Brain Food – Episode 69

Hello again to another episode of Brain Food! In this one, I review Hillary Monohan’s awesome book from the Gods and Monsters series, Snake Eyes!

To see more of Hillary’s work, you can find here at these places on the Internet:

Website

Twitter

Advertisements

Brain Food – Episode 67

Wow, it’s been awhile, but here it is, episode 67 of Brain Food!

This time around, I review Crash and Burn, a webcomic about a human and an alien diplomatic delegation that crash lands on an abandoned amusement park planet.

And you can check out the webcomic here!

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.

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.

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.