Art, Comics, Comix, Frank, glasses, graphic novel, Independent Comics, Jim Woodring, Joshua Jammer Smith, Little Red Book, mechanical pencils, Swiss Army Knife, Swiss Champ, The Portable Frank, Weird Shit
30 December 2017
Art, Chip Zdarsky, comedy, Comics, glasses, graphic novel, Joshua Jammer Smith, Matt Fraction, science fiction, sex, Sex Criminals, Sex Criminals Vol1: One Weird Trick, Sexual Fantasy, Sexuality, tea, tea strainer, This book is about people who can freeze time by having sex I shit you not
Weird Tricks! I Get It!
28 January 2018
Academic Book, Beast, Comics, Dafne Keen, Hugh Jackman, Jane Tompkins, Jimmy Stewart, John Bernard Books, John Wayne, John Wayne Westerns, Kelsy Grammar was a GREAT Beast, Lauren Bacall, Logan, masculinity, Masculinity Studies, Mutants, Patrick Stewart, Rio Bravo, Ron Howard, science fiction, The Shootist, violence, West of Everything-The Inner Life of Westerns, Westerns, Wolverine, X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand
–Just Remember Fieval, One man’s Sunset is another man’s dawn
Wiley Burp, Fieval Goes West
John Wayne and Hugh Jackman don’t really seem to have much in common apart from the fact that both managed to end their characters in a blaze of bloody glory. The only difference between them, apart from the fact that John Wayne didn’t have adamantium claws, was that for whatever reason Jackman’s end made me cry far more than Wayne’s.
I’m a bad X-Men fan. I don’t have the names of every third mutant memorized. I haven’t watched Days of Future Past, First Class, or Apocalypse. I own at most maybe three X-men comic books and one of them I only own because it was the “first gay wedding” in a comic book. And, for the record, I actually like The Last Stand. That last admission officially makes me worst than Hitler and I will appear brutally memed on Reddit posts everywhere but Kelsey Grammar played Beast, my favorite X-men of all time, and he did a damn good job doing it so I’ll suffer the whips and arrows and scorn of the masses. But for all of my faults I do remember growing up Watching X-Men the animated series. At the time Gambit was my favorite, but over time I loved Beast because he was funny, intelligent, literate,and he looked bad-ass as hell while reading, all traits that I aspired to be one day.
He was also incredibly furry, something I aspired to be and actually managed to achieve.
But beneath all the Beast and Gambit fantasies I had I, like many young boys during the 90s, would on occasion stick three straws between my fingers, make the clinching metal sound, and growl hoping that my pre-pubescent vocal chords would resemble the man who wore the yellow tights.
Wolverine was the shit. He embodied what many young boys recognize as intense masculinity and, to quote Mr. Torgue from Borderlands 2, Badassitude. The only man that managed to have the same level of balls, at least in my world, was John Wayne. I’ve written before about how, growing up, I suffered from allergy problems that left me inside watching movies and playing video games rather than outside playing sports. As such I had to find a way to compensate for my lack of masculinity and the way I managed to do that was watching, and wanting to be, John Wayne. Mom and Dad had a great VHS collection (yes I’m that old, shut up) of films that ranged from Hatari, The Quiet Man, El Dorado, Rio Lobo, Rio Bravo, and Big Jake. Watching those movies John Wayne became a hero to me because, like Wolverine, nobody ever fucked with John Wayne. Or if they did, they tended not to live terribly long.
I suppose that’s why, when I checked out Logan from the library, and spent the last half hour of the film simultaneously crying and pounding my chest, I thought of John Wayne again as I watched a character I had grown up with die. Logan ends with the death of Wolverine much the way The Shootist, the last film John Wayne ever starred in before his death, ends with the death of John Wayne. The reader may wonder what my nostalgia has to do with either of these wonderful movies, but I promise that it’s only ever my long introduction to my actual observation which is that Logan manages to become of the greatest Non-Western Westerns in recent memory following the tradition of The Shootist.
If the reader’s never heard of the film The Shootist premiered in 1976 and as I noted before it was the last film John Wayne ever starred in. Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout, the story relates the final days of a gunslinger named J.B. Books as he is beginning to die from cancer. He rents a room from a widow named Bond Rogers (played by Lauren Bacall my teenage crush) and takes up with her son Gillom (played by a then young and pre-balding Ron Howard). Books finds a life with the Rogers’s, trying to recognize the end of his life, but figures from his past who want to kill him either out of revenge or notoriety force him to make one last final stand and prove his mettle as the great gunslinger. The film ends with a shootout in a saloon that sees Books overcome every one of his adversaries, and leave Gillom with a few lessons about being a man.
The film from afar has all the elements of a Western: the importance of talent with firearms, the lone figure who’s name manages to outshine his own ego and individuality, a female protagonist who is largely there to further the man’s character development, the young man eager to become a gunslinger, and of course Jimmy Stewart. But what’s different about The Shootist is the way all the laments of the Western are eventually forgotten because film is far more about the character of John Wayne dying than the end of the Western. In one notable scene Books is talking with a sheriff who is visibly terrified to be in the same room with him:
Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido: Now, I checked my bulletins before I come over and didn’t find nothing I can hold you for, but I want you out of town – directly, today.
John Bernard Books: Maybe I’m not so inclined.
Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido: The, by God, I will incline you. I can badge as many men as I need. We’ll smoke you out or carry you out feet first, so you say which, Mr. Gunman. It’s your funeral.
John Bernard Books: Soon, yes.
John Bernard Books: I can’t go.
John Bernard Books: I’m going to die right here in this room.
Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido: Heh! That’s too thin.
John Bernard Books: I wish you were right. Would you believe Doc Hostetler? That’s his verdict.
Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido: You don’t say? You don’t sa – goddamn! Whoo! Whooee! I tell you the damn truth, when I come through that door, I was scared. ‘Cause I know what a man like you is capable of. I wondered who’d get my job, if the council would give my wife a pension and if it would snow the day they put me under. Whooee! Excuse me if I don’t pull a long face. I can’t.
Books as a man, or really as an idea, is synonymous with death and death follows Brooks throughout the film, starting with his first visit to the doctor. Stewart gives him his diagnosis and then offers some parting advice:
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: There – there’s one more thing I’d say. Both of us have had a lot to do with death. I’m not a brave man, but you must be. Now, now, now, this is not advice. It’s not even a suggestion. It’s just something for you to reflect on while your mind’s still clear.
John Bernard Books: What?
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: I would not die a death like I just described.
John Bernard Books: No?
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: Not if I had your courage.
As a film The Shootist is often plagued by this dual nature, for while there are plenty of elements about the eventual death of the character of J.B. Books, the viewer watching the film will be caught constantly by the fact that the movie is largely about the death of the character of John Wayne and so almost every dramatic scene becomes a kind of nostalgic farewell to Wayne himself. If the reader has no background with Wayne it’s likely that they’ll be able to separate themselves from this nostalgia and just appreciate the film as a film. But it is this nostalgia that I want to focus on because nostalgia is partly what fuels the counterpart of this essay, Logan. Both movies rely on the reader’s previous knowledge of the characters and the events which lead them to that place.
Watching Logan I was struck by how similar it was to The Shootist. The film takes place on the Mexican border, which by that nature already sets it up as a pseudo-western. When the viewer finds Logan they no longer observe a virile, leather-clad young man, but an old and slowly dying Wolverine. The adamantium in his body is killing him and his healing factor is doing nothing to stop it. At the same time he’s dying, Professor Charles Xavier is revealed to still be alive and suffering from a kind of Alzheimer’s disease which causes massive mental episodes defined by seizures which affect the people around him. It’s been revealed that such an event killed several dozens of the students at the school and the man is continually plagued by the guilt. Both men are watching their lives steadily fester away until a young woman appears in their life who appears to be the first mutant born in close to several decades. She’s a young girl named Laura who’s been part of a secret government program designed to create mutant soldiers. The story follows the three of them as they try to escape the soldiers and scientists trying to capture Laura before ending with a large gunfight.
It’d be easy to go through and demonstrate point-by-point how Logan mirrors The Shootist, the most obvious being that Logan’s claws are essentially Wayne’s six shooter, but really the unifying element of these movies is the death of these characters and the relationships they form with the children in the film who become symbolic or actual children. It’s this dynamic that’s perhaps so powerful about both films because they manage to tell a story about the end of the “old guards” in a way that doesn’t feel obvious or fake.
J.B. Books and Gillom establish a pseudo father-son relationship and in the film Books has plenty of opportunities to show the young man what masculinity is and how one can attain it. In one scene Books has offered Gillom a shooting lesson and afterwards he offers some wisdom about integrity:
Gillom Rogers: [Books has just given Gillom a shooting lesson] But how could you get into so many fights and always come out on top? I nearly tied you shooting.
John Bernard Books: Friend, there’s nobody up there shooting back at you. It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won’t.
Likewise Logan and Laura have similar exchange:
Laura: You had a nightmare.
Logan: Do you have nightmares?
Laura: Si. People hurt me.
Logan: Mine are different.
Laura: Por que?
Logan: I hurt people.
Laura: [holds up the adamantium bullet] Que es esto?
Logan: You know what it is. It’s made out of adamantium. That’s what they put inside of us. That’s why it can kill us. Probably what’s killing me now. That was a long time ago. I kept it as a reminder of what I am. Now I keep it to, uh… actually I, uh… I was thinking of shooting myself with it. Like Charles said.
Laura: I’ve hurt people too.
Logan: You’re gonna have to learn how to live with that.
Laura: They were bad people.
Logan: All the same…
Logan and the Shootist are both films about violent men, men who have made a life by surviving through regular violent acts and it’s important to note that both films address this matter and in their own way they manage to demonstrate the complicated nature of said violence. Specifically both films address the issue that violence will only ever spawn more violence.
When you’re a little boy, or a teenager dealing with the bullshit of puberty and hormones, you don’t think so much about the death that takes place because of your heroes. You don’t, or at least I didn’t, recognize the death of the endless series of cowboys and government agents, as tragedies. tHey weren’t even really people. They were nameless, soulless figures trying to stop my power icons from succeeding and taking care of “the good people,” which were usually family and friends of the hero. Boys tend, to borrow a memorable line from a friend of mine, gravitate to power icons, and the Western as a genre only further demonstrates that this tradition is timeless.
West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns by Jane Tompkins is a book that I have returned to over and over again because it consistently offers up a great insight into films and books that I have read and enjoyed. It also doesn’t hurt that, unlike most academic books I’ve read, Tompkins book is not readable, it’s actually fun to read. When I had finished Logan, and thought back to The Shootist, I thought of West of Everything, because a few of Tompkin’s quotes and pressed indelibly into my memory. The most obvious ones being about death.
Tompkins book is an examination of Westerns as a result of Sentimental novels which tended to be written by women. Arguing that men began writing Westerns as a reaction to women, she’s able to point out an important feature which is that Westerns tend to be, above all things, death.
In Westerns, facing death and doing something with your life become one and the same thing. For once you no longer believe you are eternal spirit, risking your life becomes the supreme form of heroism, the bravest thing a person can do. (31).
There was never any threat of Wolverine or John Wayne dying. Even when it seemed impossible that they would beat whoever the bad guy was, they always managed to overcome the villain and, using their phallic weapons (let’s be real here) destroy everyone in sight. That’s largely why The Shootist and Logan feel like real Westerns to me because by the end of the film their death is almost certain. Even if they hadn’t died their name or spirit would and the hero they had become would diminish significantly.
But Tompkins gets to the core of this idea in an earlier passage when she notes the real severity of death in Westerns:
Death brings dignity and meaning as well as horror, and its terrifying presence in the long runs comforts and reassures. For death is the great escape, as well as that from which one longs to be delivered. (27).
And just a page after Tompkins offers the ultimate summation:
For the Western is secular, materialist, and antifeminist; it focuses on conflict in the public space, is obsessed by death, and worships the phallus. Notably, this kind of explanation does not try to account for the most salient fact about the Western—that it is a narrative of Male Violence—for, having been formed by the Western, that is what such explanations already take for granted. (28).
It’s a depressing thought that violence is what attracts you boys and young developing men to characters like Wolverine and maybe John Wayne, but growing up there is often a sensation of powerlessness. Growing up I had little real agency: my parents picked my clothes, what school I went to, what my bed-time was, and teachers and administrators controlled every second of everyday of my life for twelve years. Characters like Wolverine and John Wayne were controlled by no-one and if anyone tried to tell them how to live their life they would be either sliced or shot. There was something appealing then in gravitating towards that character, or mimicking some aspects of their behavior.
What’s fascinating about growing up is that, while I haven’t completely dropped my love for these characters, I’m now able to appreciate the nuances of their characters. The violence isn’t what’s appealing anymore. What’s appealing is how real a character’s presentation is. What are their faults and how do they account for them. And do they try, as I do on a regular basis, try to understand their mortality.
Nostalgia is what will probably win so many over to films like The Shootist and Logan, and while there’s nothing wrong with this the reader should take the time to consider their appreciation for these films. While on the one hand Logan is a beautiful tribute to the Logan character that Hugh Jackman has spent over a decade playing, watching the film as an examination of male violence adds another dimension to the film. The character achieves a kind of catharsis for all of the violence he has committed over the course of his life. Likewise in The Shootist, Books/Wayne is able to have one last hurrah in a bloody gun fight that, while on the one hand is a goodbye to the Wayne character, is also a final goodbye to a life that was defined by its violence.
Violence will only ever beget more violence, and while these men offered me a power totem that I relished in my youth, I’ve gotten older and the concept of violence has become more and more repulsive. These characters still mean something to me, but rather than simply try for one last gun-fight for the sake of a gun-fight, Logan at least, far more than The Shootist I would argue, offers the reader something far more important: a chance for a man to do right by his daughter.
Part of growing up is not forgetting who you were, but improving from what you were. I still love watching John Wayne movies, and I do still, on occasion, grab three chop sticks and tuck them between my fingers to make the metallic click sound. And, I’ll be honest here, I can’t wait to show my kids the X-Men cartoons and Rio Bravo. But looking at both of these films, what most beautiful to me is that, rather than simply use nostalgia to make a few bucks, both films offer two characters who have meant a great deal to me reach the end of their paths in a way that honors the characters I spent so much time idolizing, while offering them a depth of the character that isn’t shallow.
The hero doesn’t ride off into the sunset, but a new dawn promises the next generation a hero that will be entirely their own.
All quotes taken from Logan and The Shootist were provided care of IMDb. All quotes from West of Everything: The Inner life of Westerns were taken from the Hardback Oxford edition.
I’ve provided a link below to another blogger who offers an interesting interpretation about the film Logan, noting specifically how the elements of race and feminist masculinity are largely unexplored within the film. Even if you don’t agree with the interpretation, it’s still a pretty solid argument. Enjoy:
Academic Book, Alison Bechdel, Art, Comics, Essay, Essay Collection, Feminism, glasses, Hillary Chute, history, Joshua Jammer Smith, Lemon & Ginger, Literature, Masculinity Studies, Sexuality, still life, tea, tea strainer, Twining Tea, Why Comics?, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere, Writers, Writing
1 January 2018
Art, Brian K. Vaughn, Comics, fantasy, Fiona Staples, glasses, graphic novel, Joshua Jammer Smith, Lemon & Ginger, Literature, Love Story, Saga, Saga Volume 1, science fiction, still life, tea, Twinning's Tea
"Legal" Lolitas, "New World" vs "Old World", American Landscape, Book Review, Comics, Delores Haze, Essay, Eurocentrism, Individual Will, John Colapinto, Literature, Lolita, Manifest Destiny, Nabokov's America, Novel, Rape, rape-culture, Sexuality, Vladimir Nabokov
Pedophilia and sexual corruption really shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the great plateau’s of Utah. Fortunately it isn’t. My first actual thought goes to John Ford’s The Searcher’s. There’s plenty of shots of John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter riding their horses over those endless seas of orange sand looking for Debbie Edwards (Natalie Wood) who’s been kidnapped by Indians and most likely sexually assaulted by them and by just following that line of thought I’m right back to where I started. The desert is supposed to be a tabula rasa but instead, it seems, it’s just a breeding grounds for perverts.
With that lovely observation however I think back to Lolita and my recent attempt to write about the novel. My first essay about the book was to observe the sexual assault that is the primary content. Humbert Humbert, a rambling European pervert, stays in the home of a woman named Charlotte Haze who has a young daughter named Delores who Humbert renames as Lolita. He marries Charlotte, and when she dies in an automobile accident, he gains possession of Lolita and spends the rest of the novel traveling with her around the United States raping her until she escapes and takes up with another sexual deviant, a writer named Quilty, who Humbert eventually kills at the end of the novel.
Lolita is a book that is written in many reader’s minds before they have even picked up the book because Lolita as a word has gained a magnificent potency in our society. Referring to a girl as Lolitaesque is enough to suggest that she is a sexual being that looks incredibly childlike. Looking through the “key terms” section of my stats for White Tower Musings I can usually expect lovely search combinations like “Black Dick Lolita Fuck” or “Lolita suk dick,” “Lolita bukkake,” “Lolita pussy porn” or perhaps the ever lovely “paid money school legal cute Lolita teen blowjob dick.” The tragic part is at this point I tend to be more depressed at the constant and atrocious grammar and spelling errors than I am by the fact there are people who want to fuck “legal” Lolitas.
Well, no, actually. I’m seriously fucking bothered by this, but at some point the grammar becomes an issue.
The reader may be wondering whether there is any real artistic merit to Lolita other than using it as a means of discussing rape and pedophilia, but as I was reading the novel again I was reminded by another interpretation that’s been buzzing in my skull since graduate school.
As I mentioned in my previous Lolita essay, a friend of mine taught the novel to a group of largely unresponsive undergraduates who couldn’t, or in some cases wouldn’t, look past the rape to see if Nabokov was aiming for something different in terms of an aesthetic approach. He attempted to bring in outside articles and critics to the debate, but the content tended to keep most people stubbornly resolved in their assessment. My complete memory is a bit fuzzy, but as I recall he told me that one argument about the novel Lolita was that, rather than being solely a book about pedophilia, it was largely a satire about Eurocentrism and mocking Americans that are duped or suckered in by it.
Vladimir Nabokov was traveling the country with his wife and children collecting butterflies while he was writing Lolita, and this exercise allowed him the opportunity to really see the territory of the United States. Many scholars have noted this inspiration in their many articles about the novel, one of which was a book review in the New Yorker entitled Nabokov’s America.
The essay appeared in The New Yorker in 2015, and in the article John Colapinto discusses biographies of Nabokov along with his travels and turbulent life. In one passage Colapinto discusses a biography of Nabokov and uses it as a means of exploring Nabokov’s creative focus at the time:
Much of the novel’s energy derives from the love-hate relationship Nabokov had with America’s postwar culture of crap TV shows, bad westerns, squawking jukeboxes—the invigorating trash that informs the story of a cultured European’s sexual obsession with an American bobby-soxer who is, as Humbert calls her, the “ideal consumer, the subject and object of every foul poster.” Nabokov always refused the label of satirist, and it would be an oversimplification to say that “Lolita” merely skewers the materialism of fifties America; throughout the book, there is a sense of hypnotized wonder and delight at the happy consumerism of the country and its inhabitants, and Nabokov took overt joy at clipping and cataloguing examples of that consumerism, which he carefully worked into the very texture of “Lolita.”
Colapinto’s article is sporadic, jumping from point to point, and in fact after reading it again recently I’m not entirely sure it’s a boon in terms of commentary about Lolita, but within this paragraph at least there’s the start of an idea, which is that contained within the novel there is an examination about consumerism and the way the American landscape and consciousness feeds this passion.
The United States as a country and as an idea has always been intimately connected with the notion of enterprise. The early European settlers who came to establish colonies for religious freedom were possessed by the idea that this “new world” held an opportunity. The new land (or really “home” to the people who were living there already) was a chance to make a new life, establish a new society, and find an agency that hadn’t existed in the old world and the old life. Even after the American Revolution this notion continued because with the sale of the Louisiana Purchase news ideas of Manifest Destiny were created to justify the Westerward push of Europeans deeper into the continent. And even after the United States had pushed to the very Edge of California, the Klondike and Alaskan Territories offered new wealth, and the islands of the Pacific offered tropical paradises. Consistent with a study of the history of the United States, there is the idea that this country is the “New World” and promises hope and possibilities for those willing, or brave enough, to try and conquer it.
But beneath this rhetoric there is always a heap of bodies and people getting screwed, both literally and figuratively. Which leads me back to Lolita.
The character of Humbert Humbert seems a perfect embodiment of this rhetoric because Lolita is his story, his narrative of personal satisfaction and agency, and the reader would do well to remember that his victim never gets her story told. While Lolita is a story about rape in the sexual sense, the far more pernicious element is the symbolic and psychologic abuse of Dolres Haze and the American landscape which allows the rapes to occur.
While reading Lolita, and reading more and more essays about the novel, I came upon a small quote which, delightfully, managed to sum up everything I’d been trying to say up to that point:
And so we rolled East, I more devastated than braced with the satisfaction of my passion, and she glowing with health, her bi-lac garland still as brief as a lad’s, although she had added two inches to her stature and eight pounds to her weight. We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night—every night, every night—the moment I feigned sleep. (175-6).
On one side note I can never read this passage without cringing. Granted there are plenty of passages in Lolita that leave one queasy (that is assuming you have a soul), but the image of Delores Haze caught in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere crying in the same room as her rapist is a hard image to forget, and, honestly, I don’t want to forget it.
This passage is one of many in which Humbert manages to reveal his true self throughout Lolita, and like each of his reveals, his repulsive character becomes clearer to the reader who at first is simply disgusted with him for the outright sexual assault. Looking at this passage the reader gets the sense that it’s not just Delores Haze which has been molested by Humbert, but in fact the landscape of the American territory. The plains, mountains, valleys, plateaus, villages, towns, tourist traps, forests, and cities in the great expanse of country are nothing but empty sights for Humbert who is honest about the fact that he does not really care about such sights. In fact he admits openly in one passage that the appeal of such wonders is simply for his own sick amusement:
[…]but also the fact that far from being an indolent partie de plasisir, our tour was a hard, twisted, teleological growth, whose sole raison d’etre (these French clichés are symptomatic) was to keep my companion in passable humor from kiss to kiss. (154)
Behold ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the lord hath offered him unto my hand. After reading this passage Humbert has more or less given away his entire position, because it’s clear that no matter how beautifully he expresses his adoration of the American landscape it’s all just bullshit to cover his criminal offences. If one just looks a few pages earlier the reader is able to see such a bluff:
By putting the geography of the United States into motion, I did my best for hours on end to give her the impression of “going places,” of rolling on to some definite destination, to some unusual delight. I have never seen such smooth amiable roads as those that now radiated before us, across the crazy quilts of forty-eight states. Voraciously we consumed those long high-ways, in rapt silence we glided over theit glossy black dance floors. Not only had Lo no eye for Scenery but she furiously resented my calling her attention to this or that enchanting detail of landscape; which I myself learned to discern only after being exposed for a quite a time to the delicate beauty ever present in the margin of our undeserving journey. (152).
I suppose at this point my contester is probably owed the chance to speak. So what? We’ve addressed already that Lolita is a weird book about a creepy pedophile who rapes a little girl while traveling around the country. What’s the point of digging deeper into that? Once you get to the issue of sexual assault what could possibly be worse than that?
This is a tough question because it’s one I’m not entirely comfortable answering. I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t care about Delores Haze, or about actual rape victims because I do. Humbert Humbert is a sick creep but his offenses reveal a larger issue which can tie into the dilemma of rape and sexual violence. Lolita is most certainly an examination of sexual assault, but by that same line of reasoning the book is an attack against Eurocentrism.
If the reader doesn’t know this term it’s unfortunate because it’s a concept that every citizen of the U.S. should consider. Eurocentrism refers to the practice or idea that European culture is inherently superior to American society, language, or culture at large. The reader has probably experienced this in some capacity whenever they listen to British actors speak. There is a lingering notion that the British accent is somehow more refined or sophisticated than the American accent, and while I could write whole volumes about this, all I need from the reader right now is recognition. Humbert, when he appears in Charlotte Haze’s home is seen as this worldly, heavenly being simply for the fact that he can speak multiple languages and has some vague background in academia. Humbert’s good looks and European accent hide his true nature to the Americans he interacts with. And if I can push this a little further Humbert’s manipulation of Delores Haze ultimately reflects a larger trend of European people’s looking to the New World to find what they want. In the case of Humbert this involves the rape of a twelve-year-old girl, but looking at the way the man can become a symbol for the larger historical trend Humbert is simply another in a long line of Europeans who came to America and built a life at the expense of the people already living there.
Delores Haze loses everything in her life: her mother, her home, her magazines, her friends, her freedom, and even her name. Humbert strips Delores, performing a kind of psychological imperialism until the girl is almost completely bare of something she could call her own. At this point then the reader may complain, where is the hope then, for Delores? Funnily enough, it’s in the idea of the American territory and consciousness that Lolita finds some kind of saving grace.
During the long road trip Humbert explains that while he is controlling virtually every aspect of Lolita’s life, but something is missing and remains beyond his grasp:
How sweet it was to bring that coffee to her, and then deny it until she had done her morning duty. And I was such a thoughtful friend, such a passionate father, such a good pediatrician, attending to all the wants of my little auburn brunette’s body! My only grudge against nature was that I could not turn my Lolita inside out and apply voracious lips to her young matrix, her unknown heart, her nacreous liver, the sea grapes of her lungs, her comely twin kidneys. On especially tropical afternoons, in the sticky closeness of the siesta, I liked the cool feel of armchair leather against my massive nakedness as I held her in my lap. There she would be, a typical kid picking her nose while engrossed in the lighter sections of a newspaper, as indifferent to my ecstasy as if it were something she had sat upon, a shoe, a doll, the handle of a tennis racket, and was too indolent to remove. Her eyes would follow the adventures of her favorite strip characters […]; she studied the photographic results of head-on collisions; she never doubted the reality of place, time and circumstance alleged to match the publicity pictures naked-thighed-beauties; and she was curiously fascinated by the photographs of local brides, some in full wedding apparel, holding bouquets and wearing glasses. (165).
I recognize that it’s near impossible to get past the graphic imagery of this passage, but the reader should try because what’s taking place in this scene is ultimately what redeems the novel in my eyes. Delores Haze loses so much territory to Humbert Humbert as the narratives progresses, but what he cannot take away from her is that small ounce of integrity and personal territory which is her personal self. He effectively rapes the landscape of the United States with his perversion and at the same time he attempts to control the territory of her body. While he succeeds in this first endeavor he cannot take her independent spirit which, while it may seem largely shallow in its consumerism, is still some semblance of the American mindset.
Delores is a young woman who wants to read comics, drink soda-pop, and play with boys her own age. That mentality may not be distinctly American, but at the time Lolita was written it was intimately tied up with consumerism and capitalism which was the defining American Philosophy.
There’s a victory then in Lolita, for even if Delores Haze is the victim of Humbert’s vicious and corrupt sexual deviance, he cannot manage to colonize and strip her of that small spirit which wants to make a real life for itself, free from the grasp of this failure who can only find in the beauty of the American countryside a few motels to work out his sexual problems.
All quotes taken from Lolita were cited from the . All quotes from Nabokov’s America were taken from the New Yorker article which I have provided a link to below. Enjoy:
While working on research for this essay I found a documentary entitled How do you Solve a Problem Like Lolita? Apart from envying the title (then again I used this bit for my Eraserhead review so what the fuck am I jealous for?) I found it useful for these series of essays and thought my reader might be interested. You can follow the link fellow for the first part of the documentary, and the other three parts should be on the suggested titles side of the screen. Enjoy:
Batman, Benedict Cumberbatch naked sunbathing, Bisexuality, Book Review, Comics, Essay, Evil Bear Man, Gay, Gay Batman Sex Fantasy, Gay Men Comics, Gay Porn, Gay Sex, Homo-Social Relationships, Homoeroticism, Homosexuality, I Like It Like That, I Like it Like That: True Stories of Gay Male Desire, Justin Hall, masculinity, Masculinity Studies, Michael Fassbender, Naked, Penis, Pornography, Queer, Queer Sex, Queer Theory, Sexual Exploration, Sexual Fantasy, Sexual identity, Sexuality, Space, The "Fairy", Writing
I’ll admit that I wanted it both ways. And yes, that is a bisexuality pun.
My regular reader will remember, because I won’t shut up about it, that I’m bisexual. My graphic novel memoir I Like Dick, I Like Vagina, I Like Me is still several years away at this point but that’s only because the publishers fail to see my brilliance and so I languish in obscurity. Because I’m married however, and because my wife and I hold to a “No Sharing” policy, exploring my sexuality is often limited to the wonderfully perverted world of Tumblr or else my traditional outlets, books. There’s a problem on this second front because as I said before I want it both ways, and this time it’s not a pun. I have been, since I started reading works about Queer theory, looking for a book which would explore queer male sexuality while also not being ungodly academic.
Surprise surprise this has been difficult.
Most writing about sexuality between men remains rigidly fixed in academic analysis in which case your spending most of your time reading about Freud or Marxian realities inherent to Postmodern identity politics. The other alternative is pornography, and as I stated before, Tumblr exists and seems to do a far better job at it then most erotic male writers I have read. What has always been missing in book after book of male-male erotica is some level of intellectual exercise. Reading about X putting his dick in Y’s mouth and or anus can be fun, but after a while the characters become archetypal nobodies and I wanted to explore sexuality not just scratch an itch. It seemed then that there wasn’t any book out there where I could really get another person’s perspective on their sexuality in a way that was physically and psychological satisfying.
Until Half Price Books. This chain has largely been responsible for whatever emotional development I’ve had with my sexuality because unlike the bookstores in my home town of Tyler, Texas, they carry (unashamedly I might add) an entire section dedicated to gender, sex, and sexuality books. On yet another of my family’s recent pilgrimage to Dallas I headed for the LGBTQ Studies after cleaning up in the dollar section, and my cart filled up within a space of five minutes. Most of my books were studies of queer male sexuality or their history and so when I spotted I Like it Like That: True Stories of Gay Male Desire it was just one of the many books in the pile. It was a few minutes later when I was vetting my pile that I took the time to figure out what I was buying, and after reading just the back cover I knew I had to own this book.
I Like It Like That is not just a collection of testimonials for I’ve read and still own several books like that. Most books about queer men tend either to be outright pornography, or else testimonials about their first time or about their coming out. Books like that are valuable and should be read and studied, but again there was always something missing for me whenever I read them. The way my own mind works I always prefer a work that takes the time to introspect or analyze a condition or situation. The men writing their personal essays are not just describing their sex life, they’re offering assessments and deeper understandings of what sex has meant to them, or how it has changed their life, or shown in what way they have explored or expressed their sexuality. Each essay acts alone and independently from the other, but while reading this book each essay feels like it’s is arranged in reaction to others so at times the book is like reading a group of men talking together about their sexuality. The best part about the collection however is the actual range of sexual expressions that are understood and discussed. One article titles Tom Selleck’s Mustache is one man’s realization that he possesses a fetish for mustache’s in general and therefore kissing men with mustache’s is his favorite erotic act. Another essay, which is in fact a comic strip, titled Amanuensis is a short story about a top who helps two husbands who are both bottoms. Big Black Daddy-Dick, or The Joys of Being Fetishized is really everything the title suggests as a middle aged black man explores the pleasure derived from others who look at him and his dick in a kind of worship. Bathhouse Desires covers the territory of a man visiting a bath house for the first time and feeling lost in lust and desire. Straight Guy Fetish explores a personal essay of a man caught in a one sided relationship with a straight man. And finally Evil Bear Man is a comic strip about a man who works as a fetish escort and has sex with his boyfriend in front of his client dressed up as Batman and Robin.
This last one, for the record, is my favorite only because I couldn’t stop laughing while reading it.
This basic list serves to demonstrate what an odd and wonderful book I Like it Like That really is for the reader interested in exploring libidos. Reading these essays feels so personal because too often the subject of sex is something that is hushed up or hidden. But something powerful happens when a writer opens their secret heart and shows you something. To wit, observe just one passage from the essay The Weight of My Desire:
I like men. And I like that I like men. But more than that, I like that you like them too. […] Sometimes, I think, the only thing greater than my desire for a man is my desire for his hunger. Do you know what I mean? His yearning to touch, or be touched by, another man. His willingness. His lust. His lack of inhibition. The thought that maybe just the book of another man’s smile is enough to get him hard. That perhaps even you might think of me and quiver. That I might hold the power to do that to you. Then I could pull you close, press your forehead into mine, and gaze into your eyes as we fuck. And in your eyes I will see that you like it. I will hear it on your warm breath and in the wet sound of your tongue on my skin. We are not that different, you and I. Your balls ache the way mine do. (207-8).
It’s incredibly painful to me how long it took for me to be able to read the first two sentences and agree with them. For the longest time I hid behind the random imitation of the “fairy” whenever the issue of same-sex intimacy between two men was brought up. Whenever I would discuss Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael Fassbender I would become fay and limp-wristed and raise my voice to sigh dreamily. I still sigh dreamily after Michael Fassbender for the record because…because…Ahem
Ahem. And Jason Moma is…
…well…yeah. The point is though while reading this passage I recognized the similar physical sentiment, “your balls ache the way mine do,” but I also recognized how much I had grown into my own comfort of my sexuality. Being attracted to another man wasn’t funny, or at least wasn’t just funny. It could also be real, and it could also be something to enjoy about myself.
Having said that though humor is important especially when dealing with sex. That’s why Evil Bear Man is without doubt my favorite essay in the collection. The fact that it’s also nothing but comics doesn’t hurt either.
The essay is about a fetish escort who gets paid by one of his clients to dress up as Robin and “break in” to his apartment so his client can pretend to be a villain by the name of Evil Bear Man. Evil Bear Man’s evil scheme? To force Batman and Robin to fuck.
With the help of his boyfriend, who plays the role of Batman, the pair of them eventually play out the fantasy for the client who enjoys a nice, quick wank. The description is enough to make even the most patient and open-minded reader to stop and ask the question: why should I be giving a damn about this. With the incorporation of images this moment sounds like nothing but pornography? But looking back over the essay again I can counter this immediately. Pornography is designed to titillate and arouse the viewer and/or reader of the work. Evil Bear Man works to occasionally arouse the reader, but often Justin Hall, the writer and illustrator who’s work I have appreciated in other books such as Boy Trouble and True Porn, breaks the serious erotic’s to show small moments of humility. His boyfriend complains about the utility belt, on the way over a kid tells him that the Robin outfit looks gay, after the client has paid he hopes the pair of them don’t laugh too hard and of course they do, and at the end the pair of them eventually continue to fuck in the outfits while the onomatopoeias of BLAM, WHAM, and KER-POW pop up between the phrases “Take it.” Anyone who watched the old Adam West Batman like I did surely remembers this and having them subverted, or perverted if you prefer, was funny and charming.
The point is while the reader observes this small tale they explore the fantasy of the client and observe how the escort and his boyfriend eventually perpetuate it, both together, and also to the reader. The individual reading the book I Like It Like That, is most likely someone who will derive some kind of erotic interests from the essays being presented and so there’s an invitation to not only observe the little distractions that can take place during sex (you always wind up placing your weight on their hair for some reason), but also to see if maybe some part of you isn’t also slightly turned on by watching Batman and Robin fuck.
I’ve never had a Batman fetish myself, and I still don’t. However, studies of tumblr have demonstrated that even without my participation this fantasy will continue into the future.
I’ve probably said more than I need to in order to the pique the interest of the reader who’s willing to sink $20 into a nice slim little book of erotic essays, but as always my point in these writings isn’t just to review books. Anyone who wants a quick review should try Goodreads. These essays are about my own exploration and so I prepare for my contester who interrupts me to ask, “Why should I bother picking this book up? I’m not gay, I’ve never had any gay feelings. Why should I waste my time reading about a bunch of gay men having sex?”
To this criticism I really don’t have much of a defense. If you’re a straight guy this book probably doesn’t offer much for you. I’m sorry but that’s where it stands. Though it should be noted that there is a small populace that call themselves straight who engage in same-sex activity, but that’s for a later essay.
Buying the book, and taking the time to write this out I wasn’t really writing for straight men. I wasn’t writing for gay men either. And in fact I wasn’t writing to any men at all, simply myself. As I noted before, my bisexuality is an odd creature because it can only exist in an odd erotic space. Because I don’t want to cheat on my wife, but because I also am unwilling to hide my, what Alison Bechdel calls in her brilliant graphic novel Fun Home “Erotic Truth,” this books is a real gift. It affords me the space to explore my sexual feelings towards other men without violating my marriage or without making me feel guilty.
And, along with helping me find my sexual self, it also affords me a few opportunities to think. Such as the following passage from the essay The Truth of His Nakedness:
It wasn’t about sex. Until it was. But it took me years to realize that nothing had really changed. These days, my nakedness is usually reserved for sexual situations, but that only reinforces the point—the erotic space is the same. The erotic space is the space of unavoidable truth. The erotic space is who I am.
In the end, all there is nakedness: two bodies coming together, sharing their common humanity, their naked vulnerability, the ultimate truth that we are not alone. (184-5).
The essays in I Like it Like That, much like this review/reflection of the entire book, finds its heart in the preceding passage because everything about these essays is about nakedness. “Naked” as a word always suggests vulnerability and by exposing your body, and by extension your desire to another person there is always a risk. Writing these words, and publishing them on the internet for all the world to see is a risk because there will always come those who will reject my desire, and by extension my person in general. I’ve listened to horror stories from some of my friends in the queer community and so I do not write and publish this essay without some reservation. It would be a mistake though to suggest that this was purely about the actual act of sex, because these essays prove sex is not only about the act of inserting something up an anus, into a mouth, or into a vagina. Sex is about a space in which desire is allowed to breath and be and the only way for a person to figure out what they “like” is to find some kind of space in which to work with.
Queer men exist in a wonderful space in which to explore their desire, and I’m happy to contribute to it in any way I can, even if it’s just suggesting a book through this shitty blog.
Looking over these words I’ve reminded myself that the reason I’m able to be and exist is because of the agency and space I possess. Others aren’t nearly so lucky. I’ll probably never have sex with another man, and while there is some sadness in this declaration there is still a happiness in recognizing I have enough “space” to openly acknowledge it’s still something I would like.
And if that “space” should ever include Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch, well, I mean, I wouldn’t complain. Would you?
Art, Catching the Big Fish, Comics, David Lynch, graphic novel, honey, Joshua Jammer Smith, Neil Gaiman, original photograph, Philosophy, Reese's, still life, tea, The New Yorker, The Sandman, The Wake, Transcendental Meditation
All Star Superman, Book Review, Calvin and Hobbes, Comics, Daytripper, death, Fabio Moon, Father-Son Relationship, fathers, From Hell, Fun Home, Gabriel Ba, graphic novel, Jammer Talks About, Joshua Jammer Smith, King, Life, MAUS, mortality, Reading, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, The Plot: The Secret history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Sandman: The Doll's House, Watchmen, Writers
In this video I provide a brief review of the graphic novel Daytripper. This is a book that, in my estimation, is one of the most underappreciated graphic novels in the ever growing canon of what Scott McCloud refers to as Graphic Art. Books like Watchmen, The Sandman, and MAUS consistently appear on lists of truly great and wonderful graphic novels yet Daytripper is left from such lists for some mysterious reason. The reader doesn’t need my validation however, nor does the book and so in this video I try to just discuss a few of the themes addressed in the book.
The graphic novel is about the life of the writer Bras de Olivas Domingo who, before he publishes his first novel to great success, works as an obituary writer. His father is a world famous novelist and throughout the book Bras mourns the fact that he and his father do not always have the best working relationship, however beneath this I believe as a fascinating glimpse into father-son relationships. Every son in his own way tries to live up to what he believes to be the supposed expectations his father establishes during his life. Looking at Bras part of that standard is creating something out of his life, and so his novel, and then eventually his life, becomes that very means.
Daytripper is a book that explores life in all of its absurdity and mundane reality, and while each chapter ends in death, the larger creative goal seems to be to demonstrate that life is not purely beautiful or purely meaningless. Instead Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon try to show the odd magic that makes up life without resorting to clichés. This last word is important because when you say “the book is about life” the reader may summon up images of Once-A-Day-Faith Calendars or else platitude ridden Valedictorian speeches. There are many works which try to tell readers that life is wonderful and strange, but Daytripper is unique amongst this bunch because it actually shows them this through Bras’s first kiss, meeting the woman who would become his wife, being a spectator in a home invasion, writing close to a hundred obituaries for a Plane Crash, discovering he has terminal cancer, and losing his friend to madness.
Daytripper doeesn’t take the life of a superhero or a mythic being as its protagonist. Instead it finds an individual man who is trying to find some sense of meaning or purpose in his life. That should be a universal appeal enough to convince the reader that this book is made of magic. But if it isn’t hopefully this video, and the two essays I’ve written about it will.
The books used in this video are:
Daytripper by Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon (Vertigo)
All Star Superman Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC Comics)
Death the Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)
The Plot: The Secret History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Will Eisner (W.W. Norton & Company)
King by Ho Che Anderson (Fantagraphic Books)
The House of Secrets by Various (DC Comics)
The Sandman: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf Productions)
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC Comics)
A Contract With God by Will Eisner (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon Books)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC)
If you have any questions, suggestions, or requests for books you would like to see me review, please feel free to comment below.
Thank you for watching.
Joshua Jammer Smith
TO WATCH THE VIDEO FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW:
Alison Bechdel, Bechdel Test, Book Review, Comics, Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, Faith, Fan Culture, Fans, Feminism, Ghostbusters, graphic novel, Harbinger Vol. 1, Kate McKinnon, Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Narratives, Sandman, story, Stranger Things, Valiant, Watchmen, Zephyr
The other day a friend of mine wanted to know my feelings about the new Ghostbusters film, specifically if I wanted to see it because I was a feminist. I explained in my first response that the reason I wanted to see the film was not solely because I was a feminist, but because I love the Ghostbusters franchise period. Anything that mixes working-class mentalities with science fiction have always fascinated me, and while the characters in the original film were mostly college professors their work ethic, coupled with a desire to make a little bit of money along the way, reminded me a lot of my mom and dad who operated their own business. The film was one of a handful of Robin Williams and Bill Murry VHS tapes my parents seemed to have an unlimited supply of, and Ghostbusters was fun to watch because both Mom and Dad had memories connected to the film, and when I was younger I wanted to be like them. The film was also, let’s be fair, really fun to watch(except for the scene where Sigourney Weaver gets groped by the hands in the chair before the dog pops up, that scene freaked me out).
Looking at the new Ghostbusters movie I was compelled to see the film because, the awful looking CGI aside, the film was a Ghostbusters movie and it also sported four actresses who’s work I appreciated immensely: Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and best of all Leslie Jones. My friend understood my qualms, but argued, at length, that the film wasn’t really helping feminism. There were still other issues like wage inequality and workplace harassment, and having a lousy movie with an all-woman cast wasn’t going to actually contribute any real solutions to the problems women face.
To this I didn’t have any objections because there wasn’t anything to object to. The only argument I could make in favor of the film having an all-female cast was not so much about economic feminism, but rather cultural feminism.
The reader at some point may have heard, or come across in something they read, of something called “The Bechdel Test.” I could write out the explanation of the test, but since I adore Alison Bechdel (obsession is probably a different and far more applicable term) and relish every opportunity to show off her work I thought I would just cite the actual comic that created the test in the first place. It’s a panel from her comic series Dykes to Watch Out For:
This ten panel comic has had a tremendous impact upon film criticism, much to the annoyance of some film experts and fan boys online. The usual attack against the Bechdel Test is that it is designed to create a gynocentric film industry that seeks to eliminate men from film, and the other is that several great films fail this test while other lousy films win it. Looking at the first criticism of the test I can only laugh due to the sheer absurdity of the premise. Looking at the second complaint I’m a little more sympathetic. The problem with the Bechdel Test is that it can quickly create an eschewed perspective that if a film fails the test that it is faulty, but looking at a few films this becomes absurd: The King’s Speech, All the President’s Men, Pulp Fiction, Duck Soup, Reservoir Dogs. All of these films share the common characteristics of having largely all male or mostly male casts, but looking at the first film it won best picture in 2010. A film like Planet Terror in direct contrast, a film which involves zombies and a Go-Go dancer with a machine gun for a leg, actually passes the Bechdel test and this is the point.
I offered up an assessment to a friend of mine who works at the library and who was helping me find some books, that the Bechdel Test is not designed, or should not be designed, to shame films or suggest certain films are crap. The test is designed to challenge the individual who tries the test against most of the films they watch to see how well women are represented in said films. The test tries to help show that often the largest problem with women in cinema is not a lack of presence, it’s a lack of real representation.
Looking back to my friend and Ghostbusters this was the argument I offered up to her as to why a film like Ghostbusters did offer a vital feminist statement. It doesn’t matter if the cast is all women, what matters is that this all women cast offers up the chance to widen the representation of women in film which is often lacking. Thinking of this I thought of a book I’ve been reading lately that offers up a similar avenue of discussion, for like film, the medium of comics sometimes lacks in accurate and honest representation of female characters, particularly in the form of real body types.
I became aware of the character of Faith when my friend Michael lobbied for a Valiant book to be the book of the week of the Graphic Novel Appreciation Society. This would eventually become a joke in the group since every week his “Happy Thing” usually has something to do with Valiant, and whenever we do a Valiant book he wears a t-shirt of one of the characters from the universe. Faith appeared in Harbinger Vol 1., a book that I enjoyed but didn’t love, and it’s a testament to her character and the writing that she remains the brightest part of that graphic novel. Valiant recently got around to giving her her own book and so I finally bought it actually exited to dig into the material.
Faith is a psiot, an individual capable to manipulated the space and natural laws around her with her mind. In the case of Faith, superhero name Zephyr, secret identity name Summer, she is able to fly, create psionic shield barriers and even push people as if manipulating the wind. Think sort of a Mrs. Fantastic from Fantastic 4, only, well, interesting and interested in Dr. Who, STAR WARS, and Star Trek. The book Faith is about her settling into a journalism job in Los Angeles, where she actually works on Click Bait reviewing reality shows and celebrity scandals, where she uncovers a plot by an ancient race of aliens who despise humanity for their bland and wanton destruction of the natural environment. Did I mention the aliens were plants? Because that’s kind of important, but not really.
Much like the graphic novel Flashpoint, which I reviewed for my own site a while back, my ultimate assessment of Faith is that, while it may not be an artistic effort in the same caliber as Watchmen or The Sandman series, it is a good story that doesn’t feel weak after reading it. The metaphor a few of my friends will use is “popcorn movie” in honor of films like Star Wars and Jaws, both films that, while they may not be in the same vein as their contemporary periods greats (Taxi Driver, Deliverance, Network, Easy Rider, etc.) they do a damn good job of entertaining the audience and occasionally giving the viewer something to think about. Faith is about being a superhero, but throughout her book her love of nerd culture is the central defining character trait she possesses.
Faith is not Batman in terms of genius, Flash in terms of super speed, or even Wonder Woman in terms of making you wish there was more of Wonder Woman in Batman Vs. Superman, instead she’s just a woman who enjoys watching science fiction shows on television and trying to be a good person. Best of all the fact that she doesn’t look like Wonder Woman or Scarlet Witch or Catwoman or Harley Quinn isn’t even discussed.
There’s one page however that offers a beautiful moment, not just for Faith personally, but for the reader experiencing her story:
Faith lost both of her parents as a child, so perhaps she’s not that different from Batman, but before they passed they shared with her their love of comics, science fiction, and general nerdity, and as the last panel demonstrates that love of stories kept their memory alive in her. Growing up my parents watched Ghost Busters and Star Wars with me, and while I would watch the movies (and memorize them to impress friends and family later) I would ask my parents what a movie was like in theatres, or if they enjoyed the movie when it came out, and so these stories would assume surrounding or satellite stories that connected more emotion and meaning to me personally.
With that in hand I look back to Ghostbusters and my friend’s comments. I didn’t get a chance to see Ghostbusters in theatres (my wife adopted a puppy and my best friend started up a YouTube channel he wanted me to help him develop) but even after the film comes out and I’m disappointed or pleasantly surprised by it, I’ll stand by my argument. A lot of young men grew up watching the Ghostbuster’s movie with their mom and dads and created nostalgia around it, but so did plenty of young women who have grown up now and would like to share the film franchise with their own little girls.
A book like Faith doesn’t solve the nuanced problems facing millions of women in the workplace, nor does it resolve the amount of sexual assault that takes place in the United States Armed Services, nor does it provide a blueprint for fixing the fact that only around 50 women in the United States congress have to represent half of the nation’s population, but begin your pardon no book could do that. What Faith does is present a real woman, without gimmick or hype, who is in fact one of us: a nerd, a dork, a geek. For girls who grew up and weren’t cheerleaders, or beauty queens, or star athletes, for girls who simply wanted to hang out, play some D&D or watch Star Trek, Faith is a real hero because she does something more important than trying to solve all the problems in the world: she just tries to be a good person and have a little fun watching Stranger Things with her boyfriend.
A hero can’t save everything or everyone, but they can, in their own way, represent us in ways so that we realize we may not need heroes. We may find out we’re the hero we always wanted to be already.
While Stranger Things isn’t actually brought up in the graphic novel, in fact Faith was written at least a year before that show came out, I could still see Faith watching it because how could you not that show is amazing. Seriously. Watch it….Why aren’t you watching it? Stephen King likes it and he’s freaking Stephen King!