Archive for joss whedon

Know When to Fold ‘Em- Nevada Primary Tie Settled With Card Game

Posted in humor, politics, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

Gorram tied election! The Nevada Primary a few weeks back kinda reminds me of these guys:

Speak good or ill if you wish about speculative fiction and the spirit of the wild west. Thing is, this actually happened:

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The 10 of clubs wasn’t quite good enough.

That’s what Carl Moore Sr. drew Thursday in the tiebreaker between two rural Nevada county commission candidates who sought the Republican nomination in the June 8 primary.

Nye County Commissioner Andrew “Butch” Borasky, who survived a recall last year and is seeking a second term, drew a queen of clubs to advance to the November general election. The drawing took place in a courtroom in Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

Both tied with 381 votes in the primary. They remained tied after two recounts. State law calls for candidates to draw lots to get a winner when an election is deadlocked. It can be cutting cards, throwing dice, drawing straws or flipping a coin.

Before the big moment, Borasky and Moore agreed on procedure, down to the color of the deck that Clerk Sandra Merlino used – red. Merlino then shuffled the cards seven times and fanned their fate out on a table. “We decided on high card,” Borasky told The Associated Press in a telephone interview afterward. “There was no disagreement between us. We shook hands before and after.”

Borasky will face Libertarian candidate Sandra Darby in November.

Sunshine Superboy

please relish every moment of this:

(whats up with the gambling muppet randomly dying???)

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Feminist Comics Starter Pack: How Graphic Novelists are Subverting Patriarchy and Gender-Normativity, Buffy and Beyond

Posted in anthropology, art & music, celebrities, comics, feminism, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

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Lets talk about some badass anti-sexist comics & characters! Buffy! Runaways! Y-the last man! the Young Avengers!! American Virgin!!! and so many things written by Grant Morrison (esp. the Invisibles)!!!! I flaked out on posting some of these thoughts a long time ago…

Oh, if this isn’t the era of making good on old promises, I don’t know what is. As I’m fond of doing whenever we tread dangerously close to the annuls of geekdom, I’m hereby warning you that its gonna get priiiitty-darn geeky in a hurry, so suspend your usual aplomb,if_i_had_a_hammer check over your shoulder for nosey co-workers who might report you to the nerd Gestapo, and if you’re an insider, check your self-reproach at the search window- cuz we’re going to feminist nerdville, population, nosotr@s!

We’ve alluded previously (“we” ya know, royally speaking), to emergent feminisms withinBUFFY2-23-FC-01mic/ graphic novel genre, and I’ve been angling to give that theme a little more exploration…

The veritable 10,000 lbs gorilla in the room of course is Ms. Buffy Summers, since she provided such a crucial opening. So lets just get that out of the way before airing any reflections on new challenges to male supremacy, gender normativity, and heterosexism (and believe me, we’ll only manage to barely tip our hat to that iceberg on this post).

[I should warn you of spoiler alerts, even though I’m not writing on any super recent content on any of the titles. Just, if you don’t wanna know who’s transgender or who has a gay crush on whom, or any major plot arcs, then you’d best skim for the recommended titles and not read this till después]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the project, not just the character), both on the television, and most certainly beyond in the season 8 comics, has been bold, imaginative, and inspirational, (even if a bit 2.5 wave-ish, IMHO), in its championing of a popular feminism. That last attribute, its accessibility and high public profile, are perhaps its greatest contributions. Anyone who’s taken the time to listen to the commentary on seasons six and seven of Buffy (dorks!) understands how explicitly the writers (and especially creator/ writer Joss Whedon) set up sexism/male supremacy as the villain for the prime time show (groundbreaking, obvi), and the totally awesome seachange of women sharing power with women, embodied by the army of slayers from the TV finale and season eight.
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Whats awesome, is hearing some of the female-identified writers from the show speak about this explosion of Whedon’s original idea of a single heroine with tons of latent power, to an organic realization of a truly feminist ideal, when every ‘potential’ slayer is given full slayer powers through the goddess-like witchcraft of everyone’s favorite red-headed lesbian witch, Willow. Fucking righteous.

Okay, lets not get too abstract. What was Whedon’s initial anti-sexist set up? A reaction to the unavoidable paranoia of women alone in the dark in the city… their vulnerabilities, the objectification of women as objects (specifically vampire dinner), and the bizarre displacement of men’s fucked up/ violent/ entitled-feeling desires as the fault of women who “dress like they want it” (that line in particular was used in the show where scantly clad femmes are blamed for attracting vampires- WTF). Right, so that was Joss’s reaction.

By season eight, Buffy transcended patriarchy not only making men yearn for the kind of power that women so ferociously wielded on the show (from Anya, to Ms.Calendar, to Faith, Tara, Glory and Kennedy, not to mention the original Scoobies themselves), such that by the end of the television run of the show, the entire paradigm shifted from “how do we show women being defiant of men’s power and violence” to “how do we envision women sharing the power they build through relationships as a community of anti-sexist feminist praxis”? buffyarmy

Okay, the feminist praxis bit is my own cherry on top, but you get the picture. By time there are thousands of slayers being trained up in Buffy’s European castle, we’re in a different world from the predatory un-dead men of the hellmouth. I can’t believe I have a blog where I can write a sentence like that, and where people like you can read that. Some corners of this world are just it seems (:

and we live in world where comics that were being written post 2003 have that as a pop-feminist foundation, beyond which we get all kinds of serious (by which I mean totally badass-ferocia).

Next up is Runaways, which is awesome for many reasons (chiefly, the superb writing by creator Brian K Vaughan, and the astounding & witty character development), but is worth mentioning here for a couple reasons. First, taking a cue from Whedon, the Runaways quickly settle on Nico Minoru as their leader, one of very few super hero (anti-hero?) teams that is fronted by a woman of color. She’s a fierce fashionista of substantial power, who has a goth-streak and who struggles very realistically with her sexuality. Totally crush-worthy… karolinaimage5vol2iss7

which is why Karolina Dean spends part of volume two coming out, through exploring her crush on Nico. Ultimately though, its not Karolina’s chronicle of queerness that proves the ulitmate stroke of subversion (this arc was published after the L-word had already broken ground- although it was still unique in the world of mainstream comic books).

More groundbreaking was the revelation that Karolina’s betrothed, Xavin (a shapeshifting skrull, who initially appears as a black teenage alien- wait thats redundant… a skrull is a type of alien), comfortably changes genders and pursues their feelings for Karolina as a transgender lesbian. This was just five or six years ago, all playing out in Marvel comics so- Wow! Xavin’s friends switch which pronouns they use for hir/them as their gender expression/presentation shifts from comic issue to issue, though Xavin mostly interacts with Karolina as a fem lesbian once she (Xavin) realizes that Karolina prefers women (sexually speaking).
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Brian K Vaughan moves past the quotidian politics of generation Y teens by taking a feminist bend to the apocalyptic crisis of September 11th, 2001 in his other graphic novel, Y the Last Man, which was published by the edgy DC/Vertigo Comics.
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Here, Yorick Brown and his magician’s assistant/ pet monkey, Ampersand are the only surviving mammals with a Y chromosome. I can do the novel no justice here, buy its worth skipping around to some feminist touchstones that come up in the witty writing of Y the Last Man, including militant Amazon feminist separatists (who ritually cut off one of their breasts in political solidarity, and who burn all the world’s sperm banks), a planet of ubiquitous/normalized F-M transgenderism (and the sexwork that comes with it!), a little S&M rite of passage stuff, queer/co-parenting, a secret all female-run spy network (dating back to the Revolutionary War), and a whole lot of girl-on-girl lovin.7-1

Basically, Y the Last Man is a realistic take on the “what if” concept of a gendered apocalypse, where virtually all the power-hoarding men (ie, all men) die out overnight, and the world wakes up to a dystopia where: 1) the American highways don’t work cuz all the truck drivers are men and they all died on the highway, leaving the wreckage of sixteen-wheelers everywhere, 2) the highest ranked woman in the entire US Government is the secretary of agriculture (anyone else having Laura Roslin/ Battlestar Galactica flashbacks??!) who then assumes the office of the presidency, oh and 3) the strongest military in the world becomes that of Israel, which, as you know, is the only army where women are fully 50% of trained harbingers of destruction. Shit makes for an interesting read! No super-heroes here!

avengersscreencapea3Young Avengers. Not much to say. The hot leading men are gay lovers. BFD. Its a welcome change, but we were ready for that ceiling to be shattered like 30 years ago. Still, Hulkling and Wiccan are key-yute together!

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Jumping tracks, Vertigo’s American Virgin “follows the life of Adam, a teenager who is a born-again Christian preacher, and his struggle with issues of his sexuality and faith as he plods step by step toward a lascivious world of desire, temptation, and cultural taboo. In exploring such faux-pas of protestantism, American Virgin whisks readers along a non-stop journey that takes us everywhere from homo-social groups in southern Africa to Phallic worship ceremonies in Japan, the Gay Games in Australia, and an Indian marriage ceremony where Adam and his girlfriend learn about the traditional roles of intersex hijra in sexual rites of passage.page81_2 Throughout the whirlwind tour, Adam’s near constant companion is his stepsister, Cyndi, who is sexually liberal”, which is to say she’s a sex worker, and super-not ashamed of it, who ends up dating a sketchy Australian guy, who turns out to be trans and maybe not that sketchy? I dunno, I stopped working at a comic shop reading around then and don’t quite know how the story panned out, but shit was cancelled last year which is a huge bummer since writer Steven T. Seagle was taking American Virgin and its readers to new and unexplored levels. Le sigh…

Ya know, next I was gonna grapple with Marjane Satrape, whom you have prolly either read first-hand, or seen a film adaptation of Persepolis- but I decided its not even worth a whole spiel here. Long story short, the implication that liberation for Persian women can only come from accessing an escape valve to the West is a dangerous concept, (ooh la la, I’m in France, now I can be a strong feminist artist with political clout), even if those aren’t her real politics and its just her own story and not a world-view she espouses. 6a00d834515c2769e200e54f2826e88834-640wiWhich is not to say I shun the work entirely. It was very worthwhile for me and is for most people- I just want to append it with some critical thinking (which the film does not entreat). From what I hear from friends who’ve seen her, Satrape is an engaging thinker and speaker, and has pretty good politics, so lets just leave it at that…

Great. So last, and possibly my favorite is The Invisibles, where legendary characters like Lord Fanny explode gender, identity, race/ ethnicity, fucking witchcraft and of course sexuality in myriad dimensions (often literally). There is no effing way I can do the Invisibles justice in a paragraph or two, so I may just have to blog about it more fully on another occasion, but but but, a cursory mention of the fag-identified, super tranny ferocia, Lord Fanny is in order.
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Lord Fanny may be my favorite comic book character of all time. Of the 5 members in the invisibles cell that form the core of the graphic novel, Lord Fanny embodies Grant Morrison’s project of anarchistic destruction of all normativities. She is a brazilian witch (of mexican ancenstry), who was supposed to be born female. Coming from a long line of witch-priestess women, Fanny’s grandmother takes matters into her own hands and insists that fate-be-damned, this baby boy will be raised as a girl and continue the lineage of family witches. Dude. fanny_drawBadass Granny even slits Fanny’s inner thigh in order to fool the gods into believing that Lord Fanny has finally menstruated and become a woman worthy of their blessings and powers!

Like Xavin of the Runaways (only 10 years earlier), Lord Fanny unapologetically oscillates between male and female pronouns, can be seen trying on silicone tits in a London sex shop, and beyond simply sporting butch or femme clothing, she splashes the pages with cameos of fallatio in almost every city the Invisibles visit. Her nonchalant confrontations with homophobes is reason enough to read the Invisibles, but stick around for the invisibles crew as a whole: feminist power-sharing, leather fetishes, über dyke combatants, san francisco sex parties, and a grand scheme to sabotage the US Military’s attempt to hide the AIDS vaccine deep underground in the American Southwest!
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I think the main theme in these graphic novels is not only who these writers and protagonists are, nor what they do or represent, but the ways in which these characters and plots provoke new relationships within the comic book universe. Who these women, trannies, fags, and dykes are in relation to their team mates, their enemies, their world, and the reader is the real feminist push behind books. We are forced to see things relationally, and not just follow a bunch of jacked up men from battle to battle kicking each other’s asses.

oh boy. now I’m all excited about re-reading all of these gems! Check ’em out! Let me know what you think! And next time, I’ll try and highlight some of the great contributions of independent comics to our bold feminist world…

This post would not be complete if I did not address the obvious elephant in the room: serialobjectification of female bodies in comic books. Voilá:

Fangrrl Power,
Sunshine Superboy

Neil Patrick Harris? Fuck Yeah!

Posted in celebrities, humor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

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Fuck the Fuck yeah! Suit up Uncle Fuckers, Cuz its all about NPH, todayz.

Howz about a little Monday Meta-blog about Neil Patrick Harris?

Yup, some dedicated blogger has carved out a little slice of cyberspace (gawd, are we still using that term? I am such an old man. Do the kids even know what that means?) in homage to everyone’s favorite multi-talented, out, gay, sassy, hilarious comeback kid-actor.
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…In case you are an old man like me, and have been totally snoozing (snoozy? toats!) for the past several years, your ol’ pal Doogie Howser (yes, the “M.D.”) is killing it in the prime time and among the nerd/geek/whedon/buffy blogosphere. I believe his words to People Magazine were

“I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”

Lets hear it for very content gay men!
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Okay, so- Start with his antics on Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog (where he plays the title character), note his slam dunk contribution to the ensemble cast of How I Met Your Mother (which includes Whedon’s superstar Alyson Hannigan who played Willow in some other show), 4xZg38YX0r0kvmjbtlA7dK8lo1_400and oh yeah, he like hosted the Emmy Awards and the Tony Awards (or something)- so like what rock have you been under since the Doogie Days, eh?

Which is all to say: Fuck Yeah!!! Neil Patrick Harris!!

Its a blog.
Its insipid.
Its fucking hilarious.

Fuck Yeah.
Sunshine Superboy

Who Will Botch the Watchmen?

Posted in art & music, comics, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

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I think I’m gonna claim the title fangrrl, cuz, frankly, I don’t fit in so well with the fanboy trope, and I think its a boringly constricting category. Not to mention the, um, social ‘stigmata’ (sic).

So, as the resident fangrrrl (is the use of three “r”s over doing it?), I’ve been anxious about this whole watchmen movie project since the first whispers I’d heard about it several years back. (Note, that if I was a proper fanboy, I would have glibly located my first encounter with watchmen movie rumors somewhere in the 90s). Over the past year, which is to say watchmen-babiesever since rumors started gaining some real traction, I’ve been monitoring pretty closely the ambitious, larger-than-life enterprise that megalomaniac director Zack Snyder so humbly agreed to do on the reasoning that ‘If I don’t make it myself, some other schmoe is gonna do it and they’ll definitely fuck it up’ (um, that a paraphrase, not a quote).

So here is a lesson. Its not a new one, but you may as well start noticing it in all the little places it sticks its nose: Capitalism, in its ceaseless voraciousness will always, always find a way to capture whatever prized morsel of art, aesthetic, experience, politic, artifact, nostalgia, wisdom, rarity, or mundane distraction you might just want to keep for yourself or your people, and spit it out as a consumable which could very well be vivacious or downright dreary.

oh, and if its a mainstream flick it’ll probably charge you ten quid just to witness whether its the former or the latter. Bottom line, capitalism is beginning to expose itself as a brutal natural enemy of fanboys. Or is that frenemy?

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There were many failed attempts by less ambitious and even less plausible directors to bring Alan Moore’s graphic novel to the silver screen- but this isnt a fucking historiography! If I had a chance, early enough in the process to sit down to any of the potential directors (Captain Snyder inclusive), I’d pull up my chair, probably flip it around backwards so as not to too harshly disturb any lingering stereotypes they still have based on black people on TV in the 70s and 80s, and I’d say:


Listen up white boy, cuz i’m only gonna say this once!
Hey, so I just wanna make sure you get one fundamental thing before you royally FUBAR this whole endeavor. You don’t translate a graphic novel into a movie. Don’t fucking try to fool yourself. Its not a goddamn photo essay. The comic book medium is particularly evocative because its depicted in simple iconographic drawings which provide space for we, the readers, to graft our own texture and atmosphere to flesh out the 2-D world. Its not like a novella where we just conjure up whatever. Rather we all depart from the same visual referent, the same props and cues, the same facial expressions, but we add the sweat and the smells, the broader context beyond the four walls of the panel- indeed– the dimensions of time and space and imaginataion that transition us from one panel or page to the next. A book, though most people are familiar with the challenges of adapting it, does not demand that. Even a movie based on a serial comic book, a tad trepidatious in that you never know quite where to position the tenor on the campy-realistic spectrum, is more achievable, in that you just sort of abstract fundamental elements and tell a decent story with it and you can still escape with your life. A graphic novel is the worst most challenging hybrid of both. And thus, you cannot simply pretend that you are translating a “text” nor that you can just “distill” from an essence from a series of pictures. The Watchmen is an epic that is not to be fucked with, cuz you will surely fail.

but thats just me talking. lets hear from our panel of geeky white men:

Brian K Vaughan (genius behind Runaways and Y the Last Man, also a writer of Lost)
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“I’ll go see it if it doesn’t feel like a betrayal of what Alan Moore wants. But its like making a stage play of Citizen Kane. I guess it could be OK, but why? The medium is the message.”

damn straight right.

John “I’m not a PC but I play one on TV” Hodgman (who, I might add had an amazing cameo on Battlestar Galactica a few weeks back getting Starbuck all riled up!)

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“The movie can be good as long as it appreciates that it has no reason to exist. And yet I think Watchmen deserves an homage, and I’m hopeful because Zack Snyder is making it”

how gracious. and our last expert?

Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy, duh?!)
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“its a comic book about pop culture as viewd through a comic book, so I didn’t see the point of making a movie. But I saw the trailer, and it looked phenomenal”

merh? phernerma-whoo?

And perhaps its only from the nadir of a project doomed to failure that it can aspire to the impossibility of success.

Now I get to be all nicey face and lavish praise on the perspicacious Zack Snyder. Cuz honestly, I think the Watchmen would have really really been a real fuck up if he wasn’t the directrix behind the film. There I said it. I full expect to enjoy the movie, in all its overdone sensational glory, even whilst I mutter intermittently about how such and such pithy element of the graphic novel REALLY ought to have been incorporated into the screenplay, and why the hell would he have overlooked that! …and the like.

Gosh, are you worn out by my drivel yet? Ready for some eye candy? Lets reflect on the ensemble of dystopian anti-heroes:

Dr. Manhattan

Probably the most impressive interpretation of the bunch. Thank christ our ever-present protector Al Gore they didn’t try to pull this off in the 90s. Can you imagine?! Strike that, can you imagine that Joel Silver who produced the Matrix wanted to make this movie (also back in the 90s) and wanted to cast fucking Governor Arnold fucking Schwarzeneger as J’onn John!!! His last name means “black nigger” *(see commentary below)? How did so many of you people vote this turd into office?

ahem, moving on.

Silk Spectre
meh, did they even bother give her the beauty mark on her cheek? possible botch. we’ll see…

Ozymandias
how do you botch casting a prick? they should do okay… I don’t know whats off about him. Maybe he could have been a tad “better looking” in an obnoxious cosmetic surgery kinda way? Hrm… no, thats not it…

the Comedian
Nailed it.

Nite Owl
ummm BOTCH! Nite Owl is NOT FUCKING BATMAN! Its a bloody spoof on batman. This guy doesn’t look old enough, impotent enough, insecure enough, or fucking have a beer with Norm from Cheers enough for a Watchmen adaptation. Botched! Fail!

Rorschach
Okay, here is something to work with. Tone down the fucking Christian Bale batman-grumble about 3 notches and it might be pretty fucking right on. There’s no way to tell of course cuz these shots are lifted directly from the graphic novel. One thing I will say though, is they’re doing some cool ass shit with his mask! Thats not your mamma’s 90s technology my friends!

Okay, this has been a long post. I hope it makes up for the radio silence that corresponded to my flu. 😦

I guess we’re all left with the question, Who Will Botch the Watchmen? I don’t think it will be the director, or the screenwriters, or even the costume folks. The portrayals by the actors themselves may very well determine the merit of this whole spectacle. IMHO, the movie truly ought to be a success, one that might be slightly perturbed by idiotic choices here or there, but these choices should not be so substantial that they take down the whole opera house. And I’m with the PC guy here, this movie has NO reason to exist.

Who wants to go see it with your favorite fangrrrl? (promise I won’t yammer during the movie)

The World is Yours to Savor Before Inevitable Capitalist Co-optation,
Sunshine Superfüry