Wednesday 17 September 2014

The Fridge-Women of the Land of Tomorrow

If you've not heard of Women in Refrigerators, you should probably femaliarise with it, and the concept in general.

Is it an important (pop-)cultural observation? Yes, I think it is.

The general gist of this thing is that women are often sabotaged out of the 'actual character' column into being plot points for members of the member-gender, with specific reference to page 15 (I think) of Green Lantern vol.3 #54.

The site and the term are fifteen years old at this stage (and the comic just turned twenty), but it isn't really an out of date concept. The general undermining of female protagonists is an ongoing trend in media.

Samus Aran, bad-arse cosmic-bounty-hunter of Metroid (and its related sequels), has found the time in recent games to run about in her space-underwear and go uncharacteristically wobbly-kneed due to the pressures of the dangers that surround her and the presence of boys who can talk her through it.

This is the very same character whose reputation is based on repeatedly striding (arguably under prepared) into space-pirate planets and dying worlds in order to get business done. There are few characters who are depicted as being as calm under pressure in literally world-shatteringly dangerous situations as Samus Aran.

This was a strange direction to be approved by Nintendo after the unparalleled Metroid Prime Trilogy.

I don't really know what to say about all of this.

It's a shame.

That's what I can say.

It's a shame that I find comparatively few examples where female characters are afforded the same level of story arc epicocity and complexity as is given over to male characters. Even if female characters are being better written these days, and given better stories than they were previously, how many female characters get an Emerald Twilight, Return of the Dark Knight, or a Death and Rebirth of Superman?

I'm tired of falling back on Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow, who is the most interesting, hardworking, brave, intelligent character on that show (and would be on many others), and has the most interesting story arcs and trials to overcome.

And, while she is 'saved' by Xander in season six (after her own Woman in a Refrigerator moment), it is through The Power of Friendship and not through promises of marriage and babies like the end of The Fifth Element.

There are just a ton of questions I want answered.

Why do fantastic games with female protagonists like The Longest Journey and Syberia dwell in obscurity?

Why can't Princess Peach rescue herself from Bowser's Castle? I think it's called escaping. Where is that game?

Why isn't there a fantasy-kingdom-management game starring Princess Peach? She can't spend all her time getting captured and rescued?

Why don't they remake The Guardian Legend? Arguably, one of the most incredibly well designed games ever made, with or without a female protagonist.

While I'm glad that Scarlet Witch is being added to the roster in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, why don't She-Hulk, Mockingbird, any of the Spider-Women, Moondragon, Crystal, Firebird, Firestar, Echo, Wasp, Captain Marvel, Hellcat, Tigra, Madame Masque, the Kate Bishop Hawkeye, Terminatrix, or any of the other female Avengers get a look in?

Why isn't there a She-Hulk TV series that is a cross between a superhero show and a courtroom procedural show? Did I mention that She-Hulk is both a superhero and a highly skilled lawyer who frequently represents superheroes in court? Imagine looking at the superhero phenomenon from a legal perspective. Where is that show? I would absolutely watch that show.

Where is the Barbara Gordon film trilogy? From Batgirl to Oracle and the Birds of Prey. Protege to team leader in three films. A character who finally escapes the obsessive, unhealthy, and violent world of both her real father and symbolically adoptive father by being paralysed from the waist down, only to decide that they're both doing it wrong.

Where is the Hawkwoman film franchise that looks at the complex history of her origins as a militaristic police officer on her fascist home-world of Thanagar, to a superhero in exile on an unfamiliar Earth? What happens when both sides call her traitor after war breaks out between the two worlds she has called home?

Why don't they promote Katma Tui, Arisia Rrab, Boodikka, or any of the other female members of the Green Lantern Corps to the title lead of at least one of the five ongoing Green Lantern comics?

Why isn't there a cinematic sequel to Willow (the film, not the character) that focusses on the adventures of Elora Danan?

Why can't they revive Magnum, P.I. with Thomas Magnum's daughter, Lily Catherine Hue (who would be in her early thirties), as the eponymous star of the new show?

Why isn't Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) the focal character of the X-Men film franchise instead of continually being sidelined so that other characters can play her roles in stories?

Why is Cutthroat Island the last pirate movie with a female lead that I can name? Female pirates were a thing. A real thing. An awesome real thing.

Why is DC Comics' Harlequin treated as a sex object instead of as a cautionary tale about successful women (she was a criminal psychiatrist at the top of her field) who become trapped in abusive relationships?

Holding up the infrequent example is not parity, but nor do numbers create equality. 

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Universal Appeal of Vampires

Having visited das Kino some four or so times recently, I've seen that Dracula Untold advert a few times.

Parts of it seemed appealing briefly, but parts were perhaps the opposite. Not perhaps.

Epic, army-fighting vampires aren't really my scene. They're the scene of other people.

Maybe it's just that I've read Dracula, or that I've read Dracula and have a reading comprehension level >= a 12 year old, but Captain Bat-Fist and Bram's count can't really be the same guy.

But, that's okay, on account of it's not meant to be. The Dracula of which there is going to be this untelling is actually the Universal Monsters Dracula, and not Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Is there a difference?

Yes. There is a difference.

Compare the character as he appears in Universal's Van Helsing (the one with Wolverine) to the one in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

See what I'm talking about?

Knowing this, it's easy to see the appeal of going a bit bat-shit, and I'm honestly surprised that they aren't going full Captain Drac Sparrow all over our faces. Cheers to whatever it is that passes for restraint and subtlety over at Universal.

I've made clear a certain degree of vampire snobbery in posts past, but I've also been a little 'live and let unlive' on the matter. Regardless of how you choose to cast me in this I'm open to people doing what they feel they need to on the vampire front, but it doesn't create some sort of obligation on my behalf to participate.

I am totally free to do my own shit. I could make a sandwich. That is probably going to happen. Oh, my goodness, is that going to happen. It really, really is.

This is the sandwich:

And this is the Dracula Untold advert:

I guess the bit that made me briefly excited (prior to the arrival of the giant bat fist) was the line,

Sometimes the world doesn't need another hero. Sometimes what it needs is a monster.

That and Lorde's cover of the Tears for Fears classic, 'Everybody wants to rule the world'. The line though sucked me right in, and for a moment I was expecting something else.

With the recent news-cycles obsessed with religious conflict, civil unrest, and terrorism it would seem like the perfect time to take advantage of the existing fears and cultural shorthands to make a film about the supernatural reimagining of a guy whose life was defined by those very things.

Imagine a Dracula caught in the shifting hands of faith, who wages a campaign of terror against an invading army, tearing away at their morale and sanity, while justifying his tactics to the homeland he is trying to unite. A Dracula who is finally driven by nationalism, grief, and desperation not only to the supernatural darkness of vampirism, but also to the very human darkness that made him the dark prince of medieval psychological warfare.

A film about a man who while trying to be a hero, pushes way past the extremes of that concept and becomes both a literal and figurative monster.

A movie that would be dark. Like, crazy dark. A character so lost in the darkness that he can't possibly see a way back. There is no redemption. The well is too deep.

All we are left with is the knowledge of the man he used to be and the fate that awaits the broken, twisted creature of obsession that he will become.

Imagine that film.

That's what I thought we were getting.

I know that there was that Dracula: The Dark Prince thing, and that Vlad Tepes thing that are both kind of that, but they aren't really what I'm talking about.

 It's the cat-people thing all over again.

Monday 15 September 2014


Let's talk about Willow, because it's shazzawesome.

I'm not saying that it's better than those Middle Earth movies, but it's my goto movie when I want me some fantasy. That and Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula's movie, which is also sweet, and also has a creepy dog in it.

While we're on the topic, have you ever watched How I Met Your Mother and hoped that when Ted's talking to his kids in the future he'll just start outlining the plot of Bram Stoker's Dracula? Every episode!

For me it's like the 'cat people' thing. You know how during the whole lead up to meeting someone who has been described as a cat person you're hoping that this time it's going to be a ThunderCats scenario, and then every time you're secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) disappointed.

It's like that.

If you're a cat person and I've come across as a little down when I meet you, it's because I promised myself a ThunderCat, and that is not what you are.

You're a cat enthusiast.

It's not that I don't like people who are into cats.

It's not that at all, but when you're expecting a chocolate milkshake made by Scott Bakula and it turns out that it's just brown, opaque water from the kitchen tap in that apartment I lived in in Enmore, you're going to be a little down.

If you're not down at first, you definitely will be once that water takes your immune system to the boundary for six.

Even when people describe themselves as a 'cat person' to my face (where I keep my eyes with which I can plainly see that they are not a 'cat person' by any reasonable definition), on the inside I'm all like, 'You're not really though, are you?', and once on a first date it was way less on the inside than it probably should've been.

The takeaway from that story is that if you tell someone that you would've preferred to be on a date with any of the age appropriate ThunderCats (of which only one is a woman), there isn't going to be a second date.

There also isn't going to be a whole lot more of that first date.


I don't know if you've seen Willow, but, as mentioned previously, it's shazzawesome. It's got hobbits, and wise wizards, and stop motion animation, and Val Kilmer playing himself. I mean, I've never met the guy, but this is how I imagine he is in his day to day life.

You should get into it.

They should make sequels.

Come on, Disney!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Moonage Daydream

The guitar tears in, grinding hard on the border between realities. It comes again, and, now announced, the herald calls across the cosmos.

He calls to us, naming himself before the message starts.

The guitar claws, and the herald names himself again.

Warnings and intimacy, and the promise of the daydream.

A drum calls the connection back, and the guitar grinds again as the dimensional walls flex and tear.

He demands truth.

We are warned again, and the promises come. The connection is reinforced as the message drifts from reality. The herald calls the repeated message across the cosmic wound.

The connection is slipping.

The guitar claws, howling as it fights to maintain the signal between worlds.

It's grip finally weakens, and the transition is only a moment, and it is gone, and we are alone.

Reality is restored, but it is changed. The herald's words are catalyst enough for a new age.