Marvel’s issues with morality and hero resumes

Marvel hides in moral ambiguity presented as “complex heroes” to avoid dealing with the fact that all these characters, like Captain America, that they and the masses have been putting on pedestals for decades aren’t heroes at all.

What you’ll find in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Avengers to Guardians of the Galaxy to Marvel’s Agents of Shield is that the “heroes” are only cleaning up problems that they caused in the first place.

So in this insane world, where heroes are not really heroes, what this has led to is masses of fans idolizing villains and anti-heroes instead! Insane! Fans aren’t given any real options because there aren’t any real heroes in the spotlight to begin with. Its exactly like how voters think and behave as if Democrats and Republicans are the only political parties in the U.S. Its one or the other with them.

It was never cool to be “a good guy” in the first place. To do the right thing. To help people. To fight for a better world. So its little wonder that people are confused about what a hero is. Its little wonder that I live in a nation of villains.

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‘Life’ film–defied absolutely zero scifi tropes

Everything that can go wrong in a space movie about life from Mars or other planets did go wrong in Life. The producers and writers didn’t defy any tropes with this one.

Life is truly true to its Hollywood film type/genre. Not to say that there is no hostile life the universe. Only that why does every life form that potentially exists in the universe other than human life have to be portrayed as completely hostile or completely docile?

It isn’t like white Europeans have a great track record with people from other nations, including their own. So I guess, as a film drenched in white ideologies, that it stands to reason that their enmity towards “the other” on Earth is reflected in their ideas about and portrayals of other life in the universe. Everything that is not them is a threat or it simply excites them to perceive the other as a threat and that’s the Hollywood selling point.

Your imaginations are pitiful.

‘Sleepy Hallow’–they lost me at Thomas Jefferson

So I avoided and swore off Fox Network’s Sleepy Hallow, starring Nicole Beharie. Why? Because her co-star is a white man from a time period where Black women are enslaved. Nothing good can come out of that.

Then I watched Sleepy Hollow this week anyway to see if I was right to avoid it. Yes, I gave it a chance.

Tim Mison’s portrayal of Ichabod Crane has similar characterization to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the character in Tim Burton’s 1999 film, which I appreciated and thought was adorable. Awkward, clever, and well-mannered.

Other than that, its occult themes, and the fact that there is a Black woman as a main character, I am not feeling the show and stopped watching at Episode 7 “The Midnight Ride”.

Why?

The show includes an assortment of actual historical figures such as U.S. presidents rendered in its fictionalized occultist story line. Which is probably the problem. Most of American history is an especially messed up time for First Peoples, Black people, other non-whites, and women. Whenever white writers (and their friends) in a white dominated media get some deluded idea in their head and want to jump in the literary DeLorean or TARDIS and present the world with some “clever” re-write of American history that includes vampires, demons, zombies, and aliens, that oppressive, violent history is still the same messed up history for everyone who isn’t white or white and male. It can’t be rewritten, revised, or dusted off. It remains the same for me as a Black woman and a Black writer. What was a fun or romanticized time in history for whites was not the same for us, it is a trauma and a scar on the face of our race.

This is where Sleepy Hollow lost me instantly: They started talking about Sally Hemings. Casually, too.

I refuse to entertain a romance with a (white) slave owner in an era where Black women were enslaved. And that’s most of American history where Black people were in chains and treated like a lesser life form by whites and those who shared their views, traded, and allied with them. I refuse to entertain the idea that it was “love” between a slaver owner and a Black woman who had no rights and no freedom in this country. I WILL NOT romanticize the situation. I don’t care even if there was some way to know that Hemings loved Jefferson even in such a twisted reality under those circumstances. I DO NOT accept revisionist or apologist versions of history, fictional or otherwise.

In Episode 6 “The Sin Eater”, there’s an entire scene that reeks of Ichabod Crane being absolved of sins against freed slave, Arthur Bernard. Because we all need to take a moment to make white people feel better for helping enslave and oppress people who aren’t white. Bernard wasn’t just being detained, beaten, and interrogated because the British suspected he was Cicero. Just being Black in those days was enough for whites to somehow uphold practices of extreme violence and cruelty and even murder.

Let’s not forget Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) spouting all that American melting pot bullshit over baseball. Behind her badge and inflated, totally contrived sense of American patriotism, Abigail Mills is a white-washed, white-owned, white-inspired character parading around in brown skin. End of story.

And that’s why I told myself never to watch Sleepy Hollow. I saw it coming. That’s American television for you.

Harry Dresden–no, just no

I’m only in chapter two of Storm Front and Harry Dresden has used the word “cheerleader” to describe two different women. Because cheerleaders, evil witch bitches, and women who need doors opened and their chairs pulled out for them are obviously the only two or three types of women Dresden believes exists.

I read Jim Butcher’s 2014 National Novel Writing Month pep talk about two years ago when I participated as I have been for the past couple of years. At the time, I thought Butcher was witty and decided to take the time to read some of his work. I thought the same thing about the character of Harry Dresden…at first.

Unfortunately Storm Front is my first exposure to Butcher’s novels and I can say plainly that, two chapters in, I am not impressed.

Grown men who constantly point out that their sexist attitudes are a product of their upbringing while knowing full well that their views/thought processes and behaviors are wrong and unfair to women (the women who don’t think men are God’s special gift to women) only do it because they have no intention of changing. They enjoy letting everybody know that they think of women a certain way and are secretly confident there’s no reason for them to change and that it makes them “more of a man” instead of a rotten human being. (Mostly because…penis.) Dresden’s attitude is, “I know I’m a bigot. I can’t help it and I’m going to constantly remind you that I simply cannot contain myself”. With a shrug, too. He’s probably the kind of guy who secretly thinks this b.s. is charming and all women love it somewhere deep inside.

I had intended to read the whole book despite Harry Dresden’s (and maybe even Jim Butcher’s) abrasive attitude towards women. But I’m not going to be a “good woman” and stick it out with this schmuck. I deleted Storm Front off my tablet the moment I read–

Classic lady in distress. For one of those liberated, professional women, she knew exactly how to jerk my old-fashioned chains around.

–Jim Butcher, Storm Front

Deal breaker. Last straw. With every annoying little dig that proceeded it, that is the end of the entire story for me. I could vomit.

My tablet is reading the page number I’m on as 307 out of 3712. I. Will. Fucking. Not. Do. This. To. Myself. I can only predict from experience with first person narratives and, you know, observing men for most of my life that this crud isn’t going to change, no matter how much of the Dresden files I try to read.

“Because you can’t do something like this without a whole lot of hate,” I said. “Women are better at hating than men. They can focus it better, let it go better. Hell, witches are just plain meaner than wizards. This looks like feminine vengeance of some kind to me.”

–Jim Butcher, Storm Front

I can almost ignore that Dresden/Butcher has the same prejudice against fat characters/people that J.K. Rowling has or that he described “Monica” as having a “hoarse cheerleader” voice over the phone. But Dresden’s ingrained idiocy against women is not acceptable.

Why would I want to spend time and energy reading a book about a fictional guy who’s admittedly sexist? There are plenty of real ones to deal with.

Some books, even if they potentially have redeeming qualities…somewhere in there…a lady’s just gotta put it down and walk away.

Spy…

Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy…

I can’t believe I’m saying this.

I think I kind of…liked it.

Arguably, the writing of Spy was more true to satire (than, for example, a show like Family Guy which I am not a fan of). I read Spy initially as the kind of fiction that isn’t necessary meant to degrade fat women but more draw attention to fat stereotypes and machismo. It shows a fat woman being tough, capable, confident, calling out b.s. to an extent, and getting over a guy she’s attached to who obviously sees her in a not flattering light romantically.

There was a joke about Black people in there that pissed me off but I even thought that was handled in a way that I could deal with at the moment when McCarthy’s character says, “That’s not appropriate” and it was over.

Not to sing the film praises or those of Melissa McCarthy or anything. I never wanted to see the movie because of that trailer they played to death on television  around its release date of McCarthy getting that that motorcycle stuck in the wet cement. I assumed it was just another two-hour, thinly veiled attack on fat women using a desperate fat woman to do it. I would stare at McCarthy on that freaking scooter stuck in that concrete with absolute woe and burning contempt.

But even I laughed when I gave Spy a chance. I was glad to just be able to see a comedy, starring a fat woman, and for once just fucking laugh.

‘The Visit’–obnoxious white rap and an empty ‘slice of life’ moment

*SPOILERS?*

Minding my own business, my sister asks me if I want to order a new M. Night Shyamalan movie… I was all, “Oh, it can’t be too bad. Its M. Night. And, look, producers from Insidious and Sinister.”

The Visit is a film about a two children who, for a week, go to stay with their grandparents. Grandparents who their mother has not spoken to in fifteen years (over something stupid) and that they have never seen before. There, they discover a shocking secret.

Where to begin?

  1. A lot of people might not, but I accepted the idea that the children have never seen even a photo of their grandparents before as a basic premise of the film. As ridiculous as the idea might seem.
  2. The rapping white kid? Not funny (Okay the last rap was a little funny). I’d want to slap him upside the head even if he was Black. Misogynist lyrics and attitudes–not cool, not when anyone does it. I don’t care how many Black guys you bump fists with or how many “hos” and “bitches” you add to the verse. And this white kid had no flow whatsoever, plus T-Diamond Stylus is a stupid name. Co-opting and appropriation of Black culture/arts will never be a good look, whites. For the record.
  3. What was the mom even mad about??? One, white people have illegitimate anger issues; deny them even something simple and they go crazy because they’re used to getting what they want when they want it, even using violence to get it–WHITE PRIVILEGE. Two, her parents were actually right and they only concerned for her. Three, she’s so mad she never even showed her kids a picture of her parents?
  4. Having involuntarily lived with someone who needed serious care for his mental health and oftentimes neglected it on purpose, you can imagine why The Visit was disturbing for me.
  5. Becca, the young woman in the film, seemed more sad than angry over their father abandoning them yet she gets the whole “Don’t hold onto anger” anecdote from her mom. The movie nears its ends with Becca showing the glowing, nostalgic video footage of their now absentee father playing with them when they were little. As a man directing this film, at a glance, Shyamalan is potentially sending the message that Becca’s earlier refusal to forgive her father and use the footage in her movie was misguided. The guy coldly abandoned her and her family for another and Becca’s refusal to remember him fondly and warmly suspiciously and silently transforms into the same glowing footage she refused to include in her film near the end. And right after a conversation about holding onto anger when the situation between Becca and her father versus that of her mother and her mother’s parents wasn’t remotely analogous. Has Becca forgiven her father? Was her resolve to see his actions for what they were and her own feelings that weak? Or has she imply accepted their past together along with his abrupt and callous departure? The whole situation rubbed me wrong, as someone whose sperm donor was absent until I was a teenager, told my mother that me and my twin were her children alone, and only showed his face because he expected me to take care of him after he aged, as he had used women this way his entire life and has like ten kids. The whole thing sends a bad message that might work for girls on that patriarchal stuff or all into forgiveness regardless of the situation but it didn’t work for me.

In summary, aimless white anger, the obnoxious rapping white kid, the “grandparents”, and that empty slice-of-life crap on Becca and her experiences with bye-bye daddy are the things that stood out the most to me. And that plot twist was the sickest I’ve seen in a long time.

Windows 10–simple reasons I will probably go back to Windows 7

I downloaded Windows 10 on my laptop last night. For weeks, I was like “Ooo look, free upgrade! Poor people dreams realized!” I thought upgrading might help my aging computer run better (got it in 2010, can’t afford a new one).

So far though, I’m not enjoying Windows 10.

  1. Windows 7 looks better to me, it looks smoother and brighter. I don’t like the blocky, pixelated look of Windows 10, particularly its taskbar.
  2. Solitaire is gone? AND they took my desktop widgets? Oh hell no. Not here for it.
  3. I can’t play DVDs as conveniently. Windows Media Player played my DVDs better than Cyberlink PowerDVD without glitching over a couple of minor scratches. I never had problems with the Windows 7 player and DVDs, whatever my other issues may be .
  4. It appears to be screwing with my mouse. I can’t scroll on the right side of my touchpad anymore without clicking and dragging with the pointer.
  5. The start menu has all this extra crap in it that Microsoft thinks I’m supposed to find helpful…I don’t, it isn’t.

And this may only be the beginning of things I don’t like about Window’s 10. I’m really not that keen on exploring. I just want to watch Hellboy: The Golden Army without messing about with apps, new software rules, or playback issues while I do my hair. That’s not too much to ask for.

I really should’ve researched this before I downloaded.  Luckily, I can revert back to Windows 7 if I do it before a month is up. I intend to keep Windows 10 until I’m sure its in no way helpful. I am the kind of customer who has no problems remembering to cancel free trials and subscription before its too late–best believe that.

How I Read Stuff [Permanent Sticky/Guide for Almost Everything You Will Read on This Blog]

I am quite weary of living in a society where the erasure, commodification, caricaturization, absence, and general dehumanization of my race is a normal thing. Being aware of it is hard to live with because once you know, you can never unknow.

One of the chief reasons I am unhappy and critical with most of what I see in the media is because of how my race is continuously reduced to fodder for white supremacy/white hero worship and the agenda of anti-Blackness, even by members of my own race itself. I want to see and read more work where this is not the case.

I am not a sponge, just indiscriminately soaking up any liquid I come into contact with.

I concern myself particularly with the portrayals and conditions of Black women and characters, or female/genderqueer characters of Color or non-white characters.

As I watch things or read things, I am constantly considering what I think and feel about it. That’s just how I am. When evaluating my issues or non-issues, ratio of love/hate, and like or dislike of many forms of media and entertainment, my mind searches for the answers to these questions:

  • What is the position of Black women? Are there even any present?

  • Are Black women main characters or side characters?

  • Are Black women three dimensional or poorly constructed caricatures, mammies to whiteness/oppressors, and antagonists?

  • How many racist cliches/stereotypes are tacked onto her?

  • Are there white people there? Why? What role do they play? What do they have to do with the sista (who should be the main character)?

  • Again, vital, what role do the whites play and what is their relationship to the Black characters? Are they in a position of power over them?

  • Is the Black female character reliant on or worshiping in any way shape or form a white, male, or non-Black character? Does her character hold up without these others or is her existence made to dependent upon them?

  • What is the Black woman’s characterization? How is she portrayed? Who is she? What kind of person is she? What role is she playing?

  • What type of people are around her? What type of decisions does she make? What is her background?

  • Does her situation seem realistic to me from the root of my subjectivities?

  • Is this Black woman character’s story only about the struggle?

  • Is the story restricted to stereotypical genres like urban fiction, slavery, and chick lit?

  • How does her story end? How does she grow? Does she achieve her goals or desires?

–Queens

‘Doctor Who’, the Ultimate Superhero Trope

I started watching Doctor Who from the Ninth Doctor (2005), after considering it with great skepticism as a production originating from the racist capital of the whole planet.

Its strange to be tentatively writing here that I actually enjoy many aspects of it. Its a nice bit of whimsy and adventure. Other criticism withheld here for now, there are even brown people on the show (even if whiteness remains central), that’s half a step up from American television shows. I’ve even written down the things I see that I like the most in terms of sentient life forms encountered.

With that said, the biggest issue I have with the show is the Doctor himself. As important as his friends/companions/allies/lovers are made out to be, the whole of the entire universe, beginning and end, is still centered around him. Sounds like yet another huge ego boast for every guy out there that’s vicariously imagining himself to be the last Time Lord from Gallifrey.

I once pointed out how a pretty cool female character like Ryuuzetsu just had died for Naruto in Blood Prison, the fifth Naruto movie. My friend’s response was

“The show is about Naruto, not who doesn’t die for Naruto.”

And the same can be said of the Doctor. Through his companions and encounters with other sentient life forms, an effort is made to decentralize him but it seems the creators of Doctor Who always revert back to plots drenched in the mindless rhetorical worship of the Doctor as more interesting. It’s like the writers sat down and came up with the greatest white patriarchal-superhero-god complex fantasy gone completely insane that they could possibly think of. Yes, I said white–this is still true, even tho he’s from another planet.

If you think race isn’t an issue in Doctor Who, then ask yourself: How invisible would a Black Time Lord be in the white-dominated Western societies at any point in the recorded history visited in the show?

Let’s look at the entirety of Martha Jones’ time with the Doctor as his companion, especially compared to Rose Tyler.

Or ask why the Transatlantic Slave Trade and other crimes against humanity wasn’t prevented by the Doctor, who spends an annoying amount of time lecturing humans about how they need to be “better” (without ever being a little time lord faerie to the people who are victims of times when they weren’t) and championing any time period he fancies and comes across except the ones too problematic and incriminating for Britain and America to fess up to. The worst and most logical answer would be that the enslavement of Black peoples by white Europeans, is a “fixed point” in time–meaning that it was something that was “supposed” to happen. So the Doctor can save the Oods from humans but not save humans from themselves? This show is chocked full of deceptive post-racial propaganda!

All this is to say that tho The Doctor is often presented as a sentimental character, his entire existence is about power, the power he has over those around him.

In its title character, Doctor Who presents me with what I will dub the “renaissance man” superhero trope (The Ultimate Polymath Trope).  Contrary to all this white savior worship and idealism, I’d prefer to see the Doctor, as Donna Noble so aptly said to the Tenth Doctor, as “a long streak of nothing, y’know, alien nothing!“.