Only Doing It For The Betterment Of Us All

Time to revisit the world of “queer studies,” via the academic journal Qualitative Research:

I wanted to understand how my research participants experience sexual pleasure when reading shota, a Japanese genre of self-published erotic comics that features young boy characters. I therefore started reading the comics in the same way as my research participants had told me that they did it: while masturbating.

Hey, I’m just reading what it says here.

In this research note, I will recount how I set up an experimental method of masturbating to shota comics, and how this participant observation of my own desire not only gave me a more embodied understanding of the topic for my research but also made me think about loneliness and ways to combat it as driving forces of the culture of self-published erotic comics.

It’s embodied, you see. And before you go getting any untoward ideas, it’s all being done selflessly, high-mindedly, for the greater good:

Untangling this largely unresearched knot of desires for fictional boy characters will give us a better understanding of human sexuality and provide a more solid basis for policymaking.

Continue reading "Only Doing It For The Betterment Of Us All" »

Alien Shapeshifter Pretends To Be Journalist

Why female superheroes shouldn’t hit old ladies.

Yes, it’s the Guardian, a page labelled “Opinion: Women,” where we find Zoe Williams mulling the issues of the day:

The new female Captain Marvel does just that in a film trailer – Superman would never be allowed to stoop so low. What’s going on?

That’s this trailer here, and specifically, this brief scene

Apart from… some obligatory superhero amnesia and a bit of kinetic energy, the main thing we see is the Captain punching an old lady.

The punch in question is the most memorable shot of an otherwise unremarkable trailer, and as Marvel Comics enthusiasts may know - and as anyone within reach of a search engine could rapidly discover - the titular heroine is almost certainly not punching an old lady, but punching an alien shapeshifter, a Skrull, disguised as an old lady and up to no good. However, Ms Williams is famed for her struggles with research, even as a concept, a thing one might do, theoretically, and doesn’t seem entirely clear what her own point is. And so we must endure a rambling, barely coherent piece, jumping from Jodie Whittaker’s swearing to Germaine Greer and “gender fluidity,” before arriving at a conclusion. Or at least an approximation of one. Namely, that women being at odds with other women – whether in the form of televised debates between feminists, or female superheroes belting sinister aliens disguised as pensioners – is another facet of the Patriarchy and its relentless Male Gaze.  

You see, gal-on-gal conflicts are,

Continue reading "Alien Shapeshifter Pretends To Be Journalist" »

Woker Than Thou

Lifted from the comments because… well, apparently, this is where we are now as a culture

Full marks for woke contrivance.

You see, it’s not enough for a blockbuster film to feature lots of heroic women being no less feisty and capable than their male counterparts, or for said film to end with a call for help to a cosmically powerful female superhero. No, these ass-kicking female characters must also have certain woke-approved hairstyles. Which in fact at least four of them do. But that doesn’t count, somehow. Because what matters is contriving an excuse, however slim and improbable, for some feigned indignation. And the words “gender fascism.”

A Fear Of Cheese

A while ago, while grumbling about Thor: Ragnarok, I wrote

With Marvel films, there’s usually a tricky balance of bombastic drama and quipping, and it’s easy to lose that balance and end up with the humour kicking the legs out from under any dramatic tension… [In Ragnarok,] the humour is for the most part formulaic and repetitive. A character says something cocky or pompous and a deflating pounding or misfire or pratfall ensues. This is repeated later, and then repeated again, and again. This is the joke template of the whole film. And if everything is essentially a set-up for some more rote goofiness, another gag like the one you saw five minutes ago, the stakes and drama ebb away, along with any goodwill, resulting in a film that feels much longer than it actually is.

With that in mind, and via Ace, here’s a related and more detailed rumination by Just Write. On cinematic bathos, or dramatic knee-capping.

Oh Lord, Imagine The Arguments

Based on his rating, Iron Man beats Captain America in a one-on-one fight 60 percent of the time. The Hulk, an unstoppable force of nature, beats Falcon, a nice man who can fly, 98 percent of the time. Ever wonder what would happen if Spider-Man fought Ant-Man? Me neither, but Spidey wins the bug fight 68 percent of the time. Thor stomps everyone, which makes sense because he is Thor — a god — and everyone else is not.

Walt Hickey has been attempting to calculate who would really win in a big Avengers brawl. He has charts and everything

Via MeFi, where rumblings are already under way

Always Winter, Never Christmas

Determined to be unhappy about something, the Guardian’s Michele Hanson turns her drab, sad face to the subject of superhero dolls:  

They’re bendy and athletic, rather than stiff, pointy and girly. The teenage version of superheroines. 

Not pointy. Not girly. Um, that’s good, right?

They have physical powers rather than sex appeal.

Again, I’m not quite seeing the problem here.

I suppose it’s a step in the right direction.

Heavens. Things are going suspiciously well today. Perhaps a but is coming.

But why do the new dollies have to look so odd? Why the super-long anorexia-style legs and the thigh-gap? The weeny torsos with no room for innards? The giant or robot-style heads, the big (mainly) blue eyes and formidable eyelashes? 

Um, because they’re small plastic dolls based on a cartoon about comic book characters – you know, toys, designed to amuse children? And not, therefore, geared to the preferences of a self-described “single older woman” who writes for the Guardian. And I suspect the “thigh-gap” that so offends Ms Hanson has quite a lot to do with making a small, poseable doll with legs that can actually move.

They still give me the creeps. Dolls always have.

And… well, that’s it, really. So, class. Today we’ve learned that Ms Hanson isn’t a fan of dolls with big eyelashes and insufficiently discernible internal organs. At this point, readers may detect a hint of frustration, the sense that our grievance-seeking columnist has tried very hard to find fault with an unremarkable product – some damning evidence of sexism, perhaps – and then fallen on her arse. Indeed, just days earlier, the dolls in question were hailed by the Guardian’s sister paper, the Observer, as “challenging sexism in the toy industry,” in part because said toys were “designed by women following creative input from girls.”

Thwarted in her fault finding, Ms Hanson concludes by sharing a childhood memory, the point of which is somewhat unclear:

I had a pram full of animals when I was little, but my auntie insisted that I have a dolly, because I was a girl, and she gave me a cloth one, with moulded cloth face and shiny, pretend hair. But I scribbled all over its blank, spooky face, pulled its hair out, and my mother had to hide it from auntie in the wardrobe. Forever.

So there’s that.

Readers may recall Ms Hanson from this earlier display of factual rigour and socialist bonhomie.