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4 Weird Things That Happen To You When A Love(d) One Kills Themselves

4 Sep chloe sagal suicide

chloe sagal suicide

Someone I used to be in love with and lived with for two years took her life. Depending on the sort of story you were expecting, this could be seen as a beginning or ending. For me it still seems like some sort of limbo, moments and feelings trapped in amber that I can see but not touch. Hopefully writing about it will help me move forward.

This isn’t news to anyone that follows me online through either my own social media and posts, or filtered through your favorite online stalking/roasting site/FB group. From Fall 2014 to Fall 2016 I was in a tumultuous relationship with video game designer Chloe Sagal, and we lived together for much of that time. We separated during a particularly tense eviction, where I moved to downtown Portland to prepare for an impending surgery and she moved elsewhere with another of her partners. I ceased contact shortly afterward, and heard little from or about her until she hobbled into a downtown Portland park and set herself on fire to protest her lifetime struggle with inadequate and unsympathetic mental health care.

And then things got weird.

I found myself lamenting that there really isn’t a whole lot of advice out there for this sort of situation. What do you do with yourself and your thoughts and your pain? Everyone has hot takes about why this happened, but you don’t hear many stories from/about those left behind. So here we are.

I figure this could be a good resource for a lot of people, even if you don’t literally have Washington Times journalists openly wishing on Twitter that you would also commit suicide.

chloe sagal suicide

1) Your Memories Are A Fuck

I mean, this isn’t the first time I lost an ex. A guy I used to date when I was much younger drank himself to death around his 30th birthday. Another ex of mine (another trans woman in the video game industry) passed away peacefully during a camping trip. This isn’t even the first time I lost a loved one to suicide; I’ve brought up more than once on this blog my uncle that killed himself when I was a pre-teen over his inability to reconcile being gay with his Christian faith. It’s not like I don’t still have unprocessed and complicated feelings about them all, most of all about never being able to say goodbye.

This one is different, because my relationship with Chloe was… not great a lot of the time. She screamed and hit walls and could be very threatening. She broke a lot of my stuff, specifically targeting things she knew had sentimental value like childhood possessions. She would send harassing messages to people I cared about and in the end was sending nasty messages my way as well. It got to where I woke up in a panic when I heard her typing in the wee hours of the morning creating a new manifesto. I wondered who was targeted next, what damage control would I have to devote my day to rather than my own life.

But she also wrote songs about me. Not just full romantic ballads, but little ditties she would make up while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the room. She would riff off of themes songs of shows we watched together, cuddled under the covers, when things were good. We had a whole language of in-jokes and references. She always looked better in my clothes than I did. I still remain convinced she was one of the most effortlessly brilliant artistic minds I was ever blessed to spend time with and be inspired by.

I fell in love with her while she sung “The Calendar Hung Itself” by Bright Eyes to me. Honestly that should have been a red flag this would not end well, but I was starry eyed. This shit is complex.

I don’t think she was a bad person, or a martyr. I think she got so accustomed to online abuse from the fallout from her GoFundMe incident that she compulsively sought out negative attention over positive. She was so terrified of ever completing a project because of anticipated backlash she just devoured herself like a snake eating its tail.

2) People Show Up Out Of Fucking Nowhere

chloe sagal suicide

I found out what happened on my birthday, when a reporter contacted me for a statement. I was on my way to a date with a guy at a club so I said I would give a statement first thing tomorrow. He got me so drunk I overslept and never contacted the reporter.

I got an email from him the next day giving his condolences. I hadn’t told him during the date, he had Googled me and found mention of it on a roasting site. He concluded by admitting he had a wife he didn’t tell me about. That meant, he insisted, that future dates would have to be more discreet since he was now aware of people watching my social media. I deleted his number from my phone.

Happy Birthday To Me.

Those first few days I got messages from probably a thousand people. Limiting it to supportive messages, it was still broad swaths of individuals with widely varying connection to me. People I was on good and bad terms with. People I hadn’t spoken to in months or years, and some I honestly never wanted to speak to again well before this.

The messages came so frequently I barely had time to formulate how I was feeling, much less summarize it. A lot of vague offers of “support” “if I needed anything” that I had no idea how to respond to. Even a handful of folks that genuinely seemed to be looking for an odd sort of absolution. Like I could pat them on the head and be like “well fine I forgive you,” and give them closure.

Fuck that, when do I get closure?

3) The Narrative Becomes A Disaster

People are still actively talking about her on Twitter. Everyone has their pet story about what happened. I see articles written in like Portuguese that have photos of a completely different ex of mine in them because a right-wing blogger fucked up the Google Image Search for her in a hitpiece. People use her death to make a point scolding other people using her death to make a completely different point.

A month ago, a Canadian balladeer I hadn’t heard of previously wrote a song with her name in the title and I realize this is bigger than I can comprehend. Like, she’s not the person I lived with and woke up next to and she’s not the person I had to separate myself from. This whole thing is bigger, even to people that never even met her. She’s now a symbol, a metaphor. A horrible, grisly death turned to legend that means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

In a way, kinda got what she wanted; people talking about what she went through. People taking it seriously. For the rest of us, however,

4) You Never Stop Wondering What This Means

chloe sagal suicide

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and end. Something bad happens, and you learn something and grow stronger. Ghosts haunt you, and you put them to rest and you both benefit.

Otherwise you just… sit there.

Do you let go? What does “letting go” mean? Is it better, is it required of me, to preserve the good she has done over the bad? How much responsibility do I have for sustaining her legacy?

Why did this happen? What’s the lesson here? What’s the next step? How do I put this ghost to rest?

Do you ever get to find out?

Does this story ever actually end?

Article Feature Image: Tristen, Flickr

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Who Owns Queer Culture? Not Exclusively Cis Gay Dudes.

14 Apr

queerculture1

I will admit to a difficult, but not entirely negative, relationship to the nihilistic queer media of my youth in the 90s.

It’s what I grew up on, and what I reciprocated in my own writings of the time. Despite the progressive, laid-back image, the 90s still had a lot to feel hopeless and pessimistic about as queer youth. My formative young adult sexual experiences began under both the continuing spectre of AIDS as well as under Texas sodomy laws. Not to mention, um, Texas. Matthew Sheppard was only a bit older than me, and a year later a drag queen/trans lady (like myself) in the same scene I performed in that was saving money for transition was stabbed 60 times and dumped in a ditch.

queerculture3

So, I mean, I get the appeal of the medium. I also get the cheeky “scribble an anarchy symbol on your high school notebook and call it politics” attitude fuelling writer(?) Tomas Allende’s recent screed in some neo-reactionary buzzword factory imaginatively named “Trigger Warning”. Yawn. It’s a rambling, premise-less manifesto basically insisting that transgressive art, and thus “queer culture” is exclusively the realm of angry edgy gay boys that jerk off to anime. Double yawn.

That said, the article opens up promisingly enough. Allende describes the struggles of his closeted youth in Chile, a story I can deeply sympathise with, along with his awakening through discovering the Greg Araki film The Living End. A damn fine movie.

He then states:

“Queer cinema was not about married same-sex couples with a furry pet in the suburbs. It was the disenfranchised, the freaks, and the non-apologetic crowd of queers that served no purpose other than to be themselves. It was nihilistic, pointless, and fucking fabulous.”

And I’m inclined to agree.

I’m quite familiar with the films of Araki and Todd Haynes, as well as similarly bleak works like the short stories of Dennis Cooper and darkly humorous romps like I Shot Andy Warhol. I have a soft spot in my heart for all those tragic transsexual movies that I’m supposed to hate. If the story involved some nervous twenty-something trying butt stuff for the first time in the second act and then dying tragically in the third, I was probably all about it in the 90s.

queerculture4

Strangely enough, this protest by Allende against banal gay assimilation just sort of hangs in the air, and is never elaborated on. In fact, things he says paragraphs later completely negate it.

Allende then begins gibbering the same sort of tired knee-jerk incomprehensible MRGay boilerplate about “third-wave feminism” you’d expect from the sort of chronic masturbator that would still have the Gamergate hashtag in his Twitter bio in 2016. Wait, holy shit he actually does. You can’t make this up.

It’s interesting, because second-wave feminism wasn’t exactly friendly to or inclusive of gay folks at the time. It took the intervention of a lot of folks now considered part of the core of the third-wave movement to reconcile the archaic racism and homophobia of the second wave.

Bringing up real history hardly means anything in this context, because Allende isn’t actually talking about culture. He talks about movies. He believes video games are a political movement. He admits the wild bareback fucking hard-partying boys in his cinema daydreams bear no reflection on his actual life. He exists in some reactionary simulacrum of the radical queer life he both idealizes and loathes.

I find it interesting that, despite claiming to be a fan of Greg Araki he spends two paragraphs railing against formation of sexual identity. Araki made A GODDAMN TRILOGY of movies about literally that. Totally Fucked Up is about exploring the boundaries of homosexuality, The Doom Generation is about exploring the boundaries of heterosexuality (literally billed as “A Heterosexual Movie by Greg Araki“), and Nowhere explores a sexual landscape akin to pansexuality. If you don’t believe that term existed back then, here’s queer actor Alan Cumming describing himself as such in gay magazine OUT in 1999.

Allende: “The characters in those films… would never attempt to garner pity”

queerculture2

Even after denying that queer folks experience oppression (or something), Allende laments how “being gay meant abuse, rejection, and the possibility of contracting an incurable disease which could lead to a horrendous death”… in the past tense.

Newsflash: HIV is still around. It would take more fingers than I have to count off the number of folks I consider reasonably close that have to deal with it as an immediate medical reality. There are still a staggering amount of homeless queer youth, due to rejection and abuse at home.

In any case, while dudes like Tomas are sitting at home watching 20+ year old movies and harboring political views less radical than my grandparents, there are people actually living in queer culture. Working to develop and upkeep sustainable communities of support. Making our own art to communicate with each other.

Maybe we don’t need you or your tired-ass homocon opinions.

Sissy Killer: Silence Of The Lambs’ “Good/Bad Queer” Dynamic

24 Mar Sissy Killers Queer Coding

sissykillers1

It’s been 25 years since Silence Of The Lambs was released, and there have already been plenty of hot takes to go around. Recently, Jos Truitt over at Feministing posted an unflinching and thorough deconstruction of what the character “Buffalo Bill” represents to the trans community. Naturally, cis people completely lost their shit.

“How could anyone identify with a serial killer?” they lamented. Good point, it’s not like Hannibal Lecter wound up in four novels, five films, and a television series currently on it’s third season where he is the protagonist. Oh wait.

sissykillers2Dinner’s Ready.

Why is it considered ok to empathize with Lecter and not Jame Gumb? Both were brutal mass murderers known for short tempers and for mutilating their victims. Gumb was a gender dysphoric survivor of child abuse and neglect, and Hannibal Lecter was a calculating abusive manipulator that shut her off from medical care and murdered her boyfriend. So why do people root for Gumb getting gunned down yet also for Lecter’s escape and promise to kill again?

Seriously, check out the last couple minutes of Silence Of The Lambs again. Lecter all decked out like Truman Fuckin Capote bragging about “having an old friend for dinner”. He’s a triumphant anti-hero rather than a villain. And it gets worse with each subsequent film/tv depiction.

sissykillers0

The answer is simple: Lecter represents the “good kind” of queer, and Bill represents the “bad kind”.

While I don’t share Truitt’s particular tattoo choice (although I have seriously considered both the spear wound and the “LOVE” hand tattoo), I do have a tramp stamp of “In Voluptas Mors”, and yes it is a reference to Silence Of The Lambs. I, also, have a bit of a soft spot for the movie. A particularly fascinating element of the movie is that it features two queer codedsissy villains”, but coded in different ways and pitted against each other.

What’s that? Hannibal Lecter isn’t actually gay? That’s ok, because Jame Gumb “isn’t actually transgender”, right?

sissykillers3Meanwhile, the only definitely gay person in the movie is dead.

In the book, the infamous “tucking scene” also invites the reader to voyeuristically review Gumb’s hormone regimen, thinning body hair, voice training, electrolysis and even passing mention of breast development. This is presented with both a clinical air and a sense of disdain at the progress. But this is ok because Gumb is not “really transgender”, right?

Later in the book Agent Crawford threatens to have federal funding cut from the Johns Hopkins sex-reassignment wing and have the surgery re-classified as of non-medical necessity. There’s no telling how many transsexuals ongoing medical treatment were effectively being held hostage as an afterthought in this power-play. But this is ok because Gumb is not “really transgender”, right?

I’m sure there is also something to be said about namechecking the Johns Hopkins Trans Surgery wing as a plot point in the book, considering the actual one was shut down a decade before.

And even as Ted Levine’s lumbering, gangly tr*nny monster performance is frequently superimposed over depictions of the lives of trans folks, and the spectre of which haunts discussions of everything from “bathroom bills” to TSA clearances, Lecter represents the opposite of this stereotype. Lecter is theatrical without camp. He is effette but not effeminate. He drips with sarcasm and is impeccably refined and cultural and worldly.

The comparisons don’t stop there. In the novel, through Agent Starling’s feminist hero eyes she recognizes Lecter as “small, sleek, and in his hands and arms she saw wiry strength like her own” in contrast to Gumb’s frequently referenced large hefty frame. In the film, Lecter is depicted as deliberately clinical and meticulously clean, a contrast to the squalor of Gumb’s living area and poor hygiene and posture. Anthony Hopkins came up with the idea of having Lecter dressed in white in order to invoke imagery of doctors and dentists and peoples instinctive unease around them. But it also positions him yet again as an virtous-appearing authority figure. Perhaps this is why we are expected to continue to take Lecter’s gatekeeping of Gumb’s dysphoria at face value, despite the fact that it’s coming from a man restrained in a strait jacket and spitter’s mask.

“He’s not a transsexual, Clarice. He just thinks he is, and he’s puzzled and angry because they won’t help him.”

There’s almost definitely a “high/low functioning” mental illness dynamic going on as well that someone may choose to explore further down the line. How does nobody ever question Lecter’s capacity to make psychological diagnoses not only without clinical observation but while also himself deemed in a dangerous enough capacity mentally to warrant institutionalization?

sissykillers4Definitely someone with authority’s best interest in mind – Everyone Somehow

It’s not like positioning the audience to arbiter Lecter as a gatekeeper of queer sexuality is limited to his interaction with Jame Gumb. I mentioned earlier his murder of Gumb’s boyfriend, named after a leftist French intellectual. In the opening to the movie Red Dragon Lecter is literally shown in judgement of Raspail’s performativity, and Jesus Christ as Lecter scowls at Raspail’s unsatisfactory ability to blow the flute I’m sure Freud was doing cartwheels in his grave. And then, in the following scene, a bunch of progressive intellectuals giggle over Raspail’s missing status and subsequently nonperson him based on the same inadequate perfomativity Lecter judged him worthy of death over.

sissykillers5He’s either decided to kill a man or poop himself.

This sort of gatekeeping, this arbitration of judgement over folks less desirable is clearly the role the unexamined audience wants from Lecter. He returns to this role over and over and over, evolving from a useful monster to a justified protagonist in his own universe, while his gruesome body count silently grows.

Maybe y’all should re-evaluate what you consider so identifiable in Hannibal Lecter.

Sorry Shitnerds, Twitter (And Other Social Media) Is Not A “Public Forum”

25 Jan

publicforum0publicforum1

First sentence in, I’ll acknowledge that yes Twitter is public, in a sense.
Second sentence in, I’m going to point out this has nothing to do with my premise.
Doesn’t matter, however, because all of you dipshits have already forgotten me saying that three sentences in. Anyway, you can’t throw a rock on Twitter without beaning some creepy entitled fuck undulating up into a stranger’s mentions to assert that “Twitter is a public forum/platform“.

publicforum2

Let’s see, there’s a Gadsden flag, an anime avatar, a generic knight… all this needs is a Gamergate hashtag and…

publicforum3YAHTZEE

Anyway, we were talking about “public forums”. First of all, a “public forum” as a concept only has meaning in relation to the First Amendment in the United States Bill Of Rights, which surprise surprise isn’t international law. A judge in Canada declaring that “Twitter is a public forum” in a court transcript means jack shit. He could have declared Twitter a “First Amendment Naked Pool Party” and it would have carried the same weight legally because Canada is not the United States. Trust me, I’ve googled a few boring as fuck law school PDFs and I know I my shit here.

publicforum4

The concept of public platforms was established in US Federal Law to allow political demonstration, rather than to bolster the sad fragile egos of sneering manchildren surrounded by cumstained anime figurines that wanna yell insults at women and minorities about video game politics. As defined by US Constitutional law, there are three types of public forum:

  1. A closed public forum, like a jail or military base. Typically not open to public expression, but political and religious views are still protected to an extent.
  2. A limited public forum, like a meeting or organization hall or public theater. Much more freedom of public expression, but you can’t exactly yell “FIRE” in the middle of it.
  3. A traditional, open public forum. These sorts of locations are set aside by communities or the government expressly for the purpose of public expression. These are places like parks and street corners.

The thing about actual “open forums” is they aren’t private or corporate owned, because that would defeat the purpose. Twitter is very much a corporate-owned entity, signing on requires agreeing to Terms Of Service, and content is moderated to accommodate that (or at least is ideally). It could even be argued that Twitter fits more the definition of a “limited public forum” but that isn’t the way these dweebs contextualize it.

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Is Kylo Ren Queer-Coded? Well, Yes And No.

14 Jan

kyloren0Image from this comic by Andi Espinosa.

Since finally getting to see the new Star Wars movie about a month after everyone else did, I’ve found myself immersed in the surrounding discussions of it. Like, why the fuck was Han so excited to use Chewbacca’s weapon for apparently the first time in the decades they’ve been friends? How come in 30 years has none of the computer tech advanced past 16 color raster graphics, blinking lights and LEDs? Also is Kylo Ren technically yet another Disney queer-coded villain, and how awful are you for empathizing with the Nazified little shit in a queer way?

kyloren5Okay maybe I’m participating in different conversations than y’all.

I’ve been seeing a lot of talk lately about how Kylo Ren is the modernized face of impotent nerd rage. He’s like a one-man Gamergate, without all the Nazi imagery… oh wait. And, honestly, many of the traits that could be read as queer have been gradually integrated into uneasy heteromasculine posturing the past few decades, as addressed by fans and critics thinking of him as “emo“. There is a lot to be said about imagery of nerdbro ego projection and predation in many of his actions as well.

kyloren8Above borrowed from this comic strip.

And yeah I get that. I’m sure even more can be said in that regard. I’ve personally been humoring the idea that Kylo Ren’s encounter w/Han Solo is a commentary on neo-masculinity. Like Han represents old-guard swagger and grit and “benevolent sexism” and is a masculinity relic… he’s literally a cowboy. An artefact of a different age of manhood. Kylo Ren represents the new face of such: internally tortured, confused, with wildly inappropriate idealizations and bad posture. Watch Kylo Ren walk around uneasily in his uniform next time you see the film, see how forced his movements are. Kylo’s nervous stilted gait represents the new guard carrying the torch for men’s advocacy. Kylo winds up doing what he does (SPOILER: murders his dad) cuz of his misplaced interpretation of how masculinity works: aka a compulsive desire to “prove himself”.

But we’re not actually suggesting that Kylo Ren is queer. Or at least I’m not. But we have to keep in mind what queer coding is. We also need to differentiate queer coding from queer-baiting, a more modern trope of hinted sexuality, which also appears in the film.

kyloren1And how.

Spoiler alert, but I’m gonna be hammering on and on about this sort of thing over the course of several upcoming articles (not about Star Wars tho). In this case, I believe whether Kylo Ren is queer-coded or not may mean different things between folks older or younger than 30. Folks like us grew up with less media representation. Some of us may be a bit more sensitive or in-tune with the “nod-nod wink wink” aspects of this than folks growing up in an era where a character can actually be queer without also having to be a mass-murderer to satisfy some garbage moral clause.

To me Kylo’s unmasking scene in the torture chamber more than a little bit resembled when Ra unmasks himself in the first Stargate movie. The hard, cruel gray and black immobile feature-obscuring mask giving way to reveal a soft androgynous face and sensitive eyes. In the case of Stargate, particularly, strategically revealing the face of the actor that played a trans woman in The Crying Game just a couple years before, one of the most iconic and recognizable trans characters in film (for good or for bad).

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And it’s not like we haven’t seen the “prissy evil son in the shadow of an impossibly badass father whose shoes he may never fill” dynamic before.

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Also, this is Disney we are talking about. The company that pretty much wrote the book on queering up their baddies.

kyloren4Coincidence? I think… actually yeah probably coincidence.

The thing about Star Wars movies, however, is that just by existing they change the face of  everything they touch. While doing so, they completely reinvent the visual language surrounding such, from fashion to archetypes and of course special effects. These changes become so widespread because damn near everyone winds up seeing them.

kyloren7Well everyone that matters, anyway.

Perhaps this really is a calculated narrative side-step to replace tired Hollywood Golden Age homophobia with biting commentary on evolving male ego. If so I have to admit I’m impressed.

Wish I’d Known @Pink’s Music Converts You To Satan Years Ago, Because That Is Fabulous.

23 Aug

pink celebrity satanism

So, like, whenever I mention a celebrity or public figure on this blog, I’m usually eviscerating the shit out of them. And I’m particularly merciless against socially tone deaf alt musicians and pop singers. But I don’t know, I just always loved P!nk, even if some of the awkwardly shoehorned animal rights imagery in her videos seems a bit overboard.

pink celebrity satanismLike goddamn, dial it back a notch Immortan Joe.

But yeah, P!nk reminds me of ladies I used to smoke cigarettes with in high school and who wound up showing up at my drag shows a couple years later. She grew up with asthma, like I did, and she’s a child of divorce, also like myself. She also just has this “rowdy hard-partying fag hag” vibe I have a ridiculous soft spot for. So yeah my boyfriend at the time (yes that one) and I were really obsessed with Missundaztood-era P!nk.

pink celebrity satanismAlthough, is it proper to wear Satanic floor patterns after Labor Day?

 So anyway, I bring this up because this recent article of things-that-never-happened-dot-jpeg titled:

Former Satanist: “I Performed Satanic Rituals Inside Abortion Clinics”

fuckin sure you did, buddy

The article features the further “confessions” of “Former Satanic High Wizard (a position that does not exist*)” and gross white dude dreadlock-haver Zachary King who surprise surprise is writing a dumb book called “Abortion Is A Satanic Sacrifice“. Surely it’s going to be a reasoned book that looks at all the complex facets of this controversial social issue.

pink celebrity satanism(pic unrelated)

Alongside the title shenanigans, a lot of hilaribad spoopy claims are made. He claims to have broken every commandment by age 15, which honestly isn’t that impressive anyway except the adultery and murder part. And if dude is trying to get his shit together, why did he never turn himself in and serve time for said murder? There isn’t a statute of limitations on that, and it’s possible someone innocent was charged. You know, if it wasn’t transparent Grade A horseshit. Anyway, even tho in earlier interviews he claims that Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” was a legit magic spell (which is so hilariously stupid I wish he’d elaborate), he seems currently set on Pink’s “Like A Pill” video luring impressionable kids to Satanism. Sounds like grandpa is trying to update his references, while still being a decade behind the times.

pink celebrity satanismSeriously dude, cut that turd of a “dreadlock” off and I could
conceivably call you “daddy” – if you catch my drift.

* And yes I know that there are other denominations of Satanism besides LaVey’s Church Of Satan. Seriously, I get it. But like, dude claims to have been a member of a high-ranking member of a “big, world wide cult” and the Church Of Satan is the only one that really fits that bill. Not that it makes a difference, everyone knows Satan worshippers (myself included) are chubby peacenik dweebs in real life. And I’d be willing to bet money the reason that “wizard” is “doing a spell” in that P!nk video is because the director thinks it looks neat.

pink celebrity satanismSeriously, that was pretty cool.

And honestly, the idea of a Satanic New World Order is a fairly transparent smokescreen for a religion that has been the rallying point/justification for European colonization, slavery, white supremacy, establishment of the gender binary, homophobia and, like… just about all of society’s ills, which still remain and deserve to be challenged on their own merits. I think a few upside down crosses and “baphomet hand signals” are the least of everyone’s worries.

pink celebrity satanism

Let’s Play (And Overthink) Clash At Demonhead: Part 1. #retrogaming #NES #

30 Jun

Honestly, I have no idea why this game was so obscure when it came out and didn’t become a classic with multiple sequels for this reason alone: THIS GAME GIVES YOU A JETPACK AND A SUIT THAT LETS YOU SWIM IN LAVA. Seriously, think about that for a second.

clashatdemonhead1Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

This game is amazing and full of wacky goodness, really. Anyway, this post is gonna focus more on the “Overthink” than “Let’s Play” part because there’s already plenty of play-by-play analysis of the game these days. I just want to compile all the oddball facts about the game into one place, because there is a surprisingly large amount of weird trivia for a one-off game.

clashatdemonhead8For instance, I went decades without knowing the names of all the bosses.

Also, I’m not gonna mention Scott Pilgrim. Because, meh.

Anyway, Clash At Demonhead was a platform game released on the NES in 1989 from Vic Tokai, the communications branch of a natural gas company. Seriously. A natural gas company. Apparently EVERYONE in Japan tried their hand at making video games in the late 80s.

The game has you playing Billy “Big Bang” Blitz, a secret agent who, for some reason, looks like he’s auditioning for My Chemical Romance. In the actual game itself, at least the English version, he’s just called Bang. However, his full name is leaked in this Nintendo Power spread about the game, which also mentions a few other things left out of the translation from the original, called Dengeki Big Bang.

clashatdemonhead2Which, incidentally, had a way cooler title screen.

Sargent Bang is pulled back to duty from vacation to rescue Professor Plum, who’s been captured by an evil gang called The Lawbreakers to build a Doomsday Bomb that threatens to blow the world up. What the gang planned to do after blowing literally everything up is not elaborated upon.

clashatdemonhead3These guys can’t collaborate on a dress code, much less a plan.

The bomb is set atop a mountain that dominates the map, which is possibly part of the Bear Lodge Mountain Range. You chase the members of the gang and other assorted baddies through this map, which might be set in North-Eastern Wyoming, based Devil’s Tower being a prominent in-game landmark.This would make the dense forests in the surrounding area part of the Black Hills Forest, which are dominated by pine and hardwood trees, much like the game depicts, and the winding river would be the Belle Fourche.

clashatdemonhead4I’ve, ahem, put a lot of thought into this.

As you go along, the plot spins completely out of control with a strange series of subplots involving demons and aliens, mind control, clones. At one point you even talk to a dead guy. You recover a magic sword and board a spaceship, fighting samurai, goblins, robots, punk rockers, bigfoots, and talking skeletons and mushrooms. And that’s before you even defuse the Doomsday Bomb. This game has everything.

clashatdemonhead6even, um, this

One of the really amazing things about this game, however, is the attention to detail and revolutionary programming/gameplay elements for a game with no licensed property involved. Apparently, it incorporates whatever Variable Width Fonts are, which is apparently a super rare thing. There’s also a huge range of dialog images depending on whether you are wearing any special suits. Not only that, but the outfit you wear changes the way some of the lower level enemies act around you.

clashatdemonhead7and they apparently get increasingly sarcastic

But seriously, the game is a whimsical treat with a ton of easter eggs and definitely worth tracking down. I plan on doing a sequel of this piece sometime where I follow a playthrough I created as a teenager, where you stumble across all the cut scenes in the correct (or at least most sensible) order and you don’t repeat paths (well, you don’t repeat paths more than a couple times, there’s some situations you can’t avoid it). There will also be comparisons between this and the import version.