Tag Archives: media

The Welcome Death of Marvel Comics

 

Red_Skull

The Red Skull providing a politically conservative take on the “Refugee Crisis”

It’s a comfort to know that comic books no longer hold the mass appeal that they did in an earlier age. For the most-part, you need to travel to a specialist shop as they are no longer available off the rack at the local drug store. Sales are dropping and I think the reasons are pretty obvious.

Trite plot-lines and themes taken out of a politically left agenda tend to alienate the majority of readers. My love for Marvel’s universe stemmed from first rate characterization and originality that birthed and denoted what we now call the Silver-age of comics. All that has taken a backseat to gimmicky, paper-thin, politically driven pap that fails to inspire and ignite the imagination.

None of this is new of course. On some level, Marvel and its chief rival Brand Echhh … er., DC Comics have always addressed some measure of social justice and related causes… drug addiction, racism, and alienation were tackled as long ago as 1963 when the Fantastic Four defeated “The Hate Monger” an evil despot who turned out to be Adolf Hitler! Oops! forgot to add in the spoiler alert 😉 Later in the decade it was Peter Parker’s pal, Harry Osborn getting hooked on pills and the Green Arrow’s side-kick, “Speedy” getting hooked on heroin.

In an effort to bow before the twin idols of tolerance and diversity Marvel has been tweaking and reinventing familiar characters. Basically the formula has been to highlight a character’s sexual orientation or identity, change their sex (more often than not symbolically rather than literally i.e., have a female don the costume and mantle) and to change their ethnicity so that they are no longer Caucasian but a visible minority of one stripe or the other. All this is rather predictable as the movie representations merge with their comic book counterparts.

One particularly egregious example stems from a new series called  “Captain America: Steve Rogers”. In the first issue  Cap’s longtime enemy the WW2 Nazi super criminal Red Skull appears reciting the standard politically conservative opposition to unchecked immigration.

The problems with the above depiction are numerous to say the least. Simply put, it is erroneous to equate legitimate concerns Westerners have with regards to large-scale Muslim immigration and the Nazis of WW2.

As a conservative minded Westerner it’s a bit disconcerting to have the Red Skull become Marvel’s representative for people like myself. It’s beyond twisted of course but that’s the result when Marvel hires a former politician to pen a comic book. Nick Spencer is the mind behind this disposable trash and yes you can “Google” him.

By the way, and this is a spoiler…..

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

oh what the hell….

It turns out Steve Rogers has been a servant of Hydra for years and that he has internalized conservative values i.e., Nazi values. So I guess I can take some solace in the fact that the personification of America’s fighting spirit is as guilty and fundamentally evil as I am.

I honestly debated even writing this article. I mean what’s the point… it’s pretty much pissing into the wind. But it’s a slow moving Friday….

I am obviously not alone in my criticism of Marvel’s PC branding. Here’s a few choice quotes from other industry observers:

bigbang

On the sorry state of the industry

From Comic Book creator, Matt Battaglia:

Back in the desert, a group of presumably illegal immigrants are crossing the border, and the Sons of the Serpent arrive [ a 1960s created Avengers villain organization fueled by racist ideology] .

Some lines from the Serpents: “By invading this sovereign land, you defy the laws of God, nature, and the United States Constitution… until the mighty wall is built, you come here for employment that is rightfully ours! And if denied it, you seek welfare paid for by our tax dollars! … look who it is, y’all! Captain Socialism … apologizing for our country’s greatness that you have time to come down here and flout still more of our laws…”

Seriously, this is what the villains are espousing. It’s a lot of conservative buzzwords given a murderous edge, and that’s that. Together with the overall tone and narration of the issue, conservatives have every right to be angry.

Going back to Captain America’s earlier observation that “this country is a divided as it’s ever been,” we agree. Mainly because one side of the argument unilaterally paints the other side as racist, murderous monsters who are “spouting intolerance and fear” and “drowning out common sense.” 

See: http://thefederalist.com/2015/10/21/its-true-captain-america-is-now-captain-leftist/

And the headline says it all from an article by Douglas Ernst of the Washington Times:

‘Captain America’ comic likens critics of Syrian refugee programs to Nazis

See: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/23/captain-america-comic-likens-critics-of-syrian-ref/

And finally the aptly titled: “Why Comic Books Suck” blog (love the title)

See: http://whycomicbookssuck.blogspot.ca/

It’s comforting to know that the sinking ship called Marvel Comics may finally go the way of the dinosaur. The fact that both DC and Marvel have tried to reboot their anemic franchises every few years is tacit admission that their relevance is lost and they are culturally moribund.

My advice? Collect Marvel Masterworks… the company’s brilliant Silver-age output and remember what was.

 

 

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Transgendered Athletes: The Fallon Fox Controversy

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

This is one of those “ugh” posts where as a transgendered writer I find myself reluctantly siding (at least in part) with critics of a transgendered “sister”. The short and quick of it is Fallon Fox (love her name) has exploded onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene with two crushing victories over other women; one last year, in May and the other just a few weeks ago, March 02, 2013. Her latest victim was dispatched in short order, just 39 seconds into Round 1 with a powerful knee to the head. Mixed Martial Arts is for me a bit of a guilty pleasure. However, my interest is pretty much limited to the Women’s game and I happily count myself amongst the amazing Ronda Rousey’s legions of fans. But, I digress.

The criticisms laid to Ms. Fox’s account center on her status as a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. Critics (and there are many) state that as a transsexual woman she possesses innate physiological advantages over her opponents. Larger lungs, the ability to accrue greater musculature, and a heavier, denser skeletal frame are seen as providing her with an unfair competitive edge.

Although, Fallon states that medical science supports her legitimate claim to participation. I think that to some extent the jury is still out on that question. I have argued elsewhere on this blog that our status as male and female needs to be evaluated based on social criteria. In other words, if we as individuals, dress, present, and behave in a manner consistent with societal norms and expectations of a given sex then our respective governing authorities need to recognize that orientation and legally identify us as such.

However, in the world of sport where steroid use has been universally condemned–Lance Armstrong immediately comes to mind— then some scrutiny of transgendered athletes is fair. The basic question of whether Fallon Fox and other transgendered athletes have an inherent advantage should be examined.

I’m prepared to fall on my own sword in regards to this issue. As I have stated numerous times. I am female but I have a male past and because I transitioned later in life I have certain male features and undoubtedly some hard-wiring that is specifically male oriented. Would I eliminate these aspects of myself if I could? The answer is Yes, unreservedly so. However, the fact remains that physiologically I have certain male attributes that my cis-gendered sisters do not. I believe Fallon does as well.

While I am aware that the Olympic governing body has granted transsexuals the right to compete under the banner of their chosen sex. I believe that participation in any given competitive context needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This is simply common sense.

In the meantime, I urge for kindness and compassion from society at large— to dehumanize us is a disservice to our basic humanity. We are not “its”. Also the word “tranny” is not a good word for us. It is dehumanizing and almost always pejorative. Nor, is Fallon Fox a man; neither should she be viewed as one. She has availed herself of everything medical science currently offers to bring her physiology within female parameters (albeit, within a MMA context). Some of the anti-transgendered rhetoric thrown against her is appalling and should not be tolerated let alone condoned by anyone.

I wish her every success as an athlete but more importantly as a woman. This does not mean I endorse her competing against cis-gendered women. However, neither should she be forced to fight males either. Perhaps a bout against ostracized steroid abuser Christiane “Cyborg” Santos would be an equitable compromise?

At any rate, below are a few YouTube links featuring Fallon Fox in her own words and some of the harsher more prejudicial rants against her.

And a great sports website dedicated to the LGBT community with an article responding to another negative rant towards Fallon Fox.

http://www.outsports.com/2013/3/24/4141668/fallon-fox-john-fain-peggy-morgan-mma-transgender

Fallon Fox is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FallonFoxofficial

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Ontario Transgender Human Rights and Justin Bieber Nude Photos!!!!

JUSTIN BIEBER Totally NAKED! and NUDE! NO SHIRT or NO PANTS would be controversial! but Hot! Steamy! and Sexy! Many TRANSGENDER Females would be happy if he supports TRANSGENDERED RIGHTS! SECRET PHOTOS from a PRIVATE COLLECTION would be DESIRED BY MANY!

Ok, before we get to the

SHOCKING JUSTIN BIEBER NUDE PHOTOS!!!

I need to point your attention to Radell Smith’s DISTURBING! article found here:

http://www.examiner.com/article/luka-magnotta-s-transgendered-ex-gets-new-rights-ontario-human-rights-code.

It’s simply a MUST SEE TO BELIEBE!

Apparently, Ms. Smith felt that NDP representative, Cheri DiNovo’s six-year battle to amend Ontario’s Human Rights legislation to introduce language specifically addressing transgendered individuals was insufficiently newsworthy.In order to remedy this APPALLING! situation she tied in the landmark legislation with a focus on how it will benefit

LUKA MAGNOTTA’S “THE BUTCHER OF MONTREAL’S” TRANSGENDERED EX-GIRLFRIEND!!!

Ok, so I think you get the idea. Smith should be ASHAMED! But this is simply another example of the media’s sensationalist spin on transgender.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we all wrote in such a sensationalist way? Every story disseminated would be interlaced with hyperbolic irrelevant and unrelated information geared simply to generate more traffic/readers to our publications.

In fact, to highlight the excess I decided to generate this blog entry in a style, complimentary to Ms. Smith’s own. Sadly it’s all too easy to do. I would just need to find some related information, regardless of how tenuous such a relation might be to what ostensibly should be the larger subject. In this case:

EXCITING! NUDE PHOTOS OF JUSTIN BIEBER!

I mean, since I’m TRANSGENDERED and I am Canadian just like JUSTIN BIEBER and I love his songs BABY, NEVER SAY NEVER, LOVE ME, EENIE MEENIE, ONE TIME, NEVER LET YOU GO, ONE LESS LONELY GIRL, FAVORITE GIRL, DOWN TO EARTH, AND SOMEBODY TO LOVE it and we both are aware that

TRANGENDERED MISS UNIVERSE CONTESTANT JENNA TALACKOVA WAS NOT ONLY BORN A MALE BUT WAS NAKED AT BIRTH!

Well, the connection is obviously there. Also, we know that Justin Bieber is a caring, kind and warm individual. I’m sure if I could chat with him I could safely affirm:

JUSTIN BIEBER SUPPORTS TRANSGENDER RIGHTS!!!

So that’s just great!

Now about those photos, you know, the ones where

JUSTIN BIEBER IS TOTALLY NAKED!

Wow! they would be amazing wouldn’t they? I mean they sure would be  CONTROVERSIAL!!!

Whew! Anyways, I encourage you to view the readers’ comments at the bottom of Smith’s article. Seems few were fooled by her attempt to generate traffic courtesy of her textbook example of Yellow Journalism.

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Media Portraits: Delegitimation of the Transgendered

Jerry Springer’s notoriety hit a new low February 20, 2007 when he featured “Sandra” the legless “transsexual

I admit starting off by referencing what has to be the worst episode ever aired on the Jerry Springer show (and that’s saying a lot) is probably too easy a ploy, but I couldn’t help myself. People that identify as transgendered have a long road to travel because we stand apart from the larger societies in which we live. Media from various countries add to our sense of marginalization because they have overwhelmingly portrayed us as deviant at best, and more often than not as a bunch of psychotics.

The transvestite killer in Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” comes to mind as does Buffalo Bill, the transgendered psychopath featured in Silence of the Lambs. Check out Gary Gaymon’s top 15 list at: Horroryearbook.com for a detailed discussion of the “transgendered as killer” motif in film. http://www.horroryearbook.com/544026/the-top-15-transexual-killer-movies

Springer’s show is simply a modern day incarnation of the classic “Freak Show”. The “bearded lady” cliche’ exists because it sensationalized the incongruity of a male secondary sex characteristic on a female. I’m sure if bearded ladies could generate ratings we’d see them on his show too. Sadly, Springer is not alone or even the exception when it comes to sensationalizing the transgendered. Maury Povich has aired a number of shows where audience members are asked to guess the birth sex of various contestants. Many feature enticing tag lines such as “Sexy Hot Ladies Or Are They…” and “Glamour Girls Or Sexy Studs?”

Transgendered individuals face challenges from within and without. If you are male to female (MtF) you may feel compromised by the expression of drag queens. Flamboyant in the extreme, many of them physically attractive and gifted in female mimicry they are predominantly homosexual yet happy to remain men physically, and to think of themselves as male. I remember chatting with a male friend who confessed a lot of apprehension in seeing me post-surgery as he pictured us chatting at a restaurant and me appearing more or less as the individual featured below:

All fine and good for an evening out on the town but rather less suited for a casual get together over coffee at your local Starbucks.

Many, if not most, transsexuals simply wish to blend in with other men or women of our identified gender. From a personal perspective, I have no greater desire than to fit in with with every other woman my age indistinguishable from a physical, psychological, and sociological perspective. I suspect most Females to Males (FtM) involuntarily cringe when they read of individuals like Thomas Beatie gushing over the joys of pregnancy. Beatie’s embracing of exclusive female sexual function confuses a public already reeling from a barrage of  misinformation regarding the transgendered.

Females to males generally have an easier go of it from a social perspective. The hormone therapy resulting in frequent hair loss, deepening of voices and overall masculinization allows them to blend in with other males more effectively. MtF’s face greater obstacles unless they transition earlier in life thereby avoiding advanced masculine development.

All this results in a dichotomy within the transgendered community of those that “pass” and those that by default become part of a visible minority. I fall into the latter half and as such have had to accept certain limitations and to impose upon my psyche a more realistic appraisal of my social presentation.  I have blogged about this in detail on another site:

http://www.gender-id.com/blog/?p=40

Collectively, media outlets of all stripes have tended to delegitimize transgendered individuals effectively reducing us to something less than we are and further marginalizing us in the process.  I highly recommend Sass Ragando Sasot’s brilliantly scripted article:

Reclaiming the Humanity of Filipino Transgender People.
http://filipinofreethinkers.org/2012/06/12/reclaiming-the-humanity-of-filipino-transgender-people/

It’s an exceptionally insightful piece of analysis and provided the impetus for my own entry here.

The most effective strategy for improving public perceptions of the transgendered is to generate improved media images. Essentially, we need to borrow a page from our Gay and Lesbian friends and represent in mainstream media. Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and others did so in music. Currently, Life of Agony’s Keith “Mina” Caputo and Against Me!’s Tom “Laura” Gabel have come out as transgendered. The spotlight is on them and so far the press has been fairly even handed in its treatment of the two musicians.

However, we have a long way to go. Obviously, we need to see sympathetic transgendered characters represented on the big and little screens. TransAmerica was excellent despite the fact that a non-transsexual played the lead role. However, it succeeded in creating a sympathetic and fundamentally identifiable character in the person of “Bree”. I admit I was hoping Felicity Huffman would win the coveted best actress award over Reese Witherspoon, whom by her own admission intimated that being a Tennessee girl portraying a Tennessee girl was not much of an acting stretch for her; but it wasn’t to be.

Young women such as the lovely and gifted writer, Janet Mock offer us a chance to see transsexuals in a positive light. She’s an inspiration and whether she welcomes it or not is a role model for young people who identify as transgender. I encourage everyone to visit her website at: http://janetmock.com/

The stunningly beautiful Jenna Talackova who broke the transgender barrier by successfully competing in the Miss Universe Canada pageant is another bright light. Yet, even Jenna, who so successfully mirrors society’s definition of an attractive desirable female has been denigrated in the press. Note the sensationalized (not to mention, inaccurate) heading featured in the magazine below (Jenna at top right) :

Must have been a special transgender issue… look at the various headlines featured **rollseyes**

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Jamie Clayton, an up and coming model/actress who while acknowledging her transgendered history has made a sincere effort to be judged on her acting credentials alone. She is to be commended as is Chaz Bono the famous son of entertainers, Sonny and Cher, whose female-to-male transition garnered world-wide attention.

The task before us is two-fold: countermand and defeat negative caricatures and stereo-types that have been allowed to propagate, and secondly, to promote positive images that can help us find a place in the wider social context. Notable in this regard is a desire to see a transgendered person functioning as a mainstream news anchor delivering “hard” news. However, since cisgendered females have themselves only recently achieved that goal we may have to wait a bit.

Finally, many of us in the “do-not-pass” camp may have to settle with sympathetic portrayals of transgender akin to Lauren Potter’s Down Syndrome afflicted character in GLEE. Nothing, that dear lady can do will avoid the stigma of “other”; neither can those of us who do not pass ever hope to be defined as the equivalent of  a cisgendered female by virtue of our masculinized past. That’s a hard reality to accept but it does not negate any hope of being treated sympathetically or otherwise avoid being demeaned and dehumanized.

I love this image that came across many of our Facebook screens. I saved a copy of it and made it my personal mantra. I’ll leave you for now with its very positive message:

Words to Live By

In the Breaking News department:

Transgendered celebrity, Carmen Carrera suffered humiliation while filming a segment for TLC’s “The Cake Boss” last night. It’s an apt illustration of the media’s representation and general perception of transgendered people—even those as obviously attractive and desirable as Carmen.

You can read about the story here:

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/06/cake_boss_in_hot_water_with_tr.html

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