I Read the Internets – 4/14/07

About fifteen minutes ago, just as I was opening up a new window in order to sort this week’s links, the contents of the top shelf of my desk (mostly manuscripts) fell on my head, then knocked over my nearly-full can of Mountain Dew on their continuing journey floorwards.  The Dew beat them there, and when the first of the large files slammed into the puddle, the impact forced sugary liquid up into the air and all over the nearby wall and filing cabinet.

My whole week has kinda been like that.  Painful, exasperating, messy, and just a little bit funny.  I’m thankful for that last quality, for sure.

Anyway!  Do accept my apologies, dear readers, if my reading of the internets this week has been less thorough than usual, or if my commentary is less amusing.  And now, on to the internets:

As I suspect most of you are aware, this month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Rachel Edidin is doing a great series on her blog, Inside Out, connecting SAAM to comics.  I’d quote my favorite bits from the entries she’s done so far, but I really want to encourage you all to go on over there and read the whole thing.

I think writers of all sorts could benefit from the advice Rachel is giving in her series.  Over at Heroine Content, Grace touches on some of the same issues that Rachel is raising when discussing a biographical film she recently was unable to finish watching:

how does one responsibly portray violence, particularly rape, in cinema? In the case of this film, the rapes were not added to thicken the plot–they really happened–but did they need to be shown in such a way as to leave me unable to finish the movie? What purpose did that serve? Did the filmmakers (director Shekhar Kapur, who also directed Elizabeth and writers Ranjit Kapoor and Mala Sen) really need to show all those rapes? Did portraying Phoolan as an ultimate victim in the film’s first hour somehow magnify her (I assume) glory in the film’s second hour? Does a woman have to be a victim to be legitimized as a bandit?

In other film reviews this week (and, seriously, when are all of you fabulous writers of the internets going to post some more of those?  Its like everyone got so involved in writing about 300 that they haven’t dared to watch any movies since, or something…), Skye (also at Heroine Content) had some really thoughtful things to say about the Tomb Raider films:

I promise I won’t say that Lara Croft is a feminist statement. I promise. The marketing is all about her skintight clothing. They go out of their way to draw attention to her breasts throughout both films. Honestly, I almost sprained my eyeballs from rolling them during the first 20 minutes of Tomb Raider. Look, Lara’s being held down on her back in a struggle with a killer robot! Look, Lara’s taking a shower! Look, Lara’s walking walking around nude while mocking her butler’s statement that ladies should be modest!

But if you can get past the “look at me” vibe, Lara has a lot of heroine content going for her.

Like Skye, I really appreciated the ways in which Lara Croft is constructed as a strong character in those films, despite her goofy outfits – I do constantly wish, though, that more female characters in all forms of visual media who are supposed to be physically kicking ass would actually look like they could kick some ass.  And it goes beyond the outfits, of course, and into the realm of dear God, why do these women have no muscles?!? Apparently, I am not the only person to feel this way!  LiveJournaler furikku has a post up this week with pictures of some potential models of feminine ass-kickery, just in case superhero comics illustrators are ready to take a look.  I most heartily approve.

Then again, sometimes I think I’d rather comics creators didn’t read feminist critiques and suggestions regarding their work.  The results usually make me lose respect for the creator – and it looks like I’m not the only one.  Ragtime has a post this week examining some recent writing by Karen Healey, and Bill Willingham’s moronic response to same at Comic Book Thoughts:

As you can see, I started out pretty pro-Willingham in defending him against Karen’s criticisms. That is, until he opened his big mouth and tried to defend himself, which is making me wonder whether I was giving him too much credit to begin with.

I still think Snow White acted largely in character, and was not upset with her choice of a traditional wedding vow. Sometimes that’s just simply “how it’s done,” and if King Cole is the one who is performing the service, sometimes you just go with the program.

But to say I disagree with Karen’s conclusions is not at all to say that I think she was wrong to raise the issues, or that I think she’s trying to brainwash me, or I don’t think she’s making a lot of good points along the way.

While I’m thinking about those mythical feminist brainwashers and thought police that so many privileged dudes seem to be worried about, I’d like to recommend a great post by The Angry Black Woman titled “In Defense of Political Correctness.”

As I wind to a close this week, I want to remind all the gamers out there that the deadline for submissions to the first issue of Cerise is rapidly approaching (as in, it’s tomorrow) – so get your stuff in, if you’re going to do it.

And finally, please enjoy this humorous hardware review I was pointed to earlier this week, and then marvel at some awesome Post-It Note videogame art.

Comments

  1. MaggieCat says

    I’ve always been conflicted about Lara Croft, torn between the fact that she is kind of nifty (she’s doing things rather than tagging along after a male hero, and is presented as competent) and the fact that there is no way she could pull off those stunts with that build.

    Damn, how did I miss the April Fool’s Girl-Wonder forum??

    And uh… when do you think the tic in my left eye will let up? So many typos…. *twitch*

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Okay, Grace’s post has me well and pissed. A bio film about a woman turns into an expose on When Penises Go Bad? Could it be anymore about men? Just market it as exploitation and don’t insult us by saying it’s about a woman when it’s not.

    Furriku selected some amazingly ideal pictures for comics poses. Point proven, game set match.

    Bill Willingham came off as an ass in his self-defense, and it reminds me of one of the writers on Stargate who maintains a blog and just cannot take criticism. They both say the critics should shut up because it’s just show business, but guess what, dumbasses? Criticism is another part of show business. You’re the one who gets to laugh all the way to the bank. Chill, Bill! (And his “re-education camp” remark was indeed casting feminists as something very like Nazis, so we’re back to the Rush Limpballs Ultimate Dismissal Strategy for Women Who Speak When Not Spoken To.)

    As usual, Angry Black Woman rocks. I have trouble articulating why I want to use PC terms, but it’s simple: because when I need to resort to group labels, I want to use the one the group prefers. Why do I want this? Because I have nothing against them and I was brought up to be civil. For people who scoff at PC, either they don’t care who they offend (but probably care when someone offends them!) or they feel even civility is too indulgent of these groups who should “know their place”.

  3. says

    I always think to check the heroine’s shoes and make sure they’re appropriate for ass-kicking, but I forget to check the biceps. Noted, will include that in future scrutiny.

    Angelina Jolie did train like mad for three months for Tomb Raider, trying to get her close to the point where she *could* do some of the things Lara does, so I give them a little credit there.

  4. says

    @ Maggie – I’ve taught many extremely well-endowed women during my time as a martial arts instructor. Slender women with large busoms can indeed kick some ass – but they usually wear sports bras when they know they’re gonna be doing it. Hell, even I wear athletic support. ;-)

    @ Beta – *nods along in agreement throughout comment*

    @ Skye – I’ve often been impressed with Angelina Jolie’s physique when she’s doing action roles. She’s still never bulky (a truly muscley heroine is something I’ve been waiting to see for a long time…), but she does put on some lean muscle, and she looks capable and powerful. My main critique of the way they’re presenting her visually in the Tomb Raider series is what I’ve articulated to MaggieCat, above.

  5. says

    It does strike me as problematic, just because I really would expect a real woman with that shape to be wearing much more supportive clothing during those sorts of physical activities. But I, too, was generally pretty impressed with the reasonableness of Jolie’s look in the films.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m just going to jump in and second Revena’s remarks about sports bras. I don’t even do the elliptical machine without them because bouncing bosoms hurt (and I’m just on the large side of average). Which is why I wish every guy who’s ever drooled at the slow motion booby-bouncing on “Baywatch” could be transformed into a large-breasted woman for a weekend and be forced to run miles without proper bosom support. For me, watching that is a little like watching a crotch kick must feel to guys.

    I digress. :D

  7. MaggieCat says

    Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that it’s her chest that’s causing the problems with suspension of disbelief for me. (It would be rather hypocritical, considering I’m either a double or triple D myself depending on the brand, and I’m a creampuff by choice. ;-) ) It’s more of an complete overview that makes it seem so weird: particularly the teeny tiny arms and waist. It just makes her look far too delicate imo.

    I was familiar with Croft from the game context (I don’t play, but back then I had friends who did) before the movies came out- and I was impressed that Jolie looked far more reasonable in the role than I expected the filmmakers to go for.

  8. Maartje says

    Not even too digressy, in the Lara Croft film there was a scene that made me and my girlfriends cringe. You know the scene where all the water is coming in and she’s running like hell to get out of there? Yeah, we discussed the possibility of sending her a good sportsbra, poor dear.

  9. SunlessNick says

    The second Tomb Raider film hacked me off because I didn’t think Lara came across as tough – it was more like Kate Beckinsale’s part in Van Helsing – “we’re going to keep calling her tough, often enough that you’ll forget how she keeps needing to be rescued all the time” (and how her final fight with a bad guy was won by knifing him during a kiss IIRC).

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Oy, one of the most hackneyed tropes out there is “and then she kisses him/flashes her boobies/offers him sex to distract him and then WHAM takes him out.” It’s another instance of that alleged power women have over men that only seems like a big deal because it’s so shocking to men that they ever feel powerless around a woman.

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