I think I’m done listening to Delilah

Image of radio host Delilah with curled blond hair, and left hand on left hip, in a black dress in front of an iHeart Radio emblazoned wall in Las Vegas
(image courtesy of Billboard)

Over the last few months that I’ve been jobless, I’ve spent many a night at home. I tend to keep the radio on to have some background noise bc I don’t have a television in my room and I don’t like having the volume on my computer turned up bc too many sites auto-play videos, which gets old fast. The only radio station I’ve listened to that I can regularly pick up out here in the middle of Nowheresville, USA is a local station that’s part of the iHeart network, and features Delilah Rene Luke. ‘Delilah’, as she is known to listeners, has been a radio personality since 1974, when she was 14. Her enormously popular, eponymous show (which has roughly 8 million listeners) begins at 7 pm CST and runs til 11 pm CST and is notable both for the atmosphere Delilah has created and her callers. She gives the show a relaxed, down home feeling, full of support, encouragement, hope, and words of love.  One of the hallmarks of the show are her listeners, who are encouraged to call or email the show to share their lives with her. They share stories of hope, joy, sorrow, and frustration. Every night, upwards of 50,000 people call hoping to talk to the famous host, but usually only 50-70 actually reach her (she screens the calls herself). Typically, the caller will request a song to be played as a dedication to a friend or loved one, but on a fairly regular basis the caller asks her to pick a song for them.

One particular segment of the show (one I suspect is quite popular) is the equivalent of the ‘Dear Abbey’ advice column. She selects a caller asking for advice on a subject, and a short time later, she offers her words of wisdom for the caller. In the time I’ve been regularly listening to her, I have heard Delilah offer a lot of advice. It didn’t take me long to notice a heavily religious slant behind not only her words of wisdom, but behind the whole show. Only recently did I learn that she is an Evangelical Christian. Discovering that was a light bulb moment. It explained why her guidance frequently came across as being of questionable merit. Rather than offering solutions to her guests that were based in reality and had evidence to back them up, her advice frequently, but not always, turns out to be some variant of ‘gods got the wheel’.

I usually tune out her recommendations when they are too god focused, and pay more attention when she offers up her personal, less divinely inspired solution for how a caller should handle a situation.  On occasion, I’ve written about her advice on Facebook. Sometimes, her wisdom is tolerable or even reasonable:

(note: The four sets of quoted material below are all reproductions of my own posts from Facebook)

Dude seems to be flailing in his search for an answer. On the one hand, he characterized his wife as “playing the role of the Wicked Stepmother to a T”.
On the other, he said his son is a teenager now (a recent development) and teens are “cr*zy anyway”.
So he seems to be blaming both of them, I guess. At any rate, he doesn’t know what to do, so he figured to call a popular radio show host with a hotline to god.

(not seeing any special qualifications that she has for solving his family problems. Yes, she’s a mother with several children, but without being part of their family and seeing the nature and extent of the tension, it’s really hard for anyone to say “AHA, here’s your problem”. In addition, I don’t think Delilah is a qualified therapist, so her advice wouldn’t necessarily be derived from evidence-based solutions)

To her credit, she noted something of importance–Dude referring to his wife as “playing the role of the Wicked Stepmother to a T”. Without saying “Dude, that’s a sexist stereotype. You really should treat your wife with more respect than reducing her down to a stereotype”, (which is totally something I would say, though there might be a little bit more ::ahem:: coarse language (“might be”? Ha)), she basically said IF she’s acting in this way and it’s not just his perception (or his son’s or both of theirs), then he needs to act to protect his child. Not having any further information–I don’t recall him mentioning any particular abuse his son experiences from her, for instance–I’m not really sure what he can or needs to protect him from. That’s a teensy quibble, not a significant problem, given her lack of information.

She then went on to say basically, that if it’s just his perception (or his son’s) and that’s not actually how his wife is acting, then they need to find a good family therapist. Which is what I think she should have started off with, TBH.

1

Sometimes it’s the most unhelpful, facile advice. The kind that would make you want your money back if your therapist offered it:

PEOPLE NEED A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL GIVING THEM ADVICE YOU HACK!

The fact that she is so beloved and respected (her Wiki page says upwards of 8 million ppl listen to her each week) amplifies the problem, bc listeners will hear her “encouraging” advice about drug addiction–‘move on, leave it behind’ (spoken, at least, with a note of care, rather than dispassionately)–and take that to heart, rather than seeking assistance and answers that have an evidence based approach to handling complex issues like grief and addiction.

2

 

Other times her suggestions are less compassionate and more authoritarian leaning:

On tonight’s episode of ‘No More Advice Delilah, Please’,
the radio personality gives her motherly advice to an 18-year old high school senior who is dating a Hispanic guy roughly her age. His parents have met her and are perfectly fine with their relationship. HER parents, OTOH, are anything but fine with it. Apparently her parents don’t want her dating outside her race. The issue at hand is that they have been dating for a while and she has had to lie to her parents about where she’s going and what she’s doing and she’s tired of doing that. She’s a star athlete, with great grades, is active in her church, and does community service work regularly. She feels she is a great child and that lying to her parents is antithetical to that status. OTOH, she cares deeply for her BF and doesn’t want to end the relationship. So Delilah, please tell the world:

WHAT FUCKED UP PIECE OF ADVICE ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE THIS YOUNG WOMAN?

If you know anything about the advice offered by Delilah, then you probably have some idea of the answer.

First of all, Delilah characterized the parents and their opposition to interracial relationships as ‘absurd’.

And. That’s. It.

I was screaming at the radio for her to call it what it is:
R A C I S T

She couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. Way to beat around the bush.

The advice she offered kinda pissed me off too. She said “you live at home you have to follow the rules set forth by your parents”. Now, I get where she is coming from on this, and ultimately there is a lot of truth to that. Despite being 18 and an adult, the woman does live at home with her parents and is still in high school (I’m guessing this is a past episode or that this piece of mail came to Delilah after the school year ended), so her parents’ rules do have to be acknowledged.

But where I think Delilah went and gave her trademark bullshit advice is when she told the woman “you have to respect your parents’ rules and be honest with them”. Ummm, no. She is not required to respect her parents’ racism. And be honest with them? She’s an adult. If she wants to lie to her parents bc she is in a relationship, that’s her call. It’s not their business anyways.

Delilah basically told her to stop lying to her parents and suspend her relationship until she moves out of the house.

Me? I’d have given her advice on how to effectively hide the relationship until such time as she no longer lives at home (which might not happen immediately after high school and even if it does, going to college often happens with some kind of support from parents and that could be threatened). I’d have supported the woman and said she has every right to be in a relationship with the person she chooses. I’D HAVE FUCKING TOLD HER THAT HER PARENTS’ RULES ARE RACIST AS FUCK. She sent a letter asking for support and instead, Delilah tells her she’s up shit creek without a paddle for who knows how long.

3

Here, have another one of my “favorites” (where the word is spoken with as much contempt as possible):

Dude calls in to complain that he invited his mother to his college graduation months ago. She invited his father whom he did not want there.

Delilah tells the guy he cant change his mom from being codependent (dad is apparently toxic and emotionally unavailable & Delilah is somehow qualified to decide the mom is codependent over a phone call with the son). Nor can he change his father.

So her advice?

Forgive the father or the resentment with eat you alive.

There’s that toxic religious bullshit again.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO EVER FORGIVE ANYONE–EVEN A FAMILY MEMBER–IF THEY HAVE BEEN A TOXIC PRESENCE IN YOUR LIFE.

Perhaps it _can_ consume you, but that is not a destined outcome and treating it as such is, once again, bullshit advice from Delilah.

4

 

Then there’s the counsel she gave a caller on tonight’s show. This crap took the cake and moved me firmly into the I don’t just dislike her and think she needs to be off the air, but I despise her camp:

Continue reading “I think I’m done listening to Delilah”

I think I’m done listening to Delilah
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The press is not the enemy of the people

They awaken every morning to a brand new day, just as we do. Brushing teeth, kissing spouses, grumbling at the difficulty in getting a child out of bed and ready for school. They drink their morning cuppa coffee or hot chocolate or orange juice.  Some of them grab a bite to eat at home, while others are in a hurry bc that child–or those children–dragged their adorably precious, but annoying butts just a little too slow and everyone is going to be late if they don’t leave right now.  Others get to take a more lackadaisical approach to the morning, relaxing with little more than the morning paper and Spotify playing in the background. There are even those who awoke before everyone else. Springing from the bed as if they just slept a week, they freshen up throw on some clothes and go for a walk/run/jog, head to they gym at the ungodly hour of it’s not even sun out yet, or hop on their bike to see the sunrise. They are us.

They eat what we eat.

Vacation in the places we vacation.

Thrill to baseball, basketball, football and no-ball just as we do.

They stress over paying the mortgage, the rent, utilities, the water bill and more, just like we do.

They gasp in shock and disbelief at the never-ending series of tragedies that unfolds on a daily basis.

They do so many of the things we do, these women, non-binary folks, and men.

In so many ways, we and they are the same. Except they are hiding a secret.  A secret that, of course, they don’t want you to know. These people have insinuated themselves into the fabric of our country, eating our food, enjoying our culture, using our resources, acting as if they belong here. They go about their days with smiling faces, doing their jobs, but beneath it all, they are not our friends. They are not our family. They are not our loved ones at all. They are something more insidious.

They are the enemy. The enemy of the people.

That’s what the current occupant of the White House would have the citizens of this country think of them: journalists, reporters, the Fourth Estate, the press.  It is well known by now that POTUS45 has a high level of disdain for the press. In fact, disdain is probably not a strong enough term.  Given the naked hostility he regularly displays toward the press, antipathy is accurate and even hate really isn’t too far off.  This is the same individual who openly admitted to wanting United States citizens to treat him as North Koreans treat their leader. Given his numerous, well documented attacks on the media (attacks with deep roots) it is not a huge leap of logic to assert that, based on his behavior over the last few years, that the forty-fifth President of the United States would prefer a state-run media, under the control of some branch, probably a new one with a catchy name like The Media Force. If the media were government controlled, one can easily imagine that new coverage of him would be far more favorable.  Because favorable coverage, rather than honest, accurate truth telling is what the media should be about in his eyes.

Continue reading “The press is not the enemy of the people”

The press is not the enemy of the people

A different look at Africa

To hear people in the West tell it, Africa is the home of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In the United States, media coverage of the world’s second-largest continent has fueled the perception that Africa is a land of AIDS, famine, and terrorism.  While this negative coverage does showcase aspects of Africa, it is far from the full story. Unfortunately, there is not enough coverage of the complex cultures found throughout Africa. This can be problematic for parents who wish to educate their children on African culture. In 2012, Adamu Naziri, a Nigerian animator, fed up with the limited (and negative) coverage of Africa, decided to create an educational cartoon to teach children about African culture. Enter: Bino and Pino.

Continue reading “A different look at Africa”

A different look at Africa

Pop Culture 9.29.14

SyFy looking for the next Battlestar Galactica

Almost five years after a rebrand that abandoned the Sci-Fi moniker and enraged fans, NBCUniversal brass is aware that its attempt to lure a broader audience might have lost it some clout in the increasingly lucrative genre that shares its former name. Now Syfy president DaveHowe is trying to rectify the perception problem with changes in the executive ranks that will translate to new programming more familiar to its core audience.

“We want to be the best science-fiction channel that we possibly can, and in some respects, that means going back to the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy that fans often say they feel we’ve exited,” Howe tells THR. “We’re going to occupy that space in a way we haven’t for the past few years.”

* * * *

Maker plus MiTu=original content for Hispanic audiences

As part of the pact, Disney-owned Maker will work with the Latino talent found across MiTu’s 1,300 partner channels to produce English- and Spanish-language programming.

MiTu chief revenue officer Charlie Echeverry called the deal a turning point for brands. “It’s no longer only the responsibility of those in multicultural disciplines to plan and execute against the Latino opportunity — everyone along the marketing value chain is interested in these capabilities,” he added. “We are confident that this partnership will provide world-class Latino branded content and social amplification solutions to Maker’s extensive portfolio of current partners, and serve as a vehicle for any brand eager to reach today’s digital Latino consumer base.”

* * * *

I wanted to like this song-‘Hard Out Here’-by Lily Allen.  It’s all about the difficulty she had getting back into the music industry following the birth of her children. The industry’s sexist standards for women-to sell albums, women have to adhere to inhuman standards of beauty while being sexually objectified by male consumers.  Allen seems to want to give a ‘Fuck You’ to those standards, but as Julianne Escobedo Shepherd writes, it doesn’t go quite as planned:

It starts out promising enough: Lily’s lying on an operating table being liposuctioned by rough doctors with American and British accents. They prod her and marvel at the amount of fat she must have removed. Her manager stands bedside, reporting to her which late-night hosts have rejected her services. “How can somebody let themselves get like this, you know?” he complains. She responds sweetly, “Well I’ve had two babies!” The manager shakes his head. It’s all good, winking commentary on the entertainment industry’s rigid, unsympathetic body standards. We can get down with that, no? We’re all familiar with the disapproving tabloid headlines about how pregnant celebrities have “ballooned,” and then the praise heaped upon them when they whip their “post-baby bodies” into shape in record times. It’s unrealistic. Let Lily Allen have babies like a normal, my dudes!

Things go south right around the time the vocals drop in: “I suppose I should tell you, what this bitch is thinking.” Go on… “You’ll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen.” Preach! And? “I won’t be braggin’ bout my cars, or talkin’ bout my chains, don’t need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain.”

OHHHH!!!!!! FOUL, LILY. And therein begin the false equivalencies—that bragging about material goods is exclusively stupid (and not, say, aspirational or representational), and that women who dance or shake their asses are stupid. The latter is made especially ironic by the fact that Allen has chosen to populate her video with women, mostly of color, who twerk in slow motion and pour champagne down their breasts like errant ejaculate. These are all things that we have seen in rap videos, of course, but it doesn’t make it any better if it’s executed under the guise of satire: this is the exact kind of shit that got Nelly banned from Spelman and BET Uncut cancelled.

I agree. Allen does seem to be setting herself up as superior to others in the music industry-those she deems too focused on material goods.  Yet material goods aren’t inherently bad and there’s nothing wrong with wanting them. Had she continued her critique of the impossible standards for women in the industry, I think the song would have been better (even though it has catchy lyrics).  This isn’t the only area where the song fails.  You can read more of Shepard’s criticism at The Hairpin.

* * * *

Gillette’s new razor: Do I really need a razor with Fusion ProGlide with Flexball Technology?

I’ve been using the Gillette Mach 3 razor for years (not the same one…wow that would hurt) and it more than suits my needs.  I just wish razors weren’t so blasted expensive.  Thankfully I reuse them a few times before I chuck them.

* * * *

This is 2 parts cool, 3 parts scary.  I think he should have had more protection on.

Also, I kinda wanted the Road Runner or the Flash to zoom up next to the guy and ask him why he’s going so slow 🙂

(via Sploid)

* * * *

Ello:  Can it succeed without ads?

Pop Culture 9.29.14

The problem of police militarization and brutality

More Americans Killed By Police Than By Terrorists: With Crime Down, Why Is Police Aggression Up?

It may seem like crime is on the rise, but that’s an issue of perception. I tend to think it’s largely because we have unprecedented access to news today.  Whether it’s online blogs, news sites, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, we can get our news almost as soon as it breaks. One of the results of that is we hear about a lot of newsworthy material more often, which makes it seem like-in the case of crime for instance-things are getting worse. Such thinking is faulty though.

Continue reading “The problem of police militarization and brutality”

The problem of police militarization and brutality

Michael Davis: Manara’s Spiderwoman #1 cover is “just” an image

Arist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive Michael Davis offers his opinions on the ongoing shitstorm at Mavel over Milo Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1. Before I get to his comments, I want to address a few things he said at the onset of his post:

I admit I’m a bit of a girly man.

Most of my friends are women. Women raised me, I collect Barbies, and my favorite movie is My Best Friend’s Wedding. I tend to see things from a woman’s point of view, and I’m convinced in another life I was a woman.

I once attended a Barbie convention in—of all places—Georgia, and had the best time. Yuk it up fanboy, and when you’ve had a couple of real good belly laughs, think about this: my Barbie collection is a helluva conversation starter. I have yet to meet a woman who did not think a man who shows a bit of his feminine side was not damn sexy.

Feel free to engage in what for some, will undoubtedly be a jest fest filled with gay, limp dick, and sissy boy witticisms. I’ll spare you the trouble of debating whether or not I’m gay. I am.

To be honest, I would like people to NOT do any of that.  Don’t shame people because they enjoy things you don’t.  Don’t demean another human being or use the sexuality of others as an insult because they don’t conform to your archaic notions of proper behavior of the sexes.  Courtesy of our views on gender, a man who enjoys Barbies or expresses what he deems his ‘feminine side’ is viewed as unmanly.  As if there’s a definition of man that all men are bound by, and that definition excludes certain activities and views.  One of the things I learned after becoming a feminist is that gender roles are stifling.    They prevent the full expression of human nature, by binding us to social constructs on what constitutes proper behavior and they do so for no discernible reason.  No one is harmed by a man enjoying Barbies.  If a man wants to express his feminine side (leaving aside the idea that there’s a “side” to express; I think whatever feminine qualities Davis is referring to are human qualities that exist in all of us to varying degrees), let him.  Who is harmed?  No one.

Digression over.

As a man who embraces his feminine side, I’ve been watching with mild amusement the Spider-Woman/Milo Manara brouhaha. Here’s my two cents: Milo Manara is going to be Milo Manara, and what you see is what you get. Don’t be mad at Milo for doing what he does, that’s just silly. You want to be mad at something, be mad at Marvel.

I’m convinced being mad at Marvel will make a difference. I’m sure of it because I’m also sure Marvel cares. Marvel cares that without even trying they have usurped any and all post-San Diego Con conversations. They care about the massive amount of press surrounding the book. Press, sure as shit, that will lead to sold out multiple printings and mucho bucks for Mr. Mouse and company.

By and large, I agree with Davis here.  Marvel commissioned Milo Manara to create the alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1, knowing full well that his work is erotically charged. That they did so on a book specifically marketed at women, as part of a push on their part to appeal to women readers, places a huge amount of responsibility for the crappy cover on the shoulders of Marvel.  How they could think this decision was somehow congruent with appealing to women is beyond me.  It’s a great example of being tone deaf.  Marvel has been criticized (and let’s be clear here, it’s not just Marvel, they’re just one in a long list of examples) for the lack of diversity in its output.  This attempt to appeal to female readers is a laudable effort at increasing the diversity of the books they produce.   Diversity is not the only area where Marvel has been criticized though-many people, a lot of them women, have criticized Marvel for the depiction of women in their comics.  From the sexualization of female characters to the sexual objectification of same, Marvel has had (and continues to have) a problem with the depiction of women in comics.  It seems they decided to pay attention to one issue women have been criticizing them for, but downplaying or even ignoring one of the other big issues women have been vocal about.   The cover to Spiderwoman #1 is an example of sexual objectification and sexualization of female characters.  That sends a mixed message to readers (remember, women are the readers Marvel is ostensibly reaching out to with its push to create more female headlined books):  “We’re listening to you.  Sometimes.”

“Your concerns are valid. Except when they’re not.”

This conflicting message doesn’t negate Marvel’s recent track record (they currently have 8 books with women as the lead characters, with more on the way very soon, and more, IIRC in the pipeline).  It does, however raise doubts as to how much the company understand the concerns raised by women.  Davis goes on to say:

On Tumblr, Tom Brevoort, the senior vice president of publishing for Marvel Comics, said “the people who are upset about that cover have a point, at least in how the image relates to them.”

I like Tom, but as statements go, that’s pretty lame. It’s the ‘you have a right to be upset over something that upsets you’ line. It’s a non-statement, a safe company line and who could blame Tom for taking it?

Then he added that Manara has been “working as a cartoonist since 1969, and what he does hasn’t materially changed in all that time. So when we say ‘Manara cover,’ his body of work indicates what sort of thing he’s going to do.”

In other words: “Yeah, we knew what we were going to get when we hired him, so deal with it.”

Whoa! Gangsta!

Frankly, I’m impressed that Tom came out like that. You can’t win a war when you’re fighting an army of ‘what I think.’ It’s impossible, so why not just tell the truth and be out?

Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion and seldom, if ever, will someone’s point of view change on subjects like this. I’m the last person (girl that I am) to reject what any woman sees as offensive but (yeah, but) all this for a drawing?

I was largely with Davis up to this point.  Now he veers off into the all too common isolationist view:  this is just a drawing.  Yes, it’s “just” a drawing, but it’s a drawing that does not exist in isolation. It’s not just this drawing.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s cover.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s interiors.  It’s this drawing plus the sexualized depiction of women in comics.  It’s this drawing plus the problem of T&A in comics.  If it was “just this image”, I doubt the outcry against it would be as huge as it has been.  It’s not just this image.  It’s this image set against a backdrop of the ongoing problem of women in comics being treated as sexual objects, rather than fully realized characters with agency (which itself is set against the backdrop of how society treats women in general).

Davis goes on to say something even more wrong headed, and displays an amazing level of ignorance:

Unless I’m missing something, Marvel is going to make a grip on this, then, like always, the subject will be shelved. That is until the next image of an imaginary character with impossible powers is put into a pose that makes some people upset. Then it’s outrage time again.

I get it.

What I don’t get is where was this level of outrage, this level of media coverage and broadcast saturation was when, not long ago, a woman was threatened with rape because she dared critique an artist’s depiction of some other comic book drawing.

That you didn’t see it means you weren’t paying attention, because there was quite a bit of media attention paid to the rape threats Janelle Asselin received because she criticized the cover to Teen Titans #1 (that’s five different links to media criticism of the rape threats against Asselin).  People rightfully called out that offensive, misogynistic bullshit. Aside from how wrong Davis was about that, he is using the rape threats against Asselin to change the subject because he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Manara’s work sexually objectifies women.  For someone who claims such affinity with women, he is clearly not listening to their concerns in this case.

Do better Davis. Do better.

 

Michael Davis: Manara’s Spiderwoman #1 cover is “just” an image

Michael Davis: Manara's Spiderwoman #1 cover is "just" an image

Arist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive Michael Davis offers his opinions on the ongoing shitstorm at Mavel over Milo Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1. Before I get to his comments, I want to address a few things he said at the onset of his post:

I admit I’m a bit of a girly man.

Most of my friends are women. Women raised me, I collect Barbies, and my favorite movie is My Best Friend’s Wedding. I tend to see things from a woman’s point of view, and I’m convinced in another life I was a woman.

I once attended a Barbie convention in—of all places—Georgia, and had the best time. Yuk it up fanboy, and when you’ve had a couple of real good belly laughs, think about this: my Barbie collection is a helluva conversation starter. I have yet to meet a woman who did not think a man who shows a bit of his feminine side was not damn sexy.

Feel free to engage in what for some, will undoubtedly be a jest fest filled with gay, limp dick, and sissy boy witticisms. I’ll spare you the trouble of debating whether or not I’m gay. I am.

To be honest, I would like people to NOT do any of that.  Don’t shame people because they enjoy things you don’t.  Don’t demean another human being or use the sexuality of others as an insult because they don’t conform to your archaic notions of proper behavior of the sexes.  Courtesy of our views on gender, a man who enjoys Barbies or expresses what he deems his ‘feminine side’ is viewed as unmanly.  As if there’s a definition of man that all men are bound by, and that definition excludes certain activities and views.  One of the things I learned after becoming a feminist is that gender roles are stifling.    They prevent the full expression of human nature, by binding us to social constructs on what constitutes proper behavior and they do so for no discernible reason.  No one is harmed by a man enjoying Barbies.  If a man wants to express his feminine side (leaving aside the idea that there’s a “side” to express; I think whatever feminine qualities Davis is referring to are human qualities that exist in all of us to varying degrees), let him.  Who is harmed?  No one.

Digression over.

As a man who embraces his feminine side, I’ve been watching with mild amusement the Spider-Woman/Milo Manara brouhaha. Here’s my two cents: Milo Manara is going to be Milo Manara, and what you see is what you get. Don’t be mad at Milo for doing what he does, that’s just silly. You want to be mad at something, be mad at Marvel.

I’m convinced being mad at Marvel will make a difference. I’m sure of it because I’m also sure Marvel cares. Marvel cares that without even trying they have usurped any and all post-San Diego Con conversations. They care about the massive amount of press surrounding the book. Press, sure as shit, that will lead to sold out multiple printings and mucho bucks for Mr. Mouse and company.

By and large, I agree with Davis here.  Marvel commissioned Milo Manara to create the alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1, knowing full well that his work is erotically charged. That they did so on a book specifically marketed at women, as part of a push on their part to appeal to women readers, places a huge amount of responsibility for the crappy cover on the shoulders of Marvel.  How they could think this decision was somehow congruent with appealing to women is beyond me.  It’s a great example of being tone deaf.  Marvel has been criticized (and let’s be clear here, it’s not just Marvel, they’re just one in a long list of examples) for the lack of diversity in its output.  This attempt to appeal to female readers is a laudable effort at increasing the diversity of the books they produce.   Diversity is not the only area where Marvel has been criticized though-many people, a lot of them women, have criticized Marvel for the depiction of women in their comics.  From the sexualization of female characters to the sexual objectification of same, Marvel has had (and continues to have) a problem with the depiction of women in comics.  It seems they decided to pay attention to one issue women have been criticizing them for, but downplaying or even ignoring one of the other big issues women have been vocal about.   The cover to Spiderwoman #1 is an example of sexual objectification and sexualization of female characters.  That sends a mixed message to readers (remember, women are the readers Marvel is ostensibly reaching out to with its push to create more female headlined books):  “We’re listening to you.  Sometimes.”

“Your concerns are valid. Except when they’re not.”

This conflicting message doesn’t negate Marvel’s recent track record (they currently have 8 books with women as the lead characters, with more on the way very soon, and more, IIRC in the pipeline).  It does, however raise doubts as to how much the company understand the concerns raised by women.  Davis goes on to say:

On Tumblr, Tom Brevoort, the senior vice president of publishing for Marvel Comics, said “the people who are upset about that cover have a point, at least in how the image relates to them.”

I like Tom, but as statements go, that’s pretty lame. It’s the ‘you have a right to be upset over something that upsets you’ line. It’s a non-statement, a safe company line and who could blame Tom for taking it?

Then he added that Manara has been “working as a cartoonist since 1969, and what he does hasn’t materially changed in all that time. So when we say ‘Manara cover,’ his body of work indicates what sort of thing he’s going to do.”

In other words: “Yeah, we knew what we were going to get when we hired him, so deal with it.”

Whoa! Gangsta!

Frankly, I’m impressed that Tom came out like that. You can’t win a war when you’re fighting an army of ‘what I think.’ It’s impossible, so why not just tell the truth and be out?

Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion and seldom, if ever, will someone’s point of view change on subjects like this. I’m the last person (girl that I am) to reject what any woman sees as offensive but (yeah, but) all this for a drawing?

I was largely with Davis up to this point.  Now he veers off into the all too common isolationist view:  this is just a drawing.  Yes, it’s “just” a drawing, but it’s a drawing that does not exist in isolation. It’s not just this drawing.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s cover.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s interiors.  It’s this drawing plus the sexualized depiction of women in comics.  It’s this drawing plus the problem of T&A in comics.  If it was “just this image”, I doubt the outcry against it would be as huge as it has been.  It’s not just this image.  It’s this image set against a backdrop of the ongoing problem of women in comics being treated as sexual objects, rather than fully realized characters with agency (which itself is set against the backdrop of how society treats women in general).

Davis goes on to say something even more wrong headed, and displays an amazing level of ignorance:

Unless I’m missing something, Marvel is going to make a grip on this, then, like always, the subject will be shelved. That is until the next image of an imaginary character with impossible powers is put into a pose that makes some people upset. Then it’s outrage time again.

I get it.

What I don’t get is where was this level of outrage, this level of media coverage and broadcast saturation was when, not long ago, a woman was threatened with rape because she dared critique an artist’s depiction of some other comic book drawing.

That you didn’t see it means you weren’t paying attention, because there was quite a bit of media attention paid to the rape threats Janelle Asselin received because she criticized the cover to Teen Titans #1 (that’s five different links to media criticism of the rape threats against Asselin).  People rightfully called out that offensive, misogynistic bullshit. Aside from how wrong Davis was about that, he is using the rape threats against Asselin to change the subject because he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Manara’s work sexually objectifies women.  For someone who claims such affinity with women, he is clearly not listening to their concerns in this case.

Do better Davis. Do better.

 

Michael Davis: Manara's Spiderwoman #1 cover is "just" an image

Don Lemon interviews Pharrell about Ferguson

CNN’s Don Lemon recently sat down with artist Pharrell Williams to discuss the slaying of Michael Brown and the events in Ferguson:

Around the 1:20 mark, Lemon mentions the Facebook campaign to get black men to pull up their pants and wear them around the waist. Pharrell responds by asserting that no one can tell him how to wear his pants.  He goes on to say that saggy pants aren’t a “black thing” bc white people also sag their pants. For the Facebook campaign to be mentioned in the same breath as the events in Ferguson skirts dangerously close to victim blaming. It’s an example of ‘respectability politics’ (which Lemon is quite agreeable to):

On Saturday, Don Lemon listed five steps the black community must require black men to take to become respectable: Stop sagging their pants, stop saying the n-word, stop littering, finish high school, and have fewer children out of wedlock. If black men do those things, they will show that they respect themselves, and then, you see, things will be better. (On Sunday, Lemon welcomed LZ Granderson and Ana Navarro on the air to pat his hand while he groused about the negative response to his comments.)

[…]

But in order to become “respectable,” the targeted group is always encouraged to change. And the changes always, always require the targeted group to become more like the dominant group. If black people act more like white people, or women act more like men, or gays and lesbians act more like straight people, they’ll all see the same outcomes. But the underlying goal of this is to stop being “different.” Act “normally,” and you’ll be treated normally, but if you step outside those boundaries, it is your fault and your fault only.

Of course, the problem with respectability politics is even if they sound good, they don’t actually mean all that much for real people.

[…]

What respectability politics assume, though, is that any bad outcome for black people is the fault of and can only be solved by black people. More importantly, anything black people do that the arbiter of “respectability” doesn’t like is also a black problem requiring a black solution.

Respectability politics alienate their target from the rest of society. They make their targets uniquely bad and irresponsible in a way that other groups aren’t. White dropout rates aren’t the problem of the white community. White men aren’t lectured as a group about the 627,541 out-of-wedlock births to white mothers in 2010. The only response respectability politics has is to treat the black dropout or the black out-of-wedlock birth as a black failure rather than a societal one. Not only are black people somehow uniquely and voluntarily flawed, all of them are responsible for the failures.

 

If you dress right, you’ll fit in.

If you carry yourself correctly, you’ll be allowed in the club.

If you act in the manner that the majority deems acceptable, you won’t be shot and killed.

This is at the heart of what Lemon is talking about.  Respectability politics shifts the responsibility for the oppression and discrimination faced by a marginalized group from the shoulders of the oppressors onto the shoulders of the oppressed.  It works by telling the oppressed that they can get by and get ahead in life (or not be killed) if they’ll subsume themselves to the desires of others. You can exist, just not on your own terms.  If you choose to exist on your own terms and not do what we say, we can’t be responsible for what befalls you-that’s on you.  That’s what “sagging pants” represents.  The mere mention of the campaign pushes the idea that black people can be more easily accepted into white culture if they pull their pants up and act in a manner white people approve of.

Fuck.

That.

Noise.

As Pharrell rightly states, no one should be dictating to others what they can or cannot wear (this isn’t a discussion of parents telling their child what clothes to wear).  I do wish Pharrell had taken a different tack with his response.  Yes, no one has the right to tell him how he can dress.  But the problem with bringing up sagging pants in a discussion about Michael Brown’s death is that it, somewhat subtly, makes the point that if black people would alter their behavior to make white people more comfortable they won’t get shot and killed.  That’s victim blaming. Instead of Lemon excoriating the actions of Darren Wilson, he chooses to mention the no saggy pants Facebook campaign. As if it’s relevant to the discussion of the slaying of Michael Brown.  To Don Lemon, it’s relevant because he feels that too many black Americans don’t “act right” or “dress right”-and if they started doing things “the right way”, they would be more accepted.  That’s a great message there Lemon- ‘Act White. Stay alive’.  Except not only does it not work that way, it shouldn’t work that way.  Black people should expect to be able to express themselves as they see fit and white America should accept them on those terms.  We don’t exist for the approval of white America.  Yes, we live together in this country. Yes, we need to get along with each other.  But that does not mean we need to lose our individuality or our culture. It doesn’t mean we need to alter our identities so that white America is more accepting of us.  That’s not equality.  That’s assimilation.  As I said before, fuck that noise. The people who need to change their behavior are the Darren Wilson’s of the world.  They are the ones who aren’t acting right.  They are the ones continuing to deny black people the right to exist on their own terms.  They’re not only NOT acting respectable, they’re acting reprehensibly.  Don Lemon needs to wake up and recognize this and call them out.

 

 

 

Don Lemon interviews Pharrell about Ferguson

Update on Avengers: Age of Ultron, a problem with the media, and IMAGE comics sees growth

Woo Hoo!  The first full frontal view of

the Vision in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron

 


 

 

Shaq wants to be a police officer.

Shaquille O’Neal has applied to be a reserve police officer in Doral, Florida, NBC reports.

The NBA veteran has played a police officer on Southlandand in Grown-Ups 2, as well as serving as a reserve police officer in Los Angeles, Miami Beach and Golden Beach, Florida over the years. In 2011, he was accused of abusing his contacts in Miami law enforcement to follow his wife when he suspected an affair.

I mention this story for a few reasons:

1- I find the obsession with celebrities in the United States to be utterly bizarre.  These are people that most of us will never meet, who have plied their talents to achieve varying degrees of fame, but at their core, they’re just as human as the rest of us.  Sure, in many cases, they have more money, more material things, and more publicity, but I just don’t understand the interest in following the lives of celebrities.  I am knocking it to a certain extent.  All too often, the trivialities in the lives of celebrities are deemed more important that ongoing civil rights violations, police militarization, violation of the rights of journalists, the ongoing treatment of immigrants, the use of drones to murder enemy combatants, the denial of climate change, the insidious attempts to inject creationism into the classrooms, and any number of other issues which impact the lives of millions of people.  By impact, I don’t just mean inconvenience.  For example:

  • The continued attempts to deny women the right to an abortion directly impact their ability to care for themselves and their families.  That contributes to poverty (among other things), which also negatively affects our economy.
  • The use of drones to kill enemies in other countries, with no trial being held, is a direct violation of human rights.
  • The opposition to marriage equality continues to be framed as an issue of “religious liberty”, yet at its heart, that is merely an excuse for bigotry.  Playing the “religious liberty” card doesn’t make bigotry disappear.  If anything it highlights the fact that some religious beliefs are harmful and should be discarded.  Why is it harmful? Oh, I dunno, bc people who play this card use it to deny basic rights to LGB individuals. To deny others their human rights is to not treat them as human.  Such dehumanization should not be tolerated in any society, let alone the so-called “exceptional” country known as the United States.
  • The ongoing examples-almost daily now-of police brutality in this country *ought* to horrify most people.  Yet far too many people support the actions of the police. These people don’t see that the increasing use of force by police departments across the country is not in proportion to the threat they face.  The use of extreme force has become commonplace, as has the presence of military equipment.  In fact, police departments across the country are increasingly adopting militaristic tactics.  All of this from people who are supposed to be ‘serving and protecting’ us, not treating civilians as enemy combatants.

These issues, and so many more *ought* to have the attention of the media, and the public consciousness far more often than they do.  Taking a look at news headlines, Facebook news feeds, or flipping through the channels on television, I know that human rights issues are covered.  I just don’t think they’re sufficiently covered, nor are they given the full analysis they deserve. What is given airtime, news coverage, or magazine stand attention is celebrity culture:  who’s dating whom, who broke up with whom, who is pregnant, who was sited somewhere, what someone was wearing and more.

Again, I’m not {completely} knocking that.  I certainly don’t want the news to  be filled to brimming with only issues of daily examples of gun violence, human rights travesties, or the continued struggle of black Americans to be viewed as fully human, but I do think that the media pays a disproportionate amount of attention to trivialities in the face of issues of far greater importance.  Yes, in some ways, they’re just feeding the desires of the public, but the media ought to do a better job balancing what people NEED to hear against what they WANT to hear.

2- (and this is a distant second, compared to my first point)- I found this story at Comicbook.com, yet the most significant link between Shaq and comic books is the movie Steela 1997 film based on the DC Comics character Steel.  Other than that, there is no tie between Shaq and comics. The news that Shaquille O’Neal wants to become a reserve police officer seems incredibly out of place on a comic book news site.

3- Tying back to my first point:  who cares? Obviously, I know that some people do, but this news amounts to “someone wants to become a police officer”.  Since when is that news?  Oh yeah, since many people in the US are obsessed with celebrities.   They don’t care if the average Joe or Jill becomes a police officer, but a celebrity?  That’s a different story.  That’s cause to perk up (or not, in some cases).

One thing that *does* interest me:  why does Shaq want to be a police officer?  I’ve begun wondering if law enforcement is attractive to authoritarian types:  those that love to have and wield power.  Those that are aggressive bullies who want to exert their power over others.  I don’t know that this is the case with Shaq.  In fact, I have no reason to suspect this, as I don’t know the man.  But I would like to know his reasons for wanting to be a police officer.  Given the abuses of power committed by an increasing number of officers in this country, I think the public is justified in knowing why an individual (no matter who they are) wants to enter the police force.

(incidentally, it may seem like a paradox that on the one hand, I’m complaining about trivial stories while blogging about pop culture, but the difference is I’m not part of the media.  It is not my job to report on the news that the public needs to hear.  The media is and *should* be held to a higher standard than a blogger.  Of course, one can look through my posting history and see how often I do talk about important issues, and realize that I do in fact, follow my own advice-while I’m interested in pop culture issues and I certainly do blog on them-this blog entry being a prime example-I also, and very often, discuss issues of human rights; remember, I’m not against discussing celebrities and pop culture-I’d just prefer a better balance from the media)

 


 

 

Image Comics h
as experienced continuous growth in the last 5 years.  More growth than Marvel or DC, who continue to dominate the comic book market.  Why is that?  Chase Magnett at Comicbook.com speculates:

I have some guesses, but they are speculation. The numbers are limited to telling us that Image is growing. Observation and experience will have to be our guide when discovering what the publisher is doing right. I believe the answer is two-fold: quality and diversity.

Image prides itself on the high quality of all of its publications. Semi-annual Image Expos are used to show off upcoming releases and the top tier talent associated with them. There are plenty of unknowns discovered there as well, but few receive the kind of attention that a popular writer like Jason Aaron or Matt Fraction does when announcing new titles. The consistent quality of a large array of titles has also helped to create an Image brand – one that assures readers they can expect Image comics to be consistently better than the standard fare.

That same array of titles is, in addition to being well crafted, also very diverse. What I mean by diverse is not limited to a single factor. The characters, stories, and settings all reflect a wide variety of experiences. Image publishes comics that can be classified as science fiction, fantasy, horror, slice of life, superhero, and a number of other genres, unlike Marvel and DC, which primarily focus on the superhero genre.

This second factor I believe to be every bit as important as the first, if not more so, because it opens the door to new readers. Readers have a variety of tastes; not everyone loves the same things. In every successful narrative medium a diverse number of types of stories can be found. Yet in comics, the majority of stories are about the same concept. Image may be attracting more readers simply by offering quality comics that are about something besides superheroes. In doing this, they are capable of not just shifting the market share, but growing the entire market.

It is estimated that in 2012 Americans spent about 10.9 billion dollars on movies and 15.4 billion dollars on video games. In 2012, Diamond sold 518 million dollars of comics to comic stores. Even accounting for digital sales and sales abroad, that number does not come close to 1 billion. Comic properties may be big business for Hollywood, but comics are still a small business. The name of the game isn’t control of the current market; it’s growing that market. No publisher is showing the same skill or efficiency in playing that game than Image Comics.

The story is not that Image is successful, but that it appears to be expanding its audience. That’s what I think these numbers are saying and, if I’m right, the rest of the industry needs to start paying attention to what Image is doing right. Comics are an inherently creative medium that is too powerful to be restricted to a small readership.

One of the strengths of Image is that they produce a diverse array of comic books.  I think they (along with lesser known comic book publishers, such as BOOM!, IDW, and Dark Horse) recognize that for comics to continue to be a successful entertainment market, they have to appeal to a wide variety of people.  To do that, one must open up the storytelling possibilities to genres other than superheroes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking cape comics.  Hell, I love them.  At the same time, I recognize that not everyone does, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to create a diverse array of titles to appeal to a diverse array of tastes.

Update on Avengers: Age of Ultron, a problem with the media, and IMAGE comics sees growth

Pop Culture News

Via Bleeding Cool:  

Accord[i]ng to Deadline, the companion series to The Walking Dead has been given the greenlight to make a pilot by AMC. Dave Erickson (co-writer & co-creator of the main series) will be the show runner and executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert will do the same on the new series.

 


 

 

Jim Corrigan is set to appear on NBC’s Constantine tv show (debuting 10/24):

“Constantine” is quickly headed to its debut October 24 on NBC, and it looks like the show will be delving pretty far into its comic book roots. Case in point, IGN has cast actor Emmett Scanlan has been cast as Jim Corrigan on the upcoming premiere season. The “Constantine” version of the character is a New Orleans homicide detective and — in a tease of his Spectre comic book roots — is “obsessed with justice, and who doesn’t let police procedure or red tape stop him from putting away the bad guys.” Scanlan isn’t a stranger to comic book or genre entertainment, with a minor role in “Guardians of the Galaxy” as a head riot guard. He also appeared in the BBC miniseries “In the Flesh.”

 

 

 


 

 

Is there a Supergirl tv series in the works?  Sort of.

 

 


 

 

Face Value Comics, a new superhero comic from Autism at Face Value has sold out:

 

The new superhero comic from Autism at Face Value, an advocacy group aimed at promoting autism awareness, is really making a splash.

Face Value Comics, the first issue of which is currently available in comic shops, has completely sold out, according to a blog post from the organization. Autism at Face Value attributes much of the comic’s success to a segment on NBC Nightly News that highlighted the comic and its protagonist, Michael, who creators Dave Kot, Angela Kot, and Sky Owens tout as comics’ first-ever autistic superhero.

The official description of Face Value Comics describes the setting of the story as “a steampunk world with aliens and robots, and lots of misunderstanding.” The creators further explain the setting in another blog post: “People with an ASD diagnosis are often very comfortable with technology and complex detail,” they wrote.

 First ‘Autistic Superhero’ Comic Book Has Sold Out In Stores 

 


 

 

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p style=”text-align:center;”>25 of the best Charlie Brown Mashups

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pop Culture News