I finally got to see “Knights of Badassdom,” the larping comic horror movie that got announced with much fanfare awhile back and then was buried in distributor hell. While it was clear the independent production had a few budget issues for special effects and the film was a bit more bloody horror than we’d expected, the geek-honored cast embraced the story with full out silliness and style. The feel was very much like Bruce Campbell’s “My Name is Bruce,” and duly honored live action role playing in its satire. Ryan Kwanten, Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, Jimmi Simpson, Brett Gipson, and Danny Pudi star and Joshua Malina does a cameo. Margarita Levieva was particularly excellent as the demon accidentally conjured up, (taking on the visage of Ryan Kwanten’s character’s ex-girlfriend,) and got downright spooky. Don’t try it if you don’t like slapstick and gore, but it was better and more fun than a lot of thrillers I’ve seen this year. I recommend it for all lovers of noble paladins, giant ape monsters, and Peter Dinklage swinging swords while waiting for “Game of Thrones” to start back up.
Category Archives: SFFH
The television show Firefly basically became, with one short season on Fox in the U.S. and a follow-up movie, Serenity, for the fans, the mini-series that could. Over a decade after its ending, it’s still loved and feted internationally, and hosts an empire of comics, toys, models, games and merchandise. (My daughter currently has an official Jane hat in her room.)
One of those purveyors of “geek” merchandise, Loot Crate, does subscription gift boxes, and to promote its newest one, it decided to fund a “fan” short film in the Firefly universe, employing the help of several Firefly fan organizations and having Quantum Mechanix, the creators of Firefly Online, do the ship model effects. The result is “The Verse”, a 17-minute short film on the Web that looks and feels close to Joss Whedon’s western with spaceships, with characters loosely similar to the original show’s, but different enough in ways that make them rather interesting.
“The Verse” appears to have had official permission or at least no official objection from the show’s rights holders, since it’s helping sell Firefly merchandise and it’s free. And for us Browncoats, it’s both a pleasant shot of an old fix and a murmur of hope that maybe an official Web or t.v. spin-off of Firefly might get off the ground somewhere. I wouldn’t mind seeing more chapters of “The Verse,” in any case, though the actors need to get a little more comfortable with the dialogue style.
So if you want to have some fun, take a gander at a labor of love and commerce that still charms our attention:
Normally after I’d done a mini-rant on how Wonder Woman is getting marginalized and washed down, I wouldn’t plop down another group of diversity writing links so soon after, but there’s been a lot happening this particular spring and summer, a lot of it deeply saddening. The good side is that a lot of people have been writing interesting pieces on the issues, pulling up stats and social research, explaining for the umpteenth time what privilege is — since people seem to have a very hard time understanding that not being discriminated against in the society for being in a demographic group is actually a privilege that has wide ranging effects. But since I was otherwise occupied, those pieces I thought worth looking at piled up. You may have seen some of these already, but they are here for your reference. This batch is from earlier in the year, plus one older one:
1) Soraya L. Chemaly looks at how women’s speech is suppressed and erased on an every day basis, starting in childhood, with lots of lovely links to research studies, in “10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn“.
2) David Mura adds some interesting thoughts in the wake of discussions over author Junot Diaz’s piece on MFA degrees regarding people of color, in “POV on the Response to Junot Diaz’s MFA Vs. POC“.
3) Anne Ursu on her blog looks at how women YA and children’s writers get erased and the issue of diversity problems in children’s/YA publishing in her piece called, “‘The John Green Effect’, Contemporary Realism and Form as a Political Act“.
4) Devin Faraci at BadAss Digest looks at the inequality towards female directors in Hollywood and film in “2002’s K-19 is the Most Expensive Live Action Film from a Female Director“.
5) Model View Culture‘s Editors penned “An Open Letter on Feminism in Tech” about sexism in the tech industry.
6) Todd Harper at Polygon talks about the suppression of diversity in games and the particular excuse that having diversity destroys enjoyment in “Erasing Your Audience Isn’t ‘Fun’“.
7) Vixy, a blogger, writes about the answers to the question “What am I supposed to do about it?” regarding discrimination in society, in “So What Am I Supposed to Do About It? #YesAllWomen“.
8) Arthur Chu writes at The Daily Beast about the sexist scripts male “nerds” are taught in “Your Princess is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds“.
9) Damien Walter at The Guardian talks about diversity in SFF and regarding awards issues in “Science Fiction’s Real-Life War of the Worlds“.
10) SorryWatch talks about sexism towards female athletes in “Wanted: #1-ranked Tennis Player, No Fatties“.
11) Andy Duncan has a brief word for pals complaining that there’s too much complaining about diversity in “Politics in SF, What Side Am I On?“.
12) And finally, one from 2012 that I was introduced to, by Doug Muder, on privilege, that I thought was very apt, “The Distress of the Privileged“.
Getting back in the saddle again, and one of the funnier things that happened when I was on hiatus was the release of photos from the supremely weird DC Comics movie venture, Batman v. Superman.
I have not had occasion to write about Wonder Woman for several years, largely because nothing much was happening with Wonder Woman. The television series was scrapped, the new look and new story version of Wonder Woman in the comics (the comfy pajamas look,) went bye-bye at the conclusion of that alternate universe idea, and she returned to an outfit that was a variation of the older version that also is in the animated stories, and got another slightly changed origin story. And of course, there was no Wonder Woman film on the horizon because it was “too hard” for them to do apparently.
Then came word that Wonder Woman might be in the possibly going to get made Justice League movie, DC’s attempt to build a Marvel-style multi-franchise. And then it was announced that she would have some sort of bit part in Batman vs. Superman, and be played by actress Gal Gadot. Shortly before and at the San Diego ComicCon, DC released some promotional stills that included the new movie Wonder Woman in her new costume.
What were they going to do? Would they go with the classic signature stars bathing suit, (which originally had a skirt that got shorter and shorter and then removed,) like they did in the t.v. show of the 1970’s? Would they put her in pants, like the comics attempted and they’d planned for the t.v. show? Would she have a full out unitard like Batman and Superman? Here’s what they went with:
That might seem a tad familiar:
Yep, they made Wonder Woman into Xena: Warrior Princess. This is not entirely unfair, as the look and some parts of the character of Xena were loosely modeled after Wonder Woman (ancient Greco-Roman don’t you know,) but the similarities are quite striking. Wonder Woman now has, like Xena, a sword, over the knee boots, bracers on her arms instead of bracelets, a leather doublet, a skirt of leather strap panels, all turned a dark wine red color akin to Xena’s reddish brown outfit.
In other words, their solution to the not really a problem costume problem was to go with yet another generic (and still impractical) style of costume — the fantasy lady quest warrior. Other than that she still has the lasso attached to her hip, you’d be very hard press to know that this picture of Gal Gadot was Wonder Woman unless you were told, and not instead a photo of some new character for the next 300 film sequel.
The irony of course is that in keeping their rebooted Superman, Henry Cavill, who is firmly rooted in the modern world, and having an aged version of Batman, played by Ben Affleck, DC/Warner actually had some grounds for giving Wonder Woman one of the more contemporary looks to match them. Instead, they went pseudo-ancient, so perhaps Wonder Woman is popping in from another dimension to borrow a cup of sugar. And when she does, she’ll be just another generic if kick-ass female, not distinctive, iconic, her own person. Not red and blue and gold — because Superman wears red and blue. Not immediately recognizable, like Batman in his unchanging black cowl. Just a female in red leather with a sword who could have been called anything.
Here’s hoping that they don’t decide to cut her out of the movie altogether in the end. Because for the last 75 years of Wonder Woman history, she is apparently very, very scary just as herself.
I absolutely hate the entire concept of Mary Sue, which I regard as an incredibly sexist device for trying to slam female writers of fan or published fiction, and very ignorant when applied to published authors in understanding how they work. (And no, don’t bother to bring up Gary Stu; nobody cares about that and they came up with it as a sop to critics that Mary Sue was too unfair. It’s a sexist knockdown and always has been.)
So as such, I was not entirely comfortable with the name of the feminist website The Mary Sue, even though they were in a sense knocking the sexism of the term. Their tagline was “A Guide to Geek Girl Culture,” however, and they covered geek culture from a female slant and focused on women’s voices and participation in that culture which is a good thing. I did read articles from there that sounded interesting that people made me aware of, and I did link to some of their articles, finding them interesting and useful and with good info about upcoming geek releases. Above all, for many female fans, The Mary Sue was a safe space where they could talk about geek culture and be heard without being attacked, sneered at and having their conversations derailed by the usual troll attitudes.
However, The Mary Sue is owned by a media company and that company decided to A) merge the successful Mary Sue site with a less successful general geek site on their slate; B) strip off all the woman stuff to make the site more “inclusive,”; C) bring in male editor/writers who have no clue how to do PR with feminist readers and let them shoot their mouths off; and D) bring along a bevy of troll comment makers to whine about the annoying women-folk.
Abrams Media is owned by Dan Abrams, a lawyer and news commentator and general feminist supporter. So why he and his staff decided to gender wash The Mary Sue when it was one of their most successful operations is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the advertisers, as advertisers so often do, demanded the change. But the reality is that once a site does this, it’s probably not coming back. The female Editor-in-Chief is already pleading that she has orders coming down from on high and that really, they aren’t going to ditch the ladies, but you know, inclusion and changes, etc. Odds are, she may not get to stay in that position long.
So it’s a shame, but hopefully other sites will fill in the new gap, as well as existing sites. Here’s the deal: sites that focus on feminist issues, women characters and female creators in geek culture are “inclusive” precisely because they are doing that — they are making sure areas that usually get excluded, excised and ignored because they are about women are included in the conversation, and doing so with the understanding that those conversations are actually of interest to all genders. Having to dump feminist content to be “inclusive” is an argument that means you want to exclude that very vibrant and vital part of geek culture from the conversation and stick to the social default — male issues, characters and voices. If that’s how you explain what it is you are doing, then you’ve already hoisted your flag that not only are you not women friendly, you feel more comfortable with them shut out, especially when any topic involving marginalization occurs.
As soon as The Mary Sue dumped its tagline, it was dead on arrival. It seems unlikely a really strong phoenix version will rise from its ashes, given the statements they’ve made so far. So rest in peace, The Mary Sue. Let’s hope your writers can find other venues.