And now I know exactly what mistakes not to make when I pull it off!
(In all seriousness, that’s probably the most engagingly written and outright entertaining article about scholarly fraud I’ve read in recent memory.)
I’m genuinely fond of Gail Simone’s work—both in comics and combative internet forums—and I fully support what she says about the addition of a transwoman to the cast of Batgirl:
She added that she thinks most superhero comics readers don’t have a problem with increased diversity, but rather with stories that promote sermonizing over storytelling. Alysia will be “a character, not a public service announcement … being trans is just part of her story. If someone loved her before, and doesn’t love her after, well—that’s a shame, but we can’t let that kind of thinking keep comics in the 1950s forever.”
Except it’s not “just part of her story,” because it’s just not part of the story. It’s an interruption in Barbara Gordon’s issue-wide interior monologue. Because in this issue Gordon has quite a bit of confessing to do:
You don’t even need to enlarge the image to see that the majority of this conversation is filtered through Gordon’s interior monologue—those black dialogue boxes speak for themselves. This is Gordon telling you a story about Gordon, which would be fine if this didn’t happen:
I admit to having edited out three panels of hugging and a close-up of that message-cat, but that doesn’t detract from my larger point: Alysia’s confession isn’t an organic element of the narrative. It’s utterly forced. Consider the first set off panels above: it’s a series of two-shots emphasizing the bond between Barbara and Alysia that “transitions” to an unnecessarily dramatic close-up on Alysia. Because it’s not as if Barbara’s confession of having been paralyzed and tormented and stalked lacks emotional weight. Her burden is even indicated, visually, by the purple half-bat that haunts her words. She can’t escape what’s been done to her and who she is, not even when she’s telling her own story to herself. Which, again, is all well and good. I adore the confessional mode so long as it doesn’t involve Don Draper talking about swimming. But a narrative written in the confessional mode simply isn’t the best place to have someone other than the confessor make a grand gesture. My editorial work above may be a little dishonest, but it’s certainly indicative of the issue’s overall narrative emphasis. If Simone wanted to have Alysia’s moment be hers, she should’ve placed it in a narrative that didn’t belong to Barbara Gordon, because that makes it seem like an afterthought.
And that only provides more ammunition to people who think “cis-gendered” is just “another one of those terms invented in universities aimed at eliminating the word “normal” when discussing sexual preferences.” Because people who think DC is pushing an LGBT agenda will feel like its being “shoved down their throat” when revelations like this are inserted into narratives so awkwardly. That close-up pushes Alysia into the reader’s face in a manner liable to remind readers that the forced intimacy of all close-ups is actually really creepy, and when it comes to rhetorical effect, the difference between “shoved down my throat” and “thrust in my face” is without distinction.
Do you know what’s funny? Greg Gutfeld informs me that this is “the funniest thing [he's] ever seen in his entire life”:
He must have had a sad little life, because there’s nothing funny about an old white woman who learned to do the rapping from Barney Rubble. Her performance differs in no discernible way from an entirely white panel doing a “black dance” from the dark heart of Africa for their entirely white audience. It’s the racist Greek party du jour done for the entertainment of millions of white people who enjoy laughing at the inferior cultural artifacts of black people. When Perino says “see how easy it is, I can be an international rap star,” the white people sitting at home are nodding their heads in agreement. The rap is easy to make.
You can tell because black people do it.
I appear to have hurt Robert Stacy McCain’s feelings when I deliberately ignored the fact that he meant title of his recent post (“Homophobic Bigotry Update“) sarcastically. McCain’s response to my post is a masterpiece of overcompensation worthy of a careful rebuttal. Keep in mind that I accused him of cherry-picking stories to “scor[e] political points by exploiting statistically insignificant horrors.” He begins:
There is a basic rule of journalism—a rule that has nothing to do with politics whatsoever—that if a dog bites a man, that’s not news. News is when a man bites a dog. That is to say, newsworthy events are by definition unusual.
While it’s true that journalists sometimes mutter the phrase “Man Bites Dog,” it’s not a “rule” of journalism, much less a “basic” one. When journalists mention it, they do so dismissively because it suggests laziness and intellectual dishonesty on the part of a peer. It’s lazy because it requires nothing in the way of reporting: the events deviate from the norm so greatly that the story writes itself. It’s intellectually dishonest because paying attention to unusual events distorts public understanding of what constitutes a “common” occurrence.
Consider the local evening news: it creates the impression of a rising tide of crime, even when actual crime rates have been falling for decades, because it enthusiastically abides by the “Man Bites Dog” principle. Viewers think that men in their local area are always biting dogs and have been for years and probably will be forever. If no local men can be found biting dogs on a given day, affiliates show canned footage of dog-biting across America that convinces viewers that what they’d considered a local problem is actually a national epidemic.
Which is the opposite of the truth.
A journalist who appeals to the “Man Bites Dog” principle in order to justify his coverage of an uncommon event is confessing that he’s not interested in representing the world as it is. He’s confessing that he has a principle of selection unrelated to the truth that dictates which statistically improbable events he calls attention to. So while McCain claims his principle of selection is the inherent newsworthiness of unusual events, his own post puts that argument to lie.
Note that I used the phrase “a deviat[ion] from the norm” to define an “unusual” event above. What constitutes a deviation from the norm depends on what a given journalist considers normal. For example, if a journalist believes that married gay men pose a greater threat to their male charges than straight couples, he wouldn’t think a story about married gay men abusing male charges to be unusual because it accords with his worldview. For the same reason, I’m not surprised when I find a ball of fire appearing over the horizon every morning. Sunrise isn’t a newsworthy event to me because it conforms to my understanding of the world. There’s nothing “unusual” about the sun being where I expect it to be.
This is why McCain’s “Man Bites Dog” excuse falls apart under its own weight: his original post was about another example of gay men abusing male wards, and it includes links to three other cases that McCain characterizes as the “unfair” facts supporters of same-sex adoption refuse to face. It’s not because he thinks such abuse by gay couples is “unusual” that he thought this story newsworthy—he thought this story “newsworthy” because he believes such abuse is utterly commonplace. It conforms with his worldview as much as the daily appearance of the sun conforms with mine, only you don’t see me writing posts about sunrises and claiming they’re newsworthy.
As the sarcastic title and tone of “Homophobic Bigotry Update” indicates, McCain knows that for him and his audience this is a “Dog Bites Man” story. He’s just not honest enough to admit that he wants to call attention to what he believes to be an epidemic of gay child-rearing perfidy, because he knows that expressing his homophobic beliefs will out him as a homophobe and is just this side of smart-enough not to want that to happen.
I know I should address his condescending lecture about literary journalism—a field about which I know nothing because I’ve never taught any of the books he mentions. I should also address the examples of “heterosexual crimes” he’s written about that somehow prove that his interest is in newsworthiness and newsworthiness alone—but then I’d have to point out that the one concerning the girl raped by the illegal alien and the one describing the rape-gang leader named Abid Mohammed Saddique and the one thanking Jerry Brown for the kidnap and rape of a 10-year-old girl don’t convince me that McCain’s a disinterested journalist calling attention to bitten dogs.
Quite the opposite.
I’m even more convinced that he’s trying to “scor[e] political points by exploiting statistically insignificant horrors,” only now I’m almost tempted to feel sorry for him, as he’s either lying to the world about himself or to himself about the world.
UPDATE: I deserve a better class of character assassins. Compared to Campos and Loomis, I’m being attacked by scribblers who can’t even do my many sins justice. It’s not like I have a blog rich and chock full of ammunition against me that McCain consulted to pathetic effect. I suppose it’ll be up to me to do myself the dirt I’ve earned.
… no matter how flat his Hunter S. Thompson impersonation is. Not that that has anything to do with him being a homophobic bigot, just as this specific case in which two gay men molested their charges has nothing to do with the fitness of LBGT parents generally. If a person cherry-picks headlines and only reports on molestation when gay men are accused of perpetrating it, that person might be able to convince himself that the majority of child molesters are gay men. But if you do a Google News search for “sexually molested child,” the results (as of 1:32 p.m. PST on 4/10/13) look like this:
I did edit the results, and since I’m accusing McCain of being a cherry-picking homophobic bigot, in the interest of fairness here are the two results that appeared between the images I clipped:
I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t think those relevant. My point is that titling a post about gay molesters “Homophobic Bigot Update” is a means of transforming someone else’s tragedy into political capital. McCain believes that a sarcastic title prevents others from calling him what he’s already called himself. He’s wrong. He’s scoring political points by exploiting statistically insignificant horrors. In calling attention to them despite their statistical insignificance, he creates an impression of ubiquity that’s belied by both research and common sense. Don’t believe me?
Just Google it.
You know he won’t.
Excellent overall, though it could’ve been clipped here and there so it had proper bookends, like so:
“What’s going on there, mate?” John asked a nearby chippy loading his white van.
“Maggie Thatcher,” he said. “Comes here every week to water them flowers.”
The three of us watched as the gentle horticultural ritual was feebly enacted, then regarded the Iron Lady being helped into the back of a car and trundling off. In this moment she inspired only curiosity, a pale phantom, dumbly filling her day. None present eyed her meanly or spoke with vitriol and it wasn’t until an hour later that I dreamt up an Ealing comedy-style caper in which two inept crooks kidnap Thatcher from the garden but are unable to cope with the demands of dealing with her, and finally give her back …
When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring — I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in …
Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had “broken the glass ceiling for other women”. Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism …
Thatcher’s time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it’s much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others …
The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t.
Whose prose needs a little editorial pruning here? I know, right? I didn’t believe it either.
I couldn’t agree with these recommendations more strongly if I’d made them myself:
First, you need to read good books. To get the most out of those books, you need to talk about them with other people who are also trying to work their way through them. In addition, you need to write about them in a disciplined and focused way. Both of these tasks require supervision and guidance by more experienced learners—preferably those who have already gone through an educational program that takes both discussion and written analysis to the highest level.
You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing.
Or, another installment of “SEK yet again looks at everything that isn’t his webcam, while Race for the Iron Throne‘s Attewell just looks composed, only this time SEK also looks like a Soderberghian Smurf.” (He’s not doing himself any favors here.) This podcast discusses, among other things, gender and violence, sex and manipulation, time travel, Batman, and Attewell’s amazing ability to corral SEK’s dithering into almost topical blather. (Also, the punchline to that pointless joke SEK made can be found here. It may make its way into an argument eventually, but that day is not today.) Enjoy!
For reasons that should be clear if you read between the lines of the post’s last sentence, I’m providing a link to my analysis of the season premiere of Mad Men instead of posting it in its entirety here. This situation should be rectified soon enough, but in the meantime, this is how we must roll.
To celebrate what’s going to be a very Mad Men week here — at least two posts by me and a podcast starring an illustrious cast of thousands — I thought it’d be good to remind everyone where we left off. (And by “everyone” I probably mean “me,” as I need to pick up threads I’ve forgotten about in the intervening months.) So here’s where we left off (plus a little coda) according to Yours Truly:
In lieu of memorializing Roger Ebert myself, I thought I’d instead collect comments about his death that would’ve made him smile. Like this one:
Ironic that he had a “gift”( his job as a movie-goer/critic”….would that not be a fun job????!!!)…then started bashing those who had a different “thought than his”. He continued to bash while he was silenced with cancer……some people never “get it”…never “shut up”…never focus on The Lesson.
Had I been given the “gift” of such an insipid job (which made millions for him)….I would be grateful. I would not be bashing the Country nor the Conservative Founder’s philosophy which made it all so possible. I would be GRATE-FILLED!!
Had I been given a cancer which would silence me, I would reflect on the purpose of that.
“BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM!”…..Psalm 46:10
Suffering…perhaps due to his lack of recognition of the Divine Master of OUR Country…and gratitude for his fellow American and the RIGHTS given to us by our Creator.
I do not call his stubborn clinging to life as “brave”…..what are the options?…limited, at best…
He would’ve loved someone turning his cancer into signs from an “[UN]GRATE-FILLED” God that he should shut up. This one too:
In spite of the multitude of naive “film lovers” who wouldn’t be able to recognize an effectively entertaining and well-crafted film, without a critic’s advice, Ebert’s reviews were, for the most part, foolish and off-the-mark.
He was famous [= worthy of respect??] because of his early exposure on nationally syndicated AT THE MOVIES TV show. Like “Laugh-In,” “Ray Harryhausen,” “CNN,” being first doesn’t always make one the best, merely famous to the masses who are unaware of the subject matter.
Every week Siskel would remind the nation the Ebert was an idiot, leaving Ebert to stare dumbly with his mouth open. Unfortunate that Siskel died first. Fortunate for Ebert. Conspiracy anyone?
To be accused of putting out a hit on Siskel because Gene was the better film critic? He would have treasured that. This too:
Ebert’s opinions have produced torture for as long as I can remember. Look on his death as a late term abortion…many years too late.
All this unnecessary punctuation to punch the “abortion” line? He would’ve adored it. As well as this:
I will NOT have ANYTHING good to say about him for Him, His “Industry” and the “Industry” that he reported on accelerated the ROT of our once-GREAT Country. He will stand before the “Great White Throne” to give an account of his life and receive JUDGEMENT!
They say a person’s life can be judged by the enemies he’s made. As a pristine able-bodied specimen in perfect health, I don’t know what it’s like to face death, but if ever the day comes that I must, I only hope to be remembered so ungraciously by illiterate Christian bigots sporting tongues impervious to teeth.
Because I’d like to know that I led a life worth living and, as Ebert’s enemies make it abundantly clear, he did just that.
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