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Traipsing Through Silent Hill
Artwork Graciously Provided by the Incredibe Steven Luna

Part Thirteen, or the Joys of Cultural Appropriation

  Well, hello there, saucy companions! It is I, one of the loud and judgmental jerks of the Internet, here to continue our little jaunt through the nightmare world of Silent Hill! When last we left Travis, he was contemplating checking out the talent in the mirror world Artaud Theater, but was stymied by the entirely random katana hanging out in the men’s changing room. There was also a really goofy conversation betwixt him and Lisa, who seems to have taken to recreationally snorting some manner of mood-altering drug.

How did this get here?
Wha? How did this get here?
Original image source: Wikipedia.

  There were also naked puppets, and I suppose now is as good as any time to mention that you should be wary of anyone suggesting puppets in lieu of actors, probably because they are fucking said puppet.

  You’re welcome.

  Anyway, I left you on the edge of your seat last time as we were about to pick up a note. Said note contains information concerning the costume design for The Tempest. It seems that, apropos of nothing, the costume designer for the Artaud troupe wanted to go with a Native American theme. Well, I can’t say that it’s entirely out of left field. After all, quoth the dumbass himself:

Quoted from GameFaqs

            Jack says the town is located on old "spiritual ground"...
            hopefully we will be blessed!!!
            Prospero = Shaman Feathers, smoke, totemic magic.
            Ariel = Air spirit. Flight? Projection? Puppets?
            Caliban = Buffalo spirit. Skin + Berkoffian performance. On
            all fours. Poor actor!

End Quote

  Oh. Gotcha. Since this wandering troupe (I guess it’s wandering) happened upon a town that’s all “Before we killed the native inhabitants, they sure did put spiritual value on this place!”, our intrepid moron decides that it’s totally cool to just do whatever springs to mind when he thinks of “American Indian”.

  Here’s where this is a problem: although not directly stated in game (or most of them, if I recall correctly), the “official” location of Silent Hill is New England, usually somewhere in Maine. Now, the costume designer wants to assign Prospero’s magic (in the play he’s a magician of sorts) to something described as “totemic magic” and we’ve seen totem poles erected on what little we’ve seen of the stage. But the rub of the matter is that totem poles are unique to some tribes in the Pacific Northwest. And “Shaman Feathers” are most likely referring to something that were unique to Plains Indians.

  And Caliban as a “Buffalo spirit”? What the fucking fuck, dude? If this is in Maine, the extreme northeastern portion of the United States, Buffalo didn’t live there. But you know what? I can let that slide if you can just answer this one question: why? Outside of the fact that Caliban, a deformed attempted rapist, is already hobbling around on stage, you want to make him get on all fours out of what? Supposed respect for a tribe you have done precisely zero research for? Because that’s goddamn laughable.

  This gets at the heart of this whole stupid, stupid thing. Why on earth is this troupe actually just going along with this lunatic’s The Tempest: American Indian Stereotype Edition? What does it add to the story or change what we see in it? I’ve read the fucking play—all you’re doing is slapping a new coat of paint on it! You don’t just get throw shit into a random hodgepodge and get away with it just because you think it looks neat. This is lazy and offensive, while the entire time I’m sure these people would be whinging about how they’re just trying to honor the Native Americans and how we just don’t understand and blah-de-blah.

  I’m not saying that experimenting with the source material is bad. There’s nothing about Shakespeare that demands that it absolutely must be done in its stodgy original style. People who cry over every change—e.g., exploring different racial and gender ideas—miss the point of theater and tend to be wankstains. MacBeth, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice—these stories, put in a new setting and with someone paying attention to costume detail, could potentially rock my socks. Hell, a gender-swapped Romeo and Juliet could raise some pretty awesome questions about the nature of love and expected gender roles.

  But this? Fucking this? It comes across as super douchey, as you’re going to use whatever pleases you because all you care about is the paper-thin veneer of authenticity. So go to hell, whatever goddamn troupe you are. I hope Travis’s mom ate your stupid faces.

  And, yes, I am entirely aware that this is make believe, but it still catches the spirit of ignorant people just doing what they think looks cool without regard to the people they are lifting it from. This is the artistic equivalent of misquoting someone, presenting their ideas as saying one thing when they mean another and then throwing your hands up and going “YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!” to deflect any criticism. Ultimately, I can’t decide if this is a great move on Climax’s part, showing the cultural insensitivity that can crop up in the arts, or if this is just an example of insensitivity in the arts. But then I remember the doll puzzle and I think I have my answer.

  Also, apparently the puppets are supposed to be Ariel. Why are there so many, you may ask? Well, it’s because the costume designer was fucking them. All of them. Prove. Me. Wrong.

  Mild aneurism aside, Travis hops through the mirror into the alternate dimension where there’s probably something awaiting him. And, for once, the alternate theater is actually more of a dump than its real world counterpart. Stepping out into the hallways leads to a very silly scuffle with two Ariels where I’m strangled twice, but still manage to beat both of them down with my wrench. Sadly, the wrench is lost… but I took out two sex puppets, so I’m alright with this.

  The director’s office now holds a balcony key, which I greedily take because I will die before someone snaps up all the prime seating in this place. Determining that this is my next location, I head to the nearest stairwell. On my way, I introduce a roadkill’s fat ass to a typewriter in order to remind it of the theater’s very strict “no pets” policy. I’m at least 70% sure it got the message.

  There’s some more unprovoked monster murdering that goes on, but the big reveal is when I finally get to the second floor and discover a door with an indention on both sides. The door has some kind of plaque that reads: “I am a child born by twin desires, I stand before a door, My right hands calls to the light, My left ushers in the darkness.”

  First, apparently the sun tablet I picked up earlier is actually the sun totem, which is absolutely spiffy in that cultural appropriation thing I ranted about earlier. Second, it goes into the right slot. Yes, you have to choose which slot it goes in. Yes, the plaque directly tells you which one. No, this isn’t a very good puzzle, because it basically relies on someone overthinking the solution to get it wrong.

  Since there’s nowhere else to go, I guess it is back to the real world to get to the balcony. I mean, I guess there was that note about the lights being stupid, so I suppose there’s justification for it. Back through the mirror!

  Jogging through the newly enemy populated theater is not particularly exciting. I mean, the naked Ariel in the stage right storage room has come to life.

  Briefly.

  Because I killed it.

  When I finally get to the second floor west wing via the lobby, I see an Ariel walking on its hands. I will have absolutely none of this shit, so I command Travis to lob a crate at the little prick’s head crotch. It goes down and, due to the magic of button mashing, I accidentally whipped out the .22 pistol. Out of intense laziness, I have Travis just unload on the thing.

  It took six shots. After taking a one-hit weapon that is usually strong enough to knock any enemy down and into critical health. Six shots.

  I have a theory: the monsters are slightly allergic to criticism and all handguns in the Silent Hill universe fire strongly worded letters to the editor. It’s the only way I can reconcile the fact that something designed to rip through flesh and take bone and organs with it seems to have the same effect of a warm breeze carrying a baby’s laugh across the plains.

  Crappy stupid guns aside, I unlock the balcony and barge on through. Now, Travis isn’t able to actually get into the balcony seating area, which is a goddamn shame, but he does have access to the lighting booth. Oh, sorry, the lighting “box”. In this cramped space of electronic wonderment, I have Travis quickly relieve the crew of their light bulbs. Hopefully he didn’t touch the actual glass, because the oil in his fingers will stay on the bulb and burst into flames once they get hot enough!

  The four bulbs I picked up (mostly because the voice in Travis’s head told him he needed them) are, in numeric order, 125, 250, 500, and 750W. For those of you who are interested in theater stuff, I would actually wager the 125 and 250W bulbs are actually relatively useless based on the size of the two-story monstrosity that is the Artaud Theater. The 250W bulb would have some (possible) use on the over-head lighting rig, but the 125W is most assuredly just there because somebody bought the set. It’s double the power of a regular light bulb, and you’d probably be able to achieve a better effect with a higher power bulb at lower power.

  But whatever! We’ve already established that the Artaud is home to a bunch of idiots, so I guess it is par for the course.

  After pilfering expensive bulbs, I stumble on a note that justifies all ex-post-facto-like my blatant thievery. There are four lighting cans, labeled A, B, C, and Steven that need their specific bulb to work properly. We are given the hint that B must be half Steven, A and B’s wattage must be less than C’s, and Steven must be less than A’s wattage.

  I suppose if you’re bad at math this can be tough, but we’re given all the information we need. And we just work backward from what we know.

  If A+B must be less than C and there are no other qualifiers for C, it’s safe to assume than C is 750.

  If Steven D must be less than A and twice B, that means it’s 250. Continuing this thought, we know that B is 125.

  If A must be greater than D, A is 500.

  Then we check our “proof” in this equation. Is 500+125 less than 750 or, in other words, is A+B < C? Yes.

  A=500, B=125, C=750, D=250

  I really like this puzzle. Unfortunately, I just solved it before I have even encountered where the hell these bulbs go. So… um… yea?

  Rummaging around for anything else I can get my grubby little mitts on, I find a screwdriver, a first aid kit, and shotgun ammo. So, yeah, pretty much a normal lighting booth. I’m a little disappointed, Climax.

  So we’ll complain about this instead: look at the map to the Artaud theater. It’s a big ass place, right? Pretty cool, really. Bet you could put on a rockin’ play that pays homage to Silent Hill’s transdimensional fuckery all proper and stuff. Cough.

Otherworld  Infinite Requiem
Oh, hi. Where did you come from?

  Anyway, look at the second floor. Why the hell are the lights actually stored in the lighting booth? It’s so far away from the catwalks! Why wouldn’t they be on a shelf or something in the hallway next to the gantries? Or in the store room?

  “But it’s the lighting box!” you shout.

  No, imaginary person. No. The lighting booth is cramped to the point where there aren’t any chairs for the lighting crew to sit in. There’s barely any space for the one or two people that need to populate that room every performance night—why is that the place where you feel the lights should go? Is it thematically important, fictional director who has impugned my sense of space conservation? Well you can thematically move the spares into a sane place and allow your poor lighting and sound crew to have a seat during a three hour Shakespearean performance.

  Dick.

  Anyway, I take the opportunity to see if I can gain access to the eastern side of the building. Sure enough, I can run down the stairwell, unlock the door to the men’s changing room, and clear a path that opens up the entire level up to this point. Easy peasy! I also horribly kill a taffyman in celebration and stumble on the moon totem! It’s in a really weird display case that, while in the middle of the room, gives you very limited indication that anything of importance is in there. You have to really be paying careful attention to Travis’s head movements to notice that there’s something that can be interacted with there.

  Oh, I forgot to mention that until now: whenever you’re in about a four foot radius or so, Travis will look at the nearest item that can be picked up or examined, provided that it is either equipment or plot relevant. It helps for when the camera is being uncooperative because the camera is run by the devil.

  Anyway, I never got around to checking if the rest of the eastern portion of the theater’s second level was accessible. After running face first into a locked door, I guess that answers where we’re going next. So we head back to the changing room thanks to our newly unlocked shortcut through the east wing and…

  … Wait. No. No.

  Look at the city map. See the Artaud? It’s in the north eastern part of the map. Sorry, should have mentioned that first. The entrance on Koontz Street pretty easily divides this into east/west halves.

  Take a look at the Sanitarium just off of Acadia Road. Its entrance is on the west side. It’s on the WEST SIDE of the building.

  Look at the map of the asylum.

  LOOK AT THE MAP TO GAMING’S INBRED COUSIN OF A LEVEL. YOU WILL FUCKING LOOK AT IT!

  The map is laid out as though left was west and right was east, but that’s not how it works. The “West Solarium” and “West Pipe Room” should be labeled as north, and the eastern equivalents south.

  I… I just… I need a moment.

  If I actually wake up after this, join me next time for I Promise I Won’t Talk About the Fucking Sanitarium Again, Just Don’t Let Me Realize Anything Else Wrong With It.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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