Hordak Gets “They”
“The thing that was really gratifying in a very surprising way for me is a scene where Hordak talks about Double Trouble and just says ‘they’ effortlessly, with no thought, and just uses gender-neutral pronouns,” said Tobia. “Even the most evil person on the planet doesn’t misgender people, because that would be rude. There’s something really cool about that.
“Also, if Hordak can use they/them pronouns appropriately, I think anyone can. Do you really want to be worse than Hordak by misgendering nonbinary people? No, you don’t.”
One nice thing about reading primarily LGBTQ SFF are the settings where partners and pronouns are not a source of conflict.
Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
– G. K. Chesterton
I’m playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on X Box. As I navigate the space, eyes pop out from the scenery. Shadows darken, shift, and crawl across surfaces. Sources of light flicker, pop out of location, and multiply across my peripheral vision. “For me, this is a very, very bad day,” I say.
It’s not a big surprise to say that gaming media that attempts to wrestle with mental illness have been disappointing. Mentally ill people have been presented as over-the-top villains or comic broken victims. In games where the protagonist is “cursed” with a mental illness, we’re given a number of quests to cure it before the protagonist is destroyed. Some games even treat “sanity” as a resource to be maintained alongside hit points. (Sunless Sea and Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer come to mind.)
For Senua, the game developers took the time to talk to both mental health professionals and people with psychosis to guide their work. And they ended up taking what, for gaming, is a pretty radical position. Senua’s way of looking at the world isn’t the central problem, but the abuse she experiences as a result is.
Deeper discussion of mental health and major spoilers follow under the cut.
“Goth Jumanji” has been writer’s Kieron Gillen’s pitch for this comic. In the early 1990s, six teens gather to play a fantasy roleplaying game at a birthday party. They disappear and five return a few years later, unable to speak about what they experienced. As adults, they are pulled back into the fantasy game world they created.
As with most trips to wonderland, the consequences are a complete nightmare.
Spoilers under the cut.
With the IV in her arm, Leslie got out of bed, and went to the court while it was in session, stood up, and made a speech. And then Leslie painted on a public wall, “Free CeCe McDonald,” and was put on trial for it. We know how ill Leslie was, because Leslie died from it, but that’s what happened — Leslie took the IVs out, went to the trial and made a public statement, was arrested, put in jail, and put on trial. It was not an individual act, to say, “I’m a nice person.” It was part of a movement, to make sure everybody was watching.
Evan Rachel Wood
“Now that I’m older, I have moments where I’m like, ‘No, I’ve worked on this already! I got past this!’” she says, gesturing as though to curse the heavens, a frustration anyone who is working through trauma would recognize. “And now I’m starting to realize that even stuff that you’ve worked on and felt like you’ve gotten past sometimes comes back. You’ve got to work on it again. It’s an ongoing process.”
— Evan Rachel Wood, Interview with Self Magazine
You are of the Pantheon. You will be loved. You will be hated. You will be brilliant. Within two years, you will be dead…
I just wrapped up this amazing series over the weekend. My first reaction is to rank it as one of my favorites in terms of extended graphic novels (45 issues, not counting the side stories). My closest point of reference is Sandman, although I feel that Sandman involved more side trips around the universe Gaiman created.
The Premise: Every 90 years, twelve gods return in mortal form. For two years, they are the most brilliant leaders and artists of their age. And in two years, they are dead. In 2013, it happens all over again. We see most of this through the eyes of Laura Wilson, a god groupie and “big name fan” who ends up falling in with Lucifer to start with.
In this cycle, the gods are the charismatic pop stars of the age. While the premise of pop idols destined to burn out would have been interesting on its own, The Wicked and The Divine (WicDiv) looks beyond that to explore the power of stories in general. From the start, WicDiv challenges the reader to be skeptical of the fairy tale and story as presented.
Spoilers under cut.
I’ve been working my way through Tor’s In Our Own Worlds bundle. A Taste of Honey follows the life if Aqib bgm Sadiqi, the lesser cousin of royalty and apprentice master of the menagerie. In the first chapter, Aqib is quite willingly seduced by a visiting Daluçan soldier, Lucrio, and peruses the affair,at least for a short time, in defiance of the violently anti-gay cultural norms and desires of his family. Lucrio must return home to Daluça however, and most of the rest of the novel focuses on how Aqib deals with regret while raising a family.
(Possible spoilers after the cut.)
One early experiment in multilingual TV production was Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock. Henson cast localized voice actors for the puppets, and a local actor for the human framing narrator who lived in the house near the Fraggles.
Netflix’s Criminal: Spain uses the same set and format as Criminal: UK with a slightly smaller cast, and similar but different scripts. As with the UK version, a team of investigators interrogate criminal suspects. All of the action happens in three rooms, the interview room,the observation room behind a one-way mirror, and the hallway outside. Where Spain differs is in making the conflicts among the investigators more acute and sharply defined.
Spoilers and warnings under the cut.
I must admit that two of my weaknesses are mysteries and confined-space drama. Criminal: UK isn’t quite a single-room drama. The entire series uses the same three rooms: an interview room where a pair of detectives confront a suspect and their lawyer, the observation room behind the mirror where more detectives watch, and the hallway outside. The same set is used with four different casts for Spanish, German, and French productions as well. Much of the action happens with minimal jumps in time as well.
The show demonstrates why you should probably never talk to police when in that situation. The detectives balance making the suspect uncomfortable and offering baited opportunities for the subjects to create their own narratives. Give the doctor suspected of killing his daughter an opportunity to explain just how devoted he was. Let the loving sister spin a story of relationship abuse. Empathize with the truck driver who made an unfortunate mistake in smuggling the wrong cargo.
Belated bi visibility day links.
Bi people benefit less from relationships
A study of National Health Interview Survey data finds that bisexual people do worse in long-term relationships. Bi people in mixed-gender partnerships have worse health outcomes than bi people in same-gender partnerships. I don’t have access to the full paper, but the elephant in the room for me is the risk of biphobic relationship violence.
Bi Men and HIV
“The result is that all bi men are stereotyped and discriminated against,” with bisexual men who are married to women bearing “the brunt of this stigma. This effectively divides the queer male community,” says Ron Suresha, a 59-year-old writer, editor, and cofounder of Bear Bones Books, who identifies as a cisgender bear who is gay, bi, and queer. “I’d like to point out that a significant portion of bisexual men are, like myself, in long-term, safe-only, primary relationships with men, with relatively infrequent sexual contact with women. We think of bi men as only being married men cheating on their wives, but there are actually many kinds of bi guys around. This is just one of the common misperceptions of bi men as vectors of HIV transmission to women.”
The nearly complete absence of stories about bi men that were not centered on HIV was a whammy when I came out.
Passing Strange is a nice short novella that follows a circle of lesbian and bi women as they negotiate love and boundaries in San Francisco about 1939. Franny, Helen, Haskell and Emily are lesbian or bi women living on their own. Individually and collectively they have to find their own paths around the sexism, racism, and homophobia of the time.
The novella is outstanding on two fronts. It gives us a rich and well-researched view into San Francisco, with beautiful chapters describing the Golden Gate International Exposition, Chinatown, and the lesbian/tourist bar, Mona’s:
The club was many things to many people. A tourist trap. A neighborhood bar. A haven where women who loved each other could meet in public without fear or the shame of sidelong glances from “nice” ladies. Mona took care of her girls–butches, femmes, Flos, Freddies, wanna-bees, looky-loos, he–shes. At Mona’s, a girl could be anyone she dreamed, even if for just one night, no questions asked. Or at least no answers required.