I Read the Internets – 6/24/07

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It’s been over a hundred degrees here every day this week, and I have learned something very important: It’s hard to read the internets while eating popsicles.  One might think that internets reading could be done with only one hand engaged in mousing, thus allowing the second hand (assuming the reader has two hands, which isn’t actually a given, but we’ll go with it) to be engaged with the popsicle.  This is a fine theory, but it fails to take into account the important factor that is brain freeze.

I have had a lot of headaches this week, readers, but at least they’ve mostly been artificially-grape-flavored.  Mmm, purple…

Anyway, I’m afraid this week’s edition of IRtI is going to be a little bit sparse (as well as a little bit late, again.  Sorry!).  It seems to me that there were fewer internets to be read, too, even without my popsicular preoccupation, but perhaps I’m just not looking in the right places.  If you should ever come upon an internet that you think I ought to read, send me an email, ok?  robyn (dot) fleming (at) gmail (dot) com

One activity that actually combines well with popsicle-eating is watching rented movies.  I’m really glad that the smart women at Heroine Content are doing what they do – it helps me decide which movies to add to my Netflix queue, and which to just avoid.  For example, though I did get a kick out of The Mask of Zorro, I think I’m gonna skip the sequel:

The people of California are portrayed as less downtrodden in this film, and slightly less like victims waiting to be rescued by Zorro. (In another three or four sequels, perhaps we would get to the point where a variety of community leaders are recognized and not just the swashbuckling hero!) These folks are not afraid to stick up for themselves, men and women both, even if their hero Zorro also has to get involved.

Elena doesn’t fare so well. She has been transformed into the stereotype of the bitchy, nagging wife. Don’t go out and save the world, stop fighting, it’s too dangerous, you told me you wouldn’t do that anymore, why don’t you pay more attention to your family?

Ahh, gender stereotypes.  One of the bloggers (I looked and looked for an attribution tag somewhere, and couldn’t find it.  My apologies) at ProcrastinatioNation has a few things to say about the ones that afflict heroines in children’s books:

See, unless girls are shown the possibility that they too can be competent and active agents in the world (rather than just decoration or plot devices) they’re not going to question their unequal status. Wait, no. They’re not even going to be able to attribute feelings of discontent to the fundamental wrongness of the current system. If it feels bad, it must be hormones, because girls are just emotional.

I’m talking about changing the world for the better and I think a good place to start would be to promote children’s literature that subvert the traditional gender stereotypes of man-as-agent, woman-as-scenery.

Hell, yes.  Karen Healey talks about a character who subverts lots of stereotypes at Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed), this week:

Onyx used to be in the League of Assassins, but she reformed. I love this origin. No rape, no child abuse, no special woman!reason to fight crime – just a straight story of evil she’s done and a personal quest for redemption. Sometimes she reforms by beating the crap out of criminals and monsters, and sometimes she reforms by sitting in an ashram and meditating. I think the monastery thing is why she’s bald, but it’s also a good way of ensuring that at least no one will fuck up her hair.

And she’s a black, female martial artist. That’s important, because non-powered, non-white-or-Asian heroes who will just kick your teeth through your skull are very rare in the DCU. Vixen (whose name is Vixen, guys, come on) has spirit-of-animal powers. Empress has voodoo (and where is she these days?). Steel has powered armour. John Stewart/Green Lantern has a fancy ring. They’re all great characters who have done fantastic work addressing and exploding stereotypes, but they’re all powered-up in some way.

Black people should also be represented by Bat/Arrow-style heroes, who don’t have superhuman powers, just guts and ability and a mission.

Karen has this habit of getting me hooked on comic book characters.  I’m afraid I can feel a new favorite coming on…  That is, if I can find any books with Onyx in them, of course.

Carrying on with this stereotype theme I seem to have developed in this week’s assortment of internets (I wish I could do thematic posts on purpose – wouldn’t that be cool?), allow me to point you in the direction of an excellent post by Latoya Peterson at Racialicious, “Denial and Delusion – Why Public Conversations About Race Fail Before They Begin”:

It is as if the thought never crossed their minds that maybe, just maybe, the industry is sending a very powerful message out to minorities by saying that we do not exist outside of our stereotypical roles. If there were five or ten games with a multi-faceted, modern latino protagonist, maybe slipping in a few “light-hearted” stereotypes in one third person shooter would not be such a huge deal. It is still ill-advised, but you would have enough positive images on the market to balance out the negative images broadcast into the homes of every person who purchased this one game.

However, there is no balance. Stereotype after stereotype abound in the virtually crafted console world, with very few characters of color to provide an alternate perspective. Mottes argues that “most games with racist characters do not reflect the mindset of their developers.” I would argue that they do. It reflects the developer’s mindset in dealing with the world and in dealing with minorities. If the developer was not holding on to this mindset that minorities can be categorized with one or two main characteristics, we would have multi-faceted characters of color to play.

In another video game-related post, Richie at Crimitism talks about a truly tasteless flash game:

Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that there are “right” and “wrong” times to say and do things; the reason so many of the jokes about (say) Space Shuttle Columbia are crass and insensitive isn’t that they were told too soon after the actual event, but that they were directly inspired by the event, and thus rely on us pointing and laughing at people because they burned to death, which isn’t ever going to be funny. So the idea of turning Jack the Ripper into a prostitute-killing superhero is always going to be a pile of misogynist shit, whether it’s 1888 or 2007. That said, something to bear in mind about this game: It was released on the 8th of January 2007. That’s a really, really short time the Ipswich murders. The game can’t have taken long to develop, since it’s incredibly simple and made in Flash. Obviously we don’t know that this game was directly inspired by the Ipswich murders, but it’s not as if using them as an excuse to invoke Jack was rare; Steven Wright was variously dubbed “The Ipswich Ripper”, “The Suffolk Ripper”, “The East Anglia Ripper” and “The Red Light Ripper” by the media. Make of this what you will.

The subject matter is certainly disturbing, but Richie manages (as he generally does) to somehow make his analysis of it quite funny.  Give it a read.

Closing the week with more humor (or perhaps whimsicality is a better word this week.  At any rate, something to make you smile), I defy you to look at this cat macro and not feel warmer and fuzzier inside.  If that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps Karen Ellis’s Wonder Woman sighting will.

I’ll see you all next week with more internets in tow – and perhaps by that time I will have learned to eat the popsicles slowly.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    So the idea of turning Jack the Ripper into a prostitute-killing superhero is always going to be a pile of misogynist shit, whether it’s 1888 or 2007.

    Wait, what? What? What? WHAT?

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ve heard similar remarks about this site, only more toward watching TV shows on Netflix.

  3. says

    SunlessNick, is that horror at Richie’s assertion that such a thing is automatically misogynist, or horror that such a thing exists? ;-)

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think my very favorite part of Richie’s post was the bit where he explains how Dr. Watson rolls up into a ball and hurls himself at the enemy. Talk about “for no apparent reason”. :D Plus, it was just about the only bit that wasn’t misogynistic. Unless I’m missing something, LOL.

    It’s just hard to believe anyone would even think to do something like that.

  5. MaggieCat says

    It’s not misogynistic, but it’s stupid if that helps. Watson was the one who carried a gun on the dangerous cases, and was loosely based on Doyle, who’s probably spinning in his grave right now. ;-)

    I’ve been doing some long overdue cleaning lately, and at the bottom of my closet I found a bunch of books that I loved as kid. I was actually surprised to see how many of the female protagonists actually hold up after all this time. I feel like I should send Tanith Lee a thank you note on the basis of her Unicorn series alone- I still want to be Tanaquil when I grow up. (Which probably won’t be happening anytime soon if the number of stuffed animals I found under my bed are any indication. Hee.)

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