Why Yes, Your Art Can Have More Than One Meaning

 

So, about that Joker movie, eh?

Oh, I should say, about the director of the Joker movie, Todd Phillips who has recently been expressing distress, even anger, and not a little bit of snobbishness, that people would dare, DARE criticize his movie.

There was also this blatant misdirection Todd attempted, most likely while his publicist screamed at him from afar to just shut the hell up.

Just a reminder to Mr Phillips, Keanu Reeves isn’t white, he’s biracial, his first name means Ocean Breeze Over A Mountain, so please stop erasing his Asian heritage, as he was born in Lebanon.

That being said, I find the actions of this director vehemently opposing any idea that his film could be held up as the endorsement of white male violence upon the world as astoundingly childish and also a sign of white privilege in and of itself. Movies, aside from being a medium of entertainment, are an art form, much like books, video games, and graphic novels.

And as a form of art, there can be more than just the creator’s intended message that people can take away from it. The history of cinema has shown this time and time again.

For example, Alien is not just a scary, claustrophobic movie about a dangerous creature hunting a bunch of truckers in space, it’s also a commentary on capitalism that seeks to gain profit even at the danger of destroying humanity. Aliens continues along this thread but was also seen as a metaphor for the Vietnam war, where a technologically superior invading force is wiped out by the native life there.

The original Blob movie? A metaphor for the encroaching communist spread across the world during the McCarthy Era as well as a movie about a faceless ooze that devours people.

And those are just but a few examples, and different takes can be taken from art according to one’s own life experiences.

Take me, for example: I’m a cis, white, abled bodied male, so the views and critiques I could take away from a movie would be vastly different than someone who is black, trans, and female.

This is why there’s been discussions of cop shows as copoganda, from CSI and Law & Order to Brooklyn-99. I’ve read critques from a feminist POV about the lack of leading women with their own movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ones that question that further, looking at the diversity of women and the lack of women of colour in the MCU on a whole.

(And before anyone comes in and says it, no, Gamora and Nebula do not count. Green and Blue people aren’t real, even if one of them is played by Zoe Soldana.)

And of course, there’s discussion of the diversity of people behind the scenes, such as was April Reign’s coining of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite when looking at the line up of winners at the Academy Awards back in 2015.

I say all of this to add further context to the importance that we critique the media we watch, especially in this darkest timeline in which we live where there’s a domestic terrorist attack in the US just about every other week. The premise of the Joker movie, about a nice guy who has a bad day and simply snaps, is disturbing to say the least, because of the real world parallels we see weekly, if not daily, in the news.

Parallels such as the self-proclaimed Incel who drove his van into a crowd in Toronto, killing 10 people, who was in turn inspired by another ‘Nice Guy’ who had a bad day, Elliot Rodgers. Incel culture in and of itself reeks of white male privilege and the rage over being unable to lay claim to women and the coveted prize of sex. If you’ve the stomach for it, I’d recommend the website We Hunted The Mammoth and click through the Incel tag for more on the disturbing behaviour of these men.

Those of us who are critical of the message of the Joker movie, which points very strongly to the Nice Guy Who Has A Bad Day take, worry about how many men will take heart to this, and then enact on it.

As the US Military did recently with this warning to their troops who might be seeing the movie.

And if you don’t think people don’t act on racist, sexist, messages in our media, look no further than the screening of “Birth of the Nation”, a movie made BY the KKK to inspire more recruitment into the KKK, at the White House itself. The KKK received a boom in size after that, which continued on until another piece of media, the Superman Radio Drama, tore apart its veil of secrecy and metaphorically pantsed the organization.

And these are just the examples I can think off the top of my head while casually writing this. Others have put significantly more time and effort into looking at the messages in our media and across more than just movies that enforce terrible racist stereotypes as well as outmoded and harmful standards of beauty.

Don’t even get me started on the genre of films I consider to be Transgender Pain Porn.

All being said, for Todd Phillips to plug his fingers into his ears and yell “Lah lah lah, I can’t hear you, you’re all wrong!” speaks to his ability to accept any kind of criticism, which is as flimsy as wet tissue paper. It also says volumes about his lack of understanding of the messages art can have.

Quite frankly, I’ve never heard of the man up until now, and I honestly have no intentions of watching or supporting any of his work. If I wanted to watch a tone deaf, whiny, self-entitled dude who can’t stand that no one wants to appreciate his genius and understanding, I’d dive head first into the Rick and Morty fandom.

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.

Brain Food At The Movies – Episode 16

Hey everyone, it’s my review of Suicide Squad!

It’s a movie from DC Comics and Warner Bros that is so bad it balances out what good it does.

However, the fact that it had jokes shows that DC IS learning, and that Zack Snyder might not have the pull he used to have, which is a good thing considering he’s still involved in Wonder Woman and Justice League.

I’d also recommend reading Maddy Meyers review of the movie over the Mary Sue for some points I missed in mine. It’s good stuff!

And if you thought I was harsh on Jared Leto? Well, read some of these articles about what a piece of garbage he is:

He’s been accused of sexual assault by several women.

He sent ‘gifts’ to his castmates including rats, dead pigs, and used condoms.

And heck, every other full cast photo I’ve seen has excluded him. Considering his antics on set, and how much of his acting was cut from the film, well, he’s the weakest, most pathetic and least charismastic version of the Joker ever made…

 

Comic News & Views – Episode 2

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Comic News & Views, wherein I discuss the recently pulled Joker Variant Cover for Batgirl #41.

I’ve also included a number of links discussing what happened below, which I highly recommend you check out.

First off, we have Janelle Asselin’s article on Comic Alliance, The Vocal Minority and Artistic Integrity.

Then we have Comic Book Resources reporting on the matter, with quotes by both Rafael Abuquerque and DC Comics as to why they pulled the cover.

And finally, we have Bleeding Cool with an article by Rich Johnston, talking about Adam Baldwin trying to be relevant with his Save The Cover hashtag on twitter.