Living In Infamy:
Y'know how one tends to hear often how people should get credit for trying when it comes to race relations? LII is a good damn example of why that's so much bullshit. The black character has a cosmic 'master', so his powers aren't even his own and the Comsic Whip Cracker never stops talking about how said character should feel special and stop allowing himself to be polluted by the small minded humans. There's so much mishmashed stereotypes and ignorance and racist bullshit involved in it I don't even know where to start.
It's much easier to focus on the female characters having no agency and all defined by the men in their lives; ex lover, current husband, potential adulterous conquest, ex lover who's a big bad, teenage best friend who is male and needs accidental info dump, son who's a potential uber something.
And then the bullshit about Gypsies and Gypsy superstition and Gypsy 'whores' and just - whoa. No cultural identity there either but a nice stereotype with visions, dreams and mind reading.
And I think there was possibly some closeted gay in there - I'm not sure. That was around the time the plot started jumping and leaping and disconnecting from the panels. The 'voice over' caption boxes only added to the dissonance.
Also, and this is just a personal gripe here. But if there are mind readers/ mind control agents in a stasis situation (Super Villain Witness Protection) and there's thought enough into getting the engineering/mech maker minded into helping protect the town and set some things up. Then why the hell is the Sheriff clueless about the strangeness? Why not have a Sheriff who could deal with teenagers coming into their powers or blowing off steam by shooting at bottles with their laser vision, or weird tech or whatever. The mayor's apparently powered, why not either a) fix the Sheriff or b) set up a town system where the position of head of police is appointed?
Aug 5th - That's when I started this and put it in drafts thinking I'd get back to it and add more. But truthfully I just want to forget I ever read this book/series. So there you have it.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Living In Infamy:
Friday, August 29, 2008
50 Things I love about comics, in random order and somewhat random sorting.
01 - Monica Rambeau
02 - Allison Blair (Dazzler)
03 - Cloak & Dagger
04 - Magneto (Movieverse 1&2)
05 - Wolverine (barring Origins)
06 - Scott Summers
07 - Misty Knight
08 - Spiderman (the married one)
09 - Invincible
10 - The Silencers
11 - MetaDocs
12 - Lai Wan - The DreamWalker
13 - Artesia
14 - Batman
15 - Gotham - (especially in Batman/Deathblow)
16 - Bludhaven - (O'Neil's & Dixon's)
17 - Dr. Fate - Inza Kramer
18 - Wonder Woman (Greg Rucka's writing, Johnson's art)
19 - Superman (Jim Lee's)
20 - That Renee Montoya made such a successful jump from the animated series to the comic books / Gotham Central
21 - Women with light powers
22 - The concept of guardians chosen by what they guard (the city, an artifact, the universe)
23 - Fiesty redheads
24 - The unexpected punch
25 - Knowing your partner inside and out /through and through
26 - Cityscapes from above
27 - Small children who kick. total. ass
28 - Villains with a good wardrobe
29 - Really, really, big guns
30 - Third tier characters the hero couldn't live without.
31 - Alternate Universes & Elseworlds
32 - Reluctant players in long trenchcoats
33 - Time Travel Paradox
34 - Favourite restaurants / franchises
35 - Shadow Hill
36 - Kisses suspended over a city
37 - Batman & Superman back to back
38 - Bad ass sword-play
34 - DeadPool
35 - Flatman, the Great Lakes Avengers and true heroism
36 - Negima
37 - Claymore
38 - Chi's Sweet Home
39 - Heroes crouched in the shadows
40 - Impossibly beautiful under water/the ocean civilizations
41 - Heroines who take a beating and keep on fighting
42 - Spiderman Unlimited
43 - Starship Troopers: Roughneck Chronicles
44 - Juuni Kokki
45 - Seirei no Moribito
46 - Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars
47 - Batman: The Animated Series
48 - Superman: The Animated Series
49 - X-men: Evolution
50 - The Blue Crew: Nightcrawler, Beast, Talia & Mystique.
As you can see, my love of comics led me to animation and belief in drawn stories and heroics as extremely worthwhile art. It took me a while to decide to post it with those animated shows =- but that's the truth, that's part of what I like about comics; I'd have never been originally interested in something like Roughneck Chronicles if I hadn't been interested in animation - which came from a love of comics. And then ST:RC because a series I absolutely adored and had to go hunt down the original Heinlein book.
All in all though, I think I suck at memes like this. I just don't think about things in this way.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Ie - Batman as a blank space to be built upon.
* - (Don't you wish Blogger had an easy cut tag that was automated for all posts?)
* - (Do I even have to say SPOILER ALERT?)
I've seen it mentioned enough in reviews I've gone back to read since I finally saw the film that Batman in Nolan's Universe is a blank space; that he's boring, that all the interest is around him instead of within him and what the hell is Chris Nolan doing??!
Now a couple weeks later having sat on my thoughts I'm not going to claim I know what Chris Nolan is going, especially since I doubt Nolan's a secular womanist, or particularly invested in race equality. That is, the man's not me, I'm not him, I don't read minds.
What I am going to do, however, is discuss why I both agree and disagree with the description of Batman as a blank space. That is, I think it's entirely possible for the role to be interpreted that way (un-engaging, static shell) but I believe there's a reason for it and more-over, I've been enjoying it.
Batman Begins showed us a Bruce who was listless and unmotivated and basically one of the walking wounded from the time of his parents' death until he walks into the court house intent on murdering Joe Chill. Then Rachel slaps him (physically and metaphorically) and he goes on a journey to both find himself and to see the world he's been ignoring, as if it all stopped turning when his parents died.
This is not a Bruce, as in some canon arcs, who dabbled in a bit of everything with a mission in mind since childhood. This is not the Bruce who contemplated joining the FBI.
The way things are set up in the courthouse it doesn't even look as if Bruce gave any thought to getting away unseen or unscathed. He just wanted Chill dead. So he really had nothing to lose; since he'd been prepared to commit a type of suicide; when he goes traveling the world with nothing in his pockets. And when we next see him in the Chinese prison, he's a ferocious fighting dog. All his rage and pain and confusion is channeled into some very dirty fighting; impassioned fighting, such that catches his mentor's attention.
From there we go to a rigid training of body and mind and the discovery by Bruce of his own inner lines; things he will not do when his head is clear. Things he would and will train himself not to do even when his head is NOT clear. He's pulled himself out of a spiral of self-pity, seen his own strength and determination and realized that killing the criminals in summary execution is not the answer.
Thus is born, in Batman Begins, when he goes back to his city to try and save it - Bruce Wayne as an adult and Batman (the legend). BUT, things are bad in Gotham and Bruce needs to create a counter persona so his own personal growth, hard fought until this current plateau has to be put on hold. He has two jobs that take up all his time; Brucie and Batman.
There are three personas; Bruce Wayne, Brucie and Batman.
It's no surprise to me that there's all this movement happening around Batman but not coming from within him. It makes perfect sense. Bruce is still stalled on a plateau. He's still. In TDK, I realized that he's been holding on, over the past how many ever months, to this dream that with enough people inspired by him, the right people, he can hang up his cape and give Brucie a funeral and begin to discover who Bruce Wayne really is; what sort of man is he really? What does he want now?
But events in TDK reveal that Gotham's redemption will not be a simple path. It will take more than shining beacons of hope; beacons can be dimmed. Batman Begins explained to us that there was an organization set upon Gotham's destruction, encouraging it and feeding it the worse of human nature, letting it over-boil with corruption.
Gotham's an infection site, swelling with irritant fluids and turning things red and pus filled. Gotham's a Hellmouth (if you followed Buffy). Gotham's a place dictated the end spot of lines of corruption and darkness from all over the world; lines created by an ages old organization that's been working on this for YEARS (possibly something around 30-35 yrs). So Gotham's been this way for a generation.
The people currently alive in the city have always known it this way. Bruce himself was born into the city as it stood. And it'd been admitted to him that all his parents did, in their life and with their deaths was very partially stem the tide.
At the end of TDK I felt as if that is when 'the mission' is born. That's the moment when Bruce gives himself over to the City, to be Gotham's protector and avenger. To me that would be the moment he realizes that Bruce Wayne, that is Bruce Wayne the normal guy, the guy with trauma who's healing and moving forward is never going to happen. There is no magic bullet. There is no quick solution. The cure might have to take as long as the cause. That Bruce Wayne is a myth and waiting around for the right time for that myth to get the chance to show up - gets people killed, gets them hurt and injured, exposes them to too much.
I liked that Alfred burns Rachel's letter, because in Alfred's heart, he wants his young man, his almost son, to have that hope present - that it could have been fulfilled and one day still might be. He doesn't want to see Bruce become consumed by the mission. As much as a Bruce active and living means to him; the path down to obsessed is near and slippery.
I like how much is implied if you know the myth/legend/canons of Batman. But that this brushes a near real world margin on the psychology of evil, strength, weakness and redemption. I also like that someone paying attention can tease apart the possibilities. I say nothing for those who're all 'Cool explosions! And OMG romance dead now!'. We're obviously enjoying things in different ways.
I also like where Jim Gordon stands in this universe. Jim knows that Batman had hoped to one day stand aside. He knows the truth about what happened to and with Harvey. He knows that Batman is capable of almost anything (up to certain strict lines) to save this city. Or rather, that when it comes to saving innocents, he'll side with the most vulnerable (ala the hostages in the hostages dressed up as bad guys vs cops).
Jim's more than just a companion in arms right now in the Nolan universe. He's a friend. I can visualize Jim going up to the rooftop by himself, no signal, just Jim and cup of coffee on a break, waiting to see if Batman will show up to talk - because there's something going on Batman should be/would be clued into. Though more realistically in this verse, it'd be back to the back of the house with Batman up in the rafters and Mrs. Gordon wondering about who her husband trusts and why and the kept secrets between them. Jim's wife knows how poisonous Gotham is. She saw what it did to Dent. The Gordon family situation has become, quite elegantly, a pressure cooker and an example of what Bruce wants to save, all in one.
And speaking of saving examples, and themes of strength, weakness, and redemption; Batman/Bruce lost one symbol of Gotham and glimmer of hope in Harvey Dent. It was beautiful and awful and horrifying and brutal. I can forgive a lot for the narrative I saw/got to pick apart as I watched.
Jim, Batman, Harvey as a Trinity and now things are crushed and lopsided is something I absolutely adored. Ab.so.lutely. The Three Fates of Gotham *makes kissy noises of enthusiasm*. The three conspirators; the three schemers for Gotham's future delicately balanced against the three men that would change Gotham forever; The White Knight, The Dark Knight and The Mad Knight.
Sweet mambajomba and precious Baby Moses!
Seeing things like this made Harvey's turn into Two-Face resonate right down to my toes; because when watching the movie I forgot the change was coming. Screw believing a man can fly. I believed that on a single man, hung the fate of a city. And even though I worried about Harvey's control issues, I was caught up in every tiny step he carved out towards a new and brighter Gotham.
Harvey made his stand as a man who makes his own destiny; he forges his own path, creates his own reality. This a powerful attribute in a leader; in anyone, in fact. Which means it is a just as powerful attribute when used on a destructive path. The thing that made the fall of Harvey Dent for me was the realization that the Joker had only to look at him to understand him. The Joker wasn't sure about The Bat; he was curious and intrigued and possibly just a little aroused and tittillated. But Harvey? The Joker knew how to turn the ability to make your own reality become noose and smoking gun.
While I felt that there should have been more in the hospital room between Dent and the Joker I still believed that Harvey Dent, wracked with pain and loss and shock and physical devastation decided to get up and FIX his reality; fix what went wrong where it went wrong - starting with the people who broke it; the ones who betrayed his trust and his dream of a better, brighter Gotham.
Going after the dirty cops was just basic, common, revenge sense. Besides they clawed and wounded Gotham and brought her down into the dirt. And he'd already been disgusted at the concept of dirty cops.
Going after Jim and Batman, however, his fellow comrades in arms; that had me mentally reviewing the confrontation with the Joker even as I watched.
Why? I asked myself. So I watched and I thought and...
Already spiraling in his own guilt and anger and shame. Harvey's notedly embracing the pain and the loss, lashing out at himself. And here comes the Joker who points out that Harvey wasn't alone in his plotting, planning and scheming. And it's always so much easier when one is in pain to blame others, especially when you're the sort who believes that when YOU have it all under control, nothing can go wrong.
That the Joker had Harvey's number from day is positively chilling to me. TDK showed how well the Joker understands the dark side of other people and how he manipulates it and how much fun he had pressing the dark buttons of Gotham's public at seeming random. But realizing he -knew- just which buttons to press for Harvey... The ease of it for him; like a hot knife through butter; is actually terrifying.
It took me a while to realize the reason it was so easy is because Harvey Dent didn't believe in hope. Batman hoped. Jim Gordon hoped. Hell, even Rachel Dawes hoped. But Harvey believed in Harvey; his plans, his ambitions, his created reality.
And the realization that he wasn't strong enough on his own to fix everything / save everything and that because of that, Rachel died? What a painful lesson to learn; an awful, painful, crushing lesson. It was almost religious. Without faith in Harvey Dent, who did Harvey have faith in?
We've already seen Bruce in this place and we got to see how he found a way to not just believe in himself, but to honor his parents and believe in Gotham. Batman exists on hope. Heck, he was hoping to be an inspiration and hoping that such an inspiration would be enough to set Gotham back towards the right. He'd moved on from hopelessness when he walked away from Gotham and found himself. We've seen Jim Gordon believe in the people of Gotham; no matter the trips and stumbles and second and third chances. If circumstances changed; if people were given an opportunity to do right - Jim Gordon would give them that chance. Rachel Dawes? She believed in the system, that it could self correct and heal and be about Justice again; no matter how many times she saw it fail.
To me the Joker won the moment Harvey decided to use the coin that first time in the hospital. The coin represented Harvey consistently making his own luck, creating his own destiny; creating change through belief in himself. The coin was Harvey demanding/insisting in control. To use the coin when it had become proof he couldn't control everything; it had become proof of his failure - that to me was a gut punch.
Even if the Joker had ended up with his brains decorating the hospital walls; he'd have won. Harvey was lost and set in motion to publicly display himself as lost to Gotham. Chaos had won one and the failure sent Harvey screaming into denial. And he was screaming so hard that he couldn't see the Joker gently tipping him onto a path the Joker chose for him.
Anyone can snap and kill someone (several someone's) responsible for the death of a loved one. But flipping the damaged coin was Harvey saying that if Chaos could win once, then it was better off being an agent of Chaos. He stopped believing in himself and there was no one else to look to. Maybe that was the true loss in Rachel Dawes that she'd been trusted support without being a co-conspirator in fate manipulation. So in moments before when it looked like Harvey wouldn't win, he could see her faith. Then again, maybe she contributed to his belief that he could do anything and come up roses.
Going back to the concept of a Trinity I realized that Jim Gordon and Batman believed in more than themselves when it came to saving Gotham. And they had the life experiences of disappointments; learning from them, picking themselves up and starting over. Gordon and Batman know how not to lose faith. But Harvey had no hope, only certainty in his own ability to fix everything.
While I don't much believe in the words of Jim Gordon's speech in the end, (a touch melodramatic with some channeling of Frank Miller) I do believe in the sentiment. That Batman has hope and he doesn't let it die and he's willing to bear the pain and the difficulties that come with hoping in Gotham. I guess part of hoping for Gotham was giving them someone to rally against; giving them a focus for cohesion. And he's had the lesson proved to him that without realizing that one can come back from a loss and disappointment it's far too easy to fall down the slippery slope to despair and chaos and blank acceptance. And Harvey's death? No doubt the city as an entity was wondering what they could possibly do without him.
Still, I think between Barbara Gordon (Sr.); Jim Jr; The Joker's flapping lips; and all those other variables there's really no way what Harvey did can be completely kept under wraps for long. But hopefully Gotham will be more mentally prepared to deal with it. And in the meantime, Batman with an acknowledged on screen inner life should, I hope, begin, because there's no point in living life on hold anymore.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The Merlin asked me earlier today, if I love comics and animation so much, why don't I learn to draw. Apparently one of my younger brothers is teaching himself to draw precisely because of his similar love.
My reply was something along the lines that I consider myself to paint using my words and I hadn't really thought of taking time and energy to learn a new skill from scratch - such as with drawing. But then I came online and stumbled into this post about Greg Land. It led me to this defense of Land. In it Rich of Comic by Comic uses this phrase:
I appreciate what Land can do, even if half of it is from some kind of collage.
That phrase has momentarily rocked my world. While reading the previous admonishment of Land's recycling, reusing and swiping, I'd found myself thinking that he must spend an awful amount of time collecting poses from magazines and tv-stills. I had the thought that if he used that time actually drawing, his skills and speed might improve to the point he wouldn't need to keep doing what he has been doing. But then I realized that given how long he's been allowed to pass with his lightboxing, he probably has a fair enough build up images with which to make collages.
So why aren't more people tracing off collages and creating their own comics? And is that an avenue I'd want to take in order to tell a story? Or is it better to find an artist to collaborate with if I ever decide/want my love of comics to go from appreciation to creation.
Does one need some artistic talent to trace? What if you have a good eye, as Land is thought to do via his composition? Is that enough? Does anyone have any ideas on how long it'd take to become proficient at tracing? Does it count as drawing? Could an entire comic actually be done that way? Should I get a digital camera and go out and take as many pictures of city-life as I can? Should I save interiors from a magazine? Is someone out there besides Land already doing precisely that?
What makes an artist? What constitutes vision?
I don't think I've actively thought about this in terms of drawing/visual representation before.
What's the difference, in technical terms even, between the stills that Land draws (I see them as movie stills/ movie storyboarding) and panels that speak of action. I know when I look at comics I often see the characters moving in my head. Realistically I know they're standing still, but as I read and involve myself in the story, there's movement - I read it from the panels. Where does that sense of movement come from and is that the only really important thing when it comes to drawing comics? Is it one of the most important things?
For example, with Land, I've often found myself bored with the story, because the pacing seems slow. Is that impression a result of the lack of movement?
Does it matter to most readers what the quality of art is? The defense of Land also mentioned the 'too plastic' sensation I've gotten with a lot of Land's drawings. I've mentioned before that I find photorealistic artwork staid - more slideshow than living breathing tale. But is that something that can be ignored in favour of good storytelling? Or is it not just the writing, but also the artwork that makes or breaks the tale?
I know for me, some of my absolutely favourite animated stories, are my favourites because of the combination of artwork and writing/dialogue. One of the reasons that I know I'm unlikely to appreciate certain classics of Japanese animation is because the artwork's often too blocky for me to enjoy watching it. I can't really define it at the moment but the art, background and foreground has to be all of a piece to me, and living; the creation of a world. In some animation it feels to my eyes as if the buildings and characters and rubble and sky are all different pieces instead of one whole. It's not just a flipbook level of animation with jerky movements, it's as if a different person drew the buildings, or the buildings were stock drawings added in against the cel.
Hmm, I've rambled a bit. But I think I'm asking: What makes a comic book artist an artist? Should we be thanking the inkers and colourists for making Land's compositions seem alive to some? I know when I've found a story I want to read that involves Land's artwork, I check the colourist first. The beauty of their creations may sway me.
My Dad's currently reading, and will be reading my blog from now on. I have no idea if he'll ever comment here instead of just calling me. But if you'd like to say hello to 'the Merlin' (cause what else would I call my Father *smile*), here's the place to do so.
Apparently I'm still as opinionated as when I was 4. This amuses me immensely.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
RushmoreDrive is not racist you small minded, penny ante, refuse to do your homework, idiots on the internet.
No it's not. No it's not. NO IT IS NOT!
A search engine for African American folk is just that, a search engine catering to and fetching results that are geared towards a demographic's specific needs and interests.
THERE ALREADY ARE WHITE SEARCH ENGINES. They're called; Google, Altavista, Yahoo, the new Cuido and all the rest.
Having a search engine that brings up facts about African American statics and diabetes, when one searches for diabetes is helpful to ME.
Having a search engine bring up Luke Cage and this lovely page about Milestone comics and other black superheroes and their fans is helpful to ME.
Not to mention that it brought up Urban Style Comics and an international superheroes site.
Type in superheroes in Google and what do you get? Two wikipedias', one superhero hype, a superheroes general database and PARIS FRICKING HILTON.
This has been an example of the difference in thinking when WHITE is not the default on a search engine.
Friday, August 15, 2008
My ass should be lying down, but I came online to check email for something, ended up looking through my feeds and saw two things that just had to be written about.
The first is about Comic-Con and how apparently there's no set Con policies on what to do or where to go to report harassment and or abuse. In fact there's no set policies against harassment or abuse.
But there's nothing there about not pointing your dick (or a facsimile) at a woman, not grabbing her ass, not encroaching on her personal space to kiss, hug and photograph her and there's nothing there to report some crazy ass fool who takes it upon himself to shout at and try to verbally degrade female artists.
All of this has left me thinking if I ever went to a Con, I'd get arrested. Cause some jackass fool would reach to touch my hair and I would commit grievous assault with my cane. I mention hair, cause I'm black and I have dreads and my roots are curly and some fool is going to be curious. And without clear guidelines and with seeing women's asses being groped and women being cornered without anyone official saying ANYTHING, or there having been a mention in some opening speech, or in the Con booklet - they're gonna think ""I was just paying her a compliment." and not understand why their gonads are whacked up into their body cavity and why my good foot kept kicking their ass - "Why is the black woman, who thus being black and a woman is worth less than a 'regular' woman so angry?! Why are my nuts gone?!"
Speaking of men without balls. There's this fool I've mentioned before. Some of you may remember when I wrote that.
Well Tom Brazelton has spoken - again. He's crying a river of tears and it's so full of bullshit the stench could kill Godzookie.
Basically, I decided that when it comes to matters of race, gender, disabilities or any other sensitive subject, I'm simply not intelligent enough to create comics that tackle the issues in a constructive way...
I don't consider myself to be racist, sexist or discriminatory in any way. I don't harbor ANY ill will toward anyone because of superficial differences.
However, I will admit to being ignorant and not often understanding the complicated facets of a given issue. As a white guy in my 30's, I'm not often forced to approach things any differently. I try to remain open to different points of view. But in my attempts to learn and eliminate my ignorance, I believe intent and context are shoved to side and what's left is an irresponsible cartoonist left to explain himself to angry readers.
You have to understand the kind of guy I am. I'm not the kind of guy who seeks to offend anyone...
To sum up?
Tom Brazelton Paraphrase 1:This sensitivity shit is hard! So instead of waiting for a bunch of angry _ insert minority here_ to come raining all over my parade. I'm raining on it myself. Cause you see, even though I'm aware I don't understand things, I"m not bothering to do the work to educate myself. It's MUCH MUCH easier to just say...
I don't feel like I'm kowtowing to the vocal minority by editing myself in this way. Truthfully, the reaction of these critics played only a very small role in my decision...I know some of you will read this blog and think to yourself "What's wrong with those comics? I thought they were funny!" If so, thank you. Sorry for wasting your time with this entry...So, moving forward, I think it's best for me to stick to what I know and resist the temptation to make an easy joke that might end up offending someone unintentionally.
Tom Brazelton Paraphrase 2:... Really the PC police and roaming hoards of rabid minority activists didn't scare me into this. It's just even though I have no idea why I keep putting my foot in it- I don't want to be shouted at anymore or make anyone mad at me. Also I don't want to...
... end up offending someone unintentionally.
Tom Brazelton Paraphase 2- Continued:...so I'm just going to avoid going anywhere near anything controversial or that might upset anyone at all. I am repressing myself.
Don't believe that's what he's saying?
I leave you with one last quote. Do note the emphasis is mine.
I feel sorry for anyone who might be legitimately offended by certain aspects of the film...
Because even if he's not making jokes, he's still sure that someone, somewhere who isn't a white, able bodied, able minded, cisgendered male, is oversensitive about something unlike the group over there who has a legitamate complaint.
I'd say heaven help us and preserve us all from fools like this - but then no one else anywhere would be getting any other kind of miracles.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I've been thinking recently about the forgotten, ignored and plowed over African American Feminists, whenever an essay about gender equality, written by a white woman, shows up somewhere online that I can see it. What's been getting at me, is my feeling of being lost and of either not recognizing names, or recognizing them but realizing I've never read them. I've been wondering where did my sense of self and sense of the need for equality come from.
So I did a couple of internet searches to see if there were women listed with such terms as Caribbean Feminists. And while I did find a couple papers within the first few minutes - it was the chapter titles that stopped me stunned where I sat. You see a chapter in one of the papers talked about the gender imbalance and inequality in the school system - something I'd experienced. Something my mother had complained about, and my friends' mothers. Something many accomplished and learned women I knew when I was younger, had also complained about; Women who were nurses and doctors and lawyers and bankers.
So like I said, something hit me.
I can remember distinctly how it felt to realize that I had passed a particularly important national exam, with a grade that would have gotten me into very good, the top ranked in fact, schools - if I were a boy. But girls had to get fifteen points more if they wanted to get into what had been, traditionally, all boys schools.
And then something else hit me. Dame Nita Barrow. A woman I'd looked up to, and had been told to look up to for most of my childhood.
And in thinking about Dame Barrow, I realized that the women who helped shape me into being who I am today, didn't label themselves feminists - not as far as I knew. They called themselves activists for social justice. I grew up knowing about them as activists for social justice. I grew up knowing there was a concern about, social justice and that I needed to be mindful of it and to make things better when I could.
So I sat there and it hit me why feminism has always felt odd to me, segregated and narrow focused. And I felt incredibly relieved, but also proud and overwhelmed; the happy kind. I've been angry for ages and ages now about the lack of intersectionality in the feminist movement. And I couldn't quite understand why I was so angry and so affronted and so disappointed. But I also couldn't understand why I'd so often mentally rejected the term feminist.
Now I know.
It may be a side affect of living far from home (extended family, not geography), and thus far from a cultural base to remind me of all the many wonderful and varied sides of being from the Caribbean. It may be (and far more likely) an effect of living in the US as a woman who is not white. When I wake up in the morning in the United States, I don't wake up as a woman, I wake up as a Black Woman. It's a lesson that had to be learned for me. It's one that had to be learned by varied members of my family. Thinking of myself like that and realizing that there were far more reasons to ally myself with Black Americans than to hold myself apart - I think I let go of, instead of integrating, parts of my heritage. Philosophy is so easily shaded and overlooked when you don't have a clear grasp on it. And a child isn't likely to have a clear grasp on something that just feels instinctual and is encouraged as instinctual.
I can remember as a child, discussing Apartheid in South Africa with my parent and family. And it wasn't a conversation about a problem in a far, far away land. It was about a grave social injustice that was affecting a huge amount of people; people just like me - children and mothers and fathers. I learned about Nelson Mandela when I was nine or ten years old and why he was important and what his role had been in fighting social injustice. I learned about Ghandi in the same way.
It was never those people and that leader and that country and its problems. It was social injustice in that place, being fought by these people who are like me, and who are being lead by these individuals who are like those individuals who are also fighting social injustice in that other place. It was always, always all tied together.
I learned that.
That's how I was brought up.
It didn't come out of nowhere, which is often how I've felt recently when I see blog after blog talking about how 'All women need to put aside xyz for this cause and how all women should be united against men because of abc.'
That's cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Social Injustice should be fought everywhere, by everyone willing, in whatever way they can because it affects all of us; the world. It makes the world a smaller, pettier, more hateful and hurtful place. It creates imbalance. It raises the strong above the weak and makes the weak suffer. It steals voices.
The way I was brought up meant that Chilean Death Squads related to me. It meant The Disappeared in Argentina related to me. It meant that women being crippled in African nations related to me. It meant Apartheid related to me. It meant Independence Days were celebrations about throwing off the yokes of oppressors; of self definition, of pride, of a chance to stand alone a moment before holding out a hand to someone else. It meant that those suffering from cold and starving in Russia under communism mattered and related to me despite the miles between us and our varied spots relative to the equator.
And at least now I know why I couldn't think of Caribbean Feminists off the top of my head. American Feminists seem to quite often be all women. I grew up with Activists for Social Justice; they come in both genders, varied ages and skintones and a myriad of nationalities.
Friday, August 8, 2008
From Midnight (late in the night of Tuesday or the first seconds of morning on Wed) until about 30 mins ago - My journal (among several others) has been down.
Sorry about that.
Blogger hasn't told me how, what, why or even who. And for part of the last 30 mins I've been testing all my functions until they all worked (for a while I couldn't edit my layout).
Is still going strong.
There are still some days left over this weekend for you to post something of your own. And there's still time to read while people are open to you listening and asking questions.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The People of Colour in SciFi and Fantasy Carnival, which I promote just about every six weeks, is about reaffirming our presence in the genres. Sometimes it's about celebrating, sometimes it's about pointing out 'Enlightenment, you are doing it wrong'.
But the International Blog Against Racism Week isn't confined to just the world of speculative fiction (and those editors and writers and other artist/creators who're blinded by privilege or racism). IBARW is once a year and specifically about racism; what it is, how it hurts and harms, where it's been and where it's going and what people are trying to do to stamp the crap down.
IBARW 3 Started on Monday. The theme this year is INTERSECTIONALITY. Given the year we've had online, it is most appropriate. I suggest going to check it out.
So far I've seen the following interesting articles I need to go back and read.
1. 50 books by Poc by the IBARW founder, Oyceter
2. Racism Against Roma In Italy - How You Can Help. By Anna, of Annaoverseas.com at her Livejournal.
3. International Racism also by Oyceter
4. You can't order justice for one by Yeloson of Livejournal.
5. And Delux Vivens links back to earlier this year and Cassie Edwards.
Don't just read the links I point out. Go look. Go HUNT. Because just scrolling through my feedlist I realize that far too often we're preaching to the choir. I know most of the people writing and they probably know me. Then again, we're all being pro-active on the internet. Still, it's a week where PoC and Allies of PoC are giving information, freely and are willing to engage.
Don't go read and interact expecting them to teach you. Racism 101 by a PoC is a gift, not a right, not something to demand, and not something to walk away from with a lazy, narrow minded brain because it wasn't spoonfed to you.
IBARW is NOT Racism 101.
But it is a week where those of you full of questions, would do well to listen.
ETA: 6. ...25 years of cover whitewashing in Joan Vinge's "Cat" series
I have deleted the link to Wowio from my sidebar.
If you can stand the blinking, distracting ads, or if you have Ad Block Plus - there's nothing to be lost, I suppose, from reading what they have available for online viewing.
I do suggest, however that for purchasing/downloading that you head to the creator's site and perhaps buy there or at PullBoxOnline.Com or at Drive Thru Comics. Or you can try hunting around at EnWorld.rpgnow.com - I'm totally lost over there. But no doubt there are other places - feel free to link in comments.
Comics at Wowio are only free so long as there is a sponsor (likely to be found by the comic author themselves). And the sponsor only allows for -one- download. That's it. And the Sponsor gets to choose which area of Wowio they wish to sponsor; articles and essays, comics and graphic novels, fiction, etc... Currently Breastcancer.org isn't willing to sponsor my comic habit. I feel snubbed.
At this rate I'd rather hit a donate button for some artists and download stuff from their site or their upload account.
*Goes to find a good source for Lai Wan: The Dreamwalker*
More non Wowio related entries later - I've got a draft or two in the wings.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I just saw The Dark Knight movie. I liked it. Of course I was already spoiled with all the WiR posts (with the term in the titles) going on re: TDK. Though since I was avoiding, I kind of thought there would be a fake out.
But I haven't cared a damn for the character since the first movie. And I didn't care too much now. The character was a plot point to me and not where my interest fell. I think I'll care more about WiR in this franchise when I give a damn about the female character in general.
Luckily I'm not a feminist so I can't be a 'bad' feminist for not giving a crap and for actually thinking 'Thank Goodness we don't have to deal with that character in the next movie'. It was wish fulfillment.
Re: The Joker? - I loved his intelligence, his lack of history or identity other than as the Joker. I'm someone who didn't like Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's creation. To me he read like Jack Black in make-up or the Joker high on pot and full of 40's. Just... didn't like him. Or rather, I wasn't scared of him.
Things I didn't like? There's only one. Will Kevin Conroy or Will Friedle please contact Christian Bale and teach him how to do a presentable Bat voice? PLEASE?
I might have more thoughts later. I'll definitely be up to discussion in IM. Mostly I'm just wondering when we'll get a Superman movie that's even half as good as this one. Nay, half as good as the first one.
In the midst of 'rarrrr' over Wowio, I scrambled to check out Shadowgirls and was happily surprised to search and find that it's a web comic.
Shadowgirls reminds me strongly of Hack/Slash (Devil's Due Publishing). I want to talk about that resemblance and the fact that I like these stories / these comics, with their strong, white, female protagonists.
There are times, like I mentioned in Flipsides last night, where it doesn't take much at all to imagine most of the main cast of a given comic or book as being PoC. But there are other times when who the character is and what their experiences are and how they've been formed and how they react to any given stimuli is very informed by what they look like, what their skin colour is, what their life experience is - as white; Hack/Slash and Shadowgirls are such two comics for me.
I've spoken of Cassie before; daughter of a school lunch lady who then becomes a serial killer and then an immortal horror film serial killer. Being so close to being able to conform but internally - mentally and emotionally - being so far away from 'normal' is part of what makes Cassie dynamic to me. Her mother's status as being border-line and having things push her over the edge is another part. And on top of all of that - being percieved as 'poor white trash' - I've found the themes universal. Shadowgirls really made me think about why I think of such themes as universal while at the same time acknowledging the fact I don't think the storylines could work with PoC.
Be warned, I have no idea if I'm going to be able to explain myself properly.
Shadowgirls involves a woman, Charon, who goes missing / is deemed a runaway when she's in 10th grade (that's around 14/15 in the US I think). She's found again some months later, but she's pregnant and apparently suffering through a psychotic episode. Years later the plot kicks it up when her daughter, Beka, is now a teenager.
The plot's set in a small town, Innsmouth. Small town politics and social mores are all over everything. How a small town reacts when a teenager shows up pregnant; how they teach their children to respond to the 'bastard child'; how they treat the unwed mother; how they think about themselves. The undercurrents that bind a small town together from family power plays to highschool dynamics that never mature - it's all there. And I found myself nodding with comprehension as I read.
Now maybe it's a case that PoC in the US (and elsewhere) have to understand white life and white dynamics because it's everywhere and we have to learn to navigate it (from whence comes the code switching). So maybe what I think I'm seeing as universal, isn't and is really only universal in so far that if you're white or have been deemed white in the last fifty years, it's something you could relate to.
Yet I don't think that's it - I hope that's not it. The suffocation of a small town seems similar to the possible suffocation in a small village or any other small self supporting population area. The weight of traditions and social maneuverings seems universal to me. I mean, a girl goes missing and the only one who cares what happens to her when she comes back is her grandmother. To everyone else she's a slut who got what's coming to her...
[ Remind me at some other point in time to discuss/'think out loud' the conflict in the anti-choice argument where a child is both precious and to be protected while simultaneously being a punishment to women and an anchor meant to hold her down. It might explain why they tend not to give a damn about the child once it's born. Because when s/he can breathe on their own, they're now the albatross to be hung around the neck of the mother; who shouldn't get any help because THIS IS WHAT SHE DESERVES!]
Where was I? Oh yeah. Small town shunning. Charon and Becka have managed to carve out an existence for themselves, or rather Charon has carved out an existence for her daughter - even while she seems to teeter on a self destructive edge. And mothers putting one foot in front of the other purely for their children; mothers who refuse to have their mistakes or perceived mistakes reflect on their children? I can understand that. I think that's universal. The fact that there are supernatural influences in everything that's happened so far, with a touch of small town conspiracy (public and possibly also private) only adds to that.
Hack/Slash has Cassie's origins as similar. A small town. The school lunch lady. A disappearing father. A picked on daughter. And then things get weird and bloody.
I suppose Cassie and Charon are similar to me in that Cassie is trying not to let who her mother was define her, even as it so obviously does - but at least she's dealing with it in an active manner. Whereas Charon doesn't care anymore if the town tries to define her but she refuses to let them define her daughter because of who her mother is and what they think she's done and what they think that says about her (Charon) and thus consequently Becka.
But I haven't gotten into the whole 'But why did you bring up race in the first place, Willow?'.
I also read Scar Tissue last night. And it was meh - ok, I guess. Maybe a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Not horrible, but it had enough things that distracted me that it didn't get a higher score. And what distracted me? The fact that there was nothing in the story as it was laid out, that meant the characters had to be white.
If Cassie or Charon were WoC, the undercurrent (in a well done comic at least) of racism and how that played into how people treated them; how that gave people the mental impression that they had some sort of right to treat them as inferior or only worthy of mockery and bullying; that would change the story and change the tone. Cassie and Charon would already be set up as OTHER and any supernatural entanglement in their lives would only make them even more OTHER. And people would still feel they had the right to have treated them the way they did because see - there's the proof of the other.
Scar Tissue on the other hand is a story about a sickly boy who gets a needed heart transplant. But his organ donor is a bad guy; a super powered bad guy. And the powers begin to seep into his body and possibly take over his life.
All the while reading it, I was very aware of the fact that the group of brothers, could have been Black or Chinese or Japanese or Latino. They could have been African immigrants or from the Caribbean or from South East Asia. They could have been second generation or third of East Indian parentage. They could have been NDN/First Nations. Changing the race of the characters wouldn't change the story at all. There would still be a protective older brother, a bit of a wastrel, if well meaning middle brother and the younger brother they're determined to protect. And then there's a girlfriend involved in the storyline and she could have been any number of backgrounds as well and it also wouldn't have changed a thing to the storyline. She'd still want to protect this family of brothers because they're part of her chosen family.
The only reason they're white, is because white is so often the default.
Now I'm well aware that Cassie and Charon (and Becka) are more than likely white because it's considered the default as well. It's possible in Shadowgirls that despite a moment where one individual is picked on because she's half Japanese (I believe) the concept of Charon and Becka as anything but white didn't cross their minds. But there is the fact that changing the race of those characters would change the path of the story.
Now I feel like I'm repeating myself and not saying anything.
But I guess I did make part of my point last night. The fact that it's so easy for me to see the characters in Scar Tissue as characters who could have been PoC says something about how I view the world. And the fact that white is the default for so many creators says something about their world view. Because I don't want to pick on the creators of Scar Tissue. I'm not calling them racist. I'm not even calling them blind. They had a vision and in their vision - everyone looked just like them; except for the token WoC in the superhero team that shows up near the end - y'know, for the traditional diversity.
But there is something going on when a creator's story could be universal - three brothers trying to look out for one another - and they're white, the people they interact with are white, the doctors are white, the people in the street are white, the police and FBI are white.....
Maybe it's not that these stories aren't universal the way Shadowgirls and Hack/Slash are. Maybe it's that the universal themes are muddied by privilege. Maybe the two comics that move me so much, move me because I can't imagine the heroines as being anything else but what they are. And since I can't, I can pay attention to the universal themes. Whereas most of the time I read a comic and I'm just very, painfully aware of a void.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I need to find some minority super hero characters to read. Or maybe I should phrase that as - I need to take the time to organize my reading lists so that I have CoC to hand. Because it's getting ridiculous how many times I open a story and find myself counting / find myself realizing there's no reason the main characters (not the bad guys) couldn't be black or some other non white ethnicity. It's that the writers never thought of it, because to be not white is to be OTHER. And they're writing what they know in a genre they know and that genre's never showed them anything different.
But it's a bit energy draining to realize how little effort it takes for me to shift a group of brothers - black, the cop girlfriend - latina, the doctor - south asian (South Asian?).
I think the draining part comes from realizing how differently I see the world compared to these creators.
The odd flipside to this slightly sapping situation (ooh, alliteration) is that there are some things I read where I never for a second feel a need to switch races. Shadowgirls, a comic that I've discovered is a webcomic is one such property. The small town set up with its built in biases wouldn't work if I switched the races of the main characters around. The undercurrent would become something different.
On the other hand my simpatico for lack of another term, with the protagonists in that web comic is seriously strong.
Web comic reviews coming up sometime next week then? Or something else?
Analysis takes my mind off physical pain and I'm having a serious flare right now.
Seems like it was a good thing I had the time yesterday to open the read-online-only files of Neotopia and find out how the story ends; they're no longer
on my queue in my library. A whole bunch of things aren't. I've gone from nearly 400 items to just under two hundred (195 to be exact).
I can't quite complain, as the creators have every right not to sign contracts or continue with Wowio. But the less there is on there, the less I'm going to use it as my digital publishing one-stop (or top shop out of a tight few).
One thing that's really struck me is other people's reactions. Friends of mine who I introduced to Wowio who went to the site for the re-opening and discovered, as one friend put it "a bunch of children's lit fluff". And the prices on things that she did want to read were at paperback prices of 7$ and 8$.
It looks like July 31st wasn't the real opening day, however. Since looking at the site now on Aug 1st, there seems to be gift items that might allow me to download some things. I haven't checked yet. I wanted to write out my thoughts on my second impression / second day first impression.
Especially since the reminder of how many friends I'd turned onto WOWIO, reminded me I'd turned family members on to it too. And I am not having siblings or older family members contributing to shafting the artists.
Annnnd the gift downloads?
Your next download from Comics & Graphic Novels is free (for a limited time) — a gift from EA Sports.
So is that one download only for the day vs the previous three a day? Without any information I'd better make some very careful choices - yes?
One incredibly good thing about my recent disappointment in Wowio is the discovery that some of the comics on my queue were web-comics I'd never heard of before. I'm adding them to my feeds now and investigating if they have other avenues for digital offerings. Half the reason I liked Wowio originally was that I felt like I wasn't going to be torrenting but I would get digital comics AND pay the creators.
NB: I'm aware I've been grumpy, cranky and somewhat bitchy what with the stupidity in the femiblogsphere and Marvel and DC being - well, full of juvenile self glorying idiots. So Wowio had a big void to fill when it came back anyway. But I know there are other places selling digital comics like Drive Thru Comics. Looks like it's time to investigate them.