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
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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

Social Justice Link roundup, plus more on Ferguson

13 per cent of Ferguson cops have faced excessive force lawsuits

Demonstrations were sparked by the August 9 death of black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot six times by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who remains under investigation.

According to the Washington Post, six other Ferguson officers – five current and one former – have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

That means 13 per cent of the 53-strong department has faced such investigations, compared to a national average of around 0.5 per cent of all police officers, as calculated by the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project.

 

 



 

 

Two white protesters arrived in Ferguson with pro-police signs

One of the two protesters held a sign supporting that shitweasel Darren Wilson.

The article says the police were on hand to rush the woman pictured above to safety, as it looked like the situation was becoming tense.

Curiously, one person tweeted this:

 

 


 

 

White People Educating White People About Racism So PoC Don’t Have To

(excerpt)

Racism 101: Prejudice vs. Power
Any time a white person uses their own personal experience of prejudice (or a fabricated one) to demonstrate how whites suffer from racism, there is an underlying tendency to believe individual experience reflects broader social and structural realities. This is not the case. Just as one white person who was harassed by a person of color does not prove “reverse” racism, one Black president does not prove the end of racism. For the few white folks with hurt pride, there are thousands more with staggering social comfort who make hurt pride an exception to the status quo; for the few POC with class/political privilege, there are thousands more with staggering social oppression who make this privilege an exception to the status quo. How much white privilege does it require to think one painful confrontation is equally damaging as living with the daily reality of racism? And how much white privilege does it require to think one isolated incident, or even several isolated incidents, are equivalent to the constant violence of racism?

 

 

Incidentally, I like the disclaimer:

Disclaimer: white folks do not experience racism, the moderator and future contributors are no exception, and that isn’t what this blog is about. No one is here to discuss the experience of racism–only POC can do that. I am limited to creatively engaging the social reality of whiteness and what white privilege means in personal, political, and institutional terms. I will regularly use personal narrative and analysis to do so, seeing as my stories are the only ones I am entitled to tell.


 

 

14 signs we live in a rape culture

A rape culture is one in which sexual violence is the norm, and everyday practices normalise and even excuse rape. It’s a culture where instead of teaching people not to rape, we teach people not to be raped.

I’m going to list a few of the 14 signs, but please read the whole article.

7. Beliefs that reports are fake might be undermining efforts to prosecute rape

In contrast the CPS say false rape claims are “very rare” but they have warned that a “misplaced belief” such accusations are common may undermine efforts to investigate and prosecute such crimes. Rape crisis Scotland say false allegations are at about 3 per cent – the same for any other crime.

 

8. Richard Dawkins

 

Richard Dawkins caused outrage last month on twitter when he tried to rank which form of rape was worse – “date rape” or “stranger rape” – while making a logical syllogism.

 

12. Judge Mary Jane Mowat

Retired judge Mary Jane Mowat said this week that rape conviction rates will not improve until women “stop getting so drunk”. Rather than the onus to convict criminals being on the police, or the Crown Prosecution Service – or rapists not to rape – Judge Mowat said it was women who need to change: “It is an inevitable fact of it being one person’s word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict”, she said.

“I will also say, and I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk. I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken woman, I’m not saying for a moment that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.”

 


 

 

British woman ‘being held captive so her family can cure her gayness’

Christina Fonthes, 27, a translator and LGBT activist from Manchester, visited Kinshasa with her mother and younger sister on 11 August. But shortly into a stay with her aunt, friends say, her passport was taken by her mother. She was told the family wanted to keep her in Congo so that her sexuality could be “fixed”.

Ms Fonthes’ partner of three years, the BBC sports presenter Jessica Creighton, has been trying to raise awareness of her partner’s plight on Facebook and Twitter. She is now travelling back to the UK from China, where she was covering the Youth Olympics when she heard the news.

 

 

This just frustrates and angers me to no end.  When are we going to be treated like human beings with the right to engage in the relationships we choose without people attempting to force us into cages? That’s what is
happening.  People are trying to drag us into a cage.  The cage of heterosexuality-as if that’s the only possible way humans can express their sexuality.  As if it’s right to attempt to force someone change a fundamental aspect of who they are.  This really makes me want to rage at the world.  That people could work so hard to deny the human rights of others.  I hope this woman manages to escape the clutches of her family as soon as possible.

 


 

This woman’s funny, feminist cartoons are incredible

 


 

 

 

 

On Our Radar – Hatred, Denial, And The ‘Gay But’

 

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p style=”text-align:center;”> 

Social Justice Link roundup, plus more on Ferguson

This country needs to talk about Ferguson and more

From The Good Men Project, an article about a school district that banned the discussion of the events in Ferguson.

On Thursday, August 21, the following message was released to parents of students in Edwardsville School District 7–a district roughly 30 miles outside Ferguson, MO.

Subject: Discussion of the Ferguson/Florissant Incident

On Friday, August 15, 2014, and Monday, August 18, 2014, Dennis Cramsey, EHS Principal, and I were inundated with calls from parents complaining that some EHS teachers were biased and injecting their own opinion regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year-old African American student, by a Caucasian police officer in the Ferguson/Florissant community. The general consensus of parents who called was that if the administration did not get a handle on this situation, there might be violence among students occurring at EHS.

As Superintendent, I will take full responsibility for not preparing administrators and staff members how to deal with this volatile situation. As a result, on Monday afternoon, the decision was made to cease discussion of the event because of the tension, emotion, and anger surrounding the Ferguson/Florissant events.

It was not our intent to ignore the educational relevance of these events. However, we felt it was important to take the time to calm a potential situation at the high school and to prepare administrators and teachers to approach this critical issue in an objective, fact-based manner. Everyone has an opinion – the sharing of which can be polarizing. Far too many facts remain unknown, and without these facts, none of us is in the best position to moderate between opposing views.

 


 

 

20 Powerful Protest Signs That Prove America Stands with Ferguson

Here are a few:

 

 

I’m not “there”, but I’d still be pissed off and blogging about it.

It’s nice when white people understand their privilege.  Now if only more of them did.

 


 

7 Things Worth More Than a Black Person’s Life in America

This will make you madder than you probably already are, because of how true it is.

 


 

 

6 reasons America must stop ignoring its black youth.

 


 

 

What We Mean When We Say ‘Race Is a Social Construct’

 

Our notion of what constitutes “white” and what constitutes “black” is a product of social context. It is utterly impossible to look at the delineation of a “Southern race” and not see the Civil War, the creation of an “Irish race” and not think of Cromwell’s ethnic cleansing, the creation of a “Jewish race” and not see anti-Semitism. There is no fixed sense of “whiteness” or “blackness,” not even today. It is quite common for whites to point out that Barack Obama isn’t really “black” but “half-white.” One wonders if they would say this if Barack Obama were a notorious drug-lord.

When the liberal says “race is a social construct,” he is not being a soft-headed dolt; he is speaking an historical truth. We do not go around testing the “Irish race” for intelligence or the “Southern race” for “hot-headedness.” These reasons are social. It is no more legitimate to ask “Is the black race dumber than then white race?” than it is to ask “Is the Jewish race thriftier than the Arab race?”

The strongest argument for “race” is that people who trace their ancestry back to Europe, and people who trace most of their ancestry back to sub-Saharan Africa, and people who trace most of their ancestry back to Asia, and people who trace their ancestry back to the early Americas, lived isolated from each other for long periods and have evolved different physical traits (curly hair, lighter skin, etc.)

But this theoretical definition (already fuzzy) wilts under human agency, in a real world where Kevin Garnett, Harold Ford, and Halle Berry all check “black” on the census. (Same deal for “Hispanic.”) The reasons for that take us right back to fact of race as a social construct. And an American-centered social construct. Are the Ainu of Japan a race? Should we delineate darker South Asians from lighter South Asians on the basis of race? Did the Japanese who invaded China consider the Chinese the same “race?”

Andrew writes that liberals should stop saying “truly stupid things like race has no biological element.” I agree. Race clearly has a biological element — because we have awarded it one. Race is no more dependent on skin color today than it was on “Frankishness” in Emerson’s day. Over history of race has taken geography, language, and vague impressions as its basis.

“Race,” writes the great historian Nell Irvin Painter, “is an idea, not a fact.” Indeed. Race does not need biology. Race only requires some good guys with big guns looking for a reason.

 


 

 

The complicity cost of racial inclusion

 


 

Ferguson fallout: Black Americans grapple with victim-blaming

 

When pol
ice in Ferguson, Missouri, released a video showing Michael Brown allegedly robbing a store and shoving around a clerk shortly before the unarmed teen was shot dead in a seemingly unrelated confrontation with an officer, many accused the department of engaging in deliberate character assassination — a tactic that some rights advocates say is commonly used against African-American victims of excessive force in an attempt to shift blame from perpetrators to victims.

Hassane A. Muhammad, chief operating officer for Black Lawyers for Justice, called the decision to go public with the footage an act of “visual provocation” that played into old stereotypes of black men as violent.

“It’s a common playbook used by police to criminalize black victims of excessive force,” said Muhammad, whose group has been active in the local protests that erupted — and at times turned violent — after the killing of 18-year-old Brown on Aug. 9 by police officer Darren Wilson. 

“Instead of giving us an ounce of justice, they would rather send in troops and spend taxpayer money to defend one white man,” Muhammad said. “It shows you how much value they place on his life versus Brown.”

Rights advocates say such character assassination operates on a broad level, through public discourse that lends credence to the victim-blaming theory of poverty or in the idea that lower-income communities are responsible for their conditions because of poor decision-making.

What connects the Brown shooting with cases such as that of Trayvon Martin — an unarmed black teen shot dead by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman in Florida in 2012 — is that both shooters perceived a risk, said Yohuru Williams, a professor of history at Fairfield University

 


 

 

Why the Feds are investigating Ferguson

 

This country needs to talk about Ferguson and more