Feminism: When We Like Problematic Art

This week I got in an argument about a movie.

The movie itself isn't important.* There were good things in it, there were problematic things in it. One side of the argument liked the movie overall but didn't like the problematic elements; the other side of the argument liked the good elements, but disliked the movie as a whole. Each side felt like the OTHER side was saying they were a Bad Person for having their opinion. Neither side, as it turned out, actually thought that at all -- they were just trying to have a discussion.

Communication, it would seem, is hard.

If there's one thing I've realized after years of reviewing and blogging about books and movies, I like some things which are problematic. Chances are that you do, too. We almost have to, if we are to like things at all. If there is a work of art, a book, a movie, a musical, or a video game out there that is wholly and entirely without problems of any kind, I can hardly imagine what it would look like. Almost everything has some problem, somewhere.

And yet almost everything has something redeeming, something that the fans of the work find valuable. We have found (and continue to find) elements of feminism in works like Twilight. Twilight is a work that I personally feel has far more elements of misogyny than feminism, and yet they're still there in small supply -- little glittery diamonds in a sea of toxicity.

And this is all complicated by the fact that the experience of art is ultimately truly subjective: so much of the experience depends on the subject who is experiencing it. That which is feminist to one person may be utterly oppressive to another. A story about a callous mother who is using the principles of the patriarchy to oppose her rebellious daughter will almost certainly be experienced differently depending on how closely the reader's experiences align with either mother or daughter. In real life, girls are abused daily by mothers who have internalized the patriarchy, so is it not Feminism to acknowledge that truth and show that girls are hurt by this? In real life, mothers are beat down daily by a society which questions every decision they make, such that no matter how they choose to parent, they are blamed, so can it really be Feminism to show yet another "evil" mother who is doing her best to acclimate her child to the harsh realities of the world? The answer is very likely both and neither and all of the above. The experience of art, too, can be hard.

Analyzing art can be less hard, but still not easy. There are some obvious checklists. Does the work contain any people of color? Does the work contain any QUILTBAG people? Does the work pass the Bechdel test? Does the work depict people of any social class other than Privilege McPrivilegeson? Does the work contain characters with a mix of religious and non-religious beliefs? Does the work depict people who have children, people who are childless by choice, and people who are childless not by choice? Does the work contain people who have pair-bonded in a romantic relationship, people who choose not to pair-bond romantically, and people who are romantically involved with more than one person? Does the work contain people of varying cultural backgrounds?

But once you have those lists, what do you do with them? If a work has someone from a non-white cultural background and yet they reject that background, are they a realistic depiction of a modern teenager who forges her own identity without clinging to a cultural heritage that doesn't contain personal meaning for her, or is she a white-washed minority whose background and heritage have been erased to make her easier for author and audience to connect with without having to grapple with multicultural concepts? More generally, if a work contains no people of color, surely that doesn't make the work automatically racist, does it? If a work contains no women, does it make the work automatically sexist? Have I not argued at length that the value in the Bechdel test comes not from scores for individual works, but rather the aggregate picture formed when we realize how few movies, total, barely pass the test, if at all?

These aren't just hypothetical questions; they're things that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. Do I like "The Wicker Man" because it's nice to see pagans getting to be the villains for once after all those "and it was the Christian Church all along! (dum dum DUM!)" twists, or do I dislike "The Wicker Man" because it's just one more case of pagans being misunderstood and villainized as hyper-sexed, naïve, and callously violent people? Do I like "Mulan" because she represents a rare Action Girl among the pantheon of Disney princesses, a young woman who can actively fight a man in battle and win through superior understanding of battlefield tactics, or do I dislike "Mulan" because she represents another piece of cultural appropriation in addition to being motivated wholly by ‘appropriate' familial love and devotion, instead of, say, wanting to run off to join the army because she likes that sort of thing and finds the gender roles of society constrictive (and wouldn't that latter story, if told, be even MORE cultural appropriation since I gather that's not how the original tale goes)? Do I like "Breaking Dawn" because it's about a woman making a reproductive choice and sticking it to despite the social pressures being applied to her, or do I dislike "Breaking Dawn" because that reproductive choice happens to be the socially-approved choice of carrying a dangerous pregnancy to term because it will hurt the baby's feelings if mommy aborts the pregnancy to save her own life?

I don't have answers to these things, by the way. 

I don't have answers because I don't think there are answers. Whether I like or dislike these movies is something that only I can decide, by whatever criteria makes sense to me at the moment that I try to answer the question: did you like it? And the answer may still be, simply, I'm Not Sure. I liked some aspects of it, notably the parts with A, B, and C. I didn't like other aspects of it, including the parts with X, Y, and Z. I'm still trying to work out those details in my head. That, surely, is an acceptable answer.

The answer to the ubiquity of Problems in art isn't to stop liking art. Nor is it to go to another extreme and feel that everyone should acknowledge all art as great, simply because of the subjectivity of the experience. There are going to be things that individuals -- people like you and I -- like, sometimes for reasons that make no sense to other observers. There are going to be things that us same individuals dislike, frequently for reasons that may sound utterly silly to others.

And -- just to keep things interesting -- we're not always going to agree on those things.

I'll give you an example, if you promise not to hate me. I like "The Help". I do, I can't seem to help it. I've read wonderfully well-written arguments for why the book is incredibly problematic, and I cannot find fault with those arguments. And yet I enjoyed the book, the movie, and the audiobook. I like the way the story grapples with wage dependence, and the timely-and-necessary depiction of the lifelong sadness and frustration of being stuck in a job you don't want, you don't enjoy, and which is hazardous to your health (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and yet you cannot leave. (And it is surely not a coincidence that I see these themes in "The Help" because I have a experience with them in real life.) I happened to come to "The Help" immediately after re-reading Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed" and the similarities between the texts struck me as eerie.

We are still living in a world where employers hold a tremendous amount of power over us. Many of our employers control our access to basic medical services, including whether or not women employees will be allowed to control their reproductive health. Many of our employers can terminate our employment at will and with no notice whatsoever. Many of our employers have a tremendous amount of leeway to discriminate against us based on our body type, our race, our health, our gender, our sexual orientation, even what we write on our private Facebook pages. Many of us simply cannot afford to be terminated if-and-when our employer takes a dislike to us. Many of us struggle with keeping our mouths shut and our heads down while we privately struggle with feelings of frustration, anger, and helplessness.

These are the themes that stuck with me the most with "The Help", the sensation that for all our apparent progress, some things are still the same. The racism -- both violent and systemic -- that appears on the pages is still with us today. The classism that is used to separate and divide social groups is still with us today. And the wage dependence that keeps people in perpetual fear for their livelihoods and their lives is still with us today. Reading "The Help" is like using a painting of the past to illustrate the flaws of the present.

And yet none of these things that I enjoy or appreciate about "The Help" excuses or eliminates its many, many problems. The most memorable black man in the novel, the husband of one of the protagonists, is drunken and abusive. The other black protagonist experienced the pain of the father of her child running off with another woman. Those black men who are frustrated and upset about the racism they experience are portrayed as violent and dangerous; the black men who are not violent and not dangerous instead submit with quiet dignity to the atrocities heaped upon them. The stereotype is perpetuated, again and again, that anger -- even justifiable anger -- is wrong, bad, and counter-productive to a cause. And this is, of course, a terribly privileged view of anger and utterly unhelpful.

The abusive husband in "The Help" is only barely kept in check by his wife's threats that she will leave him and not take the kids with her. This framing of the narrative cheapens any portrayal of abuse, because the norm in abusive situations is for the abused party to be fearful for the children and for the abusive party to use that fear to control and manipulate the abused. The addition of this detail to the overall characterization of the situation makes abuse seem funny when it's not, makes it seem easy to get out of when it's not, and makes it seem like a mental chess game between worthy opponents when it's not. Abuse is not those things, but the frequent characterization of it as such leads to all kinds of victim-blaming and systematic denial of justice to abused women.

And the injustices heaped upon the maids in "The Help" are largely injustices of the spirit. The novel makes mention of physical and sexual assault, and a major plot point is the unfair imprisonment and dangerous blacklisting of maids by vindictive employers, but the larger share of the experiences depicted in the novel are injustices of othering, of making people of the "wrong" race or class feel as though they are without worth simply because they are not the "right" race or class. And -- again -- this is very effective as a tactic for showing why racism and classism and wage dependence are actively damaging to self-image and are toxic to a healthy society. But as a historical depiction of the actual history of black maids in white households, keeping the injustices to ‘merely' systematic othering without really accurately (i.e., outside of 3-4 mentions that I can recall) depicting all the other physical abuse that accompanied it is effectively softening history to make it easier to swallow. And that doesn't occur in a vacuum.

That's only three Very Problematic Things about "The Help". I could list a dozen more. And yet I still like the damn book. I kind of wish I didn't; it would make things a lot easier. I'd feel better about myself as a person. But what we like -- and what we don't like -- isn't something that we necessarily can control. If I could Conclusively Prove that "The Hunger Games" was the most feminist-friendly YA book on the market today, that wouldn't make those of you who don't like the book magically like it. It shouldn't. And if I could similarly prove that Disney's "The Jungle Book" is the most racist animated film ever created, that wouldn't make those of you who like the movie stop humming "Bear Necessities" in the shower. I don't think it can. I honestly don't think the human mind works that way.

I don't think the goal of artistic analysis is to make people -- or ourselves -- stop liking the "wrong" things and start liking the "right" things. I think the goal is to come to a more nuanced understanding of all these things. Some things are more problematic than others, why? What makes them that way? How do those problems manifest in the larger culture around us? How could those problems have been avoided without substantially altering the text? (Or could they?)

There's no easy answers, no agreement that everyone can all reach. The over-the-top level of violence against women in "The Millennium Trilogy" will always seem to me to be a deliberate artistic choice by a feminist-friendly author who wanted to shock the privileged reader into a better understanding of the oppression of the lower classes that they themselves quietly and unquestioningly support; the over-the-top level of violent against women in "A Song of Ice and Fire" will always seem to me to be a deliberate artistic choice by an author who cared more about juvenile titillation under the guise of being "edgy" than about telling a good story that realistically depicts the effect of violence on women. These are subjective opinions, not everyone is going to agree with them, and I'm probably not going to change my mind.

When I criticize a text, or when I praise another, I'm not criticizing or praising the fans. I find feminism in "The Hunger Games"; that doesn't mean I think all THG fans are inherently feminist allies. I find misogyny in "Twilight"; that doesn't mean I think every woman who loves Twilight is a self-hating anti-feminist who has deluded herself into buying into the patriarchy and who is either an opponent to be defeated or a sheep to be brought to the light. People are more complicated than that.

A few days ago, a very close friend asked me why I'd never been interested in watching "Dr. Who". I thought about that for a long moment. I said, "I know it's supposed to be really good, and just about everyone I know online loves it." He nodded, and I continued. "But, I think the reason given for why the actor changes all the time is that he can be pretty much anything, any race, any gender, any species, any color? If that's so, it bugs me that he is never a woman, or a person of color." My friend gave me a funny look and asked me why that would be a sticking point for me when the ‘explanation' is just an in-show hand-wave for real life actor swapping. He pointed out that my current TV show of choice, "The Tudors", doesn't have any people of color and largely treats the women characters as nothing more than a go-to device to reach the Showtime nudity quota. He asked why I would choose to not watch something really, really good just because of a casting choice -- White Male Protagonist -- that almost every other show I watch also makes.

I thought about this for a moment. "It just bugs me," I said with a shrug.

Being able to like or dislike the things we experience is a freedom of choice that no one should give up or try to take away. Being able to discuss the aspects that we like and the aspects that we didn't is a valuable way to compare experiences and express unique viewpoints. Being able to find something worthwhile in an otherwise-problematic piece reminds us that even bad art can have a purpose; being able to find problems in an otherwise-perfect piece reminds us that even good art is created by flawed humans. Being unable to agree which things are worthwhile and which things are problematic and which things the author intended or not sharpens our communication abilities and our critical thinking skills.

Artistic analysis isn't about finding The Answer. It's not about making a list of Good Art and Bad Art and then having everyone realign their tastes to match. It's not about coming to an agreement. It's about experiencing different viewpoints and understanding why other people think differently from you. And it's about taking those new perspectives with you and applying them to the next piece of art you experience.

And I guess it's also about learning how to passionately express an opinion to your mates without creating the impression that you're being all judgey on them. I'm still working on that one.


* Someone is going to ask, and I'm going to feel impolite ignoring the question, so just to cut past all that, it was Tron. The new one. There you go.


depizan said...

If there is something out there that isn't problematic, I've never encountered it. Everything I like is full of fail, and yet has aspects that make it (for me) also full of win. I completely understand why, to pick just one example, people dislike Lord of the Rings for its pasty whiteness, lack of women, problematic racial stuff, and always-chaotic-evil races (and that's just the off-the-top-of-my head fail). I like it for the idea of teams - not Lone Heroes - winning, and themes of friendship, and all people involved in a struggle being important (and for the subversiveness that I see in the person who thinks he's the Lone Hero failing at being such). But that doesn't matter at all if you feel cut out of the narative or worse because everyone's white and the Fellowship is a bunch of guys. I'm not sure I could get past that if I picked it up for the first time now.

Likewise, I get why you haven't tried Doctor Who. I like the old series, I don't really like the new series, and I'm vaguely disturbed that the new series is busy trying to be all edgy and whatever, but they still can't bring themselves to have a woman or PoC be the Doctor. Having the next Doctor be both might not cure why I don't like it, but I'd probably give it another shot, just to see.

The hard thing is that, as a writer, I can't avoid being full of fail, too. :( I can try not to, but I'm a product of the culture. And this culture is, well, full of fail.

EdinburghEye said...

Being able to like or dislike the things we experience is a freedom of choice that no one should give up or try to take away. Being able to discuss the aspects that we like and the aspects that we didn't is a valuable way to compare experiences and express unique viewpoints. Being able to find something worthwhile in an otherwise-problematic piece reminds us that even bad art can have a purpose; being able to find problems in an otherwise-perfect piece reminds us that even good art is created by flawed humans. Being unable to agree which things are worthwhile and which things are problematic and which things the author intended or not sharpens our communication abilities and our critical thinking skills.


(For example, I love the Flashman novels. If anyone sets out to deconstruct Flashman, I will follow them through the Khyber Pass and back. I swear: so long as they begin from the same place I start from, genuinely seeing all the various levels of Very Problematic Things, both intended by the author and unintended, but still... I do genuinely enjoy them.)

One of the things I think is Important - really, very centrally Important - is being able to acknowledge (if only to yourself) that you really do like something. What really turns you on. What really tastes good to you. What you really want to drink. What books - and films and comic books you really want to look at.

(Curiously enough, the first writer who ever outlined this for me as a clear ethical position - that it's okay to have what you genuinely like, so long as you harm no one in getting it, was C. S. Lewis. It's one of the things I like about him.)

"But, I think the reason given for why the actor changes all the time is that he can be pretty much anything, any race, any gender, any species, any color? If that's so, it bugs me that he is never a woman, or a person of color."

One of the things that has bugged me about Doctor Who casting since the Nathan-Turner days is that the directors love to flirt with the idea that the Doctor could be female, could be a person of colour, could be anything! - but then invariably pick a white man.

Mind you, I'm still a Who fan. I have been since the 1970s and it's too late to stop now...

Will Wildman said...

This is a great post, and I especially adore the final three paragraphs, but if I started quoting all the best bits I would just end up copying the whole thing out of order.

I think that one of the reasons I've become so interested in remakes is that I have a conviction that the old problematic stuff that I liked could have been just as good without being just as problematic - that, e.g., it would have been possible to write LotR without any of the unfortunate racial implications. My probable next NaNovel features a character who was heavily inspired by one of my brother's favourite archetypes/stereotypes, the Impossibly Hardcore Black Army Sergeant Dude (hey, crossrelevance to the Aliens references in the current Narnia thread), but this character is neither black nor a dude, so writing her is going to be a bit of an exercise in determining how much that archetype depends on its problematic stereotypes, too.

One of the things that has bugged me about Doctor Who casting since the Nathan-Turner days is that the directors love to flirt with the idea that the Doctor could be female, could be a person of colour, could be anything! - but then invariably pick a white man.

I can understand the 'could be anything' bit - talking about how the Doctor could end up with "Two heads! Or no head at all! Imagine me with no head!" is rather like having Rose just talking about a world she just visited that would require really, really expensive special effects. And I'm heartened that the latest season has at least made it canonical that regeneration definitely can change one's skin color and sex/gender. But yeah, eventually they really need to knuckle down and make good on their claims to inclusivity.

There have apparently been unfounded rumours flying around that the Doctor would regenerate as a woman as part of the 50th anniversary plotstravaganza next year. They promise unprecedented things are in store, but I'm still feeling burned after Series Six (Now With More Sexism!) and am extremely hesitant to get excited.

Laiima said...

Ana, this post was amazingly insightful! Thank you for being so thorough, and so fair to everybody's viewpoint.

I saw The Help because I wanted to see white and black people working together, during the civil rights era. I wanted to see something that made me feel hopeful that friendship and alliances, between individuals, could change important things, even if they were only personal attitudes (not laws and wholesale cultural shifts). But that wasn't the tone or the philosophy of the movie. THe performances were very good, even all the white characters (who I didn't care about at all), but if I had known I was going to see a movie with the kind of tone and philosophy it had, then I would've wanted that movie to be centered around the people of color, with white people being incidental (because that is how it was, and how it still is, if Tumblr is any indication). But all that is just me. I don't think any less of you, Ana, or anyone who *did* like The Help.

I never started watching Dr. Who, even after hearing about it in h.s. from my best friend who was a big fan. (That was ~30 years ago.) I've been reading and consuming sci-fi and fantasy for that same 30 years, and the older I get, the more I notice that the stuff that really resonates for me *is not* written by white privileged men. I like Terry Pratchett. I can't get into Neil Gaiman. I gave away most of my other WM written books -- Guy Gavriel Kay (writes beautiful prose; guy Does Not Understand Women), David Brin, were the ones I loved for years before realizing they're not really about characters like me. Now I read more women, more POC, more QUILTBAG writers now, and they are awesomer. My horizons are broadening, and I'm falling in love with characters who aren't much like me either (necessarily), but they are so nuanced and different and *interesting* that I'm just glad I got to know them.

brjun said...

There have apparently been unfounded rumours flying around that the Doctor would regenerate as a woman as part of the 50th anniversary plotstravaganza next year. They promise unprecedented things are in store, but I'm still feeling burned after Series Six (Now With More Sexism!) and am extremely hesitant to get excited.

Man, I don't want to fall for that unfounded rumor trick again. :( I think I actually did a dance when I heard that he was going to be played by the guy who played Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere (I had that character as a livejournal icon for years because the actor/character were just that awesome). But it turned out to be Matt Smith. :(

Launcifer said...

I have to confess, I nearly put on some rantpants and had it when I read this. I'm quite glad I didn't, actually, because then I would probably have been proving your point while also completely missing it.

So, anyway, this would have been a bit of an essay on The Wicker Man, largely because I own both available versions of the film and I think that the longer, 99/102-minute cut (there's a problem with the frame-rate of the added scenes so there's a discrepancy over the length of the longer version), is quite as problematic as the original 88-minute cut*.

Then I thought about what I was going to say and noticed that, actually, I probably wasn't best-qualified to make that call in the first place, largely because it wasn't something I'd particularly noticed when I saw it myself for the first time. More importantly, though, I noticed that the presence of pretty much one single exchange between Howie and Summerisle that's edited from the first version actually took the existing problem concerning the depiction of the islanders and added a whacking great dollop of classisim to it. That's to say nothing about how it manages to simultaneously offer a better explanation for Howie's behaviour towards the islanders and still manage to make him seem more of a bigot.

So I got to pondering why I might have missed the problem in the first place. Age is a factor because I first saw the film more than ten years ago and maybe I'm still viewing it through that prism. Partly I think it's because I thought it was a damn good film and I find it far easier to ignore problematic elements in things I otherwise enjoy. Mainly though, I think it's probably because the problems in that specific example aren't *my* problems in that they don't mischaracterise me or any particular sub-culture into which I might get lumped. That, more than anything, might have made it easier for me to miss the issues.

So, yeah, this is still more than I'd intended to write, but thanks for making me think about all that: I know I hadn't considered the issue from that particular angle before.


* It also occurs to me that it's wholly unfair to automatically assume that Ana had seen the 88-minute version without any basis for doing so, so many apologies for that.

Launcifer said...

*Isn't quite as problematic as the original cut*.

Flippin' editing fail. *shakes his fist*.

Ana Mardoll said...

Heh. And you'll notice that while I have seen both the original** and the remake, I attempted to deliberately left it unclear in the OP which I was referring to*. ;)

But I do think they're both interesting movies. I pondered a decon over one or both before flinging up my hands and giving up: there's just a LOT going on. Classism and Paganism and Monogamism (and, in the remake, Feminism) being just a few things worthy of analysis.

It would be nice, though, to have people-who-participate-in-orgies-for-fun be NOT the villains more often, though. I mean, they're not my thing, but that doesn't make people for whom they are Bad People.

* Though hyper-sexed and naive come out more clearly in the original, the remake doesn't attempt to try to reverse that issue at all, so I consider it there by inheritance. I really really really hate that the DVD version cut the final scene with Willow and Honey entrapping two more men; I thought that was the scariest scene in the remake.

** And I think the version of the original that I've seen was the longer version. I remember a note at the beginning warning the viewer that the frame rate was going to wonk out at one point and to NOT PANIC.

Launcifer said...

Actually that's an interesting point, to go back to the Wicker Man one last time. See, I saw so many problems with the remake that I effectively excised it from my memory, even though I'm fairly certain that I've seen it at least twice. Therefore it didn't even occur to me that you could have been talking about the remake in the first place, which is another issue I was bringing to the table in the first place.

Now I'm trying to decide whether I had problems with it because there were problems with it, because Nicholas Cage was in it or because someone had - in my view - totally screwed up an awesome film with an appalling remake, to name just the first three things that have occurred to me. This thinking business is hard and, obviously, the most sensible thing for me to do is to complicate matters further by watching The Wicker Tree.

Cupcakedoll said...

The fail-free book will be written by a fail-free person... let me know when one of those comes along. ;-)

I may be admitting to being a terrible person, but I have visceral dislike for female Doctor after being an old series fan for so long. Or maybe I just feel that if the writers genderswapped the Doctor they'd be doing it to be edgy for the sake of edgy, or PC to be PC rather than to be writing Doctor Who, and that's the wrong reason to do it.

As an alternative, Ana, you might try the equally British-sixties The Avengers series, in which the lady and the gent kick equal amounts of butt wearing equally sexy clothing. (if you find men in nice suits sexy) It and Doctor Who have similar flavors of kooky English charm.

(is kooky an ok word? What about wacky? And if they're not, is there an acceptable synonym I can use when the need arises!)

Dav said...

I am chewing a whole bunch of stuff over. I agree, and I don't, and I'm not sure how to clearly express those lines.

I would like to see more discussion of what we do when troubled by our likes. I'm not sure the answer is always "consume without guilt". I have a tendency to use media to reinforce my preconceptions. I like Toddlers and Tiaras. Well, not like. Enjoy. It's a terrible show, full of sexism and classism, seemingly designed to pander to the desire to feel superior to other people: their parenting, their taste, their children's behavior, their southern-ness. And it's also terrifically enjoyable to watch, and some of that is because of those things.

Of course, Toddlers and Tiaras is not exactly what people mean by "art". But what about, say, Gone With the Wind? What should our reactions be if we like it? Do we have any obligations beyond recognizing the problems with it? Does a recognition of its racism make it okay to buy the book/movie/remake/comic book/etc.? To recommend it to others? To use it as a framing device for, say, a Halloween party? Are there certain problematic elements where we can draw a line and say "yeah, that's fun, but maybe we shouldn't", or is anything fair game? What if there's uncomfortable dog-whistle-y stuff happening around the edges politically or culturally that tie into the work?

In short, does liking a thing incur extra responsibilities on the part of the liker, and if so, what does responsible liking look like?

Ana Mardoll said...

(I don't know about kooky. "Wacky" is, iirc, a reference to sustaining head injury which some people find problematic, but I'm sure I've seen it used as Shakesville without eyebrows being raised. "Zany" is, iirc, rooted in the etymology for "clown" and I've never heard anyone object to it.)

Will Wildman said...

(is kooky an ok word? What about wacky? And if they're not, is there an acceptable synonym I can use when the need arises!)

I think both are not-preferred for different reasons; the last time the matter came up, I think one popular replacement was 'zany', which refers to clowns in their historical sense.

In short, does liking a thing incur extra responsibilities on the part of the liker, and if so, what does responsible liking look like?

Making sure that you don't prioritise your personal enjoyment over someone else's wellbeing, I imagine. It's a vague and broad thing, but as you explored in your post, there are a lot of different contexts and situations in which the fact that a thing has problematic aspects may have different relevances. I seriously doubt we could come up with a list of rules or even guidelines that would be universally applicable. To pick one randomly: if someone was talking about hosting a Gone With The Wind Halloween party, I'd be wondering about any black people who might be involved and how they would feel, and I'd be wondering about anyone not-black attending and how much they knew about the context of the story and history, and I might ask them why the host was thinking of that theme in particular.

Eventually it's entirely possible that the conversation would end up sounding kind of like the "Should I Use Blackface" flowchart. I'm pretty much okay with that.

Loquat said...

Are "kooky" and "zany" supposed to be exact synonyms, though? I always thought "zany" carried a connotation of "high-energy" - I'd apply "zany" to a character running around engaging in slapstick hijinks, but not to a character who chills out being calmly eccentric.

Also, while The Avengers may have gender equality in butt-kicking, I must say the episodes I've seen had plots and villains that made no sense whatsoever. It's a very Rule-of-Cool show.

Will Wildman said...

In short, does liking a thing incur extra responsibilities on the part of the liker, and if so, what does responsible liking look like?

This is not a double-post, this is me responding twice to the same query because I am just so full of important thoughts.

People like lots of things that are dangerous - people go hunting, people juggle torches, people drive motorcycles, people build lasers, people make stuff out of Lego and most of us know what I feels like to stomp unexpectedly on those 4x2x1 bricks. We pretty much accept that there are safety guidelines to make sure that our enjoyment doesn't hurt other people - keep a padlock on the juggling-torch box, don't drive impaired, and make sure you scour the entire floor for each and every rectangular prism. Exactly what we have to do in order to protect other people from the stuff we like can change greatly, but the principle is pretty steady.

When it comes to media, the things-that-might-hurt-other-people stop being plasticky foot agony and start being words and ideas, and the rules are metaphorically the same: don't toss these things around where other people might unexpected slip on them, and don't be so focused on enjoying them that we plough into innocent bystanders.

Hyperspecific example: there is a slur that I 'like' (for lack of a better word). It has been directed at me more than a few times as a slur, as a way of someone else letting me know that they hated me and wanted me to suffer. And, because of the way these things work, I'm not actually a member of the group that the slur targets. But when I see/hear it used in a context of reclamation, it feels good - yes, that word is not a bad thing, that word is harmless, that word is not the property of the oppressive losers. My liking this thing (and it's hard to think of a thing more problematic than an actual slur) is not, as far as my navelgazing has determined, an indication of some flaw in me, but of a positive recovery from bad experiences. And but yet, since I'm not a member of said group, I personally probably shouldn't use it until I get special dispensation from their Philosopher-Monarch, because I can't be certain what would happen to other people if I did.

Lonespark said...

That...was a really complex flowchart.

I was thinking about this recently in terms of The Avengers the superhero movie. They handed out surveys after I saw it and now I don't if I should have filled it out. I'm haunted by thinking that because I like heroic bureaucrats and find Clark Gregg adorable I could be voting against diversity in casting or something.

It should not be that way! We should be able to have a lot of awesome that involves mostly white dudes and a lot of awesome that involves WOC and a lot awesome that involves QUILTBAG folk and disabled folk and and and...! There are a lot of things I love that I hate in the context of the wider cultural climate, because they're only a slightly better version of the same bad deal.

depizan said...

In short, does liking a thing incur extra responsibilities on the part of the liker, and if so, what does responsible liking look like?

I'd say the biggest responsibility (though I hate to call it an extra responsibility, because it applies to so many things) is to be judicious in when (or even if) you decide to defend such things. For example, I'm not going to go on someone's blog post about how they hate Tolkien because he was a racist ass and defend him, because, in some ways, he was. Or at least his fiction was. I'd help no one and potentially hurt people by defending it. And make an ass of myself.

But taking part in a discussion about the various fails and wins of Tolkien's work is different.

If that makes sense?

chris the cynic said...

[Note, the last thing I saw of Doctor Who was the consent crushing mind wipe, after that it stopped being carried in my area. Thus I know nothing of what happened since then. I've never seen the latest Doctor in action.]

I know it's only a minor point in the original post, but I've never really understood the desire for the Doctor to be female bodied.

Put the Doctor into a female body and what happens? Well if that makes the Doctor female then all of a sudden the biggest statement on the relationship between gender and sex in the entirety of the Whoverse is that sex determines gender. That's, from my point of view, a very bad thing. Maybe it can be handled well. There are definitely people without a strong gender identity who probably would go with whatever their body happened to be, and the Doctor could be such a person, there's also the fact that regeneration does change aspects of character*. Plus the Doctor isn't human so maybe Time Lords are just different.

But while it could possibly be somehow handled well, I really have trouble seeing how "The Doctor has a female body and is now female," could fail to send the message that your body determines your gender. That's a very bad message to send. Transphobia is founded, in large part, on that idea.

Ok, so that's possibility one. Possibility two is that the Doctor ends up in a female body but is not magically transformed into a female character.

On the one hand, having a transgender character in that prominent a role would seem a very good thing. On the other hand the character is literally inhuman. That's probably not too big of a drawback, the Doctor is much beloved by his fans, but it still would have the most prominent transgender character, possibly the only one** in the role of exotic magical other.

But while weighing the pros and cons when it comes to transgender characters I'm skipping what has to do with being female. It wouldn't be a female Doctor, it would be the same old Doctor in a body that didn't match his gender. More than that the female bodied Doctor would be someone in a female body who didn't want to be in a female body. I'm not sure that really improves the show's representation of women.


I really don't see how the Doctor ending up in a female body could end up well because if it didn't send the message, "Body determines gender," I think it would end up sending the message, "Having a female body is bad."

Now if they just gave Jenny her own series so we could have something following the exploits of a female timelord without having to worry that it was saying bad things about the relationship between body and gender, that would be great.

All of this said, I haven't seen the new stuff which I'm told deals with regeneration changing sex. If that's been handled well to the point that there's an established base of not conflating gender with sex maybe a female-bodied female Doctor wouldn't be a problem.


* But that brings up the problem of the gender aspect changing the one and only time the body-sex did, which in turn brings us right back to having a message of "Sex determines gender."

** I have no idea here, can someone who knows these things help me out, are there any other transgender characters in the Whoverse?

depizan said...

Not to detract from any of that, but I feel like it rather leaves out people who are neither or both genders. I mean, how male is the Doctor to begin with? Aren't you somewhat starting from the point that sex = gender already? Or at least that the options are Doctor becomes female or Doctor feels transgendered. Maybe the Doctor stays the Doctor. (Not that even I'm entirely sure how one portrays that.)

Granted, if they hadn't killed off the Time Lords, they'd have the wonderful chance to explore a culture where sex doesn't necessarily equal gender because some Time Lords feel male (and aren't happy when they regenerate into female bodies), some Time Lords feel female (and aren't happy when they regenerate into male bodies) and some - maybe even most - Time Lords don't have a strong attachment to gender and really don't care what they regenerate into.

chris the cynic said...

Not to detract from any of that, but I feel like it rather leaves out people who are neither or both genders.

My mind's not in the right place to make the argument as it would require drawing specific examples from years of memory and that's just not something I'm really capable of doing at the moment, but I think the argument can be made that the Doctor is a male character. Not just a character played by male actors, a male character.

(I think a certain amount of that is going to be tied up in sexism on the Doctor's part, unfortunately.)

That said, I could definitely be wrong and tried to allow for that in my post.

The problem I see is that even if you're coming at it from the perspective that the Doctor is agender or bigender or otherwise outside the binary, as far as I know there has not been indication of that in the past 50 years or so of the show's history. Which means that if the Doctor slips comfortably into a female role upon attaining a female body it still looks like cis-male becomes cis-female and thus looks like sex determines gender.

And that's the problem with having a population of one.

It's like what Will wrote about the ambassador from minoritania (which I always misremember as "minoritopia") or Natalie Goldberg writes when she learns she's the only Jew the school children in front of her have ever met. When you've only got one example you're not just working with a specific case any more, you're sending messages loud and clear whether you want to or not.

If it were established that there's a varied range of gender identity amoung timelords (and it could be, I haven't seen it all) and thus we were furnished with examples where sex != gender, then it's not really problematic because instead of being a single voice saying, "Here's how it is," it becomes part of a polyphonic chorus of, "Here's one of the ways it can be."

Kirala said...

I think I actually did a dance when I heard that [the Doctor] was going to be played by the guy who played Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere...
There was an awesome fanfic that imagined a couple of possible scenarios for the Doctor if he were played by Paterson Joseph. It mostly went for historical racefail and the Doctor being oblivious (whether naturally or intentionally so is unclear) as to the reason why people treat him differently in this regeneration.

One comment really resonated with me, though. "And then I actually felt some sympathy with whoever made that casting decision, because they would either have had to limit the historical times and places the Doctor visits, or dramatically change the focus of the show. Argh."

It doesn't bother me so much that the Doctor is so clearly born high up in the kyriarchy; it fits in with his background as "member of a supercilious race that thinks it can impose its will on everyone else." It would have much more in the way of Awesome if there were more diversity elsewhere in the show. I'm thinking companions, random encounter races, rival cultures...

depizan said...

Yeah. If only they hadn't offed the Time Lords. If they'd kept them around, they could do so much interesting with them. (And, frankly, I feel like some incarnations of the Doctor have been more male than others. But that could just be me.)

Not that I feel like the new Who is interested in doing interesting things. It seemed to be all about let's be edgy! Bleh. Which is too bad, because it had some really awesome potential here and there.

Mary Kaye said...

I think there's a whole range of legitimate and important questions to ask oneself about a piece of art along the lines of "Is this bad for me? Am I a worse person for indulging my appreciation of it?" But the thing is, *the answers don't generalize well.* Even if you and I are in agreement on what's problematic about a work, it could still be that indulging in it would be bad for me and perfectly okay for you, or vice versa.

We lack useful advice in so many realms on "How to decide if this is bad for you." Everyone seems to prefer writing "Here's what's bad for you--listen to me!" But for a wide range of things, from food to entertainment to romance, one man's meat really is another man's poison.

I tend to daydream about being attacked and responding in some way to the attack. Sometimes I beat up the attacker (learning martial arts increased the frequency of that one). Sometimes I manage to get help from the police or bystanders. Sometimes I get hurt and then end up in court trying to prosecute the attacker.

About five years ago I did some soul searching and decided that *for me* these daydreams were harmful, adding to my overall stress level and promoting an unhealthy attitude toward people around me. But I would never want to say they're intrinsically so. You might be preparing yourself usefully for situations--I use daydreaming for that all the time, for other situations, and it works. This one happens not to work for me. I have pretty physiological emotions and the physiological reaction to the daydreams is not helpful. I have at least one friend with very cerebral emotions for which this objection would make no sense whatsoever.

The literary equivalent for me is stories which indulge my sexual kinkiness but have a nasty power dynamic alongside it. Haldeman's _Tool of the Trade_ or Stirling's _Drakon_ are examples. I shouldn't read these. This doesn't mean you shouldn't.

I don't know how to write a how-to about figuring out what one shouldn't be reading or watching. If someone else wrote one I would sure read it with interest. Anyone ever seen this done, without "you shouldn't be reading things I disapprove of" creeping back in?

Storiteller said...

In terms of the Doctor being or not being female, I would say that should not happen while Stephen Moffat is showrunner. I think Russell T. Davies could have pulled it off - or having the Doctor be gay - but not Stephen Moffatt. Even in episodes where he wants to be female-friendly, like the Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, they're totally full of gender-fail. So if he wrote the Doctor as female, it would be really, really bad.

On the other hand, I would love, love to see one of the very original producers of the old Doctor Who to write a female Doctor. Verity Lambert was a 28 year old Jewish lady when she took over the show in 1965. I've never seen a episode yet that she did, but I do know the original theme song and design of the Daleks was because of her and that is awesome. I feel that if anyone could do it right, she could. In the meantime, we'll just have to wait until a better showrunner comes along.

But I do think it's possible. I would love to see a world of Time Lords that's like Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, where Time Lords just switch back and forth without much thought.

Mary Kaye said...

Tanith Lee's novels _Don't Bite the Sun_ and _Drinking Sapphire Wine_ have a protagonist who switches gender very casually. I think Lee pulls it off, in that I don't think of that character as having any kind of well-defined gender, especially in book 1. (In book 2 s/he gets stuck with one body for a long time, and chooses a female body as more congenial. You could argue that s/he is female. But it's not particularly apparent even with the female body.)

It's an interesting contrast with two stories I know with gender-hidden or gender-ambiguous protagonists. (This is a little tricky as this aspect of both works is often regarded as a spoiler. I will try to avoid spoiling them.) One is a novel; reading it "cold" I assumed the protagonist was female like the author and never felt impelled to question this. The other is a text-adventure game where both the protagonist and the antagonist are gender-unspecified. There are small hints as to the gender of each sprinkled throughout, but in my view they are deliberately internally contradictory--there is no fully consistent way to assign the genders. None the less, about five minutes in I "knew" that the protagonist was male and the antagonist female. From reading Usenet commentary it was clear that most players did gender those characters but there was no particular consensus on which genders to choose. No amount of trying ever allowed me to shift my own arbitrary gender assignments for them, though.

Makabit said...

What's curious to me about this is how different people's levels of tolerance are, and what pushes their buttons, and what does not.

Me, I love A Song of Ice And Fire. The female characters are not his best, but there are things Martin does that I find marvelously subversive of the standards of epic fantasy, and the story is simply addictive. I do roll my eyes from time to time, and at one point was heard to mutter, "George, that is not a plot development, that is a sexual fantasy." Still adore it. Read the whole damn thing.

And I love Doctor Who, and find it inspirational on a very deep level. (And frankly, there is so much good stuff in there, I can tolerate the Doctor being a white man--actually, on some levels, I find it very fitting that the Doctor is a white man. But the moment where you meet the black woman who's Queen of England--that was good.)

As I've mentioned, I got through the first part of the second Millenium book, was deeply disturbed by the 'relationship' Salander is in when you first meet her in that, and then got bored. Attempts to get into the first book have failed. I've read this plot before, a bunch of times. I do not get why this version is special or feminist.

I won't even try to watch "The Tudors" because basically, it all seems to be about women getting screwed, literally and/or figuratively by Henry VIII, and no matter how hot Jonathan Rhys Meyers is, the idea of deliberately spending fantasy time in that vile, claustrophobic court upsets me. And yet, "Rome" and "The Borgias" are absolutely wonderful as far as I'm concerned, and I'm utterly addicted.

How do people decide what they will love, tolerate, or say no to? I really don't know.

Makabit said...

The hard thing is that, as a writer, I can't avoid being full of fail, too. :( I can try not to, but I'm a product of the culture. And this culture is, well, full of fail.

If you find one that's not, please do let me know!

depizan said...

Good point! I do feel like American culture is going the wrong direction at present, but I don't expect there are any fail-free cultures out there any more than there are fail-free people. I'd still rather try to be as low fail as possible, though.

depizan said...

How do people decide what they will love, tolerate, or say no to? I really don't know.

On a case by case basis. And don't expect it to always make sense. At least that's how it is for me. Granted, some of the not always making sense for me is because I've changed my mind about how much some things bother me (see, again, the Lord of the Rings). But some of it is just... I'm not sure. I think it's entirely possible that I could encounter two different works of fiction with exactly the same flaws and like one and dislike the other. It could depend on what else is in the work of fiction. It could be a things are not always the sum of their parts thing. It could be the phases of the moon.

BaseDeltaZero said...

And I'm heartened that the latest season has at least made it canonical that regeneration definitely can change one's skin color and sex/gender.

Huh? When?

All the cases I know of were same-sex... which suggests that it's impossible, or at least extremely improbable, to switch sexes between regeneration. As for species, as far as I can tell, a regenerated Time Lord is still a Time Lord... this is kind of obvious, and every occasion we've seen a group of Time Lords (that aren't main characters), they're all the same basic shape (i.e. almost indistinguishable from human). As for race, however... I don't see why not. On the other hand, the entire affair may be explained by something related to Chris the Cynic's statement: the Time Lord in question has some conscious/subconscious control over the state of their next regeneration. So a male Time Lord will likely want to remain a male, and vice versa. Sexual inertia, if you will. The same could also go for race.

(is kooky an ok word? What about wacky? And if they're not, is there an acceptable synonym I can use when the need arises!)

Maybe (its related to 'cuckoo', but...), no, and no.

(As discussed, 'Zany' is a good description for say, Animaniacs, but not the British style of humor (or, say, the Family Research Council))

malpollyon said...

From Neil Gaiman's episode ("The Doctor's Wife")

"The Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn't feel like himself unless he had that tattoo. Or herself a couple of times. Oo hoo! She was a bad girl!"

Also I'll add that the Doctor *has* been played by a woman (Joanna Lumley) in the Comic Relief gag episode "The Curse of Fatal Death".

Ana Mardoll said...

Tanith Lee's novels _Don't Bite the Sun_ and _Drinking Sapphire Wine_ have a protagonist who switches gender very casually.

I LOVE those novels. They're definitely very Kinsey-scale in terms of gender (yes, Kinsey scale is sexual attraction, but is there a gender one? There should be, I think.). Some of the characters in the novel are so deeply male/female that they NEVER take a differently gendered body; some are happy to do a 50/50 flop; some have a preference and do a 70/30 or 80/20. Some of them craft Otherkin* bodies, and so given that there is that level of boundless variation, I imagine that some of them craft genderless bodies.

TW: Not Otherkin-allied because... (and spoilers)

Mind you, I'm not at all sure it's an Otherkin-friendly book. The only highly visible Otherkin-bodied character turns out to be 'acting out' to get the protagonist to notice hir.

Marcus said...

> regeneration definitely can change one's skin color and sex/gender.

>Huh? When?

Sex/gender has already been covered; as for race - River Song's previous incarnation, Mels, was black.

> a male Time Lord will likely want to remain a male, and vice versa. Sexual inertia, if you will. The same could also go for race.

Well, River had four or five incarnations and seems to have always been female; the Doctor has had eleven, and has always been white, male, English-accented (despite the actors including two Scots and an Irishman), and ten times fairly posh; the first seven times he mostly seemed close to asexual (though 1 has in the past been married and fathered at least one child), while from 8 onwards he's mostly-straight-but-indiscriminately-flirty.

Apparently the makers considered making the Second Doctor black, which sounds impressively progressive for 1966 until you realise HE'D STILL HAVE BEEN PLAYED BY PATRICK TROUGHTON. Thankfully we were spared Minstrel Doctor.

Marcus said...

PS - I suspect the fanboi backlash against a female or trans Doctor would be much, much worse than a non-white or explicitly gay Doctor would face. Not sure what that says about the fandom.

Will Wildman said...

Malpollyon quoted the key gender-change-in-regeneration line, and we see skin-colour-change in the episode "Let's Kill Hitler", although the context is spoileriffic.

Additionally, it has been explicitly stated that regeneration can be controlled, although the Doctor is implied to not be very good at it or to just prefer to gamble. Romana famously shaped her next generation to exactly replicate one of the Doctor's previous companions (to justify bringing back the same actor in a different role), and other have made remarks about the general shape they were aiming for in their new body.

So, for example, we might assume that in the case of the Corsair, s/he would switch intentionally between bodies as preferences struck. I think that if the Doctor did regenerate as a woman, they'd need to have some dialogue (while running from Daleks) to talk about what it meant and how timelords regard gender, but I don't think it would necessarily be body-essentialist or transphobic. I think I'm going to try writing a scene later to

I do agree that it would have to wait for Moffatt to leave the show, because the sexism is really awful right now and I don't think that trying to write a female Doctor would abruptly enlighten him. (And I agree that a new series with Jenny would be great - possibly for the younger target audience, since the Sarah Jane series has regrettably concluded?)

Mary Kaye said...

That person has problems, to be sure; but everyone in the story has problems, so I don't find it a hostile portrayal. The ending treats him/her quite sympathetically. On the other hand, you can argue that s/he is not Otherkin, just acting out, and that would be disappointing.

I guess what I'd say about them (pronouns, pronouns...) is that they perceive, with good reason, that they do not fit into their culture. It's not just about "get the protagonist to notice me" but "all the things my culture recommends to get the protagonist to notice me are false to myself". So they end up with tentacles and purple polka dots as an outward expression of "I can't play this game society wants me to play." They *don't* have a viable image of what else they could be instead, as some Otherkin do. They're floundering, and this reflects the deep sickness of the society. The protag does exactly the same thing with "adult" replacing "nonhuman".

Being so horrendously estranged from the natural world would make being most kinds of Otherkin rather difficult, I think. If you were animal-souled in that world, how would you ever know? The construct animals are...different, though the protagonist does manage to make a connection with one.

(These are some of the hardest books to talk about, aren't they? Pronouns, but also as far as I know the protagonist's *name* is never given.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Does zie not have a name? It's been awhile.

I read the books before I knew of Otherkin, so I can't be sure there's hostility. I do think it's worth noting that zie doesn't END in an Othered body. But the whole ending is a bit of a mess, imho. I adore Tanith Lee, and it must have been very difficult to tie everything up in an ending like that, so I don't blame her, but I recommend tentatively.

Still, been years since I read it. I've got the compilation (Biting the Sun) scanned into a pdf, but need to convert to epub. :)

Makabit said...

Apparently the makers considered making the Second Doctor black, which sounds impressively progressive for 1966 until you realise HE'D STILL HAVE BEEN PLAYED BY PATRICK TROUGHTON. Thankfully we were spared Minstrel Doctor.

Holy Mother of God.

Makabit said...

My husband reports that he thinks the Doctor should regenerate as a redheaded woman, and we should see her, at length, exclaiming over finally being a ginger. Then notice the gender shift.

I think it would be even better if she never comments on the gender shift, but walks off, exultant about being a ginger.

Silver Adept said...

That sounds exactly like The Doctor. Totally and completely exultant at the fact that red hair has arrived...and maybe an episode or two later, finally notices that the anatomy has changed.

chris the cynic said...

I think it would be even better if she never comments on the gender shift, but walks off, exultant about being ginger.

I actually think that would work pretty well.

Nicole Resweber said...

That would give me many happies.

Ana Mardoll said...


TW: Rural religious communities, rape, murder, sex changes presented in a problematic light

So here's a good example. Husband has been showing me X-Files because I've not seen them before. Tonight we watched an episode called "Genderbender". SPOILERS: A group of Amish look-alikes ("The Kindred") are aliens who can generate sexual pheromones and change their gender. One of them has gone rogue and is having sex with humans, which causes the human involved to die.

I'm *certain* there are all kinds of problematic elements to this setup. There's the usual othering and villianizing of the Amish. There's probably a multitude of issues that touch on transpersons and androgynous persons a well as sex changes. There's almost surely other issues that I've not yet thought of. There was drug-induced rape and a near-rape of the woman protagonist that I'm not at all certain was handled as thoughtfully as one might hope.

None of that, though, stopped me from thoroughly enjoying the episode. I enjoyed the episode packed with evil rural cults and sex and alien rape and body changes. I don't think I'm a bad person for receiving mindless enjoyment out of this. But if someone were to say they were upset, offended, or harmed by the episode, I wouldn't dream of arguing with them because I recognize that these problems exist. And if I were involved in writing or directing or producing something else in the future *like* this episode, I would try to consult people touched by these issues and see if there's a way to minimize or counterbalance the harm.*

* 'Course, to start with, it would be nice to have a transperson as the protagonists. For once.

Of course, this "no harm in enjoying it" position is a position from privilege and is just my opinion. But I hope it help explains how I can simultaneously point out problems in a work while still enjoying it and not judging others who do.

chris the cynic said...

* 'Course, to start with, it would be nice to have a transperson as the protagonists

Don't exactly have a lot of superhero stories in my head, but I do have a couple of scenes from one in my head.

There's a superman like character of the older generation who dies in fight that endangers a lot of innocent people. His last act is to catch an I-beam that would have killed a bunch of onlookers, notably a little boy, with blonde hair, who would be adorable. not-superman and boy's eyes meet. not-superman dies right there and then.

He will be resurrected by comic book deaths are never permanent rules twice.

One time will involve a time traveler snatching him the moment before he dies. This completely alters the timeline in ways horrible and otherwise bad. In the end he is sent back to die, all he has time to do is to catch the I-beam. Being taken into the future before he caught, and thus leaving it to kill those in its path (including little boy) was what changed history for the worse.

The other time he'd be resurrected in a way that did not invalidate his death. That is, he actually died, and remembered everything leading up to said death. He'd meet an important hero of the present day, team up with her, and at some point she'd say something like, "I was there... the day you died."

He'd say, "A lot of little girls were."

She'd say, "I wasn't one of them. I was a little boy. A little blonde boy." *pause* "My hair got darker as I got older. It happens."


He'd say, "I remember you."

And the story world move on.


She'd be one of the main heroes of the generation.

Aidan Bird said...

This... actually happened in that comic book universe? Holy. That's amazing, especially if they presented it in a similar manner to how you mentioned it.

chris the cynic said...

No. Sorry to get your hopes up.

It's an idea I've had, something that I'd do if I were making comic books/superhero stories. (Which assumes that were I doing so I'd have enough time to make two generations worth of fictional heroes.)

It's actually, pretty much, the only thing fleshed out on the, "If I were making stories with superheroes," front.

Sorry for giving the wrong impression.

Ana Mardoll said...

It's a great idea, though. If nothing else, a good trans* positive short story could come out of it someday. :)

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