Grantland: How ‘Selma’ Got Smeared
As a member of more than one marginalized group of people, I can attest that these sorts of conversations with allies happen all the time wherein the needs of the marginalized group end up being subservient to the plans of their allies, who have more power and are able to set agendas and timelines that are at odds with those of the people they purport to aid. So the fact that Selma found a way to depict that sort of interaction is important to our understanding of the civil rights movement, and if minute historical detail was bent slightly in order to show that sort of interaction onscreen, I’m okay with that.
The Atlantic: Why I Am Not a Maker
When tech culture only celebrates creation, it risks ignoring those who teach, criticize, and take care of others.
Wikipedia: Searles Chinese Room
The Chinese room is a thought experiment presented by John Searle (b1932) to challenge the claim that it is possible for a computer running a program to have a “mind” and “consciousness” in the same sense that people do, simply by virtue of running the right program.
Pacific Standard: The Greatest Rock Show I’d Ever Seen
How one guy’s beloved memory of a long-ago rock show turns out, when he rediscovers a record of it, to be quite different than the show as he remembered it.
Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card is more than an ‘opponent’ of marriage equality. As a writer, he has spread degrading lies about LGBT people, calling us sexual deviants and criminals. As an activist, he sat on the board of the National Organization for Marriage and campaigned against our civil rights. Now he’s a producer on the Ender’s Game movie. Do not let your box-office dollars fuel his anti-gay agenda. SKIP ENDER’S GAME.
Orson Scott Card, author of the 1985 novel Ender’s Game and a credited producer on Lionsgate’s upcoming film adaptation, has a long, ugly history as an anti-gay extremist. From 2009 to 2013 he was a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, lending his support to a group tied directly to Prop 8 in California and other anti-equality activism across the country and around the world. In 2008 he swore, “[r]egardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
The LGBT community cannot afford to support bigotry and extremism like Orson Scott Card’s. We are calling upon queer geeks and our allies to skip Ender’s Game. As producer, Card enjoys profit participation on every movie ticket, every toy and tie-in, every DVD or VOD purchased. Do not let your money finance his anti-gay agenda.
In 1990, he advocated the criminalization of homosexuality, arguing, “those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.” He then demanded tolerance when public outcry over his lies and insults threatened his would-be blockbuster.
Orson Scott Card has every right to express his opinions, but absolutely no right to our money. If you do not share his views and his extreme agenda, do not support them by buying a ticket to Ender’s Game. It matters that we and our allies stand up as a community against a homophobe looking to profit from our geekiness while attacking our rights and degrading our humanity.
Her role was created as Secretary Rhodes, who was male. But then Blomkamp woke up one morning and it suddenly occurred to him the character could be a woman. He and one of his producers, Simon Kinberg, drew up a list of potential actresses, and Foster’s name was on it, but the director thought she would never do it. “I thought, ‘That would be f—ing awesome, but there’s just no way,” he says.
And the commentary from the Mary Sue:
It’s great that, as a young male director whose debut feature gave him a lot of Hollywood leeway to do whatever he wants next, Blomkamp decided that one of the things he’d do is put at least one prominent lady in his next blockbuster sci-fi flick. I mean, in a perfect world, it’d also be great if the movie had enough female characters that I didn’t have to go check a trailer to make sure there were any other non-minor women in the film other than Jodie Foster (there’s at least one). Either way, Elysium still has the potential to live up to the standard Blomkamp set when District 9 left me speechless.
My comments to that, specifically because of the Entertainment Weekly article identifying the movie as being Real Life commentary on the 2008 economic crash, with some links to the content I quoted:
I’m glad that they’re casting women in roles originally written for men, but it would be nice if they just wrote them for women in the first place, given that women play less than 30% of the roles onscreen. 51% of the population, but consistently less than 30% of on-screen roles, and when Annenberg calculates the amount of screen time that the female characters get, the numbers get even worse. And given that Foster’s character is basically a class-warfare oppressing villain, is it really all that great that the role was given to a woman? Women are not historically the oppressive forces when it comes to class warfare, and women represent over 70% of the world’s poor, disproportionally specifically because of sexism leading to lack of opportunities for women in poverty. So doesn’t making Foster the villain distort the picture quite a bit? Especially when the protagonist of the piece is a white guy, who would probably not be part of a future poverty-stricken class. If they’d flipped the genders and made the protagonist a woman of color and a white guy they oppressor, I would have been TRULY impressed by their chutzpah.
And someone commented:
I agree that more roles should be originally written for women from the get go. But I also think women should be villains as much as heroes. They should be given a chance to play all kinds of roles.
My response (because she was pretty much missing the point):
Normally I’d agree with that – but in this particular instance, the role is problematic specifically because of the subject matter. They’re openly trying to make a movie about the 2008 economic crash and wage gap and the difference between the haves and the have-nots in our country – which is awesome and much needed. But if they’re trying to make commentary on that real-life issue, they CAN’T ignore where gender plays a role in that in real life, where women were massively disproportionally affected by that event in a way that men weren’t, around the globe, and where the wealthy and well-off who benefited from the crash were, in real life, disproportionally more men. The villains of the IRL story are very much men, and flipping the gender and make the villain a woman changes the IRL story they are trying to tell in a way that does a massive disservice to women.
And in general, women are not under-represented as villains on film and television. I’ll have to poke around and look at those numbers, but I’d say that women are probably represented as the bad guy pretty damned often.
Nelson: We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features. She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.
I agree there are some pretty high stakes in getting a Wonder Woman movie off the ground. Unfortunately due to the world we live in, a failed Wonder Woman movie would be seen as the inability to sell any female superhero. Batman can bomb and get more movies. Superman can choke and still get another reboot. But Wonder Woman wouldn’t get another shot if her movie failed, because no one would be willing to take a critical look at why the movie failed; they’d just chalk it up to “women’s stories don’t sell” even though that would almost certainly not be the problem.
I don’t think the story line of Wonder Woman is all that tricky, really. For one thing – start without an origin story. Just drop her into the action – In medias res, kicking butt and taking names. Then make small references to her origin story where it’s absolutely needed, and leave the rest up in the air. Let it be a mystery you fill in about movie 2 or 3. Wouldn’t that be a fresh take on a superhero movie? Start by showing, not telling, and from the point of view of the average person on the street, who wouldn’t know or care about what’s going on on Mount Olympus, but who does give a crap about what’s happening around them.
Stop talking about gods and goddesses (especially when they get them all wrong) and just have Wonder Woman work on some issue of global injustice, especially one that relates to women. Also drop the “female superheroes get female super villains” trope (which I REALLY need to devote a whole blog post to!) and have her fighting some patriarchal cultural problem with male bad guys. Because look at the reality of the world – 85% of the time, the bad guys are men.
Go back to “the Amazons are alive and they’re good guys” stories of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman era, but wait to reference why she left the island and all that until future movies. Then go back to the “clay baby” origin story, and the Perez origin story in particular. Compelling story lines could be made with those elements, without rubbing anyone – most especially me and other feminists – the wrong way. And really, for Batman and Superman, it’s important to tell their origin stories, because they’re pretty big babies, full of angst and woe. Wonder Woman is strong and confident and capable and doesn’t need an emotionally unstable childhood to explain her frame of reference.
Nothing is tricky about all that. What’s tricky is that there are a bunch of men involved in DC Comics who really don’t want any of those story lines to happen, because they’re pretty sexist and can’t manage to reconcile good storytelling, what the public wants to see in a superhero movie, and what they need to uphold for the integrity of Wonder Woman as a cultural icon. That’s not a problem with Wonder Woman; that’s a failure of imagination with DC Comics staff. If I were a betting sort of girl, I’d bet that the Joss Whedon story that got canned was something along the lines of what I outlined above. (I am a betting sort of girl, BTW.)
I kind of agree that I’d rather not see them bomb with Wonder Woman. So I’ve been writing in every comments section I can find about what I think they should do – start with another female character. Specifically; start with Supergirl.
There are some good reasons for doing it that way:
Supergirl already had a fairly successful movie that people like many years ago.
They just had a very successful Superman movie come out recently.
Supergirl is pretty straightforward, if they use the very popular Candor/Identity origin story. The advantage of that would also be Angry Supergirl, and nothing is better than Angry Supergirl. If you’re writing Angry Supergirl, she can be “Ripley in Aliens” badass, and she could tackle a lot of cool global issues story lines.
Casting would be easy, because they answer is a really obvious one: Dianna Agron. She looks the part, and she does Angry Face really well. She’s also a competent actress that could carry a movie if she’s given a consistent and well-written role, unlike anything she was handed on Glee.
I love Supergirl almost as much as I love Batgirl, and slightly more than I love Wonder Woman. And everyone should make me happy at all times.
A good Supergirl movie would set the stage for Wonder Woman nicely. You could do something interesting like just have Wonder Woman show up at the end of the movie to invite Kara Zor-El to hang out at Paradise Island for awhile, setting up the “in medias res” story for Wonder Woman that I outlined above.
Who knows, maybe the powers at DC Comics are reading my blog and some of these ideas will wind up on screen. Probably not. But I can dream.
When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.
Why you should listen to him:
Colin Stokes divides his time between parenting and building the brand of Citizen Schools, a non-profit that reimagines the school day for middle school students in low-income communities in eight states. As Managing Director of Brand & Communications, Colin helps people within the organization find the ideas, words and stories that will connect with more and more people. He believes that understanding the human mind is a force that can be used for good and seeks to take advantage of our innate and learned tendencies to bring out the best in each other and our culture.
Before starting a family, Colin was an actor and graphic designer in New York City. He starred in the long-running off-Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, as well is in several musicals and Shakespeare stagings. But he jokes that he seems to have achieved more renown (and considerably more revenue) for his brief appearances on two Law & Order episodes.
This year, over 5 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience. The Bully Project is the first feature documentary film to show how we’ve all been affected by bullying, whether we’ve been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness. The world we inhabit as adults begins on the playground. The Bully Project opens on the first day of school. For the more than 5 million kids who’ll be bullied this year in the United States, it’s a day filled with more anxiety and foreboding than excitement. As the sun rises and school busses across the country overflow with backpacks, brass instruments and the rambunctious sounds of raging hormones, this is a ride into the unknown.
The Bully Project opens in select theaters on Friday. I had hoped it would be opening in Indianapolis, but I don’t see it playing here yet. The movie was rated “R” because of the language, but the producers objected to that rating – it would mean that kids, who are the target audience, would not be able to see it. They tried to fight that rating, and ultimately rejected any rating, choosing to release it without a rating rather than accept it. Movie chain AMC has agreed to open the movie to minors.