Tag Archives: marvel

I wonder why the feminist gaze

This is probably not the blog you are looking for. Or maybe it is.

I have just come back from seeing Wonder Woman – and this is going to be my review.

Now, what feels like years ago.. well it probably was years ago, I remember Gal Gadot being announced to play Wonder Woman. I questioned the choice. After all, she is a Amazonian Princess and a demi god to boot. I wanted a physically strong, imposing role model to look up to. I didn’t want some skinny broad who would blow over in a strong breeze. But when I saw her on screen in Batman vs Superman, it was clear that we have the perfect actress to play Wonder Woman. There was something, a presence, charisma, she made the character come to life, she made it her own.

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So let us say, I have been anticipating this movie, more so than any movie in a long while. And would you believe, I almost missed the release? It was put out by Warner Bros with an almost embarrassed, apologetic sniffle. Why ? What marketing ploy is this? To see if a woman could sell herself? To prove that a good movie needs no introduction? But it has done well, although strangely there have been a lack of reviews or spoilers cluttering up my newsfeed. Which instead of looking at with suspicion, I will count as a good thing as it has taken 4 weeks for me to watch it!

Now I know some of you will be waiting to watch it, or just prefer watching at home. So this will not contain any spoilers, but more an overview of the movie. One thing that has been bought up time and again…. Wonder Woman being the ‘first strong female lead’ although the quote was erroneously placed at someone’s feet (does it matter now) the problem is that the idea gathered traction pretty quickly. Lots of people championing this new direction for movies. First we had Brave, Frozen and since animation went so well… we ‘finally’ have Wonder Woman.

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But do we? I mean let us look at these 3 movies very quickly. Brave was a film about a frankly bratty girl, who gets her mother into a difficult position because, she is a brat. And it featured a heavy male supporting cast including her little brothers who also offered comic relief. I can’t really say I cared for her and I can’t see that this was any different from a standard Disney movie. Frozen, we have the bratty teenager who doesn’t get her own way and runs away from home. Gets her little sister into trouble, help on hand from 3 males in the form of a human, a snowman, a moose, and trolls.. I mean.. where do we start with this. Elsa is not a strong role model. She is a teenager. And Wonder Woman. Well, what can I say, the girl wasn’t doing it by herself. At no point in her life was she left to her own devices or given her own agency. She is supported by men, who have their own agenda. But allow her to show her humanity. 

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Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie, and her humanity, her empathy and sympathy for the human condition gave the film much needed depth that films like Batman struggle with. Dark Knight was a study in how we should feel sympathy for someone but because of the male gaze, it felt frustrating and frankly wasted good story time. And this is also why I struggle with the idea that Wonder Woman is a feminist film, or frankly that it has a feminist gaze. Yes, it is important to see more female role models for girls, to see strong empowered women. To show Hollywood that yes, if you film it, we will indeed come. In droves. We love this shit. However, the film was not feminist. Don’t cheapen the idea of feminism but suggesting that giving a woman a sword and letting her fight her own battles it is feminist. The same old story, I mean it was almost as formulaic as a Disney movie. We have a lead, a love interest, the foil and then we have the supporting cast who help move the story along. 

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Lynda Carter Directed by Vincent McEveety

However, I don’t want to put anyone off watching this movie, it flowed well, the acting was fantastic. There were plenty of laughs which felt natural and not planted (looking at you Marvel!) and there was chemistry amongst the various characters. The story was not forced, it didn’t feel shoehorned and there were some really heartbreaking moments. The fight scenes were fantastic and honestly, this is a movie that will have wide appeal without really trying too hard to appeal to everyone and ending up not appealing to anyone. 

But I would just like you all to remember, some of us grew up watching Sigourney Weaver,Carrie Fisher and Linda Hamilton kicking ass. Not inspite of being female, not because they are female. They were just strong characters. And going forward, Gillian Anderson, Sarah Michelle Geller. I could go on. But the point is, that many of us have unknowingly had strong female role models whether we analysed it or not. Nor is it a bad thing to be inspired by a male rolemodel. I agree having strong female leads and roles are important. But we need to have them just because, not to make a political point. Because frankly, making it political muddies the water unnecessarily. 

I really hope that you enjoy Wonder Woman for what it is, a fun comic inspired movie that gives a welcome break to Marvel. I really enjoyed the colour pallet, where Marvel tends to go with very bright, clear colour pallets in their movies, there is a clear definition between good and evil. DC continue to do colour studies using muted hues, in this case, a wash of blue. It worked well, there was still enough brightness but it help cast the mood over the entire movie. I mean there was a war going on, people died. This wasn’t a touchy feely, nice movie to feel good about. The killing started almost at the outset. But it handled this well. There was enough character development that you didn’t feel anyone was just there to fill up some dialogue. This for me, is what DC has always been good at. Looking at the reality, that things are not always going to be bright and beautiful. That life can be hard, gritty, things are not always easy and it is how we handle what is thrown at us that teaches us something about ourselves. Life is hard kids, it is dirty, and you will get bruised, but your true character will show through 😉 There have I rescued you all from the feminist rant?

One final thought. Can we edit the last 10 mins from a movie. Please. Just stop. When you feel the sappiness… just cut it right there. 

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Thanks for reading 🙂

Geek before it was mainstream

So, this weeks show is all about box sets and I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle the question from my gaze. What am I going to watch maybe, or cosplaying from popular shows (like GoT) but with a modern twist. Which I did respond to my co-presented with a rather over enthusiastic essay about cosplay which I don’t think was deserved and would probably would have served better as a blog. Then I got thinking about how both Marvel and DC are releasing films and television series which are very much mainstream.

I came up with the second idea this morning, but having given it some thought over the day, I think I can combine both topic ideas.

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My love of cosplay is well documented and so it is obvious for me to look at this side of things. However, when looking at updating a character like Dany from GoT, it really depends on where you fall in cosplay. There are those that will copy a costume exactly, those who will cross play, do casual looks based on a favourite character, armoured Disney princesses are popular at the moment, and to stay with a theme for a moment, apparel like Twisted Disney. But the one thing that remains constant in these is that you are instantly able to recognise the character. It is very much a visible acknowledgement of the character you are portraying. We work in visuals when we cosplay, often we are sharing on social media, or building portfolios, modelling our handiwork. So the costume we design needs to be visually identifiable.

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Which leads me to the observation (that I am not alone in making) that I am winding my way around to slowly. That pre millennium, every show was cleanly costumed. Let us take a quick look at the X Men – leading the way for comic to film cross over. If you didn’t ever pick up a comic, you may have come accross the X Men as a cartoon. And remember all those individual and interesting costume designs ? Each one designed for the personality of the wearer. This goes back to what I was saying about a visual representation of the character. Because comics are primarily a visual medium in the same way films are, with dialogue being secondary (and that is an argument we can have on another day). But if you put the X Men films alongside either comic or cartoon that you remember, there is a marked difference.

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The costume is identical for each member, the individuality is left at school. Once you become a full member of the team you dress, like a member of the team. If you look at shows like Agents of Shield, even shows like The Flash, Arrow, hell let’s throw Super Girl and Jessica Jones in there. The body of the story, the content for the majority of the episode is conducted out of costume. The segments of the show that see our hero, or anti hero in costume (if in fact there is one) is very small and tends to be there to underpin rather than highlight the entire show.

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It is easy to point out that tastes change, and that what was fashionable in the 70/80 and early 90’s certainly isn’t what is attractive to people any more. That we like things to have a sleeker design, just look at our phones, our cars, our lives. I could talk about how the uniformity indicates an end of childhood, and that even while different you are part of a controlled group. But again, a topic for another group. The fact is that superheroes have always worn a uniform but recently the uniforms have changed direction.

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And that, that is what makes these shows more accessible. The fact that we are not made uncomfortable by people dressing up, making fools of themselves, that for the most part they dress like ‘normal’ people. Even in films like The Avengers, they spend as much time in ‘civvies’ as they do ‘in costume’. If you look at shows like Batman (yes, I mean the one with Adam Weston) then you notice that there is a distinct flip between the amount of time that was spent in costume and the amount of time in say, the more recent spate of Batman movies.

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It is about accessibility, you can relate and understand and it makes the shows, and films more palatable to a wider audience. It means that the shows will be watched by people who have no interest or understanding of the background of the film of show – as can be seen by the popularity of the films spawns by the Marvel Universe. This is a genre that has bought the Geek culture into the mainstream. super heros previously resigned to only serious collectors or fans, banished to childhood are now being enjoyed by entirely new audiences because now, being interested in Geek Culture isn’t seen as bad as it once was.And let us not forget, the Avenger that most people want to laugh at Aquaman …. he is had a total make over, and I really cannot wait for that movie 😉

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As for box sets that you might want to check out – Netflix has an abundance, there is my personal favourite – Gotham, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil. Available on Sky – we have The Flash, Arrow, Agent Carter and Agents of Shield with more being planned.

 

Cosplay by Beth

In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached was Beth Yuka. Beth is a British cosplayer, the only one in this line up! Sorry guys, next time I will drag some more local artists into the love in! Beth is cute as a button, and so sweet! We met through wigs – but I really love her attention to detail and the fact that she shows the entire process. It gives you a glimpse into what it takes and the skill involved.

Beth is a really sweet person, go give her Facebook page a like for gorgeous costumes, some great art work and possibly posts dedicated to noodles. I can’t promise poetic dedications to noodles… but I am sure if you ask Beth nicely! Anyways, enough of my waffling, this is what the lovely lady herself had to say !

 

  1. How did you first get started in cosplay
  2. Why do you cosplay?
  3. What are your favourite aspects of cosplay
  4. How do you find the community
  5. How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type
  6. Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?
  7. Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?
  8. Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?
  9. Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!

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  1. I first got into cosplay back when I was 12 years old, I didn’t fully know about cosplay at this time but I was a textiles student and I had begun making bags and pillow cases ect and I was getting really into video games, anime and sci fi at this time too. I remember when I was around 14 planning out to dress at Princess Peach for Comic con in London but because I was 14 I wasn’t allowed to go.
  2. I cosplay to become awesome characters. To leave behind boring Beth and bring to life Korra, Lady Loki, Thor or whoever I want to be. Also it gives me a pretty good reason to own a load of wigs.
  3. My favourite aspects would be a majority of the community. They’re very loving and welcoming and accepting of anyone. I also love the fact that there are companies out there who have pre made costumes for people who don’t sew or build/craft like me. It means it’s available to everyone.
  4. The community for the most part is great, there are a lot of people who are very supportive of you and the costumes you make/wear and will give you advice if you need it. However there is a side that’s become more apparent as cosplay ha gotten more popular and that’s the ugly side of it. There are a lot of people who will put others down for no reason and that can be really off putting for a lot of new comers but it’s all a game of just ignoring the haters (lol). You need to be tough and prepare yourself because there are people who will be dicks for no reason.

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  1. I don’t really have a process of selecting costumes. I mainly just fall in love with a character and want to be them so I go ahead and make that costume.
  2. I sew/build all of my costumes, I’ve never bought one. I also like to stay true to the source material however I do enjoy seeing steampunk versions or armoured version and even mashups too, I’ve just never gotten around to making one.
  3. I personally haven’t faced it yet but I feel it’s inevitable. At one point I think someone will start following my page and sending messages telling me I’m ugly and my skills are bad but I don’t care. I do it for me not to please them.
  4. I haven’t found myself in bad situations before but I’m also a very safe and cautious person when it comes to conventions and what not.
  5. Be part of a group, and make sure that the group are your friends. Whenever I’ve been in costume to a convention I have been in a group with people who care about me and help keep me safe. Also never send pictures to people over facebook, tell them that if someone wants to do business so photographing/doing a shoot then make sure you use email as it’s more professional and you can keep emails as proof just in case something bad happens. And something that every cosplayer in general should know is to always carry a bottle of water with you. If you’re in heavy armour it can get hot and in the summer it can only get worse so drink water and keep yourself hydrated. ❤

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Women … well written

Okay, bit of a ranty one, sorry in advance.

Women. Why are they still sidelined? I am going to just concentrate on books and films here but obviously it has wider meanings.

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I am working my way through a zombie lit anthology (judge away) and in most of the books I have read so far, no matter the sex of the character, there seems to be a doctor/nurse somewhere either parents, friends, neighbours etc. The husband/father figure is a doctor and the wife/mother figure the nurse. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the author is male or female.

Then we have the ‘all female’ ghostbusters, allegedly an ‘all female’ Oceans 11.Ghostbusters_1

WHY IS THIS EVEN REQUIRED? What happened to strong female characters being unapologetic about their strength. and of course showing my age but I remember shows like     Thunder Cats and She Rah. There was never any question of being forced to like a character because of her gender. Nor was the fact a character is female an issue that ever seemed forced. Of course, reflecting on something from my childhood is going to be coloured by my rose tinted glasses.

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Then we have SuperGirl, which was eagerly awaited by many. I have for the most part checked out of the Marvel & DC offerings on screen (small or silver) as they are just not matching my expectations. Which is always going to be a risk when you are using a medium that requires a degree of imagination. The same can easily be said for many book to screen offerings. But SuperGirl – this was going to be something special, this is A GIRL cast in the leading role, not ANY role but a SUPER HERO. (yes it does hurt when I roll my eyes so hard)

Again she is supported by male characters, and while some of her dialogue is okay, she is blown out of the water by Calista Flockhart’s character. And I will stop picking apart SuperGirl because I have watched one episode and it is dulling my point 🙂

Women are complicit in their own positions, when a female writer feels that it would only be believable if a female character is a nurse, but a male character can be a doctor. Or am I missing a point .. are they passing their own ironic comment on the entire situation.

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Why can’t women just be strong, unapologetic characters which out coming up with some excuse, being embarrassed. Love her, or hate her, Joss Whedon created a great character with Buffy. Actually, I never actually felt any of the characters were held back because of their sex. And that is what is the thing that has got under my skin. Why should it matter sex a character (in whatever format) is to begin with, can we not just have strong characters without an agenda?

Is that too much to ask for, characters that avoid stereotyping without making a song and dance about it. Female characters that you can relate to for just getting shit done without spouting feminist agenda bullshit. Female characters that are strong, and relatable and that actually don’t need to have boys sitting around as support.

WE NEED TANK GIRL!!

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