Archive for the ‘geekery’ Category
I may come into possession of a small, fuzzy ball of cute in the next few days, so I’ve been going over in my head the geekiest names I can think of. My thoughts went back to Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, because Dickens’ character names are the amazing precursor to JK Rowling’s character names – i.e., they are novel, chosen/crafted very deliberately, convey the essence of each character, and are just damn fun to say. (Would this have been a much more fun topic to focus my thesis on? Quite.)
If I had any knowledge about gender politics back in my undergraduate days, I could have opened up a huge can of worms surrounding our conversation about names in Dickens, specifically the nickname David Copperfield’s childhood friend, Steerforth, gave him: Daisy.
Missed that boat.
If I do come into possession of a mewly little tribblekitten, this blog may temporarily descend into awwlookatthelittletailandthefeetzand bpabhbldhbhddb.
The other day when I was thinking about privilege, like you do, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies: a stunning piece of cinematic genius known as Power Rangers: The Movie. I know what you’re thinking: that PR:TM is slightly high-brow for a lowly blog, but bear with me.
So, back in the day, I was quite smitten with a certain Blue Ranger. The glasses, the overalls, the being socially ostracized – it just did it for me. And quite recently I happened upon a behind-the-scenes video from the bygone era of Angel Grove High that confirmed what I was too naïve to grasp in those glory days: Walter Jones was perfectly aware that he, a black man, was cast as the Black Ranger. I can also infer from this that Thuy Tran was well aware that she, an Asian woman, was cast as the Yellow Ranger.
This last paragraph doesn’t really have anything to do with my point. I just thought it was interesting.
My point is actually related to something Billy the (drop-dead sexy) Blue Ranger says on Phados when he and his buddies are fighting stunt actors in bird suits:
“Y’know the funny thing about Morphin’? You don’t appreciate it ‘till you can’t do it anymore!” [At which point he gets his ass handed to him by aforementioned feathered stunt persons.]
And – lo! – we do not live in a vacuum. Even movies like PR:TM are written/produced/filmed in a social milieu. (That may account for those egregious casting decisions I opened with! Look, I brought it around!) So, I thought, “Hey! What if I replace ‘Morphin’’ (as cool as that is) with ‘privilege’? With one word, I have successfully turned PR:TM into insightful social commentary.”
Some privilege doesn’t just go away, like Morphin’ can (if your head-in-a-tennis-ball-canister boss gets pwned, of course).
So, as a tool for folks when they come into a situation where their (white, cis, het, male, etc) privilege affords them an unearned advantage, just encourage them to imagine that they’re on an alien planet that looks a lot like Australia. All of a sudden they’re ambushed by wisecracking Tengu warriors, and they realize that their trusty magic gold coin, used to swathe themselves in Technicolor spandex, is gone, and without it their chances of escaping (psychologically, physically, emotionally) intact are, if not nil, at least drastically reduced.
That spandex – that’s privilege.
Seriously, use this in a conversation about the kyriarchy. It’ll help.
As of today:
- Smashing headcrabs with a crowbar
- Reading awesome books and drinking beer
- Swimming laps (with the added vindictive pleasure of “fuck you” to folks who think fatties shouldn’t wear bathing suits)
- Cross-stitching Stargate chevrons while watching Jane Eyre (thank you, Masterpiece Theatre, for making a version that doesn’t suck)
- Making puddioca, then eating it
- Visiting my sister and SITTING ON THE PORCH (goddamn it, I love sitting on the porch)
- Actually going to yoga
All of the above are subject to change.
Now is the time of year that I start getting hyped up for the Renaissance Festival. 3 years ago I finally had enough cash to buy a set of garb, and let me tell you, that was one of my favorite baby steps into fat acceptance. This is odd, because technically a bodice is a way of restricting a woman’s body (and justifying our weakness and tendency toward “hysterics,” because a person can’t breathe properly in that shit). But I got all courageous and tried that sucker on, and a nice lady-in-waiting laced me up and I went to go look at myself in the mirror and it was awesome AND THEN another lady-in-waiting came up to me and clucked her tongue in disapproval and pulled that sucker down so my decolletage was front and center which was even MORE AWESOME.
So I like Renaissance Festivals.
Which made me lol at Sady’s missive on Menaissance Festivals, especially where the white folks “get off on re-enacting cartoonish imitations of massively oppressive time periods while somehow also always imagining that they would be members of the privileged elite class, and not one of the lowly and downtrodden.”
And also this quote from Paul Mooney, via swpd:
“White people like going back in time, which is always a problem for me. I can only go back so far. Any farther and my black ass is in chains.”
I can go back as far as I want and, as long as I’m rich and white, baby, it’s all turkey-legs and jousting from here. Outside of that you’re fucked, but I know the manly lord that’ll get you into the beirgarten.
I haven’t in a while, but once upon a time I used to read fan fiction. I actually read a lot of fan fiction. I would keyword search on my favorite characters and read whatever came up on my screen, which meant I read some of the worst drivel ever mashed out on a keyboard. On the other hand, I read some amazingly well-crafted, engaging fan fiction that made me totes happy and, in the case of After the End, kind of confused me once the actual canon came out and it didn’t match up.
So, when I say that the Twilight series is on par with that former category, know that opinion comes from a place of experience.
Which is not to say that I didn’t read them. I did. I admit it. I read them all in a few days, ravenously, like a little kid who finds herself alone with her Halloween loot and goes to town. And I kind of felt the same afterward, too – overfull and nauseous, but with that tinge of regret that comes with knowing you blew through it so fast, and there isn’t anymore left.**
So, I’m torn between two interpretations concerning Bella. 1st, obvious interpretation: Bella is an inanimate object, like a tennis ball, being volleyed back and forth between two men who do nothing but seethe with hatred at one another when the ball’s not in their court. This is shitty from a feminist perspective, because CHIVALRY, and, Bella makes virtually no active decisions in the entire series. Even when vampire-types want to kill her dead, it’s not because of something she did (her personality didn’t attract Edward [her smell did, not something she can control], she didn’t actively provoke James, she didn’t kill James, she didn’t choose to be pregnant, and jeez, even her vampire superpower is passive and keeps her from fighting as her heinous newborn self).
The 2nd, more complicated interpretation: Bella as a Mary Sue. This should not be complicated – everyone knows that Mary Sue stories categorically suck.*** BUT WAIT, there’s a great discussion happening on Mary Sue policing. There is a dearth of strong female characters in source material so what the hell is so wrong with writing a few in? “It’s wish fulfillment!” shout the self-proclaimed Serious Writers of Fan Fiction. “It’s lazy writing! Stop trying to include characters you can relate to in worlds where they do not belong!”
As Margaret Lion points out in comments, Captain Kirk and James Bond much? I’m pretty sure Gene Roddenberry and Ian Fleming wished HARD that they could be the womanizing, action-hero characters they invented, rather than their lackluster, everyday selves.
Yes, Bella’s not strong or bad ass or interesting. The few traits Stephenie Meyer emphasizes (clumsiness, ho-hum run-of-the-mill talent, “plain” in a culturally lauded [thin, blemish-free] way) are easy to relate to, and familiar, and desirable, and make her a placeholder for girls who live in a patriarchal culture and wish their life was fantastical and exciting and dramatic and tragically beautiful.
The solution to this conundrum, I think, is not demonizing young girls for being “Twihards.” It’s working to change the culture that dictates the only thing a woman can be is attached to a man, and writing fiction with interesting female characters that do more boulder-crushing and lightning-zapping and puzzle-solving and battle-winning and awesome-being. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a few sparkly immortal men in there too, if that’s your dish, as long as they don’t mansplain ass-kicking.
*even though there isn’t an eclipse in the movie and I know that the book titles are supposed to be clever plays on daylight and all that but the plots are so thin that the “moon cycle” series metaphor doesn’t even work, y’know?
**I have a history of liking source material that sucks, and picking out the few meaty bits to elaborate on myself: the characters of Rosalie and Jasper intrigue me, and Carlisle is just damn hot. Can someone with more talent than me write some backstory for these folks?
***I wrote a Mary Sue character series. Over 240 pages of it. No, you can’t read it it is gone forever THANK GOD.
Last night I suddenly found myself with an extra 2 hours of unscheduled time on my hands. My mind jumped from unfinished project to unfinished project: “I could sort out the clothes that are going to Goodwill, I could get a house plant, I could drop off the recycling and finally pick up an extension cord at the store, because god that black cord stretching along my dining room wall is so damn ugly. Speaking of the dining room, I could go grab paint supplies and paint the chair rail, and while I’m there I can get stuff to make a giant D’ni clock on my living room wall (which, by the way, I’ve wanted to do forever and will be indescribably amazing if I ever get it done.)”
So, what did I actually do?
I drove home, changed into my sweaties, and watched 2 hours of Stargate: SG1 on Hulu. (To my credit, I did sort socks too.)
I was going to write a diatribe about the conundrum of working enough to afford my own place, and not having enough time to enjoy it. But, really, I think my point here is that I am a slacker, and so can you.
Plus, I can always tell myself I’m just doing research for an asskicking and insightful post about the fact that I made it all the way to Season 4 before seeing a POC that wasn’t an alien or a member of a “primitive” race.