A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Kate Beaton, the delightful webcomic artist behind Hark, A Vagrant reblogged a post recommending the webcomic Blindsprings. I thought, “huh, that looks pretty”, bookmarked the first page, and promptly forgot about it. While going through my favorites this past week, I stumbled upon it again, and I have to say that I’m sad it took me so long to check it out.
Two years after my first read-through, I realize I still have a complicated relationship with Fifty Shades of Grey. Perhaps it’s a bit embarrassing to say so, but I don’t think there’s any series of books I’ve devoted more time to than E.L. James’s train wreck of erotica, and still in no ways do I consider myself an expert on the lifestyles of Anastasia Steele and her wanna-be dom, Christian Grey. In fact, when finding the correct spelling of our heroine’s name just now, I landed on the Fifty Shades wiki, which I literally did not know existed until this moment. (Why we need a wiki for this, I have no idea.) It’s true that in some respects I appreciate the novels for making discussions of female sexuality and BDSM more accessible and acceptable to an audience, and have gotten many people to explore facets of their sexuality that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or ignored. However, this by no means excuses the series from its blatant framing of abusive relationships as part of the BDSM scene or as desirable, and it certainly doesn’t hide the fact that the misconceptions as perpetuated by Fifty Shades are, unfortunately, more likely to come up on a Google search than, say, the advice of people who know what they’re talking about.
While unwitting women and girls spend time looking for their Christian Grey and predatory men use this glamorized brand of abuse to draw in uninformed partners, many people are trying hard to expose James’s every creepy string of lies and romanticism woven between the books’ pages. While I have critiqued and sporked (see: critiquing in a humorous fashion) a fic or two in my time, Fifty Shades is a task too daunting for me to take on myself. Luckily, thanks to some very devoted folks online, I don’t have to.
Happy Black History Month! Race is something I care deeply about, and it directly affects me personally, so I want to use the month of February as a point to bring more topics about race into discussions. To start off, I want to talk about this week’s web crush: the Spawn On Me podcast, a show about video games and other nerdy topics from a Black viewpoint. [Content warning in podcast for adult language.]
One of the people I enjoy on YouTube never spoke up about a recent scandal concerning jokes about sexual assault (made by her now boyfriend), and as a result, I’ve been seeking out new things to watch to mend this tear in my heart. While YouTube, as a platform, has cultivated some of the most problematic people and cultures on the internet, it’s also a fantastic source for information and discovering people who may have gone through similar experiences as yourself. For me, my web crush fits into the former—as I don’t share many of her defining traits—but I believe for many, and hopefully some of our readers here as well, Kat Blaque offers a voice to a minority that is spoken over more often than not.
When we get bored online, we all have different things we turn to. Some people reload their Tumblr dashboard until something interesting happens, some get lost on TV Tropes for hours, and some people turn to YouTube videos. While I’ve only briefly made it known that I do partake of Let’s Plays here and there (a Let’s Play being people on the internet recording themselves playing through a video game), my love for them goes much deeper than I’m willing to say. And sometimes that’s because these beloved Let’s Players are extremely problematic. In a over-saturated sea of content, it’s all too easy to run into players who make triggering statements or are just plain racist or sexist—apparently believing that if comedy isn’t “edgy”, it’s not comedy at all. Luckily, this is where Michael and his blog, Let’s Play Social Justice, come in.
After what feels like way too long, Gamergate is still hanging onto the coattails of public discourse with a tenacity akin to a tick, but without the simple solution of plucking the unwanted thing off and flinging it back into the shadows of bad ideas and obscurity. In light of this, why not promote sites that offer discourse about video games, the women who play them, and the women who are in them without, you know, the rampant misogyny and further exclusion of specific types of gamer ladies? Today I bring to you a promising new initiative: FemHype.
Oh my god, you guys, I am so excited to bring you today’s Web Crush. With Halloween drawing ever closer (which, yes, I will remind you of every week in October) I’m sure a lot of us have got our own favorite spooky movies that we devour to get into the right mood. Little Shop of Horrors, The Ring, Halloweentown—the list is literally endless. Today’s Web Crush comes from one of the deviously clever minds behind the timeless favorites Beetlejuice and The Addams Family, so you know it’s got to be good. Dear viewers, let me welcome you to the Cinderella re-make where the clock has skipped right past twelve and rung at thirteen ‘o clock; let me welcome you to the world of Cindy.