Posts tagged with "pop culture" - Faerye Net 2013-07-24T21:37:25+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Don't yuck my yum: it's all I've got 2013-07-24T21:37:25+00:00 2013-07-24T21:41:05+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve been thinking about this <a href="" target="links">Zefrank</a> video, the last few days: <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Don&#8217;t Yuck My Yum&#8221;</a>.</p> <blockquote>&#8220;And the Yum getting Yucked is when you like something harmless &#8212; and &#8216;harmless&#8217; is the trick here and leads to my confusion &#8212; when you like something harmless and someone tells you to stop liking it.&#8221;</blockquote> <p>This is, I am sure we&#8217;re aware, absolutely endemic to fandom. <em>That</em> version of the show is inferior to <em>this</em> and here&#8217;s why, I could write a whole book of reasons &#8212; that show was ruined when <em>that</em> person joined the creative team &#8212; why do you like that movie, it&#8217;s so <em>stupid</em>? Tearing down each other&#8217;s likes seems to be fandom&#8217;s favorite sport (too bad, Quidditch is way more fun to watch.) I have very, very, very much been guilty of this, and I&#8217;m sure I will be again, despite any good intentions I enshrine in this blog post. I hope thinking through the implications for this post will keep me on the straight and narrow.</p> <p>I do think it&#8217;s worth a sidebar here: I, like Zefrank, emphasize &#8216;harmless&#8217; here. I keep meaning to write a blog post about consuming and loving media that contains retrogressive tropes and attitudes (spoiler: all media does) and I do definitely advocate talking about that stuff &#8212; criticizing. But there&#8217;s a difference between saying &#8220;this is harmful, we should talk about that&#8221; and &#8220;that thing you like is trash.&#8221; It&#8217;s the difference between saying &#8220;Really? You spend time smelling glue? That&#8217;s&#8230;not really healthy. Let&#8217;s google up why.&#8221; and saying &#8220;Really? You like <em>papayas</em>? But they taste like <em>vomit</em>, and now I&#8217;m going to describe how disgusting they are in detail for like ten minutes.&#8221;</p> <p>Good training for this sort of differentiation is, I think, disliking something terribly popular. When you hate <em>That Space Show Series 4</em>, and so do 75% of <em>That Space Show</em> fans, it&#8217;s really easy to get going on a rhetorical rampage, since you&#8217;ll almost always have backup and a cheering section. When you completely fail to grasp the appeal of <em>Mr. Popular&#8217;s Space Adventures</em>, you soon learn that actually, the fact that you don&#8217;t like Mr. Popular isn&#8217;t very interesting, doesn&#8217;t contribute to the conversation, and is best served by you avoiding Mr. Popular topics entirely.</p> <p>And the point of this post: there&#8217;s one sphere where I think this ability, to suppress the inner grognard whose <span class="caps">SAY</span> <span class="caps">MUST</span> BE <span class="caps">HAD</span>, to skate gracefully away from the target instead of casting Internet Fireball, is particularly important. Characters of underrepresented stripes. Recent internet commentary on a character I really really liked reminded me of the horror of <a href="" target="links">having to argue Princess Leia is awesome</a>. This was in the aftermath of a post about <a href="" target="links">poor female representation in Episode <span class="caps">III</span></a> where I wrote &#8220;I love Princess Leia. She’s one of the most important fictional characters in my life — probably the most.&#8221;</p> <p>People, I have a bracelet with the letters &#8220;<span class="caps">WWLD</span>&#8221; on it. I made that bracelet, myself. As an adult. To remind me to be awesome. When you tell me Princess Leia is a shrill bitch, you tell me my best self is a shrill bitch. When you tell me she&#8217;s unimportant, you tell me I can never be important. When you try to talk me out of loving her, you are trying to talk me out of loving myself. Because I have been identifying with her since before I knew your name. (Guaranteed: anyone I knew before age 2 wouldn&#8217;t pull that shit.)</p> <p>We live on stories, we humans. We eat them and digest them and turn them into muscles and bone. We build ourselves out of what we see, and when we don&#8217;t see enough of the people like ourselves, we resort to writing it ourselves. (See: a certain subset of fanfic.) If there aren&#8217;t characters quite like us, we distort what is there until it&#8217;s enough like us to go on. If the only character like us barely gets any lines, maybe we imagine she or he or they have a huge important story behind the scenes, if only you knew.</p> <p>And having characters be like us is a form of privilege. I know that&#8217;s a fighting word in fandom these days, but it is. If you are a straight white cis dude, you have a million stories to identify with. You don&#8217;t like Indiana Jones? Try Luke Skywalker. Or Bruce Wayne. Or Jason Bourne. Or Jack Ryan. Or Harry Potter. Or Jack Aubrey. If you feel intimidated by hypercompetence, there are heroic everymen or sweet bumbling accidental heroes. If you got picked on in high school, there are the nerds made good, through genius, financial success or superpowers. There are shy heroes, chatty heroes, bookish ones and brash ones for you. This is awesome, and wonderful, and I&#8217;m so glad you have those stories. I love many of them too, even though I can&#8217;t inhabit them the same way<sup class="footnote" id="fnr1"><a href="#fn1">1</a></sup>.</p> <p>I have fewer stories. I go to an action/adventure movie praying I will like the love interest, because usually &#8216;heroine&#8217; is an exaggeration. And&#8230;here&#8217;s the thing. <b>She&#8217;s all I&#8217;ve got</b>. You&#8217;ve heard of the <a href="" target="links">Smurfette principle</a>? There is only one girl. If it&#8217;s a team, she doesn&#8217;t even need her own identity, cuz she has &#8216;girl&#8217;! If I am watching a mainstream adventure/heroic narrative, and it&#8217;s not by Joss Whedon (or is <em>Avengers</em>) that girl is almost always the only one<sup class="footnote" id="fnr2"><a href="#fn2">2</a></sup>. The Main Hero, the Deadly One, the Funny One&#8230;all dudes. And when that girl, that only girl in the world, is smart, self-reliant, opinionated, and a damn good shot with a blaster? I love her forever, for rewarding my optimism, for giving me a story I can make part of me without pain and adjustment.</p> <p>I&#8217;m a grownup now, and it&#8217;s not going to give me much of a skinned knee if you hate my heroines (though, you know, shocking bad form, see above). But this world is full of girls and young women, and those characters they love aren&#8217;t just a yum you&#8217;re yucking: they&#8217;re good, nourishing food they need to grow strong<sup class="footnote" id="fnr3"><a href="#fn3">3</a></sup>. And kids of color, gay kids, trans kids, have even fewer heroes to love, fewer stories to fold into themselves. Let the kids eat. Don&#8217;t tell that girl Katniss sucks. Don&#8217;t tell that black kid Miles Morales is the worst Spider-Man ever. Don&#8217;t take the food out of their hands because <em>you</em> don&#8217;t like it. You don&#8217;t decide how to feed their hunger. They do.</p> <p class="footnote" id="fn1"><a href="#fnr1"><sup>1</sup></a> Let&#8217;s not get too far into literary theory here. Yes, I can sometimes inhabit a male character. But there&#8217;s often a rude awakening. &#8220;Again if one is a woman one is often surprised by a sudden splitting off of consciousness, say in walking down Whitehall, when from being the natural inheritor of that civilisation, she becomes, on the contrary, outside of it, alien and critical.&#8221; &#8211; Virginia Woolf, <em>A Room of One&#8217;s Own</em>.</p> <p class="footnote" id="fn2"><a href="#fnr2"><sup>2</sup></a> Reasonable people can differ on whether <em>Xena</em> is mainstream. But there are of course more exceptions covered by that &#8216;usually&#8217;. I don&#8217;t think I actually wept with grateful joy when Toph joined the hero group on <em>Last Airbender</em> but I think I danced. Representation makes people happy. And lack of it makes them unhappy: I remember a heartbreaking story of a six-year-old <em>Last Airbender</em> fan who went to the live action movie and <em>bawled</em> because Katara wasn&#8217;t brown like her anymore.</p> <p class="footnote" id="fn3"><a href="#fnr3"><sup>3</sup></a> Even when you don&#8217;t think it&#8217;s good for them, try to be delicate, encourage critical thinking, and <em>listen</em>: I have fought down my opinions and listened to a young woman&#8217;s reasons for loving Bella Swan, and gods help me, I learned something.</p> Maybe I've heard this argument way too often... 2013-04-15T05:45:55+00:00 2013-04-15T05:46:11+00:00 <p>But this exchange from Martin McDonagh&#8217;s <a href="" target="links"><em>Seven Psychopaths</em></a> cracked me up:</p> <blockquote>Hans (Christopher Walken): Martin, I&#8217;ve been reading your movie.<br /> <br /> Marty (Colin Farrell): Oh. What do you think?<br /> <br /> Hans: Your women characters are awful! None of them have anything to say for themselves, most of them get either shot or stabbed to death within five minutes, and the ones who don&#8217;t probably will later on!<br /> <br /> Marty: [Clearly at a loss] Well&#8230;it&#8217;s a hard world for women, you know. I guess that&#8217;s what I&#8217;m trying to say!<br /> <br /> Hans: Yeah, it&#8217;s a hard world for women, but most of the ones I know can string a sentence together!</blockquote> <p>Next time I hear the argument that horrible treatment of women in fiction is motivated solely by a high-minded pursuit of gritty realism, I&#8217;m going to see Colin Farrell&#8217;s clueless little pout-shrug. &#8220;Well&#8230;it&#8217;s a hard world for women, you know!&#8221;</p> Creepy Kid Calibration 2011-05-30T15:58:13+00:00 2011-05-30T15:58:21+00:00 <p>Creepy kids in movies are a thing. I&#8217;d go look it up on TVtropes, except that I would lose hours of time reading TVtropes. So let&#8217;s just take it as read, as denizens of popular culture, that there are a lot of creepy kids in movies (and TV, and books.) They&#8217;re a horror clich&eacute; at this point, especially the female version &#8212; and why are they so often female? There&#8217;s another blog post there, don&#8217;t spoil it for me by being brilliant.</p> <p>Anyhow, the creepy Feral Child in <em>Road Warrior</em> made me think of other movie children I have known, and try to set his creepiness amongst them. I must confess, I initially made this scale run up to a maximum of St. Alia of the Knife, but Ryan disabused me of this notion, arguing persuasively that the scale was recalibrated in 2002 if not earlier. So, feast your eyes on this <span class="caps">SCIENCE</span>!</p> <p><img src="" title="scale of creepy kids" /></p> Gay cowboys singlehandedly change flow of language 2006-04-20T14:33:06+00:00 2008-06-08T14:18:16+00:00 <p>I haven&#8217;t seen <em>Brokeback Mountain</em> general, I don&#8217;t go in for tearjerky romances too heavily. However, I do live in the World and sally hither and yon on the Web, and therefore I am familiar with the oft-quoted, oft-parodied &#8220;quit you&#8221; line.</p> <p>Perhaps through the many <em>Brokeback</em> parodies, perhaps through the quoting, this once-archaic usage of &#8216;to quit&#8217; for &#8216;to leave or depart from&#8217; is gaining currency. Witness its appearance <a href=";has-player=true&#38;version=" target="links">in <em>Rolling Stone</em></a> (&#8220;When asked if confirmation of her cheating would have been enough to make him quit her, Lachey hesitates.&#8221;)</p> <p>I find this fascinating. Our language churns constantly, creating and destroying words at an astonishing rate &mdash; these days, sped along by the Intarnebs. How often, though, is <em>one work</em>, one song or movie, responsible not for inventing a word or innovating a new use for it, but for reviving an old use? I cannot at present think of another example, and therefore leave it as an exercise for the reader.</p> It's not a bump, it's a pregnancy 2006-01-23T15:33:25+00:00 2008-06-05T17:36:17+00:00 <p>I get annoyed at the strangest things, but I maintain that, as a linguaphile and degreed English nitpicker, I have every right to care minutely about language. </p> <p>If you shop for groceries, you cannot help but know that everybody in Hollywood is pregnant, just delivered, or is thinking about getting pregnant. Everyone. I fully expect to hear next that Colin Ferrell passed out one night and woke up pregnant the next morning. Everyone&#8217;s pregnant. However, somewhere around Jennifer Garner&#8217;s pregnancy, women stopped &#8216;showing&#8217; and &#8216;looking very pregnant&#8217;, and their enlarged abdomens ceased being &#8216;bellies&#8217;. They are, apparently, &#8216;bumps&#8217;.</p> <p>Whose idea was this, and why is it now the premier pregnancy nomenclature? Does anyone else find it vaguely repellant that Star X is &#8216;seen in public sporting a bump&#8217; in the same way that she might sport a Gucci handbag? Even apart from the clear implication that a pregnancy is just the hottest Hollywood accessory trend, the word is not attractive. Bumps make me think of traffic calming measures, poorly surfaced roads, and being jostled in line. They don&#8217;t make me think of new life in any way, shape and or form.</p> <p>Obviously, I am only the Word Police in my own mind, but this lazy, objectifying and ugly choice of words annoys me constantly, and I know I am not the only one. You are free to think I&#8217;m crazy, but as I am the girl who dreamt last night that David Boreanaz was teaching her ballroom dancing but refused to tell her the names of the steps, I think that&#8217;s a foregone conclusion.</p> Episode III: Revenge of G.R.O.S.S. 2005-05-19T10:02:20+00:00 2008-05-30T13:56:07+00:00 <p><em>This article contains very mild spoilers. If you, for instance, don&#8217;t know that Anakin becomes Darth Vader and the Jedi are wiped out, then I suggest you go watch <a href="" target="links">the</a> <a href="" target="links"><span class="caps">GOOD</span></a> <a href="" target="links">movies</a>.</em></p> <p>&#8220;<a href="" target="links">Loren</a>&#8217;s back in town,&#8221; said <a href="" target="links">wonko</a>, &#8220;and he&#8217;s going to a 12:01 showing of Episode 3. You want to go?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Georgie has not earned that level of devotion from me! But, yeah, of course.&#8221;</p> <p>Having heard various ravings on the topic of this movie, I was already envisioning a blog post for today. It began:</p> <p><blockquote>Dear George,<br />I know I said you would never win me back, but somehow you&#8217;ve swept me off my feet&#8230;.</blockquote></p> <p>However, this is not that post. I remain unswept. Don&#8217;t get me wrong; the movie was not bad at all. It felt a lot more like <em>Star Wars</em> &mdash; though of course had it really felt exactly like the original three, I&#8217;da been swept like a dust bunny when the Queen is coming to tea. It had strengths, but many failings. I&#8217;m not here to discuss the shots that would have taken my breath away in a video game but were <em>juuuust</em> too fake for a movie, or the classically stilted Lucas dialogue, or how focused on stunt rather than emotion all the obligitory duels in the first three are, or why fabulous actors suddenly become wooden in these movies. Nor am I here to praise the underlying political message (Yay, Georgie! Give blue lightsaber vs. red lightsaber a <em>whole</em> new meaning!)</p> <p>This is what I&#8217;m here to talk about: I love Princess Leia. She&#8217;s one of the most important fictional characters in my life &mdash; probably <em>the</em> most. And George Lucas and Carrie Fisher brought her forth when the track record for strong women in adventure movies, let alone sci fi, was poor. She started a streak, from Ripley in 1979 (though she still had to strip down to Very Small Underwear onscreen) onward, through to the Evie Carnahans and Elizabeth Swans of our present, happy day &mdash; albeit with some people Just Not Getting it (Vicky Vale, folks, <em>1989</em>. If the Joker wanted you for a little giggle-girl, wouldn&#8217;t you at least, I dunno, get a gun?) During Episode I, I was vaguely insulted that Queen Kabuki was supposed to be Leia&#8217;s mom. During Episode II, her moments of action-heroine spunk made my disapprobation wane slightly. I went into Episode <span class="caps">III</span> with some expectations of the wooden piece labelled &#8216;heroine&#8217; being a strong character, perhaps noble in the face of adversity, choking back her own pain and disappointment to hasten into hiding and protect her children.</p> <p>About twenty minutes into the movie, at the first or second mention of &#8216;bringing balance to the Force,&#8217; I thought, <em>Maybe what the guldurned prophecy means is that Anakin will bring about <span class="caps">GENDER</span> balance in the Force. Luke&#8217;s a Jedi, Leia becomes a Jedi. Balance!</em> I thought I was making a funny.</p> <p>Then the Jedi purge began. A few male Jedi tried to hold off their attackers but were killed. Then, a scantily-clad female Jedi of the tentacle-head dancing girl species&#8230;got shot in the back and fell dead into the flowery mud. I didn&#8217;t even see a lightsaber on her belt. I made a noise of protest. Cut to another female Jedi, on a speeder bike. She&#8230; got shot in the back without realizing what was happening and dissolved in a fireball. No more female Jedi were shown. I think there were some girls among the younglings, but the only ones we saw with lit lightsabers, even in the security holograms, were boys.</p> <p><em>Perhaps Padm&eacute; will save me</em>, I thought! <em>Perhaps she will stop sitting around like a pregnant prom queen</em> (seriously. Prom. Seven different costumes of prom.) <em>and exchanging high school-style &#8220;No, I love <span class="caps">YOU</span> more!&#8221;s with her tall drink of evil, and DO something.</em> I was right! She eventually left her apartment! To&#8230;run to the arms of the guy she&#8217;d been told was eeeeevil (since small-scale genocide seems to get her hot, why am I surprised?) and get smacked around. &#8220;You&#8217;re a good person!&#8221; she whined. Umm, no, honey. He&#8217;s not.</p> <p>And on the more abstract women&#8217;s issue of sexual mores&#8230;she won&#8217;t be allowed to continue in the Senate if she has a baby without being (publicly) married? We have <em>clones</em> running around and yet it&#8217;s inconceivable that a rich lady of politics and leisure went to the Republic Sperm Bank and said, &#8220;Have any force-sensitive blond donors?&#8221; And didn&#8217;t they make a big point of Padm&eacute; being an elected official? The mandate of the people only lasts until you become a single mother? Lovely.</p> <p>I&#8217;m not saying George Lucas is a misogynist bastard. Heck, I wouldn&#8217;t even say that he is indulging in deliberate sexism. But I am saying that a tenth of the care and attention he lavished on droid designs would have, if aimed at women, revealed that his movie had no female Jedi Council members; no women carrying lightsabers (or even blasters, unless I missed a scene); no women resisting or fighting back; and a weak, sorry excuse for a female heroine.</p><p> No, filmmakers don&#8217;t have a responsibility to portray a society only recently fallen from the utopic as full of strong, empowered women. But when a filmmaker gives one generation of girls the best role model for intelligence, assertiveness, wit, strength, competence and leadership for which they could ask, and another generation of girls a passive paper doll with bad taste in men, I get disappointed. I&#8217;m pretty sure Leia would be, too.</p>