“Are we allowed to be here? Should we leave?”
As FOX’s sophomore supernatural hit Sleepy Hollow breaks for midseason, it seems to have taken the “hollow” part of its moniker to heart. The show that surprised and charmed millions of viewers in the fall of 2013 with its combination of solid character work, whimsy and genuinely creepy lore — cinched by the chemistry of leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison — has lost its soul in its second year, becoming a rote, tiresome exploration of Crane family pathos.
Looking at an interview with TVLine, it appears that executive producer Mark Goffman may have no idea why that’s a problem. “One of the things I think we’ve looked at over the course of the season is what a really difficult position Katrina’s been in,” he says, going on to talk about how “this season is really about family, redemption and duty versus family.”
By “family” he must mean “the Cranes,” not the back-burnered Mills sisters and the harrowing history that was contained to one episode and then dropped. If he spent a lot of time thinking about Katrina’s position, he must’ve forgotten Abbie’s…thereby losing the series’ through-line. Because the foundation of season one Sleepy Hollow was a strong, female police lieutenant in a small town being thrust into an otherworldly situation and a partnership with a man from the past. Viewers saw that relationship from the very beginning, unlike the purported star-crossed love of Katrina and Ichabod, which largely played out before the first episode and is only parsed out in flashbacks over the course of a season and a half. Retroactive investment in a true love or a marriage is a lot harder to foster than the tangible thread of a friendship and mission we see from its inception. ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland made a similar mistake, packaging Alice and her genie lover as root-for before we even had a chance to care about who they were as individuals.
People tuned into Sleepy Hollow last year in for Abbie and Crane teaming up to fight demonic crime. Katrina and Crane’s epic reunion and the fate of their whack-a-doodle son were far lower on the list. Those issues were key, sure, but not worthy of taking over the entire canvas like they have this year. Certainly not at the expense of Abbie and Crane’s partnership, Abbie’s journey as a character and her relationships with her sister and her police captain. And definitely not to position Katrina as heroine in Abbie’s stead.
I started reading The Uncanny X-Men in the 1990s, swiftly graduating from yoinking my brother’s weekly comic book haul to filling up my own boxes. My first major “X-Men event” was the Extinction Agenda storyline in 1990 and then I followed that into the blue team’s X-Men title and, of course, the 1992 animated series.
Why am I kicking off with my X-credentials? Well, you know, Fake Geek Girl, etc. Let’s just get that bullshit out of the way. I know my X-titles. I know Gambit. I stole his first real appearance (UXM #266) out of my brother’s box and haven’t given it back. I had at least four Gambit posters on my bedroom wall. I kept his trading card. I had t-shirts. Hell, Gambit and Rogue were one of my LiveJournal icons. Ask me to name my top X-Men and it’s pretty easy: Gambit, Wolverine, Rogue and Jubilee.
So, you can probably understand why I haven’t been a huge fan of the movies — shakier than the ever-changing comic X-canon, poorly written, miscast blockbusters that do no favors to characters I grew up loving. Fox’s X-Men film franchise has been more miss than hit, and the decision to cast Channing Tatum in a Gambit spin-off only furthers the death spiral of a lackluster series. Flash, bang and star power are not the X-Men and — ironically — Gambit’s story, more than anything, is one about how a weakness for pretty faces can spell your doom.
I have been on the Internet for 18 years, used everything from IRC to AOL chatrooms to EGroups to Twitter, and probably made every rookie mistake you can think of in that time. Thus, I figured I would impart some of my hard-won wisdom about engaging on social media. This primarily applies to Twitter, because that’s where I live, but can just as easily be common sense for Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
1. Decide whether you are a company or a person, because those accounts should be approached differently. A business account is solely to promote a company, a brand identity and a product. That is not where you want to post cat videos and bitch about your co-workers. A personal account is more suited to talking about your work in general terms, your fannish peccadillos, grievances and how wasted you got last night.
2. Be yourself. If you don’t know who you are, Twitter is not the place to figure it out. Go for a walk. Journal. Make some “RL” friends. But don’t have a journey of self-discovery entirely on the Internet. Because it will be awkward, and the Internet never forgets.
New adult was arguably the big, hot genre of 2013 for commercial fiction. Covering characters between the ages 18 and 25, and plucked from the self-publishing realm, the stories bridge the gap between YA and contemporary romance. The problem for me, as a reader? It’s a really narrow bridge.
Here’s the basic set-up: upwardly mobile young white woman with little to no sexual experience goes to college. Her financial concerns are nil, giving her the time to concentrate solely on why/how she doesn’t fit in despite being really pretty (btw, redheads are super on-trend). Any angst or conflict comes from a traumatic rape-related secret*. And all she needs to come into her own is a hot, arrogant, experienced white guy who has his own secret pain. Lather, rinse, repeat.
God knows, I loved Tammara Webber’s Easy, but I can’t go on. I can’t read another one, y’all. I’m losing my will to live.
Sometimes, when I talk about “white people” in front of actual white people, there’s this pause…this moment of awkward. It’s a combination of “Did she just call out our skin color?” and “But…we’re people.” Yes. Welcome to my world on a daily basis. How does it feel? That, my friends, is the luxury of being the default in the western world. “People” means “white.” “American” means “white.” The “reader” is white. The “audience” is white. It’s the baseline, the normal…and why would you point that out?
That’s EXACTLY why I point it out. Because “people” should encompass everyone, but it doesn’t.
“Being The Default is the largest privilege granted to white Americans, yet it is so deeply entrenched it is the most invisible,” says Kartina Richardson in this April 24 article on Salon. And she’s right. Because it’s there in everyday speech, in the simplest of words: “us,” “we,” “them.” In the South Asian and South Asian American community, elders still say “Amrikan” to mean “white,” even if they themselves are citizens and their children identify as American. Because it’s the norm, the bottom line — and, often, the aspiration.
There’s this unspoken, perhaps even unconscious, sense that the only true western legitimacy, in terms of success, place and identity, is in whiteness. Everything else is the Other. “Black people.” “Indian people.” To just be people is the goal, the driving force of ambition. Too bad that slot is occupied…largely by folks who don’t even realize they have it.
It would be nice to never, ever have to specify someone’s race, ethnicity or skin tone. It really would. To just be like, “Duh. This is a person. With a name. A history. An individual identity.” I’ve been fighting that linguistic battle my whole life. But as long as Default privilege keeps fighting back, the deck is stacked. As long as “everybody” and “anybody” is presumed to be white…nobody wins.
I’ve been attending conventions and conferences since I was a teenager. I’ve been to fan cons, to professional conferences, to spaces where men dominated and to ones where women empowered each other and created unforgettable bonds. Coming back from the 2013 RT Booklovers Convention, at which I worked as a representative of RT Book Reviews magazine, I have a lot of Thoughts about gender dynamics and safe spaces. (I can’t promise I’ll articulate any of them adequately!)
RT gals–me, Regina, Elissa, Elisa, Liz and Donna–all dressed up!
I have never felt safer at a convention than when I’m at one for women’s media. It’s such a sisterhood. A shared joy. A meeting of minds and passions. Be it soaps or romance, that is when you’ll see me at my most Me. (Assuming I’m not sleep-deprived and/or hysterical from nerves.)
And I can tell you exactly when I begin to feel diminished: when a man, SO aware of his Mighty Thunderstick, holds court and treats me like a silly little girl. I go from being a competent writer and editor, and proud published author, to an interloper in a boys’ club. I hear my voice get higher in response. I feel dumber. I feel naked. I feel like someone just took my safe space, and my brain, away from me. It’s pretty awful.
Author John Scalzi*, whom RT honored with a Reviewers’ Choice award for his science fiction novel Redshirts, was not part of a boys’ club. Neither was writer Andrew Shaffer. They were allies; they acted as part of the greater community, happy to be included in a group of women, not to rule it. They may be controversy magnets on the Internet (and who isn’t?) but, in person, they couldn’t be more welcoming and welcomed. It was just really cool to have them there. Not as men, not as dudes, but as people. Like the rest of us.
Ah, the ‘70s and ‘80s bodice ripper era…when men were men and women were raped. The romance community likes to filter it through a rose-colored rearview mirror, chased by alternating mild chagrin and feminist horror. But more than 30 years later, those misogynist underpinnings of forced seduction romance — mostly overpinnings, if we’re being honest — are alive and well. Be it the sheikhs and tycoons that populate the Harlequin Presents line, J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the plethora of motorcycle club contemporary romance and club-owning Dom BDSM erotica or your Christian Greys and Gideon Crosses, the controlling alpha-male asshole protagonist hasn’t gone anywhere.
The argument one could make, of course, is that female characters have sexual agency in all of these books. They like being treated poorly (i.e. “challenged”) and told what to do as long as they get off and get their Happy Ever After. But that’s no different from old-school forced-seduction, than the sexual revolution happening on the page long before Kristen Ashley starting burning up the Amazon charts. It didn’t matter if a heroine got roofied and locked in a trunk or kidnapped and tied up in a wigwam, she always had an orgasm. The highly questionable, but tried-and-true, “No, no, no…yes!”