My friends know what I like, and this is especially true when it comes to the sort of content they post to my Facebook profile. Just two days ago one of them left a link to an article Facebook shortened to “Meet the gender bending men who cosplay”, apparently for the sole reason that it featured a “picture of the two dudes dressed as Max and Caroline from [sic] Two Broke Girls.”
Here’s that picture, so we can get that out of the way and move on to the actual topic at hand. Also, as someone who considers himself the internet’s foremost 2 Broke Girls-ologist, I need to express my disappointment that the guy playing Caroline is missing her iconic pearls.
Anyway, the focus of the article was the burgeoning presence of genderbent cosplay. I’m not sure I should have to explain what that is, but I’m going to anyway: it’s when a person dresses up as a character, fictional or otherwise, who is of a different gender than they are, which we’re going to view for the sake of this post as being an either/or distinction.
This follows the 63rd Rule of the Internet, which stipulates that “for every given male character, there is a female version of that character” and vice versa. This may or may not surprise you, but I kind of love that rule. I mean, it’s the reason that the pretty amazing Adventure Time with Fiona and Cake exists, and that’s a gosh darn national treasure.
There’s also all of the unofficial [can I say again how great the above existing is?] fanart out there, like this drawing of Tinkerbell from a Petra Pan universe the artist created [click on the image itself to link to a masterpost of all the other characters]. It’s a way for artists to stretch their creative muscles in designing costumes that are decidedly masculine or feminine while still preserving all that is inherent in their character. All that being said, I’ve gotta say that I’m not such a huge fan of genderbent cosplay. Continue reading →
Before watching Cool It I expected it to be just like Expelled, which, in my opinion, had a very strong right wing agenda. I don’t want to imply that everything “right-wing” is innately propaganda, or that the left isn’t just as capable of creating its own propaganda, but I disliked Expelled‘s attempt to undermine evolution by framing all creationists as victims. So I wasn’t really watching this film with much of an open mind, but by the end was actually impressed. Just a heads up, from this point on there are spoilers galore. Continue reading →
GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, last week, I kinda volunteered a discussion topic which Kat has graciously decided to roll with. Today, we’re going to be talking about feminism- where we stand now, and with an increasing number of people claiming that feminism’s work is done- what we’d like to see next on the agenda.
KAT: So perhaps we should start be establishing what the first three waves of feminism have accomplished.
You are probably all familiar with the fact that the first wave fought for (and won) the right for the vote.
Public outcry ensued as a result of OSC’s viciously homophobic views- including a statement advocating the overthrow of the American government should gay marriage ever be legalized.
EVAN: I am going to be honest and admit that I am counting down the second until this is over, when I get to finally play my copy of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
That being said, this relates back to our talk because OSC’s views are deeply founded in his religion, Mormonism.
GORDON: Now back in that post, Evan asserted that OSC’s views were “reprehensible, regardless of where you stand.” Could you expound on that a bit for us?
EVAN: Well, the general consensus of the internet [from what I could tell] is that OSC is free to believe whatever he wants. If a man believed his cat created the universe he would, by anyone’s standards, certainly be wrong, but would not necessarily be chided for it.
People drew the line at Card’s support of organizations that were actively boycotting the legalization of gay marriage in America, as well as, like you said, advocating the overthrow of the government.
Homosexuality as a sin is something I think on almost every day, due to my belief that the Bible is without errancy and my observation that there is, from what I can see, absolutely nothing negative about a healthy homosexual relationship with another person. That being said, I am not about to cry that we burn down Parliament [or the White House, whatever] simply because the government allows two men to wed.
GORDON: So ultimately, your issue with OSC is that he shouldn’t let his personal views lead to him commit drastic acts?
EVAN: My personal issue, I suppose, is that he takes a stance that I’m already extremely uncomfortable with having and pushes it to its most extreme. That’s my honest answer.
On the surface, and certainly where I was last week or whenever it was, yes. Essentially that was where I was coming from, that his cry to overthrown the powers that be was an overreaction.
GORDON: And that’s certainly something that’s fair.
I often hear the argument that “You can’t force your religious views on others,” usually using a homophobic, sexist, or totalitarian agenda as an example. My issue with that has always been that you never hear the same people making that argument when something positive is on the table.
I’d probably reference John Brown, MLK Jr., Bonhoeffer, or Malcolm X as examples.
EVAN: I definitely agree with what you’re saying. Just regarding basic good behavior you never really hear people saying, “How dare you tell people to tell the truth and not murder and steal! Stop pushing your antiquated morals on the rest of us!”
GORDON: Exactly. That brings me to the core of the issue I wanted to hash out a bit: is militancy really a bad thing? Earlier today, I came across this image:
And I was kinda bugged by it. The implication seemed to be that Jimmy’s only two courses of action are silence or rage. I mean- if a friend posted something on Facebook I thought was incorrect, I don’t think I’d just ignore it.
EVAN: I rarely do when it comes to misspellings, grammatical issues, and anything regarding comic books.
GORDON: Exactly. If something is important to you, you should speak up about it, right? Heck, you shouldn’t you take direct action on it?
EVAN: I’m going to bring up an experience of mine that essentially no one knows about:
When I was much, much, much younger I thought it would be a good idea to evangelize to a classmate [this was in 8th Grade, I think]. It didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, because they were quite satisfied with their own religious beliefs, and reasonably so.
The thing is, I was coming from a place where I thought I was doing the right thing. After all, if Christians really do believe that Jesus is “the way the truth and the life” and that no one gets to heaven except through him, isn’t there some sort of responsibility to tell others? And if there isn’t an onus, wouldn’t you want the people you care about to get in?
So yes, it was important to me, and no, I don’t think I went about it the right way. But I did take action, for better or for worse.
GORDON: Let me throw you an extreme scenario:
The government has decided to start indiscriminately throwing minorities into internment camps, dragging ’em out of their homes in the middle of the night because, I don’t know, if you don’t, the terrorists win. Do you take militant action?
EVAN: Would I directly oppose the government, you mean?
EVAN: Do I count as a minority?
GORDON: For the purposes of this example, yes.
EVAN: If I was not a minority I would probably act in the same capacity as those who hid Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
As a minority, I’m honestly not sure. I’m not particularly disposed to act violently, so I suppose I have to ask what you would deem as being “militant action.”
GORDON: But one way or another, your actions would be rooted in your understanding of your religious/moral code, right?
GORDON: So it’s not so much an issue of extremism, even in regards to religion- it’s just a question of the issue itself
In this case, OSC is a jerk not because he advocates the overthrow of the government, but because he makes that threat over something so benign as Adam and Steve getting a sheet of paper.
EVAN: I suppose it is contextual, yes. Though I’m sure there are people out there [myself not included] who would equate gay marriage with throwing babies into the Nile.
GORDON: This is indeed true. with that in mind, How do we address the question of the separation of church and state?
EVAN: That’s a really great question. I guess we have to ask how well of a job we’re doing with that at the moment.
GORDON: Not knowing the ins and outs of Canadian politics, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make so much of a universal statement. Speaking for myself, I prefer a pretty staunch elimination of the cosmetics of religion in my government.
Get “In God We Trust” off my money, take “Under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Though in total honesty, that’s more from a distrust of government in my religion than vice versa.
EVAN: The whole issue that “money is the root of all evil,” so why do we have religious institutions that have a net worth that goes into the billions? Yeah, I can be pretty into that sentiment.
GORDON: A very interesting topic, considering the elections currently going on in the Vatican.
EVAN: Well, the question we were presented today is what role does religion have to play in our increasingly secular world. In terms of Christianity, my hope is that its role is a positive one.
That Christians [myself included] can be seen as loving and not hateful [see: The Westboro Baptist Church], as giving and not selfish [see: most people in general], as willing to consciously process what we believe to be the truth instead of sticking to them blindly because they’re what we were told.
Christianity has changed a lot over the centuries without straying from what it is at its core. We can keep changing, we should keep thinking.
GORDON: So at the end of the day, religion becomes a social movement, rather than a distinct community or culture?
EVAN: I think that as a culture Christianity is, ideally, a social movement.
GORDON: So how do you reconcile other religions with this?
EVAN: Honestly it depends on the religion. I think Buddhism, when done right, more or less works along the same lines.
Are we counting Scientology as a religion and not a cult?
GORDON: Oooh. Them’s fighting words. Let’s call it a religion, for now.
EVAN: I suppose I would like every religion, Scientology included, to stick to my format of what I would like Christianity to be. If you hash out logically that alien soul debris is the cause of every human’s problems, more power to you; I have done the same thing in believing that a man who was also God died on a cross and was resurrected.
What’s really important is that we act on the positive aspects of our religious beliefs [taking care of the poor, not being dicks to one another] and really thinking upon our beliefs. Like I said, homosexuality as a sin does not at this point in my life make a lick of sense to me, and I continue to struggle with reconciling that with the rest of my faith. Make sure what you believe makes sense to you.
So as a TL;DR, do good things and think.
GORDON: Fair enough- but what about when it doesn’t work? There are plenty of vile groups out there whose diseased, twisted “logic” has led them to some pretty nasty conclusions. They’re obligated to act on those beliefs, right? How do you deal with conflicting agendas?
EVAN: How are they acting on these beliefs?
GORDON: Let’s say they’re banning the Hijab for Muslim Women; passing legislation on it.
EVAN: I’d say that infringes on basic human rights, and that people should stick to the words of public awareness campaign “If You See Something, Say Something.” People should protest.
GORDON:Certainly something we don’t get enough of. And with that, dearly beloved, we are out of time.
EVAN: It’s creeping me out that you’re calling our readers that. Or me. That’s even more troubling.
GORDON: Imagine if I actually did have a cult following. How awesome would that be?
EVAN: Extremely troubling.
GORDON: I for one believe our readers have learned their lesson- I’d like to leave them the option of offering an “other” topic in the comment section.
EVAN: Guys and girls, this week we talked as much as we could upon the topic for the week, and were only able to get so far. So in addition to us possibly discussing what you want us to, next week you can possible look forward to us discussing:
GORDON: Violence in media: How much is not enough?
EVAN: The particular topic of discussion that comes to us today is more one that finds itself passed back and forth within Christian circles, and that is: “Why is Christian media so bad?”
GORDON: I think the problem is self-imposed by the religion (I use the term loosely) itself. We’re not talking about a lack of funding (we’ve got plenty of good low-budget films), or a lack of good directors (there’s plenty of decent talent out there), we’re talking about an issue that runs right down the core of it all.
“Christian” media can’t just be media- they have to drag in everything that goes with it.
EVAN: So basically what you’re saying, and we talked about this a little earlier, is that Christian media more often than not has an agenda, correct?
GORDON: I’d say plenty of it has an agenda, but no, I don’t think that’s the core issue- there’s plenty of other preachy movies out there.
EVAN: So what are you saying, exactly?
GORDON: I’m saying that “Christians” can’t make good media because they won’t allow themselves to. Every protagonist has to fit the moral code to a tee, so that they wind up as either Aslan 2.0 or the epitome of Christian morality: John Smith, the middle class suburban, patriotic family man. Which is why I keep putting “Christian” in quotation marks.
We’re not talking about Catholic peasants in El Salvador or the East Orthodox Church in Ethiopia.
EVAN: Okay, I like that a lot, this idea that those creators of Christian media [and primarily I think we’re talking about films] box themselves in. They’re telling the same sorts of stories to who they perceive to be their audience [and they’re not wrong]: white suburban middle class families.
To sort of break this up a little, I actually saw a Christian film that was reasonably passable at some point last summer.
GORDON: Was it related in any way to Steve Taylor?
EVAN: Is that any way related to “End of the Spear”? It was not, if that’s what you’re referring to.
GORDON: Steve Taylor is the only good Christian musician who ever has or ever will have existed.
But anyway, what was the movie you saw?
EVAN: It was called “To Save a Life,” and it stood out for a couple of reasons:
1) The cinematography was shockingly good for something produced and made by Christians. You can tell which movies they are within the first few seconds.
2) The “villain” of the piece was actually the pastor’s kid. Which was- refreshing, and kind of nice.
It kind of broke out of the whole stereotype you introduced earlier.
GORDON: Huh- interesting. I’ll have to check out the trailer. But let me ask you this:
Can a Christian make a James Bond movie?
EVAN: You mean a movie starring a suave, debonair British man who beds women and guns down henchmen as naturally as he dons his suit jacket every morning?
I’d say no, probably not.
GORDON: I think that’s the problem. It’s not just that you can’t have any explicit sex or graphic violence or excessive profanity (which are overused and abused as is), you can’t have anything even remotely sensual or rough or crude. It rips away reality and humanity in the name of not stepping on anyone’s toes.
EVAN: Well, I’d say the difference is that you can’t have a protagonist who glorifies such things as wanton sexuality-
I say that Christian filmmakers will never produce anything like James Bond because of who the character is.
GORDON: Did you like the movie “Fight Club”?
EVAN: I liked it a fair amount.
GORDON: Did you like “Ocean’s 11” or “Snatch”?
EVAN: I haven’t seen the latter, but I very much enjoyed the former.
GORDON: Did you like “Superbad”? “Kick-Ass”? “Ironclad”?
But I think you’re going to have to get to your point-
GORDON: Could a Christian make any of these movies?
EVAN: I think a Christian could, yes. In relation to “Fight Club”, at least, Christian author Ted Dekker has penned novels [sold both in and out of Christian bookstores] which offer a fairly decent psychological thriller aspect to the reader.
GORDON: Ah, Dekker. The whole reason he stands out as an exception is- I believe- that he grew up among Indonesian headhunters, and not in Middle America. Again, it’s about having that different perspective on life.
EVAN: And I think what he’s realized, as a creator of the arts, as someone who has a hand in shaping Christian media, is that you can have these other sorts of exciting, thrilling stories told with a faith-built worldview. People of every religion want a little excitement.
GORDON: Of that there’s no question. The heavy use of the video library at our school stands in testament to that.
But again I think the issue is that “Christian” self-imposed isolation inevitably leads to the vast majority of their work winding up as “White People Problems” or “Chronicles-of-Narnia-minus-the-good-stuff”…
EVAN: Or “Lord-of-the-Rings-but-way-more-heavy-handed.”
EVAN: I mean, we’ve talked a little bit about why Christian media can be bad [terrible production values, cookie-cutter story lines, sheer absurdity], but how could it be better [to harken back a little to our last talk]?
GORDON: They have to stop being terrified of the big bad world. They have to realize they can show characters with flaws- real flaws- not drunkard stereotypes and the occasional swear word.
Saying this will get you expelled from Liberty, Pensacola, and BJU
EVAN: I mean, a deeply flawed person who finds redemption is a much more compelling story than a white bread sort of guy with his middle class problems.
And they have to stop coddling their audience. Yes, Christians turn to Christian media for “better alternatives,” but the odd cuss word won’t negate an overall positive message; neither will a fight scene, or two guys sitting around enjoying a beer.
GORDON: There’s this one scene in a (Christian) movie Steve Taylor directed:
A character hurts his hand loading something into the back of van. He lets loose a cuss word and his buddy chides him for it, saying “God don’t like it when we cuss.”
Later on in the film, the buddy hangs his head and apologizes, saying “I’m sorry. I was upset that you cussed- I should’ve just been upset that you hurt your hand.”
EVAN: Wow. That is very, very good.
GORDON: That right there is the problem not just with Christian media, but with the whole religion.
EVAN: Misplaced priorities.
GORDON: More obsessed with present clean-cut paragons of middle class etiquette than anything really real.
That’s why we turn to “secular” movies for actual substance. The struggle for identity in “Fight Club”, the heroism in “Kick-Ass”, the friendship in “Superbad.”
EVAN: I think what’s really ironic is that Christian media-makers have a Christian-made work out there that’s immensely popular. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” came out just this past December.
GORDON: I again reference an (alleged) quote by Steve Taylor.
“I’m not a Christian artist- I’m an artist who is Christian- it affects what I do.”
EVAN: Really well-put. And something that a lot of us [I speak for many in our graduating class] as writers, musicians, artists, et cetera would benefit from keeping in mind.
And that puts us more than a little overtime.
GORDON: Well, people, you know what that means. Time to vote on our subject for next week.
EVAN: My contribution this time around is . . . wow, I never think ahead . . . masculinity. You’ve done a post about “Manly Culture” in the past, but I want to talk about what it is at present, and how we feel about the shifts and trends and things.
GORDON: Interesting subject. I submit we speculate on the upcoming Star Wars movies.
EVAN: If you think you’re up for it, then yeah, cool. I’ve read quite a few of the post-original-trilogy books, so I know a reasonable amount about the subject.
And with that witty response, we’re out! Have a good night, everyone.