I’m just so choked up, I knew one day there was a chance I’d be a somebody, but I never thought I’d be a FAG ENABLER. I couldn’t be prouder — it’s all downhill from here:
I mean, to paraphrase the Whedon, “Where do I go from here?”
A fascinating article by my friend David Perry, and one I know is of interest to Farley (since I saw him post about this issue on Facebook last week) and which I thought might be of interest to y’all as well. Sample:
Comics matter. They have become the dominant genre for depicting heroism in mass media. This dominance spills from Hollywood to television, toys, apparel, and more. When children imagine the heroic, they are influenced by the major brands like Marvel (owned by Disney) and DC. This puts a lot of pressure on these creators to get things right, and when it comes to gender, they mostly are doing a terrible job.
Every time a major movie involving super heroes comes out, fans ask – where are the female characters? Guardians of the Galaxymerchandising sparked a “where’s Gamora?” campaign. A producer of Big Hero 6 merchandise left the female characters off because, “Eeeww girls! Yuck! Haha.” Fans of the new Avengers: Age of Ultron movie are complaining that Black Widow rarely appears in the official licensed products. Irritated fans have coalesced online under the hashtags #WheresNatasha and #IncludeTheGirls. Irritated fans have coalesced online under the hashtags #WheresNatasha and #IncludeTheGirls. Even Mark Ruffalo (who plays Hulk) Tweeted, “@Marvel we need more #BlackWidow merchandise for my daughters and nieces. Pretty please.”
Sometimes the sexism is overt. Both DC and Marvel have licensed products that suggest girls should be love interests, not heroes themselves. DC has shirts saying “I only date superheroes” and “training to the Batman’s girlfriend.” Marvel released a shirt showing four Avengers bursting out of the chest and likewise reading “I only date superheroes.” Marvel also released a product line in which a boys’ shirt said, “Be a Hero” and the girls’ reads, “I need a hero.” Let’s be clear, when my daughter goes outside to fight bad guys, she doesn’t need a hero. She is one.
The pattern is obvious – female characters from Disney (which owns Marvel) and DC are under-marketed. The few products exist in segregated “girls only” categories and often reflect sexist ideologies. What was unusual about the Big Hero 6 “Eeeww girls” comment was that the spokesperson said aloud what clearly most marketing executives are all thinking – add a single girl to a product, and boys just won’t buy it. Moreover, while the companies apologize for sexist products, they never seem to investigate the corporate structures that allowed such products to be created in the first place…
I can’t think of a better way to win friends on social than to write an article in which I bag on Louie and defend beat cops:
As any television critic will tell you, there are two constants when it comes to televised drama, “cops” and “doctors,” and the current moment is no exception. For example, you have a wide selection of police procedurals to choose from: old hats like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”; more family-oriented fare like “Blue Bloods”; shows that are only tangentially about cops, but are still police procedurals, like “Elementary” or “Person of Interest” or “Bones”; and you even have comedies that work within the trappings of the police procedural, like “Brooklyn 99.”
Except none of those are actually “cop shows,” because they’re all about detectives. (Which is, yes, technically a rank, but is conventionally depicted as entirely different profession.) In fact, the majority of shows aren’t about cops at all — they’re about individuals too intelligent or talented to be lowly patrol officers, who have transcended the beat and work in the rarefied world of investigation. That is not to say that uniformed officers don’t make an appearance on these series, because they do, but when they’re not relegated to bit players at crime scenes — the blue drones in the background collecting evidence or being asked to canvas a neighborhood — they’re inevitably fucking up.
This dynamic was neatly encapsulated on a recent episode of “Elementary” — CBS’ loose adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes– in which Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is asked by the daughter of the New York Police Department’s Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) to assist her in breaking up a ring of thieves hitting up local drug stores. Hannah Gregson (Liza Bennett) is just a lowly uniformed officer, so she seeks out Watson’s help — and Watson isn’t even an actual detective, she’s an assistant “consulting detective” — in order to discover the identity of the thieves, a problem that’s been vexing Officer Gregson for weeks.
Two scenes later, Watson has not only discovered who the thieves are, but how to use them to infiltrate a much larger prescription drug smuggling operation. She hands Officer Gregson a file containing everything she needs to initiate what could be a career-making bust, and what does the beat cop do? She immediately arrests the low-level operators, thereby allowing those running the criminal enterprise to go to ground. Why does she do this? According to her own father, Captain Gregson, it’s because she’s not that bright — she settled for the small score because her beat-cop-brain isn’t capable of conceptualizing the abstract connections required to take down a smuggling ring.
“She is what she is,” Captain Gregson tells Watson. “I love her, but I love this job too, the people who can actually do it.” And on that note, the episode fades to black, as if it’s a fact of precinct life that current uniformed officers just don’t have what it takes to make detective. There is a reason that television prefers its “cop shows” to follow detectives, and that’s because there’s an inherent narrative to the life of a detective, especially when they work in homicide — a life is taken, an investigation into who took that life ensues, discoveries of varying relevance are made and, if everything works out, a criminal or criminals with their own tales to tell is sussed out…
Believe it or not, that is just the beginning.
SEK wanders out of THE BAR after saying many fond farewells one of his oldest friends only to find THE COP hunched over the side of his car in what appears to be a puking position.
SEK: Are you all right?
THE COP: Fine, fine — just had a bad Sprite.
SEK: I don’t think that’s a thing.
THE COP: Must have been bad.
SEK: Are you sure you’re alright?
THE COP: (grabbing his side) Yeah sure — you can just — I can —
SEK: Bad Sprite’s not a thing. When my wife grabbed her side like that she had to have her appendix re —
THE COP: I’ll be — I’m — just you —
SEK: I’m calling 911. (calls 911) I’m with a police officer and he’s in a lot of pain —
911 DISPATCHER: Where are you located?
SEK: I’m at [location]
THE COP’S CAR: Officer [In Extremis] are you OK?
THE COP: (moans)
911 DISPATCHER: Is the officer OK?
SEK: He doesn’t seem to be. Should I tell the person in the car that?
THE COP: I’M OK!
SEK: He’s not. Don’t listen to him.
911 DISPATCHER: Keep him still — help is coming.
SEK looks at THE COP, who is now moaning on the ground in pain not borne of bad Sprite.
SEK: I’m — on it?
911 DISPATCHER: This is on you now. Keep him talking.
SEK: So tell me more about this bad Sprite…
I know I always encourage you to listen to my appearances on Graphic Policy Radio — co-hosts Elana and Brett really bring out the best in me — but in this case I really think you should, as the conversation was exceptional. (Likely because I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Daredevil, as tomorrow’s Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast on the show will demonstrate, as well as an interview I did with NPR which may or may not have already aired.)
I should note, however, that the conversation addresses all 12 episodes, so if you haven’t finished the series and want to avoid spoilers, bookmark this and listen later.
Check Out Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with graphicpolicy
It includes my new hit single, “Dorne,” which I promise I only actually “sing” once. Enjoy!
Podcast: Play in new window
Here’s my first long-read culture piece for Salon — and not surprisingly, it’s about something extremely nerdy. Excerpt:
The larger argument the show makes is about the nature and necessity of different kinds of heroism — and the kind of social responsibility they entail. “Daredevil” almost never strays from Hell’s Kitchen, an area of New York City which, the audience is repeatedly told, was effectively demolished by the events in Joss Whedon’s first “Avengers” film. The Avengers were responsible for repelling an alien invasion, which is highly commendable, don’t get me wrong — but someone has to pick up the pieces of the society that’s shattered by the collateral damage, and that’s what shows like “Daredevil” are explicitly about.
In fact, all of the shows Marvel will be producing with Netflix take place in this same small slice of the Marvel cinematic universe — and all of them address the human cost of having your city host a Hollywood action sequence. This is something Hollywood itself has never done, and television only rarely. Even the closest, the third season of “Battlestar Galactica,” had the feel of a reconstruction happening elsewhere, due its visual and narrative references to Iraq.
Daredevil’s certainty — and the desire for it — isn’t a reflection on the world the audience lives in, but in the large cinematic one Marvel is creating. Which is, I acknowledge, something of a cop out. The work is produced and proving to be quite popular in a historical moment rife with divisions between the authority of those who govern and the people they are supposed to protect — but in traditional noir fashion, the show is quite critical of the established authorities. “Daredevil” does not encourage viewers to kowtow to police, as the NYPD is institutionally and irrevocably corrupt…
Game of Thrones is back, and so are we! In this episode, we discuss the show’s first-ever flashback, CGI harpys, and so much more.
To read Steven Attewell’s piece on Daenerys and the question of Iraq vs. Reconstruction as historical metaphor, see here.
PS: SEK edited out all the episode 2 spoilers he accidentally let loose because he’s an asshole, but just in case he missed one, he’s sorry — and an asshole.
Podcast: Play in new window
For a long time now I’ve teased y’all about my theory that Mad Men is really all about Sally instead of Don “The Dick Whitman” Draper. Here’s my attempt to prove it once and for all. Because it’s something I wrote, I don’t find it nearly as compelling as it should be, but if nothing else it’s a means of starting to reevaluate an ensemble show that’s — understandably — tied to the idea that its lead character is a dapper silhouette of a man.
I grant you — no pun intended — that the image there is probably the least Flash-y image of Barry Allen I could find online, but I assure you that you’ll enjoy the hour-and-a-half Amanda, Arturo and I spent talking about the CW’s hit series. We covered all the angles as only the three of us could — meaning that Amanda and Arturo said very smart things about race and class and gender while I just cursed once in a while to remind people I exist and how I roll.
In all seriousness, though, I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as we did producing it.
Podcast: Play in new window