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The Trouble with Brett Easton Ellis

This post is one of a series of posts in honor of LGBT Pride Month. This post will not have a solid thesis. I don’t know what I’m arguing or what I want to prove. I have questions. And intimations. A sense of unease.

To be honest, I’m torn about Brett Easton Ellis. I don’t know what to make of him. Either as a writer or as an occasional commentator on LGBT culture.

For those who don’t know (given the usual focus of this blog), Brett Easton Ellis is an American writer. His career has spanned from the early eighties (with Less Than Zero) to the present (with Imperial Bedrooms). His most famous works are his earliest novels: Less Than ZeroRules of Attraction, and American Psyco (his most famous work). Ellis’s writing is noted for the use of stream of consciousness, a focus on celebrity glamor, and usage of black satire.  Given several of his works, he is no stranger to controversy.

I first encountered Ellis years ago in a profile documentary on Bravo (when Bravo was actually a good channel). I was entranced by this rebel. He was (and is?) the writer as celebrity. The equal of those he writes about. And yes, I may have had a celebrity crush on him (I was in my teens at the time).

It would be several years, though, before I would again encounter Ellis. This time, in his works.

Rules of Attraction is an amazing read. But that was years ago. 

Now, I’ve got Less Than Zero and Glamorama from the library on my shelf. I’m in the process of slogging through Glamorama, and tempted to drop that novel to move on to Less Than Zero.

While I enjoy Rules of AttractionGlamorama is really dragging. It’s, honestly, rather boring. I’d almost want to say a good third of the novel could have easily been cut. Is the long name dropping sentences really necessary?

Glamorama is, simply put, an updated version of North by Northwest. The only difference is the unreliability of the narrator. Is Victor Ward schzophrenic? Is he actually involved in this crazy spy thriller that is, perhaps, reminiscent of 1960s spy spoofs? Or is this actually a movie? Or a combination of all three? That is the question.

But mustering up the will power to stick with it is difficult.

And that, perhaps, is the rub of the issue.

Is Brett Easton Ellis a one theme pony? Has he really progressed since his most successful period? Has he become entrenched in the eighties?

The problem of Brett Easton Ellis refers back to a previous post where I explored how fans should handle writers whose views they do not wish to financially support (Frank Miller’s comments about OWS come to mind).

And in the past five years or so, Ellis has become a veritable gadfly to the entertainment wing of LGBT media.

I’m honestly torn. Ellis’s comments have been excessive. Would it not be better to deem Glee unwatchable crap without referencing “puddles of HIV” or viciously criticizing/ bullying Chris Colfer or Matt Bomer?

Why am I torn? I like Ellis’s work despite the endemic flaws and success bloat. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that watching Glee is like face planting into a pile of cow shit (to use my own simile), I don’t necessarily disagree with the spirit of his views on Glee.  I do, of course, have issues with his comments on Chris Colfer and Matt Bomer. I actually like Colfer’s singing though I prefer hiwriting (has he been asked what his post Land of Stories book plans are?). And while I know zilch about Bomer (except he is fucking hot) and less about Fifty Shades of Whatever, isn’t it too soon to play the fantasy casting game?

I do have issues with Ellis’s public comments. By going to the textual extreme, dialogue is shut down. Rather than defending Glee, Colfer, or Bomer, Ellis’s opponents use offense. “Ellis is a hack,” “a bitter queen,”  and so on.

The argument needs to be had. Should we be satisfied with Glee? What should be done about internal bigotries within LGBT culture (like effemophobia) ? And does Bomer realistically have a shot at playing Not-Edward-Cullen (is that the former Twilight fanfiction novel)?

I’m torn. I like Ellis’s work, but I think he takes his public pronouncements too far. Is he really after discourse or publicity, though? And why is he not engaged on the meanings of what he tweets? What should I do?

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What I Want, the First Post in Honor of Gay Pride Month

Fair warning, this post will involve profanity, wishful thinking, and a fair level of ranting. And maybe some self revelations. 

This post is geared towards LGBT representations in literature. This encompasses all literature. From novels to television, movies, comics, and games. From literary mainstream to science fiction, fantasy, soaps, and so on. I’m going to touch them all, and discuss what I would like to see going forward.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m as well versed in the representation of LGBT characters and issues in fiction as I would like to be. For some time, I did toy with the idea of studying LGBT literature as a focus. But I never got too deep with that flirtation. Largely because I’m a very picky reader (read I’m a fucking harsh critic). 

So, I’m not claiming that what I’m going to say is the truth. Maybe there are LGBT characters that I want to see, but I just haven’t discovered them yet. And hey, if you readers can point me to great literature (of all kinds), you have my thanks in advance.

The question, I guess, is what do I really want? What do I want to see and read? Without talking out my ass or playing too much of a what if game, let the ranting begin!

I’ve gone on record that, for me, Glee is an unwatchable, poorly written mess (now let me qualify by saying, the show just is not for me). But, is Glee not the “gayest show on television” (unfortunately, in my opinion)? And is not Kurt Hummel one of the (current) paragons of LGBT representation? Argh!

You see, I don’t think Glee is nearly as progressive as it likes to think it is. The show does argue for tolerance from bullying and criticizes the most egregious forms of homophobia. But are Kurt and Blaine treated with a marked difference than the straight characters? And are Santana and Brittany treated more as titillation than anything else? 

I don’t fundamentally dislike Kurt’s character. In fact, I rather like it. My problem is that most of his storylines, to my limited knowledge, piss me off. The infatuation with Finn is, to me, nothing less than homophobic (and given that the other major characters exhibit similar infatuations should be called out). I could go on complaining, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll give some ideas of narratives I’d like to see (either for Kurt or some other character).

I’d love to see Kurt confront institutionalized homophobia in a way that he never expected. What if his rejection by NYADA had more to do with his sexuality rather than the lame excuse he was given? Remember, while Broadway isn’t as homophobic as Hollywood (on an industry level), there is likely to be a notable institutional level, regardless. I mean, seriously, Kurt will struggle to achieve his dreams because of his sexuality. I’d like to see that struggle. Also, I’d like to have seen a much better pre college story line (one of my pet peeves is the one university trope). Does Kurt have other options? What are they? Finally, I’d like to have seen Kurt lose some of his sexual reticence. Could he not have several love interests (rather than what is almost certain to happen)?

It took me some time to figure out what my problem with Shameless was this season. I just don’t like Ian’s relationship with Mickey. I just don’t like them together. I’d rather see Ian with someone else. But there isn’t much that I’d necessarily change. 

Let’s move on to science fiction and fantasy (in many forms). In recent years, the representation of LGBT has improved immensely (not to say that this is a new phenomenon). 

The presence of LGBT characters in comics has exploded in the past ten years to an amazing level. Though more can (and should be done). The Big Two have made tremendous strides introducing new LGBT heroes and supporting characters. And creator owned comics? Very impressive strides. 

The issue, though, is how those characters are handled. Some are handled very well (like Alan Scott and Batwoman) while others are handled very poorly (Bunker). I think that is the struggle that lies ahead.

When it comes to books, the culture is changing in a much more progressive way. Hopefully, this trend continues. I haven’t read as much as I would like. But I’m making a commitment to seek out and read more SF with LGBT characters. 

Now when it comes to film and television, the level of representation is a mixed bag. Several prominent shows have LGBT characters (Game of ThronesSpartacus, Teen Wolf, etc.) But, again, I’d like to see more. And I’d like to see these characters raised to a level of prominence rarely seen before. 

What pisses me off, of course, is, despite the progress made, the increased level of representation is so fragile. Last year was perhaps one of the best when it came to LGBT characters. But next year bodes ill with so many shows with LGBT characters canceled. How is that to be combated?

The more I think about it, the more I am sure I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. The best way to get the types of representation one wants is to do it oneself. Either through creative endeavors or activism. One should never settle for the status quo. 

 

Valentine’s Day Special: On Gay Relationships in Comics and Television

Oh, Valentine’s Day. A day of love. Or at least spending a ridiculous amount of money on boyfriends, girlfriends, friends in general, family, classmates, etc. Personally, I hate that Valentine’s Day has become so damn commercialized. Like most other holidays. But this is not a ranting post opposing the commercialization of our holidays. Rather, I want to write about the depiction of gay relationships in comics and television. With maybe some ranting thrown in.

I’ve written about gay romantic relationships in fiction before. But I want to do a little more. I want to interrogate this issue. I want to figure out what my own stance is. And I want to do something about it. 

Taking Characters Out of the Dating Pool

The great thing about DC’s New 52 is the continuing commitment to include increased levels of character diversity. Among their number are the reimagined Green Lantern of Earth 2 (Alan Scott) and new creation Miguel Jose Barragan (Bunker) of Teen Titans. I’ve gone on record repeatedly extolling my love of James D. Robinson’s work on Earth 2 and of his treatment of Alan Scott in particular. I’m not as up to date on Teen Titans, but I have seen Bunker’s coming out scene to Wonder Girl. And it was awesomely funny, in my opinion. But, I do have some issues with them, too.

Alan Scott’s boyfriend, Sam, is killed in his first appearance. This, unfortunately, classic superhero origin archetype pushes Green Lantern to become a superhero. Like Batman honoring his parents and Spider-Man honoring Uncle Ben, Green Lantern honors his love for Sam through his heroism. This is an awesome development (and similar to Mikaal Tomas’s Starman during Robinson’s run on Justice League). But this does prevent any hints of romance coming Green Lantern’s way for a good while yet. The man needs to properly mourn the loss of the love of his life, after all! Unless he, too, pulls a Mikaal Tomas at some point. . . 

Bunker is in a similar situation to Green Lantern. At least I think he is. I don’t know for sure, though, if this has been mentioned in canon yet. There has been numerous reports that Bunker has a boyfriend. He’s just in a coma. How convenient. Personally, I think a better approach would either be that Miguel is, honestly, far too busy trying to survive to spend any time dating. Or, he could just be, you know, single. Anyway, Bunker hasn’t really been explored in depth as of yet. He hasn’t gotten an arc of his own. So we’re in the waiting game with him for now. 

The Curse of the One True Paring

Wiccan and Hulkling, Apollo and Midnighter, and Kurt and Blaine are all core (or at least major) pairings in their respective series. Each relationship has, for good or ill, captured the imagination and devotion of the fandom. So, what’s my beef with these couples?

Let’s take a quick break from comic books and deal with Klaine first. If you’ve read my previous posts on Glee, you will know that I have major issues with how Kurt’s storyline has gone. For the purposes of this post, I’ll limit my ranting to one thing: until recently, Kurt has never, really, had a counter suitor competing with Blaine for Kurt’s heart. It was (and is) Blaine or nothing (though originally Sam). And for me, I’ve always had issues with this relationship. I don’t really see it as healthy. And I suspect there is a large amount of settling going on here. 

Now, I think part of the problem lies with the writers. They’ve done a terrible job with Kurt, in my opinion, and they’ve done an even worse job with Blaine. But the lion’s share of the blame goes to an unwillingness to introduce more LGBT characters to complement, contrast, and support the major preexisting LGBT characters on the show. 

Why is Blaine the only out guy that Kurt meets before his senior year? And if the original plan with Sam came to fruition, would Blaine have been only a one off? Ugh. Lima, Ohio isn’t in the middle of nowhere. It is a large town within a few hours drive of three large cities: Toledo, Dayton, and Columbus (the largest city in the state and home to OSU). And there are no other out youth in the region? What about Dalton? Wouldn’t it have a (hypothetical) GSA? Why does Kurt never (to my knowledge) express a desire to seek out people who get him in ways that no one else ever could?

Now, back to comics. The argument can be made that Wiccan and Hulkling have been romantically involved before the first series even begins. And, under the argument that Wiccan has gradually become the main protagonist of the entire Young Avengers saga, their romance is the central romance of the series. I love that. But I’m torn, too. I love the fact that Billy and Teddy have such a strong, central relationship. But I have problems with them, too. 

In my review of Young Avengers #1 (Gillen and McKelvie), I mention that I love the fact that Billy and Teddy are passionate. Remember, that is only their second on panel kiss. But I must ask a follow up question: In the same issue, Kate Bishop wakes up after sleeping with Noh-Varr. So, will future issues depict Billy and Teddy in a similar fashion? I hope so. 

As far as their relationship itself? I like it. I like that they are “sickening” in a romantic and sappy way. But, they could use some drama. Eventually. 

Moving on to Apollo and Midnighter, I love how Paul Cornell handled the hesitant flirting the two engage in before they fully join the team. And I love how Apollo rages against being in the “superhero closet” as it reminds him oh so painfully of being in the closet when he was younger. 

I dropped the series with issue 10, so I don’t know exactly what has gone on since. And it does look as if the current Stormwatch team is imploding for a second reboot. Or something. Not really looking forward to it. 

The Problem Explained

So, why doesn’t Kurt have another romantic option during his rather torturous courtship with Blaine? Simple, there is a pressure to keep the numbers of LGBT characters low so that the property doesn’t become “too gay” and lose “mainstream” audience (or readers). If Kurt were to join Dalton’s (hypothetical) GSA, started his own at McKinley, or got involved in some form of LGBT youth group in Columbus, Glee becomes too openly political and activist. But if only a few recurring characters are added (Blaine, Sebastian, Dave, and Adam) with a few more one offs (Jeremiah, Chandler, etc.) then Glee doesn’t have to deal with “too much gay.” 

A similar occurrence exists in the DC Universe. I don’t know if this is apocryphal or not, but I remember reading that an editor on Teen Titans didn’t want Bunker to be “too gay.” Whatever that means. Of course, given the nature of superhero comics, dropping in on the local Gotham City LGBT community center might be a bit of a problem if one has to save the world on a regular basis. But it would be a nice character moment.

What has gone unstated is that while it is okay to depict a (limited) number of LGBT characters, it is not okay to explore those characters in a more aggressively sexual way. Just look at Kurt and Blaine with their anemic first time and lackluster passion. And how long did it take for Wiccan and Hulkling to finally kiss (on panel)? We can, I think, do better.

Doing Something About It

Ranting and bitching solves nothing. Except maybe bullying the creators of Glee (if a large enough number of fans are involved). But, honestly, that doesn’t satisfy me. I want to do something. 

I want to create and write the LGBT characters that I want to read and watch. But I also want to make the work (in whatever form it is) as appealing to everyone as I can. The question, I guess, is if I can have my cake and eat it, too. Can I have a large audience/ readership and not sacrifice my vision for the work, especially when it comes to matters of diversity? I think so. 

Hating What I Want to Love (Though I Wish I Didn’t)

I freely admit it. I get these strange and very annoying obsessions that I wish I didn’t (often because I really dislike them). Glee is a classic example of this type of obsession. What is it about Glee that so fascinates and repels me? Why do I give a damn? 

Before I begin, I must confess that I’ve largely resisted watching the series save for one episode. And that I fast forwarded. But I haven’t been able to resist reading some of the recaps and discussions. Some of which have been cogent. And most of which have been horrifyingly asinine. 

The Problem With Glee Part One: It’s the Writing, Really

I’m a stickler for world building. Especially when things are set on Earth. The one we all should live on. And the last time I checked, Glee is set on our Earth. 

So, how old is Kurt Hummel when the series begins? According to the wiki, Kurt is born in March. But he has a car in the third episode. Either Kurt is a junior in season one or he somehow got a license early (the legal driving age is 16 in Ohio). 

And don’t get me started on the viscous rule changes for the competitions! Do the writers not pay attention to their own show? And why not just go with the rules in real show choir competitions? Hell, from what little I know, Sue Sylvester (and the school as a whole) would have a legitimate beef with it. Particularly the larger competitions!

I’ve gone to college. And I have no idea what the fuck is going on with NYADA. What the hell is up with not applying to multiple universities? And who gets in to a university on an impromptu audition? Even if it is by standing ovation?

If I actually watched the show, I would probably be able to give you a litany of examples of world building fuck ups and character inconsistencies. Maybe I’m just too much of a stickler to enjoy the intended schizophrenia of the show?

Moving to the narrative, I sometimes wonder what is going on in the minds of the writers, showrunners, and other decision makers. I get that they want a surreal, campy, and schizophrenic narrative, but still, I just don’t get it. Like the various breakups in “The Break Up,” the Kurt-Finn storyline from season one, the season three finale, etc. Again, if I actually took the time to watch the series, I’d probably have to pay for damages from my shoes hitting the wall.

The Problem of Glee Part Two: On Gender, Race, and Homosexuality

Besides cheerleading, are any of the female characters in any sports? Or are sports only a domain for male characters? In addition to that, are the women on Glee dependent on and defined by their relationships with men? I’ve read that Rachel Berry is falling into this trope. What about the others? And of course, there is the cheerleader stereotype running amok.

Does Glee have a race problem? I understand the various characters are stereotypes. But does that give the show a pass? Are the accusations in the various “gaycism” articles valid? Are the various characters of color on the show treated the same as the white characters?

Glee has been applauded for its depictions of lgbt characters. Hell, it even has several GLAAD nominations. But does the show deserve it? 

The lesbian relationship is no more. And I don’t know if they’ve ever really explored them in the same way that Kurt has been. To be honest, I wonder if “Brittana” is only for “girl on girl is hot.”

And I am, honestly, unimpressed with the depictions of the gay characters. All four major gay characters have been depicted as being, arguably, shades of “predatory  gay”: Kurt’s crush on Finn (which After Elton called out at one point), Karofsky’s bullying lust for Kurt, Blaine’s made up relationship and attempted rape of Kurt, and Sebastian’s whole existence. Seriously? Four for four should be cause for concern.

The depiction of same sex relationships and gay sexuality is equally problematic. Kurt and Blaine’s relationship is depicted as, largely, passionless and asexual. They are never as well developed as the heterosexual relationships. Even straight characters of less importance get more romantic screen time. And the sex scene from “The First Time” is, honestly, anemic. Hell, I’ve heard that every “Klaine” romantic interaction is overshadowed by a “Finchel” one. Seriously? What does that tell you?

And let’s not fail to mention the demonization of gay desire in the character of Sebastian Smythe. He is a villain because he is gay. And his sexuality (or how he expresses it) is depicted as wrong and “evil.”

Kurt himself is quite troubling. He is “supposed” to be a strong role model. But instead, he is a “paper dolphin,” lacking the strength to fight for himself and his own desires. He fights then forfeits “Defying Gravity,” gives up the duet with Sam, refuses to fight his father when Burt is clearly wrong, same goes with Blaine when Kurt does have a legitimate grievance (yeah the whole bisexuality thing is troubling, but Kurt has a right to be pissed at Blaine for his actions in that episode), etc. I honestly could go on. Kurt is, honestly, a gay Uncle Tom who gives up his rights and his desires to kowtow to pressure. 

Where the hell is the wider gay community? This is one area where I strongly feel Glee dropped the ball. Of course,  there are reasons why Glee is troubled by its gay characters. . . 

So, Why the Hell Do I Care So Much?

Clearly from the rest of my rant, I have a special affinity for Kurt Hummel. Much of my issues with the series lies with how he is depicted. And I seriously would not care about the show if he didn’t exist. But though I’ve always been mildly interested, my seeming obsession is newly formed. Unless I really just like complaining about it.

So, maybe the answer is Chris Colfer himself? He has only recently begun to work on projects outside of Glee. And his first novel, The Wishing Spell, is very good. Hell, one of the best children’s fantasies I’ve ever read. Certainly better than A Wizard of Earthsea! So, maybe it is Colfer who has inspired this obsession. 

But There is a Silver Lining in All of This

My obsession with Glee has inspired a creative explosion. An Octavia Butler moment. My reaction, my issues, though largely negative, have driven me to want to do better in my own writing. Now, I am unsure whether I want to do a non genre realistic piece or incorporate my annoyances into preexisting projects. Maybe my contemporary sword and sorcery? Or something else?

And, I have discovered an interest in high school dramas. Seriously, I’ve fallen in love with My So-Called Life. And Freaks and Geeks is not too bad. I just hate the setting. 

So, to conclude, my attitude to Glee is complex. I really don’t want to care about it. I don’t like it. Too much about the series bugs me. But I can’t help but be inspired. And for that I do have some gratitude.

 

Next time: My plans for next week.

 

Changing My Mind (Not Going to Transcribe)

Okay, I’ve changed my mind. In a previous post, I mentioned toying with the idea of transcribing my handwritten notes to computer. I’m not going to do it.

Why? I tried it during the Baltimore/ Denver game Saturday. And I just could not keep up with it. I could do so much else instead of spending precious hours transcribing my nearly countless pages of ideas and notes. So no, I’m not going to transcribe. To all who eventually read my notes (for whatever reason), good luck. My handwriting is difficult to be kind. 

But I don’t want to just discuss changing my mind. 

I want to update the four posts I have planned for this week. 

First off, I have “Autopsy of a Dead Project (With a Chance of Frankenstein)” which looks at my abandoned idea for an online OEL manga anthology and what I can do with some of the ideas that developed from that.

Secondly, I have “Library? On Cookbooks and Art Books” that explores the usefulness of checking out cookbooks and art books from the library for instructional purposes.

Third up, “Sasuke Uchiha” where I explore my feelings towards Naruto’s rival/ friend/ enemy.

Finally, “Hating What I Want to Love (Though I Wish I Didn’t)” which will be my epic and humorous attempt to wrangle my feelings, frustrations, etc. towards Glee. Ranting and invective are to be expected. As well as seriously questioning how “tolerant” Glee really is. Should be fun. And maybe I’ll finally be rid of this damn obsession!

Until then. . . 

I’m Back, With Quick Musings

So, I decided to take a bit of a break from blogging over the past few days. Really didn’t feel like it. But now I’m back. There isn’t anything extensive I want to yammer on about, so here are some really quick musings.

Last Thursday, James Robinson did a press run discussing what is coming up in Earth 2. Honestly really excited for what he has up his sleeves.

The same is true for the latest teasers concerning the January relaunch of Young Avengers. Hot damn! I’m dying with anticipation! I have very good feelings about this one. And I have to say, the art looks really good. Especially the colors!

Moving on to television, the midseason finale of The Walking Dead was really good. Certainly better than some of the other episodes this season. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show, but some of the problems that plagued the second season are still there. Just alleviated by the split narrative.

I don’t know if this is insane or not. I had the idea to explore whether or not the ideas expressed in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine can also be applicable to the arts. For example, is Glee’s narrative style dependent on an artistic form of “the shock doctrine”? What does that say about the show? And about art? What other arts utilize similar “shock” tactics?

I want to cut this post short (given that I’ve had several really long posts recently). I have a few posts planned for this week, but I won’t spoil anything. Until next time.

Criticism: The Positive and Negative

I’ve been thinking about criticism a lot lately. The problem, I think, is what is criticism actually good for? Are there times when criticism is alternately positive or negative? Or is it all negative? And really, what should the response be to criticism from creators, critics, and fans alike?

A Definition is in Order

A Handbook to Literature (Harmon and Holman) define criticism as “the analysis, study, and evaluation of individual works of art, as well as the formulation of general principles for the examination of such works.” Now, this definition is highly academic but still, I think, very useful. Especially for someone who comes from an English Literature major background.

Let’s try a definition from Merriam- Webster’s for criticize “to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly” and “to find fault with.”  Very interesting definitions, I think.

To Help

Positive criticism, either focusing on positive, negative, or both aspects of a work can lead to improved works of art. The arts, of every kind, improve with continually engaging in it and listening to criticism geared toward helping to improve the work.

But I guess how positive criticism is worded makes as much difference as the intent. One must, I think, use kind and encouraging words when wanting to aid an artist in developing and improving their work. If a work isn’t doing it for you, explain why in as gentle and non aggressive way as possible.

The Place of Popular and Academic Criticism

Can reviews for popular consumption be positive? What about criticism for either popular or academic readers? This is a tough one, I think.

Maybe the issue is the intent on the part of the critic. If a critic intends to write a fair minded argument for or against, can that still be positive even if the verdict is negative?

Whenever I do reviews or critical analysis, I’m always afraid that I’m not being fair. Often times, I worry if I’m being too mean when I review things. Especially if I’m not a fan of the work. But even positive reviews can be problematic. If I really like a work, can my judgement be trusted. And vice versa?

I guess what got me started thinking about these questions is an article on After Elton. Com entitled “Hate Watching Glee.” From my limited experience of the show, I think Jurgens is largely spot on with his criticisms. And many in the comments section have excellent criticisms too. And I’ve gone on record with calling the writing atrocious and the narrative world building schizophrenic (and not in the good way).

But are we fair? Like I’ve said before, I have very limited experience with the show. But what about those who are passionate and know their stuff? The criticism seems right to me.

But, and here is the big but. How should “negative” criticism be taken?

Of Intent

I think the intent plays a large role in this.

If a critic’s intent is to be malicious, then their criticism is, honestly, worthless. Though his or her words may hurt, they offer nothing positive. Only vileness and negativity.

Now, if a critic is attempting to analyze and evaluate a work to see how and if it works, then perhaps there is something there to hold on to. Just like in the roles of alpha and beta readers (or Critters).

The Creator/ Artist/ Etc. Takes It How?

I think every one takes criticism differently. Some may genuinely take it to heart and use it to improve their art. And others may ignore it completely, even if it does have excellent points to think about.

But is that criticism good only for the creators targeted? I say, honestly, hell no.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not overly interested in working in television. But there have been tons of very useful advice coming out of After Elton’s articles concerning Glee (especially in the comments). Of course, there is also a ton (and I mean a ton) of worthless crap.

And I hope that other creatives take the time to appreciate good advice, too.

But What About the Fans?

The fans of a work can often be the most vicious when it comes to criticism. Both in attack and defense of the source of their fanaticism. Often times fans can be the most ardent criticizers of a work as well as the most savage when it comes to defense.

I think it is important to remember that no work is perfect. And never let the passions blind one’s judgement.

A Personal Example

I’m a fan of James Robinson’s Earth 2. I’ve fallen in love with that series. And it does hurt when comic book reviewers give individual issues ratings lower than I think they deserve.

Now, I will admit that most comic book reviews vary wildly in quality within even their own websites/ individual reviewers. And sometimes, they really don’t make a whole lot of sense in what they complain about.

But, I want to focus some on Sara Lima (of Comic Vine)‘s reviews of Earth 2. Do I think she was fair to give Robinson a lower rating for Sam’s death? And what about issue 6? Well, at first, I admit I was not happy. But the more I think about it, and reread the issues, I find that I’m actually starting to agree with her.

I’ve come to see that she has a point that Sam’s death is problematic. But isn’t the death of a loved one a powerful motivator for super heroes? Yes, but it sucks. Why can’t a hero be heroic for the sake of heroism? Why is that push needed?

And yes, Alan Scott’s defeat of Grundy is rather unsatisfying.

To Conclude

Damn it, this post is really long. And I wanted to touch on the role of bias in criticism. But, to be honest, I’m tempted to have biased criticism be adjacent to malicious criticism. I mean, if you can’t see the value in a work, why the hell are you criticizing it anyway?

Remember, Post 300 is coming up.  . .

 

31 Days of Post Day 22: What Pisses Me Off Leads to. . . Creative Explosions!

I don’t know what it is. There is just something about Glee that really pisses me off. It’s not the acting. It’s the writing. The more I think about it, the further I go, the more issues I find. Seriously. And all of that comes from watching a single episode.

But there is a bright lining to this. My problems with Glee serve as inspiration. If I ever do something realistic, I’ll be sure to remember to avoid the mistakes that just scream at me. Or in general. Like doing the research. Or making logical sense. Or not forcing characters to make plot dictated stupid decisions.

This kind of reminds me of my issues with Naruto. How the hell do the later chapters gel with what happens earlier in the series? Naruto is freaking village royalty (he is a distant member of the Senju clan and is a member of the Uzumaki clan). So why the hell is he really treated like familyless trash (besides the whole tailed beast thing)? I could go on.

Now, am I being fair? Maybe not. It would be interesting to see what the creators of Glee are going for and how far ahead they plan their narratives. And the same goes for Kishimoto. And Hiro Mashima for that matter (the whole Zeref thing is, honestly, a mess).

But, like I say, all of this drives me to want to engage with these narratives. What about Naruto (or Glee or Fairy Tail) pisses me off? How do I take that and make something new, something my own?

This is, then, an example of an Octavia Butler Moment. Or several examples, to be honest.

I’m not going to claim that my, perhaps, more outlined and planed narratives will be better. Hell, the Glee I would have envisioned would never, ever, see the light of day on network television! But then again, would I really want to do something similar to Glee. Not really. Plus I really don’t want to work in television. At least for now.

Off to brainstorming now. Expect a ranting post on zombies tomorrow.

Later.

 

31 Days of Post Day 10: The Gaycism Rant

Gaycism is probably the stupidest neologism I have ever heard. Seriously. Defined as the assumption that the presence of gay characters on certain television shows can mitigate other forms of racism and prejudice. Let us call it out for what it is, shall we? Racism, misogyny, ageism, homophobia, biphobia, etc ad infinitum.  Even if it is unintentional.

Now, I am not going to go into specifics. If you would like more information go to Google and type in “gaycism” and you should get hits to a GQ column that defined the term (I think) and a Huffingtonpost article that looked at the issue in some detail. And you can make up your own mind about the controversy.

All of the shows mentioned I could care less about. I have no intention of ever watching The New Normal or PartnersTwo Broke Girls just sounds infuriatingly stupid from the previews (yeesh). I’ve seen an episode or two of Modern Family and was unimpressed. With Glee, I’ve seen maybe ten minutes total and couldn’t stand it.

Really, I just don’t do comedy. Or dramedy for that matter. With that in mind, I don’t think I have the knowledge to speak about this with any authority.

But I do think there are those who do know these shows every well and have a responsibility to discuss, criticize, analyze, and debate the merits of the “gaycism” accusation. Still detest that word, by the way.

I will admit that I have an abandoned post that tried to look at instances of homophobia in generally gay positive shows (like Glee). But I decided not to complete the post because I felt I did not have the requisite knowledge to discuss it. Ten minutes (at most) is not nearly enough time. The scene(s) were not even what I wanted to discuss. And again, can’t stand it, so no post.

However, I do think that the media should be more active in these issues. If Glee (or another show) does something racist, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, etc., call them out on it. Strongly call them out if need be. That is the only way the discussion, the show, and the culture move forward and change.

It is important to remember that prejudice takes many expressions. Prejudice can be ingrained, unconscious. Prejudice can be institutional.

Yes, much of contemporary “comedy” is heavily centered on stereotypes that can cross the line. And yes, offense is individually variable. But seriously, be more aware of what is said and done.

Moving past this controversy, I listened to an excellent episode of the Writing Excuses podcast that discussed writing the other. Excellent advice and I think all writers should seriously follow it. I know I will.

And I still don’t like “gaycism.”