Friday, November 30, 2012

James Gunn's "Superhero Sex" post

Over at Unleash the Fanboy, I've written a post on the controversy surrounding director James Gunn's "superhero sex" blog post. Here's a sample:

From that title alone, two things should be immediately apparent: The first is that Gunn has a broad, absurd sense of humor. The second is that this is a poll that is so completely unmoored from reality that it is no way meant to be -- nor could it be -- taken seriously. Superheroes are fictional characters. They are not real people. Actual, living, breathing human beings -- such as those who presumably took part in this completely unserious and over-the-top bizarre poll -- cannot, by definition, have sex with them. Because they are not real.

I repeat, because some people have trouble understanding this point: Superheroes are not real people.
Gunn's post isn't about Olivia Munn or Megan Fox. It's not about cosplayers. These are fictional characters about which he's waxing sleazy. And not even fictional characters, really -- they're Intellectual Property that big corporations use to make billions of dollars by exploiting passionate fandom. And sometimes, the fans who have spent entire lifetimes following the adventures of these characters have trouble understanding that they aren't in fact flesh and blood real people, but fictional characters. Case in point, this post from The Mary Sue, titled "SO HERE'S THE SLUT-SHAMING, HOMOPHOBIC POST ON SUPERHEROES BY… THE DIRECTOR OF GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY," which contains the following paragraph:
The screenshot at the top of this post is the entirety of what he has to say about Batwoman, which is both a reference to the idea that lesbians just need a good (read: streotypically masculine) man to have sex with them and they’ll be “cured” of their homosexuality, a delusion at the heart of an innumerable number of rapes; and a dig at Nightwing, one of the few male characters in comics who has actually gotten away with being drawn for the female gaze. Apparently, having been depicted as a female sex fantasy occasionally (and still with nowhere near the frequency that any given female character is drawn for the male gaze) instead of a male power fantasy literally makes him a woman.
Look at what the author of the post, Susana Polo, writes there. She states that Nightwing is a "character" who is "drawn" in a specific way, but in the next sentence claims that Gunn's sophomoric joke "literally makes him a woman."

Nightwing isn't a human being. He doesn't literally exist. He can't be made literally a woman. He can't be made "literally" anything. He doesn't exist in reality. Gunn's post isn't an "insult" of Nightwing, because Nightwing can't be insulted. He is a fictional character.

But look at Gunn's original post regarding Batwoman, pasted above. He starts out with an observation about the constituency that voted for Batwoman as one of "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With." The actual people who voted for this were voting for the Intellectual Property they most wanted to have sex with. Batwoman is a lesbian fictional character. Gunn notes that mostly (actual) men voted for her. It's probably a safe assumption that most of those men who voted for Batwoman are straight men (although I'm not entirely sure what would be the sexual orientation of an actual human being who desires to "have sex with" fictional characters -- "Fictionsexuals"?). Then, in the very next sentence, he feigns ignorance by subtly noting the absurdity of the idea -- what are these straight men thinking, exactly? He claims he doesn't know. In the third sentence he makes an ironic, over-the-top joke that shows in fact he does know what they're thinking, and it's ludicrous: "I don't know what they're thinking, but I know I'd like to write a story about Iron Man 'turning' her." This sentence is also a subtle dig at "crossover" comics, which invariably follow the same pattern: the heroes meet, there's some misunderstanding, they fight, and then they join forces. In this case, the joining forces would involve getting Batwoman to "cross over." But, given the fact that Iron Man and Batwoman are both pieces of Intellectual Property owned by two different and competing corporations, that's not very likely, is it? I'd say it's about as likely as "turning" a lesbian "straight."

Batwoman isn't real. She is Intellectual Property. She's only as lesbian as the writers in charge of her "adventures" make her.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some justice for Wonder Woman?

Over at Unleash the Fanboy, I wrote a review of a book about the Wonder Woman TV show, called Surfing Channels: Wonder Woman. Here is a brief sample:

Somewhere, on some other of the Infinite Earths, the pilot script was re-tooled, and "Wonder Woman" became a smash hit, propelling the character to pop culture superstardom. She surpassed even the success of Batman, who was largely forgotten by the mainstream. (DC Comics made several attempts to revitalize that character, and turn him into one of the "Big Three," but they were to no avail. On this particular earth, no one could fully get a handle on the dark, violent, masculine ethos that animated him.)

Wonder Woman stole his thunder.

But the character suffered for this fame. In the eyes of the general public, Wonder Woman was pure camp. A joke. Even though comics fans knew her from storied runs by creators like Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams, and Steven Englehart and Marshall Rogers, it wasn't really until Frank Miller's groundbreaking Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Returns mini series event in 1986 completely revitalized the character, paving the way for Tim Burton's 1989 classic film. "Breakfast Club" and "Short Circuit" star Ally Sheedy was cast in the title role, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High's" Jennifer Jason Leigh won the role of The Cheetah, and Kevin Costner was cast as Steve Trevor. Warner Bros poured tens of millions of dollars into producing and marketing the film. Teenagers all over the world wore T-shirts emblazoned with her famous eagle bustier and had the stylized "WW" shaved into their heads.

The movie broke multiple box office records, and spawned three sequels. Recently, "Memento" director Christopher Nolan offered a brand new trilogy of films, "Wonder Woman Begins," "The Amazon Warrior," and "The Amazon Warrior Rises," to great acclaim and success.

That, mind you, is on some other Earth. One that was destroyed in the Crisis. On this earth, it seems everybody's afraid of Wonder Woman. But in the mid-1970s, Wonder Woman did manage to get herself into a couple of TV movies, a couple of one-hour specials, and then eventually into a series that, despite multiple obstacles (including changing the setting from the 1940s to the 1970s between the first and second seasons, and a change of networks), managed to last three seasons. It's mostly faded into obscurity, but it does retain a small but fervent cult following. Among the show's most devoted fans is Mike Pingel, author of the book Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman.

It's obvious that Pingel has a lot of enthusiasm for the TV iteration of the character, and Lynda Carter, the dazzlingly beautiful actress who portrayed her. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm isn't contagious; in fact, the book is actually alienating for a number of reasons. For one thing, you will note that in the paragraph above I gave the title as Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman. That is the title as it appears on the cover. However, at the heading of each page of the book, the title is given as Surfing Channels: Wonder Woman. It's never a good sign when a book is unsure as to its own title.

You can read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New novel: The Fabulous Fanboy

Update: Read the first two chapters on Wattpad.

My new novel, The Fabulous Fanboy, is now available in ebook form. It's a rather dark and humorous examination of an obsessive fanboy whose attempts to drive the cultural narrative through the posting of vitriolic comments on the internet -- among other things -- causes him to lose, well, his perspective. Here is the description I posted on amazon:


The world as we know it is changing. Once relegated to the fringes of society, the geeks now control all aspects of culture, and its means of consumption. At the forefront of this revolution is Geeker Media programmer Brendan Kidd. As the World's Greatest Champion he remains tireless in the struggle for quality entertainment! Whether it's spending hundreds of hours a month reading comics and playing video games, or posting thousands of snarky comments on websites like Reddit and Rotten Tomatoes, Brendan will stop at nothing ensure that the good is praised, while the bad is viciously and mercilessly mocked!

But when Brendan's free pass to a screening of "The Avengers" is threatened, he'll have to face down the greatest challenge anyone has ever faced! Then, with barely any time to catch his breath, Brendan also must deal with the so-called artist who is stealing his girlfriend and using his life as the inspiration for his completely execrable self-published comic book (which stinks)! Can Brendan maintain the courage and focus necessary to deal with these senses-shattering events? Will he be able to narrow down his list of favorite season-three episodes of "Community" to just ten entries? Will he discover the shocking secret of the German amateur star of his favorite pornographic video? Who are the mysterious 50K? Will someone please explain to him why "The Big Bang Theory" is so popular?


Now that it's all written and done, I'm thinking it maybe resembles A Confederacy of Dunces, as written by Patricia Highsmith and Kevin Smith. Or, something like that.

Again, if you're interested, you can purchase it from for a measly $2.99. Or, you can purchase it from Barnes & Noble for the same measly price. Print edition coming soon!

And here is the artwork for the forthcoming print version: UPDATE: 12-5-12: Print version now available, with a slightly different spine. You can purchase it here.

Here's a link to the first two chapters on Wattpad.