Friday, January 19, 2018

RIP Dolores

Songs by The Cranberries, like Alanis Morissette and Pearl Jam, always instantly take me back to high school.

As a queer kid growing up in Nowhere, Midwest and having few role models, I looked up to Dolores O'Riordan. Back then, I had no idea what her politics were on LGBT rights or what her sexual orientation even was. These were mostly pre-Internet days, after all. This might sound ridiculous if you have no insight into what my childhood was like, but, that she sang the political song "Zombie" at all, let alone the way she did, and had short platinum hair seemed queer enough for her to be a hero to me back then.

Here's one of my favorites, "When You're Gone."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

On "Fragility" and Boundaries

I did a quick Twitter thread the other day on the notion that setting boundaries makes a person weak and means they are fragile.

Try setting even the most basic, simple boundary with a stranger. Say, block a shitty person on Twitter. Watch them create multiple accounts so they can come back at you and squeal at you how you setting a boundary "against" them is human rights violation of the first order.

The fact is, most tough-talking "politically incorrect" white guys would crumple if they had to spend even one day as a prominent feminist/person of color on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hell That Misogyny Has Wrought

Hey, have you heard somewhere from someone that the #MeToo movement has gone too far? Of course you have, because rape culture is terrible.

Welp, I'm here to tell you that those people are wrong. We haven't even begun.

I wrote about this over at Shakesville: The Hell That Misoygny Has Wrought

Monday, January 15, 2018

Quote of the Day: Believe Anyone Who Smells Gas

This one's from Jane Dykema, writing in general about the massive refusal to simply believe women:
"One night we had a thrilling summer storm, bright and crashing, wind and rain blowing into the house from every direction. I wanted to open all the doors and windows wider and run around, but it was better for the house, the wood, to close them tight. We hadn’t been in the house long, and it was the first time in this house we’d had to close all the windows. In the morning I smelled gas, strong, unmistakable. 'I smell gas,' I said to my husband. 'I don’t smell it,' he said. He had a friend come over. 'Why are you having a friend come over,' I asked, 'when it doesn’t matter if he can smell it or not, and none of us can fix it?' His friend didn’t smell it, either. I called the gas company. The gas company employee didn’t smell it, either. He waved his reader around and it blasted off in three places, substantial leaks behind the stove and in the basement. 'Always trust a woman’s nose,' the gas company employee said.

Yes, I thought, believe us.

Then, No, I thought, I’m not a fucking witch. Believe anyone who smells gas. If someone smells gas, believe them."
It's good advice.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Recap: The Flash 4.8 "Crisis On Earth-X, Part Three"

The saga of Agent Canary continues,with Part Three of the major DC crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" taking place in Season Four of the The Flash.

When we rejoin our heroes, most of them are in a concentration camp on Earth-X. They are also wearing collars that dampen their powers. It also turns out that Alt-Captain-Lance, Sara's dad, is a Nazi. He encounters Sara in the camp, notes that she has blond hair and blue eyes, and asks why she's there. She says she's bisexual and he gets disgusted, implying that he killed Alt-Sara for that reason.

The heroes at first try to escape using meaningful eye contact and discreet hand signals with each other, but Alt-Captain-Lance is on to them and he lines them up to execute them. Just when it appears they're going to die, Alt-Snart comes in with his cold gun and shoots the Nazis. It turns out Alt-Snart has a boyfriend, a hero called The Ray, who is imprisoned in the camp.

Alt-Snart takes them to some sort of queer resistance headquarters (my interpretation), and tells the heroes that there's a portal thingy back to Earth One, which is guarded by Nazis. It turns out that Alt-Winn is the General of the resistance. We know he's counter-culture because he has a scruffy beard and is wearing a quasi-military jacket and fingerless gloves. Anyway, he had been developing a plan to destroy the portal, which would prevent the heroes from returning home.

General Winn, however, refuses to help the heroes. Sara then calls him "Fingerless Gloves," which doesn't help the situation, and Alex talks to him privately, but even she's unable to convince him not to destroy the portal.

Alex is upset because Supergirl, meanwhile, is tenderizing under a red lamp on Earth One. Alt-Wells is prepping her for heart surgery, because apparently he can do heart transplants.

We get a solid Agent Canary scene this episode. I really like Alex as a character. I have always liked Sara too, but with the cast of Legends of Tomorrow being more ensemble than Supergirl, we've gotten fewer glimpses into Sara Lance's personality. In this episode, however, I think Sara and Alex work really well together, both being strong, yet thoughtful, people. Alex and Sara are both leaders in their own right, but there's no hokey power struggle between them. And, Sara seems to acknowledge Alex's ambivalence about where she's at, internally, with Maggie and gives her space.

In other queer news, Snart convinced his boyfriend to help him convince General Winn to let the heroes go through the portal thingy before he blows it up. More importantly, Snart, Snart's big fluffy coat, and Snart's boyfriend gay kiss:

How many homophobic-nerd-rager heads exploded at that?

Back on Earth One, Iris and Felicity are still basically the only ones in the group who haven't been captured. They're crawling around in some air vents at Star Labs, trying to come up with a plan. I can't help it, I really want them to be the ones to save the day.

Just as Alt-Wells starts the big "heart transplant," Iris and Felicity cut power, drop down from the vents, and punch some Nazis.

They make a valiant effort, but some sort of Alt-C-3PO robot captures them. And then, on Earth-X, while trying to escape to the portal with the other heroes, it appears that Stein gets shot and killed.

So, by the end of Part Three, the following dramas need to be resolved in the finale:
  • Will Alt-Wells do the heart transplant, killing Supergirl?
  • Will the other heroes be able to return home to Earth One?
  • What will happen to Earth-X? Will the queer resistance take over? 
  • What will happen to Iris and Felicity?
  • Will Stein live?
  • Will the Nazis destroy all the other worlds with their atomic bomb?
  • Will Felicity and Oliver break up, since Felicity turned down Oliver's marriage proposal?
  • Will Iris and Barry actually get married?
  • What will happen with Alex and Sara??

Deep Thought of the Day: This episode was super-queer. I'm not sure I thought I'd ever see something so queer in the CW/DC-verse. I like it.

Note: CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg has been fired after a sexual harassment investigation. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ellen Page and Emma Portner Marry

Ellen Page announced on Wednesday via Twitter and Instagram that she and dancer Emma Portner have gotten married! Congratulations and best wishes to both of them!

Also, very important side note: I couldn't not mention that Lucy Lawless was quick to offer congrats to the couple:

It's the little things that give me joy in life.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trump the Unqualified Autocrat

Susan Glasser at Politico has written a terrifying summary of Trump's first year of, to put it mildly, lacking foreign diplomacy skills.

To give you an idea, here Glasser is referencing a September 2017 dinner among Trump and leaders of four Latin American countries (emphasis added):

"After the photo op was over and the cameras had left the room, Trump dominated the long table. His vice president, Mike Pence, was to his right; Pence had just spent nearly a week on a conciliatory, well-received tour of the region, the first by a high-ranking administration official since Trump’s inauguration. To Trump’s left was his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. 'Rex tells me you don’t want me to use the military option in Venezuela,' the president told the gathered Latin American leaders, according to an account offered by an attendee soon after the dinner. 'Is that right? Are you sure?' Everyone said they were sure. But they were rattled. War with Venezuela, as absurd as that seemed, was clearly still on Trump’s mind.

 By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. 'Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,' the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. 'The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”"
The portrait painted here is that Trump is, at best, an incompetent front man (as some of his Republican "reassurers" suggest) while more level-headed folks actually run the show and, at worst, he's an incompetent autocrat who can't actually be controlled.

I think it's the latter.

Trump has given no indication that he has even a rudimentary understanding of the US political system or that he is aware of, let alone would respect, checks and balances. I doubt he could even pass a citizenship test. Per former State Department employees, he also rejects expertise in the arena of foreign diplomacy, per Glasser's account, and instead demands that policy be set by his own ignorant "instinct" and/or according to what Presidents Obama and Bush had previously done (in which case he does the opposite).

All of this is likely how he ran his businesses: petty, abusive, unqualified, self-obsessed, imbued with toxic masculinity.

We are in trouble. We may not (at least obviously) see the effects of this dangerous incompetence immediately, but one day, we will. And, his Republican Party, which controls Congress yet heartlessly and recklessly fails to take meaningful action to oppose or remove him, has full complicity.

Who could have predicted that Trump would see the "nuclear button" as an extension of his white dick? (Everyone. Literally everyone. Except, I guess, The New York Times which is super impressed by his Twitter usage).

Don't forget, folks: All of this, or a woman! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Recap: Arrow 6.8 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part Two"

The Agent Canary, er I mean the Supergirl crossover fun, continues with Part Two of "Crisis on Earth-X" being featured in season six of Arrow.

Here we learn more about Earth-X and it sounds terrible.

It's an alternate Earth where the Nazis developed the atomic bomb first and won World War II. A few more interesting facts we learn about the doppelgangers is that they're looking for "the prism," Oliver seems to be the ringleader, and he and Supergirl are together. We also know that doppelganger Supergirl is a bitch, I guess, because in addition to being a Nazi, they have her wearing dark red lipstick.

These revelations lead me to further questions. Specifically, where are the Felicity, Mon-El, and Lena doppelgangers?

On the relationship front, Oliver wants to marry Felicity, but she's not keen on the idea. Shrug. I guess the powers-that-be were looking for a reason to make Oliver even more broody than he already is?

Speaking of break-ups, it seems that the Stein half of Firestorm wants to retire, but Jax doesn't want him to. What will become of Firestorm?

In Very Important Agent Canary News, the first (and really only) Alex/Sara interaction of the episode comes as an awkward exchange when they meet at an elevator. Alex is feeling angsty about their one night stand and wondering if she made a mistake in leaving Maggie.

Alex, just no. The answer is no. Breaking up with Maggie was not a mistake. I liked Maggie, but the kids thing is an issue that would have never gone away. Also, see Sara, above.

Back to the doppelgangers, they obtain the prism and we learn that they want to use it to build a bomb so they can rule over this Earth. The heroes go to the doppelganger base and they have a massive Nazi-punching fight that includes witty repartee, dramatic entrances, and general hero posing. Here's our Supergirl, for instance, mid-fight:

Despite everything, the heroes lose this battle, leading "Oliver in the High Castle" to basically call of our heroes weak cucks. Also, Doppelganger Supergirl is sick, apparently, so the Nazis want to cut out our Supergirl's heart and give it to Doppelganger Supergirl.

In conclusion, pretty much everyone gets captured and transported to Earth-X, except for Felicity and Iris. Okay nerds, it's on you.

Deep Thought of the Day: This crossover is finally my opportunity to note how supremely fucked up it was, in season one of Legends of Tomorrow, that Stein drugged Jax to get him to join the Legends against his will.

On top of the drugging, Jax, the only main Black male character on the show, was written to be completely unconcerned by, and forgiving of, the fact that Stein roofied him into joining Rip Hunter's time traveling club. In this episode we further learn that Jax has come to view Stein as a father figure. Coupled with the obvious homoerotic subtext to the Firestorm character, which requires two male characters to "merge" into one, the "predatory homosexual" trope can also be read into Stein's character.

How and why has this plotline been completely glossed over?  What role did an Executive Producer who was later fired after a sexual harassment investigation have in greenlighting and/or advancing this plotline and character development?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Women In Entertainment Launch "Time's Up" Campaign

As I previously referenced in my piece, "Rape Culture Rigs the System Against Women," in November 2017, Latina farmworkers signed a letter of solidarity for those who have experienced gender-based violence in the entertainment industry.

Yesterday, 300 women in the entertainment industry issued a response letter, called Time's Up, expressing gratitude for, and solidarity with, the farmworkers and those in other industries who experience assault and harassment. The letter can be read in its entirety here.

The signatories of the letter have called for an increase of women in leadership positions and have seeded a legal defense fund to help survivors of sexual assault and harassment challenge perpetrators. The fund will be housed and administered by the National Women's Law Center.

I'm glad that women in the entertainment industry responded to the farmworkers' letter and are using their platforms and privilege to take concrete actions around this pervasive issue.

Many people and companies reflexively respond to harassment scandals by suggesting that harassment trainings need to be implemented. Many companies offer "trainings" in order to reduce their corporate liability, to help demonstrate that their workplace is not hostile. However, with research suggesting that harassment trainings don't work, I'm glad to see that this campaign is taking the action of funding legal advocacy and advocacy around women's leadership.

That said, barriers exist to using the legal system to address harassment and assault. Rape culture is so ingrained that we need a multi-faceted approach to account for the myriad experiences and barriers that survivors face.

Time's Up is a good and important step. It will be flawed at times, but I hope its leadership is open to dialogue with different classes of women and survivors.

In the Trump years, the anti-feminist, misogynistic backlash is real. But, as we move into the new year, do not forget this: so is the resistance.

Stronger together.