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HBO's Confederate Problem and its Stupidity

Like most people when I heard about the new project from the showrunners of Game of Thrones, my reaction was WTF.  My reaction is based on ...

Friday, July 21, 2017

HBO's Confederate Problem and its Stupidity

Like most people when I heard about the new project from the showrunners of Game of Thrones, my reaction was WTF.  My reaction is based on the objectification that occurs from the first episode of GoT, not so much from the project itself.  Then as a fellow member of an online group pointed out, we don’t really know.  Perhaps the show will be nuanced and sensitive.  That is true.  It wouldn’t be the first such project to be based on alternate Civil War ending, that has been done before.

                But considering GoT and its gender and race problems, I’m not holding my breath.

                The other thing that bothers me is bigger.  Why this series?  Underground, a series set pre-Civil War, and boasting a predominately black cast was recently cancelled by WGN America.  If HBO wanted to tackle the question of slavery and race, why not pick up this excellent, well-acted, and well written series?  (Honestly, the “Minty” episode needs to win awards and awards and be taught in schools).  While Underground focuses on escaped slaves, it also has slave catchers (if that is really important to HBO) as well as abolitionists.  Honesty, you will never look at Chris Meloni the same way, and one of the best arcs during the first season was that of the slave-catcher’s son. 

                But, you say, HBO wants fantasy to replace GoT.  Okay, okay.  The thing is that there is plenty of fantasy out there.  Hell, there is plenty of fiction.  How about Segu by Maryse Conde?  Not fantasy, but the book and its sequel chronicle an African family as Europeans and Muslims start to influence/take over their lands.  It has everything in it.  Sex, violence, debates about religion.  Why not Segu?

                Or why not some of the work of Tananarive Due, such as her African Immortals series?  Fantasy, vampires, and far better than Trueblood.  I dare you not to cry after reading the first book.

                Or how about anything by Octavia Butler?  Hell, her works could keep HBO going for years.  


              Are those works (and works by Okorafor, Hopkinson, Jemisin, Banks,  James, Mosely among others) too black?  Is that it?

                Okay then, how about the Free Man of Color series by Barbara Hambly.  She’s white, her main character is black, and it takes place in New Orleans right after the Louisiana Purchase.  Benjamin January, the title character, solves mysteries, and one his sidekicks is a white guy.

                Does that work for you? 

                Or how about this – adapt some Forgotten Realms stuff.  You got your fantasy, you got your dragons, you can have white people in it but you can also have Drizzit who is a black elf.  You can make the characters purple for all you want.  There you go.  Why not that? 

Or if you want alternate history, look at works such as Tremontaine or the Elephant and Maccaw Banner.  You could also do the Forgotten Realms Empire trilogy.   How about the Monoglaid?  The works of Cherie Priest or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro?  

                OR how about the works of Max Gladstone – he has everything, including gods in his Craft series.

                In some ways, HBO’s greenlighting of the project is a showcase of why representation matters.  IF the answer to a lack of people of color in GoT is the construction of a series based on an idea that is some people’s wet dream (honesty, read Confederates in the Attic), you are missing the point.   Hell, I’m probably missing the point with some of my suggestions. 

                We need representation.  Gene Rodenberry knew this.  He knew this, though he might not have called it that.   It’s great that the rough cut of the Black Panther movie is four hours, but it shouldn’t have taken it so long to have been made. Just like Wonder Woman. 

                Look, I know we had Electra, Catwoman, Steel, but look at the production of those movies compared to the white male hero movies.  It’s not the same.  And that is part of the problem.  Compare the advertising for Batman movies vs the advertising for Wonder Woman.  Look at the reaction to WW, and that shows you why we need it.  I hope the lines for Black Panther are just as long.


                Representation matters but so does what you chose to represent.  To take a fantasy/sci-fi genre and use it just for slavery, again, is at best a lack of literacy and sensitivity.  Why must all heroes be white and mostly (all) male?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Comic Round Up

Over the last month I have read several comic books/graphic novels that have been offered for free for kindle or on Comixology.  Here’s a some of the highlights.


Overwatch Series – This comic series, offered for free, is based on the video game of the same name.  It is a game I haven’t played.  The comic series, spanning ten issues, is pretty damn good.  There are quite a few woman characters, several of whom are women of color.  The series also covers several morality questions – what is good, just, right.  The series also uses characters who are older.  The artwork is pretty good as well.  While eight of the issues are basically character studies with action, the last two issues deal with Halloween and Christmas, and so are somewhat a guest star list type of story.  Familiarity is with the video game is not needed to read these, though they should be read in order.  This is because a character in one is the mother of the central character in the following issue.  While the series does offer a must know cliffhanger, it is resolved in the ten issues.

Various Batman Comics -  Overall the Batman comics were what you would expect from Batman, and yet, they were in some ways the most disappointing.  The Rebirth first issue was good, though perhaps straining at the very loose sense of reality that holds things together.  The sequence involving passengers on a plane was, in particular, really great.  Neil Gaiman’s Batman in Black and White was clever, if not as clever as it thinks it is.  But the taste of Batman was soured by two freebies, the 10c Adventure and Gotham Adventures. 

                Batman and the Ten Cent Adventure is not as bad as Gotham Adventures.  The basic set up is that Bruce Wayne is framed for a murder.  The story is told from the viewpoint of his bodyguard.  A young woman who reminds a bit of Black Canary.  She was Wayne’s bodyguard until she discovered his identity as Brue Wayne and then she became is crime fighting partner, just don’t call her Robin.  Her voice tells the story so we get very much of Wayne worship and of course, she is in love with him, though he doesn’t know it.  And poor Bruce had to break up with his true love which he does by inviting her to his mansion so she can walk in on him when he is with some other women.  Of course, then he stalks her when he is Batman because that is so romantic. 
                You see my problem. 


Source ComiXology

                Gotham Adventures is worse, even though it features the extended Bat family.  That comic opens with Batman, Robin, and Batgirl chasing the Joker.  Robin gets delegated to help some woman, and I am not really sure what Batgirl does because she doesn’t have anything to do with Batman catching the Joker.  The Bat group take Joker back to the Batcave because there is a bounty on Joker’s head.  Nightwing shows up and gets a few lines.  Finally, after several pages, Batgirl actually gets to speak.  Everyman had lines, mostly several, before Batwing gets even one.  She is left to guard the Joker, who of course knocks her out.  If it was Alfred getting the drop on the Joker the shit would have hit the fan.  While she is knocked out, the Bat men are all doing heroic things.   So, one woman, who can’t even guard a prisoner who is handcuffed.  It’s a shame really because it is leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and stops what would have been a pretty fun comic read from being so.

Various Wonder Woman Comics – So these include Wonder Woman Rebirth (FCBD editions and #1 itself) as well as DC Super Hero Girls.  The Rebirth issues are very interesting and good.  And guess what, one of the FCBD editions has two men talking about a woman and her relationship to one of them.  That is just awesome.  Really awesome.  In particular, what I enjoyed about the Rebirth idea was the concept of storytelling and retconning which WW’s Rebirth storyline seems to directly tackle.  This is wonderful because all the multiple origin stories get a tad confusing.   

                There was also an older Wonder Woman, apparently after Crisis of Infinite Worlds.  This is interesting because Diana Prince is no longer Wonder Woman, at least in name, though the villains still see her as such.  Which shows you that villains know better.  And this raises a question.  I have not read mainstream comics for several years.  But I do know that have been quite a few times when Diana Prince has lost the title of Wonder Woman (once to her mother).  I know that in the last few year, Marvel’s Thor lost his hammer to a woman, and Iron Man is, wonderfully, a young black woman but my question is this -  do any male super heroes lose their status or title as much or more as Wonder Woman has?  Why Wonder Woman?  I’m not trying to be snarky, I am legitimately curious.  How does this break down?  Anyone know?

Source ComiXology

                The Super Hero girl comics are cute, and intended it seems for a younger audience.  The two I read where actually the same story, one just longer than the other.  The story concerns summer break where Wonder Woman and Bumble Bee go to Mount Olympus.  The cast is multi-ethnic, though a bit strange – why Poison Ivy – but the series does show the girls working together and being there for each other.  Though, why Batgirl sightsees as Batgirl I don’t know.









I mean how does this work?
There were some surprises in this comic freebie read – Red Sonja 0, written by Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Curry was actually quite good, despite the   costume that makes no sense and seems to have a magical power to stay still and not show X-rated bits.  Red Sonja Vol 4, #0 was not as good, in fact it was just annoying, with more teasing of body parts.  Damsels: Mermaids was also quite good and a wonderful take on Andersen’s Little Mermaid.  Honesty, this might just be my favorite version.
 
Source ComiXology



Of course, not much has changed in comics.  Women, in particular the heroes, are usually drawn with Triple DDD bust sizes and a middle that couldn’t house a liver or intestine.  The men are buff too, let’s be honest, but they at least have some room for internal organs. 

Where does the food go?




 This is particularly distracting in Grimm Comics because the story telling is good there, but the female characters so sexualized that it is nerve wracking.  The explanation seems to be Neverland, a spin off, because the Wendy character was actually dressed.  The Godstorm spin off was good too  - Zeus mediating on fatherhood was really great.  The expection to this is Jem and the Holograms - though there the real sized, curvy women are the only minority characters as well.  The white women are still super skinny.  It does easily pass the Bedchel test though.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Personal Canon: Watership Down

Watership Down
Richard Adams
First Read: 3rd/4th grade

Hazel and Fiver from the movie


                 I first read Watership Down after seeing the cartoon.  I was dusting my parents’ bookcase, and boom there the book was.  So, I read it and loved it.  Except for that one chapter.

El-ahrairah (movie)

                The basic plot of Watership is a quest by a group of rabbits as they try to find, first, a home and then female rabbits.  The rabbits have a trickster god called El-ahrairah.  The chapter that freaked me out when I first read it was a story about El-ahrairah going to the Black Rabbit (death).  El-ahrairah wanted to save his people so he gambled with the Black Rabbit.  Each time he lost, he lost body parts.  His ears were replaced with cabbage leaves and so on.  It freaked me out.  Really freaked me out.  It was the only time I ever needed a night light.


                It was the cabbage leaves.

The Black Rabbit

                Yet, even this chapter couldn’t kill my love for the book.  I re-read pretty much every year though college.  Until high school, I skipped that scary chapter.  But then I read it again and loved it.
  
              The great thing about Watership Down is the whole language.  The whole world building.  The characters – Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Dandelion, Blackberry, Pippin, and Keehar (who is not a rabbit).
            
    I love those characters.  I love this book.

                Rabbits taught me much.

                

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review: I read it, so you don't have it

How to unlock her legs make a woman to have sex with you and to do anything for you How to unlock her legs make a woman to have sex with you and to do anything for you by David Right
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So as you can tell from the title, this is one of those get laid books. It includes gems like how to make the mood on a date (a first date) lighter - by slapping the girl on the bum. Also other girls will always be more attractive than your girl, but that's okay just go after them.

In fairness, he does recommend honesty and passion for a woman, including her interests. Though he keeps using the word girl and not woman. I am presuming he means adults and not illegal age relationships..

And sentences like: "Men need lose hope because all is not lost". I'm not sure what that means really.

or "Where Seduction forms the basis of foreplay, in fact is a part of foreplay".

There is this wonderful gem, "where romance never lasts and maybe makes you feel weak and give in, seduction is a cycle that keeps repeating"

By the way, all woman yearn to give men "deep passionate desires". Even lesbians.

He does, to be fair, have some good points - like humor and listening, but then says to lie because that will seduce her faster.

He also says you should hypnotize women, in particular when they rejection you or are out of your league. So he really does look like a scumbag despite the nice points.

Then in the chapter about sex he worries about surrounding sexist. BTW, women use sex as a bargaining chip but this has been overlooked by a stereotype that uses it (I think that is what he is saying).

Women are easily addicted to food, shopping and spending money, according to this chapter on sex.

And he has 3 perfect lines for after sex.

Boobs. He uses the word boobs! He tells you to bite and talk dirty.

Men should be in control, he says, because women really like that. Then he tells men to do doggy style but five pages later says this is bad for the man, so I really don't want to tell you guys.


(There is also a huge disclaimer so you can't sue the author. Now you know why).

Hello rape culture book, how was your day?

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: Blood of the Sphinx

Blood of the Sphinx Blood of the Sphinx by J. Johanis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5, I suppose.

I really, truly do not know what to make of this book. I thought it was a parody, but apparently it is not.

This I found hard to believe.

This book would be better if Johanis lost what is supposedly the historical aspect. It's one thing to rewrite history and give those with tragic endings, happy ones. But this is like an alternate sci-fi Egypt on an totally different planet.

There is some weird shit going down. Like the fact that the men fight and then rape each other in the arena. Ummm. And I'm sorry, Sasha as a nickname for Caesarion? Adrian for an Egyptian guard?

Now to be fair, Johanis acknowledges the playing with history, a bit, and gives the bare facts in an afterword.

So I guess it's about kink, though where Sasha got a pick feather anus toy, I have no idea. But, hey, he is a blond with long flowing tresses. (Yeah, I know).

The whole bit about semen, I honestly do not know where to start with that. I don't. That was just inventive, but very strange. And insulting.

Which brings me to a question - I haven't read much m/m erotica or romance. So is it normal for one of the partners to be constantly described in womanly terms? Even the sex is basically described as man taking a woman - some verbiage and what not. Honestly, you change some of the pronouns around and it could be m/f. Is that normal? I'm not a guy, but wouldn't the mechanics be a little different than standard frontal sex, right? I swear one passage makes it sound like the two men are entering each others womanly parts that they don't have. This confused me greatly. Do men have secret vaginas?

So as a parody it is quite funny, but it is not suppose to be one. So oops.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

RIP Michael Bond

Michael Bond died.  I spent hours of my childhood with Paddington.


Photo Source: Washington Post

Review: Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport by Anna Krien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am slightly conflicted about this book. Okay, it is good, and does in many ways, what a book should do - raise conversation about a subject. Krien is writing, on one hand, about the sexism in Aussie football, and on the other hand, about one particular rape case that was a the result of the sexism. The parts about the football culture that includes rape, abuse, or bad treatment of women are the most interesting parts of the book. The sections about the rape are a source of conflict.

To be fair, Krien herself realizes this.

In part, this conflict is caused by the Aussie justice system itself, and in part because the woman in the trial did not grant an interview to Krien. Not that I blame her. Krien points out that due to lack of interaction with the woman, she [Krien] found herself getting closer to the man's family. Part of what Krien seems to be trying to work out here is her own self of lost objectively (which she does own and question right from the start) as well as what is a legal definition of rape - especially with all the misinformation about rape that circles around. In other words, she invents the reader along to figure this out. Though, at times, she almost seems to endorse the men are from mars, women are from venus cliche. In many of her examples, it seems more of a case of ingrained sexism, ingrained by society.

It is uncomfortable reading, but important reading.

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