Jan. 11th, 2016 02:02 pm
beccaelizabeth: Tony Stark, Iron Man, face with HUD lights (Tony HUD)
MCU theory after Avengers, during Agents of SHIELD, into Winter Soldier:

Fury kept Coulson quiet and classified the same way you drop dye in the water to see where it goes colours. Level 7 to know he exists, Level 10 eyes only to know how.

Read more... )

Fury? Really really wants to know if Tony Stark is still in his system.

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Fury didn't tell the Avengers. That's the only fact here. But if he specifically did it to see where the data went, he got a lot of very criminal splash really fast.

And ultimately they led to HYDRA.

Which is more plausible, to Fury: that he'd missed HYDRA in his own house his entire life, or that he'd missed it in Stark's?

Read more... )

But if we start from the idea that Fury keeps secrets because he believes it keeps the world safe, he's got stacks of reasons to not trust Stark.

I think fic could do better by him when addressing the whole Coulson secret. Just act like he's got a reason and see Coulson as the company guy who is really dismissive of the bits of SHIELD that went private after the fall. That fic plays out much different.

And probably with less Clint kisses, so my reading preferences could be heavily slanting what I seen there, but still, that's the challenge of ongoing canon, how can we keep the 'ship without throwing out the new episodes. Do the two guys as we know them now still fit together, or did we just AU them forever. Not knocking the AU, just wonder how the new canon could work.

Also think the future new canon is going to work much less well without noticing where there are actual tensions in the existing story.

But, today's conclusion: It makes sense for Fury to worry about Stark post Avengers movie, because he set out bait for Stark and got nibbles from Centipede, the Clairvoyant, and HYDRA. Sorting out where they weren't connected could easily take more time than they had.

Meantime, Coulson was very lively bait, which went poorly for a great many people.

Is fun.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm reading a long fic and Stark just gave Fury a 'suck it, boss' speech, after smashing through a SHIELD base and kidnapping/freeing someone, where the punchline was the Avengers are going independent
as long as they do less damage than the Chitauri they can do as they damn well please because the world needs them.

I stalled right there, because that? That is a supervillain origin speech. And I don't think the fic knows it.

Read more... )

A world that needs superheroes so much they'll let them smash all the things is a world with some pretty major problems, many of them now superheroes.

And yeah, sometimes it's as clear as aliens pouring through a portal or a robot overlord crashing a flying city, so someone's got to do something. The story really pumps up the contrast so you can't exactly argue for pacifism. Diplomatic solutions don't work when you don't even know the enemy exists or acknowledge their sentience/sapience/rights.

Not cool. Don't think there's RL equivalents. Not pretty ones, anyways.

But as I understand it the whole law and courts and trials thing is there to see if the actions taken were reasonable, proportionate, vaguely legal. So why shouldn't a superhero be subject to those same processes of law?

... the usual comic book answer is their utter corruption, but if the story stops there it's pushing a morally bankrupt rule by titans that I want no part of.

... so basically I just sat down and wrote out which side of the superhero civil war I'd be on.

Accountability is a necessary prerequisite of civilisation.

Freedom's necessary too, but not to the extent you can stand there and go You Can't Make Me over laws about if you're allowed to hit people and never answer for it.

Bad laws need fixing, but bringing down civilisation and letting rip with the might-makes-right is not the way to do it.

(ugh, okay, so my Chaotic Neutral tendencies are all D-:< right now)

Bad law needs fixing, bad systems need protesting, bad regimes even need replacing, but people just standing there saying they're outside of law and beyond judgement because they've got the biggest weapons? Are the problem. Never the solution.

... why am I reading superhero stories if...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The Bechdel-Wallace test, blunt instrument that it is, is not there to measure if women act in a stereotypical way. When it says 'are they talking about something other than a man' it is not a test for romance. It's not even just to filter out characters playing The Mother and The Sister and The Daughter, though it does that pretty handily.

It's there to test whether we exist in our own right. Women, plural.

Because if the film only has one woman, or two women that do not talk to each other, or who only talk about men?

Then women in that film only exist when observing or observed by men.


Women are half the world. Women should be half the movie. Very simple.
Instead we tend to get 2:1 male to female.
And that 1/3? Talks to and about men. And exists only in relation to men.

It's very easy to fix this. And yet it doesn't happen.

Making women the protagonists is important, essential, really great
and not sufficient.

We are not the lone exception. We are half the world.

Women exist. Plural. We talk to other women, with no men around, about things entirely not involving men.

Until media reflects that, it will come up short on the Bechdel-Wallace test, and fail at this really basic component of realism.

A film can have many other virtues, but the only way to get women to exist independently is to have it pass the test. And failing the test is a great big minus that drags the whole thing down.

I realise this particular rant might work better in relevant comments threads, but I am just not feeling that confrontational, so I'll rant about it here where people will either agree with me or be quiet. *sigh*

I like it that people like their favourite movies, I just get really frustrated when people decide this test doesn't matter, because often they're saying it doesn't matter if there's only one woman if she's sufficiently cool. But it matters. Nobody is cool enough to make up for the numerical disadvantage. We need to exist, and we need to talk, and we need to talk to each other.

Ugh, boys

Dec. 12th, 2015 11:00 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Okay, title not fair, but:
have finally finished reading the epic fantasy novel I stalled on. A lot of fighting happens, a lot of things that read like random D&D encounters and contribute neither to endgame plot nor character development, especially since there doesn't seem to be character development. And while huge swathes of story are theoretically driven by the emotions of those involved, who are mentioned to be in love with each other at the beginning and end of each book, there's an utter absence of recogniseable emotion, except jealous rage from the one bad girl.

It is the most stereotype boy version book. It's all about who can crunch who. And really? We know who is going to still be there in book nine, we know who does all the crunching, why is this satisfying?

The worst bit though? The peasant boy who is secretly king was part of a bit of a shell game of body swaps, and while his ancestor the last legit king is wearing his body, he announces his engagement to his secretary. In front of several thousand people. While it is imperative to the safety of the isles that she helps him pull off the king impersonation.

And then everyone agrees this is a good thing because now they'll both have to go through with it.

The hell?

I should point out that those two aren't even a couple that mention they're in love yet. Nobody has said that. He hasn't declared his love to her, she hasn't declared her love for him. The only evidence of feelings is physical proximity. She follows him around. With a notepad, fantasy tech edition. Because she's working with him to restore the kingdom. If they have any feelings for each other at all, that isn't something the book felt the need to share with the reader.

But now they must get married! Party!

The layers of lack of consent in there. I mean, the guy isn't even the guy who owns that body, he never asked the girl, she looks panic and fear when he ... I was going to say proposes, but he never, he just announces they're already betrothed. And then the book glosses that as she's afraid he won't go through with it when he gets back? Ugh.

So it's creepy. And it doesn't know it's creepy. And it is just chugging merrily along with the wedding preparations at the end of the book because the peasant prince guy saves teh day and gets his body back and gets the girl!

At no point has the girl been asked if she wants to be got.


There are girl point of view characters too, but they don't feel the need to think about feelings, or the people they love. Bad girl thinks about jealousy and concludes she hates the woman who distracts men with her cleavage and then kills them but she hates them because cleavage and sex and if she wanted a guy she'd just go for it, rather than, you know, killing. Because it's a killing people book, nobody can just hate people for killing. So instead of having actual positive emotions towards a guy the bad girl just kind of hates herself for not jumping on that. Ugh.

But mostly it tries so hard to avoid feelings that the characters are just killing machines wandering a fantasy landscape occasionally deciding wrong about which things to kill.

Why does he think we want to read a giant epic series of that?

Fanfiction is just playing a very different game than a lot of published fiction. Even when it's all plot and a lot of things happen, it's all about feels. You want to put your characters through things and watch them react and feel for them whenever stuff happens. It's not so much about what they do to the world, that's not the interesting bit, so even if they do something interesting like declare independence then the important bit is what it does to their relationships.

Why is that so rare when I venture into male authored books?

Their cut out people are just disturbing.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Lindsey is one of my favourite characters of all time. He hangs out in my head a lot and I have way more of my version than canon version. But still, in canon, favourite.

He just drove off in his beat up truck with his (probably formerly) evil hand and his guitar, and now I'm going to miss him for ages, sulk.

He had so many moments he could have made the other choice and still went back to Wolfram & Hart. And that makes him frustrating, and willingly evil, and fascinating, because it wasn't seeing children in danger and it wasn't seeing what they do to the woman he loves that makes him walk away. It was the realisation that evil just wasn't working. And sure, that he's so many spare parts to his employers, that part has to suck, but he stood there and got brains on his face while his co-worker got shot, I think he got that memo. What makes him interesting is Lindsey is, by the measures of his peers, winning, and he walks away. Because evil? He's bored with this crap.

It's kind of what fascinates me with Methos too, though he was on a different scale in a very different era. Methos was an Immortal warlord who ruled the known world, could have anything and anyone he wanted, and he just got bored. He decided he'd rather read, study, be a philosopher, be... well, over the next four thousand years, pretty much be human every which way a man can be. And it started when he'd tried evil, reached the top, and just... decided he was done with it.

I like it because evil is boring. It's banal, it's tedious, it's the same shit over and over with a fear and pain soundtrack. Characters that never go there in the first place, great. Characters that see the light and realise that love and compassion are the guiding forces they've been looking for, awesome. But there's also a place for the guys who just try it and end up done with it. Cause they're saying a different thing. The path of righteousness isn't that hard or made of sacrifice, because the path of evil is just kind of crap.

Makes the other ways look way more attractive.

And all those times he coulda woulda shoulda walked away, the times he nearly saw the light but put blinders on, the times he closed the door on redemption... they're followed up by this. So you get to see, there actually isn't a too late to change. People can be pricks over and over and they've still got a choice about it. So Lindsey chose.

That's what makes him fascinating.

Well, that and he remains easy on the eyes. And ears. And... well, beyond that, mostly speculation and some data from conventions. But wow is he pretty. And when he smiles at you... *happy sigh*

I watch him real close whenever he's on screen and it's fascination as much as attraction, barn owl and mouse maybe.

But I really, really like his character arc.

Up until here. Or, you know, up until almost the last minute.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I skimmed past another thing saying that slash just isn't feminist or progressive or whatever.

And okay.


One thing that fascinates me in fiction, esp slash fiction, is dynamics of power.

... yes I mean I read BDSM fic but that's not only or most of what I mean.

One theory that has bounced around since long and long is that slash fic isn't specifically about men, it's about power. Equal power.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've seen some pretty ridiculous commentary on the new Marvel trailer.

Mostly I've seen complaints that if you're going to do a film about how [issue] divides the eternal friendship of Captain America and Iron Man then it helps if you have, first, shown that they're friends.

That's kind of fair, it only gets ridiculous when people are turning it into deep psychological readings of Tony Stark that somehow leave out one of his most loyal friends and then say he's the one that doesn't know what friendship is.

Thing is, it's also reading in the wrong mode. It's reading the films with a TV hat on.

And yeah, okay, we've been watching these since 2008, we've got a bunch of 'episodes' here, we've got a feeling like we're on the 7th season of something epic.

But they are not television.

On television, if you want to break up an epic friendship, you devote a bunch of episodes to that friendship.

In a movie, you have one scene at a party (show they have fun together), one scene of working together (in our genres, show they save each other's lives), and one guy say 'we're friends'.

That's how they set up Rhodey. I mean, in Iron Man, he hung out with Tony getting drunk, then he turned up to save him in the desert, and then we know that when they have a falling out, that's serious, that's one of Tony's best friends having a falling out right there.

So when the movie says Cap and Iron Man are friends? Just look at how Age of Ultron set that up. They had a save each other's lives day at the office. They had a party, social together. Then when Cap makes sad frown faces at Tony, it's because they're friends, and Tony did a thing that was against that.

So when the next movie has them have a falling out? They're probably going to start with scenes of them working together, maybe have a social bit, and then boom, big argue.

And because that's a movie, we're supposed to extrapolate from those two scenes.

Because a TV series will show you a hundred days in the life, but a movie will show you the most important day in their lives, and whatever came before that, we have to fill in quickly in the establishing bit at the start of the movie.

The thing with comic book movies is we're so used to having decades of canon to draw on we bring the wrong toolkit and then complain the movie didn't do the thing. The movie did the thing, in movie language.

I'll grant it didn't make them close unto slashiness like it did Tony/Rhodey or Cap/Falcon, but, it did make them friends.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've had 'write about buffy season 6 and 7' on my to do list for long enough that I have, on the whole, forgotten what I was going to write. So, ticklist:

Read more... )

Hope that was what I wanted to write about ... mostly season 7 as it turns out. Think I forgot a bunch of things by waiting this long, but so it goes.

Meanwhile I'm on the last episode of Angel season 1, and one of the most interesting things about it is how, when Buffy turns up, she swiftly seems entirely irrelevant. Way to establish your show as its own independent thing. And way depressing if that's supposed to be the love of his life: as soon as they're not fighting the exact same good fight the exact same ways, side by side? All they've got left is arguments.

I don't ship it.

I do like to watch it though.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
some random links on tumblr lead to a bunch of how-to guides for inventing calendars.

... they all irritate me so far because they don't start with orbital mechanics.

The funniest thing though is they one and all agree that all these fiddly little variable months and quarter days are just the worst. That's the first thing they throw out! Really, the worst.

And I reckon if you want recogniseable humans on another planet, or even a different civilisation on this one, the first thing you're going to get is random encrusted variables.

Some guy comes up with a calendar, and it's near enough. Except you wait a few years and your solstice has wandered off towards your equinox. So okay, what to do? Leap years? Bung in an extra month? Have a few corrective days at some boss dude's fiat and then keep going as before?

The answer is all of the above, depending on who wins the argument this side of the mountain, or the river, or the sky.

And that's without figuring that the original calendars will be different on different continents for sure, and probably far more often than that.

Half a dozen 'how to' in a row started out with 'Earth's calendar has' , though one of them admitted (in the West anyway). And right there they are so very wrong. Because you've got your solar year civilisations and your lunar year civilisations, and they all live interpenetrated even now. And even when you agree how long a year is, when it starts depends on too many things. 'New Year' isn't a beginning for anything except the paper calendar, work restarts in the Spring and education in the Autumn and never the two line up.

I've vaguely wanted to know how we end up with a seven day week, and when that started, and who uses it. *googles*
Ancient Near East, probably something to do with planets maybe, and other places use/d 'weeks' between 4 and 10 days. After that it's a question of terminology, because translators use 'fortnight' or 'month', though 'week' seems to be tied up to this 'rest day' cycle that not everywhere used anyways.

Actual Earth civs? All the calendars. None of them meshed and all of them were great big political and religious arguments in the making, not to mention business implications.

And it's not just fantasy writers/gamers who get annoyed with the math. There's a bunch of attempts to tidy up the calendar and make it all regular and fitting together. It just turns back into a mess again in fairly short order when it grinds between habit and neighbours.

You want to invent a new civilisation and you're going to bother thinking about how they think about time?

Simplification is the last thing you want to do.

... though as most of the links pointed out, it do bear consideration how often that's even going to come up. And if your readers/players really want to be fiddling about with it.

But still. The SF writer in me says it should start with figuring out what lights are in the sky, and what kind of orbits you're talking, and how much wiggle there is in the seasons. And if they somehow settle on a 7 day week with none of our cultural precedents in common, you'd better have an actual reason.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have a theory about human behaviour, devised to explain the actions of Owen Harper in Torchwood. I am aware there's layers of problems there. But.

Owen Harper, when stressed, tries to piss off the boss. My theory is he feels small, so he picks a fight with the biggest monkey. Either he wins, in which case he's bigger than he thought, or big monkey wins, at which point it's all his problem and he's proven he's big enough to handle it. Except on Torchwood big monkey refused to play and fired him. So that doesn't work out so well.

Managers probably don't appreciate having small panic monkey around. If your problems from outside are big already, you do not want problems from inside the team. And it's a waste of effort doing threat displays to show you're biggest monkey. Well run teams are probably less monkey based.

But when we look for leaders some people have this sort of thing in mind. They're looking for someone bigger than them - actually depressingly literally, see correlation between height and getting elected, it's embarrassing. Someone bigger, stronger, smarter, all those useful things.

And in the genres we hang out in, we can take that further. Not hit the limits on human capacities. Go for the literally superhuman.

Read more... )

So I like fantasy and science fiction when it's average people, badass normal at the outside, having to deal with these huge great problems. Because you can, if you just teamwork good enough.

But I also enjoy the power fantasy that does basically add up to 'but what if BIGGEST monkey?'
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I woke up this morning and it occurred to me that it could in fact be deliberate that DW have been killing off black male characters, specifically mostly black male soldiers, because it could be all about Danny Pink.

Read more... )

The trouble with doing a racist thing repeatedly is that it looks really racist. The pre existing racism stinks up the place, even if you're trying to use that particular scent in a different way. It's like inviting in a bunch of really loud people chanting racist slurs, so even if there's a quiet geek in the corner expanding on the literary themes, they get drowned out.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I just get really wound up about the lack of appropriate mental health services in urban fantasy.

... I know, but, I just watched Spike get so thoroughly screwed over in season 7, and it's just, like...

He did his best, right? He let people know he wasn't coping. Read more... )

So I get just very wound up, even entirely independent of the real world parallels where mental health services, especially for homeless people with a lack of documentation, can be a bit difficult to access. I just, I really feel that even vampires should be able to get help if they need it.

But instead there's just Buffy deciding when to use her stake. That's it. That's the only way their universe copes with having non humans with divergent thought processes and difficult dietary requirements.

Read more... )

I do like how Buffy really worked to avoid treating mental illness with a good being killed.
This season.
And in season 5 the dude that did that was clearly the bad guy.

I'm not so keen on how there's Dru and now Spike making an apparent connection between mental illness and tendency to do violence. TV does that a lot.

But I get stuck getting upset about how nobody helped Spike until it got really, really bad. I'm not saying Buffy should have, because his victims really sincerely don't owe him care, but there should be someone who can help.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I read a fic and just get so frustrated of missed opportunities.

Like, if a fic has a big reunion but a huge communication fail to deal with, and if a fic has one character having gone deaf since last time they met and another having lost one hand, why does it not connect these dots? Sign language with one hand can be tricky. The job took away their ability to communicate both metaphorically and literally. Working through the literal would demonstrate a commitment to working through the issues.

... usually using disability as a metaphor is of the bad though, because disabled people just exist, they don't signify personal qualities. But I don't think this is that? It's just now their disabilities clash. Like when I can't speak and someone else hasn't brought their glasses. Trying to communicate through increased barriers means you've got something you care about enough to make it work.

also also, I'm really quite frustrated when super science gets brought in to just handwave away the difficulties. Deaf, but you can't even see the 100% effective hearing aides, they're so cool and tiny! Replacement hand, only marginally cyborg, 100% sensation and function and appearance! :eyeroll: Like you want disabled people in your fic but not their disabilities.

I know sometimes it's like wanting to make it so they don't hurt, but AUs where the cool robot arm is a cool robot tattoo are just... erasing a whole bunch of people who definitely don't have that option.

I know fiction can fix absolutely anything it feels like with a couple of words, and I know if we like people we don't like seeing them suffer, but sometimes disability isn't suffering anyway, it's just part of who they are now. And sometimes when you undo a disability to give them a happy ending it's like that time travel movie I saw which changed a bunch of things a bunch of times but pretty much concluded the only way to cope with an abusive childhood was to not have one in the first place. It's like giving up on people. It's rubbish. The good stuff is getting to happily ever after from wherever they start. Which for certain robot arm having people is clearly very tricky, but, the existence and recovery of these fictional archetypes is a lifeline of hope for people who have been through shit. Undoing all the bad stuff before you like them can be like pulling up the ladder and leaving hurt people to it. Or it can just be saying you'd rather they didn't get hurt in the first place, like sympathy. Difficult.

If you count all the trauma (which, yes, very) then a really high percentage of superheroes are dealing with disabilities and illness, mental and physical. If you mix and match continuities and points in their history then you get even more. And these are the people who rise above, come out stronger, save the rest of us. Not by leaving their disabilities behind, or always having them secretly be superpowers, but just by being awesome anyway. They're a multi decade story that says we're stronger than we think, we can cope, we can do better than cope. It's something I've always loved them for.

But it's an aspect that frequently gets taken away, in canons and fanfic, and that's really frustrating.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm lacking big thinking about Buffy of late. There seems to be a bunch about masculinity and violence, direct parallels between Spike and Riley, and Riley and Adam of course, plus some stuff about how useless Giles and Xander feel now they're not defined by their jobs. Giles and Xander keep trying to help with the violence cause they've got none jobs and want to be useful, Xander beats up Spike and it's a sign he cares, Giles gets all sad because nobody is scared of him any more. Spike of course refers to his lack of capacity to do violence in direct comparison to neutering. Masculinity and violence. Big thing.

... big thing covered by every other show ever. Bored? Kinda. I mean, not bored of the episodes, but not coming out with meta.

All of them feeling less masculine because Buffy is more successful at violence than they ever could be, and Spike and Riley eroticising that, that's a thing BtVS does a little different. Mostly if the girl is kick arse it's to teach a guy to be better than her by the end of the movie. Here she just stays better, consistently. Yaays.

The same sex desire metaphor in the magics, the way Willow and Tara have to be, er, subtle, and the way Giles and Ethan are at the pub... a couple of old mystics, sorcerers, the night is still our time... yeah, still liking that, except for the not trivial thing where not being allowed to show stuff sucks. But the metaphors are pretty and the guys at the pub are, well, I'm coming up with plausible and I don't know if that's what I mean? Giles responding when he thinks Ethan is calling him attractive, intense eye contact, history together... you can see it happening, and you can see it in those scenes.

Ethan and the Fyarl thing: you can read it as Ethan didn't do it. Way back at the start of Buffy, episode three, it was established that one way to undo every spell in progress was to kill the caster. But when Giles the demon breaks in to grab Ethan, Ethan says "I can't undo you if you kill me!" Okay, he could be lying about everything, but if true, it means it wasn't his spell.

If it was then it's a classic be careful what you wish for. Giles wanted to be scary.
But that could also mean he got very, very drunk and did something unwise to himself. Unlikely, sure, but if you want to tell that tale...

For G/E shippers there's the teensy problem of him apparently trying to get Giles killed when he tells Buffy "It killed Ripper and now it's trying to get me!"
He could simply be mistaken about how far gone Giles is, if he can't get back from there. He could be making a complex statement about tweedy Giles and his ongoing fight with his own Ripper side. Or it could just be mischief to cover his own escape. Granted Buffy tries to kill Giles because of it, but she epic fails. And Ethan predicted that, reckoned "You're only going to make him angry." If he don't believe Giles can be hurt then it's mischief, not murder.

But then there's "I've really got to learn to just do the damage and get out of town. It's the 'stay and gloat' that gets me every time."
He's saying he did damage, and should have run before Ripper caught up.

Probably meant to be Ethan then.

But there's loopholes available if you want them. Like, what was he even doing in the place a demon was meant to rise and didn't anyway?

... Ethan Rayne can be so much more interesting if you read a little depth into a character that's pretty much just an excuse for mayhem to happen. But mayhem of the insides to outsides sort, which is always very character based fun.

Giles chasing Professor Walsh because she called him an absent male role model, always funny, but again connecting masculinity and violence. Giles feels powerless and judged, because a woman is implying a woman made herself without him. So he gets big and scary at her. Because clearly it's fun to use threats to counter words. And clearly it's more funny because it's Giles, who is usually words guy. But it's a moment that comes from him, not Ethan, even if Ethan did give him the outsides to do it.

Rupert Giles: earning his nickname since the early 70s.

I'm dissatisfied with how they used Walsh. She was evil psychology lady, and some of that was clever. Introduced doing stuff like controlling the discourse by naming herself as both good and evil versions, smart on several levels, and funny from writers cause they know what we don't. Creepy stuff that reminds me of abusers when she controls Riley just by mocking or relabelling his feelings, so he's just being college boy when he's trying to have opinions. Makes him feel small and then tells him to make her proud, so all his self worth is supposed to come from her reactions. Reworking his base code, like Adam said. Must have taken a lot of creepy manipulative work. And then making soldiers that don't ask questions... that's such a wrong view of soldiers. So all of that is perfectly good evil overlord stuff. But it's wrapped up with Riley and Adam calling her Mother on different occasions, and the weird thing with watching Riley have sex and getting rid of his girlfriend. Creepy gendered stuff. With no matching good version. I mean, if they're exploring mothers, Buffy has one of those, but no, they're just contrasting with Giles for some reason, current teacher vs ex teacher, at a point Giles is distanced from Buffy. Also there's previous evil teacher ladies but no hint of comparison. Comparing what Walsh does to what Watchers did would be perfectly reasonable, but you have to reach to other seasons to do it. Which, okay, it's season 4 and you'd expect some stuff to just be background, but I'm dissatisfied with how it turned out. There should be more women, more mothers, more teachers.

... I'm watching Buffy and thinking there need to be more women, even though Willow and Tara and Anya and Buffy are all right there.

I'm quite a lot creeped out by how Xander treats Anya. I mean I know she's an ex-demon but the comparisons with her behaviour have her turning up on list of autistic characters, so this time every time Xander corrects her on social skills is kind of grating. Like she's not meant to have her own thoughts and feelings but has to fit the mask on to be acceptable to him. It's not that she's actually learning compassion and empathy and that good stuff, she's just being told 'we talked about this' and changing how she behaves. I feel like Xander doesn't actually like Anya, he just likes how she makes him feel, and part of that is him feeling like he has the knowings and can teach from a position of moral superiority.

I'm super grumpy today and don't know if it's the TV that's always grump making or me that's always in a grump. So it goes.

The first three seasons, the basic metaphor was 'high school is hell'. Okay. They shift to college, but after the room mate episode I'm unconvinced they upgraded to 'college is hell'. More of a general 'young adulthood is hell'. Everyone trying to tell you who to be and shape you into who they want, but at the same time leaving you to sink or swim and not supporting you like you were supported a minute ago. Not knowing how to relate to adults, who are now meant to be other adults like you, but get cranky if you treat them that way and make you feel weird. Being expected to make a quantum leap in maturity and then frowned on for thinking you're mature. The whole thing with the drugged Initiative agents seems less metaphorical and more just a thing in itself, but I guess the pressure to perform physically and mentally is a college thing. Even Willow's magical lashing out is the thing where having a little power does not always go so good. So the metaphors are still there.

I'll watch more episodes later.


Jul. 19th, 2015 07:38 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
you know how some people are so annoying you end up separately annoyed at so many things they said it takes days to work through the queue?

So at the pub on Wednesday we were talking movies and I was talking numbers of women and he was countering with Strong Female Characters.

So he said Guardians of the Galaxy, and I said I liked that but it was sad when they changed the team from the comics they left out women.

And he got this really ugh voice on and was like, you don't think they're planning on bringing them in later?

Like, voice said it was obvious, why am I complaining.

You know what I'm sick of? Later.

Even if we'd heard so much of a whisper of such a plan - and I haven't - it would still be later. What, you want women now? You want parity now? You want equality now? Wait your turn.

I've been making the exact same complaints about my favourite genres for twenty years now, and I am sick of later.

We know Marvel's plans for the MCU for many years, and sure we're going to get one movie starring a woman, but later. If they want to slot in an extra movie, guess which gets bumped later? And if we want, oh, a second movie, well, that's a lot later.

In the mean time, here, have supporting characters, see them get ignored after one movie, have their canonical roles given to white men, their merchandise be non existent, them be painted out of pictures, toys that should feature them be remodelled and renamed, movie storylines that featured them be given to white men... that looks like I said it twice, I mean their jobs go to white men, their exact comic stories go to white men, women are getting erased.

We are going backwards. We are losing ground. Movies are being more sexist than notoriously sexist source texts.

Wait for Later?

What, and watch us get swept away tidy in the mean time?

Because you know what happens later. They look back and say, look, women just aren't popular, nobody's heard of them, you know who the audiences are asking for, more of the same, more of these white men.

It's up there with how ever story about women in F&SF I've ever read declares it the arrival of the women. The year of women. New women! New! There were never any women around here!

Authors I've been reading my whole life are getting left off lists because look, everyone knows women never wrote this stuff before, they're new!

And suddenly women!

Everything we're 'given' is called an improvement, status quo is always measured against utter absence, and whenever we ask for parity, for numbers, for actually existing, we get a token. But hey, she's strong! So new! We haven't seen that continuously since... I'm getting back as far as the original Avengers, both comics and Brit TV series, but I suspect that's a limitation of my familiarity with source texts.

Wait, Wonder Woman, of course, 1941, but she actually had a lot of women around and was at least in theory trying a bunch of diplomacy peace and love stuff they've since cut from her stories and background. Large contribution to my feeling we're losing ground, including bits that had always been ours.

Give us stories that are 50/50 men and women and writers have to find something to do with them. Right? I mean, if they have them standing around doing nothing while paid just as much as their male co stars, that kind of works too, but in theory their ongoing presence should call for scripts to actually use them.

But no.

Maybe later.


Jun. 9th, 2015 07:35 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The book with the random kissing went a bit wronger. Heroic heterosexuality contrasted with evil vampire lesbians, who got messily dead. But then at the end she had to dump him anyway because she was addicted to his blood, so mostly it was a mess of a book that mixed up sex and death even more than most urban fantasy.

I am aware that most writers probably don't sit down and consciously think that homosexuality is evil so they'll put some evil vampire lesbians into the story just to make sure their audience sees what monsters they are. It's more likely they watched too many vampire movies at a formative age. There isn't exactly a shortage of evil vampire lesbians in the right genres. It's just the not thinking about it perpetuates the evil gross creepy old messages about female sexuality especially when aimed at other women. Like repeating without question all the old stories about evil witches, who just happen to be women who are heiresses in their own right and can have their whole estates taken away if they're guilty of something evil enough. Old lies in new clothes perpetuate old evils.

I was reading GURPS Horror the other day and it divides up its advice not by monster exactly but by fears. Fear of Taint, Fear of Nature, Fear of Madness, Fear of Mutilation, Fear of Starvation, Fear of the Universe, Fear of the Unnatural, Fear of Others, Fear of Disease, Fear of Technology, Fear of the State, Fear of Death, Fear of Apocalypse, Fear of Hell. It struck me as interesting, even useful for a writer, but I had the vague thought it was insufficiently theorised. Even the headings it chooses and the ones it ignores say something about the culture of the writer. The section on Zombies is under Fear of Death, even though the part about voodoo zombies does mention that it's really fear of enslavement and forced labour. Fear of enslavement seems like a top level fear to me. But nope, not here.

Any film about robots splits fear of enslavement and fear of slaves, fear of uprisings. It's uncomfortable to realise it's usually written sympathising with the slave owners, with the workers discovering their free will being the big creepy that tends to be followed by violent retribution. Got no strings... and then what? So very seldom is it hello and welcome, here's your equal rights. Pretty much just Data got that. The rest of the time it's to some extent a bunch of white men fighting to ensure the Others don't get to choose. Putting a metal face on them don't make that okay. So there's Fear of Enslavement and Fear of Slaves waking up.

I've read that vampires are the monster embodying the working class fear of the upper class, and zombies are the upper class fear of the working class. Doesn't quite track, too many kinds of vampire, too many different zombies, but it's a start. Change the spin on a monster though and you change its class signifiers, so vampires become the middle class fear of a parasitic underclass. Should horror always punch up? Is tapping into certain fears too easy?

Stepford Wives (as a trope name, I've not seen any version of it) and ... what's that gun fu movie, Equilibrium? They're both fear of having our emotions drained out in the name of social order and acceptability, but they stand in rather different relations to patriarchy. One of them seems mostly worried at losing the joy in violence. And, granted, I've watched it rather more often, but my taste in movies kind of worries me sometimes. Nowhere in the horror list is Fear of Patriarchy, Fear of Gender Norms, Fear of the Acceptable Eating the Individual. But if you want a list of things that keep me awake at night it isn't exactly focused on Fear of Nature. Fear for Nature, for sure.
Fear of pervasive ideologies overriding empathy and creating systems of oppression through means economic and forcefully repressive.
... not exactly catchy, probably difficult to put makeup on.

The scariest bit of a horror movie is watching the black guy die first. Or maybe the fridging.

Learning how movies pull the strings on fear is a useful political lesson. Watch the media make monsters. See how groups are constructed and then targeted, with their own voices erased.

The monster's always scarier when you can't see it. Partly that's because you'll draw on your own schemas of fear, fill in the blanks with whatever would make you react like that, the same way people probably assume the government has an actual reason big enough to justify the ways it acts. But partly it's because once you get to know anything there's more room for empathy and identification, instead of just fear.

Eh, I depress myself.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know when you read something in passing and it still bugs you when you wake up days later?
Even though by that point you're not sure if that's what the OP said or if it's just what stuck in your head?

So I read a thing (probably) about gender swaps where someone said it's really useless to genderswap both the characters and the structures of power and expectation around them. Like, if you swap a guy to a girl, but in a world where women run the world. Or a girl to a guy, but in a world where guys are expected to stay home and clean. To that poster such changes are pointless.

But English Lit has like classes on such changes? Because the word is defamiliarisation. Making strange.

Most people reach a point where their opinions are pretty much settled in. This is normal, natural, reasonable, but that is not. They wander along like that without needing to do big thinking, because the world filtered through their world view makes sense.

If you want someone to stop and think 'huh, maybe not natural!' then you need to trip them up.

So there's a gif set going around tumblr about 'if men were women' or similar, and it concludes with a little boy looking up at a list of US Presidents and sighing, and all the Presidents ever have been women. And there's like a ton of comments under it going 'woah, never thought about it'.

And that's what swapping the system and the characters is for.

If you genderswap the characters within the existing system then you get to play with to what extent their whole life changes, you have to follow through the changes for that character, big story, very shiny.
If you genderswap the characters and the system nothing changes except the whole system of gendered power relations.
Which, you know, many people are, like, working towards? Albeit towards equality, not inversion.

So there's every point in doing it. If it's going to reach an audience that need it pointed out that existing gendered power relations are, you know, suck.
If it's only going to be read by people who are well aware that being a woman is a higher difficulty setting with a ton of expectations stuck on it, and are in the habit of identifying with characters of all genders anyway, it's going to seem like a total lack of story.

But there's whole segments of potential readers who would find women acting like their familiar favourite male characters in a world where women run things to be like totally woah. Natural order overturned.

But it seems like such persons aren't playing in transformative works.

So then the choir is like yeah yeah yawn we heard it last Sunday.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I wonder about how me being disabled has influenced how I think about stories.

I noticed long and long ago that I like F&SF because it makes obvious and exciting the gap between disabled people and the things they need to deal with, by showing average people going up against beings many times more capable than they are. Like, from where I am to the average person seems a bit like from the average person to most of Sunnydale's night life. The world is bigger and scarier from here, and it's more interesting to wrap that in a metaphor.

But sometimes I notice patterns in my daydreams and wonder if everyone thinks that way or if it's something about being disabled and relying on assistants or carers. Read more... )

The thing is I can happily fantasise about say working with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark and Phil Coulson as my 24 hour protection and assistant detail, but then I think about real life assistants and it's all just awkward and no. Like how Tony promoted Pepper away from being his assistant before the kissing parts happened, because when he's her boss it's awkward no.

With none stories about working with assistants there's none stories about where the reasonable boundaries are though.

When I daydream dating superheroes, which I do, a lot, I tend to imagine staying in the Tower and watching TV. Because if I go out someplace then I either have to bring backup (assistant, someone to watch for danger and get me home) or rely on my date to do the work of an assistant. I can for the length of the story ignore that and have my character cross roads and leave the house with no problems, I just at that point am daydreaming of being someone else.

But if I'm daydreaming being a super rich person, well, if it's normal for Tony to bring a driver who looks out for danger, then that's sorted, I can do that. Read more... )

I daydream about people that could help with everyday life stuff, which is pretty reasonable. But it goes fuzzy at the edges with like relationship stuff. Like dreaming about someone to set up house with, eat meals together, fit your lives together. It's just since I can't actually cook said meals, just reheat, then the meal providing relationship is going to be wonky from the get go, and I also daydream about getting a kitchen and an assistant so I can actually do cookings. And someone who can follow me around helping with doing ordinary everyday stuff like go places do things outside.

A lot of stuff like for benefits tries to draw distinctions between carers, who just do helpful things, and people you're in a relationship with like husband and wife, who get to count their finances along with yours for benefits purposes. Knowing that a relationship could swiftly mean depending financially on someone you were only thinking about shagging complicates things a lot. But with carers there's also a lot of assumption that relatives and people you're in a relationship with will do some of the work. Except that changes the nature of the relationship. In ways I have no actual experience of, because humans complicated. But I guess sometimes I want to poke those fuzzy borders in metaphor land, with maybe a plot with magic or aliens or something.

It seems like sometimes being disabled means having different assumptions about what humans do with and for each other, interdependence not independence, and what the priorities are. But it's a big fuzzy tangle in my head, not articulated clearly yet.

Also I was thinking simpler, about how romance stories, especially older ones, have an assumption that a woman is going to end up with some man the boss of her, so the search and the choice is only for finding a good Master. But now feminism so we're supposed to have lots more choices and we don't need to romanticise unequal power relations any more, except we do it anyway, if you read like almost any fiction. But if you know that you're going to end up needing someone to do a whole set of things, the story where you pay money to get a procession of strangers to help is practical but somehow unsatisfying to the monkey brain. So maybe it's ordinary to polish up the idea with warm feelings. Like care.
Or daydreaming really pretty competent superhero men doing it.

Fuzzy messy ideas, much tangle. Not very helpful. Shall ponder more.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'd kind of assumed the personhood of at least some existing AI in the MCU was a given, and understood by their creator at the very least, but after Age of Ultron I'm having to examine that assumption.

SPOILERS for Avengers Age of Ultron under the cut: Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
At the end of Age of Ultron: I know that bit of the movie filmed at the UEA, but I assert that it makes things better if those scenes are actually set in Norwich, Norfolk, England. Reasons under the cut. Read more... )

I don't expect everyone else to agree with me though, especially if the movie actually did say where it was. But I've read stuff that said it could be anywhere in the world, and I like that version much better.

More new and interesting story if it's set around here.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I just read several entirely separate posts about how being a parent and risking your life saving the world makes you the Worst Parent Ever

and, no?

I mean, epic no?

It's not even neglect. Especially if you do it through some established channel with a decent benefits package, and make sure your kids are looked after.

Read more... )

Just making sure your kids have a good home and someone to look after them and don't get blown up by aliens? Er, pretty good parenting, given the givens.

Because when you save the earth / galaxy / universe you save your kids.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
One thousand words on the topic of…

So we have a secret organisation, like SHIELD. Or Torchwood, though there’s only so many compartmentalised secrets you can have with all of five people. Jack and Ianto managed it, but still. The organisation is secret, and as I pointed out yesterday that severely restricts their data flow. But then the data that goes in goes up, only, and only orders come down.

There are some serious weaknesses built in to this model.

Most of all, there’s no feedback possible. Dude at the top says an order, everyone else either jumps or doesn’t jump.

Read more... )

Smartest thing Tony did was go public as Iron Man, and he may not have even known it. Secrets would put him in SHIELD’s control, and the system would have done its level best to swallow him and redistribute the good bits.

For the agency to be using all of the brains it technically holds? They need data. They need to be a bunch of curious and interested people. They need to know that exonerating people will still get them promoted. And they need to know they can refuse orders, change things around in the field, or plain old fuck up and still survive it. Without all that they system skews to keeping decisions and therefore risks small, and nobody is giving their best work.

Makes you wonder how Hawkeye, who made another call, who was starting to root for the other guy, managed to survive and thrive in the paranoid and HYDRA inflected SHIELD. How long he managed it and how. Cause if Hand was the boss of him she’d have shot him long before we met him, HYDRA would know they didn’t own him so likewise, and pretty much only Coulson of the people we met would have even put up with him. Must have been more and different going on than we saw. Or Hawkeye was just that lucky or that good.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Okay, so, I’ve been meaning to type this up for a while. I got down my sociology textbook for this. It’s two inches thick and a foot tall and I think removing it has done terrible things to the structural integrity of the book piles so it is possible some accident investigator will find this as the last thing I typed before bookalanche took me. Plus I’d forgotten what an absolute pigging pain it is to take notes out of that thing, I’d need to clear the full size desk to put it down next to a keyboard and no, that’s not happening any time soon. And the book itself is like a dozen years old? Haralambos and Holborn 6th edition. Huh, Amazon remembers things forever, I apparently purchased mine on 9th December 2005. They’re up to 8th edition in 2013. And the bit of research I wanted to dig out a cite for is from 1986, so, you know, classic.

Also I’m going to apply it all to Torchwood and S.H.I.E.L.D. , which is sort of far from the original intention.

The thing I was looking for: Losing the Fight against Crime (1986) Richard Kinsey, John Lea and Jock Young, Blackwell, Oxford, p.42 “The vicious circle of the collapse of consensus policing”.

As it turns out, not something I can pry out of google. So, y’all will have to imagine the little diagram:

Economic decay, deprivation, racial discrimination etc -> Rising level of street crime -> drift towards ‘military’ policing’ -> Alienation of the community -> Reduced flow of information to police -> collapse of consensus policing -> more military policing, rinse and repeat… er, I mean the arrows go around in a little feedback loop around there.

Read more... )

I mean, once people know that aliens fall out of the sky, they’re going to be sold on the idea of police specific to deal with aliens falling out of the sky. It’s going to be a pretty good thing if there’s people who know what they’re doing. The public could be all reassured about it. It’s just, that doesn’t work if they act like Torchwood or movie SHIELD does. Because those are not reassuring agencies. Those are in fact acting like the bad guys. They just got that way because they know there are threats out there but they’ve left themselves less than 10% of the tools to find them, and it’s scaring hell out of them, so they crack down harder. Vicious circle.

This is why openness and accountability actually work better, and the more secrets you pile up the less effective people can be.

Well, one why. Another is to do with getting used to nonsensical orders, relying on authority to have more data than you do, because that breaks feedback mechanisms. But that's a whole other bit of writing.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I am, last I heard, technically a genius. Not a technical genius, tech defeats me often, just, you know, give me an IQ test and I'll get whatever the test can measure, minus maybe one question. It's cool, if you're into standardised tests. It's just not terribly helpful. Read more... )

So then there's 'stupid'. Which is a moving goalpost for a start. People throw the word at a whole lot of people, for a whole lot of reasons. But I know some actually stupid people, people with low IQ or who just wouldn't do so great academically, and there's nowt else they have in common. They're not saints, they're not bastards, they're just people. They do their lives one step at a time same as anyone. And some of them can do stuff that I, with my degree, epic fail at. ... and I probably shouldn't call them stupid, because irrational as it is, it is used as a rude word. Just, I mean, there are a lot of people who might not be all bright and gifted and going to university, but they seem to have their shit together and get on with the doing of things, and that works fine for them. Maybe they're nice, maybe they're kind, maybe they're helpful. It don't correlate with IQ or learning at all at all.

So what kept bothering me so I wrote this: people who insist their favourite characters are secretly smart. And by that, they mean book smart. Academically gifted. Secret math genius! Maybe they have a stack of degrees or something. You never know, they might just have not mentioned it yet.

And, okay, yeah, there's a lot of room for a lot of headcanons, but... why do they feel the need to do that?

If someone thinks Clint Barton is stupid, so what? Read more... )

How about a hero whose primary characteristic is he won't quit. Read more... )

So my point is, people are basically deciding that because they like a character, he's a specific kind of smart. They're not counting the kinetics, the things he can demonstrably do with his body, the ways he can use a team and spot a weakness, and they should be. But those things don't need to mean 'secretly a genius', just 'very very good after lifetime's work'.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been watching MacGyver. It's... well, it's quite a lot rubbish, really. I like the Solve It With Science sections, but humans do not work like this, it's annoying.

Weirdest is the way they ration roles for women. There is one woman per episode. Read more... )

... yet I'm getting ever more defensive purely inside my own head about why I keep watching stuff that doesn't meet my minimum standards on women and ethnicity.

I was thinking how on earth the numbers can skew so badly. I give up on the Smurfette stuff, the single woman in the Man Story, it is a depth of no sense I cannot figure.

I was thinking though about Tosh and Gwen. Different shows, Tosh in Torchwood, Gwen in Merlin. I can see how you end up with one woman of colour in a season. Read more... )

That math only works one episode at a time though.

If you count the main cast once and only once, you get to the end of the season and realise you've got 1/42 women of colour, 2%, because they were always the same one.

So even if people are paying attention to the maths, there has to be someone with the grand view, the whole season view, before this problem is apparent. Read more... )

I have no grand conclusions. Just that a lot of TV needs marking Could Do Better.
And it should be really simple to fix, if someone is paying attention.



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