Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mark Millar is a Tool, by Josh

In order to keep myself sane at work, I correspond in my free moments with friends about a wide variety of topics.

On Friday morning, a friend sent me this link:

Josh, I assume you are up on this?

I replied: Yeah. Not that particular post, but another blog covered it from a similar angle.

My reply will be in two parts.

Part I: Mark Millar is an asshole

This is fairly common knowledge. From the story he wrote with Captain America yelling "Do you think this A stands for France?!!" to the story he wrote with the booby-trapped vagina, Mark Millar has consistently pandered to the lowest common denominator, those who think sex and violence somehow equal mature story telling.

He's Scottish and he was recently knighted (I think? Made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. You Anglophiles can tell me exactly what that means) for services to film and literature.

I haven't seen Kick-Ass, even though my friend Frederick is always pestering me about it, because A.)The Lord loved it and that's a big red flag right there and B.) It's Mark Millar's baby and that may be an even bigger red flag.

Also, he was once good friends with Grant Morrison, who served as his mentor. They've since had a falling out, and Morrison has admitted that he heavily rewrote all of Millar's early work, the stuff that was actually any good.

So he's an asshole and a hack and he's only interested in churning out comics in order to get his name on another shitty movie. Fuck that guy.

Part II: Rape Culture in Genre Works

I was talking about Anno Dracula with my buddy Frederick a couple weeks ago, and he asked what it was like. I said it was kind of like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but without all the rape.  (Not to mention the fact that Anno Dracula got there first and did it better, but that's irrelevant to this point.)

We have TV again (and much faster internets, yay!) and I caught a show that Jane Lynch was hosting. It's called Hollywood Game Night. A contestant is mixed in with celebrities and they play party games. It's kind of neat, mostly because I like Jane Lynch a lot.

One of the games was that you had to get your teammates to guess a current TV series with the fewest number of words possible. One team bid two words, the other bid one word and they got to go. The player said "Meth!" and his teammates guessed "Breaking bad!", which was, of course, the correct answer.

To bring this labored analogy to its point, if you were playing this game with comics creators and you wanted someone to guess Alan Moore, your word would be "Rape!". It figures prominently in all of his major works, often as a plot point.

Lost's the link: and here's the summary. Lost Girls is a graphic novel depicting the sexually explicit adventures of three important female fictional characters of the late 19th and early 20th century: Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz and Wendy Darling from Peter Pan. They meet as adults in 1913 and describe and share some of their erotic adventures with each other. The story is written by Alan Moore and drawn by Melinda Gebbie.

This is kind of veering into "Alan Moore is an asshole" territory too. He made a huge stink that DC was writing Before Watchmen, using characters that he had partially created. His argument is "Waaa! The contract I signed means something different from what I thought it meant and now the people with the legal right to use my characters are using my characters", moans the man who just wrote a story celebrating the rape of prepubescent  public domain characters.

To return to the main point, rape and its sister, fridging are easy and lazy routes to characterization. I recall reading something on screenwriting, that writers used to have a villain kick a dog if they wanted the audience to hate him. If you want to have the audience hate a villain now, he rapes or kills a woman who matters to the hero. They're not much more than props.

I don't think comics are any better or worse than any other genre works; they're just a reflection of the larger subculture, which is not friendly to women. I was able to come up with two well known and respected comics authors who employ these this tricks time and again, but that's only because I'm familiar with the comics scene.

My friend Tim said that he couldn't point to any director who is the "Guy who makes all the rape movies" in the way Alan Moore or Mark Millar are, but I think it takes different forms in cinema.  It's a common trope in torture porn, that of the the pretty young woman, begging for mercy while she's tortured/killed by the serial killer, her face smudged with dirt, her nipples poking through the fabric of her tube top. It's been said often, but it bears repeating, that rape isn't about sex. It's about control, and scenes and movies like this make that clear.

I was on Google+ the other day, where there was a debate going on about a monster in a new RPG that existed just give birth to monsters.

Based solely on what you've described here, I would say that the monster has the potential to be problematic, and would likely be so in the hands of a GM who has issues with women, but is not, by itself inherently offensive.

Somebody challenged me on that so I asked to see the entry in its entirety so I could make a more informed judgment, and I revised my opinion based on that.

Here's the entry:

NIBOVIAN WIFE 3 (9) These biological constructs appear to be beautiful female humans. Their only function, however, is to seduce male humans so they can get pregnant. Pregnancy in a Nibovian wife opens a transdimensional rift inside its womb, giving an ultraterrestrial (such as an abykos, an erynth grask or any ultraterrestrial creature the GM wishes) access to this level of existence. The time required for “gestation,” which is actually the aligning of phase changes to create the rift, ranges from ten minutes to nine months. When the ultraterrestrial creature is “born,” the Nibovian wife nurtures it as if it were a child, even though it clearly is not. During this time, the construct defends the “child” fiercely, using incredible strength and resilience. The young creature develops quickly, and its first and only compulsion is to hunt down and kill its “father.” Once it does so, it is free to do as it pleases in the world. Nibovian wives are likely the cause of many ultraterrestrials currently in the Ninth World. Motive: Seduction for reproduction, defense of its “offspring” Environment: Anywhere Health: 9 Damage Inflicted: 5 points Armor: 2 Movement: Short Modifications: Resists mental effects as level 4. Combat: Nibovian wives attack with their fists, which pummel with a strength that betrays their inhuman nature. Their flesh is as resilient as armor. Interaction: As long as you give Nibovian wives what they want, they are kind and eager to please. They can never be convinced to abandon their imperative (reproducing and nurturing their terrible child), but on other issues, they can be perfectly reasonable. Use: A strange encounter with Nibovian wives can introduce the concept of otherdimensional beings in a horrific way. The ancients explored other dimensions and interacted with ultraterrestrials, but in the Ninth World, such beings are thought of as demons. Loot: The inner workings of a Nibovian wife can provide 1d6 cyphers to someone trained in scavenging them.

This was my reply after reading it, with just some editing to protect the identity of the other parties in the conversation:

Having read this, I think it's pretty bad and I think I'm more in agreement with F. than not. I think there is a place in fantasy for a monster that exists solely to make more of its species. That could be interesting, if it incorporated the alternatives she suggests (not limiting itself sexual intercourse with human males, for starters. If they're as alien as we're led to believe, then those should be trivial problems to overcome. I don't know the the system, but I'm assuming that ultraterrestrial refers to some Lovecraftian/Far Realm deal.) Knowing that if this monster defeats you that not only will you be dead, but that your body provided a host/food source/incubator for more of its kind? Scary stuff.

However, the Nibovian Wife, is such a narrowly defined subtype of that, that I'm not sure that I want to put it in the same category. Depending on how it's presented, I could possibly accept one individual who operates in the fashion outlined in description(this is how this particular monster decided was the best way to fulfill its imperative), but a whole species of flawlessly beautiful sperm-jackers who each operate in exactly the same fashion, with each and every one of them seducing poor internet nice guys, is pretty insensitive and does, as she observed, seem to speak to personal issues. (A beautiful woman who only wants to get pregnant and loses interest in her baby daddy once she does? Um, really?) Again, as she also observed, it does make for a rather two-dimensional adversary.

The word choice is not great either. "Interaction: As long as you give Nibovian wives what they want, they are kind and eager to please. They can never be convinced to abandon their imperative (reproducing and nurturing their terrible child), but on other issues,they can be perfectly reasonable."  Women, they're so unreasonable, amirite?

I'm sure they didn't intend to be offensive. They're probably just tone deaf. However, that doesn't it make it any better. It's 2013. They should know better.

I do think Geek Culture is getting better, very slowly and gradually in this regard. And I won't lie, I do have a dog in this race. I'm the father to a wonderful and precocious six-year old, who loves superheroes and adventures. I don't want her to be worn down by hundreds of daily microaggressions and give up the things she loves because someone tells her that they're not right for girls. 

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