Let the Hunt Begin

HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET by ANNA ANTHROPY

The word GAY has quite a few different meanings for me as I have evolved into the person I’ve become.  At first, I must admit, as a child, I had no idea what GAY meant.  I only knew that if someone referred to you as GAY in school, that was a bad thing.  Then a few years later I discovered what it meant to be GAY.  I had no idea my aunt was gay.  I just thought she never found the right man and just hung around with her best friend and police partner all the time.  I never struck me as odd that they even owned a house together.  I just figured as crime fighting partners it was easier that way.  Batman and Robin lived together.  Gay now had a new meaning to me.  The Melissa Etheridge concert I went to was another huge eye-opener.  Right at the start of my college days, too. 

Some of my friends even started coming out as gay while we were in college.  SUNY Purchase, the second college I attended and where my BA if from had only one major club at the time – GLBU.  I’m certain the T and the Q have been added since. Half my soccer team was GAY.  Some of the toughest men I have ever played the game with.  I would go on to compete against GAY men and women in martial arts tournaments.  I have two black belts in Tae Kwon Do.  I even qualified to compete in Olympic Competition in 1998.  Gay man or woman will hit you just as hard as anyone straight.  More new meanings behind the word GAY.

Anna Anthropy created THE HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET.  She is a self-described fat gay witch, who lives with her black cat.  She has created numerous word games as well as visual games.  She gives lectures on the inclusion of GAYNESS in society.  She is a very interesting person.  Thus cementing my final personal definition of the word GAY, which I will reveal by the end of this blog.

Anna Anthroopy created this piece not because she wanted readers to understand her definition of the word GAY.  Anna Anthropy wanted readers to form their own definitions of the words GAY and QUEER.  Both of these words get mixed and matched so much that I can never keep up with which one is appropriate over another.  I also never felt it a pertinent conversation to bring up with my GAY family members.  Why waste time on something so silly, when catching up and spending time together is far more important.  Sure we have different ideas about the definition but those don’t come close to what is really important – family.

I digress:  THE HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET has its origins set waaaay back in the mid-1980s.  Some time around 1984 I bought my first computer – the Atari 600.  It came complete with a floppy disk drive and a cassette drive.  Screen was whatever UHF connection you could make.  I had a 13-inch black and white television in my room that I used.  If I wasn’t coding Space Invaders in DOS, I was playing a game called, ZORK.  Zork is described best by its Home Screen.  “An Interactive Fiction – A Fantasy Story.”  The game was first copyrighted in 1981. 

Below the game’s description on the home screen, Zork has one of the most famous lines in video game history.  The line starts the game and welcomes players into the World of Zork. “West of House.  You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.  There is a small mailbox here.”  The player is now free to type in any line they like to continue the game.  Me, I usually jumped right in and typed, “Go To House.”  Anna Anthropy’s HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET works much the same way. Only in this adventure, Anna gives you multiple links at the bottom of each page allowing the reader to chose a path instead of typing a path that may not be recognized by the CPU. 

HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET caught my eye right away from the reading list.  The Star Wars font and the admission on the home page that the entire game is a Star Wars spoof instantly attracted me.  However, what really captivated me was how Anna used words and phrases to illicit not only a physical response in the sense of making a physical choice regarding which direction to take; Anna chose words and phrases to illicit an emotional response to the verbiage.  When readers take in a passage before making a choice and moving on to the next they are hit with words that have them thinking about the meaning of words like GAY, QUEER and STRAIGHT. 

The entire game is an emotional play on those words and how you as a person feel about them.  My personal definition of the word GAY:  Gay means to me, that at night, when lying alone with the one you love, it’s what you choose to put in your mouth.  That’s it.  Is GAY a lifestyle?  To some.  Is being QUEER a way to live? To others.  Is STRAIGHT the normal?  Who am I to judge?  To me, most of these questions hold little to no weight because this is who we are.  This is how my family has always been.  I do like watching people get squeamish when using words like GAY, QUEER when they aren’t used to addressing such matters openly.

All three words – GAY QUEER STRAIGHT – have changed meaning and have increased meanings and have taken on new meanings.  I had students once say, “Hey Rolston, this assignment is gay.”  To which I inquired, “Does that mean it loves a similar, like minded assignment?”  So even in the 21st century these three words have taken on new life.

All three of these words started a long time ago in a time period far, far away.  During the times recorded by William Shakespeare people used to come out in public and announce how gay they had been feeling.  Others around them might even wish for their gayness to continue.  Not so much these days. Things that were out of place were considered queer.  A three-dollar bill springs to mind.  A platypus is yet another queer device of nature.  This is what Anna Anthropy was doing when she came up with the idea for THE HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET.  She wanted people to have fun using these words and experimenting with the ideas that each suggests.

I originally thought the man character was a male bounty hunter.  Then the next set of text has you rethinking that idea.  That to me was the most fun of this.  With my crazy mind I had fun keeping pace with Anna Anthropy’s thought process.  As a writer I totally appreciated her word use and how open she was about creating a proud gay character. It’s hard creating any type of strong character.  Anna does it well.  The protagonist is as quick with her wits as she is with a laser gun. 

Many gay characters these days spend much of the time in the closest before finding out that much of the world is pretty accepting.  I loved this piece because we are GAY right away. We are even shooting other gay and straight characters over the idea.  Oh, let the last man or woman standing begin.  That is the power of words.  If any man or woman not so comfortable with the ideas of homosexuality and transgender issues were to red this and play along they might find themselves very uncomfortable. The interface of reading and then making a direction choice might have many taking some of the safer paths.  I jumped right in.  Got to watch the Evil Queen have sex.  Great writing.

That great writing also carried over to the descriptions of the environments encountered by the protagonist.  The idea of the soft green grasses found on some parts of the gay world.  Then there was the exact opposite.  The writing became rough and hard core.  The harshness of some rocky areas on the planet were developed perfectly and easy to follow along. The harsh writing was especially intriguing during the times the protagonist is taken captive by the evil queen.  The ebbing and flowing of both these writing techniques also kept everything very exciting.

There were no sound elements to speak of – only the voices in one’s head.  I really appreciated that.  I wasn’t distracted from the language and the message that GAY, QUEER and STRAIGHT have so many different meanings to so many different people.  Amber Tweeted about how the piece made her, “gay heart flutter.” While I am married to a woman, again, the piece made me rather gay as well.  HUNT FOR THE GAY PLANET brought me back to a time in my life when it was fun to play with words the way one might play with the contents of a TV dinner from back then.           

The Hunt for the Gay Planet

This piece was an interesting satisfying piece! In The Hunt for the Gay Planet, we are thrown into a hyperlinked adventure to find the planet of the gays. I was most attracted to this piece through the actual literature rather than the technical aspect (me inner literature fanatic jumped for joy)! This piece differently had some surprising turns I did not expect. As per usual with my elit blogs, I will break down the different aspects of this piece.

Navigation

The navigation for this piece was pretty straightforward. Using hypertext as mediation for game-like play, we follow our heroine (I do not believe they gave us a name for the character). By reading short passages and clicking options that are hypertext in hot pink, us as readers get to choose what our heroine explorers. When reading the Editorial Statement it states:anna anthropy’s The Hunt for the Gay Planet is a text-based Twine game that uses the medium of Twine to comment more broadly and bitingly on the status of queer representation in videogames.” Through my first go around of the game, I was a bit confused on the aspects of the twine being a form of representation for queers in video games.

Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Theory

When looking at literature in different lenses, what I mean by lens is by using theory. Of course it be most fitting for my use to use Lesbian, Gay, Queer Theory (the hyperlinked texted will take you to a presentation I made for my college students to explain the theory). If many of you can recall, I also used this theory to dissect my elit piece earlier in the semester. With that being said, I want to target the Basic Concepts of theory to dissect this piece a little more.

Homophobia

Homophobia can be defined as dislike of or prejudice against gay people. I know this may be a stretch of a claim, but if there is an entire planet dedicated only to lesbians, that is saying something..

Homosocial Activities

Before reaching Lesbionic, we are hit with the scene You swing open the metal saloon doors and step into a bar. It’s full of men. All men, tangled in each others’ tentacles. They stare at you like a poo just stepped on their shoe. Homosocial Activities is any social or interactive activites happening between two people of the opposite sex. Obviously, this scene (alongside other erotix scenes), shows these activities but it does not necessarily have to be so extreme. Acta such as kissing, holding hands, or any other romantic gestures can fall in this category.

Homoertic Imagery

“You step out of your ship, your eyes adjusting to the foggy light. The first thing you see is two forms on a bench nearby. A topless chick is pressing a mohawked femme down against the bench, her hand busy between the babe’s legs. The femme’s leg is over her partner, the painted claws of her toenails scraping the chick’s back. In public! Unmolested! Their eyes burning into each other like two stars colliding. The look in their eyes is fire. The curl of their lips is freedom.”

This piece did not imagery to guide us as readers, but through the vivid descriptions of scenery between characters, I was able to paint my own pictures! 

Deeper Reflection – My emotions

When experiencing this piece, I was brought back to my highschool years where I “explored” my sexuality. I felt this connection with our unnamed heroien who is exploring the galaxy to find a society that will accept her loving the same gender. I found it interesting how with each planet our character lands on, the small dusty pLanet is Lesbionic. Quite honestly, I think it was a bit much to make the dusty small planet the gay planet. This piece sheds a light on aspects of literature that still needs to be discovered. LGBQ Theory is still a new theory that seeks to bring awareness in not just literature, but many different aspects of life.