I’ve always loved the movie Jumanji, although I’m definitely aware of its problems. And as always, I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to reboots—but I’ve already got a few concerns about this one.
It’s rare that I admit this, but I was way wrong about Thor.
When it was first announced that the new Thor was to be a lady, my initial reaction was “of all the heroes to genderbend, why pick one that is ‘supposed to be’ a guy?” I worried that it was a publicity stunt and would be set up for failure, setting back future efforts. Then I noticed all the comments about it and how they were almost uniformly of the rabid anti-feminist troll variety. Any time I find myself expressing an opinion shared by the “red pill” types, I immediately reexamine that viewpoint, and I’m so glad I did!
When I started reading The Mighty Thor, I realized not only was I mistaken in my assumption that Thor was a poor choice for a high profile genderbend, but that Thor was in fact the perfect choice. I am glad I was so incredibly wrong because I am excited about the Thor quadrant of the Marvel universe for the first time since I was a kid. Judging by the fact that this run of Mighty Thor has been selling consistently well since its release, I am not alone in that opinion.
Very quickly, about two issues into the first arc, it became clear that not only was the choice to have Thor portrayed by a woman very deliberate, but it was a way to jump right into the midst of the pushback to inclusiveness and hit it squarely in the face with an all-powerful magic hammer. Not only does this series perfectly nail (see what I did there) the fallacy of these arguments against a more diverse base of main characters, it exposes their root: fear at the loss of “straight white male as default”.
Spoilers after the jump.
The Princess Bride is one of those classic movies that I’ve watched a million times, yet it’s not one that I’ve ever read fanfiction for. To be fair, I was pretty young when I first saw the movie, but that doesn’t explain not exploring the fandom every time I’ve re-watched it since. Fortunately, there’s always time to make up for past mistakes, and last week I found an excellent Princess Bride fic with lady pirates. More after the jump.
The BBC’s Sherlock is full of problems. Race, gender, sexual orientation, and plot—co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have done questionable things with all of them. But the cool thing about Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character is that Sherlock inspires so many of his fans to create their own interpretations of the timeless detective, whether they have the BBC’s budget or not. Today’s web crush is one of the more creative ones.
We spend a lot of time here talking about how diversity is important. Creators should want to include diverse characters in their creations, not out of some obligation to some imaginary race/gender/sexuality quota, but because seeing characters who look and act like them is important to marginalized communities, and because it makes the story more realistic: after all, white men are not the majority on our planet.
And even more, because it just makes a story more interesting. It’s a sad truth that women, people of color, people with disabilities, queer people, trans people, and people at the intersection of two or more of those descriptors have it harder in life. I’m not saying that cishet abled white guys can’t struggle, but changing any one of those qualifiers (gay guy, abled woman, black guy, trans woman) adds another difficulty level in the game of life. And while this is a tragic fact in the real world, in storytelling it allows for a much wider range of conflicts. Today I’m going to look at a few different examples of plays where diversity has made me even more invested in an already powerful story.
“Are you always going to be this way?” Daddy asks her, when she’s five.
Antonia, dangling off the barrel of a cannon Daddy’s working on, considers it. “What way?”
“This way. Here, getting underfoot, playing with guns.”
She pauses, and then with a toss of curly hair, says, “Probably. A child’s personality and inclinations are set by the age of five.”
She read that in a book Mommy had and didn’t want her to read. Mommy doesn’t want Antonia to know that she’s worried about her. Antonia’s not upset; Mommy will see she doesn’t have to worry. (Tony will figure out in about two decades that the book was wrong, anyhow.)
Her father looks down at her, shoves a wrench in his pocket, and says, “Well, then you might as well learn something useful.”
–from Ironsides by Copperbadge
I’ve written about genderbending before, and the fic that I’m reccing today is an excellent example of genderbending done well. Copperbadge’s Ironsides asks the question: What would have happened if Howard Stark had married Peggy Carter and Tony Stark had been born a girl instead of a guy?
Ever noticed how some fanfics write your favorite male characters as girls?
A gender bender, or genderbending, is when an author writes a character as the opposite of the gender that he or she is in canon—that is, the writer changes the character’s physical gender (not gender identity, although that could make for a fascinating fic as well). Relatively few stories use genderbending as a way of exploring transsexuality or the more complex issues of gender identity. Typically, as MadameAce has said in a previous post, genderbending is used to spice up existing romantic pairings between characters.
There are several reasons that authors normally use genderbending. The author might want to see more girls, due to either a lack of existing female characters or the existence of really poorly written female characters. Sometimes if the relationship in the story is (as fanfic tends to be) comprised of two guys, the author genderbends one of the characters so that the pair can more easily have children. But regrettably, in most fics, genderbending reads as a trope where guys (for the most part) are turned into girls and then there is a lot of sex, for reasons. The problem is, if you’re changing something as fundamentally definitive as a character’s physical sex, it shouldn’t be glossed over or used as a gimmick.
I am bad at doing stuff at conventions. I love the atmosphere, and the opportunity to people-watch and hang out with like-minded nerds, and most of the time things like panels, screenings, and celebrity guests are just icing. I can probably count on two hands all the panels I’ve been to in my con-going life, and that’s out of sixteen conventions.
This lead-up is all an excuse to explain why I don’t have any first-hand news from any NYCC panels or photos of myself with famous guests—we didn’t bother seeking any out. There were only a few panels that sounded interesting to us, (Marvel in Television, the Firefly panel) but we have tremendously short patience for lines, and in the latter case, only part of our group had seen Firefly and we weren’t going to force them to wait for it without even an interest in it.
There were approximately 116,000 people at NYCC, and we had enough trouble just getting from one place to another in the Javits Center without drowning in Homestucks, let alone finding the rooms where actual panels were happening.
So, rather than a roundup of all the cool nerd news that came out of our gripping journalistic coverage of New York Comic Con, this is going to be a Best Of Cosplay roundup instead. Check out the slideshow or hit the jump for the gallery of our highlights!
There are two ways to do a cosplay. One is to try and be exactly like the character in question and the other is to take a character and do something new with it. This post will be focused on the latter.
Lady Saika and I have done a lot of cosplaying together (her more than me). Usually, we don’t do the same cosplay twice (to the chagrin of our wallets). We’ve always tried to look exactly like our characters. And after a while, there is only so much joy you get from being the exact character, not to mention running out of awesome characters to be. Doing a creative cosplay allows you to flex different mental muscles.
For example, Ladies Saika, Nakura, and I just did a ponies-as-people cosplay at Otakon. It was fairly basic as creative cosplay goes, but we had fun nonetheless. Genderbending (as has been discussed in other places in this blog) is also a part of the creative cosplay.
Creative cosplaying requires you (in a sense) to put yourself in the character’s shoes and requires you ask yourself really tough questions. “Would Pinkie Pie be fashionable or would she just look like a pink mess?” And for a genderbent cosplay, “Would the 9th Doctor wear a black denim skirt or black skinny jeans?”
However, the real fun comes in trying to think out of the box. For example, I’m in the process of convincing Lady Saika that a drag queen Naruto group would be awesome. Because it would be. Just imagine Guy Sensei in a green, sequined jumpsuit with a really deep V-neck. As long as you think out the idea completely, then you can do it. No cosplay ever ends well if it is a half-assed attempt.
Now, I bet you’re wondering whether or not people are going to think a drag queen Naruto group too strange, even by con standards. First off, as Lady Saika wrote in her crossplaying post, a good costume is a good costume and people will love it regardless. Second, there is nothing too strange for conventions.
And that’s about it. If you can come up with an idea and then put a costume together that reflects that idea, then you are all set!