February 28, 2010

You should read these

I just looked over First Parish Gorham, of which I've already blogged about (November 2009). If anyone really liked that Agnostic Christianity post Reverend Butler did, then read these two from 2010.

It's all beyond us


I so wish this guy was my minister. Or that I lived where I could get to talk to this guy.

Some reading material

I started reading "The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life" yesterday (I'll probably post a little 'thoughts I had' thing when I'm done with it) and today came upon the page titled "Do Heroes Read and Write", which pretty much says that the protagonists on TV shows, in movies, comics, and books, are rarely seen/read reading or writing.

When I read that, I went 'Yep, that sounds about right.' and took a double-take. Really? So I tried to think of superheroes that you see reading or writing.

There are some you think would do it more. Superman has his job at the Daily Planet as a reporter. He should be shown writing those reports more. Peter Parker has his job at the Daily Bugle, though its as a photographer. I think Bruce Wayne/Batman may write letters occasionally. Dr. Doom should, since he runs his own country and all.

Then there's everyone else. Hank Pym, scientist, doesn't. Reed Richards, scientist, doesn't. Dr. Strange does. Wonder Woman doesn't. I don't think Barbara Gordon does. The Teen Titans don't usually. Neither do the Runaways. The Legion doesn't really, but they're in the future and might not have books or written letters anymore. Thor doesn't. Bruce Banner, scientist and the Hulk, doesn't. Captain America doesn't. None of the X-Men do. I don't believe Flash or Green Arrow or Green Lantern or any of the Justice League do.

What's up with that?

Female Supervillians; and Superheroine movies

Someone went and wrote an article about why we should have more superheroine movies. (Yes, this means a link. Why the Comic-Book Movie Industry Needs a Female Superhero.)

I can't claim to pass any judgement on some of the movies mentioned (Elektra, Supergirl: The Movie) as I haven't seen them, but I did like the Catwoman movie. Sure, it wasn't a bit like the Batman Catwoman, but it was Catwoman! Yay! (except for the outfit. Bleah.) The movie had a nice strong individualistic feminist message, and an interesting historical twist on the whole concept of a "catwoman" (regardless of the fact they completely messed up the Egyptian Mau bit).

It could have been worse. They could have had the character a) brainwashed b)mind-controlled or c) whatever was up with that Tim Burton version; but in a weird messing-with-your-mind thing. This was a bit of the point made in the article. The writing for the female characters is bad; it's not that people don't want a superheroine movie, it's that they don't want a bad superheroine movie.

Halle Berry's Catwoman didn't need someone to push her out a window to get started (well, ok, she kind of did), she didn't need guys around to do stuff, she didn't even need Batman (regardless of how cool Batman really is). Sure, she had that cop guy, and the old lady with all the cats, but quite a bit of it was stuff she did on her own. So yay Catwoman/Selina Kyle/Patience Phillips/whoever.

This whole "it could have been worse" thing was my sole problem(s) with GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra. My brother's problem was that the war everyone was in wasn't Vietnam and all the characters backstories were changed. My problem was the Baroness.

The Baroness is a Russian noble who does evil stuff because she likes doing evil stuff. There's no two ways about it. She also had an interesting on-again, off-again relationship going with Destro. She didn't need rescuing. Usually GI Joe needed rescuing from her. She was more of a relatable character for me than Scarlett or Lady Jaye, mostly because both of them had various romance stuff going on.

The movie Baroness was Duke's old fiance. She got brainwashed/mind-controlled by her supposed-dead brother (who eventually becomes Cobra Commander) to do evil stuff. She was a bit of a whore, honestly. She married the Baron under orders, acts a bit slutty with him (but technically they're married, so...), then is all hard-to-get with Destro. Apparently she was fighting the whole mind-control craziness. I'd be mostly OK with all the previous stuff. If she had defeated the mind-controlling on her own, then she'd still be the Person To Be Feared. No one else was able to throw off the mind control. But she has to wait for Duke to show up and be all "Anna! I know you're not like this! Come back to me!" and has to wait for her brother to be almost mind-controlling him to finally throw it, and even then she gets handicapped. Duke has to carry her out. They get in one of those submarine things MARS has lying around. This was a potential opportunity for the Baroness/Anna to show her stuff. But no. She sits in the backseat all "Oh, Duke! Thank you for saving me! You're such a manly man! I couldn't do it without you!"
That's when I stopped caring about the Baroness. That was not the Baroness I saw on the movie theater screen. That was some random plot/romance device that the writers cooked up as an ill-concieved subplot.

My other problem (quite a bit smaller) was with Scarlett. She had a great "I can do it better than you" thing going on at the beginning. I could have gone with the "Emotions are illogical" bit she had going later too. Ripcord kept trying to hit on her, which completely was not working, and they had a nice friendship-bonding scene after the Baroness and Storm Shadow came and stole the briefcase with the bomb codes in it. Then they all got to the Cobra/MARS base and suddenly she's kissing Ripcord. This marks the point I stop buying Scarlett. They completely turned around a perfectly good character for another ridiculous romance subplot.

Incidentally, I have issues with some other characters, too. Rex/Cobra Commander/Anna's brother was some random character, presumably made to try and explain the Baroness's idiotic characterization. Duke annoyed me to no end. He was the "new guy who's perfect at everything". I liked Ripcord, but what got to me was the line "When we average your scores with Duke's, you pass". GI Joe are supposed to be the best-of-the-best; not the best (worse) of the cliches and his sidekick. I really like Snake Eyes, but he got beat by Duke and Snake Eyes is the resident Super-Ninja. He is the SUPER. NINJA. He should not have been beaten by Duke (the embodiment of the most annoying cliche ever: guy who's best at everything). Storm Shadow was the other Super-Ninja, and I liked the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow dynamic. I would have liked Dr. Mindbender better as the guy in Rex's role (I actually thought Rex was Dr. Mindbender until they had the reveal/flashback scene in the ending). Destro was good. Zartan was pure genius. Heavy Duty was a bit of the "big African tough guy" stereotype. If they wanted a "big African tough guy", they should have used Roadblock. Then we could have a "big African tough guy" who occasionally speaks in rhyme. General Hawk wasn't really in the movie enough to have any characterization. I liked Breaker a lot.

I just realized how much I disliked the characterization in this movie. Also: wow, this is such an off-topic rant.

I guess it accomplished the point, though. Bad characterization=not a good movie.

So, to recap:
Catwoman: Win
Scarlett: Fail
Baroness: Fail
Hawk: Works
Snake Eyes: Win
Storm Shadow: Win
Duke: Fail
Ripcord: Works
Breaker: Win
Heavy Duty: Works
Rex/Cobra Commander: Fail
Dr. Mindbender: Fail
Destro: Works
Zartan: Win

Movies that I would like to see:
Another Catwoman
A Legion of Superheroes Movie (so many good characters to choose from, so little time...)
A good Supergirl one
Birds of Prey/Oracle/Black Canary (any/either one)
Another Batman
A Runaways movie
and some others I'm sure I'm forgetting....

February 22, 2010

For those of you with long memories...

Anyone remember my comment-post quite a bit back about science and comics (October 2009)? Someone I know found a pertaining article. So guess what that means... links!

Scientifically Accurate Superheroes? Don't Count on It.

February 16, 2010

Robins and Ravens

Apparently the snow has brought out a lot of birds, for whatever reason. First there were reams (for lack of a better word, and for the sake of alliteration) of robins. Then there were unkindnesses (that's really what they're called) of ravens. I submit to you my pictures.

Snow Pictures

There's about three feet of it or so, for those of you who may have trouble discerning the fact.

February 15, 2010

This was an essay. Almost.

I had to write an essay on one of three topics:
  • Genius and Idiosyncrasy
  • Fashion
  • Stereotypes

I was free to do whatever I wanted within those topics, as long as I was in the 300-500 word limit. This was my first version of the essay, in an attempt to combine the "Genius and Idiosyncrasy" topic with the "Stereotypes" topic. It tops out at 527 words. Read and enjoy.

Throughout mass media, there are certain cliches that have penetrated the collective American conscious. In nearly every TV show and movie made within the last 20 years, there are certain stereotypes present. The athletic jock. The preppy cheerleader. The rebel loner. Some of the most persistent characterizations are those of the ‘genius’ characters in the stories. Socially awkward, strangely dressed, and sometimes psychopathic; they are some of the most easily visually recognized characters.
One of the most annoying characterizations of the ‘genius’ character is the socially awkward aspect. The character will be perfectly fine if there is anything to do with knowledge in an academic area, usually math, but as soon as it comes to talking with other people and being social; they can no longer function. Perhaps this seems truth in the real world; certainly the smartest people I know are in no way social butterflies. I myself enjoy ‘alone-time’ much better than socializing. This is not, however, because I do not know how to function in society. It is because I consistently either have to wait for most everyone else to catch up with me or I have to tell them straight off what I am doing. The only solution is to find people on the same level as me or immerse myself in a conversation where people are talking about a subject I have no knowledge of. Alternately, I can simply not talk to anyone and think on my own time. I much prefer to do that then try to stand people who seem unable to keep up.
The easiest way to identify the ‘genius’ of the story to look at what the characters are wearing. Usually the ‘genius’ will look formal and unfashionable. Pocket protectors in button-up shirts, neatly combed hair, glasses, slacks, and dressy shoes. How many people do you actually ever see dressed like that? Sure, every so often there are nice shirts and ties around in school; but have you ever really truly seen someone looking like the ‘genius nerd/dork/geek’? I thought not. Most of the time, clothes don’t matter to me that much. I get functional stuff I like and some fancy things and I’m done. I’ll wear whatever I find in the morning that fits the weather and is most convenient then boom, off to breakfast. No fashion-y stuff. No tight jeans, no dipping necklines, no strappy sandals or flats and nary a trace of makeup in sight. So, clothes don’t matter as much to the smart ‘genius’ type, but it’s not as if we go around looking stupid. Also, how are nice clothes somehow more obnoxious than having to look at someone’s underwear while they’re walking? In decent circles, that’s called mooning.
The last bit of unhappiness that I have with the ‘genius’ stereotype, is, unfortunately, only a slight misconception. It’s what should probably be called “mad scientist syndrome”. How many times has there been a school shooting announced where the shooter was described as a ‘high-honors student’? So smart people in media become dorks on one end and psychotic on the other. I blame the news for this bias.
The point: the ‘genius’ stereotype is incorrect.

The Vancouver Opening and some links to places

Yes, I know its been over a month since I've posted. It's just nothing interesting has happened lately and I don't feel like boring you with the minutae of my life. There will be pictures of the snow here as soon as the computer starts liking my digital photographs again.

How many people watched the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics? My very favorite part of the whole thing was the fact that the ceremony planners did so much with the native Canadian peoples. Unfortunately, I cannot find any videos of this portion of the ceremony. Which is very sad. I would like to know more about the peoples and take more looks at all the culture dispersed throughout the first portion of the ceremony; but all I can find is the Parade of Nations and those violin/tap dancing Scottish-looking people.

And the links. Please note that this time instead of feminist issues the links are for transgender issues.

"When Politics and Privilege meets Comics, Part One-- Transgender Issues"

Language Warning- offensive slurs
"Why Anti-Oppression Is Serious Business"