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.

 

Spider-Man Homecoming – A Review

Hey everyone!

Fresh off the viewing of this movie with my niece, who is as big a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fan as I am, I’ve had time to think about this movie, and, well, you might not like those thoughts.

Because I left the theatre feeling pretty underwhelmed.

Why?

Because I’m pretty sure I paid for a ticket to see a Spider-Man movie, not an Iron Man movie, and that could be a reason why a shared, cinematic universe has its weaknesses.

Now, before we go any further, I will advise everyone that there are majour spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie already.

Alright then, away we go…

Continue reading “Spider-Man Homecoming – A Review”

Image Comics & Provoking Thought

You know, more often than not, and mainly because I’ve been a superhero fan of the Big Two for so long, I’m used to either Marvel or DC Comics making colossal mistakes with regards to representing people from marginalized groups.

So imagine my surprise when Image Comics came into my field of notice with their series, The Divided States of Hysteria, written by Howard Chaykin.

Why? Well, not only does the first issue feature a transgender woman being beaten to death, but the cover of the 4th issue was to feature a Pakistani man being lynched.

Thankfully, the cover has been pulled and replaced with something else, of a bald eagle flying alongside remote piloted US Military drones, but the fact remains that someone saw the cover and signed off on it, thinking it to be a good idea.

They also thought it to be a good idea to depict a transgender woman being brutally beaten and murdered.

And Image’s defense, as produced by President Eric Stephenson, is this:

“Rooted in the worst aspects of reality, this is indignant, rebellious fiction, designed to make readers both angry and uncomfortable,” Image Comics President Eric Stephenson said in a statement when the first issue returned to press. “But more than that, it’s intended to provoke thought about how and why things have reached a state where the tools for progress — discourse, understanding, cooperation — are shunned in favor of treating anyone with an opposing viewpoint as an enemy combatant.”

This is, without a doubt, one of the most disingenuous things I’ve ever read from a comic book publisher since serial sexual harasser Eddie Berganza begged female fans of Supergirl to stay on board for the series back in 2007.

Because here’s the thing, Eric, we are already having discussions on racism, islamaphobia, and violence against transgender people. Transgender people themselves are talking about this because, surprise surprise, it affects them a whole hell of a lot more than cisgender people like you and me.

We don’t need nor want yet another cisgender white guy to tell us these things. A quick look on google can tell us these things, and more importantly, we can find sources from and by marginalized communities.

In fact, here are some examples:

Transgender Cartoonist Sopie Labelle faced a series of online threats, was doxxed, and had to cancel a book appearance.

Hate Crimes against Muslims double in Canada.

Trump rolls back rights on LGBTQ workers.

A mosque is sent pieces of the Quoran wrapped in bacon.

These are just a few of the examples of me spending a couple minutes on Google, so really, having glorified violence against transgender and Middle Eastern people in a comic by a writer who whines about identity politics does absolutely nothing to further the discussion. The defense of provoking a discussion is nothing more than that; a flimsy defense.

Another terrible defense came up yesterday from writer Kaare Andrews, in this bizarre twitter thread:

Reciting old moral codes from the Comic Book code, put in place after Fredrick Wertham’s book “Seduction of the Innocent” came out in 1954, appears to be Karre’s response to criticism over the violence depicted against transgender and Middle Eastern people. After all, as one person said to me in defense of Karre:

So, we have two problems here:

  1. Criticism is not censorship. This has long been a problem hard for dudebro gamers angry over women and minorities talking about representation in video games to udnerstand, and it’s certainly a problem for comic book fans, seeing as how comic books have long catered to straight white dudes.
  2.  Marginalized people do not have nowhere near the power to censor anyone, nor were they looking to censor Image Comics and Howard Chaykin.

Instead, what was being sought was to tell Image Comics just what in the hell was wrong in depicting these images of violence against marginalized communities. Islamaphobia is on the rise, and violence against transgender people in fiction has been around so long it’s a terrible, crude joke. It’s pretty much well known as transgender pain porn, where in the sole existence of transgender people is to show us how much misery is in their lives.

And to give straight, white, cisgender dudes Oscar Awards.

In fact, here are two good threads on Twitter about Image Comics’ grossly ignorant decision to showcase the violence against marginalized communities that I highly recommend you read:

And Alexis Serios had this thread of comments to talk about where the line is with regards to bigotry and transphobia in comics:

So what to do about it?

Well, as others have done, we point out why what Image did was wrong, the responsibility they have as a majour publisher to do right by marginalized communities, and to not hide behind such flimsy defenses.

We, as in we straight, white, cisgender people, listen to said marginalized communities when they talk about their very real lived experiences. We don’t wait for some white dude to say “Hey, this is bad, hmmkay?” before agreeing and doing something.

And yes, I recognize the irony considering how I am, myself, a straight white, cisgender man.

And if comic companies like Image, Marvel, and DC don’t want to listen, then we do what I’ve seen also used as a defense for them to make our voices heard, and vote with out dollar.

As such, and to end this article on a more uplifting note, here are some comics you should support!

Alexis Sergio.

She’s the writer of Wish, a webcomic about a transgender woman who is brought back to life and is granted super powers. Alexis also contributed one of many amazing threads about diversity in our media, comics creation, and listening to people who aren’t straight, white cisgender dudes.

Kiva Bay

She’s a writer of Bowled Over, a cute story of girls of various, diverse backgrounds falling in love. She’s also a pretty darn good artist who discusses fat activism.

Crash and Burn

A Canadian comic about a diverse group of people who crash land on an abandoned amusement park world alongside alien royalty, I found their booth at the Calgary Expo and the artwork and story instantly grabbed my attention. I also appreciated that their booth had buttons featuring bisexual, asexual, and transgender flags.

Go Get A Roomie!

Written and drawn by Chloe C, this is the story of a free loving hippie and her sleep obsessed friend who grow and develop and learn while interacting with a wealth of other people.

Strangely Katie

An illustrated and comic book artist, Katie drew one of my favourite comics ever, Princess Princess Ever After, a story that deals with fat shaming, gendered roles, and fighting ogres and dragons.

BOUNCE!

A story of a bouncer dealing withoverly entitled white people, racism, and just trying to get through life. Humourous and funny, it is also touching and poignant at times.

On Internet Harassment & Vidcon

It’s been over a week since Vidcon has come and gone, and the discussion on one of its highlights (for lack of a better word) is still ongoing, as I discussed in a previous post.

Everyone knows it by now, that Sargon of A Cad attended a panel Anita Sarkessian was on alongside other content creators such as Franchesca Ramsey and Kat Blaque, taking along with him several of his cronies friends circlejerk back patters like-minded companions to sit and occupy the first two to three rows.

Alexandra Erin had this wonderful thread on what went down that I invite everyone to read and think about, especially if you think that there was nothing wrong in what Sargon did.

Anita herself recounted what went down as well as sharing her thoughts on the matter on the Feminist Frequency website.

On Vidcon, Harassment, and Garbage Humans

And Polygon has an excellent article talking about the situation that I also highly recommend.

Anita Sarkessian’s Astounding Garbage Human Moment 

Now, as for the other side, those on the side of Sargon and his ilk, one thing I’ve been hearing said is the sarcastic reply of;

“Oh, sitting at a panel is harassment?!”

“Attending a con is harassment now?!”

And a friend on Facebook pointed out what this line of argument is, which is to take a single action out of context of what’s happening around it, making the person they’re debating against appear to be overly sensitive. By doing this, they hope to appeal to a lot of ‘centrists’ and other middle to left leaning folk and get them to listen to their side.

Except, attending a con and sitting in at a panel is harassment, because it’s part of a pattern of abuse that Sargon and his ilk have partaken in for years now. Heck, with this little stunt at Vidcon, I believe we can add stalking to Sargon’s list of actions taken against Anita.

This is someone who engages in targeted harassment while winking at his fans not to harass others, and it reminds me entirely too much of the actions taken by Anti-Abortion, Anti-women protesters who publish the private information of doctors and patients at Abortion clinics and take pictures of the license plates of their cars.

“Someone should really go and talk to them!” they shout from the front lines to their supporters. “Here’s how to contact them! This is where they live! Not that you should do anything violent or anything, but well, we can’t control how others might react or think or do!”

And then clinics are bombed, doctors are shot, patients are harassed.

It’s the same line of thinking not just with professional harassers like Sargon, Thunderfoot, and Davis Aurini, but with the hate movement Gamergate, when they’re not trying to derail the conversation with cries of virtue signalling or talking about how it’s really about ethics in video game journalism.

They may not tell their followers to harass and attack, stalk and send death and rape threats to basically anyone who they deem a threat to their hobby, but they sure as hell aren’t doing anything to prevent it either.

And what I find worse, and yes there is a whole other level of garbage to garbage humans like Sargon, is that they get paid for this.

Screenshot_35

This is a screengrab right from Carl’s patreon page. Over 6300 dollars a month he gets for him to rant on about how feminism is a cancer, make false accusations over articles he can’t even be bothered to read from beginning to end, and cherry pick from debates to support his own side.

And people happily give him the money for it.

I mean, look at that tagline: creating arguments. If that’s not a tacit admission of constructing drama rather than further intellectual discussions, I don’t know what is.

No, not all the harassment comes from Sargon and his followers, and this started LONG before Anita Sarkessian ever created Feminist Frequency or its huge, successful Kickstarter on Tropes Vs Women in Video Games. Heck, harassing women has long been a thing in our society and is online and offline. Ask any woman, and more than likely they’ll tell you about the harassment they face in every day life, from the simplest “Hey, smile for me!” to being followed in cars and into coffee shops, being begged and threatened for phone numbers and dates.

So it certainly struck me when someone on Twitter pointed out that Anita did was to confront her harasser in person, to call him out in public and point out what he does. That is a hard thing to do for some, because they’re very aware of their physical safety, and I can only commend Anita on her bravery and restraint.

Lord knows if it was me, I might have jumped over the table and started a riot, seeing the face of my harasser smirking at me.

But then again, I’m a guy, and my privilege is that if I were to do that, I’d be praised and celebrated. As a woman, Anita Sarkessian, and women everywhere when confronting the sexist and misogynistic bullshit that permeates their lives, has been called any number of names based on the sexism that calls such women screeching, irrational, and overly emotional, to name a few.

Of course, Hank Green, one of the founders of Vidcon, has his share of the blame to shoulder. He should have been aware of who was attending Vidcon, both as attendees and panelists, and not put Anita Sarkessian, Kat Blaque, and Franchesca Ramsey in danger.

And while that might seem like an overly dramatic reach, partly because I doubt Sargon himself would ever want to face the consequences of taking any physical action against Anita (or that he would want to personally, seeing as how responses to feminists are his bread and butter) , one has to take into account the kinds of people that Sargon and his ilk cater to.

In short, much like the fiasco at SXSW back in 2015, Vidcon shows us that online harassment is a very real thing, and that women are REALLY fucking sick of telling everyone it is.

 

Brain Food – Episode 64

Oh wow, it’s been a while since I’ve uploaded an episode of Brain Food, eh? Hope you still like them because they’re back!

In this episode, I talk about Gamer Girl & Vixen as well as Paradox Girl, two kickstarters I backed a while ago.

I also got some cool swag from the reward tiers I’d selected!

Music was provided by Audio Library – No Copyright Music, and the song used was Morning Sun, by Nicolai Heidlas Music.

Music by HookSounds

They’re a really cool no copyright music channel I’d recently found on youtube, so please check them out.