July 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
A younger writer on a forum that I frequent posted a short scene he had just finished that he thought to be disturbing. He said the content had made it hard to get through and asked what was the most disturbing thing any of us had written about. I might have been one of the first to read his question, but I didn’t answer because I don’t do the kind of disturbing that they were talking about. There are unsavory situations in my books, but they’re dependent upon the build up and the person reading really knowing the characters. It’s harder to be scared for a character without knowing the stakes or the person that’s involved.
Sure, I can post a bit of something here and people might love it, but at the same time I have to select the writing I post very carefully so that it paints a complete enough picture of the character and situation without giving too much away. I didn’t have anything to throw out there that would be shocking the way that it seemed the kid asking the question meant.
Then everyone else started answering. All of the examples were rapes except for the original poster’s question. And that example was still sexual and probably could have been stretched to fall under the definition of rape (it was something to do with mind control and the like). After reading over all of the other people’s answers, one of which was a list of things with several different time they used rape to be “super disturbing and edgy”, I made the comment that I didn’t write rapes. I never have and although I couldn’t say for certain that I never will, I can say I don’t foresee anything I would write where there’s a possibility of me describing a rape out in detail. There’s just too much wrong with that for me.
Let me interject here: this isn’t the kind of blog that’s like those Tumblrs that every misogynist uses as an example of how feminism seeks to enslave all men. I’m not going to speak about how anyone who writes about rape at all is as bad as a rapist. External censorship isn’t something I’m for. I’ve said right here on this blog that we shouldn’t censor this stuff.
The choice not to write rapes is my choice. And the replies I got ranged from the typical stuff about compromising the legitimacy of my story to one guy telling me that I needed to toughen up.
All of theses writers are writing the same thing, really. They’re not writing about the victim or what happens to them because of the rape. They’re writing about weak beautiful women who are raped and killed or raped and learn to be “strong” because of it. I’m tired of reading rapes that happen exclusively for women to build their character into a strong person (and these were all about women in the examples they gave). I’m even more fed up with the raped female side character that serves as motivation for the hero to seek revenge on her behalf. And worst of all is the “hero” who rapes the female villain as an act of vengeance with the story trying to justify the behavior. I choose not to write anywhere close to these plots because I dislike them. I write something I would want to read.
One person argued with me about the whole thing for about six back and forth posts. Think about that for a minute…someone was upset about something that I choose not to include in my own writing. When I see someone acting so vehemently about what someone is doing that has no effect on them, it usually makes me feel like they feel guilty. If I’m going to make the choice to write something you’re not going to tell me that you’re not going to write it in whatever you’re doing and just suddenly make me want to get mad at you for the simple fact that you aren’t doing things just like me. Probably the only things that I will agree every writer needs to do are read, write, and edit. There’s probably another thing that someone will say I should add, but I really think that’s it.
I’m sticking to my guns though, not because writing about rape is always wrong, but because this is a choice I made.
July 18, 2014 § 1 Comment
The book was supposed to be called “Keep Austin Safe”. That was to be the end of it. But the name seemed less and less like what I wanted the more I typed it out and looked at it. It floated around in my head like it wasn’t good enough and like it didn’t really embody the changes the story was undergoing.
And then I up and moved the whole thing to Houston and dropped a lot of the characters.
What had been there as one story was now dramatically different to the point that the previous title didn’t make sense. The thing stayed without a title for over a year and I really felt that not having that there, not having something to call the story or refer to it by was a little discouraging. I’ve never been the best at coming up with titles and the ones that I have tried to use are usually song references or something else like that. I just didn’t want to do that. Not for the first thing I was really pushing to try and finish up and get out there.
Without giving too much of it away I settled on a title randomly while reading through some of the notes I was keeping for my writing. The word as it was being used was a name of a character, but it was one of the characters I dropped and it still had relevance to the main idea behind the story.
Simple, though that might change. I have been thinking about adding a colon and a phrase after it. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad idea, but I will think on the idea some more in the meantime. I just wanted to post that I finally had some development on this front considering that I posted a while back about not being able to think of the right thing for this story.
July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
There’s been an enormous glut of high octane stupid going around these last few weeks in the news. Sadly, I don’t get to see much of it because I never really tune into the news. But the other night when I was visiting my parents my dad mentioned something about a lawsuit with Amazon. When I read up on it I was kind of shocked that this kind of thing is allowed in court without the judge throwing you in jail for wasting the court’s time.
Amazon is being sued because it’s games allow micro-transactions, in game purchases with real world money for goods or services in the game world. Sometimes you buy outfits for a character, new levels, entire new parts of the game, weapons or other little things. In the best cases these things are vital to finishing the game and are there to enhance the experience; in the worst cases the game is tedious or unplayable without them—sometimes even if you’ve already paid for the game itself.
So you think I’m going to side with the people bringing big shot Amazon to justice.
In this article there’s a little bit about what the law suit is about:
Amazon’s practice of allowing purchases without requiring a password or other mechanism that gives parents control over their accounts.
The unauthorized charges are often associated with children’s apps, such as games, that can be free to download but allow players to make in-app purchases by buying “coins” or other digital products with the credit card associated with the device, the FTC said in its complaint.
Sounds like you need to control you kids. It’s as simple as that. The whole thing seems to hinge on the idea that parents have to give kid’s their phones and they have to let their kids have access to the money on the car attached the the phone. There are easy ways around this (using a gift card on that device, for instance). But the easiest way is controlling your kids. Every company and group out there is expected to look after everyone’s kids. Except for the parent themselves. In some ways there are important safe guards out there like the movie industry or game industry rating systems. Other things, like this, just seem like it’s taking more of the responsibility out of having kids and teaching the kids that they won’t need to be responsible for things either.
July 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
The news of the new Batgirl costume comes right on the heels of my friend from over at the blog “Beauty and the Book” giving me the advice that I should give the Batgirl comic books a try. While I was probably going to ignore the advice, this new twist in things kind of makes me feel like I might be more inclined to give it a try. Comic books have never been my thing, really. I read this awful Sonic the Hedgehog comic back when Sega was a respectable brand. And I cracked open part of the “Sandman” series because it was written by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. Back before the movie version of the “Watchmen” came out I read the book cover to cover. Other than that my forays into comic books have been very short lived.
I’m of the belief that when something dares to be different and make an effort to push the boundaries of what’s normal that it’s at least a little respectable. This is why I respect the movie “Sucker Punch” even though it’s a cluster-fuck despite it’s attempts to challenge nerd cultures view of sexuality and women. Perhaps it was more daring than it was profound, but it’s worth rewarding daringness some of the time. Writing and illustrating a comic book character from a mainstream line that’s dressed in a sensible manner and not just written for dudes to gawk at is pretty daring. And it’s a step in the right direction for a DC comics that has been struggling to come to terms with its age and lack of popularity over competitor Marvel comics.
Reading “The Watchmen” kind of taught me something. It’s a lesson that I’ve learned pretty much every time I’ve explored a medium long enough. It showed me that there’s something underneath the upper level layer of stuff that we commonly see that gives this thing a potential to be special. Video games have it. Television has it. Music has it. Books have it. Comic books have it. It’s taken a lot of time for people to accept some of these mediums as being able to be artistic or special or deep. But it happens.
Maybe this will be a repeat of that. Maybe I’ll see something in these comics that I missed in the other things that I tried to pick up. I don’t really doubt that there’s something awesome about comic books, I just think that it’s never been a very accessible medium with all the history and different backstories and issues of comics that are out of print. Kindles and other e-readers kind of change the game. So yah, I’m going to give it another try.
July 12, 2014 § 3 Comments
It seems like I’m having to make posts like this too much lately. Actually, having to do this at all feels like too much. Especially when the person that’s been lost was so young and the death was so sudden.
Andrew wasn’t someone that I had seen recently. Sometime during the summer last year I was in San Antonio and he joined us out at a cafe where the black top was holding just a little too much of the heat for it to be considered comfortable, even by San Antonio standards. There wasn’t anything special about the meeting and I couldn’t have known I wouldn’t see him again, but we had fun. I think I got to call him “Woodsman” one last time. Let me explain.
He liked to hunt–and he liked to be outdoors and someone in our group in college, it was probably me, started calling him “The Woodsman”. And we were always making jokes and laughing and even when there was some disagreement it was never the kind of thing that lasted long. I think I was the only one who kept calling him it.
You can never tell which nicknames and in jokes will actually stick, really. I think out of that large group of us, Andrew was the one who seemed the most innocent and hopeful and positive. He was a bit of a romantic and he believed in people and their ability to do for themselves and for each other. Idealist. It’s not a bad thing, if anything the biggest problem is that we don’t live in the ideal world. It takes someone special to be able to ignore that and hope for the positive. Andrew did that.
I quoted something last night on my Facebook–it had no relevance at the time other than the fact that it was a quote from a show I was watching and it just felt important. It seems stupid to use words written in a script for a show when it comes to describing what’s happened here and what it feels like to have someone disappear forever.
But I think it fits and my mind can’t help but recall it.
“It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror.”
It’s not really all gone, though. There’s memories and the lives we touched and so much else we don’t understand after that. And I think that Andrew touched a lot of lives in a positive way. He will be missed and never forgotten.
July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
This was supposed to be the last part of the Defense of Amy Pond posts, but the third point I had kind of lost itself somewhere in the other two and I have something bigger and better to talk about in Doctor Who news. The hatred for current show runner, Steven Moffat, seems to have jumped the shark as shown in this article over at Tor. The writer, Emily Asher-Perrin, seems to be on such a witch hunt for Moffat’s disregard for fans and the series that she posted a dubious article where she says that the show runner is ignoring canon and stating that the Doctor could be human. The article opens like this:
This is a great one. Apparently, in a recent issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Steven Moffat insisted that the Doctor never explicitly stated that he was an alien in Classic Who. Therefore there’s no proof that he is.
Do we have to do this now, Moffat? It’s too early in the week for this.
The thing is that if you click the link and read the article in its entirety you will find out that he is issuing a challenge to fans to watch the classic era or just recall in their memories when it was the show first explicitly stated the Doctor was not human. He directs the challenge at the former show runner because they worked together and were both geeks about Doctor Who who used to geek out about it. This isn’t antagonistic or disregarding canon. Luckily some of the comments on the article seem to have caught on. I got some screenshots on my phone of one very interesting comment chain.
The above comment clearly shows that the author omitted information that was provided in the original article to make her point and it’s just for bias sake. “I don’t like the show runner, so I’m going to slander him on the internet just to stir up hatred”.
There is a part of the fandom that actually enjoys what’s going on in Doctor Who since the start of season five. I will admit to being one of these people. I can barely stand to look at any season before four at this point. Then there are people who aren’t too invested in either side and are just along for the ride. There seems to be this third group that think they need to drive people off Twitter , or send women who work with Moffat death threats for defending him , and taking everything they say out of context as if to look up at the BBC with the hopeful eyes of a mischievous child looking at their mom or dad and go, “See Mommy/Daddy? Now can we fire him?”
It’s disgusting and fucking and annoying and Tor needs to apologize.
July 10, 2014 § 3 Comments
Yesterday I started a blog post entitled “In Defense of Amy Pond”. Partly because I have been re-watching the show seasons five through seven of the show and I forgot how much I enjoyed Amy and the Doctor and Rory in the TARDIS, but also because there seems to be a never ending stream of hatred aimed at the current Doctor Who show runner, Steven Moffat. A lot of it isn’t over anything that happens in the plot—there’s issue with what’s implied, too.
This second thing I wanted to say was kind of hard to come up with a bolded point for, but, in short, Amy has sexual agency. Bam. Short, sweet and to the point: Amy also has Sexual Agency. I’ve used the term agency on this blog before, but for those who don’t remember it’s defined as:
Agency, in its simplest form, is the ability to act in a way that accomplishes your goals. To have agency in an area of your life is to have the capacity to act in a way that can produce the results you want.
Sexual Agency is seen as:
- The ability to define yourself sexually – whether that means along the heterosexuality/homosexuality spectrum, along the spectrum that runs from asexual to highly interested in sex, or both.
- The ability to choose whether or not you want to experience sexual activity – both in general and with a specific person at a specific time in a specific way.
- The ability to choose how you want to engage in sexual activity – including whether you want to practice safer sex
- The ability to stop engaging in a sexual act that is no longer wanted or to refuse an act that was never desired
There are a lot of talk that she’s too sexy for the show…she’s not really all that sexy. Not for American TV and especially not for British television. If we had a problem with someone being too sexy we’d have said something back when Jack was kissing the Doctor and trying to sleep with anything else that moved and pulling guns out of what seems to be his asshole. We would have had an issue with the idea that the Doctor bedded an important figure in British history (the Queen) and left her high and dry without any way to get hold of him (this is something implied by Ten and rectified by the Fiftieth anniversary special when we see what actually happened with him and the Queen—a retcon that made Ten seem not as full of himself).
The question of a character being too sexy only arises when said character is female. Men being sexual is completely alright, but if a female character is there needs to be someone there to gauge how far is too far. You can claim a lot of cultural mores for this, but in the end they all boil down to a sexist attitude towards a woman’s body and choices. And the character not really caring to stick to those ideals goes back to her having agency.
One of the things I like about Amy is that she’s got a traditionally girlie side and that’s never treated as if it’s a bad thing in the show. But she’s obviously brainy, going as far as to create her own Sonic Screwdriver in season six’s “The Girl Who Waited” and has skills outside of just being a pretty face like so many people have claimed in protest of the character, like how she says in “Power of Three” that she’s a columnist for the paper and in the very next episode she is seen to have done what seems to be some book publishing.
There’s another point I would like to tack on here that isn’t exactly about this, but it has to do with this. It’s about the Bechdel Test. As someone who supports women’s rights, I think this is one of those things shoots feminist in the foot when they bring it up. I saw this same test used recently to prove that Doctor Who was sexist and the test wasn’t even applied evenly to all subjects. The idea comes from a comic strip and basically it’s just a measure of how much interaction a woman has with another woman in any story or script. They have to speak to each other about something other than a boy and no boy can be involved in the conversation. It seems like a pretty easily done thing, but a lot of things don’t pass it just on the merit of only having one woman in the whole movie or because the women are just used as set pieces. However, just because the a female character only speaks to males doesn’t somehow weaken her characterization. Recently the movie “Pacific Rim” proved this when people who had been using the Bechdel test as some kind of measure realized the movie couldn’t pass it, but that there was nothing wrong with it.
The test is easily bullshit and doesn’t take a lot of factors in the narrative into account. By assuming that a female character has to have “meaningful” discussions with only other women it seems to promote another kind of sexism. Also, the test doesn’t have an out for movies and books where there are no female characters because there can’t be. The other issue with this is the idea that two women having a discussion about a male somehow invalidates them being there. But it doesn’t seem to matter if that male is their father, son, brother or someone else. It’s clear what the test was trying to do, but it fails and it also sometimes lets things that are sexist as Hell pass.
Rose Tyler, the character we see boasted about as the favorite companion of so many people is a pretty awful person. She spends an episode where people are being brutally murdered trying to get the Queen of England to say a funny phrase. She is jealous, clingy, and even manages to leap through space time with total disregard for the safety of things just to be with the Doctor. There’s a lot that I could say bad about the character, but the fact that she passes this test doesn’t somehow validate her or make her a less sexist or horrible companion. Also, the test leaves out season seven episodes and seems to have unfair metrics for measuring things as there are episodes that should have passed with Amy Pond, but didn’t because they were held to a more strict standard. You don’t like the Moffat era, fine. But don’t try to justify your dislike with pseudoscience bullshit. And especially don’t try to use the aforementioned blog as evidence when you rush home every Sunday to watch Game Of Thrones, a show that can be seen as easily sexist and where characters who had more agency have actually had it taken.
You can’t have it both ways. Amy can’t be a sexist depiction of a female because she does what she wants and acts in a sexual manner if you’re still going to try and defend something like Game of Thrones, which I have seen some people do. Are you really upset that Doctor Who is sexist or are you looking for reasons to not like something? We see so many shows where someone who engages in their desires has to be “taken down a peg”. It seems to happen more if the character is female. Amy is allowed to be sexual without it biting her in the ass. She’s not punished for acting on her desires by the plot or other characters. That’s a very rare thing in television today.