Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

On Jibber Jabber: Where I quickly explain two common stereotypes March 29, 2012

Filed under: Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 22:49
Tags: , , , ,

Short post, and not even super aggro. There are two common stereotypes (actually there are a lot more, but I just explained both of these to some young uneducated minds today. and by young uneducated minds I mean some UNC Chapel Hill (forevermore known as UNC) Dental College students) I actually sort of know the history of and can explain to you. Hopefully this will help you and make you a little less stupid. Let’s make this one thing super clear right now. These are GROSS over simplifications of ideas. These are just kind of basic templates where you can learn where some of these things come from. I’m thinking about doing this on a regular basis when things come up.

The first is on gossiping women. There’s this commonly held idea about women gossiping a lot and it’s all they do and why do they do it and bla. Well, I can tell you why women gossip. It requires a trip in a time machine all the way back to whenever societies moved to the extreme forms of patriarchy that went into societies with courts and stuff (like regencies and stuff but not just those. some of the forms before regencies and all that. It’s late, I’m forgetting the words but you get the idea.)

For the record, the rest of this part of the conversation deals solely with women of the upper classes. Let’s stay in this middle europe (home to so many of your favorite fantasy stories). In these societies men had ALL the power. This is just one of the many eras of ‘women as property.’ Women are married off for political gain. What keeps them useful are their looks and the prosperity of their family. They can help by being decently skilled at spinning or other crafts. They’re typically out of agency except for the fact that they’re not people.

By virtue of them being property they have the ability to hear and be told a lot of important information. They’re often in charge of servants and stuff like that so information gets to them. They can’t use any of that for power for themselves, but what they can do is exchange it with other women in their station. It’s a form of power for them. It works enough. This is their social capital and their part in the game. It’s a natural evolution from their societally given positions.

So.  Why do women gossip? Because over their years it’s their source of agency and power. You can help your friends and bring rivals down by just knowing other people’s secrets. You can help your husband and family by just knowing that woman’s husband is barren and that baby totally isn’t his by semen.

The other one is Black folks talking in movie theaters. This one is a lot easier and shorter. Movies, at least in the states, were a communal experience. You packed people into theaters to see things because of scarcity and novelty. Black movie theaters tended to not exist in and of themselves and when they started to it was a different experience. Segregation and the fact that (much like today) white people could just go around and kill black folks with no fear of legal repercussions made black communities function differently. So when you go to the movie you’re going to the movie with family. It’s part of the thing where some of us call people we aren’t even remotely related to aunts and uncles and so forth. Big family thing.

The thing is, everyone talks during movies. Most just don’t do it in public. Most black people don’t do it in public. Most people talk in private with their friends and family. It’s a fun social activity. Movies aren’t the serious things we’ve made them into. The stereotype comes from a time when black people would go to movies as giant forty piece families and no one cared that people talked through parts of it. There’s more involved, but that’s kind of the history of it. Even that incidence was a rare occurrence, but it’s stuck with us. There’s also the thing about black folks having parties wherever they go cause life sucks so why not party?

So there you have it. Very brief, full of holes, histories on two common stereotypes.


DC Comics: Where feminists are man hating succubi sluts. March 21, 2012

Yeah. That’s a bummer.
So here’s basically what happened. In the Past Amazons were good women who lived on their island and played bullets and bracelets a lot. Then ten or so years ago they became these angry women who went to war at the drop of a hat, usually for having emotions (see: Amazon’s Attack). This is because someone figured that the idea that this island of women liking peace and so forth was dumb and they had to be brutal man hating warriors. Because of their super irrational stance on hating men they had to go to do castrations to show how mad they were. Colin (at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics) wrote some good words on exactly why that particular situation was super fucked up. So that was bad, but DC says it’s an alternate universe, don’t worry about it.

So we have our new Universe at DC and Wonder Woman is a good book. It’s still mostly a good book. Strong woman with the subtle thing about not needing men and all that. Except for they (and specifically Wonder Woman who for a long time has been a feminist symbol and directly tied to feminist ideas) definitely do need a man. Apparently this has something to do with why they hate men. That’s stupid. Any reason you give for why this NEEDED (read that word) to happen is a lie. Being made from clay is kinda awesome, and how she goes from clay baby to champion of Love and Peace in the world is super awesome. Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass wrote something cool about why that change is a stinker a while back, but tumblr search is in the pit of hell and I’m not good at navigating that.

So that was whatever, it’s not great, but what can you do, the greater whole of mainstream super hero books are dumb right now. Then issue 7 happened, and that was just too much. There’s a lot we can get into about how the Amazons are portrayed in general and how much they line up with feminism, but just take that for granted right now. Let’s kick to the real world (and let’s just stay within the past month or two) and look at how feminists are portrayed at large. And more than femenists, because that label comes with a lot of trail mix that’s hard to navigate. Let’s look at how women who don’t fit into the extremely narrow middle to upper class, white, straight, cis gendered, able bodied, super conservative, right wing, christian barely half a step moved from victorian ideals of what women are supposed to be are treated.

It’s not good. Like having sex? You’re a slut and a whore (and these are bad things in our society). Want to control what happens to YOUR body? Still a slut, and you’re fucking irresponsible (for being responsible?). Get raped? Your fault because it just is. Like having sex by yourself? WTF? You need a man to satisfy you. duh. Like having sex with women? You have used a dildo at some point so you really want a penis. Or, you’re doing it for attention. Walk down the street? Get harassed. Say you don’t like that harassment? You just need to take a compliment, sugar tits.

See. Cause. Know What? This is just bullshit.

It goes on and on. There are stories of each of these incidents and many more if you just care to take a look. It boils down to generally bad things. So when what happens in issue 7 happens I don’t actually have to work to connect not so phantom dots. The narrative around feminists and other yay women groups  is that they’re angry for no reason, they’re sluts, they’re stupid, they’re ugly and can’t get a man and that’s why they’re angry, they just need put in their place. Then there are the tropes that come out of this. One of the biggest ones being the succubus thing. I think it’s probably best stated here. It’s the idea that goes hand in hand with so many other sexist and super misogynistic notions about women relying on sex appeal to trap men into whatever they want. It goes with the false idea that women control stereotypical households because they control sex when in reality women in those situations don’t control much of anything in their lives. It’s the idea that because men are stupid and cannot control their sexual urges (note how a lot of times when something happens with men having sex with women in societally inappropriate ways we talk about the man in infantile terms because men are helpless around women when they’re just throwing sex in the air) and women, who have no other useful skills, use sex to take advantage of men in power to gain some level of power for themselves. They either use sex to get a job, or to keep a job they don’t deserve, or to get a raise, or to get favors, or anything that’s good that happens to them has to be because of sex as opposed to any competence on their part (y’know outside of being able to competently snare that man).

I know, I know. What happened in issue 7 is this. The Amazons were turned into just about everything society says feminists and women who don’t know their place are. Know where the baby Amazons come from? Well, all  the big Amazons go off every three years and secretly seduce sailors out on the open seas. These sailors have no control of themselves and fuck the shit out of these Amazons. All these Amazons want are babies (probably so they can get some sort of child support from the government). Then to make things even better, all the boy babies are kicked out. They only want women babies on this man hating island of awful slut succubi.

Yup. That happened.

And that’s about it. It’s just unfortunate. For actual phantom dots you can relate this to Editorial’s ideas about women in comics (either as characters, creators, or fans). The way some of them have responded to questions is deplorable at best. The dismissive attitude they have towards fans who want to have respectful dialogues about gender and sex in comics comes into play when you read this issue. It’s hard not to think about the “take this shit on our terms or get the fuck out” mentality of mainstream books these days when you read something like this. It’s hard not to look at the portrayal of women in cape comics and the defense of the shallow portrayals and the cavalierly sexist way certain characters are talked about by writers and think that that sort of mentality makes it so that no one there can see the problem with this.

It’s the same attitude and thinking that let’s them put out artwork that says Africa is ape controlled, then defend it with the boring old “you’re racists!” comments.

I mean, it’s similar to what Marvel did with Black Panther in letting all the readers know that this previously all powerful and undefeatable empire of strong black people actually could be toppled whenever by a white dude with some robots. Because there is nowhere that is safe for you.

It’s a good lesson to learn. There is no where safe for you. Not walking down the street in America minding your own business (In case you’re super dense, this is a comment about Trayvon Martin. To date, his murderer still  hasn’t been arrested or charged with anything. Because killing a black kid in cold blood is self defense. It keeps the world safer by getting one more potentially white woman raping negro off the streets). It’s not safe in your comic books. Because this symbol of powerful women being kick ass all by themselves? Just a bunch of man hating sluts.



A Shadow In Summer: Spoiler Party March 10, 2012

Filed under: Books — Micah Griffin @ 22:23
Tags: , , , ,

So two of the girlfriend’s siblings are all about the Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham. I had been meaning to get to it for a while, but never did. Now I did. It’s an interesting read. While I didn’t like the first thing I read from Abraham I do like certain points of his writing style. Some of that expresses itself better in “A Shadow In Summer” than it did in “Dragon’s Path.”

For me, the strength of Abraham’s writing is that he’s pretty good at using individual character plots to set up a larger scope for things to come. I felt like, while this first book is clearly a bunch of world building and set up none of it feels like wasted pages. A lot of epic fantasy stories have a problem where the first book in the series is a total trodger. I hate it. Good writers find a way to avoid this. Daniel Abraham is a good writer.

A lot of the criticisms I have for this book are nuanced ones. I’m almost hesitant to write about a lot of them. Not because I think I’m wrong, but because I’m not sure I can word these in a way that makes sense to people who aren’t me. I don’t have any major problems with this book. I think it’s really good. It’s slow, but not from a lack of good pacing, but because it’s imparting a lot of information while trying to hide the fact that it’s imparting a lot of information.

So here we go. The thing that pulled me through the book was a character named Seedless. He’s (for lack of better wording) a god. Pretty much the entire story focuses around him. I really enjoyed how Seedless was the dominant force without being plastered on every page of the book. It isn’t some shadowy Palpatine stuff either. We get to see Seedless work at the other characters, we get to see how close he is to everything. We get to see how each relationship seedless has with people effects other people’s relationships with each other.

The main character he effects in this story is the poet (like a word wizard) that captured him. Due to the process it took to grab hold of seedless there’s a lot of the poet in him. They’re essentially the same person. Not just two sides of the same coin, but it’s kind of symbiotic emotionally. The exact details of their relationship is laid out early, but you don’t understand the full extent of it until well later on when it becomes important to know. It doesn’t explain why the poet is such a sad sack. I figure that dealing with Seedless isn’t great, but his life must have been a big pile of poo even before hand. Interesting stuff.

The poet’s pupil is a guy we met in the first chapter of the book, and when we rejoin them there’s a kind of hopefulness with the character that you just kind of expect to wear off. Happy go lucky epic fantasy characters either become wildly disillusioned, get ground into depression, or die. When the book is over this character had clearly been ground down a bit, but there are sparks of hope that remain. I like hope. Omniscient dark and dreary actually bore me, as well as make me not take the work very seriously. At all. So this was good. The character is naive at times, and makes some clear mistakes but they aren’t thrown at us over and over.

Unlike another character. Liat is a young mostly competent but naive and stupid girl. We know this because everyone (except our Friend Itani/Otah and the poet’s apprentice) remark at some point in time about how naive and stupid the girl is. Not that she lacks intelligence, that she is just naive and doesn’t know how the world works at all. That’s her main function in this book, is to be naive and feel hurt that she was used because she was naive. Then she beats herself up because she felt like she should’ve known better, and then everyone says “noo don’t feel bad. How were you supposed to know? You were used because they knew you wouldn’t know better.” The one thing about this I liked, is that she wasn’t amused by that answer at all, ever. Which is cool, because that’s a bogus thing to say to someone who is having a crisis of self confidence.

I guess that brings us to Itani/Otah. I think he’s the focal point of the story? That’s really a non important distinction to be made. He’s a majorly important dude for the story. See, there’s this mystical poet school that high born cast off males get sent to and no one ever leaves. But then he leaves and becomes a laborer. Shocking, I know. Afterwards he becomes all tangled up with our poet’s apprentice, Seedless, his lover (Liat, the stupid ninny), Amat (a woman who is STRONG and also cries a lot. Like, every time we see her she’s either about ready to cry or is in the middle of crying. She cries for every reason imaginable. From being tired, to being sad, to being hurt, to being stressed, to being angry. She is rarely afraid to let the tears flow. So many tears. She should get together with “Owl at Home” and they can have ALL the best tea. Not that there’s a problem with crying, who doesn’t like a good cry? it’s just that it’s complicated that no one else really cries in the story and this ‘strong’ woman does nothing but cry. Kind of weird is all), and the heads of state as well our the head of our mystery poet school.

Itani gets mixed up just the same way that everyone else does. They’re all part of some game that no one really knows the full scope of. I don’t know the full scope of it. Seedless seems to know a lot more than anyone else does, but that comes from him being such a nasty figure. No one trusts him, everyone hates him to some degree (except mostly the poet’s apprentice). Even though no one trusts him they all listen to what he has to say. They all kill themselves trying to figure out how much of what he says is important. I really am intrigued with the fallout from Seedless’ last act in the book.  Not the act itself, but all the fallout from it. The book distances itself from it a little bit and mentions that things could get weird, but it leaves all of that off to spend more times with the characters, which I approve with. This makes the ending feel way more like the ending to a book and a lot less like “Ha sucker, you spent dollar dollar bills this unfinished product!” That’s always good in my book.

I’ll definitely finish off this series.

I’m just taking a break in between books. I like distancing parts of a series my first time through them.


Micah Reviews Cable TV: All of It

Filed under: Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 15:00
Tags: , , , , , ,

So in our awesomely mediocre hotel room (if you’re staying at a Super 8 know what you’re getting into. Dont’ expect fancy shit. It’s a couple of comfy beds and a clean bathroom. Worth well more than 1 star) we had cable for the first time in many many years for either of us. The first night in the hotel room since we had been hiking earlier in the day and also done a good deal of driving straight up a mountain we decided to relax, have some spaghetti, and watch some cable television. What we learned straight off is that we are not missing anything by not paying for cable. Shit is a wasteland of awful things.

The EXACT same picture is hanging over both beds.

There were a lot of channels doing Super Tuesday coverage, and all of it was terrible. I don’t mean that everyone was saying terribly stupid things in their analysis (which they all were) I’m saying the actual coverage was not any good. It was confusing and all over the place. It was all filler as well. None of it had any purpose. I didn’t know who had won most states and by what margins or how many delegates each candidate would get from that state. I wanted to know which states gave all the delegates to the winner or split up their delegates. Whatever, that was a bust. The winner of the night was a local station in Tennessee which literally said the exact same thing twice in the same segment. It went something like this.

Anchor: Originally we had about 400 people in here all day, but in the past hour since you last spoke to us we’ve had a huge uptick. About 50 people or so. People are starting to pour in. We expect about a dozen more before the hour is over. Let’s talk to this guy who runs the polling center here.

How would you say things have gone today?

Poll Center Dude: Well, we’ve had about 400 people come in to vote all day, but in the past hour we’ve had a huge uptick. At least 50 people and we should be seeing a dozen more before the hour is out. People are passionate about the voting process.

It was maybe the best segment of local news I had seen in a while.

So after that we went cable searching. Man. Outside of the local arts channel which played public domain footage of operas, plays, musicals, orchestras, musical performances, and all manner of kitchy local shit there was nothing. Until Storage Wars.

Now I have seen clips of the shows and such but never watched it for real, cause no cable. I find the show utterly fascinating for a number of reasons.

1. you’re lead to believe that these people have some idea of what they’re doing, but I’m not sure they do. They just name prices of things like they’re actually getting money for it. They just look at shit and decide right there it’s worth $400. I know good and well that in their store it’s going to sit around for six months to year before they decide to drop the price in half and hopefully get rid of it then before someone comes in and haggles them to $50 and a pack of cigarettes for what was originally a $300 (according to them) table.

2. Like all reality television, they vetted for the most ridiculous people they could actually find. They found a stereotypical dysfunctional couple to yell at each other and be stressed out about each and every decision they make. Then get to go around each other’s backs when they bid and the other partner gets to give a vicious side eye when the other one makes a decision. So good to each other. Then there’s the weirdo who doesn’t really seem to try hard, but is funny and occasionally lucks out. The best thing about this dude is that he wants to be Jack Nicholson. Right down to the way he talks and the glasses.

3. My initial concern about this show (and the storage auction thing in general) is that there are some moderately poor people who’s lives are all stuck in storage being attacked by some sharks who profit off the misfortunes of others appears to be completely unfounded. No, what this show is are a bunch of rich people who seem to have their lives in storage lockers being preyed upon by sharks who profit off the misfortunes of others, which makes all the difference.  One dude bought a storage locker with six brand new Vending Machines in them. SIX. Who does that? There were some original very good paintings netting loads of cash. There were some vintage spurs and shit like that. It’s kind of weird to see what’s left in the boxes. I hate most of the people on the show, but seeing what they find is kind of worth it.

After we had our fill of storage wars (and Storage Wars: Texas which has a much more likable cast) we found food network. The girlfriend LOVES to watch food stuff. She can look at food blogs for hours at a time. It’s sometimes fascinating to watch. The show we caught at first was some cupcake contest that neither of us could be bothered to care about. It was that  boring. Except for that one of the contestants was cooking in a cocktail dress. So we were rooting for the one in practical clothes and an apron. We have no idea who won cause we switched channels. (Apparently jousting is a thing again.)

Afterwards was Chopped. It’s one of the many (what seem to be) take offs of Iron Chef. This time it’s an elimination style event. Four contestants get a mystery box and they have to make an entree using all the ingredients therein. Usually these picnic baskets are filled with bullshit. Leftover pizza, banana chips, canned fruit, uni, refried beans (for dessert) and shit like that. The thing about the show is that so many of the people are professional chefs and yet seem to have no idea how to work with some rather common ingredients. Some of them admitted to having no experience with desserts or meats or fruits and stuff. It was fascinating.

The best part of this show (outside of seeing what food they come up with) is watching the judges be outrageously inconsistent from one second to the next with their critiques. In one round they told one person they were being too traditional with their choice and told the next contestant how cool it was that they were being traditional with their choice. Seriously. There was another time where they told a person they didn’t have enough on their plate and the next contestant (with the exact same portions) clearly had too much on the plate. It isn’t that there was a small variation in opinion. It’s that they were so forceful about things that didn’t seem to be so different at all. Whatever. The show was enjoyable for the most part.

After that we fell asleep cause everything was election coverage (still no clue who won anything) or reruns of jousting and dudes with guns (on a show called dudes with guns or something like that) and lots and lots of televangelists.

So yeah. TV. Don’t watch it. It’ll rot your brain.


Mid Vacation Refocus! On Time and the Enjoyments

Warning: This makes no sense. Totally should’ve saved it and edited it down in the morning, but that’s not at all what this blog is here for.

I originally wrote a 1200+ word post on figuring out a part of why I like mainstream super hero comics and why, even though I like that I don’t want to read a bunch of them anymore. I also wrote a 1000+ word post on what’s giving me something close to that in (what is to me) a superior way. Then I wrote a 1100+ word post how a lot of things can coexist and the difference between not liking parts of things and hating everything about it and all those who also enjoy it. All of those will show up here sooner or later if I can edit them down to a degree. Or maybe I won’t. What happened next is that I climbed a mountain [literally (more or less)] and that was great. After that and some time away from just about everything (no internet, no comics, no super sentai, no podcasts, and so forth) I thought about different ways to talk about this stuff. Not necessarily more positively, but with more clarity of mind that comes from being removed (even if just temporarily).

What you can't see is how I want no part of being up that high and with muddy shoes on somewhat slippy rocks.

What happens with a lot of my posts is that simple ideas aren’t simple to explain, and to explain them properly takes a lot of words. It’s a problem. I don’t actually know how to fix that particular problem of mine, but I’ll give this a go. No more generalities.

I like a lot of stuff. I like a lot of stuff a lot. That’s part of what it takes to be a nerd. Really all being a nerd is about is liking things a whole bunch. I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to. I like books, I like comics, I like Tokusatsu, I like video games, and music and bike riding, and everything. I’m also a full time student and have a full time job as well as a part time job. No time. This, coupled with some general disinterest in certain parts of all the things I like have forced me to think even more critically about what I spend my time on.

I wrote a post earlier about why I don’t have escapist fiction.  I know I’m in a minority of people in regards to this, but I have a difficult time escaping into worlds that feel like they’re doing all they can to tell me I’m not wanted. I can’t go to Jim Butcher’s Chicago because he has said in his own words that his ideal fantasy Chicago is one without black people in it. That’s a bunch of  books I’d otherwise have been interested in. That’s a blatant example. It’s also an example of a problem with the real world impinging on this escapism I’m supposed to be trying to indulge in.

Steven Moffat is a good example of this in television. I just can’t get behind anything the dude is involved with. As good as those shows may be to a lot of people I just can’t support someone who is as open an ass as that guy. Not to mention that his views often work their way into tv shows. It’s completely ruined Dr Who for me. It’s happening in comics. There still aren’t black writers and Marvel and DC (and that’s part of a larger discussion) in 2012 and any attempt to talk about why turns into huge deflection party. This goes for people defending Marvel and DC and for people saying I should only look into indie books. There’s this gulf of conversation that is super stupid. The comments that come out of Marvel and DC about the issue (and other issues surrounding race and gender) are paternalistic at best and outright offensive more often than not. Makes me not want to read their stuff.

Which is actually good for me. The comic industry itself has forced me to look in odd places to find stuff I like. Soon I’ll actually be good at it, and once that happens I’ll be able to spend more time with the stuff I like. More enjoyment! Yay! More time to like things! This doesn’t mean I’ll like everything I read or watch or listen to. Far from it, actually. It does mean that I can have different conversations around the stuff. It doesn’t mean I won’t stop into the super hero world every  now and then and go “Woah there! Why aint there no negros on your team and why is the only woman wearing a tube top and short shorts while all the dudes are covered from head to toe?” and so forth. Hopefully I can find more interesting things to discuss.

It’s worked out for me with novels. That, mostly because despite the publishing industry being run by conservative zombie koalas, they’ve managed to talk to people who aren’t white and gone and published their books. They’ve also talked to people who are white and are interested in populating their worlds with people that don’t all look, act, and think like them and published their books. Amazing how that works and those guys are making money but comics just batten down the hatches on what clearly hasn’t been working for going on a decade. Whatever.

This just happens to also coincide with me finding Tokusatsu again. I’m currently plowing through the most recent season of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and it’s like, just the best. It’s managed to hit at the right time as well. There are problems (just like there are in everything. Except maybe N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy) but those problems don’t come anywhere close to being turn offs. The series is so good. There are other things as well like Kamen Rider and reprints of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura. Good stuff. My girlfriend and I are crushing through old books and getting enjoyment out of having super long esoteric conversations about them. (If you can, find a good book club, or just make one yourself that’s really exclusive. It’s great).

So what’s the point of this? I don’t know. Originally it was to say that there’s a lot of stuff I don’t like, and that absolutely doesn’t mean that I don’t like anything. It was also to say that new good things aren’t necessarily replacing old bad things. That’s too simplistic. It was saying that new good things make you think about the old things in different ways and ask different questions. It makes you appreciate why you like what you like more somehow. It also makes you want more of it so you’ll try and go get it. It also means you have less time to suffer through garbage. It’s pretty awesome.