I Read the Internets – 10/28/07

I’m back again, internets! Happily married, and no longer freaking out randomly over stupid things like whether or not two different materials are exactly the same shade of dark green. Not that I ever did freak out over such a thing. Of course not.

Anyway! I’ve been pretty busy, and haven’t been as glued to the internets as is my general habit, but I do have some fresh reading for you all this weekend. Yayes!

First up, K. Tempest Bradford has an overview of the current state of SF television in “Legends of the Fall: Television’s newest SF shows” at Strange Horizons:

Beyond the shows in particular, there is another, overarching problem with the new season: a severe lack of diversity. Once again we’re given white males and white males and, for variety, white males. Only two shows (Pushing Daisies andBionic Woman) can claim any recurring characters of color and those same two shows are the only ones with female leads. I wish I could say that the lack of diversity is the reason why most of these shows fail. It actually has more to do with the lackluster premises and the uninspired writing.

Ahh, television…

In the world of books, The Heroine Next Door has some things to say about The Golden Compass:

I am not satisfied at all with the portrayal of women in The Golden Compass. The female characters are few and far between and have very limited roles. Men get to have a variety of positions and jobs and personalities but women are limited to only a few. At least thus far in the trilogy we seem to have two main types of human women, with Lyra in the middle as an androgynous child-innocent. Those two types are a) Unattractive Good Women and b) Attractive Evil Women. Non-humans (witches, bears and daemons) seem exempt from those roles but have their own sexist bits, as well.

Ahh, popular YA fantasy…?

Meanwhile, Amy Reads of Arrogant Self-Reliance is a wee bit perturbed (yes, I said it!) about some recent portrayals of the intersection of motherhood and heroism in superhero comics:

Parenting is *hard*, Gentle Reader, and This Humble Author can only imagine how difficult it is for someone who puts her life In Constant Danger, every day. Because we never see that In “Real Life,” no? Of course, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, teachers, cab drivers, stay-at-home parents, caterers, bakers, all of these and more have Quite Easy jobs that never Are Unsafe. Their lives, so easy to work around, their jobs, so simple and constantly safe.

Friends, is this not The Point? Is it not to say that Parenting is Hard, and that is why we have Interesting Storylines involving a Fighter for Justice and her Wee Child? Or, in Black Canary’s case, her child trained by Expert Assassins? Is this not why we see the “it takes a village” mentality for our superheroes, again and again? The Authority offered group parenting for Jenny Quantum, Batman can adopt children Willy-Nilly, the Amazons truly take the “it takes a village” mentality to heart with their children, but suddenly, it is Too Difficult for Selina Kyle or Dinah Lance to raise daughters, even with the help of dozens of friends and trusted colleagues?

I don’t follow Catwoman storylines, particularly, but I have been keeping up with Black Canary, and it seems to me that there’s a whole lot of infantilizing going on with that character, lately – not her adopted daughter, mind you, but the grown woman and crime-fighter. Seeing a supposedly strong female character who is suddenly unable to take care of dependents or even make decisions about relatively trivial stuff on her own anymore is pretty goddamn perturbing, isn’t it?

So what am I up to, now? Is it “Ahh, media of all kinds….” yet? It must be time to read some internets regarding gaming!

At Nothing New Under the Sun, bellatrys has done some excellent genderswapping with an image from the game Heavenly Sword. You really need to just click on through and check out the whole post. Also, there’s some excellent discussion going on in the comments.

BomberGirl has a post that also focuses on gender and video game visuals at Girl in the Machine, with a survival/horror slant:

I understand that in many games it’s a matter of context, but I would really love to see more female monsters get the Scary As Hell Treatment and fewer appear as Ew But Somehow Still Sexy or Graagh What A(nother) Creepy Little Girl.

If you want more internets reading on scary games, check out the October issue of Cerise, which contains, among other great things, an interview with all of the bloggers from Girl in the Machine.

And to conclude, Home on the Strange always brings some funny – particularly for those of us who spend too much time thinking about Nielsen ratings.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, but I know that I must’ve missed tons of great internets while I was away. What have you been reading, lately?

Comments

  1. S. A. Bonasi says

    Concerning Pushing Daisies, I really like the direct that the show has been taking Olive. She’s moving out of the “jealous rival” category very quickly. I loved the conversation between Olive and Chuck in last Wednesday’s “Pidgeons”. I want the two of them to become friends!

    Much to my fury, any and all feminism and anti-racism Bionic Woman had was uncermoniously dropped in the fifth episode. And given the dropping and adding of show runners, I have a sinking feeling that the changes are here to stay. So now rather than be a low quality show with fairly decent race and gender politics, it’s a low quality show that says “Yay! White Patriarchy!” *fumes*

    I will say, however, that I do not at all object to Will dying in the premiere. He was a smucky Nice Guy, and when I first watched the pilot, I was convinced that he was going to be the annoyance I just had to ignore to enjoy the rest of the show. Then he was dead and off the show. To make things even better, the following episodes textually addressed that Will had truly been presented as a smucky Nice Guy. I do wish, though, that his death had been more smoothly handled, which goes back to the original second episode and original third episode being spliced together.

    Most unfortunately, Bionic Woman has added a new love interest for Jaime by the name of Tom. Truly, Tom is rather starting to make me miss Will, if that tells you anything.

  2. says

    Huzzah! Thanks for the linkage, but most importantly, for links to the recent tv discussions. We Reads have abandoned Bionic Woman Some Time Back because it was Quite Terribly Done. I think Pushing Daisies pushes many envelopes, and I am glad it is breaking all sorts of barriers! Truly, it’s the best new show on television. As it often happens with the Best New Shows on Television that I watch, faithfully, from their premieres, I will miss Pushing Daisies when it is inevitably canceled a few episodes from now. TV does so like to cancel all quality programming that I love and watch religiously from Day One (Firefly, The Inside, Eyes, Wonderfalls, etc.).
    Ciao,
    Amy

  3. S. A. Bonasi says

    MaggieCat,

    Oh, I haven’t given up on Bionic Woman, and I won’t — if for not other reason that it’s one of only maybe two new sci-fi shows this season that features a female lead. The other is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which also prominantly features Thomas Dekker, also known as the other homophobic ass from this past year. Only the media payed less attention to him because white straight people prefer stories about homophobic Black men. Oh, and unlike Isaiah Washington, Dekker didn’t even give an insincere apology for publicity purposes, let alone doing a tolerance PSA. Ahem, sorry. I was planning on boycotting Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but if Bionic Woman gets cancelled, I may end up watching it out of desperation for however long Fox lets it air.

    Anyway, I’ll be watching Bionic Woman until it gets cancelled because it should be a feminist show, ya know? It’s part of its pedigree! And certainly, it got off to a great start, in gender and racial politics, if not presentation quality.

    Then the fourth episode committed a missuse of ‘Allahu Akbar’ when Terrorist Dude says it right before he goes to shoot Jaime because apparently in BW-land, all terrorist must be Muslim, and Islam should be linked to violence as often as possible.

    Then the fifth episode uped the one instance from the fourth episode into a full on hate on for Muslims. Muslim Terrorist Suspect Dude is of Middle Eastern descent and recently converted to Islam? Totally guilty. Antonio’s all “Dude? Racial profiling? Not cool.” Except, of course, episode made it clear that Antonio was WRONG WRONG WRONG about challenging the use of racial profiling. Oh, White Terrorist Suspect Dude? He’s totally cleared. He’s not guilty in any way. Actually, he’s one of the good guys!1!!!

    Additionally, the episode opens with a random Black man getting graphically killed. A number of random white characters get killed, as well, but much of it was off screen, yes? (If I’m misremembering here, someone please correct me.) Then there was Jaime’s roommate, who was of East Asian descent…and totally good at the maths and sciences!

    Further, no matter what happens in the episode, Jaime does not appear to learn a thing, which means she’s a protagonist character whom the writers aren’t writing character growth for. That happened in the fourth episode, as well, actually, with Jaime not grasping that she’s a hypocrite no matter how freaking obvious it was. Then in the fifth episode, not only does Jaime not learn not to be so stupidly naive, the plot validates her trust in White Terrorist Suspect Dude because he turns out to be innocent of all charges. Also, he wants to be “chivilarous”, so he tells Jaime to stay out of the main part of the final fight. Because that’s exactly what I want in Bionic Woman: a love interest who thinks Jaime shouldn’t kick ass! God, where is Sarah and her sniper rifle when you need her?

    And where was Jae in the episode? Ya know, the Korean-American male character who in the pilot was pleasantly surprisingly not the sexless nerd stereotype? Were the new members of the writing team, like, too baffled by his existance to know what to do with him in the episode? ‘Cause I don’t see any good reason why a Berkut series regular character wouldn’t have at least one scene in any given episode.

    Alone, I could brush off at least some of the above, but all together like? Does not give me confidence in the new people that were brought in.

  4. MaggieCat says

    I still haven’t quite been able to give up on Bionic Woman yet. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I seem to be one of the few people on the planet who really likes Michelle Ryan in the lead role, perhaps it’s the vague hope they’ll have Jaime kick Isaiah Washington’s ass for a third time (I still have some misplaced Grey’s anger), or it could just be my sadness that I see the potential for an entertaining and amusing show of questionable quality and high camp-factor and just can’t bear to see them squander it.

  5. S. A. Bonasi says

    MaggieCat,

    I’ve seen, like, fifteen minutes of one of the Terminator movies. But! Kickass female characters!

    If it were just the roommate, I’d chalk it up to being coincidence. With everything else, it was a hell of a lot harder to ignore.

    Concerning credit, the show has gone through a number of show runners. I, too, loved the bit with Ruth, especially since Ruth didn’t immediately proclaim heterosexuality but rather gave Snotty Teen a look that made it clear that Ruth’s sexual orientation was none of Snotty Teen’s buisness. But you’ll notice that that happened in the third episode. My guess? The credit there goes to a showrunner who has since left. And the fourth and fifth episode episode and every episode henceforth can be credited to new people that have been brought on.

  6. MaggieCat says

    I agree with most of what you’ve said. It has loads of problems, but it’s better than most of the drivel that’s marketed with female leads. You’d think if nothing else, the fact that I’ve heard so many people express that idea- that we’re so desperate to find a female lead that we’ll compromise on everything else- would tip someone off to the untapped market there.

    I have to admit that I’m not very interested in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, not even before the Dekker debacle happened. (I’ve never made it through even one of the Terminator movies.) But that’s what I said about BW, and I just heard that Richard T. Jones is in TSCC, so who knows.

    I do have a question though:

    Then there was Jaime’s roommate, who was of East Asian descent…and totally good at the maths and sciences!

    I wondered about this at the time, and then forgot it: I have to admit that my initial thought was that they simply intended to have a character that was opposite of Jaime (the English and history buff) so they could do the whole homework-swapping thing, but then I got distracted wondering if the fact that they needed to cast someone as a math/sci geek led to choosing an Asian actress, or was it just an unthinking case of casting an actress they liked in a role that happens to fit a pervasive stereotype? I’m never quite sure how much credit to give them: on the one hand they have a snotty teenager ask Ruth if she’s a lesbian in a negative tone but show that it isn’t worth refuting or commenting on because it’s irrelevant, and then they have Jaime’s new love interest try to “protect” her and keep her out of the fight. Annoying to say the least.

  7. MaggieCat says

    My guess? The credit there goes to a showrunner who has since left. And the fourth and fifth episode episode and every episode henceforth can be credited to new people that have been brought on.

    Probably. The show has gone through so many showrunners at this point, it’s sort of understandable why it’s a bit of a mess. They started out with Jason Smilovic for a little while, then Jason Katims (from Friday Night Lights) was there for 7 episodes, and now he’s been sent back to FNL (thank you NBC!) and replaced by Jason Cahill.

    I am starting to think they’re exclusively hiring people named ‘Jason’ to cut down on the confusion for the rest of the cast and crew though. Hee.

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