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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'.
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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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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... )
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Stories pretty often suffer from a basic lack of understanding how humans work, so lack of understanding nuclear weapons isn't exactly a surprise, but still.

Adding plutonium to an exploding arrow does not make it a bigger explosion. Regular explosives are violently exothermic chemical reactions. Nuclear explosions are, well, nuclear, a whole different deal. To make nukes go bang they put the nuclear material in the middle of the explosive so it'll get squished together to form a critical mass. That means it doesn't go boom while it's waiting and smaller amounts of material can be coaxed into boom. But you still need a critical mass. Which is, google and wiki suggests, somewhere around 5kg for a really worrying element plus explosives.

You do not stick 5kg on the end of an arrow.

Smaller amounts of nuclear material just add radioactivity and poison to your boom stuff. Plutonium is a toxic metal, as dust (like after exploding) it can get breathed in and stay in the body for decades, and once there exposes the body to radiation. And these effects apply for extremely tiny amounts.

So, reading a fic where Hawkeye has souped up his arrows with plutonium?
And, when Cap asks if that's safe for bystanders, is all 'sure!' ?

No I'm not leaving this as a comment, it's comic book fanfic, the bar is set low.

Also my degree is in English so I might have got bunches wrong.

But stuff like this is just distracting.

Also real science makes much more interesting stories cause they have real constraints you have to work hard to overcome, and possibilities with fascinating implications.
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Last weekend at the con there were screenings of a documentary about Doctor Who fans. I watched a bit of it, then walked out all :eyeroll: It wasn't being deliberately rude or anything, but it was being drearily tedious in a very gendered way. It was about how Doctor Who fandom is changing, and it seemed really excited about it, and you'd think that would be a good thing. But.

There's this story that fanboys tell themselves, over and over, in a variety of spaces I've seen and been to.
The story goes "And suddenly, women!"

This story is always wrong.

Read more... )

So if their perception is also true what they need to be asking is why weren't women fans in the same spaces as men?

Read more... )

The thing is though, if someone can figure out the right questions, the ones about how a variety of people always liked the texts but now they are more likely to share fan spaces and do fan activities, that might get some useful answers. Like, what made people feel safe and welcome? What changed? How do we do it again?

Because the other thing I noticed at the convention - at all the conventions really - is how very very white we tend to be. Much more so than the UK in general. And the convention organiser had a nice speech at the closing ceremony about how everyone is welcome in fan spaces, no matter your gender, sexuality, or race... but I don't reckon you could prove it by the actual attendees. And that might be a failure of eyes on my part, but, the UK is 87% white according to the 2011 census. So there should be 13 people in every 100 that are not white. Even in a 200 person convention, that's 26. And I only actually noticed two.

Unless I missed a couple dozen people, we're too white. We need to understand that lack of diversity.

And asking the right questions seems like a good start.

Of course if a diverse audience actually isn't watching the same texts, okay. Anecdote is not data, and maybe I am that much the special snowflake, and happen to online know the only classic era women or people of color in fandom. But I can't actually believe that.

Which makes with the epic :eyeroll: when some fanboy story takes it as the baseline assumption.


Jul. 22nd, 2014 07:10 pm
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I'm reading a book at the moment that's one of those meet the aliens things, and it's making me uncomfortable because it's using a lot of phrasing that reminds me of cliche-China while adding that these aliens have no concept of love. Actually, even without that twist, it would make me uncomfortable to make the aliens Chinese. It's all in the phrasing with words like Auspicious and Heaven coming up a lot, and cities that have to be built in alignment with the land, and obsession with numerology. I'd like to be reading the plot but instead I'm tripping over the fakey scenery, you know? China is not alien, aliens are not china, and it's bothering me.

So I was thinking on why. It doesn't even have to be racism. When we look at other cultures we notice the sticking out parts, the glaring, the obvious. It fines it down to a stereotype fast. And we're usually unaware of the underlying reasoning, the geographic, ecological, historical conditions that made it all make sense. So we get a hollow system of glaring incongruities.

When I did cultural studies we'd look at historical literature, but whatever we learned to spot there we'd bring that to bear on current culture, and lo and behold we'd have a lot in common. So I think there's a better way to write about the Other. Look at what's foreign to you, sure, for a start, find those glaring parts, but then, come back to the familiar and find them at home too. Find the heritage buildings and the lucky numbers and trying to make your phone number spell something, and then use the familiar to make strange. Then, when you're writing your aliens, take those parts of your own culture out of context and defamiliarised. You'll have your strange Other aliens, but you'll have a lot more to draw on. And you'll have a lot of everyday language to draw on, with different social levels and so forth built in, so already it'll sound less fake.

It's like when you're looking for a Doctor Who plot. You look around your house, your office, your school, your drive in, your supermarket, and then you pick something and say 'what's weird about this'. Well, usually you say 'how could an alien kill us with this', but it's the same principle. And Doctor Who has survived on that for 50 years. So that works pretty good.

Don't present places you don't know as foreign, do it to your home town, and see what the new perspective gives you.
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There's a kind of fic that's all about how one character's relationships have all been horribly abusive and then they meet The One and find out what a healthy relationship looks like and decide they want this forever and ever happily ever after.

And, okay, I get it, for some characters it's even canon, if horrible has happened already then swooping in and making everything all okay again is lovely. Like cookies and blankets and regular meals.

It just bothers me quite a lot when the only thing The One has going for them is that they treat others like actual people with basic respect and human rights and so forth. Like, that's the bare minimum, everyone who doesn't meet that is the bad guys, but there's a world between not being a bad guy and being actually actively good.

Read more... )

Being the best of a bad bunch is never going to be impressive or romantic, basically. If you want your white knight to look proper good they have to distinguish themselves even among a background of actually decent people.

Actually a lot of stories about bosses at SHIELD do this, they set the average boss as total rubbish, and then have Coulson be super boss just by not being actively a jerk. Read more... )

Some of this is just stories having a limited cast. The good one vs the bad one takes a bunch of words, adding another good but not quite as good one would take more.

But still, it bothers me. It's giving all the cookies and happily ever afters just as prizes for meeting minimum standards. It seems like best should be better than just avoiding all the awful things.
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I've noticed that fanfic versions lag loooooong behind canon twists. Which, given how long it takes to write anything, fair enough. But it's also that we get attached to a fanon version, for instance the Coulson that mixed in 616 canon to get ex-Ranger best friend of Fury, and then when things get Jossed we just like our guy better. But the recent big organisational changes seem least likely to show up. It's not as bad as Torchwood, where people kept writing season 2 team fics and ignored the existence of everything after that, but there's a tendency to try and pull everything back to status quo ante that reminds me of comics more than TV. Comics are cyclical, everything that falls will always rise in familiar form. Television? Sometimes trashes all before it and revises the paradigm. Sometimes.

So, how hard would it be to just get SHIELD back?

Read more... )

Seeing as I've never been the boss of even a quite small team, have no military or law enforcement experience, and get all my learnings from reading the internet or RPG rulebooks or watching TV, this Grand Plan right here is the sort of thing that makes sense from my recliner this morning and probably not very practical at all.

But I like to think it would make good story.

Each week the core team would go somewhere new, meet new people, and help them. And then leave with the understanding they can call on their help in return in future. In a friendly way.

Different, but nice.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My first fandom, with conventions, mailing lists, and fanfic, was Highlander. That's where I got both my icon and my tattoo. I haven't rewatched it for a while, partly on the sneaking suspicion it might not be as good as the good bits version in my head, but it did shape me.

I build a character by choosing their weapon. It don't have to be a sword, or even a tool of violence, but whatever it is, it will be very specific. Each weapon has a specific use, a culture and community who used it, a history, a heritage. Their use was learned somewhere, and perfected over time as that particular tool seemed suited for that character's tasks.

Highlander was big on flashbacks. Read more... )

So I learned from Highlander that every character has history. Which seems pretty obvious. But a lot of shows, just by only telling the present, they make it seem like a character's life started in the pilot episode, or at least the interesting bit. Read more... )

A character's journey, historic and geographic, will influence which ideas they carry as well as the tools they use. And it can be very, very specific. Read more... )

And that kind of depth and detail is an absolute bugger to build into a created 'verse, fantasy or SF. It's hard enough to show what a world is like now, but it'll feel like a paper backdrop until it can give the impression it had a journey to get that way.

It's tempting to leave an individual in a holding pattern before the story gets started. Read more... )

I sat down to write this just to say that I think the space colony series I've been planning could benefit from flashbacks. Read more... )

Buuuuuut, presence of extensive flashbacks does not automatically endear a show to me. And even shows I like can have (interminable) flashbacks I could do without. I think the tricky bit is to keep it both relevant and fresh, despite it being the past. If the same thing happens in every flashback, bored now. And it's nice to see what made a character the person they are today, but it's tricky to get the right speed of revelation and to keep it tied to the plot of the week.

I'm also thinking about arc vs self contained stories. If one timeframe is arc and the other is self contained, does that compliment or drag at each other? Read more... )

The thing with my space colony though, I was going to use fanfic characters to give it depth of background, only to adapt them to this setting which is kind of a fusion or AU then I'd need to retell the most significant bits of their lives. New old friends, yes? Even if I used familiar names we'd need to get to know them twice, who they were in the fusion backstory and who they are in the ongoing plot. Read more... )

I keep telling myself that I haven't started writing this thing because if I just let it stew a bit longer it might be possible to file serial numbers off and make it proper original. Actually at the moment I have two slightly different offworld colony stories that just don't mesh, one with capertillers and Welsh stone circles and a very British cast, the other with a straight up Stargate setting. The Stargate one is always going to be fanfic, but right now it's merely a mess of a multi fandom fusion that I can't imagine anyone would read, and with a bit of polish it might be spin off series level original. The two series don't quite mesh, but they do both deal with disability and some magic cures. And I know that nobody hesitates to write different Being Masculine On a Starship stories, but I'm hesitating over different Being Disabled in a Space Colony stories, even though the differences are not things I could smush together. One is a low character point low resources ordinary people story, the other a high power vast resources big politics tale that draws on comic book characters and Star Trek level competence. They don't match, they don't go the same places, I kind of want to tell both, I stall on telling either.

I stall on putting one word next to another, and whenever I notice that, instead of opening a file and trying it, I just talk myself into a woe spiral about how maybe I'm not a writer after all. Blergh.

Or, as you may notice, pontificate at length in meta.

i'm going to post this and get breakfast. it's only 1530, i've been up since 0730, that's a totally reasonable interval before breakfast...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
still wanna see it again.

did you know there are international differences? Read more... )

spoilers of course
(don't read spoilers, tis much more fun if you don't know spoilers)
for Winter Soldier and Agents of SHIELD together again. and the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which I saw right before the movie, Read more... )

I want to watch the movie again and have big thoughts.
... watching will lead to having more whoosh boom thoughts, I know, but possibly also big thoughts.
... maybe.

[ETA for those linked here: My first reaction to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Agents of SHIELD 1.14 TAHITI have related thoughts]
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Have watched two out of three discs.
So far:


I like all the characters. All. They remain interesting.

And the plots get more interesting. I actually start to care a bit about the Big Secret Politics stuff? Because people are interesting.

Also I think they're pretty plainly comparing all the choose a side stuff from the Fae teams with being bisexual and poly and being told to just choose one. And Bo continues to say choosing is stupid and sticks with doing things her own way.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: dollmaker girl, short and wider than most dolls, red hair, red shirt, red fan, katana, rainbow socks, and converse.  Be. (avatar)
There's a fic series where Clint Barton is the Slayer, and I just cannot get past the first page, not because writing, but because of how wrong headed it is to make the Slayer a guy.

I mean, they mocked the idea within the series, with Andrew saying how a guy would be cooler. And imitator series have tried making the Slayer a guy and been really really bad. And the idea of the Chosen One being male? Not exactly rocking any boats. So why flip the gender back to guys doing violence, unless they're actively trying to prop up patriarchy.

The Slayer was a girl, in canon, because she could be both bait and trap. She would look small weak defenceless tasty, and then get the stake out. Make a guy like Clint Barton a Slayer? Who would be dumb enough to read him as weak? No bait, no trap.

Read more... )

Guys as Slayers though... when it's girl Slayers being pounced by guy vampires in alleys and then fighting them all off it's a metaphor about resistance to the dominant patriarchal power that sees them as available to slake their biological urges on. When it's a guy being pounced? Either it's other guys, when it's just the model of masculinity whereby they solve problems by violence, and the admittedly useful side where it makes monsters and wrecks lives, or it's girl vampires, and it's male violence against monstrous women yet again. It gets skewed ugly real easy. Angel being the monster first and trying to deal with it by eliminating other monsters, that was mostly noir about how that worked really badly. Give a guy super strength and it does not, on the whole, improve things for him.

So for all I know this fic could be awesome. I haven't read it, I've read the tags at most, I have no idea. But I just can't get started on it because the simple gender flip for me undermines all the basic point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It could very easily have a different basic point about a different set of inequalities (because in the end it's about power). But by using specifically Buffy to illustrate them, it loses me on page one, because that was girl power, and they don't get to give it back to the guys.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I’m reading fanfic with involuntary animal transformation. There’s a basically human mind in a tiny cat body now. And as almost always happens, the fic is driving me nuts, because everyone is trying to guess what the tiny cat dude means as if he’s a cat having cat opinions in only body language.

Give him a touchscreen or keyboard!

If that won’t work, make bigger buttons!

Or a bunch of flashcards, or yes and no cards, or something.

Fic treats becoming non-verbal as if it were a unique problem, instead of a common one. Non-verbal and lacking fine manipulators is trickier than being able to write or quickly type, but it’s a thing that happens to actual human people, even abruptly. Animal transformation is a unique method, but the problem is old and the solutions available.

Other fantasy situations bug me the exact same way. I got wound up by someone becoming a ghost because I read it as sudden disability, and all his friends / allies / acquaintances just kind of left him to it, as if wandering around unable to touch anything was just the new normal. I was all, get him a computer that can see or hear him! Hire him an assistant, at least for some of the day! So he can’t pick things up any more, so what? You ignore him now?

I think the problem is that most people don’t think about losing an ability, suddenly or otherwise, so when they do it to a character they act like they have to think up solutions on the spot. Whereas I think about disability a lot, and will think of a transformation in terms of impairments and how they are now disabled, and then there’s whole catalogues and careers of accessability solutions. It’s probably not the most obvious mindset when you’re talking ‘suddenly has paws instead of hands’, but it’s pretty obvious from here, where disability is just a thing that happens.

Or, alternately, I see a lot of fantasy story stuff as basically about disability, because that’s the lens for a lot in my life. And that means that stories the author probably thinks are basically about cats are scored, by me, on how they write about disability. Which they don’t know they’re doing, so they don’t score very high.

To be fair though, it do seem to have properly observed felines.

It’s just not cool watching someone have to communicate in tail mime because their friends keep forgetting there’s a person in there and go straight to the pet shop, not human solutions.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I read a lot of books where someone somehow steps through into a magical world, and finds there that they’re stronger than they ever knew. But I want to read about the ones that come back.

Not (just) the ones that come back together, that know they know the secret. Not the ones that dream of getting back someday. The ones that return, and make a home here, with only common greed and hate to fight and words and law to fight it with.

The ones that look around, and know they’re not alone, and spot across the crowd someone with the gleam, the glint of other worlds, other rules shining through. They gather together, and speak of what they learned from walking trees and talking lions, and teach each other, and set out to do more. They set out to rebuild this world with what they learned out there.

And maybe they find friends who never left Earth, who kept their roots and stayed grounded and think of themselves as realistic people. They’d need those too. But they’d share the stories, however much they doubted, until with a great and rising joy their new friend starts to realise that their other world, their better world, is true and always has been.

And there would be another friend, someone who had the light in them, who knew the tree and lion and many others too, and only gradually would the travellers realise this one had never walked there, except in dreams. But they’d worked themselves to the bone to bring the gifts here anyway.

I want to read how they take it all, kings and queens and magic and prophecy and being the chosen one, and come back to the crowd, and, being just one more person now, still make a difference.

Because I think that’s called ‘reality’, and I’d like to make a difference there.


Nov. 16th, 2013 08:54 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

I have been reading fanfic and pondering the nature of time.

Movies often (usually?) cover only a short time, say an intense few days.  If relationships are formed they're often shaped by shared survival pressures.  You get to the closing credits and wonder what they'll do on rainy Sunday afternoons, or if they can actually watch the same kind of movies, or if indeed they can stand each other.  It's easy to decide you don't want someone to die or you quite like it when someone saves your life, but then what?

TV series are more my speed.  Especially if they're planning to stretch the relationships over 100 episodes.  People get to know each other sloooooowly.  They share the intense times and learn they can rely on each other in an emergency, but then sometimes there's also fishing, or opera, or introducing someone to Star Wars.  You do in fact see what they do on Sunday afternoons, though usually only in one episode where the boredom gets interrupted explosively.  There's a lot of 'then what?'

Fanfic can do either.  I've read a lot of fic that tries to fill in around episodes, so you know it has been weeks of story time across the length of the fic, or you at least know these people know each other well already.  But when it is fic based on movies, or when the story is about the first time someone meets, then the conflicting models of relationship formation crop up again.  Sometimes you'll get people focusing on the long term, working together for years, connecting over coffee and diner food a little at a time.  Other fics write the movie of their relationship, love at first sight, intense explosions and rescues and declarations all fitting in one weekend.

I end up feeling like that sort leaves all the work ahead of them.  Like, they might be having sex, but they don't yet have a relationship.

Of course actual humans work every which way.  And are a persistent mystery.  So I guess everything is plausible.

I just like the long term, the way I like TV better than movies.  More depth.


Of course comics have this weird thing where they go on forever and also cover an intense couple of years where four months our time is often about one night their time.  You end up not knowing how long people have known each other, even outside of retcons, cause on the one hand they've reported to every president since Kennedy and on the other they've aged maybe enough that their teen sidekicks made it into their twenties.  I know the arguments for the sliding timeline, but the impact on relationships frustrates me.  Plus I want to see people grow up.  Green Arrow in my head is the story of one ageing bowman, his protege, his bio son, and his granddaughter, plus a bunch of others.  How the world has changed around him and the changes in self image required by becoming basically a grandfather are interesting and important parts of his character.  Except apparently not, because comics want to play with archetypal figures, and changing happens only cyclically.  It's fine for them to die and return, lose and gain powers, like seasons changing, but it's somehow not fine for years to actually pass.

So comics time is both really, really long term and really, really short.



But it do take a bit of a long while to build up that kind of deep time in story layers, and the stories aren't being told to the same people every time.  Like with Doctor Who, they have to assume a lot of the audience hasn't seen previous seasons due to not having been born.  There's probably not many of us who stick around and dig long enough to see that it goes back so far.  If stories have to be sold every month, they probably can't be sold only to the fans of the long term.

Also, you can't start from scratch while marketing the story to people as a fifty year deep endeavour.  You'd have to start with people who like new things and acquire people who like story archaeology.  Tricky.


Or, of course, you start a new story about three generations of hero, and just act like the back story in your head is all in really rare back issues, or throw in flashbacks and recaps and references as needed.


Or, you start with the whole multi decade kaboodle of canon, and then just go lalala nu what nu and just keep writing it the interesting way to you.  Fanfic doesn't have to sell and if you make one person go eeeeeee then you've won.

There are things fanfic can do that canon does not and orig fic cannot.  And I don't just mean porn.  You can borrow all that deep time to do uncommercial things that simply can't be done from fresh.  Even if you call it an AU and change really substantial things, you still have so much to draw on, it works different than you could ever manage without.  Because these characters have been part of the conversation for so long, and because archetypes are part of how culture gets built and hang around for the using, and because everyone added their own idea of cool and only remembered their good bits version, the result is just different in kind from a single author original.


... but I still want to figure out how to do it from blank page, because most canon has so thoroughly frustrated me already.  *ponders*


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

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