Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"Television is Dead"

- David Letterman

"Now everyone with an opinion has a forum, and it's really kind of scary."

-Katie Couric

In the same conversation. Not seconds apart.

"Television is dead."

Gee, I wonder why.

(Also I'm fairly certain that they started out the conversation with Couric defending the fact that she believed some abusive and famous asshole when he claimed he wasn't an abusive asshole. Since I wasn't really listening, I'm not completely sure, but I'm pretty sure.)

Your ability to get to the truth astounds me Ms. Couric. It truly astounds me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Am Amused

So, I am sitting on the couch with my father. The TV is on. He is reading the news. And I am too.

On my laptop.

It's All Comes Down to Cats

I have a confession to make. I don't actually like cats that much. So I've always been wary of the strange hold they have over the internet. LOLcats are one thing, but catblogging? Blech.

But I have finally realized that resistance is futile. That there is no problem to large or too rant-inducing that cannot be solved by cats.

Even this one.

That particular question seems to be on everyone's minds lately. And not just on the minds of a handful of idiots and the people who were unfortunate enough to stumble across such stupidity.

No, I even ran across it the other day while I was reading the sequel to Save the Cat!. Snyder's parting thoughts on Superhero movies was "why aren't there any movies about females superhero? C'mon, we can do better than that!"

(or something to that effect, I don't have the book in front of me.)

Snyder is smarter than he realizes, because he answered his own question earlier in the same chapter.

Snyder defines superhero movies in the original Save the Cat! as movies that have an "extraordinary person who finds himself in an ordinary world." (And yes, he uses "he", which explains why he couldn't see that he's already answered his own question.) The plot of such stories always revolves around being the misunderstood genius. In the sequel, he elaborates on that, clarifying that superhero stories are essentially stories about gods. More specifically, here in America, God/Jesus.

And everyone knows that God made Man in His image, not Hers.

This is in many ways one of the last impregnable assumptions about what makes men the default and women the Other in western (and I'm guessing most all) cultures. So I wonder if part of the reason why superhero movies about women always suck so very much is because people may be used to the idea - even like - women who kickass, but most are still comically uncomfortable comfortable with divinity as feminine. And so they sabotage their own great ideas without even meaning to. Because every time they are presented with the problem of who she is and where she came from and what she can do, they fall back on the kinds of things that are least likely to be godlike. Because a female hero is one thing, an all powerful Goddess is another.

Which makes the story and the character unsatisfying at best.

Take Claire, for example. She can not only regenerate, she's even crucified (which is why the scene works even though it's yet another sexual assault against a superheroine), but she not only remains anything but a leader of Heroes, taking charge of this often passive power results in her turning evil, if the hints of what's to come are any indication.

And this, I think, is the final proof needed for the argument that the whole root of the problem lies in culture's inability to accept a female Jesus - because anytime a superheroine accidentally gets powerful enough for the analogy to really work, her power threatens to destroy the whole world. And so she must be destroyed instead. It's like we're not just telling the Story of Christ, we are also retelling the story of the Church.

I think it's also why Wonder Woman works better (as a stand alone character) than any other female superhero, and we she is so timeless. Her divine origins are not only explicit, they are explained away. She is a Goddess rather than a god, but she is not of our world. Unlike Superman, she didn't even grow up here, among us. She may be a Christlike figure, but she isn't our Christlike figure. She remains in many ways, completely alien, and so doesn't directly challenge this particular argument culture makes about women being the Other.

The Problem

with this sentence is not just the obvious

Wishing for more female superhero movies is kind of like longing for more Sex and the City knockoffs with all-male casts.

It's also that I think that sounds like kinda of a fun idea. (Even ignoring the slash that was unintentionally implied.)

Because I am now picturing Reid and Morgan having gab fests and heart to hearts with Charlie and Don. And then going off on dates with all kinds of interesting people. And coming back together and gabbing some more. While they shop for Reid's pocket watches.

And it amuses me muchly.

Two Reviews, Ten Words, And a Little Punctuation

(I am attempting to be more concise with my writing.)

Last week's The Dollhouse: huh?

This week's Criminal Minds: yay!

Because God Forbid

That one might decide that constant cheesecake doesn't make a whole lot of sense in a story that is trying to deconstruct gender roles.

Monday, February 23, 2009

*headesk* repeat x infinity

So, my uncle has written a fantasy novel. And has asked me to critique it.

Three chapters in and the phrase that keeps circling round my head is a quote from Emma:

Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school -- not a seminary, or an establishment, ...-- but a real, honest, old-fashioned boarding school, where a reasonable quantity of accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where girls might be sent to be out of the way, and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies.

(well, ok, what I remembered of it anyway. i looked that up, obviously)

needless to say, when you are a 21st century aspiring fantasy/sci-fi author making the same general kind of pronouncement as the one above, without any hint of the irony found in Austen's 19th century high society novels, you are not off to good start. at least not the kind of start that doesn't make me want to smash things, in any case

he's been bugging me about my opionions on it.

wtf do I say to him?

do I lie and say "oh, it's really good."?

or do I tell him the truth and say "it made me want to smash things. such as: whatever part of your brain decided that " "…[name withheld] was the kind of girl that I’ve always wished there could be more of. …[she] was bright, but she didn’t try to intimidate others with her intelligence when they failed to see her point of view. " was a sentiment that deserved to be typed out on your computer, much less shared with anyone. especially me."?

seriously, how the fuck does an intelligent woman that actually has opinions respond to that piece of shit?


I have an answer typed out to him. It's as polite as I can make while still being honest. bc I can't just say "it's not my cup of tea" and leave it at that. Not when he presents me with crap like that and asks my opinion. It's like a fucking dare. It's certainly taunting me in any case.

I did lie though. I told him I took no pleasure in letting him know that I would mock him mercilessly if he wasn't my uncle and I simply came upon his novel randomly in a bookstore.

Bullshit. I take great pleasure in calling shit shit - especially when it's shit that says that I should be a good girl and not say words like shit, much less call a man's work a piece of shit.

I'd just also like to get through family functions intact.


what to do……

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who Else Could Bring Me Out of Hibernation but Joss Whedon?


Now that the first ep is out, I've decided that the thing that is going to bug me most about Dollhouse is people talking about Dollhouse. (irony is my middle name) Well, ok, so I should really know better than to venture into the TwoP forums, but still - who the fuck says this:

[Echo was c]oerced by circumstances, no doubt horribly lied to about what would happen afterwords (as discussed elsewhere I'm SURE the Dolls never actually get "out") but yes it was voluntary.

Dear TwoPer with yet another punny name - Did we watch the same episode? Cuz if we did, you need to learn what the word coercion means and how it affects the legality of agreements and contracts - written and otherwise.

Seriously, the only thing that's going to make me go ew more than the prostitution/rape/sexual slavery angle is people arguing that Echo actually consented to all this. (Based on the little clip we were given at the start of the pilot, anyway. I don't know what the future holds.)


as far as the pilot itself...eh. If it wasn't Joss I wouldn't be watching. Or at least not going out of my way to do so. And if that's the reworked pilot, I either really don't want to see the original or really want to see the original.

(From what Joss has said about it, I'm actually guessing the latter, bc the actual pilot is a typical "let me hold your hand and tell you how it's going to be" pilot and I don't think I need that for Joss shows, but I understand why that's the better choice for network TV.)

My biggest complaint is that it didn't feel terribly new and it felt like there was far too much given away in the beginning. Mostly - the bit about how Echo got there should have been kept a secret for at least a few more episodes. Possibly the rest of the season. It would have been much better to find out when Echo did (or maybe just a little before) not when Caroline knew.

Also, the plethora of details about the cop was a bit gratuitous (or maybe it was just the stupid intercut fight scenes). Maybe CM has me spoiled, but I've come to believe that economy is key in character development. All I needed to know about the cop was that he was willing to threaten a not-quite-civvie with a gun despite getting heat from his boss - and I really didn't need that last part beaten to death. Anvils were great for Buffy, Dollhouse feels like it should be more subtle. Really, honestly, a single line would have been much better than a long drawn out pissing contest - multiplied for effect! And it would have given him a chance to save the cat - or something.

That said, the last bit can stay in. That's the way to get them coming back. it could have been done better, but nice start with that there.

Overall, bc of the whole ew factor and the OH GOD WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE ME FROM FOX'S ANNOYINGLY SEXIST BULLSHIT ADS AND PROMOS THAT FLAT OUT SAY THAT WOMEN ARE WORTHLESS IF THEY AREN'T SEX DOLLS EVEN IF THEY ARE FUCKING SAVING THE WORLD?!!??!!?!?? I probably wouldn't be watching if I hadn't stumbled across this interview:

We wanted to talk about it...human sexuality and how it drives us and why it’s important to us.

And the idea of objectification versus identification, these are all things that I’ve been working on all the time...

...are we actually making a comment about the way people use each other that is useful and interesting and textured, or are we just putting her in a series of hot outfits and paying lip service to the idea of asking the questions.

...I think some things will offend some people, some things will not. There are things in it that I’m not positive I support, and some of the things that bother me don’t bother any of the other writers....part of the point is to look at these gray areas and to see what of this is unique in us, what is it we need from each other, how much do we objectify each other, how much do we use each other, both men and women, and what is actually virtuous.

One of the problems I ran into early on... was [the network] didn’t really want to deal with those issues having bought the show....It’s a classic network problem. You want to evoke this, but then they don’t want to say anything....We’ve struggled with making sure that the show doesn’t, by virtue of playing it safe, become offensive, because the idea of this show was never to play it safe. The idea of this show was always to be in your face about it.

....The idea is to get the audience to look at their own desire, and to figure out what of it is acceptable, and what of it is kind of creepy. In order to do that, we go to a creepy place sometimes, and I will be very interested to see if people find it empowering or the other things. I may have crossed the line. Let’s find out.

I don't know if he's explained all this before and I just missed it, or if Rachel is just a really good interviewer (quite possible), or if the other articles did their best to cut that shit out*, but the fact that Joss is very aware that of the whole prostitution/rape/sexual slavery angle but in fact seems to see it as one of the main themes of the show puts my mind at ease - at least a little bit. As does the fact that he quite aware of the dangers of both selling out and of not selling anything at all. I'm still watching with a critical eye, but I am watching. And very much hoping Joss makes this worth my while.

*The Salon article linked in the TwoP forum, for example, quotes Joss as saying "I believe that prostitution is not, in concept, repulsive," but the interviewer doesn't go back and ask him how that relates to what he said earlier about human trafficking or the question of wether or not the Dolls are coerced. Nor does Joss go into more detail about why he thinks that making the show hot but having less actual sex - as requested by TPTB - is offensive. Without the interview above, it sounds almost like Joss really believes that he his created a sci-fi premise for prostitution without having to deal with the power imbalance of it all - shades of the fundamental problem with "companions." Taking into account the interview above, it sounds more like Joss has taken those critiques to heart (at least a little) and while the Dollhouse is in no way an apology or a concession it is very much a deeper exploration of those issues.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

FYI (Twilight Edition)

To understand the popularity of Twilight, you need to understand 4 things:

1. - Adolescence is depressing and confusing

2- Teen girls are discouraged from being so unfeminine as to be depressed - ever, but when they are upset they tend towards mopey since being angry and violent and actually making people pay attention to them is even more discouraged

3 - YA books are mostly for girls not just because girls read more than boys, but because boys read adult (ie - violent) books earlier than girls do; this is mostly because girls parents freak out more when girls read adult (ie - sexually graphic) books than when boys do

4 - even teen girls tend to like the Twilight books less and less with each book (you just can't tell by the sales bc the overall sales keep growing with time)


I do not think any of these things (with the exception of #4) is healthy. I don't think the way the Twilight series ended sounds even remotely interesting (which is why I haven't read the last book), much less healthy.

I do however find it extremely unsurprising that teen girls like this series. I also think that anyone that is upset by the popularity of this series by itself (as opposed to culture overall and are simply dissecting the Twilight series as part of something larger) needs to stop underestimating teen girls. Bella isn't blah because teen girls are okey dokey with heroines with no personality, Bella is blah because teen girls know that everyone else expects them to be blah - and they hate that, but they don't like disappointing people. Edward does stuff and Bella feels stuff, but never the twain shall meet, because together they make up one complete character. Not because women need men, but because Bella, who feels like half a person like many teen girls, needs an exciting alter ego who can do the stuff that she thinks she can't.

(Note that she spends the entire first book not just wanting to be with Edward, but to actually be Edward, or rather a vampire. In fact, she even ends the first book with the decision that being a vampire - and yes, being with Edward in the long run - is more important to her than doing what Edward wants her to do.)

Also, Bella may not cross the "no sex in ya books" line but it flirts with it really well, because the one thing it does have is discussion about desire and the the fact that girls want sex. (not Men, not boys, not women, but girls.) Which happens in ya books, but rarely to the degree that Twilight takes it, and almost never outside of ya lit and mags.

That the author wrote the later books to explicitly say that women need a man to be whole is bad. That girls feel like half a person because they are teens and because girls are pressured to be blah (and think of sex as something they have but that only guys want) is a fact of life. That teen girls like Twilight has more to do with the latter than agreeing with the author on the former - which is obvious by how actual teen girls and young women react to the books. That a series that makes the former argument is so popular is depressing, but more in the sense that it's sad that it's easier to address this split that teen girls feel by falling back on bad gender roles. Not so much in the "OMG impressionable teen girls are reading this!" sense.

I certainly wish they had something better to read, but I also don't find it entirely worthless. In fact, I think the first books is fairly good and intriguing. Because while Meyer's series comes to some disturbing conclusions, she captures how teen girls feel really well. Which means that despite glossing over all the bad things her solution to this problem will create in its stead, teen girls are still exploring this feeling of being half a person more than if they simply got the same bad gender roles from, like, every romantic comedy ever written. Which means they are more likely to come to a different conclusion about how to deal with it by reading Twilight than by not reading it, despite the overall message of the series itself.

It would be much better still if Twilight presented a different solution altogether and there are a lot of other things to complain about. (God forbid I should ever tell anyone to not complain about anti-feminism in media.) However, in order to create and talk up the kind of media that is better than Twilight, it really helps to understand why Twilight is so popular. What really doesn't help is talking down to teen girls and making condescending assumptions about the media they consume and why they choose it.

So, can we please lay off the OMG the vampires are sparkly and how in the world could teen girls like this stuff?

PLEASE?!?!?!? PLEASE?!?!?!? PLEASE?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Bite Me

(ps - why the article thinks that the girls that went to go see Hannah Montana are the same ones that made Twilight popular, I don't know. Either the fact that tweens like to pretend they are teens is confusing them or they are as stupid as the guy that thought that they added the action into the movie that wasn't in the book. wev. I never said they would get a clue about everything, just about the fact that teen girls exist.)

(pps - ok, so they moved HP and Nick and Nora went largely unnoticed. from what I understand, largely bc it was a lame adaptation. but still. any movie exec that doesn't at least start looking at the ya section of their BN deserves to lose $)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

OMG, ur such a girl!

Someone at a party was giving me shit for not wanting to read Twilight just last night. When I pointed out how completely bass-ackwards it was to have Vampires SPARKLE in the sunlight, and why does Edward have to fly, anyway, why can’t he just summon a My Little Pony and they can go riding down a friggin’ rainbow together, it pretty well ended that discussion.

Because the point is to turn something scary into something that is not.

The point is to turn the kind of femininity that culture accepts into something that girls actually want. Or, rather, to turn what girls actually want into the kind of femininity that culture accepts.

It's like every spunky literary heroine's decision to submit to her "one true love" - from Anne to Jo and everyone before, after, and in-between - expanded into an entire story rather than just shoved into a perplexing epilogue.

Which is annoying and not terribly healthy - especially left unchecked and unexamined - but is certainly better than the lack of explanation found in most stories of similar popularity. Now and previously.

Because the fact that so many girls want an entire story explaining this - and are increasingly unsatisfied with the ending - is a little bit revolutionary. Meyer certainly didn't set out to be revolutionary. If she had, the books wouldn't have gotten increasingly worse. It's also certainly no Buffy. But it serves a purpose. And that purpose is something other than to drive anyone who isn't a teen girl batty.

Also, and most importantly - teen girls like them.

We just had an extremely successful fantasy/scifi movie come out that was driven by and starring teen girls/young women. This may not be the holy grail, but it is s a good thing. yes?

I'm not arguing that anything that girls like shouldn't be thought of as good. I'm certainly not arguing that Twilight in particular is above critique.

But could we lay off the "omg teen girls are such girls" that most laments of the popularity of the series boil down to? Especially from feminists?

And while we are at it, let's ditch the unspoken and ridiculous assumption that teen girl's literary habits are fueled by the fact that they are idiots incapable of understanding the idea of fantasy and wish- fulfillment. As if Gossip Girls only became popular because teen girls are not only the shallowest creatures on the planet, but also believe everything they read. Yeah. That would be great, too.


ps - the first book was pretty damn good actually, btw. it was no Tithe or Valiant, but I would hold it up against most of L'Engle's realistic fiction for teens any day. which isn't really a fair comparison, but you get the point.