Links of Great Interest: REDWALL RULES!

The politics of blame and dark skin. This is a fascinating read.

A suggestion for Michael Moore’s next project.

Speaking of film…. the line-up for the 1st annual Athena Film Festival is live! The festival is hosted out of the Athena Center at Barnard, and produced by Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood.

Israelis kill older civilian man because they entered the wrong house.

A global citizen’s movement could not avert the first genocide of the 21st century. This same movement may be able to avert the second.

US Congresswoman almost assassinated in Arizona, the latest victim in the rise of domestic right-wing terrorism.

Harlem musical legend died earlier this week.

The magic of legal marriages — they let you go to China!

Todd Reynolds breaks down labor and the “new” university.

Charge Ian Birk with homicide! Four seconds to death is murder.

From MC:

Quick, everybody read this awesome new fantasy series now! It passes the Bechdel Test not just with regards to female characters but also with LGBT and characters of color as well.

From Scarlett:

Following link from aol news about a model who battled with anorexia from 13 died recently aged 28.  And one from BBC news.

Can foster parents give consent for foster children to be medical guinea pigs?

Hey, Redwall fans! Wanna cook like a mouse?

Your new favorite time waster: first person Tetris.

Elle magazine AGAIN lightens the skin and hair of a woman of color.

Ursula K. Le Guin reflects on Helen Mirren’s take on Prospero in The Tempest.

This just in: RAPISTS LIE.

Woodturtle reflects on duty, labor, and motherhood.

GAB analyzes Roxanne’s Law.

This is a a great read on how to help sex workers have access to the resources they need.


  1. says

    OMG, geeking out about the Redwall link! Those were my favorite books as a kid, until they got all samey. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn into a furry. 😉

  2. Alara Rogers says

    I strongly disagree with the LeGuin article. Or rather, in a sense, I agree, but I feel that that is the point, and the thing that bothers her is exactly why it’s worth doing. It’s true that changing the gender of a character is often a radical change, because in our society we pin so very, very much on gender. And that’s the POINT. The very fact that the story changes, without one word of dialogue changed, when Prospero becomes Prospera, is why the play is absolutely worth doing and damn, I wish I could go see it.

    In particular, it is stupid to say “If you change too much, the play stops being Shakespeare’s work”… especially when Shakespeare himself, AS LEGUIN POINTS OUT, wrote during a time when men played women on stage. We’ve seen Othello reimagined with a white Othello and an all-black cast otherwise (as LeGuin mentions), we’ve seen Richard III reimagined as a modern dictator, we’ve seen any number of creative reinterpretations of Shakespeare where the words remain, and all that changes is the staging and casting. If the words are Shakespeare’s, then it is Shakespeare’s play, even if you gender-swap the characters. It’s not like Helen Mirren is wiping out every male Prospero ever and in the future and there will never be a male Prospero again.

    Funnily enough, I saw Patrick Stewart as Prospero in Shakespeare in the Park in New York, many years ago, the only time I’ve actually ever seen that play performed. I’ve also read stories that gender-swap Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek, and written some, and every time, it’s Helen Mirren I picture in the role. :-)

    Also, on the comments there, someone mentioned wanting to see a female Othello, where the trait of being black is swapped out for the trait of being a lesbian woman, and I would *love* to see that. Or a Romeo and Juliet where the kids are both girls, or both guys, and the violent reaction of the families is played up as being at least a little about the kids being gay.

    • says

      Yeah, I read that Op by LeGuinn also, and was…apalled isn’t the word, but baffled is closer. Here’s a woman who was justifiably upset when SciFi Channel whiteswashed one of her most popular series of books (EarthSea) from the original multicolored cast of characters not seeing, or refusing to see, how Shakespeare is constantly reinterpreted for new audiences, audiences who want to see it differently. HER Prospero may be male, and the one I’ve read in the play may be male, but powerhunger runs in both sexes, and there’s no rule saying mother-daughter relationships can’t be as “complex” as father-daughter relationships. In fact, I could see that veering the play off into directions *I* can relate to much more readily than the original father-daughter relationship. I have my own difficulties with my own bright, passionate, intelligent, whipsmart daughter.

      I’d LOVE to see this version with Helen Mirren. She’s terrific! (and I could see her playing Capt Picard, too)

    • Nicky P says

      “…a female Othello, where the trait of being black is swapped out for the trait of being a lesbian woman…”

      This is kind of a sidebar, but it bothers me that the implication of this suggestion is that the character has to be one or the other, instead of possibly both.

      • Casey says

        THANK YOU for saying that. It was bugging the shit out of me. I think Othello would be way more interesting if the dynamics were changed to the titular character being a black woman, regardless of orientation.

    • Quib says

      To be fair, she said that it bothered her, not that it was wrong or even that it shouldn’t have been done. I also don’t think she gave a clear opinion of actors in drag, just an example where it didn’t work.
      From what I can tell, LeGuin’s point is that changing the gender of a character alters more than just the pronouns used, especially in the context of Shakespeare. When you have a character acting according to, and reacting to gender expectations, you create a fundamentally different character when you change their gender, and treating it like the same story with the same character is what bothers her.

  3. The Other Patrick says

    Re: Gabrielle Cliffords: Barry Eisler messages something like, ”the media says the attack was not terrorism. What they mean is the attacker wasn’t muslim.”

  4. Maartje says

    I am completely in agreement with MC that any who haven’t read Jim C. Hines’s Princess books yet should run out and get ’em. After seeing a link to him in one of Maria’s own LoGI’s I found the book, read it and fell madly in love with it. I can’t even describe how awesome it is without falling all over myself. Turns out that even if (or especially when?) you’re a fairytale princess it SUCKS to be acted upon from the moment you were born, and never being given a choice in the matter. And that when they take their freedom, atain agency, they can be whatever they damn well please. Like heroes for example. Or flirts or mothers or lesbians or brave or cowardly or compasionate or all of that and more. That book’s awesome. I can’t wait till I get my hands on the next two in the series!

    • M.C. says

      I’m so in love with this series right now. :)

      And how awesome is it that Talia is female, not white and not straight and still reads like a well-rounded character instead of a walking cliché? Most authors can’t see behind race or sexual orientation and once they put it all together they forget that they’re writing about a person instead of a condition.

      But Hines manages to pull it off. Talia’s darker skin is mentioned off-handedly 2 or 3 times in the first novel. And her attraction to other women doesn’t really seem to matter either, only in the way that she is able to give a princess a True Love’s Kiss to awaken her from a magically induced coma.
      But the things about Talia that really matter are that she is a bad-ass fighter and a mostly loyal friend to Snow and Danielle.

      • Maartje says

        The most awesome thing about Talia was, in my opinion, that she came back. When faced with the very real possibility that the most horrible thing ever done to her would be done again, she cut her losses and walked away. And then walked right back. Overcoming that fear to save her friends, was just AWESOME.
        And YES, that they are well-rounded. But in trying to explain my feelings on just HOW amazing that is I start giving away the entire book, so I am going with OMG YES! I love that book, still waiting on the sequels to arrive.

        • M.C. says

          Me too :) I finished the first novel this week and already ordered the sequel (the second hasn’t been translated into German yet).

          I haven’t enjoyed fairytales that much since princess Fantaghiró was kicking ass and taking names to save her virginal prince only to dump him later for a life of adventures and more ass-kicking. *gg*

  5. Shaun says

    The article about HIV drug trials on foster kids is upsetting. It’s not really surprising at all, disabled kids (using HIV status as a disability here) are extremely vulnerable, especially when you add intersections like class and race. The most maddening part, though, was when the researchers clearly saw the kids with daily doses of dapsone dying and acted like it was SO MYSTERIOUS why the daily dapsone kids were dying, but it definitely wasn’t because they were taking dapsone daily!

    I guess for an individual child participating in a study with strong ethical review and an independent advocate who had strong interest in the child’s well-being and no conflict of interest, taking these drugs may have been the best course of action for her/him. Far be it from me to say it didn’t help any person ever. Unfortunately this is an institutional problem, these oversights are rarely implemented, and we don’t live in a fantasy world where medical experimentation on the poor, disabled communities, and people of color is anything but frequently heinous. Ultimately these trials were not about treating the individuals children, or the children’s well-being: they were DRUG RESEARCH trials designed to test a drug’s safety for the greater (less disadvantaged) population at risk to an extremely vulnerable one. And that is why every single one of those foster children needed an advocate if they were going to participate in those trials, if they were allowed at all.

  6. says

    Redwall always had a pretty disturbing racial subtext to me, since the mice and rabbits and moles etc. were always, always good, while the rats, shrews, stoats, etc., were all “vermin” and just inherently bad and deserving of extermination.

    Like once there was this mouse who was always described as “ratty-looking”, but the kind denizens of the Abbey took him in anyway, but then he turned out to be a SECRET RAT and betrayed everyone. That whole thing really weirded me out even when I was just reading the books as a little kid.

    Something Awful is a pretty bad site most of the time, but I always enjoyed their Redwall parody:

    • says

      The racial subtext is disturbing to me too, actually, but only after I grew up and really thought about it.
      And what about Veil? The ferret (evil race) raised from a pup by the kind Abbey dwellers but oh, looks like he was evil all along, no matter how kind his adopted family. Because ferrets are Always Chaotic Evil. Biology is destiny!

      Also, towards the beginning of the series, female roles left a lot to be desired (though he did make an effort to fix that as he went along).

      But I don’t think I’ll ever not love Redwall. I can’t read it anymore, because I’ve outgrown it, but it will always hold a place in my heart.

      • says

        There’s also the class aspect. The rats, ferrets, et. al. have cockney and other poor city accents, whereas aside from the moles who have dock worker accents, I believe, the good rodents talk in relatively upper-class educated ways. Remember, poor people are evil. And even if they somehow come into good fortune, they’re still evil. Yeah, there’s a mess of race/class/gender/culture/disability/lookism issues in those books.

        Not that I didn’t/still do adore them. They got me young.

        • Maria says

          TBH I read two, and remember that they were filled with animals but weren’t Watership Down or Plague Dogs, which were sad. I think. It’s all one amorphous animal book time.

          • says

            Watership Down was AWESOME, but unfortunately failed pretty hard when it came to female characters, in that they were largely absent save for being breeding stock.

            I LOLed at “one amorphous animal book time”.

            I’d like to recommend Redwall, but I’m not sure you would like it. Heck, if I had never read them before now and then read them with my current mindset, they would seem pretty problematic due to the issues above. Also, juvenile due to the extreme black-and-white morality.

            I remember getting dissatisfied after reading The Outcast of Redwall, that I talked about above. I think I was in high school when I read it. I thought, here was a chance for Jacques to write a character of an “evil” race who has a chance to become good through nurture. I was pretty peeved when he turned against the mouse-woman who raised him with love and then was killed trying to save her, only it turns out he didn’t really mean to get in the way of that arrow and he really was being selfish til the end. No one grieves for him. Even though he has lived there all his life. Grr.
            **END SPOILERS

            It was long before my more socially-conscious days, so I couldn’t put into words why it was SO problematic, it just was. After that his storied seemed pretty formulaic and characters were completely predictable. Just look on this handy animal race chart and you’ve got the personality down-pat!

            But goddamn it, I still…love Redwall. Sigh. I can criticize it, but I still love it.

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