so hey fun fact for anyone who wants queer history trivia: the first disco in Seattle was opened in 1973 and was a gay bar called “shelly’s leg” and it was named after a dancer named shelly who lost her leg in a confetti cannon accident and used the insurance/lawsuit settlement money to open a gay disco.
The other day, we were watching the extras for The Hobbit, and we saw the bit about local New Zealanders being cast as Hobbit extras. My BIL suggested that I should move to New Zealand and get cast as a Hobbit in the next film because I am such a Hobbit in all the ways that count.
I allowed myself a moment to fantasize that this is a thing that could actually happen before I went back to reality and said, “Can’t. Hobbits don’t look like me.”
Not, ‘Can’t afford it’ or ‘I don’t have any acting skills’, just ‘Hobbits are white, and I’m not, so this can never happen.’
All the people of color in these movies are either behind the scenes or under 50 pounds of make-up, playing goblins and orcs and Uruk-Hai. No Hobbits look like me, no elves look like me, no wizards will ever be brown or black or Asian or anything other than white. We’re only villains, only ugly and broken and untrustyworthy, and we never get to be the heroes of these stories, whether it’s in the books or in the movies.
And I can’t even let myself have the fantasy that I’m a Hobbit because the fandom fights so hard for its white, male-centric stories that even non-speaking background characters being cast with PoC led to a racist backlash. A white woman being cast as an elf has led to such hysterical reactions that I can’t even begin to imagine what would’ve happened to the Tolkien fandom if they’d cast a black woman as Tauriel. The earth would’ve probably ripped asunder from the outraged fan shrieking.
People who look like me aren’t allowed to even exist in these stories as background characters, let alone be the heroes, to be the elves and Hobbits and Dwarves and wizards that everyone knows and loves.
And as much as I love these stories and these movies, I am always fully, terribly aware that I will never be the hero, only the villain, and that my fantasies of being someone like Bilbo or Bofur or Tauriel will only ever be fantasies, and even then, I might not get those because people are vocally fighting to keep their representation white, which impacts negatively on my secret yearning to be a Hobbit.
It’s hard to think of yourself as a Hobbit when people are screaming in your face that the characters are white because of tradition, and any other casting would just ruin the franchises. It’s hard to fantasize about being the hero when people are constantly telling you that your skin color looks wrong on heroic characters, never mind that being white is not an intrinsic characteristic of any of the Tolkien characters.
It’s hard to love these stories and be in this fandom when you’re constantly told you don’t belong here.
On text and instant message, punctuation marks have largely been replaced by the line break. I am much more likely to type two separate messages without punctuation:
sorry about last night next time we can order little caesars
Than I am to send a single punctuated message:
I’m sorry about last night. Next time we can order Little Caesars.
And, because it seems begrudging, I would never type:
sorry about last night. next time we can order little caesars.
I talked about this in a post last year (Do you end a text with a period?), concluding that I use periods to varying degrees in text messages, sometimes for snark and especially when a textversation is longer (multiple sentences) or more formal. The comments/notes on that post, about other people’s text punctuation are also interesting. I wonder if anything has changed since then: feel free to check your own texts and report back!
I also liked the discussion of exclamation marks as a sincerity marker:
Nearly everyone has struggled to figure out whether or not a received message is sarcastic. So people began using exclamation points almost as sincerity markers: “I really mean the sentence I just concluded!” (This is especially true of exclamation points used in sequence: “Are you being sarcastic?” “No!!!!!”)
Especially in medium-formal emails, I often use exclamation marks to indicate cheerfulness or lightheartedness (compare “Looking forward to meeting you!” with “Looking forward to meeting you.”). Since emoticons aren’t quite acceptable in a more formal context, I end up using exclamation marks as a substitute when I want to make sure that I’m coming off as friendly.
A related phenomenon, I think, is the use of capitals and/or punctuation to indicate sarcasm. For example, notice the contrast between these two imagined texts:
don’t be late we’ve got some very important people coming
don’t be late we’ve got some Very Important People coming
In the second one, capitalizing Very Important People when it doesn’t need to be capitalized makes the sender seem sarcastic or at least as if they’re speaking with a raised eyebrow.
However, sometimes periods are also used for emphasis, and in combination with capitalization perhaps they cancel each other out and become sincere again. For example, I recently found myself saying the following, which is clearly sincere.
Best. Response. Ever.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that text messages have gotten more likely to include apostrophes and capitals for things like proper names because our phones automatically fill them in, and it would be way too much effort to take them out. (This being said, I’ve trained my phone to use lowercase “internet” and non-hyphenated “email” because using the default versions made me feel like an old fogey.)
I've seen a lot of female characters in fiction being sorted into two camps: the "weak" emotional, sensitive females and the "strong" cold-hearted, kickass females. I'm always scared that when I write that my female characters fall in either those categories or are left behind in a tag-on love-interest way. Or become Mary Sues. How do you find a balance?
DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. THIS QUESTION IS A TRAP.
I mean, look, it’s not your fault that it’s a trap; don’t feel bad. You didn’t build the trap. You may not even know you’re in there — god knows I didn’t, in the years I spent asking myself and others this question and questions like it. It’s a good trap. It’s tricky. It gets almost everyone, at some point or another. There are a lot of people who never actually find their way out.
But, hey, don’t take my word for it. A trap is easiest to identify in action, after all. Let me show you how it works.
You should write strong women — but not too strong, because then you’re saying that only strong women are valuable, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. So you should write weak women — but not too weak, because then you’re saying that all women are weak, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. So you should write women who are both strong and weak — but only in the right ways, of course, because if you write women who show strength and weakness in the wrong ways then you’re only enforcing the idea that women can’t handle themselves, which is wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. Make sure you write women with flaws, because that’s how you develop interesting characters — but not too many flaws, and definitely not the wrong ones, because then you’re saying that all women are inherently flawed, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. But don’t write them without flaws, because then they’re too perfect, and that makes them a Mary Sue, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. HOW DARE YOU WRITE WOMEN WRONG. Don’t you think it would be better not to write women at all?
See? It’s a trap. And it’s not even a trap in the way you think, either, because the issue here isn’t that you can nitpick out in any direction and then yell HERE IS AN ARBITRARY REASON YOU ARE DOING WOMEN WRONG — that’s a problem, don’t get me wrong, and its own trap to boot, but it’s not what we’re talking about right now. Like, it definitely sucks, but that happens all the time about all kinds of things (Women shouldn’t sleep with too many people, BUT ALSO NOT TOO FEW; women shouldn’t compromise themselves for their spouses, BUT HOW DARE THEY NOT DO THAT; I could go on but, like, why), and it doesn’t have shit to do with how you tell a story unless you let it.
Naw, friend, the trap here is the idea that you are writing women. You’re not. You’re writing a woman. One person. Every time you write a female character, that’s what you’re writing — just that one. She’s not an archetype, she’s not a statement on All Women Ever, she’s just a person. Singular. Solo. The same way (I hope?) you don’t think, “What is this male character saying about every single dude who has ever walked this earth?” whenever you write guys, so you should avoid thinking that when you write ladies. They’re just people. They don’t have to Be Everything — the idea that women have to Be Everything is enough of a drag in day to day life, you know? It doesn’t need to be given any room to strut around in your writing.
Build her, and not who you think she’s supposed to be: that’s how I do it. What’s she afraid of? What does she believe in? What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to her? The best meal she’s ever had? How would she describe herself if she had only five words to do it? What makes her laugh? What makes her cry? What does she think people want her to be, and what does she want to be, and is there a space between those things, and how does she fill it, if there is?
Nadia, one of the main characters in my novel — she’s a chef, because she likes the simplicity of food, the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to disappoint it, that its nuance is in physical construction as opposed to conceptual tone. She’s spent so much of her life desperately trying and cataclysmically failing to be the person her parents want her to be that she projects a certain amount of hostility towards everyone else, almost daring them to demand anything of her at all. She is hesitant to trust, because she has regretted trusting in the past, and she’s the sort of person who takes regret as a sign that she, herself, has done something wrong, something she should resist repeating in the future. She sneers because she’s used to being sneered at. She smiles when she feels someone has earned it, because that’s more or less the only way she’s ever received that reaction herself. And the thing is, for all I know this now? When I first thought about her, all I knew was her name and her profession. But I built her out out from that, thinking about how she, personally, came to be where she was, as opposed to how women, in general, might come to be in that place. It’s a much more effective strategy, in my experience. Less anxiety-producing, too.
Whoever your female character is, the more you know about her as a person — the more real she feels to you — the less you will feel like that other shit, the what-if-I’m-writing-women-wrong-shit, matters. Because it doesn’t; the truth is the trick, the really important thing to remember in writing women, is to write them one at a time. To write them into individuals, as opposed to into boxes. I hope that helps <3
So today I’m buying my first issue of Wonder Woman in the new 52 in a long time. It is a villain’s issue featuring Cheetah and it is written by John Ostrander with art by Victor Ibanez Ramirez. Why I will buy a comic for Ostrander should be pretty easy to figure out.
Anyway, the issue has one of the best Wonder Woman panels ever which is just ready made for a Meme. And here is that panel:
business:I can't afford to pay my employees a living wage.
free market conservatives:Lazy! If you can't afford one of the basic expenses of running a business, you shouldn't be running a business. Go back to school and learn how to run a business! Get a better business model! Why should you expect the rest of us to prop up your failure by feeding and clothing the employees YOU can't pay for with our tax money?
i can’t stress enough how language is defined by its use
you’re not really misusing a word if you’re using it in its most popular definition because there’s no way i could tell anyone that something is “terrific” and have EVERYONE KNOW THAT I MEAN IT INSPIRES TERROR GOD YOU’RE ALL SOOOOO STUPID
clinging to archaic definitions and being a language purist in general is so dumb for real like 50% of our language now is butchered latin mixed with shakespearean chatspeak
reverse hades/persephone, where the young daughter of summer uses plant magic to ensnare the lord of darkness and keep him prisoner in a beautiful garden above ground. Eventually, enchanted by her cleverness and wild youth he agrees to eat six pomegranate seeds and stay with her for half of every year.