Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Jessica Jones Ship


The Mary Sue is dead to me.

Okay okay, I'm KIDDING.

In the above-linked piece, it is argued that Jessica and Trish should not have a past, present, or future romance in Jessica Jones. Teresa Jusino writes:
How much of the interest in Jessica and Trish being a couple is a genuine desire for ["LGBTQIA"] representation, and how much of it is people wanting to bring their fan fiction to life and watch two women kiss at the expense of a different type of very important relationship? Why can’t women just be really good friends, indeed? Does every single couple that care for each other deeply need to be shipped? Do Sherlock and Watson need to develop sexual feelings for each other? Is romantic love the only kind of love that’s valid on television?
First things first, I agree with sentiment that it is important to portray non-romantic forms of love as valid and important in TV/film. That was the premise, in fact, of my previous Friendship Friday post about some of my favorite female (platonic) friendship pairings.

I would go further, though, and argue that romantic love is indeed not the only kind of love that's valid on television, particularly for women in relation to other women.  It seems, in fact, that women are often portrayed as love interests for men, rivals, or platonic friends.

So, while I wouldn't demand that "every single couple" that cares for each be written into canon as a romantic rather than platonic relationship, I would be deeply uncomfortable with begrudging fans for engaging in the act of shipping that couple as a romance.

Of course Sherlock and Watson don't need to develop sexual feelings for each other.  Has that ever been the argument, anyway? (Or, maybe it has been? Not my ship).  Rather, given the TV/film industry's lackluster representation of same-sex romantic couples, I think we have room to acknowledge both the importance of platonic love while also giving fans space, through shipping and the creation/consumption of fanworks, to depart from platonic representations that appeal to them as well.

We may not own copyrights and canons, but interpretations are ours.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Well That Seems Reasonable

[Content note: Misogyny, trans bigotry].

Rod Dreher, who we already know for his deplorable opinion of trans people, is now taking issue with a college that... provides free tampons and pads in university restrooms.(*)

Do you ever get the feeling that some cis white men think that if they don't need something, then nobody should have access to it?

Attribute it to what you will, but what a massive empathy gap.

That goes for abortion. Menstrual supplies. Safe spaces where his views aren't welcome. Content notes preceding content he doesn't understand or care about. Birth control. Gender affirmation surgery.  All of these, many a cisgender white male conservative sees as decadent wickedness that have no place in their preferred utopian enclave. Motto: I don't need it, nobody should have it! Even if others getting it in no way impacts my life!

Can you imagine what it would be to be a woman and/or LGBT person in this Benedict Option-esque society?

What an incoherent logic system.

Imagine: to simultaneously favor forced birth while opposing and mocking the provision of supplies one needs as a result of having a reproductive cycle.

It's the mindset of the men who think that men like themselves are human. Everyone else, an aberration. A supporting cast member to his important hero story. Except, like all privileged white men with unexamined privilege, when he finds out he's not the world's central hero, he believes he's its most important victim.

*I have not embedded a link to Dreher's blog, but rather to a different politics and culture blog whose authors have views that more align with my own. In light of the changes to AfterEllen, I've been thinking more about how many commercial Internet models reward hateful clickbait authors who are financially rewarded for drawing visitors to their site. It presents a dilemma, of course, as one (n=me) wants to counter such speech.

I'm going to try to minimize my complicity in directing traffic to such sites by (a) no longer directly linking to them (perhaps I'll do screenshots or something instead), and (b) not gratuitously calling attention to something unless I am also in some way countering it.  Any "share" of a deplorable opinion that doesn't also counter it or say it's awful is a promotion of it, which, I believe is partly responsible for our current Donald Trump situation. We must do more than use our social media networks to merely say, "Hey this person said this thing, oh no!"

Full disclaimer that I'm not perfect. I'm just trying to be more mindful to minimize my complicity in the Internet's toxic clickbait model.  /Welp this addendum was basically a whole entire other blog post, BYEEEE!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday ShieldSlash

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Who is watching this?

Now, it is true that troubled, angsty female characters (Skye) and nerdy female characters (Jemma) are like lesbian catnip (n = me).

But, to me, Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is the true hero of Shield.  May (and it's always May, never her first name, Melinda) is the type of woman who certain people, like non-feminists, would call "a bitch." Her main "sin" being that she doesn't smile readily and certainly not on any man's (or hell, anyone's) command. And now, don't get me wrong, May is not perfect. She has a fair amount of angst. It's just more reserved (I'd say, "mature") than, say, Skye's external, obvious troubles.

Anyway, May is a pilot, she's mostly in control of things, and she's the best fighter on the team. In a just world, she would be the leader of SHIELD, and Coulson would be her second-in-command (ahem, if that).

On my best days, I like to think that I'm a "May."

In reality, I'm usually more likely a Skye-Jemma hybrid of nerdangst.  So, on that note, I'll revel in this fan vid. (Pairing: May/Bobbi; Although, that May v. May battle was epic)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MTV Thursday

Just out of curiosity, how do the kids these days watch/find out about music videos?

I listen to new music mostly through different streaming services, but rarely do I seek out music videos. I grew up in the era of Music Television (MTV) where the station literally mostly played music videos in the early 1980s. (Hey, remember video jockey Kennedy? She's now a conservative Republitarian - that's my made-up word for Republican/Libertarian, or maybe other people say it too, whatever).

ANYway, my point today is that although I have heard the song numerous times, I did not realize that Rihanna's music video for "Te Amo" is.... kind of amazing. And by kind of, I mean a lot. And it's like 6 years old!

The important thing is that I am definitely here for it now. Oh yes. And by that I mean I've only watched it about eleventymillion times in the past week. Is it possible to become more gay when you're already really gay? Yes. I believe so.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Damn: Trish Bendix Writes AfterEllen Eulogy

AfterEllen, the popular lesbian and bisexual pop culture site, is shutting down. Or, at least, is going to be significantly changing. [NOTE: See update]

Editor in Chief Trish Bendix wrote a eulogy yesterday on tumblr, noting that the company that owns AfterEllen wouldn't let her post her piece at AfterEllen:
 "Here are the facts: Evolve Media purchased AfterEllen from Viacom two years ago. They gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion. And, yes, “they” are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other properties—large-scale media outlets, lesbian bars out-priced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs. 
 At the very same time, queer women and culture is being celebrated on the Emmys, in the legalization of both mothers being included on their newborn’s birth certificate, and our namesake, Ellen DeGeneres, being one of the most well-known, well-liked and undeniably profitable television and lifestyle personalities of our generation.

Somewhere, there’s a disconnect. AfterEllen is just one of the homes lesbian, bisexual and queer women will have lost in the last decade. It was a refuge, a community, a virtual church for so many. I’m not sure that some people outside of us can really ever understand that.

Evolve has decided to keep the site and its archives alive for now, with a promise of periodically publishing freelance pieces in the future. I am not sure what that will look like, as Friday is also my last day, after 10 years of contributing writing and eventually coming on to work full time as a blog editor, then managing editor, and, for the last two years, as Editor in Chief."
With all of the usual disclaimers that I haven't agreed with all of the site's content or moderation practices, this space has been important for so many women during its 14 years in existence, including to me. Participating in The L Word forums circa 2004 were some of my first experiences interacting with an online community of queer women.  I even had a completely awkward (on my part) meetup with founder Sarah Warn when she was visiting the city in which I live, and which she probably 100% doesn't remember, LOL. But, I drank too much and we talked about my shitty ex, Desert Hearts, and how/why she created the site.

It's a bit unfathomable to me that the site will be changing or will no longer exist in its current incarnation.

Through its interviews with lesbian, bisexual, and trans (LBT) actors and those portraying them on TV/film and through its recaps, reviews, and different contests (like the AfterEllen Hot 100), I think the site has had an extremely important (and perhaps overlooked) impact in terms of letting the TV/film industry know both (a) that LBT women exist as a fanbase, and (b) we care A LOT about how we are represented in TV/film.

Without being privy to financial circumstances that Bendix refers to with the respect to the company that owns AfterEllen, my subjective opinion as a user is that the site declined significantly in terms of user experience, something I noticed mostly in the past couple of years. I'm not at all referring to the content of articles, but rather, to what seemed to be a greatly-increased commercial presence. When visiting, I always got the sense that first and foremost a company was behind the site wanting to make money off of users, and that sense was almost completely overwhelming when visiting.

I understand the importance of ads being necessary to generate revenue when one is running a commercial site. Yet, a visit to the site to read an article often entailed: seeing a banner ad, seeing ads on the sidebar, having ads on the sidebar with embedded videos that would automatically play, having a pop up ad with video show up once you clicked on an article, and having a pop-up ad play audio/video. Like I said, overwhelming. The ad content was overly-intrusive, made the site slow, and it distracted from the substantive content, so I know my visits to the site definitely decreased over the years.

But, I also think sites ought to pay writers, particularly if they are commercial sites. And, the revenue to do that has to come from somewhere.

With the shuttering of The Toast earlier this year (which I also find heartbreaking, and which also seems like it was done at least in part for financial reasons), the LBT and feminist blogospheres will have to continue to explore models of sustainability - models that pay people and in which the user/reader experience is not eroded. Readers seem to not like paid subscription models. Although, I know other sites (like Shakesville) use a donation model.

Personally, I would love to blog/write about LGBT pop culture and feminism on a full-time paying basis, but it's difficult to conceive of doing that in a way that would pay the bills. Hence, Fannie's Room, something I do in my free time. (YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, SUCKERS!)  And, there's almost a Catch-22 component to it: if you work full time at a non-blogging job, you have less energy to write during your free time. If you work full-time at a blogging job, you probably have more trouble paying the bills.

I guess my point is that I don't have a simple answer. I'm sad to hear this news about AfterEllen. It seems like the end of an era, in some ways, and I hope we can find a way to collectively fill the void. What is after AfterEllen?

[UPDATE: An Emrah Kovacoglu, General Manager of TotallyHer Media, posted at AE today that the site isn't shutting down, but that Bendix has been fired as Editor, that people would still be able to access content, and that they hope to work with freelancers to generate new content. This claim aligns with what Bendix said in her tumblr.

In the comment threads, multiple current writers for the site have said that this information had not previously been shared with them, and that the editorial change was abrupt. The way TotallyHer has handled this situation has led to distrust within the community that AE would be now (mis)managed by straight men and eventually shut down when not profitable enough. I will certainly be monitoring developments.]