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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a โ€œhereticalโ€ history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. MikeLong
    November 23, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

    Amazing video! Best business plan writers at


  2. Aylwin
    November 24, 2017 @ 9:23 am

    So would it be fair to say that your Species post qualifies retroactively as a prologue to Bloodmoon?


    • Josh Marsfelder
      November 24, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

      I would say I’m interested in Species and BloodRayne for similar reasons. Bloodmoon itself is going to be larger than just BloodRayne though.

      Funnily enough, Ben Kinglsey and Michael Madsen were in both Species and the first BloodRayne movie.


      • Aylwin
        November 24, 2017 @ 8:30 pm

        Thanks – as you are being cagey about the thematic basis of the selection, I was wondering whether they overlapped with the correspondences between your Bloodrayne and Species material.


        • Josh Marsfelder
          November 24, 2017 @ 9:15 pm

          Somewhat perhaps, though unconsciously if so. I mean I didn’t deliberately set out to build a whole project around the themes in my Species essay here as Vaka Rangi and my YouTube stuff are unrelated. If there’s overlap, it’s because I just naturally tend to revisit themes and concepts that are important to me and that I feel I have a decent conceptual handle on. And I haven’t really gotten to talk about this stuff before, whereas, say, my views on utopianism are pretty much done in.

          I will say this though: A major guiding theme for Bloodmoon could be named “The Feminine as Alternative”, or “The Feminine Dialectic”.


  3. Aylwin
    November 24, 2017 @ 10:02 am

    I suppose there are at least three terms to the ambiguity of the implied relationship between the character and a male player. There is desire and control, there is identification, and there is fear, horror, awe, envy, at what she represents. Because her sex will devour him, because hers is a boundless sexuality that will leave him spent and limp with a little shudder and a little gasp, while she goes on to another and another and another titanic, invincible orgasm. Because she has such sexual power and is stronger than him, is better than him at what he is supposed to be good at. Because her protagonistic subjectivity brings her in from the marginal, ephemeral role assigned to the monster to occupy the enduring centre. Because in identifying with her he displaces his male identity, is implicated in the supplanting of its claims to centrality, and affirms this over and over again with each command that calls for the unleashing and expression of her power. Because her third-person visibility through the screen and self-aware awareness of his watching presence is a constant reminder that while he may play at controlling and being her for a while, he can never really be like her or encompass what she has, but will remain outside, left to himself as the screen goes dark.


    • Aylwin
      November 24, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

      If I had that edit button I always need, I’d swap out “spent” for “drained”, and “orgasm” for “climax”.

      Oh, and, as is obviously the case when talking about ambiguities, of course those “terms” are not clearly distinguished but are meshed and mashed into each other in all sorts of different ways. Notably, in relation to the dominatrix element, fear and awe are inextricable from desire. And I think there’s an interesting reflection of BDSM realities in the way that a video game lets a male player control a predatory dominatrix fucking male characters to death. She has the visible, overwhelming power for him to marvel at, but he controls what happens, just as in reality, if things are done right, the submissive at least sets the terms of what can happen, and may well more thoroughly dictate what happens.

      Bloodrayne: Topping From The Bottom.


      • Aylwin
        November 24, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

        Oh yes, and I might as well draw out something implicit in those comments: while the female protagonist is obviously the primary point of identification, for the male player there may be, perhaps inevitably will be, a degree of instinctive secondary identification with male characters, even if only subliminally. But this is only available here through identification with the trivial and transitory, and for the most part with the villainous and generally interchangeable antagonists whom the player is at the same time seeking to destroy. From the perspective of BDSM appeal there is, I suppose, a snag in this, derived from Rayne’s character as a hero-monster rather than a villainous monster-protagonist: only through identification with the genuinely monstrous can the player get the thrill of identifying with her victims.


        • Josh Marsfelder
          November 24, 2017 @ 6:44 pm

          How might the implied relationship here change if the player is a woman herself?


          • Aylwin
            November 24, 2017 @ 8:25 pm

            A lot, I would think, but I hesitate to pronounce too confidently on the specifics. I certainly didn’t mean to imply any assumption that the player would be male, only that the things I was talking about seemed specific to that case. Although, as I would guess (though perhaps wrongly?) that a game like this, released when it was, would be targeted primarily at a male audience, the “implied” player in terms of the game’s design could be construed as male, but that probably gets us into all manner of theoretical complications. (Where I think I could be fairly taken to task here is in my implicit rather than explicit appending of “heterosexual” to “male” in that specification of the case, at least where sexual desire is concerned.)

            To attempt some sort of an answer to your question, the shortest (and probably most dangerously unreflective answer) would be that I imagine it would be simpler, in the headline aspects. I think that there would tend to be a lot less ambiguity around identification in the female case, because of the removal of gender distinctions between the player and a female (and obtrusively so, because highly sexualised) player-character.

            Given closer identification, the ambiguities around the combination of the character’s power and dominance with the player’s control of her would also be smoothed to a large extent, the more so in the case of a heterosexual female player, who being exempt from the “implied” male player’s desire for the character would also be exempt from the complications relating to sexual power relations arising from desire directed towards a character whose sexuality is so aggressive and dominant. Gilly has talked on previous posts about the possibilities of the female case, in terms of a “power fantasy”, which seems plausible, and in itself considerably simpler than the “implied” male case as I have imagined it (though she does cite other complications to do with story elements, and with the constraints of the origins of the game and underlying imagery). In terms of specifically sexual dynamics, a somewhat greater degree of complexity would be reintroduced to these questions in the case of a female player susceptible to desire for the character.

            Another difference could be in the degree to which the kind of ideas and feelings I was talking about involve a detachment from and mystification of the female, and of female sexuality and power in particular, as something other and strange, a factor which in the female case would be absent or present only as a kind of backwash arising from internalised male perceptions and cultural baggage. The latter possibility, though, could shift the very short answer in this respect from “simpler” to “more complex”.

            Relatedly, if the game was indeed designed with a male player in mind, the game’s reception by a female player would be to a greater extent unintended by the designers, and would tend to incline more to a recasting of a male-targeted scenario rather than a straight iteration of it – again, more complex rather than simpler. here.

            Right, I think I’ve now tied myself in enough knots of incoherent theorising and tangles of sub-clauses for one comment.

          • Josh Marsfelder
            November 24, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

            Quite. While I’ll hasten to add I’m looking to promote discussion and reflection as opposed to seeking hard and fast answers with questions like this, I’m certainly not going to pretend Rayne’s sex appeal for young male players wasn’t a key aspect of her design.

            But, consider this: Rayne’s original product manager was a woman named Liz Buckely. And here’s what she had to say in an excerpt from an old 1Up feature on female protagonists in video games:

            “‘If you don’t have the gameplay to back up the character appeal, T&A; will only get you so far,’ effuses Liz Buckley. ‘BloodRayne resonates very well with our target audience of males ages 17 to 34, but Rayne has a huge female following as well. I think that’s attributable to her strength and attitude–it’s definitely empowering to play as her.’

            So if it’s all about personality, why bother with the heaving bosom and leather chaps? It turns out Rayne was an ugly duckling before her transformation to voluptuous vixen. ‘Initially, Rayne had a militant, dark gothic look. She was a brunette with tight buns in her hair and a very severe body line,’ explains Buckley. And I even found myself admitting I’d rather play the ‘extreme makeover’ version of the vamp.'”

          • Aylwin
            November 24, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

            So now I’m wondering how much of that comment your “Quite” was addressed to, and suspecting it might be mostly the last sentence…

          • Josh Marsfelder
            November 24, 2017 @ 10:20 pm

            It was really just a quippy and concise way to acknowledge your very well-written analysis and interpretation above without coming across as repetitive ๐Ÿ™‚

            Not everything I say is deliberately overloaded with symbolism ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Aylwin
            November 24, 2017 @ 10:52 pm

            ๐Ÿ™‚ The more substantive question then arises, where did the initiative for the “makeover” come from?

          • Aylwin
            November 25, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

            Oh, and more importantly, was the change only to her look or to her behaviour as well? That is, did the change mean eroticising the violence (I mean, past the degree that automatically goes with the territory with vampirism), or just making the eroticism more marketable and digestible by adding eye candy?

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