Yesterday, I discussed morning music. Yesterday I woke up with Arthur’s Theme in my head. This morning, a song not so soft sounding.
And the present mood I happen to be in as described by a picture of my face.
I’m sure everyone gets this. Wake up, there’s a song playing in your head for no reason.
I’ve had this happen a lot. I especially had this happen a lot when I worked in radio. Sadly, most of it was hurtin’ country or the “new” country that was being produced at the time (Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Garth Brooks, Suzy Boggus, and some Reba McIntyre). This even happened when I used to have a radio alarm clock. Sadly, the only station that I could get with any consistency was a Saskatoon country station or the CBC. In that case, it was again hurtin’ country or something by Vivaldi.
It’s been a few years since I had my radio alarm clock. I mashed the snooze button too much, and was resigned one fateful day to get a new one. It just has an annoying, shrill beep. This is often followed by my smartphone going off (which also has an annoying, shrill beep with an underscore of some techno beat).
But every so often, I’ll wake up with the weirdest music in my head. I’ll think to myself “why the hell is that in my head”. This morning was no different.
At one time, it would really bother me, because I know the piece of music, but I just can’t identify it. Fortunately, I can search for it now. Like this morning.
I don’t know why, but I had Arthur’s Theme by Christopher Cross. It was part of the movie soundtrack for Arthur, which came out in the early to mid 1980’s. The 80’s are usually associated with pop and hair metal bands, but the 80’s also produced a lot of soft rock stuff as well.
There’s no reason why that particular song came to mind this morning. None at all. It was most likely filed away in the back of my mind with the vast collection of albums, CDs, cassette tapes, and 45s that would make the CBC’s music collection look like a drop in the water.
In reality, I find it interesting why we have this happen to us. Why, when we wake up, do we have these long forgotten pieces of music stick with us. I tried to connect it to the dream I had, but it didn’t fit. Considering I had a dream about Star Trek (probably because between playing for a couple of hours in Star Trek Online, I also watched a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager). So, it’s mostly random chance that the jukebox in my head picked that song to play as I woke up.
These are the things that I sometimes think about early in the morning.
The past three weeks have been difficult. Not for me personally, but for an aspect of progression in the world where we attempt to have a civil discourse regarding everything from race to gender to religion to science.
Last week, and the week before, Ferguson, Missouri became akin to a war zone that you see in some foreign country. Some wind swept place in a distant land with names that you can’t pronounce but over time they become common place because they’re on the new cycle 24/7. Ferguson became that, and so did Michael Brown and the scores of other unarmed, black youth who were executed by police.
And the right wing news extremists have been doing their level best attempting to lie and defraud and twist the truth to make it look like Michael Brown was a thug, and not a victim. Let’s be clear, whether or not Michael Brown was involved in a robbery (which he wasn’t) or whether or not Michael Brown was engaged in a struggle for a police officer’s gun (which he wasn’t), he did not deserve to be shot. He was killed with a shot through his skull, an executioners tactic, no more, and no less.
Michael Brown isn’t alone.
Yet, the right wing news extremists would have us pay more attention to the black on black crime, saying that’s far more problematic. Anything involving a death, a murder, is a problem. A youth being shot and killed by a police officer is no less worthy of attention and scrutiny than one black youth killing another. It’s actually very much worse, because the police are supposed to be above that.
By the end of last week, Ferguson Police were dressed better and more protected than many of the military personnel who were sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there’s the obvious racists who are supporting a fund to help the poor officer who shot and killed Brown. Let’s set the record straight. That “poor officer” committed a murder. A movie style gangland murder, no less.
And as that conversation continues, as that action still happens across the States, and as we Canadians watch through the walls of the glass house on the outside looking in, there was something else equally troubling.
If you aren’t familiar with Anita Sarkeesian, then you should be. She makes excellent comments on social situations faced in video games, movies and even television and books. Anita focuses on women and their treatment in video games, and has sometimes shifted the focus onto women of colour. She runs a blog and has a video series at Feminist Frequency, and currently has a mini series called Tropes versus Women in Video Games.
Sarkeesian has received a huge amount of hate from a large portion of the (male) video game audience. This hate has even gone to rape and death threats. Which only goes to prove Sarkeesian correct. Now, she’s been threatened so badly, that she’s had to retreat from the world and hide. Her address and the address of her family was posted in a very public place, with continued threats of rape, death, arson of her home and her family’s home, and other rather disturbing things.
It would be something if this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. Women who work in the video game industry face this kind of thing every day. Women began making huge strides in the industry, only to quit after facing a wall of threats and death from the male gamers. Many of these women are writers of games like Mass Effect or Bio Shock. They wrote games which aren’t some small time indie game. They were working the Triple A circuit.
Even the women journalists who report on gaming face it. Elizabeth Sampat wrote about this just yesterday in her Truth About Zoe Quinn article. Journalists and game devs and game writers and game artists who happen to be women face the largest portion of harassment in the industry. And yes, men do face some. Critics like Jim Sterling of the Escapist Magazine’s Jimquisition gets it all the time. But even he’s admitted to never receiving threats of death or rape. A lot of times women receive this not because they critiqued a game, but just because they happen to be women.
At one time, rape was considered the lowest of the low for a person to commit. That there was a special place in hell reserved for those who committed or thought about acts of rape or child molestation. But now, it seems like the go to defense for (male) gamers or anyone in the industry that is in the area of the “geek” whenever a women says something that rails against “what has come before”.
Sometimes I just feel like giving up, that anything that I’ve tried supporting that would make improvements for the world that we live in just isn’t worth it anymore. But I can’t (even in the minimal way that I do just by writing a column only from my point of view). If I did that, there might be someone out there who I might let down. Then it’s like a house of cards. We need each other in times like these. And there was a hundred other news stories that took place which I could focus on. And we need to. The slaughter in Palestine. The events in Syria. The horribly oppressive anti-gay legislation that many countries are pushing through their systems. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes you do feel like giving up because there is so much that’s happening in the world which is trying to throw things back into some repressive regime. Where rights and freedoms are permanently stripped from anyone who isn’t a member of the 1%, or even those who might be in the bracket underneath them.
We don’t have to do it all, we can pick our battles. We just have to ensure that we do so in an intelligent and meaningful way. We don’t have to be superheroes. Sometimes we just need to be willing to understand the situation and assist in any way that we can. And keep in mind that while you or someone you know may be fighting to raise awareness against one problem, there’s someone else fighting against another.
We can’t give up.
Also, go back and read the full article. If there`s any character you can think of who is a transgender person that has appeared in the past, hit me up with a message.
That’s a pretty wild stab, I know. To ask that question, you may as well ask, are comics a little racist as well. And why don’t we lump all of that together.
Now, let me be clear on this. Comic book writers and artists themselves are not necessarily homophobic/transphobic/racist/sexist (though, in that last one, there’s been some questionable things that artists have done with female characters, example the latest Spider-woman cover).
The cover is reminiscent of a Catwoman cover that was all boobs and butt. Also, see Mary Jane’s famous pose that was imitated (with hilarious results). Needless to say, comic book artists and editors have a lot of work still ahead of them in not pulling the sexist card. A reminder, a pose that appears sexy doesn’t necessarily mean powerful and empowering. If you think to yourself “yeah, this pose is gonna be hot” then there’s a good chance that you shouldn’t do it.
Regarding the other aspects of phobias and racism, comics also still have a long way to go. There has been same sex marriages in Marvel Comics, but DC Comics is lagging behind. Image Comics seems to be further ahead in this regard. DC almost had one, but thanks to editorial, superheroes obviously can’t have happy lives (unless they’re Superman and they’re boning Wonder Woman… gah, that’s so stupid).
Case in point, fans of Batwoman have been waiting for Maggie and Kate to get married, but the idea of that happening was tossed out the window thanks to editorial.
There is an explanation for the lack of same sex marriages in books, and comics. Many publishers will make sure the content of the book is a good push for world wide publication. And often times, thanks to certain countries laws (I’m looking at you, Russia) same sex marriage is illegal and any publication, whether it’s factual or fictional, that seems to shed a positive light on gay and lesbian relationships, is seen as propaganda.
For books, like the Harry Potter series, that can be a problem. It was never revealed openly in the books that Dumbldore was gay, but it was something that J. K. Rowling knew was a part of the character. Still, writing it into the book may have had it banned outright in certain countries and even jurisdictions in Canada and the United States (possibly not Canada, but you never know). It would have given homophobic bigots something else to complain about instead of magic.
For comic books, it might be a little different. Comics don’t have the sales push that a best selling novel would have. Comic book companies aren’t worried about breaking ground in a nation (or continent) that they don’t have a chance of selling a book in. So they often don’t have to worry about countries and their laws about same sex marriage or same sex relationships. If you sell 50,000 copies of an issue in it’s first two months of release, then you did good. And between Canada and the United States, there’s way more than 50,000 comic book readers out there.
Still, comics aren’t doing that well with showcasing a transgender person in their pages. Gail Simone, former writer of Batgirl and current scribe for Tomb Raider and Red Sonya, did give us a trans-woman in the pages of Batgirl. And from what’s been said, that character will stay in those pages under a new creative team.
I’ve read through a list of other transgender characters who have appeared over the years, but as far as I can tell, Alysia Yeoh is the only one I can find that doesn’t have a magical transformation, is reincarnated as a man/woman, or is taking a fictitious drug to help her remain a woman (though Shvaughn Erin from the 1970s Legion of Superheroes run can count as she is the one taking the fictitious drug, also honourable mention to Comet during Peter David’s run on Supergirl). Sadly, none of these characters mentioned are the title character. There was only one I could find, Lord Fanny from the Invisibles, who was born male but becomes female in order to gain inheritance to her family’s witch abilities. That, however, was a Vertigo comic, and Vertigo had a lot more risk taking to it.
So, as of yet, there is no comic which has a main character or title character, currently running who happens to be a trans-woman or trans-man. At least not that I know of (if you know of one, let me know in the comments, or reblog this and add to it, or just hit me up with a message).
Now, onto the last one. Comics really aren’t racist. Or are they. Comic titles will come out with people of colour, but often the title dies out quickly. When that happens, a lot of fanboys will cry out that there’s no market for PoC in comics (or women, if the title is one for a woman). Never, however, do they say anything of the sort if a title staring a straight, white, male fails. In that case it was due to poor writing, poor artwork, lack of availability at comic shops. And all of those can be true. They’re also true for titles staring women, and titles staring PoC that end up being cut well before their time. (I’ll do another write up on that double standard later)
But there’s also another reason why. Sadly, comics have an advertising budget, and they’ll lump a vast majority of their advertising dollars in their sure things. For DC, that’s Superman, Batman, Justice League, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. For Marvel, that’s any X-Title or any Avengers tie in title (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor) or Spider-man titles. Now, you just can’t have a company say “We’re doing a Batman title, you should buy it” and expect it to become a hit. Consumers need a reason to buy said thing. Of course, most consumers will be interested it someone says there’s a new Batman title. But if DC pushes for a Black Lightning title, for example, they’d have to back it up with some advertising if they want it to sell. Marvel, on the other hand, really seems to be pouring their advertising budget into their new titles, such as recent ad campaigns with Miss Marvel. Marvel’s been taking a lot of risks and it shows that it’s paying off.
It’s also true that we, the consumer, also have to help support new titles. That can be difficult, thanks in part to an old stigma about comic book shops. Many comic book shops are changing and being more open and welcome to all genders and people of colour, but there’s still the stigma about how uninviting they can be. And there are shops that are like that, who scoff at women, don’t understand why a person of colour would be buying a comic, or being outright rude to someone who they may feel isn’t a comic’s demographic.
The onus of change isn’t on the consumer. It’s at both the retail level, and at the publishing level. Make it more accessible and inviting to go into a comic shop. And as far as publishers go, try to make your creative teams have more diversity. More women and more people of colour working on your titles. You are not losing out by doing this, you are in fact bringing new ideas along with new talent.
I will admit, comic publishers have taken some massive steps regarding inclusion for LGBT, and people of colour, but they’ve still got a long way to go.
Marvel Studios (as previously mentioned) is on a massive role with their movie properties. They’ve hammered out several movies, all within the same universe, all leading up to one massive story line. Why not get ready for a new set of heroes to come to the forefront.
Captain Marvel and Spider-woman.
You could even go so far as to just call the movie Captain Marvel, and have Spider-woman as the added hero as seems to be the trend in the Marvel movie franchise. So far it’s been a series of dudes as side kicks or appearances in the main movies (War Machine, Hawkeye, Bucky, Falcon), with even minor characters who play a very important role not even taking the center stage in the title. I mean, do you think we’re ever going to have a Nick Fury movie?
But Captain Marvel could set the stage for something new and different. Adding to the already new and different Ant-Man & Wasp I suggested earlier. This could be the Marvel movie that turns things on it’s head. In the comics, Captain Marvel becomes leader of the Avengers, so it’s a natural stepping point. Spider-woman could even be an agent of Hydra that Carol manages to convince to quit and join her in destroying a Hydra cell. Carol could even be a fighter pilot (as she’s depicted in the comics), could have gotten her powers at some point through the attack on New York in Avengers. Carol could see potential in Jessica Drew and instead of fighting to put Spider-woman behind bars, fights to free her from Hydra. All of this would fit neatly into the existing Marvel Studios movie series. It would also set it up nicely for a new cast of Avengers (Chris Evans has mentioned he doesn’t want to act for much longer).
Just think of it; a New Avengers team with Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Spider-woman, the aforementioned Wasp, and….
She-Hulk was created not to be the porn version of the Hulk (as Stan Lee himself pointed out by smashing David Goyer’s statement). She was Bruce Banner’s cousin, and received her powers from an emergency blood transfusion from Banner. So far, so good. Jennifer Walters also remains in her green skinned, kick ass self ALL THE TIME! The difference between the Hulk and She-Hulk is that Bruce is scared about his ability and it’s destructive nature, whereas She-Hulk finds it empowering. She loves it and accepts it. It also helps that she retains her mental capabilities while in She-Hulk form. So yes, she can revert back to her normal looking Jennifer Walters look. BUT SHE DOESN’T WANT TO!
This would be a good premise for a second (third) Hulk movie. Jennifer could be the secondary hero, who eventually joins the ranks of the Avengers, using her cousin as a role model in a way (and Jennifer could conversely be a role model for Bruce, as she’s able to coexist with the big green rage monster within her).
So there you go, Marvel. Two movie ideas to swing into a third Avengers movie. Now go do it.