All that is wrong with the world…

September 28, 2011

Thoughts on Feminism and Gender Issues

Table of Contents

Introduction
Modern day feminism
Driving
Sexism in the workplace
The gender pay gap
Sexual Objectification
Maternity / Parental Leave
Child Support
Language
Title of address
Gender segregation
Rape
Abortion
Are men more intelligent, creative or capable than women?
Brains
Education
Are women less funny than men?
Female characters in entertainment
Women in Film
Trangendered/Transexual women
Conclusion
References

Introduction

Feminism is an interesting topic to me. I have given a lot of thought to various political ideologies and philosophies as I eventually hope to craft my own. One thing that I have often thought about with great consideration is how can we ensure fairness or equality for all people? The rights of women are then very important in any such discussion, having been unfairly repressed in many societies that have existed throughout history. Much of our history regarding the way we treated women will eventually be looked back in terms of how primitive we were. Here we are in the 21st century where we can put men on the moon, cure diseases and have instant access to almost our entire library of knowledge at any time of day. Surely we would have mastered something as simple as ensuring equal rights for both genders? Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Even ancient Egypt managed to understand that women should be treated equally, yet somehow as mankind advanced men continued to dismiss and denigrate women, resulting in a patriarchal society. There is no question that inequalities still exist; the problem for me is identifying just what those inequalities are. It is impossible to proceed with trying to right wrongs unless there is firm agreement about what those wrongs are. It is necessary to accurately identify the problems and if possible show evidence for them as much as possible. The other problem is that a great many claims are made by women who consider themselves feminists and it is these claims which are hard to corroborate. Some claims are flat out ridiculous and are easy to disprove and dismiss. Other claims seem dubious or perhaps likely but there just isn’t the evidence to support the allegations. The personal anecdotes of a great many women simply aren’t sufficient. Still other claims contradict claims made by others, so it becomes hard to reconcile them. So, this is in part why I have decided to write this article. As the title says these are merely my thoughts on Feminism. I have never studied gender studies or anything of the sort, nor have I even done extensive reading. I have done a lot of reading, but have not researched things in depth. What I have done is listen to and observe the reactions to various issues from my travels around the world, to the point where I feel I have enough to have an opinion on certain issues. I have also where possible supported my opinions with evidence. I am well aware that many of my opinions may be based on faulty reasoning or that I may be lacking evidence. In which case I hope this article gets noticed and any errors I have made can be corrected, so I can learn more. One thing I will note is that I have not stated my gender, age or race anywhere. That is deliberate as I consider them irrelevant. My arguments should be judged on their merits, not on who makes them.

Modern day feminism

It seems a large part of the problem with Feminism today is just how disjointed it is. 1st and 2nd wave feminism both had common goals which they basically accomplished while current or third wave feminisms seems to be full of people self identifying as feminists while holding conflicting opinions and having contrasting goals. Whether it be on the issues of pornography, sex-work, marriage, career options, parental leave or any of the other numerous issues being discussed, there tends to be a multitude of opinions which cannot be reconciled with each other. It doesn’t help that many of these current feminists appear to be, for lack of a better word, crazy. There are women who are convinced that males invented PMS to control women, that playing the GTA games will turn men into rapists, that porn stars are forced into that work by men, trying to change history i.e. to say that Mileva Maric actually did a lot of Einstein’s work, that women are innately more intelligent than men…the list of crazy nonsense goes on and on. Obviously the women who think these things are not representative of all feminists, yet as they all identify as such they discredit the label. The same is true with fundamentalists in any movement, yet it only seems to be modern feminism where there so many contradictory opinions and no agreement can be reached. The Westboro Baptists may call themselves Christians but most people don’t confuse them with your run of the mill friendly neighborhood Christian. What is the norm for a feminist though? It’s hard for me to take most of the self proclaimed feminists I have met seriously, as they continue to spout nonsense to further their agenda without giving any consideration to facts. I am not saying this lightly. Far too many women calling themselves feminists speak from personal experience not bothering to and sometimes resist supporting their arguments, relying solely on anecdotal evidence. While women experience many things that men will not, using “because I said so” as an argument just doesn’t cut it. Many of these women choose to dismiss counterarguments because of the race and gender of the person making them. It is only when a minority woman makes a contrary argument that they will listen, with their response tending to be patronizing – feeling the need to educate. That is so amazingly hypocritical and it boggles my mind that they don’t get this. This is also where the privilege crutch comes invoked as an association fallacy. I believe that privilege exists to an extent and that men may not always be aware of it, but to dismiss any objection a male makes to a claim made by feminists as the results of privilege is frustrating and a step backwards. It has even gone so far as to become an in joke meme of sorts which pops up on various feminist communities. If the issues are real then why are so many feminists afraid of debate? Male privilege is not accepted as fact except by those feminists who tend to use it to dismiss anything they don’t like coming out of the mouth of men. They have probably not addressed the arguments made against the idea, simply because a lot of the arguments are coming from men. Why resort to ad hominem attacks and seek comfort by confirmation bias? Why not engage in debate and make your claims on the strength of your arguments? This is another problem I noticed with feminism that is outlined in thisarticle, namely that all too often peer and critical review is denied, with opinions only being considered from those who already hold similar views. Given the state of feminism and feminists today, it only seems reasonable to dismiss the label feminism and feminist as they currently stand (at least until some sort of consensus arrives as to what feminism currently is or should be) and simply look at the inequalities and problems facing women and possible solutions for them. Basically, I want to get far away from the label of feminism because it seems to me that it has become tainted and has now become more of a hindrance than a help, not to mention it’s ambiguity. So with that said…, I’m going to look at the various issues and problems that I am aware of, look at the evidence I am aware of and then give my thoughts on it. I am well aware I may be ill-informed on many things or just thinking about it in the wrong way, in which case I hope to be corrected. I do hope that people interested in these issues read this post and provide me with some resources so I can better understand everything, as at the end of the day that is all I am trying to do.

Driving

The first thing I will mention is not an inequality or even really an issue, but a myth that continues to be propagated; the belief that women are better drivers than men. The reason this bugs me is because there is absolutely no evidence for this and because I have come across many women using this belief as evidence for various arguments. The main evidence or reasoning for this argument seems to be based on the fact that insurance companies charge women drivers lower premiums than men. OK. As we should all know correlation does not equal causation. Insurance companies don’t care about causes at all; they only care about patterns, such as users of Internet Explorer being considered safer than users of Firefox. It is true that women have fewer driving incidents than men, but there are a lot of factors as to why this is. Men tend to drive more hours than women, as well as taking more dangerous driving jobs such as long truck journeys. Assuming both genders are equal in driving ability then it is easy to see how men can be involved in more incidents than women. I don’t believe there is any reason to think one gender is innately better at driving than the other and until such a study is done it should not be assumed.

Sexism in the workplace

Sex discrimination in careers is a major issue as well as the glass ceiling. Put simply, like a lot of claims I think this issue is exaggerated. Is there a barrier for women to progress in their careers more so than men? Almost certainly. The questions are to what extent and what is the cause of this barrier? Most feminists seem to blame discrimination by men and even women in positions of power and to a lesser extent the patriarchy. While that may be a convenient reason, I don’t think it is entirely Accurate. A 2011 Rape One of the most fucked up things I have seen and part of the reason I think the term feminist has become so meaningless is that a significant portion of self proclaimed feminists advocate using false rape allegations to bring down the patriarchy. To be clear what they mean here is to falsely accuse innocent men of rape to have them removed from positions of power, which is justified because either no men are innocent, or the means justify the end. Obviously rape is a horrific issue that is unfortunately still a problem, but to advocating false accusations is in my opinion just as bad, if not in some cases worse. Anyone advocating such behavior is clearly not concerned with fairness and justice and I would hope feminists concerned with such things would be appalled to share the same label with such people. Another problem I noticed when it comes to rape is that….far too often women seem to attack anyone who dares to be skeptical or ask for proof of a rape claim. With many people there seems to be this attitude that a female claiming to be a victim of rape, which is simply ridiculous. Obviously and female making such a claim should be treated with counseling and comfort and whatever is necessary on the presumption that the claim is true. However when it comes to actually convicting a person, then the full chain of justice must be followed. Women do and have made false rape accusations, with various statistics showing the number of false rape claims to be unacceptably high. It’s also why devices such as thisare so problematic. With this type of guilty until proven innocent attitude accompany rape accusations, it becomes easy for a malicious woman to entrap a guy. Surely then such devices should be illegal as they are harmful and cannot be relied upon as evidence? The idea that only the evil white male patriarchy would doubt such claims or that no woman would make such a claim is such bullshit. I don’t know how people who have such beliefs are able to rationalize their world view coherently. It’s exactly that type of thinking, to automatically consider one type of claimant more credible than another which leads to inequalities and injustices, exactly the type of thing that we as a society should work to eliminate as much as possible. I also want to make the unpopular point here that if women dress provocatively then yes, of course they potentially attract more negative types of attention. A woman walking through a dangerous neighborhood in jeans and a jacket walking briskly is less likely to get hassled or raped than a woman walking in a miniskirt and low-cut top. I mean, it isn’t rocket science. Yet people get up in arms saying that the victim is never at fault. Well, of course the victim isn’t at fault but the victim could have perhaps decreased her chances of being a target. People know not to leave flashy stuff lying on their dashboards in a bad neighborhood, if they did so and the expensive items got stolen, is it not correct to say they should perhaps have known better?

Abortion

Abortion is obviously a very controversial issue, with no absolute answer. There are pertinent questions such as when do we consider that the life of the fetus trumps the life of the host? A woman owns her own body and the right to choose, but to what extent do we consider the baby inside human? I was appalled when I saw a girl in the US who was quite obviously 3 months pregnant or more. She had just felt the baby start kicking and was still considering getting an abortion. That seems inhuman to me. If the baby is kicking it has developed to a point where it is obviously going to be human…as opposed to a collection of cells which are just that. If a woman has not made the decision to abort by that stage, I feel it should be treated as though she has forfeited her right to choose. What about the Boston Legal scenario where sperm was stolen so a woman could get pregnant with a man of her choosing? In the show the woman offered the man oral sex and retained the resultant sperm without the man’s knowledge. If the man did not consent to this, should a court order an abortion? Surely as much as a woman owns her body a man owns his sperm to an extent. It’s one thing if a baby is an accidental result of intercourse but when sperm is stolen, what then? On the show the court acknowledged the violation but would not order the death of a potential new life. Surely however if we don’t consider zygotes and fetuses human to a certain point, a court ordered abortion would be the correct course of action dependent on how far along the woman was?

Are men more intelligent, creative or capable than women?

As I understand it, the short answer seems to be yes but not in a simple way. There is a hypothesisthat men tend to be more varied than women. This means there is a higher incidence of above average intelligent men, or men who are above average for any characteristic. What it also means is that there are far more men than women with below average intelligence or in some other factor. This may help to explain why more men tend to win things like the Nobel Prize, as well as explaining why there are more men failing to graduate high school or ending up in prison. The ideas that men are all simply savage dominating beasts or that men prevent women from advancing via the patriarchy are simplistic and derive from a preconceived bias. It is an excellent example of begging the question. Given a simple biological cause that is plausible and seems to be true, surely this theory is preferable to simply finding a reason to blame men? Obviously, some women are not going to like this theory. If it is correct, it means highly successful men are always going to outnumber highly successful women. However, I don’t see why that is a bad thing. Women are no less capable than men on average, but there are less likely to be exceptional women. This is a reflection of the differences between the sexes and how they adapted; it is by no means an indicator of the superiority or inferiority of one sex over another. What I would find disturbing is that even if we knew this theory to be correct, in our current overly PC society we would perceive the higher variance rate in males an error. Far too many people take the view that any natural imbalance is something that needs to be corrected; to be made equal along with all the falsely positive connotations that word has come to inherit. There would be mandates that equal numbers of men and women would need to win awards or be selected for positions, even if that didn’t make sense. If awards should only be awarded on the merit of research or discoveries, why does it matter if it a man who more often will make the discovery, if it isn’t due to sexism or the patriarchy?

Brains

What about differences in brains? We know that there is a size difference of the brains in men and women, but does this equate to any significant difference in intellectual ability? I would not think so and there does not seem to be any indication that this is the case. Women consistently score with scores in the same ranges as men, indicating that women have no inherent cognitive disadvantage. It would seem then that the differences in the brain would be related to regulating the different functions of the body rather than anything cognitive. It is interesting to observe male to female transsexuals under hormone replacement therapy, as their brains tend to slightly reduced in size to a standard female size. I’m not sure what testing has been done, but I doubt any impact on cognitive or creative ability as been observed. Spatial ability is one of the most cited examples of the differences between men and women. Various testing has repeatedly shown men have a better ability to manipulate 3D objects in their mind. It seems plausible to me that men could have developed an advantage in this area independent of women, given the hunter-gather culture that humans came from. Being able to judge where prey is going to be and accurately aim for it would be one hell of a useful skill. In modern times it seems that many types of video games make use of this skill, which may be why many shooting titles are male dominated. There are other theories which may be contributing reasons as well, but surely if males are more suited to those types of games, there are going to be more males playing such games? A friend of mine suggested that there is no innate difference in spatial ability and rather it is something developed. She informed me of a study done by the University of Toronto that showed that differences in spatial ability between the genders was eliminated after both groups played a video game for a few hours. This may well be so, but it would seem to me this is then a case of female learning spatial ability rather than having it innately. Video games that require a good spatial ability are a recent development, only coming to prominence in the 90’s. Tests of spatial ability between the sexes has been ongoing for many decades, which have consistently shown males as having an advantage, when video games were not a factor. The question is if males do have a spatial ability advantage, what do females have as a counterpart advantage? Language ability?

Education

There is a problemwith education at the moment in that with all the focus to correct for the many decades in which girls were seen as less of a priority and less capable boys are now being left behind. Instead of equality there seems to be a primary focus on girls which is simply causing the same problem in a different way. This is a well understood issue and has been known for a while now, yet what are we doing to correct it? Nothing. As an allegedly civilized society we should be working to make sure all our children regardless of gender are being focused on equally and being giving everything they need to learn and understand so they can be the best they can be. This focus on girls and ignoring boys is just as bad as the reverse, so why is it acceptable? Some of the more annoying feminists like to cite that women tend to earn more degrees than men on average. It’s also true that a large portion of mature age stay at home parents are now getting degrees by distance, which accounts for a large slant in numbers. In general while there will be slants for different fields for the most part the gender gap in universities is not significant. That may be changing but as things stand, it is not. I would like to see the end of this issue being misrepresented to try and sell the point that women are superior in intellectual ability to men and were simply never allowed to flourish before. I found it interesting when reading an issue of Popular Science that the adverts seemed mainly geared towards males. They may simply know that demographic for that particular magazine happens to be male, but given the amount of women interested in and studying or working in a science field it seemed odd.

Are women less funny than men?

I think the issue of women being funny or less funny than men is interesting. Anecdotally I feel like women are less funny than men and objectively there are far less women working in the comedy industry. According to a feminist friend of mine this is because comedy is male dominated and the white male hegemony won’t let women succeed. I think that’s bullshit. If women are funny, they can succeed in comedy. It genuinely seem to me that most women working in comedy are not as funny as men, or perhaps it is fairer to say their humor is not as universal as that of the males working in comedy. Jokes about female specific things such as menstruation or faking orgasms can be funny….but all too often most female comedians seem to rely on these clichés. Male comedians are not restricted to fart and dick jokes, so why are women not branching out in the same way? It seems that some study has actually been done into this area that shows that women and men did not differ in what they found funny but women have a much higher reward if the joke actually was funny. There is also some subsequent speculationthat men “evolved” to be funny due to societal pressure. Men were expected to entertain or make women laugh and so they became practiced at this, learning to be funny while growing up. This is an interesting theory. Women have no less ability than men to be funny, but simply don’t learn to be growing up just as most men won’t learn something as a byproduct of a female gender role. There is inherent advantage with males, nor any reason to suppose discrimination. Just a product of society. Of course, this seems limited to western society at the moment; it would be interesting to see if there are differences, perceived or real between the comedic ability of men and women in other cultures. Also, the word comedienne is stupid. Just what is wrong with comedian?

Female characters in entertainment

Another interesting topic is how women are portrayed in media, whether it is films, books, comics or whatever. Film and TV seems easy to simply dismiss, at least in some ways. I watch an awful lot of TV and film, a lot of it diverse…and can’t think of any problems. Not in any single movie or show at least. There can sometimes be trends such as damsels in distress or women falling in love with a male straight away. For the most part however I think the diversity of female characters tends to reflect the diversity of female characters in life. Some people may have an issue with a film that shows a shy submissive woman being manipulated by a man…but that may just be the character and that may be part of the story. It’s not realistic to require that every female character be written as a strong independent woman when not every woman is strong and independent. When I watch most films or shows the female characters are believable, so why is there still such an issue? Something of a trend I have noticed is it seems common these days to have a strong female lead backed up by an insecure and inept male. Probably the best example(I can think of right now) is in Warehouse 13 where both the female agent’s partner and love interests respectively are goofy and often cause problems or simple serve as comic relief. When women played second fiddle to strong male leads that was reflective of the society at the time. We have moved past that, yet instead of just writing characters equally it is common to have males be helpless and inferior to the female lead. This isn’t reflective of society and just seems to be fueled by spite. It may be just a random trend, and as above some characters may be like that which is fine. The problem is when it becomes common place, as those characters combinations are not that common. What about video games? I can’t speak too broadly on this subject as I tend to stick to FPS games with the odd strategy game now and then. Most FPS games tend to have strong male leads either fighting evil humans or monsters. It’s true that female leads are less common, although they are not unheard of e.g. Lara Croft, Alyx Vance, Jill Valentine and others. For the most part it would seem women are portrayed in an accurate or positive way in most games, even more so in RPG games. Still it is an interesting issue because there are a few games that have caused controversy. One of the most famous examples would be the later GTA series of games where it is possible to hire prostitutes and then assault them in a variety of ways. Honestly though this has little to do with the game. The GTA games are sandbox games, meaning you are dropped into a world with a variety of characters, vehicles, weapons and scenarios. You can do a lot of creative interesting things. The game doesn’t force or even suggest for you to hire prostitutes or assault them, so for people that enjoy doing that it is an individual issue, not related to the game. What about the decision to include prostitutes in the first place? I would argue it simply fits the world and setting of the games. The fact that prostitutes exist in the game simply mirrors the fact that prostitutes in real life and are incorporated to set the tone of the game. Where cities are controlled by various mafia families and police are incredible ineffective, it stands to reason prostitution would be rampant at least in certain districts. One of the most disappointing experiences I had was meeting a self proclaimed feminist when I was in Vancouver, who was convinced that having games such as GTA3/IV be legal leads to an increase in rape incidents. It did not matter that there is no reason to infer such a thing or that the studies done tend to discredit such theories. I don’t even think the games are particularly demeaning to women, considering most of the main characters are males and all portrayed as sleazy, cowardly corrupt backstabbers. The thing is such characters make sense within the context of the game. For some reason some feminists seem to think every female character in every game should be a positive representation of all women everywhere. I just don’t understand that. A game that also caused some controversy was the long awaited Duke Nukem Forever. Duke Nukem was one of the main icons of gaming in the early 90’s, a archetypal male womanizing action hero who saved the world more than once. Generally women were not portrayed too much in these games, and when they were they tended to be strippers simply because Duke was in a strip club. So, nothing wrong there. However in the most recent game one of the multiplayer modes is a spin on capture the flag known as capture the babe. ‘babes’ are captured and if they struggle are spanked to calm them down. This does seem unnecessary. I have absolutely no problem when Duke revels in his sexism in the single player game…, but there seems to be little reason to have women as literal objects to be abused and traded around. It isn’t even true to the spirit of the game, as much as it may be trying to be. At the same time, it’s just a game. I certainly don’t believe it should be censored and it is unlikely to have any effect on attempts to correct inequalities…so surely it should just be forgotten? The market will see it as stupid and it will soon be forgotten. I don’t see a problem with a game being made like that just as I wouldn’t if there was a capture the dude game with guys being uncontrollably horny idiots who had to be led around. Such things are stupid and don’t tend to be successful, so why prohibit their creation or distribution? What about comics? Women in Refrigerators is an interesting website that caused a mild controversy when it launched in 1999. Basically Gail Simone, a fan and writer of comic books thought that women in comics suffered a disproportionate numbers of horrible deaths to males and were often not leading characters. The website was an interesting commentary on female characters in comics. What made it interesting was that the website was not asserting anything; Gail simply stated something she thought was true and asked for input. The responses are interesting to read with some people being offended at the very idea and responding with insult while others gave well reasoned arguments for responses. As for the issue…the website takes its name from an issue of Green Lantern where Kyle Rayner comes home to find his girlfriend has been killed and stuffed inside his refrigerator. A gruesome death to be sure, but it is hardly representative of how female characters are treated in comics. My experience is limited by the comics I have and tend to read, so is not broadly representative; still I get the feeling that there isn’t really an issue. There is certainly more male leading characters than female, although there is hardly a lack of strong female characters with Lady Shiva, Catwoman, Talia Al Ghul and Cassandra Cain being some of my favorites. As far as how women are treated in comics they don’t seem to be treated too differently to men. There are strong and weak, evil and good characters any of which are as susceptible to death or tragedy, just as the larger roster of male characters are. If Women in Refrigerators had been making a positive claim I would have dismissed it as nonsense, but simply asking the question provided a forum for interesting input. If things are disproportionate I would think it is only in the number of characters, not how they are treated. This is because most of the characters were created in a time when having a woman superhero beating up men would probably not have sold too well. Those characters have all been around for 50 years or so…more female characters will continue to appear but it takes time to build up the loyalty that the male characters have. That’s likely all there is to it. A main thing I noticed is that as far as names go female characters tend to be girls and not women. Supergirl, Powergirl, Invisible Girl(now Woman) etc. It does seem that the male characters tend to have more development and become new characters such as Dick Grayson, Tim Drake and Kon-El. I don’t know if this is a fair assessment as my knowledge is actually quite limited. I know what I would like to see is less equalization of female characters in comic books. Males tend to have most of their skin covered often with armor, so why the hell would female heroes not do the same, especially non powered heroes like Huntress? DC Was meant to rectify this with the New 52 yet looking at the new Supergirl comicbook it seems they found a way to justify it. Oh well, maybe they want to keep the demographic as primarily young males. The New 52 has certainly caused some controversy. One of the things I found most interesting was how women were going to be portrayed in the New 52. For the most part it seems like women are not exploited too much and there are many strong female characters to be had. Of course, the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws is what caused a lot of controversy, as it has Starfire being sexually promiscuous and being treated as a sex object. The first problem I had with this was that the issue was controversial because of a 7 year old girls reaction to the portrayal. Despite the fact that the comic is rated T for teens and the child was only ever used to the Teen Titans cartoon version of the character (markedly different from any comic book character) her reaction is being used as evidence of…something. Of course it can pretty much be ignored because that book was never meant for 7 year olds. Thisarticle is very well written and makes many good points, although I think unreasonable conclusions are being extrapolated from one comic book….which ends up misrepresenting how bad things actually are. Considering the Starfire character I don’t think her portrayal was that bad….and even if it is, so what? It isn’t an indication of Women in Comics….it’s one character. All the strong female characters like Batgirl, Batwoman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Catwoman are ignored and Starfire is used as the sole representation of women in the New 52. Either that’s dumb or a deliberate attempt to misrepresent things. Catwoman is interesting as well because she happened to changed into her costume for a few panes and apparently because we saw some of her breast in a bra she is being exploited. Nevermind that she is a strong character who is doing interesting things and that it is impressive that she is escaping as she is getting changed…oh no, that one glimpse of boob must dominate everything and it is the only information we should use to draw conclusions. Sigh. If Batman were running shirtless as he put on his costume (which I’m sure has happened) would it be a problem? No. So does this mean we can never show a woman without her top on even in a bra? I mean…it’s hard for me to think of a better justification to show a quarter of Catwoman’s left boob than her escaping unprepared, but apparently that isn’t good enough. As much as woman are exploited in comics there are sometimes occasions when it serves the story to see them in their underwear or naked or whatever. Assuming they are being exploited anytime a female is even a little bit naked in a comic undermines the actual problem. Another thing I did want to note is that I find it interesting that Eminem was controversial because of his misogynist lyrics. Where in this day and age it is controversial and not simply rejected outright. I mean, if he were to make songs with racial slurs simply to express his frustration at someone who happened to be of that race that would not be seen as OK. Well…I don’t think the two issues are so similar upon further inspection. Many racial slurs come from a time when minority races were seen as less than human. Of course we know better now and reject such terms. Derogatory terms for women on the other hand don’t tend to view women as less than human with the exception of ‘cunt’. Every class of people has insults attributed to them…and given the songs Eminem makes which are either personal and expressing anger or going for shock value…I’m OK with it. I know people who are not racist who use racist terms when extremely angry at someone of a certain race just as people use sex specific insults to express extreme anger against a specific person. The only difference is millions of people heard him do so.

Women in Film

Do women have a barrier to getting roles that men don’t? Are there significantly less female rolls then there are male roles? I would not think so and I can’t find much to back this assertion up. It seems simple to me that given half the population is women, any movie or show wanting to reflect the world is going to have an even distribution of men and women within. Obviously there are exceptions…comedies with an all male or all female cast ala the hangover and bridesmaids, or other genre movies for whatever reason have a skewed gender ration. Are there significantly more movies with a majority male cast than female casts? It’s somewhat of a difficult thing to research, but simply looking at the movies that have come out within the last few years doesn’t seem to support the notion. Even if there are a roughly equal number of roles for males and females, what about lead roles? Again, I think the gender distribution in the real world generally carries over to film. Subjectively in most of the films and TV shows I watch there seems to be an equal number of male and female characters. I just now looked through the 100 or so movies I have handy as well as the 20 or so TV shows I watch to get an indication and the distribution seems equal, with males having a very slight advantage in having a lead role. Of course, my random little test shows absolutely nothing, as I am excluding a great many shows and movies with female leads that I don’t watch or don’t have. Is there anything to the idea that there are less female lead roles? OK, what about the type of roles? There seems to be an increased demand for “strong female characters”, even when this doesn’t always make sense or reflect the reality of the world the film may be trying to impart. I’m all for female action heroes and strong female characters, but not when it is unrealistic and forced. There seems to be somewhat of a trend in the last few years with strong female characters having a bumbling nerdy male sidekick. Which is fine because hey, the characters might just be like that. But when it frequent and no longer reflects reality, that’s when it becomes annoying, just as much as a damsel in distress character would be. A good example is Agent Pearce on Burn Notice who seems to need to assert herself for the few minutes she is on screen each episode. See, there is a way to write strong female characters without having them make the audience aware they are strong female characters every few minutes. I think a large part of the reason there may be more lead male roles or stronger male characters is because of the large percentage of work that is adapted. Most work written in the last century will have more male characters than female characters as protagonists, which is simply a reflection of the times they were written in. I don’t like the idea of changing characters just for the sake of ithowever as times change and new female characters are created I would expect things to even out. I don’t think there is significant discrimination against women in the entertainment industry and the idea that its harder for women to get roles does not seem to be founded on anything solid. For every acclaimed male actor there is an equally acclaimed female actor. I really don’t understand where the notion that women are at a disadvantage in this area comes from. A perceived imbalance perhaps? Based on what? Which leads me to wonder, why do we have different gender categories for the Oscars? It links back with my bit on gender segregation above. Is it really necessary? Women are generally going to take on female roles, and as women are different from men that will be reflected in the characters. But….is the acting different? I don’t think so. What reason is there to have separate awards just on the basis of gender, if we don’t have separate awards on the basis of gender, or for that matter height or weight? Take a movie like Doubt, which had Philip Seymour Hoffman as a very strong Male lead and Meryl Streep as a strong female lead. Why not enter them both and simply choose which one most people think gave the stronger performance? What rationale is there to have separate award categories?

Trangendered/Transexual women

I tend to have a materialistic view of humans. I don’t think we are unique in any way aside from having a greater intelligence than most other animals. I don’t think we have any spiritual aspect….everything we are is the sum of our biology. I say this, because there seems to be a view that to be a woman is something beyond just the physical. This, I don’t understand. A woman is a human without a Y chromosome, and with a slightly different brain and hormonal makeup as well as different reproductive organs. That’s about it. Taking male to female transsexual for instance, I would agree they are not genetically female, but if they have the same hormonal makeup and brain structure, are they not for all purposes an infertile woman? What about if we develop the technology to change the chromosomes of a man into a woman? Would there still be people who would consider such a person not to be female because they were not born that way? How is that relevant if such a person would be indistinguishable from a genetically born female? The main reason I included a section on TS women is from reading this(original source down) article. Note that the women advocating the article consider themselves feminists, yet are completely sexist and ignorant when it comes to transgendered women. I find such an article appalling and feel this is yet another good example of why I feel the term feminism is losing value, when crackpots such as these use the label as well.

Conclusion

So, the above is my thoughts on various gender issues and feminism in general. I do hope that this article will foster discussion and that I will learn something as a result of it. If not, it won’t be the first 10,000 words I’ve wasted time on. As may have been obvious I feel that most issues are simply overblown with men/the patriarchy/white male hegemony being used as a convenient scapegoat to further a view despite there not being evidence of that being the case or other reasons being equally or more likely. Which is not to deny that there are still issues, but just as things have been improving for the last few decades I think that they will continue to improve and an equilibrium of sorts will be reached. Discrimination of any sort will never be entirely absent, the goal should only to be to have such behavior be rare and for it to stand out. I believe the problem will right itself with education and as the current younger generation starts to take over and replaces many of the current people in power who hold sexist views. When that happens however, I don’t think it can be attributed to modern day feminism. It can be attributed to the aftermath of 1st and 2nd wave feminism and education, with people realizing it simply doesn’t make sense to discriminate on the basis of sex. As well as increasing study done into the differences between the sexes which, while not everybody may like the answers it can only be a good thing if we understand ourselves better. I wanted to get this out sooner, indeed I wrote half of this in April. Still, better late than never. I also wanted to backup some of my opinions more thoroughly with far more citations to credible studies; as opposed to the few opinion pieces I have indirectly referencing studies now. Many of my opinions are based on things I have read previously and I have not looked into many things that thoroughly. However, I am deciding to post this now as I would rather spend time writing on other things I want to write, and as I am not currently a student have trouble looking up journal articles anyway. I hope that people will read this and that if the foundation of any of my opinions or arguments are doubted, that they can be discussed in the comments and there we can cite various sources to support our arguments. Ultimately, that is how these sort of issues must be discussed; with an agreed upon premise and a logical conclusion. I look forward to receiving many interesting responses.

References

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_privilege#Against_the_notion_of_.27male_privilege.27
    2. http://www.debunker.com/texts/noblelie.html
    3. http://consumerist.com/2010/11/capital-one-made-me-different-loan-offers-depending-on-which-browser-i-used.html

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/federalstate/women-government-achievements/

  1. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=man&allowed_in_frame=0
  2. http://www.pinkhostels.com/about.html
  3. http://www.antirape.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=18
  4. http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm
  5. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/failing-boys/part-1-failing-boys-and-the-powder-keg-of-sexual-politics/article1758791/
  6. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/november9/med-humor-110905.html
  7. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701
  8. http://www.unheardtaunts.com/wir/
  9. http://io9.com/5844355/a-7+year+old-girl-responds-to-dc-comics-sexed+up-reboot-of-starfire
  10. http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/
  11. https://allthatiswrong.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/thoughts-on-comic-book-characters-and-race/
  12. http://www.birdofparadox.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/%E2%80%9CTranswomen%E2%80%9D-Are-Merely-Castrated-Men-TEXT-ONLY.pdf

September 2, 2011

Thoughts on the New 52

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:26 am

I wasn’t too sure what to make of the new reboot. DC has had reboots before, but this seemed different with each issue starting at issue 1 again. It was also interesting that certain story arcs would be considered canon, while the rest would be discarded. I had avoided reading the flashpoint event leading up to it…as it just seemed boring. Thomas Wayne as Batman going around killing people….Wonder Woman at war with Aquaman over Europe….such drastic changes yet the same characters. I find such alternate realities lazy. If the timeline changed, especially if it were only from the death of one woman who was not overly significant…well it is unlikely this would affect the timeline as much as it did. I don’t see how it would affect the Kents finding Kal-El, or Thomas Wayne managing to fight of his attacker, or any of the other changes that occurred.

Especially having Thomas Wayne as Batman seemed one of the most stupid changes. Bruce had the motivation and drive to fight crime and a direct influence causing him to take up the mantle of the bat. That Thomas Wayne would also take up the mantle of the bat…it’s just stupid. Maybe if some explanation was given like….there needs to be a Batman in the timeline because it is expected or something…but no such explanation was given that I’m aware of. So, I only read the last Flashpoint as it was meant to branch into the New 52. What we see is Flash talking to Bruce in the Batcave with a very touching moment….but seemingly nothing is different.

Which is where Justice League #1 comes in showing that indeed things have changed. Everything is familiar, yet different. The first thing to note is the art was amazing. I’ve always liked Jim Lee’s Batman…drawing him without stupidly oversized ears and getting the costume to be a good balance between protection and just spandex. Its pretty much how I imagine Batman should be.

I do wonder if this Batman is slightly more tech augmented than other versions. The police refer to a group leaping 20 feet at a time, but it is unclear if the group is Batman and the foe he is chasing, or the foe being part of a larger group of foes. I really hope that Batman isn’t leaping 20 feet at a time…Batman shouldn’t be reliant on technology, something the Nolan movies have failed to realize.

There was a lot of exposition and while it was transparent, it was still entertaining. It worked well in this new world and first encounter and I am interested to see how things will turn out. I liked Batman calling the GCPD idiots…some people criticized this, but what kind of police force fires first upon someone who is only running? Idiots.

The main mystery at the moment is the timeline. Just what is in this new continuity? Apparently a lot of key storylines such as Knightfall, The Killing Joke and Death in the Family are still canon. Apparently Nightwing is in this new continuity. So, that means there have been at least 2 Robins. Yet, Justice League #1 opens 5 years ago, with Batman still being an urban myth and not being known by the other heroes, even still being hunted by the GCPD. So…how has he had 2 Robins already?

Some of the other changes seemed dumb. I don’t get why they killed Superman’s mom. Now he is too similar to Batman….his mother played an important role in keeping him grounded. I don’t really get why they would remove that. I also hope that Superman has gone back to just having an average intelligence, without any new fangled Kryptonian super genius bullshit. I think it’s odd Wonder Woman is still fighting crime in short shorts…especially after reading something where DC wanted to stop sexualizing their female heroes. Oh well.

Plotwise….I thought it odd the Guardians would not be familiar with Darkseid, although hopefully this will be explained. The excuse for going to Metropolis seemed weak..”they say he’s an alien”…really? Wouldn’t Green Lanterns alien GPS have picked up Superman for sure…or was he considered authorized?

I’m not sure why this new universe came about and why after Flashpoint things didn’t just refer to the normal universe. It isn’t clear what caused the changes in this new continuity. I get that the timelines merged…but the new continuity has elements that were not in any of the timelines. Still, I’m going to keep reading for a while, or at least until all the changes are explained and they actually start having adventures.

August 11, 2011

Thoughts on comic book characters and race

Filed under: Entertainment, Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 4:13 am

I think the issue of comic book characters and race is very interesting. Specifically with changing a characters race when adapting for film. There are quite a few examples of this, such as Kingpin being played by Michael Clark Duncan in Daredevil, Nick Fury being played by Sam Jackson in the Marvel Universe movies and most recently Laurence Fishburne being cast as Perry White in the new Superman movie. Nick Fury being black is an interesting situation because when Marvel started their Ultimate series, a parallel continuity they modeled the new Nick Fury after Sam Jackson. Only for Sam Jackson to then be cast as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which seems to be based on the normal continuity rather than the Ultimate continuity.

A less recent example and actually the reason that inspired me to write this, was Donald Glovers campaign to be the new Spider-man before Andrew Garfield was cast. I love Community and think Glover certainly has the comedic skills and I’m sure he could play serious as well. I do think he would be a terrific Peter Parker, except for the fact that he’s Black. Being familiar with the character, that matters to me quite a bit. I don’t want a black Peter Parker anymore than I want an Asian Superman or a Black Captain America. It’s nothing to do with being racist, it’s just about wanting beloved characters to be portrayed accurately. You can’t just arbitrarily change race just like you can’t arbitrarily change a characters gender or sexual orientation.

The interesting thing to me is how certain people take this. Apparently it’s racist to want characters to be portrayed accurately. Dan Harmon, the creator of Community referred to a ” previously unknown demographic of racist comic-book readers”, which is simply bullshit. I repeat, there is nothing racist about wanting a character to be portrayed as is. This i09 article asks why can’t Peter Parker be a different color, then saying that simply because Peter Parker is white isn’t as good a reason. Yes it is, it’s a perfect reason. Race is as much a part of a character as gender, physical appearance, personality, sexual orientation and a multitude of other factors. I think a good example is Superman. Superman needs to be white. To the best of my knowledge there are not black families in Kansas that have owned farmland for generations like the Kents have. Nor Asians. Growing up Middle America is how Superman came to be. Now, it’s fine to change that, but then you have essentially created a different new character riding on the success of the real character.

Among the comments I’ve read on this issue people have made the point that a black youth growing up in NYC would be a different person from a white middle class youth growing up with his aunt. While I could easily see that being the case, I don’t think that has to be the case. Oddly enough, Stan Lee gave his blessing to Donald Glover playing Spider-man. Since he created Spider-man, I would think that would settle the issue, but it doesn’t. All that says is that Stan lee doesn’t think anything of essence would be lost by casting to a different race. Even so, the fans disagree. What good reason is there not to make Peter Parker something other than Caucasian? How about because there is no reason to do so? Why change his race just for the sake of it? Especially if race doesn’t matter as people say, then why the big push to change his race? I’m really sick of the hypocrisy from people who feel the need to make things equal when they are not, because they have fooled themselves into thinking it is fair and “progressive”.

Oddly enough there seems to be an outcry when a white actor is recast, but not so much when non white characters are played by white actors. It seems like this would be more cause for outrage, yet people have been mostly silent on the issue. Some good examples are Ras al Ghul and Bane in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Ras al Ghul is meant to be Middle Eastern, but is played by the Irish Liam Neeson. Bane is meant to be Hispanic, from a comic book equivalent to Cuba, and is now being played by the English Tom Hardy. I suppose part of this is peoples lack of familiarity with these characters, still it is frustrating. Bane grew up in a Latin American prison hell hole, being punished for his father’s crimes. That was a big part of who the character is, something that is lost when a white actor is cast.

So far it seems to me there is rarely a good reason to change the race of a character and often good reasons not to. Sometimes how well known or developed the character is plays a big part. Perry White being black isn’t going to change anything about the character or how he deals with Clark. Bane not being Hispanic is going to change a lot of details about the character, for no good reason. Why not use a different character? A friend of mine believes that we should be casting vastly more minorities as well known characters to even out the odds. I think that’s just bullshit. White people in the USA…nay the west are a majority. That’s just how it is. Why would a world based on ours not reflect that? If 10% of the US population is Black, shouldn’t roughly 10% of the US Super-Hero population be Black? Why should it be artificially inflated to say, %25 ? To try and pretend minorities are not minorities and they are every bit as common as a majority? This is political correctness gone insane. Don’t change the race or other core details of characters without good reason and don’t artificially boost minorities to paint some bullshit false depiction of reality.

Interestingly, I like what Marvel has done with the new Spider-Man. In the Ultimate continuity the new Spider-Man is mixed race, Black and Hispanic and potentially gay. I have absolutely no problem with this because they are not fucking with Peter Parker. Peter Parker is the character people are attached to. Spider-man can be anyone who wears the suit and has a spidey sense. What I don’t get is why people were upset about this. Peter Parker is white, Spider-man doesn’t have to be. A Superman who isn’t a Kent or a Batman who isn’t a Wayne can be any race they want and may well be interesting characters in their own right. It does feel a tad forced, with him being 3 minorities in one…but still. I have no problem with diversity in characters – as long as it’s not forced and as long as it’s not screwing with characters developed over several decades just for the sake of it.

May 21, 2011

Recent thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

The first news that was released in early April is that TDKR is going to be shooting in Pittsburgh, which will replace Chicago as the setting for Gotham City. It seems like an odd choice to change it for the final film and given how successful the franchise in I would not think budget was a limitation. I have not been to Pittsburgh not known much about it, but I assume it must have something special that will fit the fell of the third movie better than the streets of Chicago or New York City.

Later on in April the roles that Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are playing were announced the characters of Miranda Tate and John Blake respectively. These characters are not from the comics so they could be brand new characters as was the case with Rachel Dawes, very minor parts or as many people are speculating, pseudonyms for more well known characters. I don’t really see Joseph Gordon-Levitt being given a small role given how much Christopher Nolan likes him, yet I can’t imagine what role from the comics he might play starting off as a cop.

As for Marion Cotillard playing Miranda Tate, a Wayne Enterprises board member, it certainly sounds like a minor part. Many people have been speculating or perhaps wishing that she will be playing Talia Al Ghul, something I really hope is not true. I would have thought there was not much to support that. Josh Pence was cast as a young Ra’s Al Ghul but Nolan seemed unlikely to bring characters back to life, so I assumed it was probably for a flashback. I can’t really see Nolan wanting to Introduce Talia into the final film as she won’t get the screentime she deserves, although considering what he did to Two-Face I wouldn’t be surprised.

The most interesting news which also makes the possibility of Talia appearing in TDKR far more likely was the first set photo of TDKR filming in India, which appears to show Lazarus pits. They could just be random pits or pools….but the coincidence is too much to ignore. It is the biggest surprise so far given that Nolan is trying to go such a realistic take on the Batman mythos. As I wrote in my last article I think Nolan could handle the Lazarus pits in a realistic way, just as he handled quantum suicide in The Prestige. Lazarus Pits in TDKR may indicate Young Ra’s Al Ghul will have a larger role not resigned to a flashback, and would certainly allow for the introduction of Talia. It’s interesting and such a shock, that I really can’t guess where this movie is going.

Most recently we got the first picture of Tom Hardy as Bane . A welcome surprise is that he is actually wearing a mask. It isn’t a Luchador mask which isn’t surprising since Nolan stripped the character of all Hispanic traits, but for him to be wearing a mask is an indication the interpretation of the character may still be somewhat faithful. As for how Tom Hardy looks as Bane physically? I like how broad he has gotten in the shoulders, but would have preferred he have larger biceps. I don’t expect the hulk from the comics, but something closer to Schwarzenegger in his prime.

I’m really looking forward to see where this movie goes. I have a lot of problems with how Nolan has treated the characters so far, not least turning Bruce Wayne into a soldier, eliminating his skills and intelligence. Still, to see a faithful interpretation of Bane and Catwoman and lazarus pits on screen is going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it more than any other movie right now.

Thoughts on the Smallville Finale

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:28 pm

I wasn’t surprised that the Smallville Finale was bad…but I was amused to see just how bad it was. This is what fans had been waiting 10 years for, how could they not be disappointed? First of all we had season 10 implying a confrontation with Darkseid, one of the more interesting comic book villains, and at the end maybe a 10 second battle. Then we have a retarded plot of the planet Apokolips crashing into earth. Why? Why enslave humans if you are just going to kill them? How could our scientists mistake a planet for a meteorite? Why would Darkseid move his planet all the way to our galaxy? Most of all…how could a planet get so close to us without severely fucking up our atmosphere, climate and land? None of this mattered as Superman simply flew up and pushed the planet away. We waited 10 years for him to even be able to fly and at the same time he became powerful enough to push an entire fucking planet away. OK, sure.

Then, characters were brought back simply because it was the finale without any clear reason for being there. Lionel from the other universe was back, acting like the Lionel from the main universe…apparently having been planning something all along. Jonathan was brought back not just as a vision, but apparently tangible enough to hand Clark his costume. Lex was brought back from the sum of his various failed clones, from what I understand. Of course, Jimmy was there, the most idiotic thing ever. Jimmy Olsen who looks exactly the same and has the same name as his dead brother is back, what, 7 years later making him…15ish? All of these characters were terribly underused and shoehorned into the episode in ways that didn’t even make sense.

What about the whole becoming Superman thing? We never see Clark settle on the name Superman, we never see him clearly in his costume, we never see the worlds reaction to his emergence as Superman. He only flies in the last 5 minutes of the show…10 years of Superman and 5 minutes of flying. Aye. Even in the future they don’t show him as Superman…why was it so hard to show him in his costume and perhaps have people talk about Superman? Why was the costume in the fortress of solitude? I think Tom Welling looked good as Superman…it would have been nice if we actually saw him in the costume though.

It was Jor El’s plan all along that Clark would wear that specific costume and be a superhero on earth? Kind of takes away a lot from the character doesn’t it? Of course nothing was explained. Last but not least, they didn’t show the wedding of Clark and Lois. Something the show had been seemingly building up to and I imagine fans were looking forward to, yet again nothing resulted. The finale of Smallville was possibly the worst episode of the series, which is fitting for a show that continue to disappoint. I just don’t understand how the producers could make such a bad episode, unless it was deliberate. Aye.

April 12, 2011

Thoughts on DC vs Marvel

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:17 pm

DC vs Marvel is an interesting issue for those who care enough, as people tend to have fairly strong opinions on it. For me, the issue is simple. DC represents quality while Marvel represents quantity. DC has a few key characters, all iconic and complex. All have been interpreted and reinterpreted in a myriad of ways, because doing so allows interesting things to be explored. Take for example Batman, where we had the campy 60’s version, the 90’s TAS, the appalling Burton series and the current Nolan series. Has anything similar even been attempted with a Marvel character, or is it even really possible? To be fair, Frank Miller managed this with Daredevil, but by adding a lot to what was a poorly defined character in the first place.

By contrast Marvel seems to bank on having a huge collection of characters interacting with each other in interesting ways. These characters always seem to simply be catalyst for the plot, without ever being interesting characters in themselves. If I read a story about Batman, it can be riveting if he is in his home for more than half of the story. I can’t see that working with many Marvel characters. To be fair, Marvel does have a few interesting characters, Wolverine (whose gain in popularity was also due to Miller), Silver Surfer, Hulk and sometimes Punisher. It’s not often however that these characters are really explored or have interesting story arcs. Indeed whenever I try to get involved I can’t help but feel they have just been stagnating, not having progressed much in the last few years.

One thing I have noticed anecdotally is that many marvel fans are really X-Men fans. They identified with the X-Men during childhood, feeling different or picked on for whatever reason. The thing with the X-Men is that it is so glaringly obvious that I can’t see what people get out of it. Oh look, a group of mutants (people who are somehow different) ostracized by society. I too am different and feel picked on, so I identify! Yeesh. DC comics may not have such superficial metaphors, but I’ll take carefully developed complex characters over that any day of the week. The other thing with Marvel characters is that they all seem to be fundamentally good or bad people. The heroes always end up doing the right thing more often than not, while the villains either try to do the right thing or go back to their villainous way. I mean, can it get any more obvious than a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

This is a trivial post, but I would be interested if Marvel fans could defend their brand and maybe point me to some interesting counter examples. I still have yet to read Civil War which I hope will explore some interesting issues, although I can’t help but think it’s not going to get across the same message as Kingdom Come did in only four issues, which it does appear to be trying for. Still, if anyone can recommend me some interesting complex characters or story arcs, or just refute my assumptions/observations, it would be much appreciated.

Update 1 – September 19th 2011

Another thing that always irked me about Marvel was the amount of Characters who happened to be a result of radiation. I guess this is a result of many characters being created in the 50’s and 60’s….but still. Marvel has Spider-man, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, DareDevil, Phoenix and probably others I can’t remember right now. Radiation doesn’t seem to be the origin for DC characters nearly as often…instead we have humans with various personal motivations or scientists who discover something new they can use or aliens. Not simply coming up with a new power and using radiation as the explanation for it. It just seems lazy to do so.

September 26, 2010

A few reasons why Smallville sucks

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:00 pm

I started watching Smallville in Season 5 a few years ago, when a friend gave it to me after I had nothing else to watch. The early monster of the week seasons never really appealed to me, and I thought season 5 was entertaining enough. By that point Superman had a lot of his powers, and everything had already been established and moved away from the high school drama.

I really liked the series as it progressed from then on. I thought the whole Veritas subplot was a bit stupid, but it worked well enough within the show. I especially liked Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of Lex Luthor and think it is possibly the best on screen portrayal so far.

After Season 8 however… the show went downhill in a big way. So very amazingly downhill to the point where I didn’t think it possible that anyone could defend the show as good. Yet, somehow, the show has been renewed for a 10th season and fans are defending the last few seasons as the best ever. Wow.

What follows is a list of the reasons Smallville started to suck, badly. The vast majority of these are post season 7, but one or two have plagued the series throughout.

  • Chloe’s hacking speak. Where do the writers get this dialog? Quotes such as “All I am is a halfway decent hacker who took a wrong turn down the information superhighway”. No one talks like this. Ever. It is truly cringeworthy. Her crazy ability to hack into the FBI in 2 minutes is a bit much as well, but such an ability is hardly unique to Smallville.
  • Jor-El’s near omnipotence. I have no problem with an AI with Jor-El’s personality and knowledge, indeed as advanced a civilization as Krypton seemed it’s perfectly fine. The problem is how could such an AI have such abilities? We have seen The Jor-EL AI stop and reverse time, predict the future, take away and transfer powers, reprogram people’s minds and read them…basically anything. Why would an AI have this much power and how? The other thing I wonder about is when humans get Kryptonian powers…do they become Kryptonian?
  • The excessive slow motion. Bullet time can still be cool if it’s done correctly, but it seems every single fight on Smallville in the later seasons used it. Not just for a few points of the fight…but the whole fight. I guess its easier to fill an episode if it takes 20 seconds for each fist to swing in fight scenes.
  • Clark still can’t fly. It’s been 10 years(well, he may have flew in the season 10 premiere) and the guy can’t fly. He is surrounded by people developing his powers without a problem…why is it taking so long? The main problem with this is not that he doesn’t fly on the show, but that they don’t even try to explain it.
  • The glasses. Something that always kind of bugged me…why have Clark without glasses? If it was in school and he moved on and left everyone old behind..fine. I can’t see parents convince their superkid to wear glasses at a young age, but it also seems that when Superman is finally revealed, all it will take is someone from Smallville to recognize him.
  • The hideous reuse of sets. It seems the only street anyone ever conglomerates on is that one street in Smallville that the Talon is on, which seems eerily similar to the streets of Metropolis. Can they really not afford to film on a street that looks like a street and not a set? It gets worse when characters always meet in the same places, like Clark’s barn. Why are characters who have never been to the barn before meeting in the barn to discuss things? How does that make sense?
  • Dramatic staredowns. This is getting a bit much, but I guess the writers have to do something what with the pathetic lack of budget. All too often several times an episode characters will meet and stare and threaten each other while trying to be intimidating while finding out information. What takes five minutes should take 30 seconds. Annoying.
  • Green Arrow’s training period. In the comics, Green Arrow was stuck on a desert island for years developing his ability to he could have food to live off. On Smallville it only took him two months. It’s kind of a big difference. I mean, could anyone be Green Arrow if they just took a semester archery course?
  • Introducing Jimmy Olsen…not. Why introduce a character with the same name and iconic traits as a well known character, develop him and have him fall in love, only to reveal upon his death that he was not the character we thought he was…that his younger brother who happens to share his name is indeed that character. Idiotic, and actually worse than the Julia Robert’s twist in Oceans 12.
  • Emo Blur. I actually liked the idea of the blur. I thought it was a well thought out predecessor to Superman. Still red and blue colors and a good work around the no flying rule. A nice transitional stage to Superman. Then came Emo Blur. Why in the hell would Clark start dressing in all black? In a neo-punk trenchcoat? It’s just so lame…
  • The whole Doomsday plot. Doomsday was a pretty cool villain. A genetically engineered being designed to fight Superman, who reincarnates each time being impervious to what killed it previously. On Smallville Doomsday was portrayed as a creepy EMT who had trouble with his emotions and started stalking Chloe, leading up to the final battle of what was very clearly a guy in a cheap rubber suit. Aye.
  • The cloned Kandorians. I watched all of season 9, but I didn’t really get this plot. They certainly were not stuck in a bottle. Let’s clone prominent Kryptonians and have them be a new challenge for Clark…except it wasn’t. There was just something about the whole are that seemed lazy and uninteresting, and none of it really seemed to make a lot of sense.
  • We had Doomsday in season 8, the Kandorians in Season 9, and now it seems that Lex is back in Season 10. Hopefully only briefly, as I know the real big bad is meant to be Darkseid…but why bring him back at all? It was bad enough they let him go in the first place. Bring him him back with an obviously different actor and then never showing us his face and hoping we wouldn’t notice was worse. Now bringing back various clone versions of lex? Sigh. Besides, why would the clones be bald?

I guess the show stands for itself, but it will be interesting to see just how bad Season 10 is, and just how the fans defend it as amazing.

March 12, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s superhero universe(s)

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:01 am

Recently it was announced that Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, the team behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight will be in charge of overseeing the next Superman movie. When I first heard this, I thought it was great news. Instead of the loveletter–travesty that was Superman Returns we would get a proper Superman movie true to the comics setting up the DC universe series of films to counter the Marvel universe films that have just gotten off the ground.

Alas, this was not to be. In a recent interview Christopher Nolan shed some light on his plans for the next Superman movie. The most interesting point revealed was that there was no intention to have the Superman movie set in the same universe as his Batman movies. Wow. This seems like a missed opportunity to say the least. Marvel have only just started getting the rights back to their characters for the main purpose of being able to have all their characters in the same universe and in each other’s movies.

Much like in the comics that these movies derive them, the universe is not limited to one character but is complex with all of the characters influencing or affecting each other in some way. Instead, Nolan has stated he thinks it is a better idea to have the movies set in a universe where the respective superhero is the only superhero of that world as it assures the integrity of the story. This seems like such a huge mistake that I’m surprised, and very confused as to how he could have made it.

Many comics are known for having some of the most detailed and complex stories out there while maintaining integrity at every stage. Saying keeping the characters alone in their own universe helps assure the integrity of the story seems like a very poor excuse that is contradicted by the very medium the movies are derived from, and also disregards a lot of what makes comics comics. I’m sure the Superman movie will still be amazing, but if it is actually setup in a way that prevents any crossover with the other DC movies it will be a horribly missed opportunity. I actually wonder if DC would even allow that.

The other interesting point raised in the interview was regarding the third Batman movie in development. When asked where he thought the franchise was heading, Nolan said he was basically hoping to finish the story. This is a bit worrying, because I think it is likely that in Nolan’s mind he views Batman in a very specific way. Batman was created to give hope back to the people and inspire them, and now that that has been accomplished there is no reason for Batman to continue. I think it is a strong possibility that the third movie will be completing one final task so order is restored and Batman can cease to exist.

Sigh. This is simply the wrong approach to take, hands down. A Batman story over 3 movies where Batman can cease to exist in a few years is not a proper Batman story and does not do the character justice. Batman needs to exist because in a city as huge and fucked up as Gotham, law and order is not enough to keep the baddest parts of humanity in check. What’s more, it was because of Batman’s emergence that many sueprvillians arose. As such Batman has a certain responsibility to continue fighting. Everything that defines Batman as a character as well as the world he lives in would prevent him from hanging up the cowl just because the situation was mostly acceptable. On the other hand the Nolan Batman has not been shown to have all the same qualities as his comic book counterpart.

Ultimately I think Nolan’s decisions and views on where to take the Batman franchise and how superhero movies should be handled show a massive lack of foresight and lack of familiarity with comic books in general. I know he did his homework with relevant comics for both the Batman films so far but I think he has a poor grasp of what makes comics unique. Batman is such a complex character that there is no way to finish the characters story in just three films. Instead, by doing so, we have a story about Gotham where the Batman character plays a main part, but the story is not about him. This is just wrong.

I do hope that he does not deliberately do anything that prevents this movies from sharing the same universe (or the Green Lantern universe) even if he does not make it apparent or acknowledge it. I am very grateful for the universe Christopher Nolan has given us, finally a realistic superhero universe with an emphasis on story. Given his view of how superhero movies should be handled I don’t think he is the correct person to continue the franchises. I hope DC would realize how important it is to have a shared cohesive universe and prevent Nolan from doing anything that would jeopardize that.

March 11, 2010

Has Buffy Season 8 jumped the shark?

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:48 pm

When I started reading the Buffy Season 8 and Angel Season 6 comics I was happy that these shows were able to continue. Buffy and Angel had some of the best storylines and characters to ever grace television screens. In addition to great storylines and characters the show was also remarkably deep for what it was, allowing for detailed analysis’s for a long time to come.

Buffy started out with interesting storylines and good looking art that actually resembled the characters. Angel started out with a storyline that was much harder to accept, and art that in no way resembled the characters. Things have improved since then with both comics being entertaining after settling in to the new medium. One odd thing in the Angel comic was the reappearance of Kate as suave and confident demonic crime fighter. Strange, but OK.

For the last few months however Buffy seemed to be bringing back as many characters as they could, just because they could. Likewise, while I understand there are almost no constraints on the story due to the freedom of the medium they seem to be taking liberties with the story just because they can. This isn’t always a bad thing, but having the entire US military attacking the Scooby gang seems unrealistic in that it never would have happened on the show. This is true for Angel also, with the Angel story-arc having the whole of Los Angeles turned into Hell – literally.

The Angel and Buffy shows were always set in the same universe, and while the plots were self contained it was evident that big events were shared between them. If Angel had been renewed for a sixth season the fifth season finale would have been explained in a way that still allowed for the majority of people to remain unaware of the existence of the supernatural. With the storylines the comics have taken that becomes harder and harder to accept.

The most recent Angel arc was interesting in that an Angel was introduced. This is the first time Christian mythology was acknowledged which was interesting, but not unbelievable. The most recent Buffy comic however….oh boy. The villain Twilight, how has been the main antagonist almost since the start of the series was revealed to be none other than Angel all along. O….kay. The thing is, Angel has had his own comic with his own storylines for a while now.

Ignoring any obvious criticisms of making Angel the villain, how do you reconcile the fact that he has apparently been in two places at once for almost two years? It probably isn’t that rare that fans of one character are also going to be fans of the over, and read both. Is some huge, hard to swallow reveal and crossover planned? Angel did mention he had been in LA….maybe the time scale is different?

Perhaps the Angel comics have been set over a few months, and Buffy years? When Angel Season 6 started it was set a lot closer to when season 5 ended, while Buffy seemed quite a bit in the future, so it isn’t that much of a stress. But then again, why take this approach if many people read both comics?

Is this the moment where the Buffy comic has jumped the shark? It is too early to tell, and will depend a lot on what they do from this point forward to make everything make sense. I’ve enjoyed the comic thus far and I am hopeful that the storyline will be intelligent. I have very little faith, and expect ridiculous storylines that never would have been accepted if they were on the show. A good story is a good story regardless of the medium, not because it caters to it. Buffy Season 8 and Angel Season 6 have been stretched over almost two years. Maybe it’s time to have a season finale and move on to the next chapter of these characters lives.

October 21, 2009

Impressions of Batman: Arkham Asylum

Filed under: Entertainment, Tech — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:50 am

I recently completed the long awaited Batman game, Batman: Arkham Asylum. I was not entirely sure what to expect, as while it has achieved stunning reviews all around the board, even making it into the Guinness book of World Records, I was initially put of by some of the press material. Namely, the exaggerated size of Batman, being much bigger than he appeared in comics. I get that a comic book character will be exaggerated, but when they are exaggerated out of proportion, it can break the suspension of disbelief. However, after actually playing the game, this concern was not warranted, with Batman appearing in proportion, and consistent with the way the world and other characters were portrayed.

The portrayal of Bane was my second initial concern, and this concern was warranted. When Bane was introduced in the comics, he was a cunning strategist. The man who broke the bat. He studied Batman from afar, studying him, toying with him, finding out how to, and succeeding in weakening him so as to be able to oppose him. Very much the opposite of the character portrayed in the Batman and Robin film. Unfortunately however, that portrayal, i.e. a submissive artificially over-sized brute with diminished capacity, has become the norm. I don’t understand the appeal of a character like this, as it removes all the interesting and unique aspects, and leaves behind a villain no different to the most bestial portrayal of Killer Croc, or any other over muscled foe.

However, I believe the portrayal of Bane in the game, is consistent with Batman: TAS, and that is what this game is far far closer to. Which was a slight disappointment. I don’t know why exactly, but I much prefer the realistic take on Batman. Having him use technology, and still be limited. Showing what a real Human could do with that much money and determination, and showing their struggle along the way. I guess personally, I find it easier to suspend disbelief, and perhaps identify with the characters. While I get that this is not true for everybody, I find it odd that the game developers chose to use TAS as a base.

The gameplay, and even the world to an extent, seems oddly real, with exaggerated cartoon elements, and cartoonish characters made real. It sounds as though it may no work, but it actually works rather world. Unlike the Nolan films, in which the world is ours exactly, except for the existence of Gotham city, and unlike the world of TAS, where everything is exaggeratedly and surreal, the world the game has created is quite real, with exaggerations in all the right places. It is a world of it’s very own, and it works brilliantly.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if it is a missed opportunity of sorts to have made an amazingly real game, with a universe closer to that of the Nolan universe. Having done so would have allowed for a much more realistic and darker story, with much more exploration and depth. As it stands, the story is quite weak, and something out of a two part episode of TAS. Joker gets captured. Joker was planning it all along. Joker steals a modified venom formula. That’s it. The game revolves around beating henchman, and then some titans(souped up henchman), and then a titan Joker. The focus is on detecting and skulking around, so this is OK, I do feel it is a shame an opportunity was wasted however.

If nothing else, I was hoping that the game may have been based on the comic of the same name. That would have been an amazing game. The comic in question is a one off comic, in which everything has gone to hell within the asylum, and Batman volunteers to go in and restore order. Along the way, observing the inmates and reflecting on why he does what he does, and wondering if he deserves to be in with the other inmates. That would have made for one hell of a game, and would have allowed the same styles of characters to be used.

I believe it also affects the length of the game. After successfully completing the game, seeing the last cutscene and all, I was told I had completed only 62% of the game. After about…7 hours. Maybe 10. This is because the remainder of the game is focused on finding hidden Riddler puzzles in the form of quoting question marks, and beating certain challenge mode..challenges. This was not enough to save the game however. The riddler puzzles are all easy, and not terribly hard to find, and the challenge mode becomes repetitive, and there is no motivation to continue when there is no cutscenes or story progression to follow. This was in my opinion, the single biggest flaw with the game.

The one thing that is undeniable is the graphics. The graphics are a thing of beauty. Everything is wonderfully rendered, and the cutscenes are amazing looking. This is the kind of treatment a Batman game deserves. Again though, I would have loved to have seen a deeper storyline rendered with this loving care, rather than a throwaway storyline with simple bossfights. The game was a lot of fun, and is a worth addition to the batman universe.

Looking at other reviews from various blogs, it seems most people consider the game to have been marvelous, in line with the obscenely high reviewes handed down by magazines and online sites. An average score of 9 seems about right, which is honestly just bizarre. Once again, it seem my opinion is contrary to almost everybody.

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