Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Lucky There's A Family Guy
I'm breaking up the Sonichu review again because as the comic gets worse and worse, there's more to talk about. In this case, I'm discussing the Family Guy "Skitch"* he single biggest failure in Sonichu from a craft standpoint. There are plenty of sequences that are more unoriginal, pathetic, and/or outright depraved. However, Christian Weston Chandler's Family Guy Skitch fails hardest at what it set out to do. While most of Sonichu can be classified as drama that is unintentionally hilarious, this is Chandler's attempt at comedy-- and it fails miserably.
In the middle of Chris-Chan's adventure through his high school years, our protagonist says "I feel as silly as the time I temporarily gained weight, became stupid, and went to watch TV at Ghost Command". He then gives Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane a sketch involving Sammy, a man with Peter Griffin's corpulent frame** but Chris-Chan's clown-striped wardrobe. When looking for the bathroom at the headquarters for the Filmation Ghostbusters (not related to the Ghostbusters people actually remember and care about), Sammy apparently falls down an elaborate chute, goes through a sequence that's omitted for being "too gross and silly", and falls on the Ghost Buggy, who screams "OWW, MY AXELS" in pain.
Okay, where do I begin...
1.) When Family Guy's humor works, it works because it happens so swiftly***. Without any meaningful narrative structure or coherent character arcs, MacFarlane's show relies on one wacky joke after another. The "remember the time I" vignettes take you completely off guard, making them feel more humorous due to their random nature. Chandler, on the other hand, takes several pages setting the joke up. He makes clear distinctions between him and "Sammy", makes it clear that he's pitching this to MacFarlane, and has several panels which are just Sammy walking down the halls with no apparent comedic value.
2.) Family Guy has become famous/infamous for obscure references, but even its most arcane joke doesn't go further than cult classics. The Filmation Ghostbusters is a show that is all but unknown, lingering in the dollar DVD bins of department stores, and only seeing the light of day when a parent needs to shut their child up for cheap. The Ghostbusters movies, and their subsequent cartoons, are the ones people actually remember, and actually have been spoofed by Family Guy. Of course, Chandler's fanboyism leads him to stick to his "Real" Ghostbusters when the rest of the world has moved on, even if it makes his joke irrelevant.
3.) If you say "Scene Omitted, Too Gross and Silly", you're telling, not showing. This only works if you have some kind of clear suggestive imagery, giving the audience something to go on. Chandler just uses this blurb because he can't be bothered to draw what's gross and silly, and because he assumes that we'll take his word for it.
4.) "Oww, My Axels" is....I don't even know what it is, just that it's not funny.
5.) At the end of the skitch, Sammy convenes with Chris-Chan, asking his creator if he can keep his new wardrobe. Chris-Chan approves, and lets Sammy know that his medallion is not the original Sonichu Medallion, and has special writing on the back to clarify it as an officially licensed variant. Why Chandler is so hung-up on maintaining copyrights to his work is a mystery, given how all his work is plagiarized. Furthermore, it's another case of Chandler assuming that the rest of the world cares about the same things he does, even though he has little to no interest engaging with the rest of the world.
If you were trying to create a method of child raising that would result in Christian Weston Chandler (and you'd have to be a complete and utter monster to do this), using his influences is only part of the story. You also have to consider everything he's willfully ignored, and keep that from the subject. The Skitch is a Family Guy-style gag filtered through Chandler's limited experience, without any knowledge or interest in the outside world and what they find funny.
*Chandler not only doesn't bother to spell sketch right, but he mangles Seth MacFarlane's name, the very guy to whom he is allegedly pitching this sequence.
** And yes, Sammy is a closer approximation to what Christian Weston Chandler actually looks like than his svelte author avatar. Or to put it the way Audiobook Narrator dethchemist did, "We see that Chris is indeed fat and stupid".
*** He's also become fond of absurdly long and repetitive gags, a fondness that seems increasingly exclusive to MacFarlane himself. But even those are more focused than Chandler's writing.
Monday, April 25, 2011
After blogging about heavier subjects, I wanted to talk about something a bit more enjoyable. So let us discuss one of the omnipresent visual markers of one of Marvel's most beloved characters; the discs on Thor's shirt.
If you were asked to describe the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby interpretation of the Norse God of Thunder, the first things that might come to mind would not be those shiny discs on his manly chest. You'd certainly mention the hammer, the long glam-rock blonde hair, the winged helmet, or the cape. You might even discuss the symbols of his mortal identity, how his hammer turned into a gnarled walking stick when used by his mortal self of Dr. Donald Blake. But you probably wouldn't think of the discs. They'd come in last in your description, if at all.
Yet the discs have been included in every major iteration of Thor. Not only did the original costume endure for three decades without a change, but all the major updates* include these circles. This includes the Heroes Reborn look, the King Thor costume, the current Coipel costume, and the upcoming movie outfit. Even Ultimate Thor, who discarded or modified every other piece of Marvel Thor iconography, kept the discs on his leather outfit.
The late Jack Kirby had a simple, clean style, but his costumes tended to be ornate and unusual. It is a testament to his genius that his characters looked impressive instead of silly. This was especially noteworthy in his DC titles; Mister Miracle had his red-yellow-and-green ensemble, OMAC mixed bright blue and orange with the world's mightiest mohawk, and Darkseid hosted a short skirt and long boots worthy of a schoolgirl hentai. But none of them looked stupid under Kirby-- his stylings were so dynamic and energetic that he made the costumes work. And he also gave us characters of elegant simplicity like Black Panther, Silver Surfer, the Thing, and Captain America.
Thor, however, is more the former than the latter. The discs on his shirt serve no clear purpose; they're not even a clear symbol like the Superman "S" or Captain Marvel's thunderbolt. There's already a "T" symbol on Thor's belt, which under most artists would be enough. But the discs provide a nice disruption of the monotony; their shiny nature contrasts well with the black of Thor's tunic. And the six discs are arranged in perfect symmetry. It's both aesthetically comfortable and impressive, and served as the perfect look for an Asgardian Thunder God.
The discs become the kind of iconography that seems so perfect that you think you should have thought of it. But you didn't. Nobody did except Kirby. It's yet another proof of his unparalleled ability.
* Excluding the short-lived leather look from the Messner-Loebs run, which most of us would likely rather forget.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
(The latter is taken with permission from Omar Karindu, who wrote this during one of our PM exchanges at Alvaro's. Since it is both a great essay and ties well into the blog's overall themes, I asked if I could share his work.)
I've probably said this before in one of our exchanges, but the mentality at the IM board can also be found at the Black Panther and (especially) Superman boards. There are also a few Batman fans around the world who behave the same way; some of them even seem to end up writing at DC. Certain kinds of characters seem to come from a place of privilege -- framed initially as physically or mentally "unbeatable," with high-status jobs or massive wealth -- and that attracts a type of fan who wants an unreflective power fantasy. This is especially unfortunate for Superman, given the wonderful way his early adventures positioned him as a genuine hero of the underprivileged with a very progressive agenda for the times.* The superhero at its inception is a utopian fantasy, even if we need to deconstruct that fantasy in order to get real meaning and social value from it.**
Our discussion at the IMMB also made me turn back to to Priest's Panther run, partly because the board's reaction to T'Challa briefly outwitting Stark smacked of not only what we've been discussing, but a host of unfortunate implications tied to American forms of white privilege. Looking at it now, I wonder if Priest's run deserves even higher estimation than I gave it at the time it was first published: prior to issue #50, when Executive Meddling derailed the title, it's actually a striking example of the deconstruction you mention -- T'Challa behaves like the omnicompetent, stoic, and secretive superhero type who is always ahead of the curve.
It doesn't bring him easy victories and a life of luxury. Instead, he pays dearly for it; when he decides to behave like an ubermensch, beyond the morality and concerns of his friends and allies, he doesn't get the easy forgiveness Bruce Wayne endlessly receives. Instead, he suffers serious, lasting physical consequences and, more importantly, loses his moral compass entirely and ends up butchering a teenaged girl in what amounts to a political misunderstanding. One of the running themes is that T'Challa fears this --at one point, Storm tells him his ill-considered reliance on stoicism threatens to turn him into another Magneto -- and by the end of he essentially has turned into a well-intentioned extremist/knight templar like Magneto because of his desire to control everyone else for their own good, and his refusal to show what he considers human weakness. The run as a whole is a sort of sideways commentary on the Batman-as-living-god take on "characters of privilege.****
Running that arc with the Panther does have some of its own Unfortunate Implications, of course. It may have worked better when Charlie Huston did it with Moon Knight. But Hudlin tended to make the character into little more than a race-lifted imitation of the fannish vision for white privilege characters I mentioned above, and I really don't think that's a solution any more than, say, the resort to forms of anticolonial violence that mirror colonial uses of violence has ever been a solution to colonialism.
* I may never forgive Whitney Ellsworth for his refusal to let Lois figure out the secret and react appropriately, maturely, and even heroically as Joe Siegel intended. 60 years later, that somewhat more egalitarian premise for their relationship been proven to work quite well.
** Boring, condescending lecture I give freshmen on utopia, please skip : not a road map to utopia, since super-powers don't really exist and simple force doesn't really work, but rather a fantasy image with which one can codify and express the values that we, in our world where eutopia is outopia, should aspire to more pragmatically. The vision of utopia is unattainable, but it also provides license to benign and progressive aspirations, license I think is necessary. Western culture's loss of the utopia as a genre -- almost none have been written since the early modern period -- is not necessarily a good thing. Utopian visions do need to be interrogated fiercely, however; part of their value is also that they invite such critiques, that utopian narratives require dystopian responses, which in turn require reconstructive utopianisms. in other words, dialectic. (Freshman lecture is now over.)
*** I can't remember if you'd already cited it, but if not you should add Priest's Panther to your list of characters who defy neurotypical norms; the character ends up with a brain aneurysm late in the run as part of the title's deconstruction of superhero tropes. In this case, it's a realistic consequence of the standard "underdog" superhero fight where Our Hero rallies from a savage beating and wins in the end.
***** David Foster Wallace did this so much better than anyone else. I miss him.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Fictional characters on the autism spectrum are hard to find, and good characters in that category are almost non-existent. As autism has become more prevalent, we've seen it portrayed more often in the media, but those portrayals too often fall into the stereotypes, such as the damaged, volatile child unwittingly tearing apart his supportive family, or the emotionless polymath sociopath who can do horrible things without seeing a problem. There are very few autistic protagonists, or even supporting characters of a positive nature*.
Thus, many autistic people have found themselves speculating on which of their favorite fictional characters fit the spectrum, following the completely understandable need to see inspiring figures to fit into their own narrative world. Sometimes these fictional diagnoses are simple wish fulfillment that don't describe the diagnosed character at all, such as claiming that Severus Snape of Harry Potter has Asperger's Syndrome**. Others are much more accurate, such as Grant Morrison's in-universe speculation that Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four is autistic, and could (and should) be incorporated into canon.
An example of the latter is Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, Solid Snake's tech-guy sidekick in the Metal Gear Solid series of video games. Otacon's spectrum traits go beyond simply being a nerd, and put him squarely in the neuroatypical category. If you don't believe me, here's the evidence...
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE GAMES AHEAD
1.) Otacon's interests are (or were) so obsessive and insular that he missed the harsh realities attached. When he was introduced in the PSOne game, he was designing a Metal Gear unit because he wanted to make robots like he'd seen in anime. He was attached to that utopian sci-fi narrative, the kind where fantastical machines keep people safe. He was also completely oblivious to the fact that his creation was being used as a platform for nuclear missiles, until Snake bluntly spelled it out for him. Otacon's code-name is short for "Otaku Convention", and his desk is covered with little toys and posters. In another series, he might have been able to play out his fantasies and help the world with his giant robot fixation. In Metal Gear, of course, he became instrumental in the creation of the world's most devastating WMD.
2.) Otacon is extremely literal-minded. This is used with hilarious effect in the Snake campaign of Metal Gear Solid 2, where the good doctor tries to read Snake ancient words of wisdom upon saving his data (the way Mei Ling did in the previous game). Unfortunately, he completely misses the point of those famous quotes, and comes up with extremely bizarre interpretations after taking them at face value. The phrase "It's better to be first among roosters instead of last among bulls", according to Otacon, means that it's better to be a chicken because cows are subjected to alien cattle mutilations.
3.) Otacon is TERRIBLE at understanding his relationships. The extent to which he does not comprehend others' intentions (or his own, for that matter) leads to some of the most tragic scenes in a series known for its depressing tone. In MGS1, Otacon falls for Sniper Wolf, a bloodthirsty sniper and one of the terrorists holding him hostage. It is unlikely that she reciprocates beyond a show of basic decency (as he helped feed her dogs), but Otacon takes this mercy and uses it to fuel his childish crush. It's touchingly pathetic how fast-- and how hard-- he falls for Wolf, especially after her demise at the hands of Solid Snake. And we see it happen again in MGS4, when the morally ambiguous Dr. Naomi Hunter seduces Otacon so she can get data needed for a larger plan. The ease with which she manipulates him, saying all the right words about atoning for the sins of her science to create a quick emotional bond, is disturbing to watch when you know what she's up to.
The is explored in MGS2, where we learn about Otacon's past-- he was always socially isolated, and his sole companions were the family his father married-- his step-sister and step-mother. He became strongly attached to the former and even played house with her, despite the fact that she was five years old and he was a teenager (though Otacon had no salacious intentions spending so much time with the little girl-- he just wanted to experience family). Unfortunately, he was also "seduced"*** by his step-mother, which led to his father's suicide and Otacon subsequently running away from home. We don't hear much about the details other than Otacon's words (which are words of contrition, blaming himself for all of this), but it's unlikely that he understood what was going on at that point-- his inherent lack of social awareness facilitated all these tragedies.
There's also the fact that by far Otacon's strongest relationship is with Snake, as the two men work and live together, and even end up adopting a child in MGS4. The homoerotic subtext is so thick that it basically ends up as text, but it's not exactly clear if Otacon's feelings for Snake are romantic. He likely doesn't understand what he feels for Snake, other than the intensity of the connection. The sensitive nerd and the dour super-soldier end up having quite a bit in common, as seen in the "bad" ending**** of MGS1. Both are profoundly isolated human beings, even if Otacon's loneliness is more internalized than his lab-grown, shell-shocked veteran partner.
4.) Most importantly, Otacon is a complex and sympathetic character. As I said before, when autistic characters are shown in most fiction, they're shown in terms of stereotypes and plot devices. But Otacon grows and changes over the course of Metal Gear Solid, and provides a vital pillar of strength. He's the most genuinely decent character in the entire series, surpassed only by The Boss from the prequel MGS3. And The Boss is the series' messiah figure, so it's not really a contest.
When we first see Otacon, it's as a messy-haired, badly-dressed, bespectacled little dork . His first appearance is hardly auspicious, as he's wetting himself in terror when confronted by a crazed cyborg ninja. But he shows tremendous courage later in the game, taking full accountability for his part in Metal Gear's creation and risking his life to shut it down. In the second game, he's Snake's tech-guy and half of the anti-Metal Gear organization Philanthropy, working to destroy those robotic WMDs despite the risk to his personal safety. He's also become more attractive and well-dressed, though still a bit dorky looking. And by MGS4, Otacon has developed a rugged handsomeness that puts him square in Hot Scientist territory. Poor hygiene is a common trait in autistic people, but it's not an insurmountable habit-- Otacon proves this.
But most importantly, Otacon is by Snake's side during all these ordeals. Snake is the action hero of Metal Gear Solid, the one putting his life on the line at every turn. But Snake couldn't be anywhere near as successful without Otacon's support. In MGS4, Snake has prematurely aged due to his cloned physiology breaking down, and has only a few months left to live. Otacon's tech is the only thing allowing Snake to survive on the battlefield; the strength-boosting Octocamo suit was Otacon's invention, as were the vision-enhancing Solid Eye and the helper robot "Metal Gear Mark 2" (redeeming the machine's tainted name). But Otacon's greatest act comes at the end of the game, when the still-dying Snake is wondering what he has left to live for in the new world, and Otacon promises to bear witness to Snake's final days. Otacon refuses to let Snake die alone and unloved.
I doubt Hideo Kojima created Otacon with autism in mind, but if the autism label is attached to the character, it not only fits him but helps eradicate many of the negative stereotypes.
* INSERT OBLIGATORY RUBY'S WORLD LINK
** There's no evidence for this in the books, other than Snape being a thoroughly repulsive human being-- and that's just proof that he's a repulsive human being, even if he didn't prove outright evil.
*** Otacon's words. But it's a clear case of rape, and one of the few instances where female-on-male rape is shown to be just as bad.
**** In which female love interest Meryl doesn't survive, and is replaced by Otacon as Snake's symbolic reason to keep on living.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Back in 1995, I attended fourth grade at a private school where we got to study the Norse myths. This culminated in a school play at the end of the semester, where the class played different gods. I was cast as Heimdall, guardian of the rainbow bridge Bifrost. Granted, this wasn't a significant part, as I was basically just the narrator who opened up the scenes for the other students. But I didn't see any reason why I wouldn't be Heimdall, and I still got to wear a paper mache horned helmet and wield a wooden sword.
It is also worth noting that I am partially of Jewish descent, and I don't recall hearing of Jewish people who worshipped Pagan pantheons. Similarly, I don't recall any African-Americans in the Norse myths, as many have pointed out regarding the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall in the upcoming Thor movie.
Another thing I don't recall is anyone in the audience of that school play complaining about the casting of a Jewish student as Heimdall. If they did, they would be seen as completely foolish and/or bigoted.
So do you see where I'm going with this?
To make matters worse, it also comes with a copy of Civil War #4, the issue where Clor does indeed kill Bill Foster. At least in the reprinted Hasbro version, the line about Sue making love to Reed one last time before leaving him on ethical grounds is removed. Shame they couldn't do so with, y'know, the rest of the comic.
Monday, April 11, 2011
After 39 pages of Ruby's World Finale, it's still not over yet! Ruby's World: Requiem is here, and I'm still taking my time to wrap up the story. Given how I just killed the protagonist's father, there had to be a proper emotional sendoff. Expect more text explaining how we got to this point, followed by a funeral.
The Ruby Nation is still coming, and it's been baptized in the previous generation's blood.
(Also, this is my blog's 100th post. Hooray!)
Monday, April 4, 2011
I usually don't talk about movies on this blog, but given how terrible this movie was both as a Geek Culture film and a case of representations, I'm making an exception.
Sucker Punch, directed by Zack Snyder, is the kind of movie that makes people cringe when they hear the word "Deconstruction". It's the sort of screenplay (also written in part by Snyder) that you would expect from a college freshman who was just given academic permission to incorporate sex into his stories. I saw it because it looked so drastically different from usual Hollywood fantasy fare that I felt compelled to see it, especially when I heard about the madness angle. I admit I wasn't expecting much, but I wasn't expecting something that made the Twilight movies look like a class act.
The story uses the "dream within a dream" device, taking place on three planes of existence. The heroine is a girl called only Baby-Doll (played by Emily Browning), who is institutionalized after she tries to kill her rapist stepfather (and ends up shooting her little sister by mistake). Abused in the asylum and threatened with a lobotomy, she creates a fantasy world where she's a prostitute at a brothel. At the brothel, Baby-Doll teams up with similarly-named prostitutes Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Rocket (Jena Malone) to formulate an escape before they're sold off to the "High Roller" (played by Jon "Don Draper" Hamm, who has kind of ruined Mad Men for me thanks to his association with this POS). Their escape plan hinges on Baby-Doll distracting clients with her dance, where she slips into the the third level of the dream-- a fantasy adventure where the girls wear leather and battle monstrous foes.
This all takes place in the 1950's (which has become a safe period for movies dealing with cultural repression), and even the action scenes draw on a variety of anachronisms. Those scenes, the scenes which are used in almost all of the marketing, have the girls follow video-game style mission objectives as they fight samurai, zombie nazis, orcs, and robots. If pirates and Chuck Norris were involved, this would offer a complete set of internet shorthands for cool. These scenes are reasonably entertaining, though the fact that the cinematography is borrowed so heavily from video games holds them back. They're moments that would be fun if you were controlling the girls, but are so devoid of narrative weight that they're useless when simply watched. Even cutscene-heavy video games ideally leave the action to the playable parts, and leave the footage for character development-- Metal Gear Solid being the best example, as that game's cutscenes often have a subdued tone and several layers of meaning.
The real problem with the story is the "real world", especially filtered through the intermediary that is the brothel world. The characters have little to no personality; Amber and Blondie are near-complete ciphers, and the only traits seen in Sweet Pea and Rocket are that they're big sister and little sister. Baby Doll may be the protagonist, but her reactions don't go any further than the situations-- she hates her captors, wants to help her fellow inmates/prostitutes/action heroines, and doesn't like being raped. The emotional range portrayed by all the girls ranges from "angry at rapists" to "crying over having been raped", with occasional moments of sisterly solidarity between them. Most writing teachers will tell you that tears should be saved for a character's greatest trials, because if you use the waterworks too much, you run the risk of sappy melodrama. When dealing with a concept as horrific as rape, sappy melodrama is the last thing you want, but it's here in spades.
The fact that the real world is the mental hospital is what really sinks the movie for me, because physical/sexual abuse of mental patients IS a real problem, and it doesn't just happen to those with movie starlet looks. And while the elaborate fantasy sequences of Baby-Doll may be what give her strength to stick to the escape plan, they aren't the sort of fantasies her character (such as it is). While this is allegedly set in the 1950s, the brothel and the video game sequences are clearly motivated by the male gaze-- even when fighting orcs and Nazis instead of pimps and johns, the girls wear skimpy fetish gear and use symbolically phallic weaponry (big guns, big swords, big mechs). Snyder has said that this is his commentary on the nature of fantasy, that it's "girls performing for men in the dark". Except that he's doing a movie with female stars, so the girls should be able to behave as the subjects, not the objects. In a bizarre way, the film catastrophically fails the Bechdel Test, because while all the protagonists are female, all their dialogue is talking about the males (even if the males are the bad guys).
Snyder has taken the language of comic books, video games, and other geek culture paraphernalia, but he hasn't given us any substance with it. His observations about voyeurism and rape as a means of asserting dominance are the kind that can be found in any Media Studies 101 class. The rest is, as Chris Rosa told me prior to seeing this movie, like a Hollywood executive's superficial understanding of the San Diego ComiCon floor show, used as an attempt to make a deep statement with a very shallow thought process.
The only way I would recommend you see this is if you were watching for the purposes of doing an insulting review a la the Nostalgia Critic. Because this kind of story, a story with big ambitions but lazy craft, is the perfect target for such derision.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
The density of awfulness within these comics is getting harder to address in single entries, so I'm probably going to be splitting up these reviews in the future.
Naitsirhc's eviller/gayer form may be the most disturbing new character in Episode 14, but there's another addition to the cast who says more about Christian Weston Chandler. Bionic the Hedgehog debuts in this chapter, and gives us a glimpse at what Chandler's creative process was like ten years ago.
While it would be statistically impossible for Chandler to come up with worse ideas than Sonichu, it's not like Bionic was much better.
Bionic the Hedgehog is basically Sonic with orange fur and an affinity for basketball. There are no other characteristics to the little creature, other than the fact that he can throw the orange ball hard enough to knock Chris-Chan's evil twin into a temporary coma. Bionic is only notable because he was the first character Chris-Chan came up with, only ripping off one property instead of two.
Chris-Chan visits Bionic because, through deus ex machina (the internal driving force behind Sonichu's story), he goes back in time to his high school days. This is part of the search for the Sonichu Balls or something*, but the real reason Chandler takes his fictional self back in time is for personal gratification. High school was a better time for Chandler than anything since, and the further he gets from those days.
However, all this does for anyone else is illuminate how little Christian Weston Chandler has possessed. Back in the 1990s, he was drawing rip-offs of Sonic characters. A decade later, he's still doing it. But back then this could be forgiven as the result of inexperience and perhaps a coping mechanism. As a grown man, this is downright pathetic.
Even more pathetic is the fact that instead of moving on from Bionic, Chandler feels compelled to work the waste of orange Crayola ink into his current projects. The only way this could have worked would be if it was meta-commentary on Chandler's creative process, comparing and contrasting the progress (such as it is) between Bionic and Sonichu, but it reads as a compulsive need for Chandler to validate everything he's done, with no room for admitting mistakes or reconsidering his direction.
Even worse is the fact that Bionic was Chandler's main weapon in his 1999 "War on Autism". Chandler has made it clear that he wants a cure for autism, and would not hesitate to shed his neurological "curse". Ironic, as Chandler has built so much of his identity around being a victim of autism, and if he were cured, he would no longer have any excuses for his behavior. Granted, he doesn't have any excuses now, at least in the eyes of anyone but his decrepit parents and the state of Virginia.
* (Which gave us the immortal line, "My Two Balls!". Chandler has since retconned them into the Sonichu Crystals.