtue.

So…

I’m always getting ready to cringe when I look up such places.

Here’s the latest one I’ve found, and then I’ll note why it doesn’t bother me so much. Though in some ways – it really should.
Amazon River Sim
Amazon River – Eight regions – one river!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Glint/214/26/22

“volcano experience keys seamless quest puzzle game challenge conquer adventure tribe primal partner couple sex naked nude bare clothing optional capture roleplay”

(etc. It appears in SL Search in a couple of languages:
“ilha selva tropical tribo floresta indígena inca asteca da chuva paraíso atol Mama Allpa Praia de nudismo nadar divertimento armadilhas RLV raider mar carpa perdeu caça ao tesouro busca naturista fauna costa rica costa cachoeira de praia roupas nuas ”
– Google says that’s Portuguese. But Google also thinks it has something to do with Aztecs and March so… OK. I feel like I want to point out to somebody that Aztecs and the Amazon is like Vikings in Jerusalem. Sure its the same “so called race”, but the ethnicity/culture is VERY different).
Amazon River Sim in Fog
So if you explore this place you’ll find a beautifully made river region with a few connected sims. It seems to be growing as time goes on. There are a medium number of people there everytime I look at it on the map, spread around the sims.
Amazon River Sim
The venue is actually quite beautifully made. And nearly all mesh of a style that is very forgiving on my graphics card (experts know Mesh regions are either very easy on graphics, or very horrid. Some places just crash my machine on rezzing in, others make me feel like somebody put butter on my bandwidth to make it smoother. This place… has the butter. Or did when I went. The roleplayers there are tasked with filling it, so things can change, but I have an alt in their groups and the admins seem active and trying to keep it going well according to their goals).

A lot of them are nude, Well… most of them are nude. There is a good dose of ‘poseball furnishings’. And there is a general “Amazonians are naked tree hugger hippies and / or primitives” thing going on.

So it is the kind of place that will make militantly conservative rednecks freak out and start spewing racism about how Native People are all cannibals that exist to kill white people… (which is the reaction I got the first time I combined mentioning my Amazonian ancestry with a post about “my idea of an ideal civilization” – before I could even get to the details… the redneck was in there on the attack about how evil my DNA was. And from there it descended into arguments that made me look irrational because well… when you get your very right to exist attacked, you get irrational… and I guess that was the goal of my attacker anyway: to get something they could forever cart out over the years to show their notion of me as a “crazy colored freak”.
– Such people tend to feel that any mentions of other ethnicities have to come with a full list of caveats stating all bad things people of that ethnicity have ever done… as if it could not just be obvious that all human beings are human and have both good and bad people among them… and as if it was not obvious that a comment about one’s heritage was not an attack on theirs…)
– I’m using the term ‘redneck’ here as a shorthand for a certain worldview. And yes… I know people of the worldview I’m referring to always feel a need to attack when you try to use any term to describe them that isn’t 101 pages long and uses no nouns…

I suppose it doesn’t help that I actually AM a tree-hugger left wing feminist ‘social justice warrior’…
Amazon River Sim
Anyway… back to the sim Amazon – There’s a whole flickr for it (has nudity):

https://www.flickr.com/groups/amazon-river-in-sl/

So yeah. It is patronizing. And that is where one would normally think my reaction ought to be to take offense. And I will get back to why in a moment.

But…

Lets take a look at the real Amazon Rainforest today, or more precisely what is going on there.

The governments around our forest are selling it off to international corporations, who have been clear cutting the place. For labor, they use the very people who once lived there, after those people have first been forced into poverty and desperation in shanty towns set up in places like Lima Peru or the many slums of Brazil.

People are often forced to work, victims of human trafficking. Those who don’t end up in these labor camps, risk being sterilized by ‘patronizing governments’ such as Peru’s that seek to ‘contain the number of savages’… Much like how American conservatives argue that they solution to poverty is to sterilize poor inner-city Blacks and Latinas, reservation Native Americans and trailer-park White women (so-called welfare moms – which is why I have phrased with “inner-city” and “trailer-park”, the terms that help them “sell” these ideas)…

(Those same Conservatives work very hard to keep up the race-wars between those lower class whites and the other groups, to keep everyone from noticing the money trail…)

This is what life is like in today’s Amazon:

trois-images-prises-par-satellite-de-la-foret-amazonienne-acquises-respectivement-en-1986-1998-et-2005-la-serie-illustre-limportance-de-la-deforestation-c2a9-cnes-distribution-sp

2000, 2005, 2010 – the same location.

slavery-learn

– A real life slave laborer in charcoal ‘factory’.

1278972760-amazon-deforestation_22213

– I don’t have details on this image. It appears to be charcoal ovens in the background.

Burnt river bed in height of forest fires, Amazon, Brazil

– Not at all just a human tragedy.

So things are not going well at all for my distant real life kin. In a world where our forest is being destroyed for profit and life is being wasted in exploitation…

Anything that shines a positive light on the value of preserving such a world is something I will accept. The people who make fantasies of an idyllic life among the rivers and trees. A fantasy where you can be nude, joyous, and live in simple harmony with nature…

… Well that is not far from how people in the Amazon seek to live. Yes we all know reality is not perfect, and I know full well every time a person of color describes anything about their people, their culture, or their history in anything but a negative light, an army of white people will line up to remind them how horrible various aspects of their heritage are or to claim they are attacking white culture by not slandering their own culture

Sadly in the wake of politicians like Trump, and pretty much the entire GOP – white racism is on the rise and has become acceptable again in mainstream America.

And places like this, which let’s face it, are white fantasies… they can be a mixed bag.

I have commented many times on the blaxploitation sims and ‘inter-racial’ sims in SL… that do negative portrayals of people of the African diaspora. I’ve been writing about that for years before I knew I had ancestry from that region, and from before I found SL because that issue is not unique to SL. And, as noted above… my first searches in SL led me to places with exploitation angles on my Amazonian heritage.

So my gut reaction to a sim like this is to flinch. But its not bothering me this time… because there is no attempt in here at all to paint it as some sort of ‘savages and the strapping western hero’ angle (you can roleplay CARP here, as that ‘western hero’… but its not the angle they go for. They just allow it).

This place could very easily have gone horribly wrong in a ‘native-xploitation’ kind of way because its right there on the ‘exotic sexy other people’ line…
Amazon River Sim
The sim makes no attempt to be true to Amazonian cultures. It wouldn’t be as ‘fun’ to roleplay in if it did because yes – reality is more complex than fantasy and the rules of various cultures would mire these people in endless amateur anthropologist debates that would probably result in something offensive

So what we then have here is the ‘naked jungle fantasy’ angle… with the exploitation / appropriation part scrubbed off… and left intact is the ‘patronizing view of rainforest people as nature freaks’…

– Which is a view that can be very helpful is getting people to sympathize with the value of the Amazon rainforest, and the real people that live within it.

So yes… I am going to use your patrionizing stereotype of my kin to their advantage. And yes, that is NOT playing fair. Don’t like it? Too bad.

As to how that could have gone wrong… Imagine if it instead went down the road of Cannibals and slavery. Like the movie an image from which was used to attack me in SL circles some years back (which was not originally credited as from a movie… so my reaction to seeing what looked like an image of a horribly murdered person was rightfully intense), or like Mel Gibson’s Aztec movie… Native Xploitation Flick genre…

But it you want to go pretend that Amazonians are a bunch of naked people running around in a giant orgy… there’s the sim for you. But when you do… please remember there is a real Amazon out there, its people want to just live their lives, and the place is dying because the visitors to it do NOT share in any idealistic fantasies about it, nor even any realistic ones… they just want to fill their coffers with green-gold ($$$)…

I do wonder how the Brazilian & Peruvian SL communities see a place like this. Are they from the wealthy ‘Spanish Identifying’ set, or do they represent the masses of Poor Spanish, Mulato, Mestizo, and Indigenous people that are on the frontlines of both sides of the Amazon conflict (and I have kin on both sides of this)?
Amazon River Sim - Sunset
I wonder if they are some of the very people roleplaying there. If so, I hope they take home the idea that all that green in their real life backyard is precious – even if it takes something silly like this to see it.

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Defining Role-play – response to “Could Second Life expand the LEA model to create a Role Play endowment?”

One day, two blog posts. I think I’ve done this only once before. This one is super short.

Reading:

Prim Perfect Jigsaw: A New Year with Reflections
Could Second Life expand the LEA model to create a Role Play endowment?

The question was posed:
“One immediate difficulty, it seems to me, is identifying role-play. To some extent, one could argue that everyone who takes on an avatar that is not as close as possible a representation of their form in the physical world is taking part in a role-play. However, perhaps one could employ a stricter definition . . .”

So here is what I would see as the definition of Role-play:

It shouldn’t be too hard to quantify role-play.

Role-play is when people gather and play out characters within an unscripted group driven storyline to create, tell, or retell some event or plot-line.

  1. Role-play is not (just) a themed community, but the storyline and the actors.
  2. Role-play is unscripted. There may be a preceding event or premise, and there may be a setting. But the actors involved create the story and plot as they proceed, with each acting or reacting based on the nature of their character and the current events thus far.
  3. Role-play involves the actors assuming characters. They could play a fictional character, a real life historic or current persona, or even a ‘fictional version of themselves’. But they are not ‘being themselves’, even when acting a character that is themselves. Example: What happens to the character “John Malkovich” in the movie “Being John Malkovich” happens to that character, and not to the actor John Malkovich himself.
  4. Role-play has a stage and a scene. The stage is ‘where’ the role-play occurs. It is space the actors carve out to engage in their story, either in private or available for public observation. In SL this is usually a parcel or sim dedicated to the role-play, and primarily private with limited observation of ‘visitors’. The scene defines the time for a story block to be explored. In SL the scene is often ongoing – anytime any 2 or more members enter the stage of the role-play, they can go ‘in character’ thus starting/resuming the scene.
  5. Role-play is confined to the stage and scene, and ends or pauses when the actors leave the stage and scene, to resume when they re-enter. This is one way in which role-play is distinguished from ‘life-styling’ (besides just having a character). While it is a very overstated meme these days, it is ideal for role-play to say:

    What happens in the role-play, stays in the role-play.

Oh, and in the comments to the Prim Perfect blog article, I added my idea for how to structure a ‘Linden Endowment for Role-Play’. Repeated below:

I think the idea of doing something to organize role-play sims would be a great boost for SL.

A committee that could pick role-plays to showcase. A few centralized spots to get info and classes for them (there is already a sim that tries to do some of this, you can go there and get LMs and notecards to a vast array of different RPs. If needed, when I’m next online I will look up where it was… 🙂 ).

And I would say… these places need to get a tier discount. They’re filling half the tables in this restaurant we call SL, and getting billed heavily for it, while the majority of ways they traditionally self-funded have been cut off (/marketplaceanyone?)…

Or even whatever deal LEA gets (does it get one?), should be done for the RPs in this also.

I would go for a:

1 – 4 semi-permanent. The top ones by activity that the committee finds of quality to be showcased (because if we just looked at a traffic score, someone would game their way into this list).

5-9 revolving quarterly. Showcasing the new and/or different. Places that “break the mold” or do something the committee finds of great value or which pushes the art form forward.

10 The “sim” that holds the HQ of all this:
1/4 classrooms with volunteers on a schedule like NCI does.
1/4 a place any role-play that can get approved as being legit can put a picture on a signboard that will give a single notecard and a single LM to anyone who clicks it. A prominent portion of this would be for displays for the 1-9 sims)
1/4 shops that cater to RPers. Half of this reserved for freebies.
1/4 Open / management space.

(So sims 1-9 would be an existing sim somewhere that would get the ‘LERP’ treatment/discount/promotion while its RP retained that position.)

Fantasy roleplay is fun, but we need to stop calling it medieval

I was about to post this on Honor’s blog, but I realized that she was just doing a screenshot exploring of a beautiful sim, and my “rant” would seem off-topic and if said there, mean. Because I enjoy her blog a lot, and my rant is at ‘some other’. 🙂

This is a general point about how this genre gets named in Second Life, and among roleplay folks in general. Not aimed at anyone other than whoever is in charge of terminology around here. :p

Been thinking about Roleplay a lot lately myself – in a quest for the right theme for me.

I’ve always been annoyed at the term ‘medieval’ for these roleplay places. They are anything but.

An actual medieval setting would have guns and canons of varying ranges of advancement (starting at 800 AD in Asia, and hitting Europe by 1222 in massive amounts, but even seen earlier in Crusades. Heavy plate armors developed near the end of the period (1400s-1600s).

Peasants throughout the entire period had no freedom of movement or profession, and little to no rights. They were for all intents and purposes slaves.

Punishments were often brutal and inflicted on a clan basis rather than individual. You steal from me, I get the right to kill your daughters – that kind of thinking. But there was no -city guard-. Policing developed mostly in the 1800s. “Law” was enforced by noble clans/families attacking each other in vengeance until higher nobility stepped in to wipe one side out or broker a peace. If your serf did something, I went to you, and demanding compensation. If I killed one of your serfs, you might be able to exact a few coins payment out of me – if the ‘lord’ we both swore fealty to felt that needed.

Anyone off “adventuring” would have been a landless noble. They were the only people with such freedom. And they had it because they were not allowed to be gainfully employed. If they lacked land and serf to prey upon, they had to either be the butt-kisser of some other noble (Courtier / Concubine), or go off and kill people to take their things (Conquistador / Crusader / Knight).

People got married young. As in, get your period and off you go, drop some babies for us. Health was poor. Famine would wipe out many every year (the entire point of the spice trade and age of exploration was to improve food resources – preservatives), disease would get many more. For much of the period cities were much larger than fantasy claims them to be. Only during the black plague did it get cut down so far. They were smaller than during imperial Roman days, and smaller than during the age of exploration. But not tiny. And cities of over a million did exist elsewhere on the planet (Bagdad in 775 AD hit 1 million, Tenochtitlan was about 200,000 during the time of the black plague).

Printing was around. Yes… while Gutenberg’s press is 1436, other more primative ones were about earlier. The screw press was in Rome by the first century AD. Yet despite all of this, almost everyone was illiterate. This is the reason they call it the dark ages – small handfuls of people in Europe retained the technology of literacy, while elsewhere in the world the idea of reading was spreading. Libraries were being built in Mesoamerica, new alphabets were being designed in Asia, and math, philosophy, and theological debate were advancing in Africa and the Near East. The Europeans in this period were the savages of the world. They got lucky later on in mixing, as it is said, guns, germs, and steel – in one location.

This was a harsh world, with very few fun elements to it.

Fantasy adventure and roleplay is fun. But we need to stop calling it medieval.

Fantasy has too many things the Medieval European world lacked, and lacks some critical things it did have.

The fantasy concept is all about adventure and grand stories – so its fine that it is not medieval, because the actual medieval period is a less adventurous notion than even our modern world.

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