Magic and sci-fi don’t have a great track record when it comes to pregnancy. I already talked about this in a previous post a while back, but thanks to Shadowhunters, it’s time to talk about it again. Shadowhunters is not a bad show. It’s not good either, not by a long shot. It’s based on a subpar book series, and although the show has taken a lot of creative liberties—most of which are for the better—the acting’s awful, and the story’s pretty campy. That said, it’s still a lot of fun, and as Noodle has pointed out, it’s giving us some greatLGBTQ+ representation. It’s even used magic in some unique ways. All in all, it has my approval. At least, that was until I starting catching up on Season 2 and reached the episode “Dust and Shadows” and Shadowhunters went right into one of my more hated tropes—the mystical pregnancy.
I hate this trope so much. It’s steeped in rape culture, has numerous implications for worldbuilding, and is rarely handled all that well. Shadowhunters may do a really good job with some things, but this is not one of them, and it’s one of the few instances where the show is actually worse than the books.
Spoilers and a trigger warning for sexual assault ahead.
I’ve been on a quest recently to purge my book collection of books I don’t actually care for. This is a bit more difficult than it seems at first glance, as it’s been so long since I’ve read some of them that I have to reread them before I can make a decision. Lately my judgmental gaze fell upon the 2004 series Chrono Crusade, an eight-volume manga series that I first picked up about eight years ago. I remember liking the series at the time, but I can only speculate now as to why that was, as my reread left me headachey and confused in turns.
With the new television show coming out next month, I decided to sit myself down and reread The Mortal Instruments series. I just got done with the first book, City of Bones, and I can safely say that I was not blown away by the writing. Now that I’m older and more aware of social justice issues and my own internalized sexism, I definitely loved Clary, our main character, a lot more than I did on my first read through, but the downside to that is that I detested just about everything and everyone else. In theory, the ideas behind City of Bones are fine. The plot is fairly compelling, the relationships between characters give us significant conflict, and the worldbuilding is interesting—but the story doesn’t know what it’s doing half the time, and many of the good things about the book get lost under the bad.
Inspired by Pan’s take on Satan, I felt it was time to look on the other side of the ledger at the Bible’s first superhero: King Solomon. He’s not the first Biblical figure to appear larger than life—his own father slew Goliath, after all, and some other guys had already parted the sea, wrestled angels, lived 900 years, and dreamed the future. But while his predecessors stayed within their own narrative arcs, Solomon built his own canon. He has an origin story, he has adventures, he fights monsters, and he even comes with his own set of accessories. As a bonus, there’s an alternate Solomon universe presented in the Qu’ran, and three thousand years of one-offs, apocrypha, and other non-canon-but-beloved stories.
Oh, and there’s smutty fanfic he might have written himself.
I’ve always found magic within the Dragon Age universe to be an interesting topic—perhaps strangely so, because the magic itself isn’t groundbreaking and neither is the treatment of the universe’s mages. In the end it’s another universe where a seasoned mage can influence anything and many non-magical people, in turn, fear these mages. These fears are then exacerbated by the religious institution the Chantry with their twisting of the prophetess Andraste’s words. What I can point out as being particularly interesting, however, are the magical beings that loom ominously beside both mages and non-mages alike, only separated by a thin metaphysical wall called The Veil. In general, these beings are called spirits, but there are two specific types that are spoken about most commonly: spirits that aren’t hostile towards mortals (denoted henceforth as Spirits, with a capital S) and Demons. Though the Chantry places Demons squarely in the “evil” category, can the omission of Spirits be taken as an implication that they’re “good”? It could, but such an assumption would also be incorrect; despite their objective differences, Spirits and Demons don’t fit so squarely in human morality and roughly have the same function as all spirits.
I obviously have my bones to pick with Penny Dreadful, but from a horror series point of view, I was pleased with its level and style of horror. The clear stand-out performances came from the one and only Eva Green, whose character Vanessa Ives had some extremely notable scenes in which she was possessed by malevolent forces. These scenes got me thinking aboutan extremely common plot device in demonic/spirit possession stories: when possessing a body and in general wreaking chaos in the lives of those around the possessed, a demon loves to ruin everyone’s day by… telling the truth. Truth is something that is extolled as a virtue and associated with goodness and morality, and one of Satan’s many nicknames is “the Prince of Lies”. Yet we consistently see demons using not lies, but rather the truth, when seeking to unsettle or harm humans. Let’s take a closer look.
Major spoilers for Penny Dreadful and American Horror Story: Asylum after the jump. Continue reading →