So if you’ve never listened to this podcast and have just heard the (true) rumors that we bicker like an old Jewish married couple about Game of Thrones every week — well, it’s time to stop not-listening to us, because we managed to work through the issues with this last episode — and there are many – as adeptly as as anyone this side of Alyssa has.
Basically — if you must listen to one episode of this podcast, this is the one. And we address the questions you want answered right at the beginning too, because we’re polite like that.
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This is a real thing. I watched it all so you wouldn’t have to.
Purchase the new essay collection — Tower of the Hand: A Hymn for Spring – containing essays by Attewell! Because believe it or not even after everything else he’s written and 55 hours of putting up with me in this podcast, Steven has even more to say about Game of Thrones.
The image-based Game of Thrones recapper I mentioned can be found here.
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Cropped so you can’t see that he’s totally flipping yout the fuck off
I apologize for the background noise, but Kendra was in New York City and, it turns out, New Yorkers are very, very loud.
And the Game of Thrones podcast is on the way — as is one about Daredevil. I apologize for the delay, I’m only very behind on everything at the moment.
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Thanks to my new job, I not only have weekends off — I also have money! And one of the things I have purchased with this money — so many of those words feel really odd to type — is an iPad and a subscription to Marvel Unlimited, which allows me to read every Marvel comic with the exception of the most recent six months of publications. Given that I haven’t read comics regularly in a decade or two, I don’t think that’s much of a problems.
Point being, I’m now having many thoughts about comics and I thought “Why SEK, you have a blog, why don’t you write about them?” So I think I’ll make this a regular Sunday feature, starting today with a few “panels” from Ms. Marvel:
Jake Wyatt’s been rightfully acclaimed for his work on this book, but this page in particular is fascinating. At first I felt it was partly enabled by the new technology of comic book-reading, inasmuch as it’s “directed” by an algorithm that moves you from area-to-area within a panel. For example, on the iPad that page would look something like this:
Followed by this:
Followed by this:
Like I said — a “directed” reading. But it quickly occurred to me that I was wrong, at least partly, because the page really is playing with traditional comic book and basic reading conventions. There’s a real tension between the text and the image in this, beginning with the fact that the first “panel” — and I’m using scare quotes for the obvious reason that there are no traditional panels on this page — is in the lower left-hand corner of the page. That’s not where the eyes of English readers begin, so the first difficulty in understanding this page is simply one of figuring out where to start.
Your eye has to search the page, replicating writ small the difficulty Ms. Marvel and Wolverine are experiencing as they try to navigate out of the sewers. But even if they find a way, it’s not going to be easy, as the barely pubescent heroine who’s still discovering the limits of her powers is forced to haul a cranky 300-year-old man with an adamantium enhanced skeleton. How would an artist represent the difficulty of this endeavor?
With words. There’s an up-down conflict built into the text-image relationship. As they struggle up through the sewers, your eyes follow the text down the page. In effect, the images are hoisting your eyes up the page while the text pulls them down — a near-perfect replication of the struggle being depicted on that page itself.
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.