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.

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, there's stuff about the AI in TWS that has been bothering me for ages, and I keep expecting fic on this premis to turn up, but maybe I'm reading in the wrong places.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today I rewatched The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk. I like that one because the guy in the title is half a synchronised team with his mum. She’s the martial artist of the family. And the same in the other family, the one Fong Sai Yuk marries into, the mother is the martial arist. There’s some really fun fights where they get to show off.

Read more... )

Most stories do not have the hero bring his mum along, or get trained by his mum, or have to fight someone else’s mum to prove his worth. That’s the bit of the film I remember and value.

So I was thinking of sets of characters that are families. Because what you want from characters is for each of them to react slightly differently in any given situation, and also to have reasons to get into and out of the particular brand of trouble the plot engine provides.

First set I think of is the Bat family. Read more... )

… eh, that’s nearly two thousand words, and I ended up talking about the boys when I started out talking about kick arse mothers. It’s so important to me that Black Canary is following in her mother’s fishnet clad footsteps. That aspect getting written out just pisses me off. Because women can form legacies just as powerful with men nowhere near them. See: Wonder Woman, in those happy years no particular retcon has screwed it over.

But I’ll probably write more about that later.

Iron Monkey

Mar. 3rd, 2015 10:07 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I just rewatched Iron Monkey, a rather excellent martial arts movie with a final fight on poles above fire that just wows me. Like, I want to know how they did it, but I also don’t, because damn that looks awesome. Maybe they just set the fire and had a fight up on sticks, you never know. That’s what it looked like.

I like how it makes the bad guy being unbalanced their fatal flaw in a very physical way that clearly accompanies the moral/ethical/philosophical level. Earlier sequences with Chinese medicine made clear the importance of balance. Being evil just messes itself up.
Read more... )

So the form the fight takes is making a moral argument about all the flaws in the Evil approach, and demonstrating that being good to each other works better.

It’s pretty cool.

Iron Monkey also had a father and son working together, teacher and student, and a bunch of stuff about relationships and growing up, which was actually what I thought I’d be writing about when I sat down. But I made my 1000 words for the day mostly by talking about the fight scenes, so, I’ll leave that for tomorrow.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've said it before and I'll say it again:

When writing an AU with daemons or other psychic animal companions, it is deeply creepy to use canon humans as said companions, especially when that's how they shuffle aside all the women.

I haven't in my latest reading found where all the black people end up, but that's the other thing that happens a lot.

Humans, especially those from minority groups, are not beasts of burden with their whole lives determined by their attachment to a particular white man.

Even if that would mean them being a snarky soundtrack in said white man's head, and even if the animal companion is taking that critical best friend role, it's just creepy to make them into non-humans.

There's been enough centuries of dogma suggesting women are a lower order of creation than men, don't go making your story say it again.

... to those with a different set of reading preferences I may seem to be going off on one rather randomly, but seriously, this happens every time.

It's also not the most interesting thing to do with it. You could start with the character you're giving a psychic other half and then do something like split out an aspect of their personality or make their companion mirror them in some way. That way they keep all their friends in human shapes, but you can use the psychic animal device to highlight and emphasise certain things about all of them.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I read a thing about immortality and relationships with mortals.
It mentioned Doctor Who but not Highlander, so it missed quite a lot of the references I would make.
But what bothered me was their contention that, because half the relationship is immortal and in many cases measurably more powerful in many respects, the relationship is inherently unequal.
They reckoned that, because of this inequality, the immortals should just not date mortals.
This is bothering me in a niggly yet persistent way, and it's kind of on disability grounds.

In Highlander one of the most memorable relationships was between Methos, the world's oldest man, and Alexa, a terminally ill human.
Read more... )

But the second part of the idea, that the Doctor (among other educated immortals) is so much smarter than humans that he shouldn't date humans... oh, that bothers me. Read more... )

This isn't just me saying of course I'd date the Doctor, or of course the Doctor would date me.
Though if he did then my English degree probably wouldn't be a large part of the appeal, since his criteria so far seem to involve being brave, curious, and likely to wander off. He likes it when his friends make their own plans and tell him where he's going wrong. Sure he does things behind their back or with lying for their own good sometimes, but by consistently choosing to associate with people who consider his advice more of a general guideline than the word of god he is not in fact showing a preference for people to prop up his feeling of power. He is instead valuing them for their free will and intrepid spirit, even if they've got far less of a toolkit for understanding this universe they're all exploring together.

Which seems fair enough to me.

It's like superhero teams where everyone has a different power, and the ones that can fly carry the ones that can't, but don't look down on them in any but the literal sense. Or teams where some of them have twice or more the IQ of the others, but still respect their opinions and acknowledge they're the bosses of themselves. Or like mixed ability sports teams, where some of them are wheelchair users and others can get equipment up steps. People can get along together without differences being especially relevant. Why should mixed abilities mean not associating? Even romantically? Can't see an angle where that's not ablist.

... the bit of the post about how it's always guys on TV 'having to' go date a younger woman when the last relationship ages out, whereas the much scarcer immortal women usually do the pining away forever bit, that's an imbalance that needs fixing. But see also: Highlander (the Raven): Amanda. We didn't get gender parity in Immortality, but we did get some ladies who knew how to live. But then either way up is clearly feeding on ugly cultural threads about a woman's obligation to stay young and attract men forever, so there's some work needs doing on that.

This might just be me defending my preferences for fictional really old guys, but I think saying that age or intelligence in and of themselves create a power imbalance that means the more powerful should just never date is really problematic in what it says about what the younger can freely choose and cope with.

(Plus in a culture with as much power imbalance between genders and races as historically Earth has had, it kind of rules out... heterosexuality? And anything but being perfectly matching in every power-related dimension, which is kind of all of them. But that's an argue beyond the scope of tonight.)
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I made a new year's resolution to write 1000 words per day, just to get started doing any writing at all again. So far I've made them by complaining about Big Finish Audios, but to listen to more of those I'd have to change devices, so, I need some topics to ramble on about.

Today: Designing female superheroes.

Read more... )

I guess if I'm going to invent or design a female superhero, for one thing I'll make them in a set so they've got other powerful women to relate to, and for another what I'll really be trying to do is remake or rescue existing supers. Because what I really want for those women has, sometimes, happened. Paradise Island and Amazons and a competition to find the best and Wonder Woman comes to man's world, trying to live up to her mother, and inspires women everywhere, including two more Wonder Girls. Batgirl takes up the mantle of her own will, and so does Batgirl and Batgirl after her. Black Canary and her daughter Black Canary. Oracle. Power Girl. Fire and Ice. They've all had their moments where they were exactly what I wanted, needed, them to be.

I'd want to take all the best bits of that, and then, somehow, I'd want to make sure they never got screwed over again.

... to invent lady superheroes the way I want them, I would have to combat systemic sexism in the media.

... which inventing them right would be only a small step towards doing.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It is frustrating when fanfic has, like, a completely opposites world view of what a relationship is about.

Like, I'm reading for pairings that work together and learn how to fit that way first, with a shared goal and friendship, and then kind of blink and notice the sexy.

But I keep finding fics about these same guys that just throw them into bed together at first sight, and oh, hey, turns out we work together pretty okay too.

Which is kind of boring and feels like a different genre? Like, porn or romance assumptions, not fanfic that has so much everyday life together as canon to work with.

And I know AUs do that because they think it's romantic to be destined to be together and just click like they've been waiting for each other all their lives, but it seems opposite of romantic to me, like, if the characters only know what each other look like, then they're all hollow and puppety and I can only believe in lust at first sight. Saying that every version of the two of them would be together kind of only works if every version has the significant things in common. Or else it's just meat.

I'm sure some people are mostly there for the pretty, but, not my thing.

I mean there's characters where I don't fancy that actor as anyone else they've been, just that one character, so it's totally not about looks. Or I always fancy that character however the comics or TV or movies visually interpret them, even cartoons, so it's very much not about the meat they're wearing. Which is one reason I like text based fanfic.

So I just don't get it when two characters just look at each other and pounce and it's supposed to be romantic. Sexy, sure, but not romantic.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading an always-angels wingfic the other day and it had one half of the OTP as heaven's good soldier and the other as the fallen, probably demon, rebel dude. And I thought that the characterisation was pushed too far, flattened them out, but I was rolling with it... until the good soldier gets back to 'heaven', and the council that gives him his orders? Is made up of canon bad guys.

At that point, subtlety was gone, and the whole thing stopped even making sense. They'd mixed the alignments and motives of 'heaven' so badly there were capitalist get rich quick scheme guys in charge of the hosts. What does rich even mean when everyone can manifest anything? So then the bad guys made no sense and the story fell apart.

If you want to write about rebellion against heaven, if you want to write the triumph of team free will, then yaayness, go for it, this is a solid place to start. But you've got to see clear what the conflict is.

One of the martial arts films I saw, I think it's Iron Monkey? It had three sides in conflict. It was very very clearly a conflict between Lawful Good, Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil. Read more... ) Rampant capitalists are probably Lawful Evil.

Tony Stark is arguably Lawful Evil, before the cave. You can write him as doing it all for the good of the company ie his employees and shareholders, thinking of others first. That's valid too. But you can also write it as complete self centered playboy narcissism, and canon fits fine. That's Lawful Evil. He's getting his, and the getting is good, so why worry about anyone else?

Read more... )

So Steve as heaven's soldier, a Good man in a Lawful Good organisation, meeting a fallen Chaotic Good Tony Stark and, well, falling for him, or leading heaven's hosts in rebellion in the cause of Good against Law, that all works great. They'll match on the alignment that means everything to Steve.

But finding out heaven is secretly evil? That's oversimplifying the matter. That requires everyone to be stupid for a really long time.

Read more... )

If you're going to use the heaven vs hell trope set, then heaven is every good thing anyone could ever want, or at least can plausibly sell itself as that. Heaven's angels know unquestionably that they are the good guys, they get what they deserve, and that what they want is the Father's will. If you're going to just drop secretly selfish angels into that, it gets difficult to sell, because what even is it they have left to want? Secretly judgey angels who want all that good stuff for themselves and don't think humans deserve it, sure. Angels who can't even have the good stuff because humans are the only ones that get rewards, great, they can work that problem. Angels fed up with singing the praises of the dude that made them, maybe want their own songs, fine. But it takes a little work, because the source trope is angels and heaven are all the good things, so just dropping some bad guy names on them doesn't make first glance sense.

And it's much more interesting to use the whole set up as a way in to questioning what we even mean by Good.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I understand wanting your OTP to be the center of the universe. And I know I tend to read about white men. But it still bothers me, a lot, when rewrites and AUs and fanfic in general shoves women and black men out of the story, and gives all their work to white men.

Fury started the Avengers Initiative and is the center of the SHIELD universe. Yes, the TV series has messed with that, that pisses me off too, but that's no reason to follow it down. Fury and Natasha brought the team together, with a little help from Coulson, not the other way around.

Pepper and Rhodey are Tony's support, the most important people in his life (plus Happy, who gets vanished pretty much always). New friends are fun and all, but day to day life for *decades* has been Tony, Pepper, Rhodey. That doesn't just go away when he has new shiny (white male) toys to play with.

If the only way you can get to your OTP is to vanish more important people, your thesis is flawed.

I like to think of fanfic as a way of fixing the invisibility usually present in the media, but there are some ways we manage to be worse. Which is purely embarrassing, given the already low standards of the original.

There's also a lot of cases of humans don't work like that. Like, matchmakers. If, upon turning the story around so you're seeing it from the matchmaker characters eyes, they have no purpose, goal or thought other than getting two white guys they may only vaguely know to go and be happily ever after together, the whole story has a huge great problem, because no one thinks like that. It's an extra large problem if the matchmaker is from categories other than white men (actually can you think of any that are white men? because it's eluding me right now.) Why does this character exist the first few decades of their life? What is their continued reason for being after the OTP kiss? If you can't tell from the story, problem!

I do sympathise with the need to give the OTP a new push, especially with characters who have known each other in canon for a really long time without noticeably dating. There's just ways and ways of doing it.

I get really cranky, and yet I know I'm not writing awesome women and people of colour, or indeed reading pairings featuring them. That makes me part of the problem. Boo.

But still, problem.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know how there are some fanfics that would just be so much better if they weren't trying to be fanfic?

Like, the AU has all the worldbuilding done, there's action, adventure, and excitement... and some very familiar names doing very unfamiliar things.

Change the names and they'd neither be derivative nor out of character.

Plus without the fanfic connection more of them might get a character. The OCs are well drawn, the characterisation quick and clear, but the fanfic characters are pretty much a name, because hey, we know them already. Except we don't, because they wouldn't do that. So then they're just a muddle of no particular distinction. And the writer can clearly do better. So if it wasn't being fanfic, tada, sorted.

Also I always get hung up on how characters are translated into AUs. They retain what the writer considers their important distinctive features, but if I disagree, I just spend the fic rewriting it in my head so they're proper again.

And then there's that thing where they've had so much fun building in easter eggs, names we'll notice, power translations and so forth, they kind of don't give them much to do. Cameo overload.

Then there's genre features I can't be having with getting mixed with characters I otherwise like. Sliding timelines slid in inconsistent directions. Geography and religion renamed but not with any noticeable pattern. None of it stuff that matters, just stuff that trips up the reader, if and only if it's fanfic. Since fanfic relies on existing knowledge and AUs use it to do their own thing. If the story was just original, no tripping.

Of course if the story was just original I wouldn't have started reading it, but then I wouldn't have been disappointed by how my OTP were... not entirely present in the inspired by AU characters, and it explored none of the themes I like with them.

Fated love at first sight soulbonding fic seems very popular, but ... no. *shrugs*

And while I'm complaining about AUs: Steve Rogers in AUs is tiny pre serum Steve, unless you can come up with a very good excuse. Not just go lalala growth spurt, actually deal with his multiple disabilities.
I read an intriguingly persuasive thing that linked most of it back to an infectious disease listed in some props, one that's treatable or pretty much isn't around now, so by that logic it makes sense to have him grow up healthy. But healthy looks like Chris Evans, not like Captain America. There's a bit of a height difference either way. ...though I know movies are so inconsistent about heights it's easier to just ignore them. The height of boxes that must be involved to have everyone look much of a muchness in some shots...

I know people just want to keep their favourite version around, but the lack of logic bothers me.

And then there's the AUs where they just decide to erase age differences and hit rewind on certain older characters. Older being a very sliding concept that can happen to most anyone. But I don't get it why someone would be enough of a fan of a character to write about them, but only if they knock twenty years off their age. Not to explore backstory, or for an AU with specific age limits, just... because. That's their AU now, the young people version.

You just magic away all the little lines around their eyes when they smile. Why would you want to do that?

It's the AU thing of keeping the significant bits. You just get to notice repeatedly that what others value in your favourites is not the same as you.

Eh, it's 0451 and I haven't quite finished this thing yet, I'll stop rambling.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It's interesting what fanfic does and doesn't soak up. Clint/Coulson came out of pretty much nothing and is still going strong, but it's mostly ignoring Agents of SHIELD. When it does acknowledge AoS there is a really obvious big problem in suggesting any outside relationship for Coulson is super important. Mostly fic just has 'Fury made me do it' and a lot of anger and apologies. But it has reached the point where I'm wanting to talk back at it, because there is in fact logic much stronger than that, and clearly the internet needs to know. Read more... )

It's four in teh morning and I'm not sure how much of that made sense in English. Or who would want to read it. But hey, OTP thoughts.


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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