skywaterblue: (art school perverts)
I haven't been around DW at all much lately. Months, maybe. I'm sort of GAFIAted from active fandom right now. I'm not politically against anything going on, but it increasingly feels like pointless censorship of the best-intentioned sort while the rest of the world is fucking burning down. Just let old codgers like Manara do their thing. JLaw's still going to be an Oscar-award winning millionaire before she turns 30, guys, and maybe weird race porn on AO3 is just weird race porn. Who has time for this shit? I used to care so much, but man, I don't know. We've got bigger stuff going on in the world.

Ukraine. Israel whacking the tar out of Gaza again. ISIS beheading journalists. Syrian refugees. Ferguson. Robin Williams killed himself. Ebola spreading unchecked because we can't solve the first five of those things let alone get our shit together to help impoverished Africans check another plague.

August. What a bitch. I don't think anyone is going to think of August 2014 with any kind of fondness.

I graduated SAIC in May and ground through a couple of months of really bad unemployment and health issues that left me kind of taxed for everything, so that didn't help. I'm feeling great at the moment, however, and I started working part-time at Steppenwolf Theatre in their call-center fundraising department. Everyone is pleasantly artistic and supportive there, so far, from the Artistic Director on down and I'm surprised by how warm and nice it is even if my actual job is something I could have done pre-degree. I'm doing very well so far. It's paying my rent, too, just barely. Not my student loans, but hey. Rent.

Meanwhile, I got accepted into Northwestern University's new "Masters of Science in Creative Leadership" program, which I'm super excited about for a bunch of reasons - but I haven't been able to pay my deposit yet because of the unemployment thing. I'm trying to raise 500 dollars, and frankly, everyone seems either tapped out (I understand) or waaaaay over my struggles to get fancy degrees. I can almost understand that one too.

If you want to help, or can just share it, that would be great. Ideally I'd like to use this program to launch myself into some sort of media gig where I can afford to make the changes we all want to see... or at least get a full time job at a nice arts organization that will keep my life stable.



As far as fandom things go, I enjoyed "Guardians of the Galaxy" a lot for being refreshingly charming and funny. The final scenes of this season of "Legend of Korra" gave me a lot of deep feels. Mainly I just want to escape and unironically enjoy some respite from this world of horrors.

Yes, I have eaten a LOT of Ben and Jerry's this summer, I can tell you this.
skywaterblue: (Default)
Vikings, a History Channel (yes, really) drama that loosely adapt the Ragnar Lothbrok legend for American audiences is a show that shouldn't work for American audiences. There is no brook given for the Viking culture: characters fervently believe in the Gods of the Aesir and willingly participate in human sacrifice without moralizing judgement. Characters rape and plunder, they slaughter Christian priests with abandon and you hope they pull it off. One woman serves as a shield-maid while the other is a high noble's wife; no one in the Earldom finds either role exceptional enough to comment on the differences in their choices, and Ragnar's right-hand man Floki is an inventor and wiseman who appears to be a priest of Loki at the bare minimum.

Very little explanation is given to fill the audience in; you either sink or swim and every episode produces a little alien shock as you get thrust into a cultural situation played out in full by the rules of the Viking world. Characters die frequently on the battlefield, and from illness and mishaps. They make choices no modern human would make, see the Gods in trees and despite this, are surprisingly magnetic.

It is also surprisingly pacey, even for a nine-episode first season. Each three episodes roughly become their own arc, the first being about a plan Ragnar has hatched with Floki to navigate to "the West" - England, a previously unaccomplished goal which the Earl they have sword fielty to has expressly forbidden.

I also want to give special notice to Travis Fimmel as the lead; a former underwear model, he is the dead-sexy kind of lead that I usually associate as being chosen for empty eyed beefcake rather than lead performance. He's actually shockingly, stunningly good at keeping Ragnar from devolving into either pure Magnificent Bastard territory or Woobieism. He's both a man oozing with daring ambition, a good family man, and at once perfectly aligned with his culture. You can't trust him for a minute, but you sure would like to...
skywaterblue: (death)
1. I finally saw "Frozen" which I had been putting off because it looked crappy. As a movie, it's just okay. You can see the seams where they ripped the backbone out of the plot a couple dozen times before splicing it together to make SOMETHING, notably in that it's a Disney Musical where there's exactly one song in the second act and neither the secondary love interest NOR the villains get a number. The inevitably Broadway musical will probably be a lot better, assuming they restore some deleted songs and provide a closing number. That said: QUEEN ELSA. ALL ABOUT QUEEN ELSA. Depressed, angry, dutybound women with magical ice powers and a kingdom to run. Damn right, it's about time one of those Disney Princesses took her throne.

2. Yay, the fandom is full of femmeslash... with her sister. Boo. I don't dig incest fic in the slightest.

3. If I ever see the end of my BFA show piece, I may write some gen and Elsa/OC fic.

4. I only just saw this XKCD but it's already my favorite Hackers fanfic.

skywaterblue: (The Death Star is Not a Moon)


Like watch this video, and then I wrote an email to my Congresswoman about ENDA.

So now I feel like a better human being.
skywaterblue: (neil gaiman would unhappen so much)
I miss feeling fannish about things, especially new things. I feel unusually old all the time - in part because of my health, in part because of money and the feeling that I am continually slipping down the economic ladder and it's leaving me behind, and in large part because all the things I feel really intensely fannish about are about fifteen years old now.

In light of that, I would like to say that I've turned off Neil Gaiman for a while now, but his resurgence of blogging is reminding me why I was so into him for such a long time.
skywaterblue: (Default)
... and trying to apply for private loans, and considering finding a sugar daddy... I decided to put up a GoFundMe.

I am pleasantly surprised to have reached 625 in two days! I am now aiming to crack 1000 in the first week, although I don't know how, because I think I've rather tapped the friends and family who have money to give. I am also considering adding a reward level of postcard sketches for 10 dollars? So maybe I should change the pic to my pen-and-ink self portrait rather than slightly drunk at last year's birthday party.

But what the hey, here it is, please share it! Feedback welcome.

skywaterblue: (Default)
So many truths about fandom and marketing stated so boldly here.

This crazy logic also makes me want to cry, because it ignores the power differential at work here. Having men in a fandom *legitimizes* that fandom. Having women in a fandom that still has men in it just means you’ll sell more shit. But having *mostly women* or the *perception* of mostly women in a fandom does indeed mean a loss of respect; your fandom is taken less seriously, even if it sells like hotcakes and makes lots of people lots of money (romance genre, fan fiction, anyone?).

[...]

Because what ends up happening with a fandom (or a job trade) that men want to have more respect for following? They start to push the women out of it, so it gets taken more seriously. Instead of addressing the sexism and saying, “Hey, we can all like this thing and it’ll be great!” what you start to see is dudes shoving out the women who were there all along.

Scrubbing Women from My Little Pony fandom.

This is the story of Star Trek fandom in its entirety. A woman saved Star Trek, women have largely driven the fandom since the 1960s, but when it comes time to market it, Star Trek is for men men men and don't you forget it.
skywaterblue: (Default)
Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot

The truth, of course, is that Card had been avidly homophobic since long before I knew him. That at the same time we were talking about character development and the shapes of stories, he was railing against marriage rights for same-sex couples and insisting homosexuality was a byproduct of child abuse. Whether the rampaging extremism he’s exploded into is a product of a significant change in perspective or just less tact and a larger platform, I’ll never know: We fell out of touch long before, for which I’m cowardly grateful.

Oof.
skywaterblue: (amy and the doctor)
Arguing about her characterization right now is reminding me a lot of arguing about the David Tennant Doctor, especially the pocket of the fandom that doesn't really acknowledge (or care) that the character considered killing herself last season.

For those of you unfamiliar, Avatar is set in a world where Asian cultures are predominant and broken into four tribes, each one of which is given the ability to 'bend' or command a certain element according to their will. (IE: The Water Tribe, The Fire Nation.) In every generation, the spirit of the Avatar reincarnates to keep the balance between the spirit world and the human world, as well as the balance between the elements. The scene in question is from the end of last season, where Korra, the current Avatar incarnation, has lost the ability to bend three of four elements.



Like Doctor Who, Korra is a family show, so the moment in question is presented rather quickly and in passing with the idea that children not old enough to discuss the problem will kind of skip over it. Unlike Doctor Who, the writers presented it even more murkily, so that there's a larger portion of the fandom that maintains there's a lot of unclarity around the scene in question. (There really isn't, of course, because the scene doesn't really work as written in any other context.)

Anyway, she's turned out to be quite a divisive character this season. In part because she's a non-white woman in the lead of her own show, but also because she's an angry, bullheaded 17 year old who leads with her fists and doesn't know what to do with the immense global powers and responsibilities she's incarnated into. (And also, lonely is the head that wears the crown, especially on the head of a young woman.)

Of course, it's possible that I will eventually swing around and agree with the rest of fandom that Korra as presented in this current season is intensely unlikeable for no reason, but I'm maintaining optimism. As of right now, I am really sympathetic to this character because she reminds me very much of me at this age.
skywaterblue: (neil gaiman would unhappen so much)
Soon there will be more Doctor Who in the world, and no sorrow will live in my heart as long as that joy - except for one. And I thank you for that too, BBC.

TIL

Oct. 5th, 2013 08:27 pm
skywaterblue: (art school perverts)
If you cook in a cast iron pan you can boost the iron content of your meal by a lot, which is good because women require SO MUCH MORE IRON than men on a daily basis. So much more that about 10% of the American female population is at risk for anemia. (I actually knew that from some evolutionary biology book. Humans evolved meat-eating to keep women fed, essentially.)

So I should try and cook in mine more often, but I find scouring it a pain-in-the-ass. I might try eating chicken livers more often? They're cheap and super traditional...
skywaterblue: (shakespeare)
Everywhere I go on the internet, I read well-intentioned meta and recaps by Serious Authors who all have the habit of separating Walt from Heisenberg and referring to them as different people/personalities. As if the character has MPD, or was a fantastical contemporary version of Jekyll and Hyde.

... is it just me, or is that interpretation not supported by ANY textual evidence in the show? And yes, it's quite ablest, but more importantly, the show is VASTLY easier to interpret 'correctly' if you're not dividing Walter White into different alters.

The thing that baffles me about it most is that the people most likely to do it are people who are not Team Walt whitewashers, but people who think Walt is an irredeemable bastard for all the things he's done. And well, yes, he is - but he's also not suffering from some kind of illness. Heisenberg was always Walt, Walt was always Heisenberg and complicated for everyone who'd wish otherwise, there's no easy splitline or way to divorce the two, because that division is an artificial construct made up by viewers.

As Walt Whitman would say, we contain multitudes.

ETA: There are now spoilers in the comments.
skywaterblue: (neil gaiman would unhappen so much)
The Anna Gunn Thing, as best exemplified by her New York Times op-ed today, is frustrating because both sides are wrong. Skyler is a significantly annoying character, let down not just by the writing but primarily by the acting. And for at least the first year, yes, the show DOES want us to see Skyler as an antagonist.

That said, 'Breaking Bad' doesn't introduce Gretchen Schwartz for nothing. Her role in the narrative is to exist as the 'one that got away' along with Walt's entire self-mythologized life that got away. The show makes it as explicitly implicit as possible that the life Skyler represents: safe, lower-middle class domesticity in an Albuquerque suburb, is not the one Walt would have chosen and was his version of second best. Which puts Skyler herself in the position of being established as his second best - from the very THIRD episode!

When the narrative explicitly puts the main female character in the position of being the second best option, that main character better be charismatic and sympathetic as all hell to counteract that balance. And Anna Gunn is not it, and the material (especially in that critical first season) is NOT there for her to make that argument. In this sense, the show wanted too much from this character because her motivations from a Watsonian perspective are sensible. No married woman, struggling financially and six months pregnant wants to hear that her husband has terminal cancer and doesn't want to fight it. The writing and the production (direction/acting) are to make the character of Skyler as shrill and unsympathetic as possible when her motivations are completely believable. Choosing to dial that down initially and play her as much more traditional might ultimately have made this character and her role in the narrative much stronger.

It's a huge, gaping flaw in the show that undermines a great deal of Gilligan's efforts to explicitly talk about class consciousness through 'Breaking Bad'. Because ultimately, if Skyler IS always second best, if her lifestyle was always insufficient, then Walt was right that he made a mistake by settling for that life in the first place, which means he was (somewhat) correct in pursuing his deathwish to rectify it and become an international drug kingpin.

These are real issues and flaws within the show, and all of them end up centering around the idea that I am never sure what they intended with Skyler except that she be seen as a second-best life and an antagonist to the protagonist.

And with all that being true, misogynistic attacks on the actress and the character are not appropriate and reveal just how little ability Americans (especially men) have to separate gender-issues from class issues. People don't hate Skyler because she's a woman, they hate her because she's explicitly set up as a lower-middle class woman AND the show internally supports a reading that it's because her lifestyle is second best.

Which leaves me in the position of largely agreeing with her critics, but massively disliking their opinions and wanting no part of actually being a member of either club.
skywaterblue: (Default)
A new father doesn’t need any extra incentive to worry but I had one. Four years earlier mom was pregnant with what should have been your older brother, Charlie. In the eighth month of the pregnancy, Charlie turned the wrong way in the womb and accidentally strangled himself on the umbilical cord and died. You and I have that in common. Grandma and Grandpa planned on having three kids—first your Aunt Debbie, then Uncle Noah and then my brother Daniel. But Daniel died at birth, and that’s why I’m here. I’m the understudy. (You might notice a lot of characters named Charlie and Danny in the stories I write—now you’ll know why.) This time around, come hell or high water, I was bringing my whole family home from the hospital.

-- Aaron Sorkin, in a public letter to his daughter.

I wish he wrote everything for his daughter, because this is the most genuine thing I think he's written in ages. Of obvious interest to fans of his work for the backstory, but the rest of the letter is just as painful yet loving and wry, the tone that made me fall in love with his work.

Write for Roxy all the time, Sorkin, and you could win my heart back.
skywaterblue: (art school perverts)


Yes, it's an hour long, but if you're a fan of the West Wing this is well worth watching. A lot of reminiscing about the West Wing without the usual stories as well as some really in-depth thoughts about the American political process.

ETA: Though as a former graphic novelist, I object to some of Whitford's comments about comic books. Maybe YOU should read one, eh?
skywaterblue: (death)
The Rape of James. A pretty interesting essay on the use of rape against female characters in fiction.

Obviously, triggery.
skywaterblue: (Sisko laughs!)
Today, Slate's Matt Yglesias writes a long piece about the value of the Star Trek franchise focusing specifically on the message. That piece is entitled I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before and it is mostly a fine piece that I am mostly in agreement with that argues that Star Trek needs to come back as a DS9-like cable show in the vein of "Mad Men" to argue for a utopian progressive future.

I mostly agree with that assessment...except for this minor line: "Some of these one-offs—those set in the Mirror Universe especially—are fun. But others are dreadful (Sisko has to train his crew to beat a bunch of arrogant Vulcans at baseball) or simply bizarre (Sisko fights racism in the sci-fi industry of the 1950s)."

*record scratch*

SIMPLY BIZARRE?

Aside from being one of the best episodes of television on race ever filmed, "Far Beyond the Stars" is about the enfranchisement of black and female voices in fiction. It says more about racism in America in an hour than the entire series of Mad Men has in six seasons, because its point is simple. It says, quite simply says that our stories matter. OUR stories. To dismiss it as 'simply bizarre' is to show that no, you don't really get Star Trek at all. You're comfortable with a black male lead... so long as that black male never opens his mouth about race.

So yes. Star Trek needs to come back. And it needs to be a cable-drama in the vein of Mad Men.

And writers and fans like Matt Yglesias should have absolutely nothing to do with it.

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