Doing More Than The Bare Minimum

So, it’s finally come to pass that DC Comics have fired Eddie Berganza, the serial sexual harasser that has worked at DC Comics for over a decade.

No, he hasn’t been moved from one position to another, nor was he kept out of the public light, but he has been fired.

F-I-R-E-D.

And frankly, it’s about time.

Bridget Alverson of Smash Pages recently released an article talking about the history of Berganza and what he had done, as well as the concerns of women who worked under him and alongside him, and the sheer lack of any concrete effort by DC Comics to do anything more than protect themselves from a future, potential lawsuit.

It’s a good read, and one I recommend as it helps to collect the stories of various women who worked at DC Comics and their accounts.

The termination of Berganza’s employment at DC Comics, after allegations from three women, comes at an important time as the fallout from allegations brought against Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey continue to grow. As comics continue to work hard to improve sales and public relations, keeping on a known sexual harasser who kissed women against their will and promised them writing gigs if they only returned sexual favours is not a good look.

In our capitalist society, we’re all trying to buy according to our conscious, a hard thing to do considering the treatment of people who make our products, such as the laptop I’m writing this on.

So it was ultimately in DC’s best interest to fire Berganza, the guy who once pleaded with women to stay on the failing Supergirl comic series.

“Women. Who needs them? Well, actually, I do.”

Those words carry a considerable undertaste of bile and poison now, not that they weren’t any good back then.

See, it wasn’t just Eddie Berganza who made working at DC Comics a bad place to be for women who wanted to follow their passions as a writer or artist, but the higher ups in charge, the ones who listened to the women give their concerns, their accounts, and promptly did nothing.

I’ve heard some names brandied about as to who helped to cover them up, and if DC’s statement of a desire to make a harassment free environment is to be taken seriously, then those who knew and did nothing and continue to work at DC Comics should tender their resignation immediately.

Because the kind of environment DC Comics made, where sexual harassers are protected and shielded is not unique to them, and it’s one in which women face at many other different companies.

Harvey Weinstein has been the biggest name recently to come out about the kind of toxic environment he indulged in and which the companies he founded and then worked for, Miramax and The Weinstein Company,  indulged him. Like Eddie Berganza, nothing concrete was ever done about him and his harassment of actresses for sexual favours was the worst kept secret in Hollywood.

Actresses such as Lupita Nyong’o, Brit Marlon and others have come forward to tell their stories of how he attempted to exploit them, usully with threats to their career.

People.com has since collected a list of people with allegations against Harvey, and it’s sad and frustrating to read about how many women this man lorded his power over.

Another example of a man in a position of power and exerting it over women in exchange for sexual favours came across my twitter feed today from associate editor at Gamespot, Kellie Plagge, as part of the #metoo hashtag making its rounds on social media.

Sadly, there are common themes through these stories, and plenty of others, such as the disbelief that so and so would ever do such a thing, gaslighting women, threatening their careers, and blaming them for the actions of the men by either dressing or looking provacatively.

And quite frankly, it has to stop.

The people that permit an environment which allows a sexual harasser, a predator, to flourish and thrive also need to be held accountable for their actions. It takes more than the firing of the predator himself, but those who either brushed off the concerns of the women who were preyed upon, or took steps to protect the company on a whole from lawsuits and public relation damage.

Yes, it is good that Eddie Berganza was fired, and with any due luck the man will never be hired by another comics company and put in a position of authority over women, but his actions were tolerated by those at the top for years.

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. It’s a quote from Elie Wieseal in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway, in 1986, and it’s as true now as it was then.

Because as much as DC Comics might be doing the right thing in some regards, they did absolutely nothing, and those who turned a blind eye should be fired. It’s especially tiresome and frustrating as Brett Ratner has been signed on to be a producer for the next Wonder Woman movie.

Brett Ratner, much like Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and others, abused his position of power over women and even outed Ellen Page on the set of the third X-Men movie, as she discussed in a powerful post on her Facebook page.

For DC Comics and Warner Bros to have this man on board still while firing Eddie Berganza reeks of hypocrisy and a real lack of care for the women on that set. It’s my hope that Gal Godot’s threat of not coming back for the second Wonder Woman movie unless Brett Ratner is removed will get the higher ups at Warner Bros to remove him, instead of rewarding him.

And that those who believed it would be a great idea to have a man who gladly included the pedophile rapist Roman Polanski in his movie, followed by a rape joke, Rush Hour 3, are subsequently terminated as well.

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Pandering and the Default

So, in the midst of the continued fall out from Weistein, the accusations against Kevin Spacey increasing by the day as more come forward to tell of his predatory nature, Twitter continuing to not do a thing about Nazis but erasing bisexuals, this bit of criticism about Jeph Jacque’s Questionable Content from a fan, and Jeph’s subsequent response, came across my feed.

Now, in the picture provided in the link here, there’s a lot to unpack about what the fan has to say to Jeph, especially the subtle bit of transphobia by saying Marten isn’t in a hetero relationship. The bit not said is that since Claire is a transgender woman, she’s not a REAL woman, and so Marten is in a gay relationship.

That is some TERF Laci Green level of logic right there.

However, I want to focus on the Pandering bit of the statement, that in having so many characters who are LGBTQIA, Jeph Jacques is somehow pandering to people who identify as such, and that this is somehow a bad thing.

It is, as my friend Tim Yang, the producer behind the podcasts All Comics Considered and Race Invaders, said on his Facebook page in discussing this, “It’s code for “why aren’t you pandering to me?!”

This is hardly a lone example in the past few years of people angry that changes are being made to something they like, and it says a lot that the people who are angry are straight, white, cisgender, able bodied men.

Game Critic and article writer Tauriq Fousa was the recipient of mass harassment on Twitter and elsewhere for his article being critical of The Witcher 3 for having a predominantly white cast.

Leslie Jones was the target of a mass harassment campaign simply for staring in the remake of Ghostbusters that had an all female cast.

Marvel Comics came under fire for having a female Thor, a black Spider-Man, a Muslim superhero in Kamala Khan as the new Ms Marvel, and accusations of becoming overrun by SJWs.

The fallout from the new Doctor being a woman? Same thing.

When straight white, cisgender able bodied men like me complain about these things, and other showings of diversity in our movies, comic books, video games, and books, it comes from a place of insecurity, I feel. For so long, in Western society, a lot of what we enjoyed was made for us by us, and so many of us were so used to this for so long that to see even the smallest increase in diversity of any kind is, on some level, a threat to our very existence. It is something worth going to war for, as evidenced by the Gamergate Hate Movement against women and diversity in games.

In a way, the straight white dudes who complain about creators pandering to people not like them come off as Dudley Dursley, face twisted up in rage as he receives one less present than the previous year for his birthday, decrying the injustice of it all and demanding recompense for this mild slight against him.

Dudleyangry.jpg

They can’t possibly understand WHY others wish to see themselves in the games they play, the books they read, and the movies they watch. After all, we grew up seeing so many white men inhabiting all sorts of roles, and if they can’t relate to them, then that’s their problem, not ours.

It’s not FAIR! They had Winston in Ghostbusters, shouldn’t that be enough?! Why make Spider-man black!? Women had She-Ra and Xena, shouldn’t that be enough?! Why have Thor be a feeeemalllee…? Or Valkyrie be a black woman in the new Thor movie?! Or the new Doctor?! It makes no sense for a time traveling alien who regenerates into different bodies to avoid death to change his gender!

What guys like that don’t understand is that for as much diversity as we are seeing, people of colour, LGBTQIA people, basically people who aren’t straight, white, cisgender, male and able bodied are still woefully under represented in our various forms of media.

Part of the problem that lies within was explained perfectly by Rebecca Kuang when discussing the diversity panel she’d been a part of at a recent convention, in this wonderful thread I’d highly recommend you check out.

When you have unfair, heightened standards for a movie, a book, a game to succeed when the lead is not a straight white cisgender man, you are setting it up to fail.

It was a problem with superhero movies as lead by women, wherein movies like Supergirl, Catwoman, and Elektra were not given as good a treatment in terms of production, writing, promotion etc as their male counterparts. It becomes, in effect, a self fulfilling prophecy that other gatekeepers can then point to as evidence that, hey, people just don’t like female lead superhero movies.

It was something that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter did, without even taking into account how many male superhero movies bomb, either critically or financially, such as Ghost Rider, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman Vs Superman, Green Lantern, and Daredevil to name a few.

So lets see about rebooting Spider-man and Batman for the millionith time, eh?

Until Wonder Woman arrived on the scene, that is.

JL_Wonder_Woman

She’s arguably, single handedly saved the DC movieverse with its success of over 800 million dollars world wide, making it the highest grossing superhero origin movie to date. Who did it beat out? One of Marvel’s most popular characters, Spider-Man from 2002, directed by Sam Raimi.

The truth of the matter is that as we continue progressing forward, the default of the Straight, White, Cisgender, Able Bodied Male is becoming less the gold standard for an assured success, and more a sign of the gatekeeping that merely thinks that people only want to see straight, white, cisgender able bodied men.

And that they will ignore all evidence to the contrary. One only need look at the poor performances of The Great Wall, The Last Airbender, and Iron Fist to see that people don’t want to see all white people all the time, and still studios will try to hamfist white people into roles not meant for them, such as Scarlet Johansson’s leading role in Ghost in the Shell, because the people who make the decisions still believe that audiences only want to see white people in leading roles.

The Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies come from this line of thinking as well, believing that science fiction and fantasy should not pander to people not like them (straight white cisgender dudes) and tried to influence the votes of the Hugo Awards.

That they failed should be seen as a sign that people want more diversity and not the outdated views of bigots and racists, although their very presence should also be taken with caution that said people will not go quietly into the night.

There’s a great deal of progress yet to be made, especially where hashtags such as #OscarsSoWhite continue to garner incredible traction, across all forms of entertainment, and that barriers to the success of creators who ‘pander’ to people like them need to be dismantled.

This feels especially important in the light of Trump becoming president of the US last year, where there was an incredibly vocal and violent pushback against people who didn’t have it so great in the good old days of the distant 50s Americana.

Pop Culture is more than just a means of entertainment and escapism for us. It can educate us about social issues important to us, as Star Trek did when it first started, and can show us a better, brighter future that we can work towards.

To remain rooted in the out dated way of thinking in terms of representation is a failure on the part of fans who want nothing different and the people in charge who see money only in the faces of people who look like them.

Brain Food – Episode 66

Hello everyone, it’s a new episode of Brain Food!

In it, I review Jesse Petterson’s In The Dead Volume 1, an anthology of short stories about zombie survivors so white you’d think someone dropped it in a bag of flour.

I used a different format this time, using stock imagery from Pixels and Unsplash, instead of just filming myself, and I hope everyone likes it.

Yes, I was heavily influenced by Jim Sterling’s videos.

So please enjoy, comment, like, and subscribe!

Alienating The LGBTQA Audience – Supergirl and Supercorp

Another year and another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and with it comes a plethora of trailers, news, and soundbytes of everything geeky and cool that we’re looking forward to.

It also was the source of a large amount of disappointment from the LGBTQIA community as the cast of Supergirl, which was surprising to me as I came home from a night shift, went to tumblr, and found it to be akin to this famous Community Scene.

So what happened? Well, during a live stream Q&A with fans, most of the cast mocked the fan ship of Kara and Lena, dubbed by the fans as Supercorp. As Jeremy Jordan and Chris Wood, who play Winn and Mon-Eww respectively (don’t care, that’s his name), sang a song mocking the love between women, with Melissa adding in that Supercorp would never become canon (canon meaning something that actually happens on the show).

Fast forward to about the six minute mark for more of their content and Katie McGrath looking mighty not pleased.

Needless to say, people didn’t take it well, and with good reason.

Bridget Liszeweski had this to say on the matter:

Kaitlyn Alexander, a non-binary actor best known for their role on the webseries Carmilla as Lafontaine, had some words as well:

And if one were to look up the Supercorp tag on Tumblr, you can see others expressing their rage, anger, and disappointment at the casts’ mocking of a fan ship.

It’s all the more disappointing because it’s Supergirl, a show that, in its second season, had a wonderfully well written storyline about Alex Danvers coming out once she realizes she has feelings for Maggie Sawyer. It was heartfelt, heartbreaking, and wonderful all around, subverting some tropes and just generally being a great example of good representation of LGBTQIA people.

Melissa Benoist has been, up until this point, really positive and wonderful, and there’s been tales of how good the show has been for families during its first season, where the story of adopted sisters and what makes a family really resonated with fans.

There was even this amazing, touching story about how a young fan who watched Supergirl’s second season came into a comic shop asking for more, a story that was shared by Chyler Leigh on Twitter.

And lets not forget that Jeremy Jordan himself had a cousin who was forced to attend a boarding school where she was reportedly emotionally abused for being a lesbian. You’d think he would have more sense than to engage in the kind of joke that he did.

Overall though, I’m not sure that the cast realizes how badly they may have hurt themselves with this little song and dance number. LGBTQIA representation in media is still not the best, and fans have a long memory of how other shows have hurt them.

The 100 is now infamous for killing off Lexa minutes after she was with Clarke, and its ratings are in the tank because of the backlash. Agent Carter, Teen Wolf, and Once Upon A Time engaged in queerbaiting (the act of writing characters of the same gender in such a way to heavily suggest they might enter into a relationship), with Agent Carter and Teen Wolf being cancelled due to low ratings, and Once Upon taking a ratings hit.

Essentially, TV Networks, and their casts, should take more care not to alienate audience members. Not only is it cruel, heartless, and callous to do so to people who give their time and emotional investment to a show in the hopes of seeing themselves represented, but in this day and age, such groups of marginalized people can and do have power to exercise in ensuring a show is not as successful as it could be, even to the point of it not being renewed.

I love Supergirl, I really do. It was the only show who made me have faith in the S shield again, which has certainly been tarnished by the Ayn Rand styled politics of the writing in the Zack Snyder movies, and showed there’s nothing to be ashamed of in being compassionate, kind, and considerate.

It’s just a shame, and really disappointing, that the cast hasn’t learned that.

HBO’s Loss Porn New Series Pitch: Confederate

Over the last weekend, the showrunners of HBO’s hit show, Game of Thrones, David Benioff and DB Weiss, announced a new series called Confederate. It would be set in an alternate reality wherein the Confederacy won the war to keep slaves, and is set in the present day.

Needless to say, many people thought this was a bad idea.

After all, one has only to walk around the Southern US to see confederate flags still proudly flying over state houses and monuments to prominent Confederate and KKK members being protected by racist groups.

In fact, here’s a SHORT list of the kinds of brutal acts black people in America have been subjected to since slavery ended in 1865:

The Rosewood Massacre

A white woman lied about the bruises she received, bringing the wrath of white men down upon a town, resulting in the death of 8 black people and the deserting of the town.

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Black men were infected with Syphilis and purposely left untreated in a clinical study that lasted from 1932 to 1972.

Jim Crow Laws

Laws that reinforced racial segregation in the Southern US, part of the Separate but Equal school system.

And those are just a few, without even looking at lynchings, the killing of unarmed black men and women by police nowadays (made all the more evident by the rise of social media), the erasure of the roles of black women such as Marsha P Johnson in the LGBTQ movement (looking at you and your movie there, Roland Emmerich), Ronald Reagon naming single black moms as Welfare Queens, and the demonization of former US President Barack Obama.

So why a series about a racist movement headed up by racist to keep their free labour? Well, the showrunners, along with the two lead writers, had an interview with Vulture.com to tell us why.

The Producers of HBO’s Confederate Respond to the Backlash and Explain Why They Wanted to Tell This Story

It’s an interested interview, to say the least, but quite frankly, Twitter User Ana Mardoll had an excellent thread on just why this show idea is bad, along with a breakdown of the interview itself.

I think the first part of the thread says it all, because any good story would present us with three dimensional characters instead of caricatures, but there was nothing good in being a slave owner. In being a slave owner, you are, well, a slave owner.

It’s much like being a Nazi. Once Nazi enters into your character description, there’s no amount of writing that’s going to make most people view you as anything other than human scum.

And believe you me, we know that slavery was bad and that slave owners were bad to own slaves. This is not a discussion to be headed up by a couple of show runners who had a questionable display of sexual violence in their hit show and very little people of colour in it.

In fact, John Boyega had something to say about that too.

Part of me can’t help but think that this idea comes about thanks to white privilege. After all, white people do not like with the legacy of slavery in the same way that black people do. We benefit whereas black people are still struggling to be seen as human and worthy of protection, respect, and basic human dignity.

So who else could come up with such a show than two white dudes? It comes across as nothing more than a privileged class playing intellectual exercises with the lived experiences of marginalized people, something I’ve seen play out online time and time again.

“So… what about if some rape threats were false?”

“Here’s an idea… like, what if a child was dying of cancer, and about to fall into a volcano… and he was white… would it be okay for him to say the N-word?”

“Look, it’s not blackface, it’s cosplay. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up as a dark Elf…”

“Now, I’m not saying I’m racist but if you just look at history…”

And, god forbid, if this show does get made and other networks look to copy the idea (so as to make money), what would come next?

What if the British Empire hadn’t fallen and kept a hold of China, maintaining their opium imports, by the BBC?

What if Australia had become a successful penal colony, by the ABC?

Good lord, I feel I should stop. I’m afraid I might give people ideas…

The 13th Doctor… has arrived.

And she is a lady! WHOO HOOO!!!

And oh, the tears, they are delicious, falling from the faces of white dudebros angry that out of the past 50 years of Doctor Who, the longest running Sci-Fi show on television (second longest being Ultraman for you trivia buffs), in 2017, the Doctor is finally a woman.

Never mind the fact that the Doctor is an alien with 2 hearts who travels in a pocket of subspace wrapped up in a malfunctioning chameleon circuit, who regenerates into a new form on the brink of death, oh no…

All of that is just fine and dandy, it’s that she’s a woman now that’s unacceptable.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that out of the wealth of wonderful, leading ladies in our pop culture, popping up in some pretty big names in our fandom, they’re still, for the most part, white and straight.

Feminist Freqency was the first I saw to point this out:

While Beastbrarian had an excellent thread about diversity:

And Alisha Rai had some things to point out:

And Jay the Nerd Kid has some thoughts as to the diversity make up of Moffat as compared to RTD, which is something to keep in mind when we get the new showrunner.

Essentially, while I am very excited about the Doctor being a woman, and Moffat finally leaving the show (because wow did I have problems with his writing), there should not be a demand on women of colour to lend their support to the series just because the lead is now a woman.

Free emotional labour is something demanded of them enough as it is, particularly if you’re a black woman, so don’t do that. It’s selfish, ignorant, cruel and heartless.