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)
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.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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)
I am utterly stuck on this 'writing' thing. Some of it for the same reasons I'm stuck at everything else, but some of it...

The problem is bad guys. Antagonists. What are Our Heroes opposing?

And how do they deal with them?

I've been reading a bunch of urban fantasy in a row. They're all fantasy PI stories, where someone with magic deals with the interface of a magical world with a mundane one. And they're all stories that solve things with violence.
Read more... )

See, that's where the whole paradigm breaks down: the shape of this thing seems to rely on some people being Good People. They do bad things, but it don't count, because they are Good. Frankly, this scares me. The book worlds don't have lawyers or trials worth the name, they just have Good People who Know Best. Only they're acting exactly the same as the Bad People, the ones who hide behind the laws and try and enforce them even against the Good People. The only way we know they're different is we're riding the point of view of the Good People, so we know all about their intent.

... there's no room in this for saying intent is worth bugger all. What if there are no Good People, only good acts? Entire genres break down.

And then there's the Bad People. The ones set up so they're a problem that can be solved by violence.

The main thing necessary for such people is that their crimes are all things they do and keep doing. If the person stops, well, the world gets better.

I've been reading a lot of news headlines lately, and it don't seem to me the world works that way much. Read more... )

It's not like the problem of leaders too eager for unwinnable wars is exactly obsolete, but it's not a thing that can be solved by taking out one or two people. Don't reckon it ever was. Kings, Queens, and governments, the interactions of power and people and law, they don't work the way the fantasy books set up. Read more... )

So I look at the stories I've been reading, and watching, and listening to, and I look at the blank page, and I just... can't believe in it. I can set up a world with problems I recognise and people I believe in, and then I can't find solutions that fit into the page or have a shape I know how to deal with. Or I can set up Good People vs Bad People, Fight! ... and they're hollow little puppet people playing out a poisonous lie.

There's stories I know how to write, nice tidy ones with a triumph at the end of them, and there's problems I've actually encountered, which I have to hope have solutions but they're not ones I can see from here.

I'd say I need better fiction, but I'm getting stuck on how to make better real lives, so...

So I guess yeah, I'm stuck on all the things for all the same reasons. Because there's all these problems, and they seem to be big problems like capitalism and kyriarchy and poverty and the way all this technological progress seems able to solve all the problems except access and distribution and how to get enough carers. And I can't see how to throw a metaphor on that and beat it by the end of the episode. Or make much progress on any of it in real life.
beccaelizabeth: Zatanna's hand, in fishnet glove, reaching out with fingers spread. (hand Zatanna)
There was going to be a Wonder Woman movie. There's often going to be one, and yet here we still wait. I went around reading what was planned for it, and something about it bugged me. The writer, whose work I otherwise liked, was talking about Diana first arriving in man's world, and learning about it.


Diana is not here to learn. She is here to teach.

Her weapon is truth. She is here to make the whole of man's world look at itself and see the truth of what they have become. To see the injustice, the inequality, the harms subtle and gross that they have built into their systems, that they do to each other day after day after day. And she is here to show them a better way.

When I was growing up, reading Wonder Woman, what I understood from it was this:
Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I used to be in fandoms where there were mostly Babes of the Week. They existed solely to have UST with one of the guys, and then at the end of the episode the women went away and the guys went home together. So we ignored the women, because the only real relationship was these two guys who cared about each other more than anything else in their lives. Hence, slash.

But that was a while ago, and there are TV shows with actual women in. Persistent characters with agendas of their own. People as well rounded as the guys ever were. And some of them are dating guys. But TV being TV, they usually break up eventually, or someone gets fridged, or they leave for a spin off show. So I guess I felt like, okay, looking at this, the key relationship? Still two guys. So, more slash.

But now it’s creeping me out: There are women who never break up with their guys, who maybe get married to their guys, who have rings and commitment and stick by them through thick and thin and the world exploding. But we’re in the habit now. We go looking for the two guys. And way too much of the time, we’re the ones who break them up, or fridge them, or figure someone else will write their spin off show. Sometimes we even rewrite whole episodes so the guy gets the girl’s role. And I’ve been reading it, because hey, still slash.

But seriously, what the hell?

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Been thinking about Tony Stark in Iron Man, and Iron Man 2, and why it seems SHIELD, Fury and Black Widow are maybe aiming at the wrong target when they try and figure him out. Seems to me they're missing two key bits of data, Yinsen and JARVIS. Maybe three, that being the time limit Tony thought he was working to.
Read more... )

But okay, as things stand, it's just as likely Tony was just floundering and didn't have any bot related motives in any of his movies.

... but I kind of like him better if he did.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Exploring the extent of gender difference


This dissertation explores the depiction of gender in Doctor Who, a long running text, 1963-present, with multiple authors. Across half a century of popular television the representation of men and women changes, influenced by changes in social and cultural context that reshaped discourses of gender. I focus on Chapman’s account of the creation of classic Doctor Who in 1963, the story The Aztecs [1964], and seasons 5-7 of the new series, 2009-2012. Originally character design focused on creating audience identification figures to induce loyalty, providing both men and women with characters they would both understand and want to be. That has always been in tension with the demand of the plot that characters make mistakes and be endangered. The Doctor is always the expert hero, travelling with a female companion; many critics see the divide along gender lines, a powerful man protecting weak women. The Aztecs can be read that way: women, expert in humanities, argue about morality and kindness, and fail; men, expert in science and violence, successfully protect them. The division of power and spheres of influence set structures that influenced later seasons, producing tensions that were resolved differently in different decades. By 2009 The Doctor and Rory demonstrate different models of masculinity, differences in class, and tensions between expectations that males use power violently and approaches that emphasise communication and caring. Amy and River show different femininities, including stereotypes such as motherhood or dangerous manipulative sexual attractiveness, but fight against them, refusing to be boxed in and used by others for such roles. Success for both genders requires flexible approaches drawing on skills previously associated with the opposite sex. Previously gendered divisions became conflicts within each individual, highlighting and questioning the limits of both genders’ stereotypes. This reflects the increased importance of the feminine in society, culture, and science fiction.

13,196 words.

*** *** ***

This dissertation was for my English with Cultural Studies BA (Hons) and it got 65%
My best mark for an essay was 80%, so it's really not my best work.
But it was the best I could do after having been ill so much this year, to a deadline, in word count.

Word Count also explains why there's so many Appendices - quotes count towards the word limit, appendices don't. For the other 10 years I've been at college indented quotes over 40 words don't count towards the word limit, which was much less clunky and irritating.

Dissertations take a long time, and my initial plan didn't end up looking much like the finished thing, especially as regards how many episodes I was looking at. There were only supposed to be two, The Aztecs and A Good Man Goes to War, but I barely looked at the one and couldn't for the life of me focus on only the other. By the end of it I'm not sure I even agree with me, but there you go, it's done now.

I said if I got over 60% I'd show people. So.

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

Amy Screams, The Doctor Yells: Gender in Stephen Moffat’s
Doctor Who

Exploring the extent of gender difference


Read more... )

Chapter One: Doctor Who: Casting for Loyalty

Read more... )

Chapter Two: The Doctor and masculinities

Read more... )

Chapter Three: Companions and Femininities

Read more... )


Read more... )

Go here for comments, questions, feedback, and arguments.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
A lot of this should be photos, but I can't figure out how to put them in just yet. Bit of a pain really.


Read more... )

Read more... )

Comments and feedback (including 'here is how to put your pictures in' comments) here please.


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

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