Category Archives: geekdom

Gayin’ Up DC Comics!

So there was much discussion back and forth about who the big DC hero coming out was and it’s been announced:

Alan Scott  – Green Lantern

So whipping out my comic book cred a bit. Alan Scott is not the Green Lantern most of you know. He’s very rarely appeared in media beyond the comics. His original origin had nothing to do with the Green Lantern Corps (or as I like to call them SPAAAAACE COOOOPPS!) it had to do with him finding a green lantern fashioned years ago in Ancient China that instructs him to make a ring which it then empowers.

Most folks don’t know Alan Scott as the Green Lantern, he’s old school – the Lantern of the 50’s and the JSA. Most people know Hal Jordan the 70’s era Green Lantern who was called out for being privileged and white by his privileged and white friend Green Arrow.

So number one why this “coming out” is bullshit is that Alan Scott is not a major superhero any longer. In most recent comics he’s taken on a more wise elder mentor role but he’s not a huge name. Also it’s not a coming out of Alan Scott, if they were keeping him in the main continuity and having an older man come out as a gay man long after he had kids who are now adult I would be  all over this. We so rarely get the POV of the older man coming out of the closet post-family and kids that it would be extremely interesting to see it in a superhero context.

That’s not what they were doing.

What they are they doing are retconning the whole thing.  Alan Scott is not in the main DC universe. He’s no longer an older man with kids, he’s a young hero on Earth-2.  So he’s not in the main storyline, he is no longer the mentor to Kyle Rayner or the father of Jade and Obsidian (we’ll come back to this later) instead he is on a different earth. Okay do I really need to explain the issue with taking a character, reinventing them as GLBTQ and then shunting them into the secondary world (tertiary? quartary? quintary? who knows with comics?)?

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Heroes – I Don’t Even Watch You And I’m Sick Of You

Okay geek confession time – I don’t watch Heroes.

I know, I know *wrist slap* bad sci-fi comic geek.

I tried during the first season and got about 11 episodes in mostly carried by my interest in the Nikki/Jessica and Claire characters – I like crazy, homicidal women and women who will put a man through a car windshield. But I’ll be honest my interest was simply not enough to carry me through the winter hiatus/re-runs. Plus the race politics from the jump were sketchy as hell. We had the silent Haitian – who I’m pretty sure still doesn’t have a name, the drug addict Latino Issac and the criminal black man DL. Sure we had Simone but she had no powers and look how she ended up. Then there are Hiro and Mohinder who are based on the “overachieving Asian” stereotype.

Now some of you are sitting back there thinking “How can this guy critique the show when he’s only seen 11 episodes?” and I agree that I can’t do an in depth critique but the fact of the matter is that being in geek circles I know the basic story lines of what has gone down on the show and really it sounds like its gone down the toilet hardcore.

I watched parts of the third season opener with my housemates and as K. Tempest Bradford says in her awesome column on the premiere Unbreakable Habits: Heroes Returns (which y’all should check out) it was “Two hours I will never get back.”

It was simply train-wreck after train-wreck and as one of my friends said (can’t quite remember who) “Heroes never met a stereotype it didn’t like.” and that’s one of its main problems right there. Every brown and female character on the show starts as a stereotype and I have yet to see them grow beyond that or disrupt that even a little bit (of course most don’t live long enough to get the chance). Mohinder and Maya engage in the out of nowhere rough brown people sex after he injects himself with the serum. The literalmagical negro in Africa – who again I don’t think we have a name for as of yet – helping out white boy Matt Parkman. The friendship between Hiro and Ando being broken apart by Hiro’s continued naivete and obsession with the truth of comic books – at this point it’s just annoying because he makes stupid ass decisions over and over again. You think that after the first two seasons he would have learned something. And there’s … have any of the other brown characters been featured as of yet? Micah? Monica? Are they just gone into the ether never to be mentioned again? 

There are basically no strong female characters on the show who are not evil in some way – the only two I noticed were crazypants sociopath Elle and manipulative Angela Petrelli. The other women have been crippled or broken in ways where they basically have nothing left of the fire that attracted me to the show for even that short while.  And can we talk about the lack of diversity in the female characters? I’m not just talking race here but size and hair color as well – there’s a preponderance of the the skinny white blond girl that Ijust find confusing and odd – Daphne, Elle, Claire, Nikki/Jessica, Tracey I mean damn is there some linkage between blondness, skinniness and the gene that gives these folks powers? Also don’t even get me started on Niki/Jessica’s death and the whole any sexually free or confident woman must die trope and the whole Tracey vs. Niki/Jessica thing they’re trying to do – show how different they are which stinks of  and plays on the Virgin/Whore dichotomy women are constantly subjected to in our society.

The other part of Heroes that works my last nerve is that its comic in visual form which I normally would be down with but all their are doing is taking X-men and Justice League swallowing it down and regurgitating it onto the screen. There is almost nothing new or original in what they are doing. Every snippet I watch just reminds me of a comic I watched as a child. Sylar as the third Petrelli brother = the search and mystery surrounding the third Summers brother. The Shanti virus = the Legacy virus. The future “league of villains” thing = something we’ve seen dozens of time. And as my housemate Jackie pointed out the whole third “book” Villains is just a rehash of Kingdom Come …but y’know bad.

They say there are only seven original stories and everything after is simply a copy of those. Yeah that’s all well and good but if you’re going to rehash a bunch of things I read growing up then you need to add something, make it your own in some way otherwise it’s just seems like boring adaptations of old favorite but without the characters and twists that made it great.

I Have a New Favorite TV Show!

Now it might seem premature to label a show your favorite when you’ve only seen two episodes but the ABC family original The Middleman is some really good TV. It’s superhero TV at it’s best, it harkens back to the Batman TV show with its visuals and bad special effects at times but the dialog is hip, fresh and funny the side characters are entertaining and there’s a lot of mystery but it doesn’t feel incomplete the way Lost always felt to me.

I stayed away from the show originally because #1 it was on ABC Family which automatically makes me go *smh* because I’m unsure if ABC’s idea of family programming has ever entertained me and #2 all the ads made it seem as if the female lead Wendy Watson (played by Natalie Morales) was going to be a scantily clad sidekick there to look hot in leather and shoot big guns and not really the focus of the show.

Then a couple days ago while idly surfing Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature I saw that the first two episodes were available so I decided to give them a try. Boy was I wrong, it’s fantastic romp through a crazy world of mad scientists, demons and aliens. Also Wendy is far from an extra body she’s actually the lead protagonist and it’s great to have a Latina actress playing a superhero (well apprentice/successor but still).

The shows’ basic premise is that a sarcastic, rude, unflappable young woman right out of art school is recruited as the apprentice to The Middleman, a former Navy Seal who could have been plucked from some random 50’s health film (he’s constantly saying things like “Golly Gee”, “Jeepers” and “Now that’s just mean/rude”). Wendy proceeds to ride The Middleman for his language and also has an antagonistic relationship with their extraterrestrial robot Ida, often calling her “3PO” (After Star Wars robot C3PO). The back and forth between The Middleman and Wendy has some clunkers sure but for the most part it’s funny, hip and very comic book. For example the constant references to her father that disappeared under mysterious circumstances are so ham-handed at times that any comic book reader (or anyone with ears really) will know that this is something that will pop up in the show relatively soon.

The side characters are also pretty damn funny. Lacey, Wendy’s Roommate, who’s a confrontational conceptual artist and very much the pseudo-liberal who gets arrested pretty damn often for protesting. Nozer, the African-American guitar player that Wendy exchanges song lyrics with in the hallway every time she comes home. Ida, the ET Robot who’s “been cranky since her appearance circuit got stuck on disapproving school marm version 2.0” and continually insinuates that Wendy’s only cool under pressure ’cause she’s always high.

And yes I admit that the special effects tend to be kind of low-budget but really the episode villains are not the reason to watch, even though their fun in a really ludicrous way. It’s the journey to find the villain that packs the most hilarity with revelations of Succubi, Incubi, illegal experiments and extra-marital affairs all making appearances.

Funny, Hip, Inspired and Corny by turns it’s been quite a while since a show grabbed me in so few episodes. Let’s hope that #1 they don’t mess it up and #2 that it stays on the air long enough to find its footing and really wow us.

To say anymore would be spoiling but if you have Netflix then take a couple of hours to watch the episodes on there, or find some other way because no matter what you have to at least check out, if only to let me know if you agree with my over-enthusiastic response.

Can’t…Think… Doctor Who Has Hijacked My Brain

Okay I wish I could give y’all some kind of thinky-smart-ranty post ’cause there haven’t been anmy this week and I’m in a space where I think I could and I have a couple in the draft stages. But being completely honest all I can think about is this:

WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL TWO EPISODES OF DOCTOR WHO SERIES 4

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Ruby – Kick-Ass Demon!

Let me note that this post is mostly squee and really has very little deconstruction. This is Ruby:

Ruby is a character in the 3rd season of The CW’s Supernatural. Now I tried to watch Supernatural back when it first came on but honestly there were so many problematic elements in regards to race and gender that I only got to the episode with the racist truck-driving ghost before I had to step away (There’s a whole post in the works about Supernatural and my problems with it). Plus the fact that the two main characters, the Winchester brothers: Sam and Dean, are both male and as I’ve said before I do better connecting with female characters. So when the 3rd season premiered it was announced that two female characters would be recurring: Bela* & Ruby.

So I’m gonna break down the squee: Why I love Ruby and would gladly carry her half-demon baby!

#1 She’s a kick-ass fighter
When first introduced she takes down three demons without breaking a sweat. She has a magic knife that kills demons dead instead of sending them back to hell to fight again another day. She rushes into danger and fights her way through. In one episode where the Winchester boys along with one FBI agent, a deputy sheriff and a secretary are under siege in a police station by about 30 demons. She fights her way through and while walking past the wary folks inside says one of my favorite lines of the season:
“Anyone have a breath mint? Some guts splattered in my mouth while I was killing my way in.”
Then after they won’t heed her advice she walks out of the front door and dares the demons to get in her way, they part like the sea. C’mon now, that’s badass! 30 demons parted for her! Also a preview of the season finale that will air this Thursday shows her taking down both Winchesters in about a minute.

#2 She’s sarcastic, snarky and doesn’t take shit.
See the quote above. Additional quotes:
“Just think of me as that little fallen angel on your shoulder.”**

“Don’t tell me you let the colt slip through your clumsy hands!”
Sam: “Ruby”
“Shut Up!”

“You can stand there and let me cut your heart out of your chest.”

“So now because you were careless I have to die. Try to be more careful in the future, hell of a dying wish.”

#3 She’s very practical, to the point of being a sociopath.
That plan that the Winchester did not want to heed (actually Sam was willing which is a whole other kettle of fish) was sacrificing the virgin among them in a spell that would kill all the demons in a one mile radius, including her. Note that this was only after the the Winchesters lost the Colt and that Nancy (the virgin in question) actually agrees with this and states as everyone argues “This is my decision.” which I cheered for because women are rarely if ever allowed the noble self-sacrifice. They didn’t go through with it in the end but I thought it was an interesting point.

#4 She’s sneaky and has her own agenda
Ostensibly she’s there to help Sam keep on fighting and win the war against the demons on his own since his brother will be dead in less than a year (because of a demonic bargain to bring Sam back to life). Through her guidance and points we see Sam becoming more and more ruthless, more willing to take lives, more demonic overall. (Quick sidebar for those who watch the show, that whole Trickster Dean’s death thing? I think Ruby was behind it to make Sam even darker). She wants the leader of the demon army, Lilith, dead but I think there’s something more going on, it might be corrupting Sam, it might be taking over the army herself but I do think there’s something else happening with her.

So yes I love Ruby and I could make a point here about how female characters are only allowed to be ruthless and kick-ass when they have something to blame it on like not being human but like I said this is a squee post so I’m gonna leave it there. We’ll get into the other stuff in that Supernatural post I’m planning.

*Note – I like Bela as well but I felt that a lot of her characterization was uninspiredand downright trite at times.
**Note the 2nd – Most of these qwuotes are from memory so may be off a bit.

Anime/Manga Characters =/= White

Okay so while I’ve never been a huge fan of Anime or Manga, I am a fan of both mediums I just tend to stick to what friends recommend or things done by the same individuals I’ve enjoyed before. I was part of the Anime club in my High School, in fact I was the vice-president and I enjoyed a lot of the series and OVAs that we saw. What I didn’t enjoy was the fetishization I saw coming from a lot of the white boys in the group.

Now from talking to friends I understand that my high school group was actually better than a lot because except for me all the officers were Asian and aware of the issues with fetishization. Now that I’m thinking about it this was the reason I was brought in as VP because they didn’t want the office to go to the only other guy running, a really annoying white guy who used to try out Japanese pick up lines on all the Asian girls in the group despite the fact that a large percentage of them were from China.

Yeah, that kind of guy.

Anyway I’ve gotten completely off-topic. My point is that there was/is a weird dynamic among those white boys of a huge fetishization of Asian culture and bodies while at the same time coding most of the anime characters as white. I had a huge disconnect recently when I heard someone on the street say to a friend that one of my favorite shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was great but why were all the characters white? My head jerked around so quick I almost got whiplash. I didn’t understand how she could see those characters as white and before I could find a way to insert myself into their conversation and question her about this they were gone. It’s something I couldn’t help but think about though.

Well my good friend bankuei has busted out some deconstruction of these issues in his post: Why Are They All White? over at Deeper In The Game: From Geekdom To Freedom. Head over and check it out, here’s a sample:

The usual point most of these folks like to bring to the table is that all the characters have big eyes. At the same time, none of these people turn and ask of American comics, “Why are they all steroid/silicone breast enlargement junkies?” Oh, that’s right, they’re able to parse and comprehend that this is a style factor of the genre, not a literal representation.

But why is that?

Gaming, Size & Awards!

Pat over at Token Minorities has an excellent post Suggestions for Talking about Race and Videos Games and while Pat is focused on video games this could be suggestions for discussing race when it comes to Science-Fiction, TV, Movies, Comics, anything where people simple want to write off the medium and consequently the racism in it, as trivial.  

One of my close friends, Bankuei has posted a Roleplaying 101guide for people interested in getting into RPG’s and such. I admit that I never played and RPG before I met Bankuei (the only roleplayers I knew in high school were crazy, I don’t just mean the kind of crazy we can all get when we like/are obssessed with something, I mean STRAIGHT UP KRAZY!!!) plus there are a lot of issues around exotification and appropriation in these games. But now that I’m getting into the more indie ones that don’t make me nauseous, I find a lot of fun in them and recommend people head over and read his 101 post if you’re interested even a bit in RPG’s. Bankuei’s been asking me to write up my early experiences with RPG’s and Roleplaying gamers for a while now and I hope to get around to that this week.

Resist Racism has a post up about The Last Acceptable Prejudice, where Resistance is specifically talking about fat prejudice. Now as a Person of Size and a Person of Color it’s angering to me to see fat prejudice called the last acceptable one, for exactly the reasons Resistance posits it plays too much into the Oppression Olympics for my taste. I have experienced racism and fat prejudice at different times in my life and think that both need to be combated. Stating any prejudice as the last acceptable one not only devalues all the other prejudices alive and well in our society but also ignores the systemic institutionalization of oppressions for the overt expressions of prejudice.

The Tiptree Award Winning Book has been announced, along with the works that were short listed. The Tiptree is presented at WisCon (which I’m attending again this year) and celebrates works of F/SF that work to explore and expand gender and our understanding of it. The Winner – The Carhullan Army (American Title: Daughters of the North) by Sarah Hall. Head over to Debbie N.’s post on it to read more about the Tiptree, the shortlist of nominees and to find out who the jurors were this year.

The Nominees for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, which celebrates works of F/SF that include significant positive explorations of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters, themes, or issues, have also been announced.

The list of nominees for the Japanese Seiun Awards have been announced, of course I can’t read the works of most of the nominees cause I don’t read Japanese but it’s always cool to see what’s going on in other places around the world. There are also two categories for foreign works that list nominees we in the west would be more familiar with, I would point out though that only two women are nominated, one in each of the categories.