Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

Iron Man 3 May 6, 2013

Filed under: Movies — Micah Griffin @ 08:38
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I don’t have time to do a bigger review of it and if I wait I’ll forget too much stuff. So here we go.

So, this movie does this really gross thing where it uses physically disabled people as literal weapons. The plot of the movie centers around a series of explosions that no one can explain or stop.

We find out that these explosions are people who are missing limbs. The program can grow limbs back but it might explode you if you can’t figure it out. They also turn you into a super soldier. But if you can’t accept the treatment or get fixed you will explode in a way that leaves nuclear shadows like in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seriously. They did that.

None of these bomb people are characters. They are literally all nameless thugs (except for the end boss). Who wasn’t missing any limbs, just couldn’t walk well.

Oh. Quick side note. Tony Stark exhibits signs of PTSD centering around the events of the warp hole in the Avengers. Did they do anything cool with that? No. Not at all. He just freaks out twice. That’s it. He fixes his social anxiety by blowing up all of his iron man suits. So now he’s fine. I’m taking bets on whether or not when he becomes iron man again if he’ll have his anxiety back. I’ll give you my Ultimate Iron Man toy if he does.

Okay. So the next thing is that Tony makes everyone in his life dependent on him. No one can do anything without Tony. Pepper is totally dependent on tony, Rhodes is to a lesser extent dependent on tony to be a super hero near the end of the movie. He refers to her as an object. She’s the thing that’s most important to him. He also refers to fixing her. Like he fixes other stuff in his life. But she isn’t a thing, she’s a person, and you don’t fix people. Pepper gets to wear the iron man suit only to save tony and then tony just kind of takes it from her without knowing if she’s safe or not. It’s a little thing, but annoying. The other female character is really confusing and ends up being shot for absolutely no reason. She’s just not well fleshed out.

So this brings us to the thing that so many people like and I just do not understand in the slightest. Ra’s Al Ghul.

Or the Mandarin. Similar issue. Much worse here though. So they set up Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, a vaguely ethnic bin laden esque character. He’s a brown terrorist taking pictures with loving brown people and small brown kids talking about how evil america is and how it’s going to have justice done upon it. This, of course, causes America to send Don Chedle to attack a bunch of poor brown people (at least he doesn’t actually attack anyone. He just kind of talks to people awkwardly). Anyway, turns out to no one’s surprise that The Mandarin is an actor.

People are applauding this. It just makes me sick. So they movie spends all this time building up this Islamaphobia situation and then, as it turns out, it’s just a rich white dude pulling the strings of people of color (as tends to happen in these super hero movies). So here we are where brown people have no agency and get to take the blame for the evil actions of white men, and this is in no way examined. They just leave it out there. I’m just so confused as to why people are so excited, like “I’m so happy that the brown people were just pawns and there’s going to be no end of political fallout from this and inside this country there aren’t going to be untold number of brown people who are harassed and killed as a response to this bogey man brown person! YAY!”

Remember just a few weeks back when Reddit falsely identified random brown person as the dude who planted bombs at the marathon? Remember what happened? Remember the brown dude who was running away from the bomb and the white people tackled him and detained him until the police could detain and interrogate him even though he had nothing to do with anything because we just assumed because he was brown that he had something to do with it? Remember when that white dude shot up a Sikh temple last year? Remember all the rhetoric spouted about how we have to take away rights from any Muslims and spy in their mosques and tap their phones and all that? How easily we forget. So when, in Iron Man 3, they set up fake brown terrorist as the fall guy for their weapons (which let’s not forget, are people. Not people with bombs strapped to them. But they are people, who were previously missing limbs, and then they explode. They’re objects) misfiring.  That’s it. It’s not smart commentary. It’s trafficking in the same racism people claim they’re satirizing or whatever. They didn’t flip anything on any heads anywhere.

They turn physically disabled people into bombs with no agency of their own. Pepper Potts needs to be locked in stark’s place to be protected. She gets weak kneed at white guy villain being totally creepy and going sexual harassment at her. Then when she doesn’t need protection any more Tony has to fix her. And fictional brown terrorist just shows that brown people can really only get roles as terrorist. Oh, I love the scene where all the girls in the generic middle eastern clothes plant are soo greatful to the american robot for freeing them. The fact that the person in charge was blonde explodey girl doesn’t make anything better at all, because recycling the image of poor brown girls being thankful for american militaries coming in to destroy their worlds is still disgusting.

So yeah, I hated Iron Man 3. A lot. And I’m not fighting with you about this.

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SFF Community Face Check September 13, 2012

Filed under: Books,comics,Movies,Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 19:47
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This is a post that’s treading a lot of old ground, but all the recent stuff going on in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy (and speculative genre fiction as a whole) made me think about it again. All this genre fiction is phenomenally racist and comes from places of phenomenal racism. Yeah exceptions, but look at the whole of it. Old days it was a bunch of white dudes patting themselves on the back for writing thinly disguised social commentaries that made themselves feel smart. Now it’s white dudes and white chicks doing the same shit and not really saying anything. It’s this big joke that no one is actually in on. The genre is filled to the gills with people  high on their own supply of white liberal bullshit.

Think about different races of fantasy/sci fi characters. Note how absurdly monolithic they all are, not just in appearance, but in cultures and motivations. Note how that’s how they deal with their ideas on racism. It’s always some white people coming into contact with aliens of some sort and they make a bunch of allusions to superficial conflicts and racism is bad, except for when it’s necessary because those aliens are uniformly out for blood and murder.

It’s no real secret, but that’s how white people view race relations. All of us different monsters are monolithic in appearance and approach to life. We’re not nearly as good as the default humans and our complaints are minor and could be easily fixed with some nice white intervention. We either desperately need help, or are too angry and need to be killed off or otherwise controlled in some way. The most we’ll get is a seemingly advanced society that is secretly even MORE awful at it’s core than the white people who come in to fix the problem could have ever realized. These magic alien societies are always corrupt. Unless they’re super white elves (shout out to Pratchett again for being awesomer than all his peers on that) who are more white and more pure than even the humans could hope to be.

I actually have a decently low tolerance for this kind of story telling because I didn’t grow up reading this stuff. I read crime fiction and military thrillers. There were always people of color around in those books. All the big genre heavyweights are ultra conservative pro guns pro military anti non white people white men, and yet, their books were a million times more inclusive. Looking back, now that I’ve spent so much of the last eight to ten years reading the Science Fiction/Fantasy stuff it is staggering how different the worlds are.

The reason is that on the whole, political thrillers, military thrillers, action suspense, spy novels and all that stuff over there doesn’t pat itself on the back. The people I talked to about those books growing up weren’t doing dances of joy about how progressive they were. They knew they weren’t. Dudes had guns strapped to guns strapped onto cannons on the back of their ford trucks. They didn’t give two shits about the idea of inclusiveness or any of that liberal nonsense. Their social commentary was blunt and the ideas didn’t match up with mine at all, really, but somehow it all felt less offensive. It was less skeevy that what seems to have been going on in SFF for the past sixty or so years.

David Palmer wasn’t president to make some sort of  political statement. He was president cause Dennis Haysbert was cool. Did Jack Bauer single handedly reduce the Arab-American population by half? Probably, and that’s fucked up. Thing is, no one is talking about how progressive a character Jack Bauer is. There aren’t legions of Jack Bauer fans talking about how Sunrow and Cochran (the show creators) are so feminist friendly and so forward thinking on issues of race. So when I say “it’s kinda fucked up how Jack killed Curtis and we quickly ran out of Black CTU agents” I’m met with a much less violent form of resistance. They get regular defensive because of race issues. Often times there’s a “Oh shit! I didn’t even notice.” There’s push back, but it isn’t the same as this conversation.

“How come there are no Chinese  people in this future where everyone speaks Chinese?”

“Oh, Joss probably did that on purpose as some sort of statement”

“What kind of statement? I’m too lazy to find Chinese actors to put in my tv show that I deliberately set in a universe where Chinese is the only language spoken other than English?”

“Why you bringing race into this? The show is brilliant. I’m sure there was a reason.”

“Yeah, racism.”

“No. You just think everything is racist. The show is full of black people, why aren’t you happy with that, you’re not even Asian.”

“Cause the show takes place in a world where everyone speaks Chinese, and yet.”

*Other person angrily walks away*

I’ve gotten more angry comebacks for talking about race issues the SFF/Super hero stuff than I ever got for talking about race issues in the generic Action Adventure/Thriller worlds. It comes down to the white liberal problem. It’s so hard for people who pride themselves on being forward thinking to be told they aren’t, or at least aren’t as forward thinking as they think they are. I mean. James Patterson is out here killing you guys. David Simon is making you folks look silly.

I think it’s time for everyone involved in SFF to take a step back. Stop congratulating yourselves on barely doing shit other genres have done before, and sometimes better. Not just writers and editors, but fans too. Especially the fans. Figure this shit out. You’re not nearly as good as you think you are, and it’s high time you recognized it. At your big stage you guys cheered on a stalker and dared anyone to say something. You’re a joke. You can spit as much game as you like about doing big shit, but we don’t believe you. You need more people.

 

Ruby Sparks: White Dude Rape Fantasy July 22, 2012

Filed under: Movies,Social Commentary,Social Justice — Micah Griffin @ 08:51
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So Clare and I went to the movies last night to see “Beasts of the Souther Wild” at the manor theater, and as a result got to see trailers for small movies no one cares about. Right out of the gate we were treated to the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.

Here’s the trailer TW awful stuff

It is unbelievable how this is being played off. Not actually, but it’s disgusting. It’s disgusting because it’s being played for laughs. The line goes “You can make her do whatever you want. For the sake of men everywhere you can’t let this opportunity go to waste.” What. The. Fuck?

So the movie is about some guy who can’t write, and then gets inspiration. He starts writing about a girl and he falls in love with her in his head. Then magically she shows up, but she’s all a part of his imagination, but she’s actually real. She exists in the world. At first I thought it was just “Manic Pixie Dream Girl: The Movie” Then it took this even creepier turn. The whole movie is just a white guy imagining his perfect woman who has no control over any part of her life. She exists purely to make him happy. Or to make him feel alive or feel anything. She’s a plot for his non existent novel.

HE CAN MAKE HER DO ANYTHING HE WANTS. She has no ability to consent or not. ANYTHING that she does is up to him. It’s all his fantasy, and it’s incredibly disgusting. Especially since the movie is played for laughs and it’s going to be praised for how much heart it has and how romantic it looks.

 

You Guys Have No Idea How Much I Loved Amazing Spider-Man July 7, 2012

You honestly don’t. It’s just so much. Some of you may not know this, but Peter Parker and I go way back. You could say we were boys. We kind of grew up together. He helped me learn how to read, learn how to joke, learn how to deal with bullies, and a bunch of other useful life tips. But Pete is weird and went through a phase in his life where he had to figure himself out. I had to leave him for a while. Then Petey figured out he was a young kid entering high school at the same time I was. We hooked up and were boys again ever since. Right up until he died. That was rough, but he was easily replaced once I met Miles (that’s an entirely different story, though).

So, they were going to reboot spider-man again. Only ten years after the first Spidey movie came out, we had to deal with his origin again. I gotta be honest, spidey’s origin was never my favorite part of his story. But whatever, it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to see this movie.

Let’s get this out of the way first. It’s only been ten years. This movie covers the same beats we had before. Pete is a nerd, gets bit by a spider, does the same thing I would’ve done (especially in this situation), Uncle Ben dies, Pete is sad. Has a mentor, mentor is working on super important Oscorp project, mentor has to prove it works or ELSE (seriously, this happens in EVERY SINGLE SPIDER-MAN MOVIE), spidey has to stop the mess that he is somewhat responsible for, cause power. Sorry about the spoilers! (But seriously, it’s spidey’s origin. What did you expect?)

Anyway, this movie won my heart because of how it handled all of these things. First and foremost this is my Peter Parker. I liked the Toby McGuire version well enough, but when you see this version you will get so much more of what I like about Spider-man. Dude is, straight up, an ass hole. Like, all the way ass. When he is Peter Parker, he is ALL THE WAY AKWARD. I may never watch this movie again because of the awkwardness. It’s soooo hard for me to deal with. Because it hurts. Sure it’s done up for movies, but it felt so much like high school awkward shit that it hurt me in my heart. Oh my. Then there’s Gwen Stacy.

I like Spidey’s universe when MJ is around. When they did that stupid shit in the comics where they tried to get rid of MJ I thought it was an awful idea. He doesn’t need to be dating her (and I think it works 4240% better when they’re not being romantic) but she needs to be around. That said, if we’re going to get this Gwen Stacy then keep MJ as far away as possible. Seriously. Just like in the Spectacular Spider-man cartoon Gwen is a BOSS. Science smart and common sense smart. Never a damsel in distress. And what a relief that is to have this movie without worrying about her every four seconds. It made it better to watch, and honestly, more believable. Her and Pete have fantastic moments between them. The chemistry is great, and the awkward scenes of awkward made me turn into a puddle of mess in the theater.

This movie also made me not hate Denis Leary. Sally Field did her best Sally Field impersonation (and I hope we get much more of her in a sequel). Martin Sheen was totally Martin sheen. Glad he’s out of the way.

Let’s cut to the chase though. Spider-man is like, the coolest super hero ever. He swings around New York (which, outside of Dubai, Shanghai, and Tokyo may be the best city to swing around). He is an absolute ass hole to the people he fights. He is totally the most heart broken dude around all the time. He gets all the hero stuff so so right. And then there’s a scene right in the middle of the movie (just skip to the next paragraph to avoid small spoilers). There’s a car that fell off a bridge with a kid inside that’s on fire. Spidey wants to get the kid out of the car, and in order to do so takes off his mask and gives it to the kid. I was so done. Cause it was so a spidey move. Kid is freaked all the way out and spidey makes him feel like he is spider-man just long enough to get the job done. Like. UGH! Then there’s the scene at the end of the movie when Spidey beats the crap out of like seven super cops. Loved it. Then there was the scene where things are going to pot, and the people help spidey and spidey goes all super spidey on them and I was dead in my seat.  Like, dead. I’m not sure they could’ve done a better job (a better job might have been able to be done, but not by these people with these set of expectations and what they needed to do with a so soon reboot) and getting to a lot of the stuff that makes spider-man so freaking great.

So really, I loved this movie more than I figured I would. I was able to get past how it was treading on stuff we’ve already seen not too long ago. But that’s also part of the charm. I’m ten years older than I was, and it took me right back to feeling how I felt at seeing spider-man on the screen for the first time. Now it’s even better because I’m able to articulate my feelings better. Not only that, but when Spider-man came out in 2002 I had some fifteen issues of Ultimate Spider-Man under my belt? Now I have about 180 maybe? Yeah, a lot. I’m in a different place in my life, so how I relate to Peter Parker is entirely different. What hasn’t changed is that when done right, there isn’t an established property that Marvel or DC has that can make me feel the way Spider-Man can. Just nothing. (okay, we all know that seeing a blood syndicate movie might could do that, but that shit aint gonna happen).

How I watch Movies side note: Two POC with speaking parts. One an evil henchman, one a cab driver. The evil henchman had lots of evil henchman screen time and was very very good. Poor Cab driver (didn’t die) but definitely wasn’t around long.

 

Look, I’m not saying Merida’s Hair isn’t cool July 3, 2012

It is just super annoying that people are having orgasm sessions over the rendering of this white girl’s hair. It’s super unkempt and therefor gorgeous and how amazing is it that Pixar took all this time and money to work on making it look great. They really spent like six years getting this right? It was so important to have all those curls render independently and have all the good collision detection. That was such a key feature.

Why does this annoy me? Because they’ll never put that kind of work into a black character’s hair. Especially not someone who intentionally leaves their hair curly. All black characters have stock afros, buzz cuts, big fat sticky dreads, or a funny box. That’s it. For black women specifically it’s always super white society presentable, no matter what the actual style of it is. If it’s in a Pixar movie… .well, they don’t actually exist. Yeah, there’s only the stereotypical black woman’s voice from Incredibles. That’s it. (not even any black toys)

It’s frustrating to see so much praise go to pixar for spending untold millions of dollars on this white girl’s hair and they won’t spend a dime on putting a black girl in a movie. We’re never going to hear about how pixar spent millions of dollar trying to figure out how to get my hair to look and act properly on screen. (My hair is big, and nappy, and only partially dreaded in some areas, and drives white people up a wall).

It isn’t just that they spent time and money on her hair either. It’s the specifics of it. It was supposed to be wild and loose because she’s wild and loose and can’t be tamed or whatever. Somehow it still manages to be conventionally attractive and perfect. No tangles or knots, just perfect curls everywhere. Gotta keep this white chick perfect. The thing is, this goes along with the idea that her hair can be completely unmanaged, and still beautiful. That doesn’t work for black people. Unprocessed or unmanaged hair is a sign of laziness, bad parenting, stupidity, lack of education, and a number of other things. There’s just the assumption that there’s something wrong with us if our hair isn’t in societally perfect condition.

So yay to her for having her hair do weird stuff. Yay to Pixar for making sure they got every intricate detail of that right. And hooray to them for continuing their streak of not paying one millionth that amount of detail to character casting choices. Here’s some more praise for all the work you haven’t and never will do getting black folks to look right at all in your movies. I do have one piece of advice though.

I know that developing and programming all these movies is hard, but this one little tip will help.

For your next  movie. Just try adding one actual black character to it. Just try it. Not a cameo appearance, but an actual character. You can’t make them better until you actually start doing it.

But of course you have no interest in that, because there’s no money in it for you guys to animate black people. (wouldn’t hurt if you hired a couple too, but we won’t get into that.)

 

A little why I have strong dislike towards Zooey Deschanel January 4, 2012

The problem with all of Zooey Deschanel’s characters is the problem we often get with sexist ideas in general. It demeans all women outside of her because she’s exceptional and anyone who disagrees is upholding the traditional patriarchy. That’s weird, because it’s exactly what she’s doing. She’s saying that by being more like a dude she’s cool.

Not only this, but the things she does to be more like a dude are super mainstream things that traditionally have a lot of female participants. Lord of the Rings? Really? This isn’t even getting into the stupid ideas we have about gender roles and fandom or the demonization of traditionally female things that have a negative impact on society as a whole. Zooey Deschanel (and any other people in her archetypes, of the “exceptional females” and “Manic Pixie Dreamgirls”) never actually does anything to challenge notions of gender in society. Her characters, too busy being not so weird, never look for the female companionship they claim to both want and spurn at the same time. They’ve never heard of geek girl con. They never look to the male companions who ooh and ahh over her love of overalls and say ‘actually guys, this isn’t special, it’s just who I am.’ Zooey never seems to play a character with genuine interest in nerdy stuff, she just does it to not be like other women and get sympathy because all the men don’t want her. Zooey’s entire identity is wrapped up that special brand of quirk.

One final note. I’ve never seen a Zooey Deschanel character that couldn’t find an appropriate partner if she wanted one. The thing is, her character wouldn’t work if she stopped doing weird things to off put suitors. If suddenly the character is actually just like all other women (you know? people who are just like everyone else but have an entire lifetime of experiences that form quirks of personality and don’t actually fit into any pre defined social categories because all of them are too narrow to fit people who don’t try to fit into them) and stopped trying to put on the front of exceptionality then we have almost the exact same character that doesn’t feel like someone spitting into the eyes of other women every time they step on screen.

 

 

No, that’s actually just a terrible excuse December 8, 2011

Filed under: Books,comics,Movies,Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 16:24

There’s this thing that happens where people love to excuse all the bad isms in things. I’m currently reading a book, a second in a series, that has a bit of problem with ideas on female agency and what it means for the males around them. Often times we get this “getting beat by a gurl is so degrading” shtick. This stinks, it’s just something dumb and unnecessary. It hardly needs stating that this sentiment just reaffirms the ideas we have that women are lesser beings and that men being topped by them in any regard is unseemly.

The excuse given for this from people; It’s the setting. We love writing these faux regency fantasy books where so much is absolutely different than regent times but we have to stick to the same ideas of gender and race that we have today. We can’t progress that any because it wouldn’t be authentic. Authentic like fucking magic and shit. Dragons and special swords and shit. That’s cool, but progressive ideas of gender and race are just too far away.

Here’s the thing, everything is fake. We don’t do authentic fiction. It’s fake to begin with. Especially these fantasy novels. There’s no excuse for it other than you hold these ideas yourself. If you’re reading this and you defend it you’re just saying that you think there’s nothing at all wrong with that stuff. When you’re like “it’s authentic that there’s no one but white dudes who do anything in these societies” you’re just supporting a busted system. Also, you’re wrong.

There’s a fundamental lack of historical understanding when it comes to statements like this. It’s only historically accurate in the sense that the people who write European history are elite white men, and it’s been proven over time that they don’t have any reason to think about the other people in society, their existence or their importance. Did stupid ideas like that exist? Absolutely. Those ideas exist right now. Does that mean everyone thinks like that? Does that mean we need to continue pushing this idea? Again, absolutely not. We do it because we’re lazy. We do it because we’re sexist and racist and ablist and homophobic and every other bad thing society teaches us to be.

This is the kicker. We spend hours and hours and hours trying to figure out different things to put into our fictional societies. So much time figuring out governments, classes, magic systems, mythical creatures, different societies, types of city state (well, this less often. normally we see one small sliver of a world), and the little parts, except the social constraints we hold dear. We super stress gender binaries. We handle race in one of three fashions, by making a culture where we claim there’s lots of different colors of people who all act the same because there is no racism and then we focus on our core of white people, by keeping them strictly separated without much thought or reason and allowing one or two different colors of people to bleed in, or we ignore it all together (surprisingly this is somehow still the #1 choice of fantasy writers). Hard to see gays and we never see trans characters. Usually at the most we go LG..b. . . . . .and yeah. We will put in our societies a distaste for people who are not able bodied, but most characters aren’t physically disabled in any way. As far as mental things go we just butcher mental illness. It’s soo soo bad. I don’t think anyone knows medical definitions of insanity, asperger’s, sociopath, autism, psychopath, or schizophrenia. When these characters show up you’re in for a show. They’re often aloof geniuses or murderers. It’s so bad.

Why is it like this though? We’re making everything else from scratch, why do we have to hold to the absolute dumbest parts of these old societies that weren’t any good?

This got away from me. Basically what I’m saying is this. “It’s of the time” is bullsiht. It’s not of that time. Even if parts of it were, that’s not why it’s being included. It’s included because we want it there. We still think that these are right and proper ideas. We think women are weak, non white people don’t exist or are super exotic, the gays are gross, Tqqia don’t exist at all, non able bodied people are a problem, and neurologically atypical people are quirky smart murderers. This is what we think of the world and we are all too lazy to do anything about it so we rest on bullshit excuses.