Archive for April, 2013

25
Apr
13

Too Much Power in Those Pages!

I’ve always been a big fan of comic books and comic book-based (or inspired) movies and TV series. This love goes back to even the cheesy movies and television shows of my childhood and young adult years when the special effects weren’t special at all (unless you’re a lover of “cheese”).

One thing I’ve never liked in any of these superhero/supervillain venues, though, is the uber-powered hero. Now, I can deal with uber-powered villains here and there, because the heroes need special challenges at times and in my opinion, if you have the powers of, essentially, a god…well, you’re likely to behave badly or to misuse your powers for what you think is the “greater good,” no matter what anyone else thinks or whose rights you trample in the process.

But I can think of few things more boring than heroes with vast, vast powers and few vulnerabilities.

So, Superman (the classic example of this) is not among my favorites (though the supermanupcoming film rebooting him for the cinematic world looks promising). Nor Captain Marvel/Shazam or Icon. Nor, on the Marvel side, such clones of those DC characters as Sentry or Blue Marvel.

I don’t want a hero with the “power of a million exploding suns.” I just don’t.

Green Lantern has vast power, but his body itself is vulnerable and if you get in a good cheap shot, he’s toast. Wonder Woman has vast strength and can take a major hit, but she’s not bulletproof. A sniper who shoots her from behind so that she can’t deflect the bullets with her bracelets could take her down. Even the Hulk, whose strength and invulnerability are legendary, has (usually) been limited by the fact it is anger that unleashes him, his mind is easily messed with, he can return to human form if you quell his rage, and his feral nature makes him as much a threat to innocents as he is a potential hero. Plus, the Hulk doesn’t have flight, heat vision, X-ray vision, freezing breath or other weird extras—he’s simply raw physical power.

I could go on, but why subject you to a case of extreme geekery? It might be contagious.

My point is that if you have a hero who can hardly ever be hurt and has a vast array of powers, you end up with boring storylines. You have to keep bringing in enemies on a regular basis who are so powerful that it seems ridiculous that the Earth wouldn’t already have been utterly stripped of life or that civilization, at the very least, would crumble. How can a hero with a vast panoply of powers be truly challenged without resorting to anti-deus-ex-machina devices frequently? He or she cannot.

This is one of the reasons I shy away godlike powers in the stories at my Tales of the Whethermen blog. Some heroes and villains are very powerful in my fictional world, but they’re all, ultimately, human and while they may be less vulnerable than normal folks, they can all be hurt or killed in a number of ways. The closest thing I have to a “Superman” is the very troubled and ethically changeable Doctor Holiday, and even though he has access to a limitless selection of powers, he can only express a few of them in any given appearance.

We need to stop with the godlike superheroes. We just need to. Fans of Superman, Sentry, Icon and all the rest may not like what I’m saying, but it needs to be said. These characters present such daunting challenges to making them be challenged that storytelling suffers. At the very least, if we’re going to have heroes who can level mountains with ease, can we at least confine them to cosmic adventures where there is a vast landscape they can tear up, instead of pretending that the Earth would still be livable after a few similarly powered enemies showed up to take out our godlike hero?

Not all heroes need to be a Batman or Punisher, for example. Spider-Man has lots of power but still gets loopy if you knock him in the head or limps if you break a few of his ribs. Iron Man may be kick-ass, but if you hack his armor’s systems, he’s in trouble. These are the kinds of heroes who can amaze us and still we can relate to them.

How can I relate to Superman? In my opinion, he’s less mortally understandable than Jesus Christ. And Jesus brought people back from the dead and rose from death himself.

When I can identify less personally with the Son of Krypton than I can with the Son of God, we have a problem.

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24
Apr
13

Truth vs. Reality

On my Twitter feed today, one of the folks there had retweeted a link to YouTube video of a woman in an abusive relationship who took photos of herself everyday for a year and ran them one after the other like a video timeline.

This is it (and there are some pretty ugly parts, especially the longer it goes on):

Now, in the YouTube comments, there are some who cried “fake!”

Moreover, some who cried fake and then stated or implied that the video was thus pointless.

No, it’s not pointless.

It is real? Quite possibly not. I started wondering myself, thinking, why would someone do something like this, taking selfies as a project to document her abuse and willingly stay in that abusive relationship? I could not fathom how someone would think it important enough to do this and also be willing to risk their health, safety and life to carry it out. So, I myself am dubious. I’m supposed to be cautious and cynical; I’m a journalist and editor.

The bigger question, though, is whether this video is truth.

And, yes, that it most certainly is. What is portrayed is very much the face of abuse (literally and figuratively). This is the kind of thing that happens in these relationships. You’ll have a lot of good days in many of them, followed by very bad ones. And the bad days often begin to occur closer together and get ever more violent.

That is the truth.

Whether the video is real doesn’t matter. It delivers the message very poignantly and effectively.

Sometimes we don’t need reality.

We need a dose of truth instead.

20
Apr
13

Hey, I’m Racist Against Whites, Guys!

As most of you know by now, not only did the Boston Marathon get bombed in the past week, but the act was carried out by a pair (so far as we know right now) of white guys. Of course, many white folks are trying to claim these guys aren’t really white because they were born in Chechnya, which is that Russian part of Europe; and even though they have white skin and come from the Caucuses (the original “Caucasians”) growing up here doesn’t make them true whites (i.e. white Americans); plus being Eastern European they’re actually “ethnic” rather than “white” people; plus, to top it all off, they were raised Muslim, so that automatically removes them from the land of whiteness.

*cough* bullshit! *ahem*

So, seeing as these terrorists were white, and pretty much homegrown, and non-Christian, I realized something. And so I tweeted this:

Rather than point out how most terrorists in this country are white, Boston bombing/shooting will probably lead to more Muslim-hating 😦

One person who follows me…well, “followed” me, anyway…I blocked her when it was clear she was going to go on a continuing pointless rant against me like any good conservative white bigot…anyway, she made a sarcastic tweet in response to mine about how nice it would be if whites were hated even more than they already are in this country.

Because, of course, whites, who hold most of the wealth and power and don’t get profiled by police, are somehow one of most the most persecuted groups within the United States.

*cough* bullshit! *ahem*

When I probed her response a bit more, she informed me of the following, both by direct accusation and by implication:

  • I was clearly sad that whites aren’t hated more (because of the sad-face emoticon)
  • I’m clearly delusional because most terrorists in the U.S. aren’t white
  • I’m racist against white people

Regarding point number two, I’d argue that most domestic terrorists are white, since white supremacist groups, violent nationalists, eco-terrorists and the like are overwhemingly white and if they aren’t currently in the terrorist majority on U.S. soil on an individual basis, they far outnumber black and/or Muslim terrorists when combined. Some data from the 1980s to early 2000s seems to suggest Latino terrorists were the single biggest group, but I suspect that has more to do with crap along the U.S./Mexico border involving the drug wars. In any case, the biggest problem isn’t black and Arab people, and certainly not the Muslim ones. Also, I think a lot of racist organizations full of whites don’t get noticed as terrorists because their terrorism is more localized against nearby blacks, Jews, etc. and not against institutions or carried out in a dramatic fashion against many people at once.

But really, mostly what bugs me about my Twitter exchange with this woman was how my original tweet’s meaning was twisted into “proof” that I, a white guy, am racist against my own fellow whites and that I want people to hate them.

No.

My tweet starts by wishing that what could have come out of the Boston bombing was a realization that, with most of the people in this nation being white, they account for most of the bad stuff, whether petty crimes, major crimes or terrorism. We have had many white terrorists in this country who somehow get conveniently forgotten when brown or tan ones pop onto the scene.

I would like people to stop seeing terrorism as belonging to one group (Arab Muslims) because the reality is that people of all colors commit acts of terror and to fail to recognize that is what allows us to demonize certain groups of people and leads to members of that group being subjected to discrimination and violence they don’t deserve and didn’t invite.

Pretending that whites don’t commit a hell of a lot of terrorism, here and abroad, is simply delusional. We are part of the problem. The biggest part of the problem in white-majority countries, in fact, and a potentially significant part of the problem elsewhere (though probably not the biggest threat outside of largely white areas). Just as Arabs and Muslims are a big part of the terrorist problem in Arab and Muslim parts of the world, and can be a significant threat elsewhere (though not generally the major threat when they go farther afield.)

Also, the second part of my tweet is a lament that what will happen, instead of white Americans realizing whites represent most of the bad guys in this country, is that Muslims will continue to be seen as the only real terrorists, because the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing were raised under Islamic beliefs.

Hence why my sad face follows the second statement. I am saddened that people will continue to point their fingers in one direction and target a lot of innocent people because of their religion, while letting a lot of guilty folks of non-Muslim backgrounds slip by.

I think that was pretty clear in my tweet. But again, it shows me how much jingoism, white privilege and fear rule many people in the United States. They get defensive when the truth is pointed out, and start accusing you of being an evil person for pointing out reality to them.

It’s ugly out there.

The Boston Marathon bombing was ugly. Too ugly.

But sometimes I fear the aftermath of American attitudes and perceptions of Muslims and who is “really” white will be even uglier.

08
Apr
13

So Pretty…and Witty…and Wise…

So, President Barack Obama described California Attorney General Kamala Harris as being “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country” at a public appearance Thursday.

On Friday, he apologized to her, and she apparently took the apology quite pleasantly and had nothing more of significance to say on the matter.

So why was my Twitter timeline all…well, I guess “atwitter” is a good word choice here…with huge levels of snark about the President’s supposedly awful comment all weekend long, with some of it bleeding into today still? True, there were also the “no big deal” defenders, who probably weren’t helping things, but still…

To be honest, I’m kind of irritated that that so much was made of this one comment, particularly given the fact Obama personally apologized to the woman (with whom he’s apparently been friends for a while) the very next day. Since she hasn’t seen fit to be offended or make a big deal out of this, why are so many other people?

Now, I’m not going to say this kind of thing doesn’t matter; I know it does, and this story explains one way in which it can hurt (granted, the story also indicates that the person speaking up for themselves and calling out the behavior can be a big boost for them…also, the story relates directly to election behavior, so this isn’t a perfect parallel). I know that in the workplace, focusing on a woman’s appearance can lead to a whole host of problems, with sexual harassment simply being one of many potential bits of fallout.

However, this shit was milked way too long by people who want to either make Obama look bad, remind us of gender inequities, or both. “Too long,” I say, because this issue was over and done with and solved by both parties within a day. Yet people online kept making it into a hot button issue for days. How many of them spent the same energy on issues that still haven’t gone away yet, like the issue of an oil company’s burst tar sands pipeline destroying an entire town, or North Carolina wanting to make Christianity the state religion, or multiple states pushing through measures to ban abortion?

Also, taken in context, here’s what Obama said of Harris, who is the first woman and first Indian-American to be elected as the Attorney General of California, at the Thursday fundraising event: “She is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake.”

AFTER that, he says, “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country”…and right after that, “It’s true. Come on. She is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.”

So, the appearance comment was an afterthought. He spent…what?…four or five times longer saying other things about her, right? Better things. More appropriate and relevant things.

This is way different than, say, Mitt Romney telling a room full of rich people that nearly half of America is on government assistance and is lazy and will never vote for a Republican no matter what because they’re being coddled by the Democrats.

One of these things was an off-hand comment meant to be lighthearted that was ill-advised; the other was an outright lie and a slandering of the people who keep this country going in order to stroke the richest people who are most interested in oppressing 99% of us.

Do you see the difference? Can you perhaps keep that in mind the next time any prominent (or even average) person of any gender, party affiliation, religion or whatever has a slip of the tongue that isn’t representative of their past behavior?

Can we be done with this now?

05
Apr
13

I Will Never Surrender My Geekdom

So, my birthday was about two weeks ago, but I just want to make note of the very appropriate symmetry for someone as fundamentally nerd- and geek-inclined as me.

In addition to this T-shirt I received on my birthday, which certainly involves some geekery, because…well, The Big Lebowski or really any Coen brothers movie? Hello?

the-dude-abides

There was this gift (in the form of a DVD) that my wife ordered the day of my birthday and I got about a week ago, and therein begins the true odyssey of my geekery:

avengers-movie-poster

Because that gift of Marvel’s The Avengers was preceded by a few days with this gift from my son when he arrived for a quick Spring Break visit (with his girlfriend along for the ride to meet us all [read: meet his mom]) just a couple days after my birthday:

iron-man-vans

That would be a fine-ass pair of comfy Vans with classic comic book Iron Man on ’em. Because I love me trilogies and trinities and triads, I completed the tripod (triangle? triumverate?) by buying this to decorate my office:

iron-patriot

That would be an Iron Man- and Avengers-themed individual known as Iron Patriot. He’s in good company, of course, with this on a wall above my primary work desk:

action-figures

And then the Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ironmonger on top of my secondary work desk:

hulkbuster_iron-monger

And yes, I am very much looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3 this summer. If you want to ensure I can buy a ticket for myself and perhaps my son, too, if he’s home then…as well as ensure ample snack purchases…as well as show love for my blog, you can feel free to email me for my PayPal info and drop me a tip (or complaints, or suggestions for the blog, or a guest post so I can be lazier around here). 😉 After all, I gotta get my superhero action on, right?

I did mention I was a nerd and a geek, right?

But never a dork…




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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