Well, What Do You Expect?

July 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

8394137_GThere’s a bit in a Donald Glover stand up that goes something like: “Just a few hundred years ago, maybe even less than that, people could come into your village, kill your father, rape your mother and enslave you and your siblings and everyone would have been like ‘well, what do you expect? It’s night time’.”

The full subject matter of the joke is that we’re living in the best possible time to be human and alive. Technology, life span, the freedom we have, the things we’ve accomplished as a race, the human race. We’ve gone to space and the bottom of the ocean. We’ve cured diseases and harnessed the power of the atom…

And yet we’re still kind of doing that same ‘what do you expect line’. When someone shoots up a place in this country: “what do you expect, he’s mentally ill” or “what do you expect he was a thug” or “what do you expect he hated blacks” or “what do you expect, he hated women” or the worse “what do you expect when women do men like they do.”

The excuses have already started in this case and the bottom line is that someone else went into a movie theater with a gun and killed two women. The victims names are Jillian Johnson, a 33 year old woman who co-owns a gift shop with her husband, and Mayci Breaux, a 21 year old Louisiana State University student. The shooter I won’t actually give time to or go into here. He’s the same type we always seem to see, just fill in the blanks.

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Despite the fact that two are dead and nine other injured, people are lining up to make their defense of guns. And this is the reason why, while I understand the need for gun rights, I don’t trust a lot of the people who preach so hard about them. This idea that we have guns to save more victims seems to be more of a reason to keep guns than a reason to save lives. When the first thing you worry about when two women have died is your guns that says something about you.

And it’s not as if these are the only two people to die from guns…not even recently. Nine in a church, five more, US service members just doing their jobs, killed in a recruiting center and now this. All the while people complain about the President taking their guns away (a man who has actually done fuck all to restrict guns and presides over a more lax federal gun law than his predecessor).

But we’ve become a country of “what do you expect” instead of one that does something. A country that even when men and women were in the crosshairs in another country for simply drawing a picture of the prophet Mohammad we countered with “what do you expect when you set out to upset people like that?” Or when a person actually tries to argue that they should be able to shoot someone for slapping them in the face and legally get away with as if to say “what do you expect when you do that?”

What I want to know is what do you expect when you do nothing while the same scenario plays out over and over again? What do you expect when you blame everything but the lax gun laws for the way guns are treated in this country? What do you expect when you can’t jog with a fucking pocket knife, but having a pistol openly displayed is perfectly fine a legal or buy a wheel barrel of guns at a convention center?

We’ve been stuck in this cycle for most of my life now (I was thirteen when Columbine happened and I’m almost thirty now). How many more Jillians, Marcis, Sgt. Carson Holmquists, or Reverend Clementa Pinckneys do we have to go through before we realize that this isn’t the kind of problem that just passes because we’ve ignored it for long enough?

iZombie Season One Finale “Blaine’s World”

June 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

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I might have mentioned some months back, when this show first started, that I watched it at first because the idea of the whole thing seemed stupid. The marketing that I saw, which was mostly still images in magazines, comics and on billboards, just made me thing think that this was going to be one of those stupid CW romance driven shows for tweens.

What I got when I actually watched it was probably the best start to any show on the CW since Supernatural. The first episode was enough to carry me to the next and it seemed like it was just getting better each week.

The finale was huge with a scene that Rob Thomas, show creator (no relation to the band Matchbox 20), called similar to the ending of Taxi Cab. It’s really nice to see a cast like this built up over the course of a season and a thing brought to such a satisfying close. It helped to also know that there’s already a second season in the works.

If you don’t know what iZombie is the basic premise goes like this: Olivia Moore, a medical student is scratched by a zombie at a boat party and begins to turn. To maintain her humanity she must consume human brains and to get a steady supply she drops out of med school and becomes a coroner. The only problem is that when she eats the brains she can get flashbacks of the person’s life or even some skills of personality traits she they have and she uses this to help solve their murders and poses as a fake psychic (for the sake of police).

The whole thing sounds preposterous, but it’s put together in a really good way and with a really good cast. Some of the most satisfying moments of television I’ve had this past year have been because of this show and with only thirteen episodes under its belt that’s saying something.

Since it’s a CW show I’m certain it will show up on Netflix in the next few months—it’s worth a watch or even a re-watch.

The Dark

June 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

In the last three or four years there have been a swarm of social justice movements in the center stage: #blacklivesmatter and #notallwomen have become something of big things in the world of journalism and news and there doesn’t seem to be much sign of it slowing down or an end to the harassment and issues that these things stem from.

One of the most interesting parts of all of this has been the response of law enforcement when it comes to dealing with threats. One need to just look online to discover countless people talking about how they don’t feel safe in the social circles and spaces that they used to occupy. They don’t trust those on the street that they walk past. Back in October actress Felicia Day spoke out about how she didn’t feel comfortable approaching and bonding with other nerds and in the same day she had her personal information spread all over the internet. Brianna Wu talks about how she’s kept files on all of the harassment that she’s face only to have it pretty much ignored by police.

With all of this going on, and with the way things have been recently in general, couldn’t we at least agree that when it comes to death threats and rape threats and just threats to certain people in general we need to step up and do something.

When a group in Texas took it upon themselves to hold their own Draw Mohammad Day complete with a gallery-style art show a man with a gun took it upon himself to try and silence them. Luckily, he was stopped before he could do too much damage, but the shocking thing is that the people out there having discussion about this and women like Wu and Day seem to be singing the same tune.

What did you expect when you opened yourself up like that?

What do you think people are going to do when you’re backing them into a corner?

What do you think people are going to do when you’re attacking something they love, their way of life?

Take it as seriously as you want, but nerdom isn’t something I would call a way of life. And religion is a choice, it’s a choice that some people make to stay with, myself included. But it’s not something that we should force on others—this isn’t the Middle Ages—we’re not going door to door asking people to find God at the tip of sword.

And there are police and prosecutors and authorities for a reason.

We decided to step out of the darkness and put our adult pants on as a society. We stopped trying to force others to do our bidding and stopped trying to use the force of the majority to make the minority lie down to our will just because we don’t like what they like.

Or at least we’ve said that we have. Truth is we haven’t grown a lot in the past fifty years. Some of the problems that Martin Luther King marched for in the sixties are still plaguing blacks and other races today and while Susan B. Anthony might be talked about as a pioneering figure in the women’s suffrage movement there are women out there still facing some of the same prejudices she did in the late eighteen hundreds.

Human civil rights can’t be left up to a vote and they can’t be negotiable. People deserve to be treated like people and to have choices of their own so long as those choices don’t hurt others. That’s not something that our Founding Fathers would recognize, but we need to stop looking at the deeds and quotes of men who lived long before we grew up as a society.

We need to treat justice like it’s blind and treat criminals, whether they be threatening someone we agree with or don’t the same—like criminals. A slow progression isn’t enough anymore, we need to leap forward and leave those who want to stay in the dark behind.

Supernatural Season Ten Ending

May 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here there be spoilers….

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I’d geared myself up to watch Castiel or Crowley die. When the show creators said that there was going to be a character death at the end of this season I was sure one of those two would be it, but I was surprised again when it actually turned out to be Death himself.

The thing about Supernatural on the CW is that as formulaic and rinse and repeat as it can be, it always manages to throw a surprise in there. It’s always managed to make me care. I care about Crowley and I feel for Castiel as he’s really still torn between two worlds and rejected by both of them. Probably my favorite addition to this season has been Rowena.

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She’s one of those things that the show needed that we would have never asked for and she’s added another dimension to Crowley. And that’s one of the other things that this show is so damn good at: fleshing out characters. Crowley has been on the show since 2009 and I feel like I have a complete enough picture of his character to like him, but there’s more about him that they just keep packing in there. His long lost son, his mother, his family issues before he died or became a demon.

This show has kept me on the edge of my seat and excited since it started and I’m glad that it’s still going strong.

I don’t really like writing reviews of things, I struggled to make it through a single season of Doctor Who, but Supernatural is one of the most consistent shows I watch. It’s not the best, but it has been less disappointing than any other show for longer. This isn’t a review—this is just me saying that it’s been a pleasure to follow Sam and Dean Winchester for ten years and though I know there’s already a season eleven on the books, here’s to the hope there’s even more.

Daredevil

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

The last month has been busy and I’m trying to think of something to write here that would seem worthwhile. And here it is.

Daredevil is the best super hero show ever.

It might top out most of the Marvel movies and other hero movies as the best super hero movie ever. To put it lightly the show hits all the right beats and has all of the feeling that was missing from the old Daredevil movie. It’s the perfect combination of action and drama with a little comedy sprinkled in there.

If you’re not already watching it, get to it.

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Why Media Matters (but it’s really very little to do with media)

May 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

The typical nerd pursuits have seen their universes shaken up a lot over the last few years. It’s not all been bad, but there’s a lot of push back against the changes. The Hugo Awards drama has driven a world between the writing world. Video games have seen a virtual war between a more progressive side and a kind of old guard. Comic books have suffered numerous issues with the inclusion of minorities and women and the hiccups that these changes cause. Media in general has been shaken up when it comes to race, sexual orientation and gender.

Exhibit A: Captain America fucking up the day of some criminals while flying

These aren’t the most important subjects in the world.

Baltimore is has been the stage for riots for the last few days. There’s an election coming over the horizon. The Middle East is still on fire.

And yet I can’t stop coming back to these things because they’re in my life everyday. I’ve grown to appreciate comic books and I grew up with video games and fantasy fiction. They’re a part of who I am, but not who I am. For so many people these things are an integral part of their person and that’s why passionate fights come out of the changes.

This has been written about extensively from both sides of all issues. If your mind is already made up one way or another I’m not going to be able to change it, but I land firmly on the side of the progressive in every case. Companies have realized that appealing to a wider audience can get them the big bucks and doesn’t have to be hokey or pandering. What’s wrong with that?

I’ve been black my whole life. It’s not the kind of thing you can wake up one day and realize or suddenly become, but I haven’t always understood why women had issues with being seen in a sexual light or why gays deserved any rights. When you come from a state like Texas it’s easy to get inundated with the culture. It’s really in all American culture. You don’t understand why the poor don’t just “get a job and work harder” and maybe you think “sexual harassment is something cooked up by women to give them an excuse to get special treatment”.

These things are baked into the clay we’re molded from and it’s hard to chip away at that mindset. A kind of cognitive dissonance is at play too. Being black and thinking that I deserve to be afforded the same rights as anyone else while not thinking the same about women or gays requires a little bit of mental gymnastics. We think of ourselves ahead of others. We consider our own problems first.

We get mad at women because we feel like they owe us their bodies and their time simply because we exist and we’re asking for it. We feel like gays are different or without God and therefore should be looked at as subhuman.

It’s hard to remember when the switch clicked in my head. I remember the steps to get there: reading testimonials by women who had been looked at like juicy steaks their whole lives and felt up by men they trusted. Or getting so angry at a friend who I claimed to be in love with when she didn’t return my affection that I cut her out of my life. Or finding out how many women I cared about and knew for years had stories of sexual assault. Or getting to know gays as people and finding out people I knew were gay and there was nothing wrong with them. It didn’t make me feel any different about or around them.

I’d say it’s maturity and growing up, but then there are those twice my age with the mindset I had at sixteen. And it’s easy to slip back into the old habit of thinking badly about someone solely because they’re different than you.

The culture around us is built on a foundation of cultures from all over the world and attitudes and mores that are centuries old shape the world we live in. Even when you’ve realized the truth, you’re immersed in the lie and it’s hard to keep believing.

That’s where the comic books, video games and other media come in. Media is often our first interactions with some things. We see Asians on television and we figure they must all be like that; it’s easy to think that people are like the races in Lord of the Ring. Well, it’s easy to think that about people who aren’t like you. All blacks are athletic, love watermelon and crime. Asians are bad with women, but good at math and science. Hispanics are somehow both hard working and lazy. Liberals are degenerates who hate America. Conservatives are sexist bigots who love war. Gays are fashionable, nosey and annoying. Women are bad at math and emotional. Feminists are man hating lesbians.

I can go on like this all day.

For a long time we’ve seen these things played out in media. We’ve had them hammered into our heads in print and seen them run their course on the screen. The country has only started to come around from a lot of the older ones in the last one hundred years or so and it’s been a slow battle. The progressive attitude toward characterization of the “other” in media has got to grow up, because it’s where a lot of the kids being born now will get their first taste of the world out there and where a lot of us reinforce our worst fears and best realizations about people.

These groups aren’t homogenized. I know a woman who is a math genius. I know a Conservative guy who let me borrow gas money when I needed and has a teen daughter that he dotes on and used to bring to play Dungeons and Dragons with us. I know a really hood black guy that loves his comics and treats women with the utmost respect. I have a gay cousin that loves him some Jesus and I have women who are among my best friends…the whole point to this rant is that we don’t need to take what people are as who they are or all they are.

Bad people exist in every group, but there’s a lot of good out there and if we just stopped being so quick to judge we’d probably see more of it.

Now, I promise I haven’t smoked anything and I’m not drunk. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of making the mistake of pointing to a whole group as bad as anyone else. And to me this whole battle over media culture is bigger than the characters and fandoms housed inside of that culture. We need to all work for that.

I don’t think I’ll change any minds, but I hope I do.

Comics and Photos

April 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

A friend of mine convinced me to try mainstream super hero comics. I’d kind of done this before, but it never took. This time I started with Batgirl, which I’ve talked about in the past. I decided to read Marvel’s All New X-Men, which has been a really fun ride. It’s odd to know so much in passing about these characters and read a story with them that’s been running for a few years.jean2343

I think I’m going to keep this comic book thing up and find something else to read. So far my favorite characters are Jean Grey and Kitty Pryde, unfortunately they don’t have many storylines out there. When I was a kid and the old X-Men show was on a lot of it centered around Jean, which is why it’s funny to me that she’s been so underused (and for a while was dead) in current comics.

I also wanted to update my whole picture practice. Here’s one of the latest things I took. I’m mostly not posting these because they’re pretty goddamn boring.

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That bokeh, though.

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