Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Excerpt: The Grey Rain-Curtain

Now Playing: Howard Shore - The Grey Havens (The Return of the King OST)

I need to reread Lord of the Rings.

I've always gotten the impression that people like Tolkien's creation because of the world--because the universe redefined and changed the fantasy genre. And while that's true, because I'm someone who experienced it well after it had already made its cultural impact elsewhere, the world didn't enamor me as much as it did to other readers.

But that's not a bad thing.

Because it meant the first time I read the three volumes back in freshman year of university, I could focus on two things: the prose and the characters. If Tolkien wasn't masterful at both, The Lord of the Rings wouldn't have such longevity. It would have come and gone, left imprints, perhaps, but not been remembered as it was.

I know it's a massive fantasy writer cliche to do so, but before I rewrite my own epic fantasy, I'm going to reread The Lord of the Rings.

Particularly for one reason: the themes of loss, the horrors of warfare and the nature of corruption. I'm so used to fantasy series ending with a happily ever after, I forget sometimes why so few stay with me: they're flippant and they don't ring true. The end to The Lord of the Rings feels genuine. Aside from Éowyn and Merry's awesome fight against the Witch-king, this is my favorite moment.

Major spoilers for the ending.

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise. 
But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness a she stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent. 
At last the three companions turned away, and never again looking back they rode slowly homewards and they spoke no word to one another until they came back to the Shire, but each had a great comfort in his friends on the long grey rode. 
- The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Heroines (Reprise)

Now Playing: Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL - Is She With You? (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice OST

I don't really have all that much to say about Batman v Superman that hasn't been said already--although I like the actors/performances and cinematography and action and music--and even poor, poor Zack Snyder's ambitious overreach--so much, I came out liking this movie a lot more than critics did. *Shrug* (I could have done without some of the overtly annoying religious angle, but once again, oh Zack Snyder, you sure do try to be deep. Can I fault someone for being ambitious and overestimating their abilities? Isn't that what we all do to an extent?)

So yeah--I don't have all that much to say.

Except this:

At the screening on Friday night, the crowd was pretty good. It's always nice to see these movies on opening weekends because the overexcited fans are a package deal. I think the very best crowd we ever got was The Avengers--because they laughed and clapped and cheered and then fell utterly silent in all the right moments. But the ones from Friday were great too.

Like most people said, Wonder Woman's appearance, however brief it is, turns out to be the very best part. When she shows up, at first quietly, and then in full gear, you feel the whole movie shift to something grander, to something better.

But the best part was this: when her theme hit, and we saw her for the first time in full costume, my theater exploded. They cheered at other parts, but that part had them go fucking nuts.


And when it happened, I had this momentarily flashback to the moment in The Force Awakens where people started cheering and clapping and bouncing in their seats: Rey and the lightsaber. Oh sure, they cheered at other parts. But the one where they absolutely lost it, was at a moment I wasn't expecting. An unknown girl, inexperienced fighter, grabbing such a beloved franchise by the rails and solidifying her mark in a single moment.

I don't know why--I still don't expect it. I don't expect a female character to become the highlight of a movie.

I don't expect the general audience to love and be impressed by and want female characters to succeed. Not after all I've seen in other media, all I've heard from consumers and critics and creators, after how women in fiction are treated and written.

And to be totally honest, Gal Gadot's casting was the first thing that really turned me off from this movie. The other casting choices did confuse me and worry me, but the Gal Gadot thing annoyed me because, well, it looked like they'd just grabbed a pretty girl with a super thin body and shoved her in with no consideration to the character she was representing. It didn't sit well with me. We have so many heroines already that are thin and conventionally beautiful, I was kinda hoping they'd divert from that.

I don't think my initial criticism was necessarily unfair. I do want different kinds of women (with different body types, features, of different races, that kind of thing) being cast for these roles. But I liked Gal Gadot. I liked Wonder Woman. I'm glad I was wrong about her. She has presence. 

And most of all, I liked what her reveal in the movie and what the fans' reaction represents: progress. With her and Rey, I feel us moving forward. Studios still are cautious. Stupidly so, but they are. They hide these heroines behind the vanguard of boys, whether in the marketing or in the end product, but audiences do come for them. They admire them. They want more of them.

I'm happy my wish surrounding Mad Max's Furiosa is turning out true. We really are paving the way for more heroines in mainstream, speculative fiction media. We got Furiosa, we got Rey, we got a bit of Wonder Woman--and for the latter two, there's so much more to come. We'll get more of them just in 2017.

Their movies are going to rock.
~Becky

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Excerpt: Diligent Mismemorization

Now Playing: Trocadero - Keep Moving

[Introduction].

Non-fiction book! Based off the real-life events surrounding the filming of The Room.

This was one of my favorite books I read last year. It might have even been my #1 read of 2015, trampling all over the rest. I think it was because it surprised me so much with how insightful and heartfelt it turned out to be. It's funny, and that was expected, but it's also a very interesting meditation on the struggles of artists. (Even terrible ones).

Every single scene is immersive.
To my--and, I'm sure, everyone else's--astonishment, someone stood in the back row. It was the pirate from the previous week. Today he was wearing black pants, an ostentatiously studded belt, and a gleamingly pearlescent button-down shirt. He had a slightly hunch-backed posture, and when he walked his arms barely moved. He was also taking his sweet time getting to the stage. He went backstage and slowly picked around before returning with a foldout chair, which he snapped open and slammed down onstage, so that its back was facing the audience. He straddled the chair, legs spread wide, and pushed his long dark hair from his face.  It suddenly seemed possible this guy was actually sort of great. No one who wasn't great could afford to conduct himself like this. 
Shelton asked him, "And what are you doing for us, Thomas?" 
"No, not Thomas. It's Tommy." 
Bored already, Shelton scratched her nose. "What are you doing for us, Tommy?" 
"The Shakespeare, Sonnet 116." 
I heard someone mutter, "Oh no, not this again." 
I was watching Shelton very closely now. We all were. "Proceed," she said. 
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds," he began, "admit impediments." He bludgeoned his way through the rest, each line a mortal enemy. When the sonnet demanded clear speech, he mumbled; when it asked for music, he went singsong. Everything he said was obviously the product of diligent mismemorization, totally divorced from the emotion the words were trying to communicate. He was terrible, reckless, and mesmerizing. 
The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cut

Now Playing: Gustavo Santaolalla - The Last of Us Main Theme

I got the urge a couple days ago to rewatch a few scenes from The Last of Us. I can't remember what I was looking for exactly, but I ended up rewatching like 70% of the cut-scenes. (I know, I might as well have just replayed it, but I've got way too many games to finish as it is. Can't add anymore to the pile).

Anyways, a lot of the key scenes that occur right before the end of certain sections reminded me of something from my creative writing class.


I found some of the commentary creative director Neil Drukmann did along with the lead actors, and he emphasized the thing that's been on my mind since I first played the game: in the game's narrative, scenes cut and jump to the next season whenever Joel and/or Ellie are put in a situation of heavy emotional or physical or mental (or all three) strain. The player gets hit with the weight of a powerful moment, seeing them at their lowest. Then immediately that cuts to the next season.

You don't see the aftermath of such a crippling or terrifying or heartbreaking moment. You move on, and the story moves on.

The funny thing, that's the sort of narrative choice my professor once criticized.

I'm trying to remember this properly--I might be fibbing a few details--but I recall workshopping a story that did something sort of similar.

If I'm not mistaken, it was in an urban fantasy story where two girls--two young witches--nearly kill someone by accident. One seriously harms him and the other one nearly kills him.

It was basically the climax of the story--they're trying to haphazardly do damage control after the first girl loses control and then they're trying to get out of such a dangerous situation without anyone coming after them. There's some conflict between them and there's the possibility of outside danger too.

But all of this happens all at once--girl hurts victim, second girl nearly kills him by accident, they're angry at each other, they're running out in fear, and then scene break. One page of a climax, then it cuts. After that scene break, they're back at home, still shaken up, but not speaking to one another. And it ends.

Again, if I'm remembering correctly, that was the scene that made my professor say the writer had backed away too early, too quickly.

The scene needed to keep going, in her opinion. As it was, we didn't get to see the two girls fight over it, we didn't get to see how they deal with their actions (whether internally or externally), there were no visible consequences shown to the reader.

Her advise to the writer had been to go back to that moment and write out exactly what happened next. Stay in the moment no matter how much it hurts. Show those consequences.

I'm trying to think of that within the context of The Last of Us. The game doesn't shy from a lot of heartbreaking moments and it really delves into the uglier aspects of these character's lives--but at their lowest points, it cuts. It shows you a hint and then it keeps going.

But it doesn't feel cheapened or sudden. I'm not going to pretend the writing in the game is perfect--because, again, nothing is perfect--but that's one structural choice I think works perfectly. I'm not left wondering, "how did they deal with this next?" Nor am I left thinking there aren't any consequences.

It's more prolonged than that. The cuts don't feel like someone's covering your eyes and making you turn away from the horror. It feels like one final punch that just, I don't know, knocks you out. It's the last of the pain not the beginning cut short.

It's one of those things that this story can make work whereas all others would fail. And even though I have some guesses, I doubt I have any real idea of how it does it.
~Becky

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Excerpt: Black Snakes

Now Playing: Trocadero - Fifty

[Introduction].

This one's a recent read. It's also a bit of a weird choice.

Not because I don't think the book is good--I found Written in Red really imaginative and amusing. I quite liked the characters and the more mundane aspects of this fantastical world kept me engaged.

But it's a weird choice because I don't find the writing to be particularly amazing. It's not bad. It's good in the sense that it's clear and direct and doesn't try and lose you in flowery/long-winded descriptions. But it's also not necessarily memorable. The dialogue is fine and even the voices of certain characters come through depending on the perspective, but there aren't any prose passages that really stood out to me.

Yet I think the direct, simple nature of the prose works in its favors when it deals with the prophesies thrown at Meg. It can be disjointed, but not because it lacks clarity, but because it's just images flashing all at once. The simplicity of the writing helps you concentrate on the images and ultimately I think it works brilliantly.

Spoilers ahead, as this is a pivotal scene that takes place near the end of the book.

"Speak," Tess said, her voice rough with the effort to deny her own nature. "Speak, prophet, and I will listen." 
Box of sugar lumps. A hand withdrawing. A man's hand wearing a thin leather glove. A woman's hand, the nails polished a pretty rose color. A dark winter coat that had nothing distinctive. The sleeve of a woman's sweater, the color a bright, unfamiliar blue. The ponies rolling on the ground near the barn, screaming and screaming as black snakes burst out their bellies. Skull and crossbones. Sugar full of black snakes. The ponies screaming. A skeleton in a hooded robe, passing out sweets to children. A skull laughing while children screamed and screamed as the black snakes ripped their way out of those young bellies. 
"Hands," Meg whispered, her strength visibly fading. "Skull and crossbones. Black snakes in the sugar." 
"Your words have been heard, prophet," Tess whispered. "Rest, now. Rest."
- Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Questionable

Now Playing: The Neighbourhood - Let it Go and Female Robbery

The 100 didn't get cancelled.

The second I saw the news, I just let out this. . .hysterical laugh that went on for like three minutes. It was scary.

I'm about to go all conspiracy theory on here, but I'm tempted to think the controversial death was written at the halfway point because if they did lose viewers for it, they would already have seven episodes of great reception to carry them through to a renewal.

EVIL GENIUS?

No. No. I know that's not realistic--I listened to a podcast interview Jason Rothenberg did and dude sounds like he's about to start crying as he attempts to defend his choices and talks about how shocked he is by the fan reaction. So maybe it wasn't all a diabolical plan and just happy coincidence--but whatever it was, it worked in his favor.

Thanks to wiki-references, I got to compare Controversial Episode's Ratings with Follow Up Episode's Ratings and there was a drop. The fourth season will probably be last one and I dearly hope the producers are getting ready to wrap up the story, if only so they won't go to the land of Half-Told Shows Axed In The Middle.

As for me, I haven't watched last week's episode for a myriad of reasons. Mainly because. . .I'm just so tired. Of both the creators and the fandom.

I don't know how The 100 fans did it, but they somehow manage to call out the despicable treatment and writing of one marginalized group (LGBT+) while also insulting another marginalized group (POCs).

And the treatment of fans who are both POCs and LGBT+? Just. . .holy fuck. They get shit thrown at them from all sides.

Particularly from the side that defends the bindi on Lexa--ignoring the fact that it's perfectly possible to praise her character while also point out The 100 has a few problems when it comes to being. . .uh. . .race sensitive?

Because, just speaking personally, I tried to stick by this show, even defend it at times, and yet can't seem to do it anymore.

I'll be damned if--aside from Clarke and Octavia in their good moments--I didn't keep returning to the show for Raven, Monty, Indra, Lincoln, Anya and Wells while they were still there, and ohmygodheavenlyjesus Bellamy--

This boy.

This poor boy.

Had the best character development in the first season.

Is played by one of the best actors in the show.

Got tortured continuously throughout the entirety of the series and has been tossed aside and treated as disposable by endless characters.

Is currently being written like shit because the showrunner and writers have no idea what to do with him.

Hated by angry Clexa fans because he's "just another man" despite THE FACT THAT HE'S LIKE ONE OF THE ONLY POC LEADS IN A SUPER POPULAR SHOW THAT DESERVES TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND SHOWN AS VULNERABLE AND STRONG AND WORTHY OF LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE WHILE DISPLAYING HIS SKILLS AS AN INCREDIBLE LEADER--

Okay. No. Can't rant. Won't rant. And to be fair, I heard a couple of Clexa fans report some Bellarke fans being content at Controversial Death Plot Point.

So it's shit all around.

Point is. Part of me wanted this show to succeed because Bellamy is amazing and deserves all the love in the world. But after the choices made with his character this season (really? Mass murdering a sleeping army because Oh He's Still A Monster? Fuck you, writers. Fuck you) I don't trust this team to do him justice.

Sigh.

I think I'll go back to my original plan and just catch up when the season finishes.

Just on Bellamy though. . .even if his character writing ultimately goes completely off the rails, I already see how his early writing and portrayal will influence my own work.

Maybe I adore Bellamy so much because he's kind of what I hope to write one day with an old character of mine.

More on that later. Another post, another day.

Going off of The 100 and its deplorable storytelling choices, I've decided to revise a couple of plot points I was going to make in the rewriting of Millennium Girl.

For about a year and a half now, I've realized. . .there's a certain awkward angle to the way I've chosen to tell my story. The fact that I'm a POC writer isn't going to excuse me from this criticism if I'm not careful.

Technically, there are two protagonists. Because that's the kind of writer I am. I love dual protagonist--chalk that up to the influences of Halo 2 living through me to this day.

But just because I see Wendy (a black girl) and Lilith (a white girl) on equal terms does not mean the text treated them that way. At least not in the first draft. Ideally the two leads would have an equal number of chapters. If they weren't, Wendy is still not supposed to be a secondary character or a supporting character. She's supposed to be the deuteragonist at least.

This might not seem like a big deal, but the way the story is constructed so far seems to imply the opposite. Stripped to the bones, this is what I'm seeing: White girl protagonist faces white male antagonist. Black girl (and her twin brother) and Asian girl help her defeat him just cuz.

That's the simplified version. And if I'm not careful and make Wendy's motivations clear and individualistic to her character and the triggers to her own character development-- well, then, I wrote another story where the POC characters drop everything to help the White Hero.

In my head, this is as much Wendy's story as it is Lilith's. But just because I see it that way doesn't mean I've written it that way.

I'm already rewriting a ton of chapters to be told through Wendy's perspective. That might be at first a superficial fix, but it's to ensure that Wendy's personal arc is put to the front and center. That was why the discovery of her being a comic book fan was so important to me. The theme of heroism (and the price of heroism) isn't something born from Lilith's arc and struggles. That's purely on Wendy.

I need to make that clear.

And while Jessica Jones had somewhat inspired me to push Ansel to a more frightening point, I almost overdid it. Overdid it in the same way Jessica Jones did, according to some fan criticism and analysis.

So I'm going to try and strike a balance in some of my more brutal narrative choices. Ansel doesn't need to go on a rampage and kill people (especially with a mostly POC cast) for me to prove that he's a worthy opponent.

If I can't make him terrifying or formidable without relying on pointless deaths constructed for shock value--

Well then I guess I'm not a very good writer, am I?

That's the challenge right now.
~Becky

P.S: You don't want to know how much trouble those damn gifs were giving me.

But I fought them and came out victorious.

For Bellamy.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Excerpt: Wandered Through his Mind

Now Playing: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori - Excerpt from the Ruin (Destiny OST)

[Introduction].

Quick note: it's my little brother's birthday. He's so oldddd. He's so old and I'm so old--we're both so olddd.

In honor of his oldness, here's a quick, early excerpt from one of his favorite books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's both humorous, and weirdly true to life in capturing someone's thought process.  It's a lengthy excerpt, but it's because this whole scene is paced perfectly, especially with the repetition.

Enjoy!
Kettle, plug, fridge, milk, coffee. Yawn. 
The word bulldozer wandered through his mind for a moment in search of something to connect with. 
The bulldozer outside the kitchen window was quite a big one. 
He stared at it. 
"Yellow," he thought and stomped off back to his bedroom to get dressed. 
Passing the bathroom he stopped to drink a large glass of water, and another. He began to suspect he was hung over. Why was he hung over? Had he been drinking the night before? He supposed that must have been. He caught a glint in the shaving mirror. "Yellow," he thought and stomped on to the bedroom. 
He stood and thought. The pub, he thought. Oh dear, the pub. He vaguely remembered being angry, angry about something that seemed important. He'd been telling people about it, telling people about it at great length, he rather suspected: his clearest visual recollection was of glazed looks on other people's faces. Something about a new bypass he had just found out about. It had been in the pipeline for months only no one seemed to have known about it. Ridiculous. He took a swig of water. It would sort itself out, he'd decided, no one wanted a bypass, the council didn't have a leg to stand on. It would sort itself out. 
God what a terrible hangover it had earned him though. He looked at himself in the wardrobe mirror. He stuck out his tongue. "Yellow," he thought. The word yellow wandered through his mind in search of something to connect with. 
Fifteen seconds later he was out of the house and lying in front of a big yellow bulldozer that was advancing up his garden.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

So The 100. . .

. . .is so getting cancelled.

SUPER MEGA GIANT SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 7 OF SEASON 3 TO FOLLOW.

Also, discussion of Game of Thrones season 1-5. For comparison.

I've been kind of avoiding any spoilers/news/reviews of the shows seeing as how my plan had been to avoid all episodes until the season finished. It had gotten to the point where watching wasn't enjoyable, just sorta tiresome. I said before that they seemed to have a problem with needlessly trying to pander certain fans on certain scenes, then switch it up with some shock, then back to the pandering, ad infinitum.

But I did trust them in one thing: don't kill off your only lesbian character--a prominent love interest and strong female character who is both a leader and a warrior. Just don't do it. Don't do it. Give her plot armor. Put her on a bus. Just. Don't. Do. It.

I've previously been really angry at The 100 for how it treated its POC characters, particularly in regards to how it disposed off and seemingly forgot of Anya. But as soon as fans started saying, "good on the POC diversity, but what about LGBT+ characters?" and the writers started hinting, "soon," I thought they'd know better. They had to. They just had to. I mean, these people seem to spend half their writing time justifying themselves on Tumblr and Twitter. They seem to know fan expectation. They seem to understand fan reaction. At times, it seems that's all they know.

And then they fucked it up.

I'm saying that in a sing-song way in my head: and then--they. Fucked. Ittt. Up!

Oh boy.

The way I found out was because someone else got a spoiler. Goodreads!buddy and recent Pinterest/Blogger stalkee Mila posted an update that she'd just gotten spoiled for a character death on the latest The 100 episode, followed by a crying gif.

My stomach kinda sank.

I know, I'm a writer, I should come up with better metaphors than that. But it did. And I knew it'd be bad. Granted, I didn't think it'd be WE KILLED LEXA WITH A STRAY BULLET AFTER SHE HAD SEX WITH CLARKE bad because I thought she had plot armor. But it still did feel like the classic sinking-of-the-stomach so I said "fuck it" to my own rule and caught up.

And. . . .


I know the official reason is because the actress landed a lead role in Fear the Walking Dead, and per Jason Rothenberg, they had a shit time even getting her for seven episodes as it was. I understand the need to write out her character. I do not understand the need to do it post relationship-consummation with Clarke and by a STRAY BULLET FROM TITUS of all things.

At first, I didn't dare check Tumblr, but Twitter is drowning right now. Most of the major accounts associated with the show are getting bombarded by angry fans stating:

1) Die.

2) Lexa deserved better.

3) You manipulated us.

4) We won't watch it anymore hope you get CANCELLED.

5) Another queer girl killed for no reason fuckyou.

Throughout Friday afternoon, a part of me kept (rather unjustly) thinking, it took Lexa's death for you to see how shitty the writing has been turning? They've been doing questionable choices and death-for-shock-value for a while now, and it's just gotten worse and worse. They've been fridging women. They've been ignoring POCs. There have been good shocking moments--Finn's death. Clarke and Bellamy pulling the lever at Mount Weather--but there have been just as many terrible ones.

(And that A.I. sideplot just got so fucking nonsensical, I want to stab myself in the kidney. Further ruined by the fact that the head of said A.I. plot is named Becca. Are you doing this to fuck with me, writers?)

Eventually I braved Tumblr and took the plunge and saw there were people legitimately self-harming over what had happened.

And I guess I mean that in all forms. Someone mentioned cutting themselves, and that may just be one person, but other girls were crying, admitting to having suicidal thoughts, feeling this crushing weight of disappointment that their one representation had been killed, that the one show that had boasted being progressive had completely shat on all of said progress, that they felt legitimately manipulated.

And honestly? My heart broke for them. Not in a "I fucking told you so!" way, because I didn't necessarily see it coming. (I should have but I didn't). But in a genuine way.

Weird comparison time, but I was trying to think back to how it felt after Sansa was raped in season 5 of Game of Thrones. (Another thing I didn't see coming because every part of my being was trying to justify why it wouldn't happen).

Like The 100, Game of Thrones has long stopped understanding the basic reasoning behind utilizing tragedy as a plot point. It's like a monster of its own making. Game of Thrones became famous for a Anyone Can Die theme. For perpetuating that Valar Morghulis is not just a theme of the story, but a theme of life we must all come to accept. But ultimately, it seems to have forgotten it is still fiction, and if you need to earn this death scene, this assault, this dark moment for this character.

Just in terms of the book, I think people forget how many times A Game of Thrones kept reiterating that Ned was going to die. Even the first season--back at the show's peak--reminded you that he was making the wrong choices and they would lead to his demise. Don't trust Littlefinger, don't confront Cersei, don't, don't, don't. The only reason the death is still shocking is because it understands the fantasy genre and all of storytelling in general. It understands your expectations and carries on. It knows you believe the main character does not die. The hero does not die. We might toss them to their lowest point, but they will not die.

So when the story understands we have that expectation, it can play out the plot properly without deceiving anyone. AGOT never tells you Ned will survive. You just believe what you want to believe and when the shock happens, it is built up and earned by the rest of the writing.

It understood that, once upon a time. It doesn't anymore. So when the show kept tossing out characters, killing them left and right, and then outright created a scenario where one of its strongest female characters was relentlessly abused for no reason other than, "We're edgy!" I couldn't bear to keep watching.

I was in the minority. Viewership might have dipped, but it didn't tank.

The angry Lexa fans of The 100 made up a good chunk of the viewership.

Plus, I'm hearing Lincoln (another POC man and someone who was subjected to a very questionable story in season 1, to say the least) might get offed sometime this season.

Yeah.

This show is fucked.

There's this weird belief that the best kind of writing is the writing that surprises you, that shocks you, that keeps you guessing. So Game of Thrones perpetuated the belief that to be interesting, you had to be edgy and shocking and as brutal as much as possible. And in the process, they and The 100 writers and just a shitton of creators in general forgot that over saturating the stories with such choices makes them feel contrived and manipulative.

I was completely heartbroken when Sansa was raped in season 5 of GOT. It felt like this deeply rooted sense of betrayal, caused by a show I'd praised and forgiven and tried to embrace despite its flaws. But when she was senselessly abused without a care of how it reflects and embodies everything that's wrong in our culture--how it even influences it as all art does--I couldn't stomach the thought of going back to the show.

So when I saw queer girls everywhere demanding a boycott of The 100, I had to sympathize.

And hopefully learn from it too. As I hope all writers will learn.

I'm thinking Jason Rothenberg thought he could get away with it because he kept stating that theirs was a brutal show of a brutal world. He thought they could get away with it because he'd swear up and down that the show wasn't about romance every time the shipping wars reached him on Twitter so of course if one got tossed aside, it was for a very good reason and the show could carry on without it.

And this is a borderline dangerous assumption to make, but what if he thought he could get away with it because he already had an LGBT+ lead?

The reason for why the death of queer characters is dangerous is because there are so few of them in media. When you kill them, it isn't just an individual dying, it's the representation of hundreds of thousands of people being axed off yet again. It feeds into stereotypes, it cuts short said representation, it just does all kinds of harmful shit. So it can't be wrong to think the series considered that, well, queer girls still had Clarke, right? They could survive without Lexa?

I don't know. All assumptions.

But even though I had decided not to keep watching the show, I had been keeping an eye on the ratings per episodes after they aired.

I'm keeping an eye out for a week from today. If I see a drastic drop, then I'll know the Lexa fans kept their promise.

FYI, The 100 PR department must be hell right now. Or just in general the whole staff is in the gutter. Unjustifiably, some of the actors and writers are getting death threats. Holy shit, fans. Holy shit. (Plus they're kind of lashing out at the Bellarke shippers and I just don't want to even touch that. The shipping wars of The 100 have always been a headache).

If I ever make it big (I know I won't, shhh) remind me to just disappear from the internet? But also keep an ear out for criticism and literary analysis. That kinda thing. That kind of balance.

I really am mad at the 100 writers. But just as a creator myself, I feel this weird sense of empathy for them. Like, I just imagine something similar going down with my own shitty writing, and I.. . .I don't think I'd recover. In any way imaginable. (Hopefully none of my old silly posts--like THIS ONE--are held against the hypothetical much older, much wiser version of me.)

At least I can find comfort in the idea that if/when I mess up, it'll be radically different from these mess-ups.

But as for The 100 team. Well.

You fucked up.
~Becky

Friday, March 4, 2016

Legit Concern Now.

Hmm. Thinking back on this post, I'm wondering. . . .

Do I maybe ruin things for people?

Like, am I not framing certain criticisms in a way that invites change and understanding rather than shame and defensiveness?

I know there are feminists out there who feel they shouldn't have to be overtly kind and forgiving, especially because they've approached hostility so often, from such asinine people who have no interests in learning.

And I don't think they should change their stance. I'm just thinking maybe I'm too aggressive sometimes in my analysis and opinions. Some of them. Some warrant it, but maybe I could take it down a bit in others.

This is about me, though. Not about the movement. I don't want to make comments on feminism as a whole because I generally do think aggressive is needed at times.

But me, personally, I think my temper's been a problem for a while. Plus, if I'm just perpetually angry, it's going to lose impact.

We'll see how I handle this.
~Becky

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Legit Question. . .

Now Playing: Trocadero - The Man in Red

Is it impossible for men not to objectify women?

Is it? Isn't it?

(Men who are attracted to women. If I must clarify here).

Like. For years now, a part of combating rape culture has been fighting against the idea that men are wild animals who will turn bloodthirsty at the sight of bare skin. They're not all rapists waiting in the wings, two seconds away from snapping if a girl walks by in a miniskirt, right? They can be attracted to a woman while also acknowledging that she's a human being with thoughts, feelings, desires of her own, right?

I'm asking because I got into an argument about Phantom Pain's Quiet. And any argument involving scantily clad pixel-constructed women is a total shitshow from the beginning, but holy shit do I try. I love video games too much not to try.

Anyways, the man I was arguing with kind of implied it wasn't fair for me to make him feel guilty over his attraction to Quiet. He didn't say it outright, but that's what I got out of the conversation. He just wanted to play the game and shouldn't be punished for it. And it's a good game, I'm not trying to take that away from him. But apparently--at least according to what he told me--our argument seemed to just amount to me shaming him.

My goal in feminist discourse isn't to shame anyone. It isn't to make you feel guilty for liking things that might have fucked up elements. I like a ton of crap that's fucked up in some way or another because nothing is perfect. I'm not trying to get you to feel like shit every time you launch up Phantom Pain, but I do want people to be aware of why that certain component is harmful and why we need improvement in future work.

In said argument, he said something like, "I can't help but like how she looks. I can't help it."

And I just. . .

I mean. . .

Okay. I gotta ask:

Really?

Like, you don't see her in a thong and torn tights in the middle of a combat zone and think, "that looks uncomfortable as all seven hells." I mean, after you think, "she's so gorgeous!", doesn't the second thought ever make an appearance?

There's a scene in season 2 of The 100 where Bellamy is stripped almost completely naked and tortured when he poses as a Grounder to get captured by the Mountain Men. (Undercover job, high risk, that kind of thing). I remember one, one, female fan on Tumblr saying something like, "that scene was kinda hot," and having a dozen others go, "wtf?? How about no?"

Because no matter how attractive Bob Morley might be, THAT SCENE WAS NOT TITILLATING IN THE SLIGHTEST.

Just speaking as a heterosexual girl, seeing a man stripped and tortured and obviously in pain (definitely not the good kind of pain) doesn't fade into the background in favor of abs/shoulder blades/strong arms. Hell, there's an entire scene in Deadpool where Ryan Reynolds has to fight completely in the nude, and while he's covered at times by clever lighting and angles, his body isn't always in total obscurity. And as far as I can tell, never once did I nor the women watching forget who he was and what his situation was in favor of WOO SIX PACK. (Granted, his face is kind of a mess while that's happening. But I get the feeling it shouldn't have theoretically stopped anyone from admiring the rest of him, if circumstances had been different).

The stereotypical retort to this is: well, duh, women aren't sexual creatures, only men are!

And that's such rotten bullshit, I am barely going to acknowledge it before moving on. No. People of all genders can be equally sexual. It all depends on the individual.

Overall, I'm really bothered by this question. I've been bothered ever since I heard there were guys who thought Cersei's penance walk was "hot" just because Lena Headey (and her body double, I guess??? I think that's how they filmed that scene) is a beautiful woman. As if tits and ass makes one forget that she's wounded, covered in dirt, ridiculed, in tears, and generally slut-shamed and harassed and injured throughout the entire sequence.

It's not just gross. It's disheartening.

Granted, the Quiet example isn't the same. I don't know if there are scenes were she's being hurt and it's meant to be titillating. She's in a dangerous environment, sure, but she's not in visible discomfort. Still. I can't help but think--doesn't this bother you in the slightest? Surely there are better places to look at semi-naked women.

I should and do give men more credit, but let's just say the man I was arguing with is someone I actually know and admire. So. This is troubling, to say the least.
~Becky
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.