Category: Feminism and Literature


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Fuller House Season 2 released on Netflix earlier this month. I, being a fan of both Full House and Season 1 of Fuller House, watched the show in my free time. On the surface, Season 2 seems to be more progressive than season one, with more LGBTQ+ representation as well as more challenging of gender norms. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been tricked and cheated by the writers of Fuller House into believing they were progressive (especially since they literally have the cast members proclaim that they are anti-Trump and that they are for a large variety of progressive ideals).

When thinking critically about the show, however, it seems that, sure, there are many progressive ideas, from sustainable backyard organic farming to female empowerment, and the show likes to challenge gender norms and expectations, but that certain things are only there as a joke. That is mostly the LGBTQ+ themed parts.

Take, for instance, the very first scene of Season 2. Season 1 ended with protagonist DJ deciding to take time to figure herself out before she decides whether she wants to date her high school sweetheart, Steve, or her new, hunky (better option, imo) work partner Matt. Season two begins and she has finally decided who she wants to date. DJ has not seen Steve or Matt all summer (even though Matt is her work partner? I’m not sure how that worked out. They’re veterinarians, not teachers), so this is her first time catching up with them. Apparently, Matt and Steve bonded over the summer and became best friends (for plot simplicity, probably). They come over together all buddy-buddy, making jokes about wanting meat. The scene was set up so that it actually seemed like they were a little too close to be just friends. The expectation that Matt and Steve were going to come out and say they were dating each other escalated as they stood next to each other, arms wrapped around each other, and proclaimed “We’ve actually found someone.”

Only for the punch line to be delivered by Stephanie: “Each other? I always had a feeling!”

And it’s played off as a big laugh, because obviously they weren’t dating each other. They each actually had found girlfriends, and their girlfriends were coming over to meet the Fullers/Tanners/Gibblers. This would not be a huge deal if this was how Matt and Steve’s friendship was – very close, a lot of touching, etc. However, this is one of the only times Matt and Steve are portrayed this way, and it is all a set up for a gay joke. I know I was a little disappointed to see that they built that up just to make a joke about it.

But Matt and Steve are not the only examples of this. We have an almost opposite joke in one of the following episodes. DJ and Stephanie decide to crash a wedding. While there, DJ meets Sean, a charming and attractive man around her age. She and Sean get along very well, and DJ is very interested in seeing him again. He even asks her for her phone number! It’s at this point that he informs Stephanie that he’s gay – and he suddenly starts behaving differently. He starts dancing flamboyantly, talking about the cute waiter – things that he hadn’t done in the last 10 minutes (of screen time) we were interacting with him. It’s played off as a big joke. Haha, the guy DJ was into was actually a gay guy all along. How could she not tell?! Let’s also remember that they live in the heart of San Francisco, literally the gayest place in America, and Sean is the only LGBTQ+ person they ever interact with.

But this post wouldn’t be complete without going into more detail about the apparent challenging of gender norms. We see this with both Steve and Matt’s friendship as well as the relationship between the older generation of brothers, Danny, Jesse, and Joey. I’ve already mentioned how Matt and Steve’s friendship is built up just to make a gay joke, but there is also a scene later that I am quite frustrated with. After Steve gets DJ a birthday gift and gives Matt the credit, they have a really tender broment (bro moment). Matt asks “Should we hug?” and Steve and he hug. After a few seconds, Matt asks “Should we stop?” Steve responds, “It’s your hug, your decision.” So instead of stopping, Matt slowly and awkwardly puts his hand on the back of Steve’s head and pats it tenderly. The scene then ends.

What I described above sounds like it’s awesome. Two male best friends who are not afraid to hug each other and be intimate. How great is that?! It would be great, if there wasn’t a laugh track over it.

The problem is that Fuller House is a show intended for children. Although there are adult moments overlaid there to appease the generation who grew up watching Full House, it is primarily a children’s show. That’s why making these jokes is bad. The reason it’s funny that Matt and Steve are hugging like that is because “Boys don’t hug like that!” Brothers hug like that. Kids hug like that. Adult men don’t hug that like. How silly.

The same goes for the thanksgiving episode, where Danny, Jesse, Becky, Joey and their children come. Jesse and Danny end up sharing a bed. The next day they are talking about it, saying one was trying to snuggle the other, but then they reveal that they were actually quite comfortable snuggling each other. This, again, is played off as a joke, because adult men don’t cuddle in bed together.

The problem I’m having with this season of Fuller House is that they are turning intimate, close male friendships into jokes. They are telling the children the show is directed at that these are things that are weird and out of place, and they should think it’s silly. It shows that despite their progressive assertions, there is a bit of internalized homophobia going on here. It’s based in stereotypes and gender policing. It should be better than it is. You can have fun, interesting LGBTQ+ characters, or non-stereotypical men (like Jimmy Gibbler!), without making gay jokes.

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If you are a fan of the CW’s Superhero TV shows Arrow, Flash, or Legends of Tomorrow, you have been seeing plenty about time travel. The way that the CW presents this makes it seem like all the time travel makes sense – however, it doesn’t stand up to even the smallest level of scrutiny and it is destroying the integrity of all of the shows. Here’s why.

Time travel is most evident in Legends of tomorrow, though it is most problematic in the Flash. In the Flash, our Villain, the Reserve-Flash travels back in time from the future and kills the Flash’s mother. However, in our TV universe, the Reverse Flash doesn’t have enough speed force to travel back to the future and therefore gets trapped in the past. He then takes Harrison Wells’ place so that he can create the Flash and siphon speed force from him so he can return to his own time.

Jump to the end of Season one, when the Reverse Flash is defeated when his ancestor kills himself. This is the first problematic thing. This literally puts us in an infinite loop. Had Eddie not killed himself, the Reverse Flash would never have come back. But then edit never would have killed himself to stop him, and the cycle continues. Viewers sort of just accepted this based on a whole bunch of time travel bull that the CW writers decided to make up – which makes absolutely no sense.

Then we have Season 2, which was light on the time travel, though introduced the incredibly convoluted concept of Time Remnants, which make even less sense than the previous infinite loop. I have tried to understand it multiple times and every time I can’t logically accept what explanation I come up with. I’m not even going to try.

Then enter Season 3, which takes the whole concept off time travel and decides to give a huge middle finger to the audience. The Flash decides to go back in time and stop the Reverse Flash from killing his mother. He then captures the Reverse Flash and imprisons him. However, Flash eventually realizes that he’s losing all his memories and that the world he created was not a good one, He’s also losing his powers, and he doesn’t have enough Speed force to go back in time and stop himself, so he asks the Reverse Flash to go back and kill his mother. Of course, Reverse flash goes back and kills Barry’s mother, but also decides to mess a whole bunch of other stuff up.

This is where it so far doesn’t make sense. This is the same Reverse Flash that originally, after having killed the Flash’s mother, didn’t have enough speed force to time travel and had to wait for Barry so he can use his speed to go to the future. Now, for some reason, after 3 months and absolutely no work, Reverse Flash is able to not only go back in time, but also mess up a whole bunch of stuff, suggesting he went back to multiple points in the past and changed them.

So why was Reverse Flash suddenly able to go back in time when he originally couldn’t? And, if for some inexplicable reason the Reverse Flash was magically back to full power, why did his existence as Harrison Wells not change? If Barry took him to the past, to the future (creating Flashpoint), and then he took Barry back to the past then back to the future, why would he return to the past and stay there? It makes no sense at all.

Throw that in with the fact that Reverse flash is currently messing up the timeline in Legends of Tomorrow – which I assume, possibly incorrectly, is supposed to be what he did right after leaving Barry – then you get a really crazy and intensely convoluted time travel story line.

Because of this, i feel increasingly disconnected from what is happening in the shows. i feel like I wasted two years watching Flash just to see the character arcs shift unexpectedly and disappointingly. This seems like lazy writing just so they can shoehorn Killer Frost in. The new season of Flash is a frustrating mess where we have no idea of what the character histories are or know anything about them, really. We don’t know what is the same and what is different. We assume that they are generally the same as before, but we know there are fundamental differences. It’s annoying. And then Barry tells them he changed time and it someone makes all of their problems less relevant tot heir personal interactions? No, it’s frustrating.

If someone can give me a legitimate understanding of the logic they are using, I’d love to get it.

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When CBS has first announced their decision to run with a Supergirl TV show, I was – needless to say – very excited. As a hardcore DC fanboy and an even harder-core Superman fanboy, I was excited. But the feminist in me was also excited. Supergirl would mark another step toward female superhero domination. And for the feminist hoping to see some great female storylines, Supergirl delivered. Before I knew how great Supergirl would actually be, though, I penned a little opinion piece called “Why the world Needs Supergirl,” which was, of course, a play on the article written by Lois Lane in the 2006 Superman Returns “Why the World Needs Superman.”

When wonder woman was announced, I was, of course, excited – but nervous, too. DC had been making some odd creative choices with their holy trinity in the cinematic universe, and I wasn’t totally sure if I would like their interpretation of Wonder Woman. I was much happier when I learned that a woman would be directing the film, and that Christopher Nolan was not going near it. Zack Snyder is a producer, which is concerning, but Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg are writing the script. They are two big names in comics whom I have faith will be writing a great Wonder Woman. Johns, due to his great work on Smallville and also for his overall great job as CCO for DC; and Heinberg for his experience with the character.

When Batman vs. Superman came out (which I loved, so shut it), I cannot tell you how exciting it was to watch Wonder Woman fight Doomsday. Her theme music sounding in the moment she is first shown in her armor and bracers is one of the most powerful feminist images in modern history. I remember bringing the extended edition to watch with my parents and seeing how excited my mother got when Wonder Woman appeared in battle was one of the most exciting moments in recent memory. She probably didn’t even realize it, but I watched her body language change from “slightly interested” to “heavily invested” in what was happening as Wonder Woman entered the scene.

And then they released a trailer. It was good, but it didn’t give much away. But then they released another trailer, and OH MY GOODNESS did that trailer give me so many feels. I have never seen a movie trailer that literally gave me hope for the future. After watching that trailer for the third or fourth time, I sat back and said to myself, “This movie may literally change the world.”

It sounds exaggerated and extreme, but after thinking about it more, I am even more certain that this movie has the potential to be a massive catalyst for change, in a way that no modern female-led movie has before. Below are the reasons why:

 

This can open the door for female-led superhero movies, as well as more female led movies overall.

Superhero movie goers are all too aware of the lack of female leads in superhero movies. Marvel fans have been begging for a Black Widow movie since the first Avengers film and so far there are no plans for it. It is difficult to get original movies with female leads to be created unless they are rom-coms.

I foresee wonder woman bringing in large scores of women. I foresee Wonder Woman being successful and therefore teaching the movie producers that action and superhero movies are – in fact – marketable to women. This, in turn, will result in more action movies with female leads, and will most likely result in more female roles in action movies – outside of the roles we are already accustomed to. This in turn, will lead to a larger female cinematic audience, which will hopefully result in more women involved in the production and creative levels.

 

Wonder Woman will be a feminist dream!

Maybe dream is a bit of an oversell, but I believe, based on my knowledge of wonder woman and my knowledge of this movie, that they will have strong feminist themes in the movie. And, if it is anything like the comics, this movie will not hide its feminism in undertones like Frozen and Tangled did, requiring the viewer to be very critical to learn the basic message. It will be in your face and quite possibly patronizing at times. We’ve already seen some feminism in the trailers, particularly in the scene where Etta Candy explains who she is to Diana, and Diana says it’s like a slave.

I’m very confident in the theming of this film, mostly due to the scene in the newest trailer of Diana climbing out of the trenches and walking into No-Man’s land, deflecting bullets off of her bracers. This woman, walking out into a land the men feared to enter. If that doesn’t set your little feminist heart alight, then I don’t know what will.

I just think of the message that she will be sending to young girls and women everywhere about their own power and determination to succeed. I just think about women and a mainstream message about women working side by side, hand in hand with men, each building each other up.

 

This will reinvigorate the DC Cinematic Universe

I think it is safe to assume that DC is expecting there to be a large Wonder Woman demand after this movie comes out. I think that, if they are smart, they are already planning to make Wonder Woman a key player in the future DC Cinematic Universe. They would be wise to give her a lot of screen time to appease the desire for Wonder Woman that will exist if the movie does well.

This will reinvigorate the salty fanboys who can’t get over the very logical and literary “Martha” scene. It will draw new fans in who have been waiting for a female headed superhero flick. It will give the DCCU the momentum it needs to propel forward.

 

If Wonder Woman fails, so does hope of female lead superhero movies.

If wonder woman does not succeed in the box office, or in our hearts, we may be looking at the last superhero film lead by a woman in a while. If it is determined that “female superheroes don’t sell” then the field will stick to that assumption. Studios will not be as willing to make a movie with a female superhero as the star. Marvel is already apprehensive about giving Black Widow a movie and she’s got as high off a following as the other Avengers. DC, fortunately, has faith in Wonder Woman, but if that faith is not rewarded, we may not see another female superhero in the titular role for a while.

If Wonder Woman succeeds, we can probably expect to see more female DCCU superheroes.

We already have confirmation that Supergirl was on the crashed Kryptonian ship that Superman finds in the arctic. We just don’t have her in universe. We have a large group of people who are obsessed with Catwoman and Poison Ivy comics. We have people straight up demanding a solo Harley Quinn movie. If Wonder Woman succeeds, we will get more of this. They may not get their own movies, but they will become important. We will be more likely to see Supergirl in a movie with Henry Cavil if Wonder Woman succeeds. Harley Quinn will be more likely to get her own movie if Wonder Woman succeeds.

If Wonder Woman succeeds, the DCCU will become much more queer.

Wonder Woman is not only a feminist icon, but a queer icon. DC’s current cinematic universe like to take a lot of direction from the Earth One comics. As I explain in my Wonder Woman: Earth One review, Wonder Woman: Earth One is incredibly queer. If the Universe continues to take creative freedoms from the Earth One stories, expect to see a LOT of queer characters in the future, at least in Wonder Woman titles. If there isn’t a queer character in the movie, I’d actually be surprised, even with its WW1 timestamp. Wonder woman is both a feminist icon and a queer icon.

 

Well, I have rambled on enough about Wonder Woman. Please take the time to view the trailer if you haven’t already (or if you have, too!), and buy some Wonder Woman comics! She’s great!

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Spoilers ahead for Superman: Earth One, Batman: Earth One, and Wonder Woman: Earth One.

I was a major fan of Superman: Earth One when I first read it sometime in 2011. I was such a fan, that when Man of Steel came out in 2013, I immediately recognized the similarities between the two stories (Man of Steel was Based on Superman: Earth One). Much to my delight, DC announced they would be doing Earth One renditions of other DC Superheroes. They released Batman: Earth One, which is currently unfinished with two volumes, and Teen Titans: Earth One, also presently with two volumes. The most recent release was wonder Woman: Earth One (with Aquaman and Flash in production!). I was pretty excited to read Batman: Earth One, and after reading, just had to get my hands on Wonder Woman: Earth One.

I had heard that Wonder Woman was not as good as the other Earth One stories, but I wanted to make that judgement for myself. I ordered it from Amazon (which in itself is ironic) and it arrived this past Sunday with Volume 3 of Superman: Earth One. As I’d been dying to see Earth One Superman face off with Zod, I read that one Sunday night. Last night, when my internet decided to fight with me, I decided to read Wonder Woman.

I was not disappointed. Well, sort of. I was disappointed because, unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman doesn’t really do much in her story. However, what I wasn’t disappointed about was the feminist, queer story that I read. Let me start with the bad of the story. Which really isn’t much, and really is only bad when related to other Earth One stories.

The BAD

Superman: Earth One focuses on Clark Kent, with his amazing abilities, trying to find his place in the world. He’s smarter than the smartest scientists, stronger than the toughest body builders, more deadly than the best trained military – yet he cannot find a place in this world. When an alien menace, Tyrell, arrives, searching for the last Son of Krypton, Clark Kent emerges as Superman to take down the menace (and, in turn, discover his true calling).

Batman: Earth One focuses on a fledgling Dark Knight who is trying to uncover the sleazy underworld of Gotham City and discover who put a hit out on his parents. He’s got his epically savage butler, Alfred, as his partner in crime, who continually urges him to bring guns to gun fights where Bruce Wayne insists on bringing flying razors, even when the guys with guns tend to wallop him. Bruce eventually uncovers who the criminal mastermind is and wins the day!

Wonder Woman: Earth One focuses on Princess Diana, who lives on the feminist island paradise of Paradise Island (was that exposition necessary?). The Amazonian society left “Man’s World” and created their paradise in the Bermuda Triangle after escaping from the slavery of the “man-god” Hercules. The story starts with Diana facing a trial before her mother and other Amazonian sisters. She tells her account of what she did, and the story takes place as each witness tells a part of the story in the trial. Each year, they have a three-day festival to commemorate their liberation from Man’s world. However, Diana is not like her Amazonian sisters and has a whole mess of special powers they do not, because her mother claimed she was a clay statue turned to life by the gods. Anyway, Diana always plays a special role in this ceremony, but this year she stumbled upon Steve Trevor and decided to take him home to help him, since the Amazonian healing technology only works on women. Diana defeats the strongest of her sisters in combat, being named the “Wonder Woman” and claims the invisible jet as her prize. When her mother smells the scent of man on her, she realizes what Diana is going to do and sends a hunting part after her. Diana escapes and manages to bring Steve Trevor to a hospital in the USA. She goes home after seeing how bad the men treat the women in Man’s World. But not before her mother sends Medusa the Gorgon, to turn Steve to Stone so he can never tell of what he knows of the Amazons. In her time in America, Diana saves a bus full of sorority women on their way to spring break and befriends them, eventually being named an “honorary sister.” They pretty much teach Diana all bout feminism in Man’s world. Then Steve gets turned into stone, before Diana even knows the gorgon is there. Then she surrenders to the Amazonian hunting party to stand trial.

 

Do you notice a difference between those three stories, other than the fact that I went into a lot more detail about Wonder Woman than the other stories? Well, the main difference is that while Superman and Batman start their stories taking on supervillains and crime bosses, Diana starts her story convincing her mother to let her go outside and play. Now, the way it is done is good, in my opinion, but it’s still important that Diana’s first step is nowhere near the first steps of her male counterparts. It’s ironic that a story with so much feminism in it fails to so much as show that Diana is a contender. Diana is part of the “Holy Trinity” of DC Comics and should be regarded as one of the ablest and most fearsome women in the world. It’s unfortunate that her first outing into the grittier world of Earth One is barely heroic and barely shows her skills. It’s ironic that it contains its titular character bound and chained for a good portion of the story.

 

The Good

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This is a feminist masterpiece (other than what was mentioned above). It has everything you can think of. Hell, it even has man-hating radical feminists. It talks about body shaming, sexuality, and women’s roles. It puts sorority women in a loving and supportive light.

The most important conflict in this story is between Diana and her mother, Hippolyta. Hippolyta is the woman who killed Hercules and freed the Amazons from slavery. She was enslaved by men. She was used by men like an object. This created her hatred of Man’s World. We even learn that Hippolyta literally created Diana to be her weapon used to destroy Man’s World. Hippolyta is that rad fem most feminists despise being compared to. A lot of other subtle things lead me to identify Hippolyta as the radical feminist here.

Hippolyta has a magic mirror she uses to look at the world. At one point early on in the story, she shows Diana an image of a woman in underwear, wearing a collar and leash held by a clothed man, and sitting over a food dish. She tells Diana that that is how men treat women in Man’s World. Clearly, she is taking a snapshot of a situation and using it to fit her means. Is it possible that woman was actually enslaved into bondage? Yes. But most sex positive people know that sometimes women actively participate in role playing, S&M and bondage activities like that with their lovers. Was the woman Diana was shown a slave or a submissive? We won’t know, and I don’t think Hippolyta cares. Which is ironic, because Hippolyta and the Amazonian culture regularly say that willful submission is a sign of love.

When Diana uses the purple rays to restore Steve Trevor from his stony fate, Hippolyta is shocked that the purple rays worked on him. Diana tells her that she simply re-calibrated it, something Hippolyta never even cared to try doing. And it clearly only took Diana a few moments to do so, as she hadn’t had access to purple rays until just a moment before.

The main conflict between Diana and her mother is that of choice. Diana wishes to choose her role, rather than have it be assigned to her from her mother. Hippolyta believes that women have only one role, and that is to be better than men and to rule.

Diana meets Betty (Earth One’s Etta Candy), one of the sorority sisters she rescues, and Betty is a slightly overweight – but healthy – bisexual woman. Betty is a symbol of modern feminism. When brought before Hippolyta at the trial, Hippolyta and other amazons scorn her for her body. Even Diana makes a comment about it when first meeting her. Betty is always mature yet firm in her response that she loves her body, is healthy, and is happy. Diana accepts that, but Hippolyta does not.

Betty is more than just body positivity;  she is also sex positivity. She talks about her crushes on both men and women, and about how Paradise Island is a kinky lesbian sex island. I can foresee Betty’s character being the most sex positive of all the characters in future volumes.

But that’s not all Betty does. When Hippolyta is using Betty and other women as examples of why Man’s World is cruel to women, Betty fires back. Betty tells Hippolyta that the patriarchy may be bad, but they (women) are fighting against it and trying to make change. Betty uses actual feminist language to counter Hippolyta’s insults. Betty is probably the hero of this story, in terms of theme. (And well, Diana doesn’t really do anything except save Betty’s sorority sisters, so maybe Betty is the bigger hero after all).

Aside from all of that, this is a primarily female story. Steve Trevor and Hercules are the only men who actually have names in the story (there may be a named soldier somewhere but they play no real role in this volume). This story is about women of all different backgrounds. There is Diana, the social outcast who wants to leave home and see the world. There’s Hippolyta, the vengeful, bitter women with a chip on her shoulder. There’s Betty, the young, optimistic, positive and happy one. There is Nubia, Diana’s black Amazonian sister who struggled to understand her then defends her in the end. There are Betty’s sorority sisters who support Betty and Diana equally, even though they are pretty opposite people.

 

But that is not all. This story is also incredibly queer. First, we have both visual and verbal confirmation that Paradise Island is pretty much a lesbian paradise. In one scene, we see the Amazonian women asleep, at different levels of undress, after an insinuated orgy. Diana tells Steve that she left her lover on the island to save him. Betty tells us that she has crushes on men and women. This is such a queer book and I love it.

We have Diana, who at this point has shown no interest in men, and is therefore only confirmed Lesbian. We have the rest of the Amazons, who have had no contact with men for three thousand years and most likely do not lust after them. We have Betty, who is surely bisexual, and will hopefully use that language in the future volumes.

And again we get back to Betty. Betty is the one most interested in the sexual themes of the story. She is the one commenting about the Paradise Island kinky lesbian sex. She is the one talking about her crushes. She is the every-woman, and she is teaching Diana what it is like to be a woman in Man’s World.

 

And if that isn’t enough, Steve Trevor takes the cake. After being saved from stone by Diana, Steve is wrapped in the lasso of truth and asked questions by Hippolyta. When he tells them he lied to his superiors to protect them, Hippolyta assumes it is because he lusts after Diana. He tells her, under the truth of the lasso, that he did it because his ancestors were slaves (Btw, Steve is a pretty badass Black Man) to men who thought they were better than others; men with too much power. And all of a sudden you realize that this story is about so much more than just feminism. Steve says he hid their secret because he understands why they don’t trust man’s world, since he doesn’t, either.

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So the story may not be too epic, but it is still powerful. It makes powerful social commentary – commentary you don’t need to make with a superpowered fight or badass moves. Commentary that I hope we get to see metaphorically in the future of this series, hopefully introducing Cheetah with her own idea of feminism.

This story brings you back to the golden Age Wonder Woman, but takes the terrible tropes and flips them on their head. I strongly recommend it! (even after all these spoilers!)

 

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of criticism from people on the Batman vs Superman movie. I hadn’t seen it until last night, so I had stayed out of the conversation until then. Now that I have seen it, I’m reading reviews and think pieces about it. I have realized that there is one completely fundamental thing most people do not realize about this movie, and it’s actually about Man of Steel.

You see, Man of Steel is based on Superman: Earth One. And it’s not just a coincidence. They told the author of Earth One they were using his story. I’m going to give you a quick description of Superman: Earth One. Krypton is destroyed, and Kal-El, son of Jor-El, is sent to earth. He is raised by the Kents to be a fairly good person, but unlike other iterations, he is not inundated with the “great power = great responsibility” shtick.  The Kents in this version tell him that he needs to figure out what he wants to do. He goes off, exploring the world, trying to find out what he wants to do. He tried academia, and doesn’t like it. He tries hard labor, and doesn’t like it. He tried business and doesn’t like it. He tried a whole series of careers and lifestyles that he ends up disliking. He doesn’t want to work at the Daily Planet, because news media is in decline.

But then something happens. An alien armada comes and its captain, Tyrell, hates Kryptonians, and wants to see the last one die. Superman tried to fight them without revealing himself, but realizes he cannot. Superman must decide if he is going to stand up for earth, or run away. In the end, he stands up for and protects Earth from the alien invasion. This makes him a hero to some, and a threat to others. Also, he interviews himself and gets onto the Daily Planet staff, since the Daily Planet was the only news station to get coverage of the invasion, and is therefore  super successful.

Hmm. This story sounds super familiar. Perhaps that is because it is literally the plot of Man of Steel except they replaced Tyrell with Zod. The issue here is that the whole DC cinematic universe is based on this story, and nobody seems to get that. The whole universe is based on this idea that the heroes do not know what they are supposed to do until after they do it.

This is a strong theme in Batman vs Superman, one that is continually being confused for bad writing. This isn’t bad writing. This is brilliant writing, and brilliant use of visual cues to suggest characterization. The tone and imagery in the movie strongly reinforces the central theme that these heroes struggle.

There is a lot of criticism of Batman and his behavior in the movie. But if you think of his characterization at this point, it makes total sense. Batman has been through hell, as suggested by Alfred’s dialogue and the desecrated Robin suit. He’s desperate for answers, and he thinks his previous methods have not worked. That’s why he’s so fast and loose with people, tossing their cars around like basketballs and throwing grenades like free candy at a parade. He’s also terrified of Superman, and thinks that he is the world’s best hope for survival. In many ways, he and the Lex Luthor character are similar.

By the end of the movie, however, we have literal proof that Batman has changed into the batman we know. When he visits Luthor’s cell, he does not brand him. He does not beat him. He just threatens him. He’s the batman we know. And we are informed of that because he did not brand him, like he did the previous criminals. If people cannot understand that, it’s because they do not understand the main theme of the movie – and the main theme of the current DC cinematic universe. That heroes need to make choices.

Let’s explore this more. One of the greatest criticisms of Man of Steel is that people don’t understand why Superman didn’t take the fight with Zod away from metropolis. The simplest answer is that Superman was new at fighting super-powered aliens and didn’t really think about that. He was mostly concerned with staying alive and stopping Zod. However, this time around, what is the first thing superman does when fighting Doomsday? Throws him into space (which, might I add, is a reference to Injustice). And It isn’t like his fight with Zod in space, because rather than grapple with him, he just kept pushing him further out into space. It’s almost like Superman learned from the last time. He made a choice.

Superman also struggles with what happens at the capitol. He knows that every decision he makes could be the difference between life and death. He is strongly aware. People often mistake lack of dialogue for lack of characterization, but there is a lot of it here.

Last I want to discuss Lex Luthor, who is quite the interesting character to me. Lex Luthor, in general, represents the power and influence of corporate greed. He has previously been depicted as a tall, large bald man with a deep voice and refined tastes. This is the archetypal rich business man of the 80’s and 90s. The Lex Luthor in this movie is NOT that Lex Luthor. In fact, there is an offhand reference to his father, another Lex Luthor, who probably fits that exact description. However, let’s take a moment and look at the Lex we are given. He’s young and drives a motorcycle. He doesn’t follow normal formal rules, doesn’t wear suits, and kind of thinks he’s the best thing around. This is a CLEAR and OBVIOUS reference to young, modern CEO’s. The LexCorp campus reads like Google’s campus on steroids. Recreation facilities, food, social gathering areas. LexCorp is a Silicon Valley company in the middle of Metropolis, and Lex is the typically rich millennial. Greedy, selfish corporate assholes no longer look like the Lex Luthor we demand. They now look like Eisenberg’s Luthor. Just look at this list of CEO’s  under 35, and see how many look anything like the Luthor of old. Not many of them. But they all look like the Luthor we see. That’s the more realistic Luthor.

Things That Annoyed me About Daredevil

 

So I, like many people, binge watched Daredevil season 2 this weekend. It was entertaining, but it was certainly not as good as the first season, or as good as Jessica Jones. There were a lot of loose ends and forgotten subplots. Some of these issues may be due to me missing something or forgetting things from the first season (which I didn’t rewatch in anticipation). Also, there are HELLA spoilers here, so if you haven’t watched it and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read! The first few are pretty spoiler light, but it gets more intense. Let me know if there are any explanations or if you agree or disagree!

 

  1. How long has passed?

It isn’t clear how much time has passed from the end of season 1 to the beginning of season 2. It’s also unclear how much time has passed over the course of the season. I know that the court case was only a week after Castle was caught, but how long did the case go for? How long before castle got put in jail? How long before he escaped? Claire says that she was assigned 6 months of night shift after helping Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, so we know it’s been at least 6 months since then, but Jessica Jones isn’t very clear about how long after Daredevil season 1 it was, we just know Daredevil exists. It’s very unclear, and I would like an explanation.

 

  1. Where does this fit in to the MCU?

What has or has not happened so far in the MCU? Did the Civil War happen already? Is it building up to that? Where does Spiderman fit in to this world? He’s another NYC hero, and evidently he’s going to be important in Civil War, so where’s he been? They keep talking about vigilantes but don’t mention the web slinger? Perhaps its rights, but it still annoys me.

 

  1. I really don’t understand the dirt, or the hole.

I realize that it’s very possible that these things were left ambiguous intentionally. But at the very least I want an explanation of the dirt. If they are digging supermassive holes in the city, why are they importing one box car of dirt, and why is that dirt so super secret? I would be completely ok with this being an unresolved issue for the future, but literally once DD and Elektra discover the dirt, they never mention it again. I’m also annoyed that DD could sense the dirt in the boxcar, but couldn’t tell that it was dirt? He’s all like “It’s completely full, filled with uniform items packed tight” but he can’t tell that they’re freaking dirt? That just seems unlikely.

 

  1. Why did the Hand mask their heartbeats?

This could be me forgetting things from season 1, but I’m not quite sure why the Hand would mask their heartbeats. Unless this is a specific countermeasure to Daredevil, this seems like a huge waste of energy and resources. I don’t recall if Nobu knew that Daredevil was blind, but that’s the only reason I would think to do that. Clearly, the understanding was that the Hand knew DD was blind, but I don’t really remember how they knew that. I also think that if they knew he was blind and he tracked sounds, that they’d be smart enough to not use weapons that were so loud. Also, I’m confused as to how the Hand actually masked their heartbeats. They repeatedly say it, so we as an audience just accept it, but how do they do that?

 

  1. What happened to the Hand ninjas who were chasing them from down the stairs?

In the season finale, Elektra and DD are getting chased by a shit-ton of hand members. “Too many to count” in fact. They are in a stairwell and they know that there are a bunch of guys on the roof and a bunch more chasing after them from down below. But when they go onto the roof, there are about 20 hands guys plus Nobu, and the ones from downstairs never arrive. What happened to them?

 

  1. Why bother having the Punisher show up at the end?

It was obvious that Frank was going to come and help them. The whole time I was wondering at what point he would show up to save them, because the last thing we saw him do was turn on his police radio. It was obvious. However, when he finally did show up, he was pretty useless. DD and Elekrtra had just fought the aforementioned 20ish ninjas plus Nobu, and though Elektra died, there were only 4 ninjas left by the time Frank showed up. If DD and Elektra could take on 20 plus Nobu, DD could easily have taken on 4 plus Nobu. It seems that Frank only showed up to remind the audience that he is, indeed a “good guy” in terms of everything.

 

  1. Why did Daredevil stop caring about killing people?

For the entire Punisher situation, DD was adamant about him not killing people. He knocked guns out of his hand and stopped him when he was trying to kill people with his bare hands. When Elektra came on board, he was adamant about her not being allowed to kill anyone. When the Hand attacks them at the pit, she almost dies because he doesn’t want her to kill anyone. Then she leaves after killing the ninja in DD’s house. However, immediately after this, he makes no more mention of killing the Hand. While he and Elektra are fighting them she repeatedly stabs and kills them and he doesn’t even acknowledge it. Then at the end Frank shoots the Hand guys and he just kind of rolls with it. He even throws Nobu off of the building. I know he has some understanding that Nobu has some sort of resilience, but you don’t throw someone off a roof by their neck without expecting them to die. This would all make sense if it was premised with something, but there’s no explanation.

 

  1. What was Elektra’s mission, exactly?

Matt asks Elektra if their meeting was chance, or a mission, and she tells him he was her mission. But what exactly was the point of the mission? Intuitively, it seems she intended to teach him to kill, but that’s never really explicitly stated. And then once he refuses to kill Sweeney she just gives up? He constantly asks her where she goes, and she never answers. We can assume she returns to Stick to tell him about her failure, but we don’t know. It’s not clear, and once she talks about him being a mission, that’s all we see. There’s no further discussion on the topic.

 

  1. Why does Karen never get her conflict resolved?

It is clear to me why Karen identifies with the Punisher so much. It’s because she killed the guy who kidnapped her in season 1, and she want sot feel justified. This is alluded to heavily in the beginning of the season. She feels guilty, and like a bad person for doing so. She thinks that if they can prove the Punisher’s killings were justified, that they also prove that her killing was justified. However, this subplot quickly vanishes into obscurity, never getting fulfilled.

 

  1. Who were the suits that Castle’s nurse mentions?

The nurse mentions that some men in suits came by Castle’s room and he didn’t know who they were. He also said the District Attorney ordered the DNR. Now, it’s possible these “suits” were just the DA’s people, however, when Karen sets off the motion detector in Castle’s house, men in suits arrive. This leads me to believe the suits are more than just the DA’s people. It’s not very clear. It could easily be the DA’s people, but I’d like a little finality to that assertion.

 

  1. Why was nobody watching the Punisher’s house?

So Frank gets arrested, sent to jail, and then escapes. And the first thing he does is return to his house. I’m pretty sure that if a person convicted of 30 murders breaks out of prison, they would have someone watching his house. It’s not like nobody knew about his house. Karen was able to find it pretty easily, and the DA had vast files on Castle. Someone would have known his house was there and checked it out as a possible place he would go. But he just goes back there and settles in nicely, with no issue. We don’t even get a visit from the men in suits that came when Karen set off the motion detector. Why is that? What is the deal with that house?

 

  1. What exactly do the Hand want with Elektra?

We know that Elektra is the Black Sky, this super obscure super weapon that the Hand wants to use to rule the world. However, we never see anything in Elektra that would suggests she is that powerful. It is clear at the end that they didn’t need her alive, and I can only assume that she will be resurrected by the hand to be the Black Sky. However, this leaves me a bit confused. It was clear that in her current iteration she had no special abilities other than combat prowess. Did the Hand need her to die in order to use her as the Black Sky? If so, why did they not kill her when they had her surrounded? Why did they instead bow to her? Perhaps she would be more powerful if she joined them while living, rather than being resurrected, but it’s unclear. We don’t even know what the Black Sky is meant to do. We can assume that whatever they were doing to those people was meant to possibly bring out the Black Sky powers in Elektra by putting her in that pod, but we don’t know. This is certainly something that will probably be clarified in the next season, since it’s so wide open and intentionally unclear.

 

  1. Why did the Blacksmith target Karen, but not Foggy and Matt?

We know that after Punisher escapes, the Blacksmith starts killing people involved in the case. The DA goes down first, and Foggy gets hit, but he clearly wasn’t a target. Then next we see Karen’s apartment get shot up and Punisher saves her. But it’s really not clear why the Blacksmith would target Karen before Matt and Foggy. Perhaps it was due to ease, since Matt was hard to find and Foggy was in the hospital, but it seems pretty odd to me. Karen was a legal assistant and there was no real way for the Blacksmith to know she was important until she showed up to his house.

 

  1. Why would the Punisher slam a pickup truck into a sedan with someone he believed to be innocent in it?

When the Blacksmith takes Karen, The Punisher saves her by ramming the car they are in. This has got to be the biggest mistake of the whole series. They were pulling over. They were getting out of the car, most likely to go into that shed where the Blacksmith kept his stuff. There was no reason that the Punisher should have slammed into the car, risking Karen’s life. It is just counter to his characterization at this point.

 

  1. Why do we never see or hear about Matt working out?

There is only one reference to exercise in the whole show, and that is when Elektra says something about Matt having been working out. But has he been? Sure, he is a vigilante who prowls the streets at night, climbing things and such, but that won’t make him stronger. I suppose you can say that he gets all his exercise from his vigilantism but fighting and climbing things won’t necessarily make someone stronger, just more toned. Not that he’s supposed to be super strong, but it would be more realistic to me if they mentioned him exercising, maybe showed him doing some sit ups or push ups or something. It’s a small thing, but I think would add to his character. At least even a mention of someone asking him how he stays so fit or something.

 

  1. Does injury mean nothing to anyone in this universe?

A lot of people get hurt in this season. First we have Frank, a.k.a. the Punisher. When the Irish mob leader “captures” Frank, he drills a hole in his left foot. With a drill. And electric drill. But the next week he’s walking totally fine. He still has the bruises on his face, but his foot is totally fine. Next we have Elektra, who gets sliced with an acidic blade. Luckily, stick shows up to put together a remedy of common household items that… rapidly heals her? Then Matt gets shot in the shoulder with an arrow and Elektra gives him that same magical remedy. And the next day they are fighting the Hand army. And Foggy also gets shot in the shoulder, but evidently his bullet wound was not that bad and he was only in the hospital overnight. Let’s also not forget that Karen was in a vicious car crash and then the next day seemed totally fine. Injury and trauma seem to have no long term effects on these characters.

 

  1. How does Punisher find out who the Blacksmith is?

Karen goes to the Blacksmiths house and has no idea he is the Blacksmith, but quickly discover it when he… tells her, I guess. He kidnaps her and tries to take her to his cabin thing for some reason, but then Frank shows up. How did he know to do that? I could have completely missed it, but I just don’t remember.

 

  1. Why did Stick kill the Black Sky in season 1, but not Elektra?

In season 1, another Black sky arrives to New York in the form of a young boy. Stick kills this Black Sky and Matt sends him away. In season 2, we discover that Elektra was a Black Sky, and that Stick decided against killing her when she was a child, instead sending her to live with the Nacios family. I’m wondering what prompted Stick to kill the new black sky but not Elektra? This isn’t really a huge issue, as I can see a few different options. Firstly, he was much closer with Elektra by the time he was asked to kill her. However, they knew the whole time she was the Black Sky, so I’m not sure why he bothered doing that at all. Also, Stick didn’t like when people called Elektra it, yet he called the new Black Sky it. Since there was about 15-20 years since Stick and Elektra parted ways, he could have changed much since then, but he is still protective of her. Stick’s characterization is all over the place

 

  1. What information did the Hand want from Stick?

When the Hand it torturing Stick with sticks, they want information. What did they need to know? What were they asking him? Were they looking for Elektra? It’s not really clear.

 

  1. Why didn’t Fisk just kill Matt?

Matt goes to the prison to threaten Fisk, and Fisk grabs him and roughs him up a little bit. I don’t get why Fisk didn’t just kill him. Fisk has the whole entire prison under his control, and it’s not really in his character to let someone who threatens Vanessa live. It would be very easy for all record of Matt’s visit to disappear and Matt to disappear with it. Now, Matt would be able to fight his way out of the prison, most likely, and survive, but Fisk doesn’t know that. All Fisk knows is that this blind lawyer is trying to threaten the woman he loves.

 

  1. Why would Hogarth want to make Foggy a partner?

I know that Foggy is a great lawyer, and I know that Hogarth’s firm is very high profile. I also know that Foggy doesn’t have all that much legal experience. I could understand Hogarth offering Foggy a good position, due to the high profile nature of both his major cases, but Partner?

If you are a fantasy writer who uses magic in their stories, then you have undoubtedly heard of what is referred to as a “magic system.” A Magic system is a formal structure for your magic. This does not mean that it is specific like a science. It means it is consistent throughout your world. I’ll levy an example.

In the Harry Potter world, magic follows specific rules. The caster must have a wand. They must speak the correct words, in the correct way. They must be strong enough to conjure and control the spell they summon. This is part of the magic system. There are more intricacies, and specified exceptions, but overall, everyone who uses magic must follow those rules. If they do not follow those rules, they once had to follow them and have learned how to circumvent them or have been granted special privileges (such as Dumbledore being the only one able to apparate into and out of Hogwarts).

Harry potter has a very specific magic system. It’s easy to follow and rigid. Not all magic is wands and spoken spells, however. Many stories, such as Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, have more complex magic systems. In the Sword of Truth world, there are two types of magic, Additive and Subtractive. Additive is a type of magic believed to be lost. This involves anything to do with creating. There’s an iconic scene where a character displays his ability to use additive magic by cutting and then re-growing someone’s hair repeatedly.  However, this world, the magic system is very loosely defined. It says “Yes, there are two types of magic that all magic can be classified into… but that’s all we really know about magic.”

That brings me to another point. There are two kinds of magic systems. There are strict systems, and lenient systems. Harry Potter’s magic system is very strict. They can only cast spells they know, with wands that are theirs, if they are powerful enough. They can break these rules at very great cost to themselves or others. The Sword of Truth’s magic system is very lenient. Various types of magic exist, all with different rules of their own. Everything requires different knowledge, skills, and equipment. It’s pretty much a magical free for all.

So why do I mention all of this? What’s the point? Well, if you frequent any fantasy writing advice blogs or forums, you will see a great deal of literature on magic systems. Mostly the idea that you need to have a well thought out magic system for your fantasy story to be good, especially in a sword and sorcery type of setting. The more important magic is in your story, the more flushed out your magic system needs to be.

But I disagree.

These magic systems often represent something else. In a strict world, they represent science. It is very difficult to deviate from the laws of science, as it is difficult to deviate from a strict system. This system has often been studied and standardized. Certain people have expertise in certain areas, and work mostly in those areas. This is a parallel to the science of our world. In a lenient world, they represent social rules and laws. Generally it suggests a grey area, where unpredictable things happen, or where things happen without an easy explanation as to why.

So I say that it really depends on what your magic represents. If it represents or is a replacement to science and technology, then it needs to be well thought out and precise. However, this does not mean that it needs to be accurate. There are quite a lot of scientific ideas that have yet to be proven or studied enough to prove. The same could be said about your magic. Once you realize that not even science always follows its own rules, you realize just how unimportant your fancy magic system needs to be.

If your magic represents social rules, then it needs to reflect the point you are trying to make. Do you think social rules are important and should be followed? Do you think it’s safe to deviate? Is there a minimum safe deviation? Are social rules elitist? Are they pandering? This can be reflected in your fantasy society’s “rules” about magic. Generally, in these stories, either the antagonist or protagonist goes outside of the rules established in the magic system, usually far outside.

However, it seems that regardless of the story, the magic system tends to get some level off deconstruction. If its science, a part of it gets proven wrong. If it’s social, then attitudes change throughout the story. So I say why waste your time creating a fancy magic system when you are going to break all of those rules anyway? As long as whatever is happening in the story is consistent, readers don’t really care how complicated the system is.

I am currently working on a project where the magical character grows up not knowing about the magic system, and just using her magic. When she finally is told about it, she doesn’t understand why she doesn’t fit into the system and neither do others. It creates a dangerous dogma that makes her a target to some. It is in this way that magic systems can be made relevant to your story other than to keep up the suspension of disbelief.

Thanks for reading. How do you feel about magic systems?

The-Night-of-the-Living-Dead

Everyone knows that Night of the Living Dead is an iconic piece of cinema that paralleled the Red Scare and fears of communism slowly surrounding and consuming us. You see, when zombies first arrived, they had meaning. They were a symbol of something truly horrifying. They were a symbol of a threat against the democratic way of life. Let’s explore, briefly, what I mean.

Zombies, or undead – or whatever you decide to call them – began as slow moving and weak reanimations of those we once knew. It was easy to see them coming. It was easy to avoid them. They were very weak, and in order to break through those windows and doors had to repeatedly bang on them, weakening them until they could break through. If you encountered one, it was easy to avoid it, but if you encountered a hundred, it was much more difficult. This mirrored how people felt about communism.

Communism spread through communists. It spread slowly. You could easily identify a communist. Their words were not very strong, but repeatedly hearing them eventually wore down people’s own ideas about the importance of democracy. Communists were not random strangers from other countries, either. No, they were people you knew. They were people like sweet old Mrs. Adelman who feeds the neighborhood cats. They were people like Bill at the auto store. They weren’t exactly the same as before, but you knew them. They were familiar. You had a bond with them in some way. If there was one communist, you could avoid them. One hundred were not so easy to avoid.

I bring this up because zombies once had substance. Zombies once represented a real societal fear in our culture. I implore you to review all the books, movies, and games you have recently played, watched or read which involve zombies. Think of what those zombies represented in those stories. Mostly, the zombies are some overt representation of the Man vs. Nature conflict. They attempt to add a psychological depth to a story where there may be one. After all, how can you logically make a young boy shoot his mother, or a father shoot his only son? How can you stir up those emotions that accompany the struggle of watching a family member succumb to zombieism without zombies? Well, this is my point. It’s always possible to do those things. What zombies do is make it easy to do that.

My point is this: Zombies are LAZY.

Let’s look at some modern examples. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television right now. Based off of a highly acclaimed comic book serial, the show is loved by all, particularly apocalypse planners and zombie enthusiasts. It depicts a post-apocalyptic world where rival human factions struggle to survive in a world full of “Walkers” – the undead remnants of the past society that make nature suddenly more dangerous. Forget actual nature which, if given the chance to reclaim itself, would be drastically more dangerous. No, humans without minds are the greatest natural threat in the world. That is the message zombies are meant to portray. That is not the message they are often used to portray.

walking dead

In the show (and comic), the zombies serve very specific purposes. They are a constant environmental threat and conflict, of course, but in terms of plot, they serve a few specific functions. One of those functions is to serve as motivation for the characters to keep moving from place to place. If they stay in one place too long, the walkers find them. Another is to prevent them from doing something, or from following a direct path. (The quickest way into the city is through this tunnel? Well, Walkers hang out in tunnels, we can’t go in there. Let’s go all the way around.) And the final purpose they serve is to kill people off. Zombies kill people. That’s kind of their thing.

So why do I care? Well, as I said, zombies are lazy. Zombies also make plot boring. Let’s review the first plot purpose I mentioned: forcing characters to move. Simply saying “there are zombies and they need to avoid them” is simple. There are countless other reasons people could be nomadic. Perhaps there is a nomadic human faction that threatens them? Perhaps they are searching for something specific? Perhaps the rain is poisonous and they need to move away from storm clouds? There are a million possibilities and then a million more.

The issue with all off these options is that each one needs its own explanation. Each one needs a background, each one needs a dynamic story arc of its own. If they are being pursued by an enemy factions, who is leading this faction, why are they pursuing them? Are they going to kill them, torture them, capture them? Why? Is that faction all evil, or does it just have an evil leader(s)?

If they are seeking something then what are they seeking? Why are they seeking it? Where did it come from? Who found out about it? How does each member of the group feel about it? Is anyone else seeking it?

If the rain is poisonous, then what poisoned it? What are the effects of the poison rain? How does it affect the wildlife? What was done to try to fix it? What can save them from the rain’s poison? How do they get clean drinking water?

Now, with zombies, you can have the same questions. Where did the zombies come from? How can they be stopped? What are their main threats? However, you ask these questions once. They apply to every situation. You can’t go through a tunnel because of the zombies? Well, you already know all about the zombies. You can’t stay in one place too long because of the zombies? Doesn’t bring up any new questions. You can’t go through a tunnel because the poisonous rainwater is pooling inside? Or perhaps the poison rainwater has caused poisoned plants/animals to grow in the tunnel. This brings up new questions about why the water is pooling, why the animals are becoming poisonous, etc.

Using zombies is a lazy trick. It makes you complacent to not think of any new or interesting plot points for your story. Let’s look at the popular video game The Last of Us. This game follows a man and a young girl who many believe is the cure for zombieism. The zombies in the game pose a constant environmental hazard, but don’t really add much to the plot. They help drive the plot, because the whole idea is to try to stop the zombie disease, but they themselves aren’t pivotal to the plot. The disease could literally be anything, really.

the-last-of-us_2013_02-04-13_020

In the story you are introduced to three different kinds of zombies, each with different qualities. These zombies are spread out among the abandoned places of the world, and you must make your way through them to safety. However, the zombies don’t add to the plot. What adds to the plot are the gangs and cults you interact with. Sure, the zombies add a scare factor and intensity to the game that the humans may not, but they do not add to the story or the character development. The other human characters do that.

The_last_of_us_z_concept_art_11

If you are a young writer and you are thinking of having a zombie story, I urge you to think about why you want it to be a zombie story. Do you like zombies and don’t give a crap about any of this because zombies are cool? If so, go for it. Plenty of people like zombies because they’re zombies. However, if you want a more literary approach, consider replacing your zombies with some more complicated element. Take the time to think about what you want your characters to experience and craft a challenge that will lead them to that result. Don’t just use zombies as the default challenge for your entire book.

da

Literature has been a part of the human experience since humans could first tell stories. It has also shifted greatly throughout the centuries – decades even. What constitutes good literature now may not have been considered good ten years ago, or a hundred years ago. Over time, however, new literary mediums have emerged.

It began with the oral tradition. Then it turned to drawing. A series of images would depict a story. Then it turned to writing and as language developed, words became more complex. Eventually, pictures were strung together and words added to them, creating motion pictures. Soon, these pictures became interactive, responding to inputs by a living person. Video games were born. The war for quality literature only grew more complex.

There is always debate over what constitutes literature. I am of the belief that any genre and any medium is literature. The quality of said literature is always up for debate, but I will not argue that it is not literature. I will, however, say that the different mediums have different goals.

Writing, for instance, serves to make the reader think. They must read the words, understand them, and visualize. They must then be able to figure out what is happening. It is when wording and language are most important and could mean the difference between a dull character and an exciting one; a flat story and a wild ride. Movies are different. They remove the words. They take much of the interpretive work out of the piece. They show you what is happening. Therefore, they can worry less about tiny details and more about the big picture. However, they have a pacing concern. How fast is the story going and is the character and plot development logical at that pace? They also have the issue of logic. It’s easy to just make something happen in a movie without anyone really thinking if it makes sense at the time. A book does not have that luxury. Everything needs to be explained, to some degree, so the reader believes what they are reading.

We also have comics, which are a combination of various forms of media into its own unique area. Comics have the luxury of being both read and looked at. The artist and writer can tell a story with both words and images. Therefore, symbolism in drawing and realism in dialogue are key elements to comic books and graphic novels.

However, the newest medium would certainly be video games. Video games are an interesting collection of the previous mediums in that they can include all of them as well as add another. You can have video games that utilize a lot of still art, comic art, writing, and videos. In the advent of video games, they were not so complex. They were simple ideas and weren’t capable of being very complex. However, now that we have much more complex systems of gaming, games are often discussed by gamers in terms of their story.

Role Playing Games, or RPG’s, are often the most literary of the games. The premise is that the player takes the role of one of the characters in some sort of epic. They see their character develop and change as they react to the things happening around them. More recent games allow the player to make decisions that directly affect what happens in the storyline. This gives the player a more immersed feeling.

But there are people who swear up and down that video games cannot possibly have literary value. I like to disagree. Intensely. I like to begin with the purpose of literature. There are quite a few, depending on how ambitious the creator was. Some literature is meant to teach a lesson. Some is meant to make commentary. Some is meant to make the consumer forget about their world and live in another for a short while. They do these things by utilizing literary elements such as imagery, symbolism, characterization, plot, and others. If you, like I, think that that is the most important part of literature, then you must argue that video games can be literature.

There are, of course, examples of terrible literature in any medium. Video games are no exception.

I just find it baffling when people say video games cannot be literature. Take for instance the Dragon Age series. It is a fantasy story set in a fantasy world. There are some people who claim that Fantasy and Science fiction cannot be literature, but to them I laugh the hardest. (In my humble opinion, Fantasy and Science Fiction are the most capable of being effective literature since there are less boundaries to respect in terms of realism). Good fantasy stories require world-building. A well-built world will parallel our own in many ways. It is what allows the creator to make comments on our world using their work. Dragon Age has one of the most well developed worlds I’ve experienced. It is filled with mystery, political intrigue, and interesting characters. It has a rich and well developed history with diverse cultures, religious beliefs, and political systems. The stories follow the themes we see so regularly in our society, such as political corruption, misdirection, cover ups, and ignorance. They help teach that, though you may be on a specific journey, those you interact with are on their own journeys. You must interact with everyone’s journey, and that may change yours.

How is a story like the Lord of the Rings all that different from the Catcher in the Rye? It really isn’t. We have our main character(s) on a journey to accomplish a task. The tasks may be different, but they are tasks. As they work toward those goals, they interact with other people. Those people either make their quest easier or harder. In the end, there are many failures and successes, and by the time they achieve their goal, they have done it in a way they never thought possible.

My question is: Since the message is the same, why does the packaging really matter? Why does it matter if one is set in an imaginary place while the other is set in a fictionalized American city? It doesn’t.

Now that I’ve gone on a tirade about fantasy being literature, I can return to the topic at hand. Video games clearly share many of the same elements of other forms of media, but add an interactive part that helps consumers to internalize the messages. So, I leave it here for your opinion: Can video games be literature?

supergirl

It’s finally here. Supergirl has seen the silver screen, or at least a taste of it. She’s been picked up by CBS with a “series confirmation.” If this does not make your feminist heart swell up with extreme excitement, you need to think about this a little more. I’m going to go over all of the reasons why this is amazing:

She is Female.

Take a moment and think about all of the superhero movies you have seen in the recent fifteen years. Hell, think of any superhero movie or television show. Aside from the entirely abysmal Catwoman movie (which ended up being about makeup?), and the less than magnificent Elektra, the gender palettes have been entirely monochromatic, at least where protagonists are concerned. We have Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, Green Lantern, Spiderman, Fantastic 4, X-Men, Daredevil, Smallville, Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest are all spearheaded by a male lead. He’s the most important one in the movie/show. There are women present, but they are not in charge. They are there, essentially, to serve the protagonists (as any secondary character is). This isn’t a problem, except that the women never take larger roles. Check out Anita Sarkeesian’s YouTube channel if you don’t understand what I mean. There are plenty of other blogs, vlogs, and documentaries about female tropes in media, like MissRepresentation. you can find a bunch of different ones. Women’s roles are never center stage. They are always there to support the male protagonist. Having a show where the Superhero is female, and therefore the one who is in charge, the one who is making decisions and being important, is good. Not to say that female characters in these other shows are useless. Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane in Smallville are often the ones pushing the story forward, while Clark is trying to keep up. But it’s not their story. It’s his.

This will be entirely Kara’s story. If they were going to stick to the comics, she’d have a lot of interaction with her cousin, but the show can have that be distant. He can be like a mentor to her who gives her advice, because essentially he’s got his own stuff to do. The release referred to Superman as her “famous cousin,” which means he is established in this world. It would even be funny if people mistook her for superman sometimes, or asked for her instead of Superman sometimes. Or, if on occasion, he asked for her help, and she just zipped over and solved his problem faster than he could have and then goes home.

She’s not Superman.

Some people will roll their eyes because they think Supergirl is Female Superman. She isn’t. She has similar powers, but varied powers. The main difference is that Kara (Supergirl) grew up on Krypton. She experienced Kryptonian culture and technology. She experienced the destruction of her planet. She experienced the deaths of all the people she ever cared for. You think Batman’s back story is tragic? Get over it. All of her worst fears were realized. In many of the stories, she left Krypton wanting one thing: to find her cousin. And then she got to Earth and it took years to find him. Depending on the iteration you refer to, she has a few different origins. Most of them have her end up in some sort of cryogenic stasis until Cal-El is at least older than her, so when she awakens, she’s looking for her little cousin, and cannot find him, and some man claims that he is the little boy she’s looking for. Crazy stuff, right? What an emotional roller coaster! Another thing about her is that, since she grew up Kryptonian, she identifies as Kryptonian. Therefore, she has full access to all of her Kryptonian abilities. Superman, on the other hand, is limited because he does not Identify as Kryptonian. He identifies as Human. The more he accepts that he isn’t a human, the more powerful he becomes. Kara doesn’t have that issue. Kara doesn’t have any identity issues. Her issue is that she’s a proud Kryptonian and she is trying to find a way to show that.

The Superfamily is All About Culture

As I mentioned, Supergirl is trying to find a way to express Kryptonian heritage in a human world. This is such an important issue. Our country is highly focused on race and culture right now. Supergirl wants to show off everything she can do as a Kryptonian, but its difficult because that makes her not human. That separates her, and it makes her an outcast. Even when she uses her abilities for good, she’s still different. We need a show about someone trying to adjust to our culture. We need a show about culture shock, and how it affects you. We need a show about how amazing it is to learn about and accept another culture, even if you don’t identify with it. This is very important.

There are some things that could go wrong, but this has the potential to be amazing! We’ll have a female lead with most likely female co-leads. This will open the door for other female Superheroes. This could open the eyes of Hollywood and let them know that a well written female protagonist can sell. Please, take some time to support Supergirl if CBS finally airs it. She deserves it. Women deserve it.

supermangirl