I Read the Internets – 2/24/07

I’ve been pretty out of it this week, dear readers, due to illness. So if this edition of IRtI seems sparse, or less thoroughly-commentated on than usual, that’d be why. Usually, I spend many hours each evening alternately writing and surfing the internets in search of interesting links! But this week, I have been unfit for anything more rigorous than watching lots and lots of Horatio Hornblower (yes, yes – article forthcoming) and playing with Barbie dolls. You think I’m joking about that second thing, but I assure you – I am in deadly earnest.

But I did do some internets reading. And here are the results!

Our own Patrick posted in his LiveJournal about that whole “MJ killed by radioactive Spidey semen” thing. Disturbed discussion in our forums ensued. Meanwhile, Kalinara over at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise wrote this week about why superhero comics are worth the effort:

when it comes to racism, sexism, homophobia, religious/cultural intolerance and misrepresentation, and other such injustices, there is nothing that isn’t “worth the effort”. Nothing.

Well put. I’ve been seeing a lot of dismissive “that’s just the way (genre) is!” commentary all over the pop-culture-crit blogosphere lately (not that I ever don’t see that”¦), and I’m heartened to see other bloggers responding so intelligently and firmly to it.

I’m also heartened to see my favorite bloggers relaxing and having fun with their favorite media in between their battles with the patriarchy. Amy Reads has a Wii – and she’s making me wish I had one – it does seem to be a good system for inexperienced console gamers (I can roll dice with the best of “˜em, but I’m useless with a controller in my hands):

I’m still rather unskilled when it comes to video games. I’ve terrible hand-eye coordination, and while I’m rather good at puzzle games on the computer, the move from mouse to controller confuses me, just a bit. That is to say, I’m still finding my comfort zone with the Wii controller. Again, let me stress my joy from last week’s blog entry that I find the versatility of the Wii controller wonderful. As a left-handed person, I rejoice over its ease and ambidexterity. But it does take a little time to get used to the new controller, and when skirmishes happen as fast as they do in Ultimate Alliance, I find myself as Thor, slamming into a corner, trying to turn around and help my team.

But see, here’s where the fun really begins: you have a *team*. More importantly, you can’t hurt your own team. That’s fantastic for someone like me just learning how to use the controllers (and really, just learning to play a game like this for the first time). Even if I-as-Thor keep bumping into the wall, Cap, Wolverine, and Spidey have all got my back.

I think I’d find Thor bumping into the wall pretty entertaining all by itself, but maybe that’s just me.

We’ve had a recent spate of interesting posts about media aimed at children here at THL, courtesy of C.L. Hanson (btw, did you know she wrote a book? She did! And she’s posting chapters online). Her latest post here, “Girls Will Be Girls,” seems to me to tie in with an encyclopedic definition that Ide Cyan wrote this week at Feminist SF – The Blog! about exceptionalism:

Exceptionalism in fiction provides well-worn narrative tropes for female characters.

The one female character who escapes her destined gender role recurs again and again, since the conditions that require her exceptionalism to allow her to perform heroic deeds endure. That is: for as long as the rule is that women don’t perform the actions that drive the story, then you must make exceptions to allow women’s actions to drive the story.

Or, as Ide Cyan concludes:

Conformity is not the only alternative to exceptionalism. The other alternative to exceptionalism is to change the rules. To destroy the norm, rather than to try to escape it.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Speaking of conformity, etc., poisonivory has a great post up this week about the Disney Princess marketing scheme:

The disregard for individuality is represented visually in all of the cheap clip art they use to promote the collection. Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine were created within a few years of one another and under a very strong house style (although there are distinct artistic differences in style that even the slightest consideration would pick up), but Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora had approximately ten years between each debut (1937, 1950, and 1959, respectively) and it shows. Aurora in particular is highly stylized, and Snow White is basically a ten-year-old flapper. But does that show in the Princess Collection? Of course not. Their features are all smoothed over into seamless house style; visual interest is forsaken.

Thus Disney forgoes their own carefully-constructed characters in favor of telling little girls “It doesn’t matter who you are inside, as long as you’re pretty on the outside.” Which, correct me if I’m wrong, directly contradicts at least one of the morals of the movies in question!

Changing tack completely – those of you who, like me, enjoy both geek media and classic lit will surely get a charge out of therem’s post comparing Jean Grey and Jane Eyre at Feminist SF – The Blog!. And those who are interested in pop-sci literature and the ways in which science is communicated (or, isn’t) to a wide audience should read “the people that science forgot“ over at Cocktail Party Physics.

Ending with some silliness – probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all week has been the series of Horatio Hornblower fanvids I’ve watched over at YouTube. This one is my favorite, mostly because I get a kick out of that song. I’ve got fond memories of dancing on a coffee table to it at a slumber party, back when it first came out. Yep, I was one wild and crazy pre-teen!


  1. says

    Yay Wii! Last night we played Rayman Raving Rabbids, which is *loads* of fun. Also, Mr. Reads and I purchased another Wii controller, so soon, we’ll be able to play 2-player Ultimate Alliance! Huzzah!

    And yes, Thor bumping into walls is really quite fun. Almost as fun as flying Ms. Marvel around, seeing her bump into a wall and fall–gracefully to her feet–to the ground.

    Also, yay Jean Grey and Jane Eyre! That was an excellent post!

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I really enjoyed Ide Cyan’s article. It’s so insidious, this approval for “overcoming” your second-class status by outshining the rest of your “kind”. And people wonder why subjected groups tend to be more fragmented than the dominant one they could easily trounce if they got together. The very idea of equality is bent and twisted with thinking like this.

    I have an aunt and uncle – a minister and wife – who were the sort of racists who believe God doesn’t like dark-skinned people, either, so they’re perfectly entitled to discriminate. They had a black couple in their church, which another relative referred to as their “token black members”. But listening to my aunt and uncle talk about this couple, I knew it was something more than a token. A “token” for racists often exemplifies the worst possible traits of the oppressed group, thus proving to the racists that they’re correct in oppressing, but this act of including one or two people atones for any unintended sin. But this black couple, according to my aunt, was educated, and they spoke “properly” (read “like white people”), and the dressed nicely (read “like white people”), etc. This prompted me to coin the term “honorary white people” – it was like my aunt and uncle had made this black couple honorarily white in recognition of their (perceived) attempts to whiten themselves. (To be clear, I do not mean to imply this couple was trying to be “white” – I never met them. I do mean to imply that my aunt and uncle saw it that way.)

    And yet, I haven’t really gotten that on a gender level until very recently – so recently in fact that IC’s post gave me more to consider. I’ve always been an “exception” to gender rules, and in some cases, I think I’ve taken pride in that. I saw it as exceeding the limitations on my gender, but I think I have been buying into and reinforcing the idea that I’m an exception… not a representation of the real rule, which is that women are just as likely to be capable of whatever as men are.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    Also, the Disney post brings up something I’ve been considering lately. I think we should stop using the terms “pretty”, “beautiful” or “hot” unless we’re issuing our own opinions that someone is one of those things. I very often refer to marketing using sexualized images of “hot babes”, intending for my audience to interpret that phrase as what the marketers are saying to each other when they put the images together. That’s all well and good, but I should be more specific. What “hot babe” almost invariably means is a white, blond, slim, tall, big-chested woman.

    It does not refer to stunningly gorgeous black women whose beauty could make you weep. Or short brunette women YOU find attractive whether anyone else does or not. I think when I just use terms like “pretty” or “hot”, I’m not reminding people enough that these terms are attached only to very specific looks… not just anyone and everyone who is attractive.

    So, this

    Thus Disney forgoes their own carefully-constructed characters in favor of telling little girls “It doesn’t matter who you are inside, as long as you’re pretty on the outside.”

    becomes “It doesn’t matter who you are inside, as long as you’re white with regular and bland features on the outside.” Because being pretty on the outside doesn’t cut it if you’re not white.

  4. says

    Amy – my fiance and I have been having lots of fun playing Lego Star Wars on his XBOX 360. It has some of the same newbie-friendliness that you describe in your Wii experience.

    And bumping into walls. Which never stops cracking me up.

    BetaCandy – You know I’m always in favor of greater specificity in criticism. 😉

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