azn_jack_fiend: (father ted diagram)

Here's my elaboration on the only thing that gave me serious pause in the Jane Espenson and Doris Egan interview at Gallifrey.


Discussion of casting but no plot spoilers )


azn_jack_fiend: (snarl)
I'm not going to lay out a grand theory of why character-bashing is morally wrong. My argument is a lot simpler. It's petty, ugly, stupid, irrational, hypocritical and juvenile. Most people understand this, and justifiably avoid it.

The prevalence of Gwen-bashing is either the #1 or #2 reason Torchwood fandom on LJ has a wide reputation as a bunch of wank-ridden whackos. The Gwen-bashers constantly harp that their fucked-up version of Torchwood represents the majority of fandom, when in fact they're nothing but a very vocal minority, so vocal they've driven a lot of people out of Torchwood fandom. They. Are. Not. The. Majority.

I'm not going to list the many reasons why their bullshit is bullshit, because these reasons have already been gone over exhaustively by many people. Most recently, and beautifully, here by [ profile] taffimai. Instead, I'm going to offer an explanation of why it is that people get involved in the Gwen-bashing mentality in the first place, and then offer an optimistic vision for how it's going to fade out.

I think that character identification is very much a social process. When we watch characters and begin to identify, they might remind us of ourselves, of people we know, of people we want to be, of people we know we shouldn't want to be but want to be anyway, of characters on other shows. And talking about our likes and dislikes in communities shapes our perception enormously, often more than we think it does. People we respect remind us of aspects of the characters we hadn't thought of before; people we don't respect make us reconsider opinions in the opposite direction.

When some people saw Torchwood and formed their own unique narrative of it (as everyone does, to some degree) they superimposed another story onto it. Basically, it's a story where there's a popular handsome guy (Jack), and a popular pretty bitchy girl (Gwen), and a pretty but shy wallflower girl (Ianto), and the popular guy picks the geeky girl instead of the popular girl. This is a really stupid story, so stupid that even shows about young people, like Gossip Girl and Degrassi Junior High and Skins, tell more sophisticated stories than that.

They pushed this narrative so vocally that subscribing to it became a kind of gatekeeping opinion to win acceptance and encourage group cohesion.

The story I'd superimposed onto Torchwood was completely different. From the beginning, I identified with Gwen as a kind of everywoman figure with interesting flaws and vast reserves of strength. She's working as a policewoman: an unglamorous job in a field heavily dominated by men. I know how hard that is. I imagined a constant pressure to be “one of the guys” accompanied by steady amounts of low-key sexual harassment and warnings about losing her femininity. The idea that Gwen “had it easy” somehow is completely ridiculous given her job field.

I never had it easy in school. I wasn't just the shy girl in the corner, I was the girl that everyone screamed racial slurs at. And I started working at 15 and was on my own and supporting myself at 16. So the idea that I'm supposed to not identify with Gwen on the basis of her being the “popular girl” archetype strikes me as completely bizarre and counterintuitive.

I did, and still do, identify with Gwen. Part of that is perceived commonality of experience. On the other hand, this sort of commonality can work against identification; sometimes I feel like Gwen's issues are too close to my own, which interferes with a certain urge towards escapism that's part of my enjoyment of the show.

There are lots of Torchwood fans on LJ who superimpose different narratives onto Gwen. There's a diversity of approaches, positive and neutral and, yes, negative, and I think that diversity is healthy. There's nothing wrong with not liking a character. I don't like Owen, for example. But the visceral hatred that consumes Gwen-bashers is pathologically monotonous and deeply stupid and almost always interwoven with weirdly delusional misogyny.

That's why I have zero tolerance for it. I hope to see Gwen-bashing confined and marginalized as much as possible through the method of public shaming. Perhaps that's how the Gwen-bashing achieved such prevalence in the first place (although I'm a fairly recent fan so I could be totally wrong on that): too many people said to themselves, “yeah, whatever, those people are fucked but I'm just going to ignore it.”

I do think it will fade as some of the AGA-ers grow out of it and realize how much of their time they're consuming in such a petty pursuit.

As for [ profile] wounded_melody? You need to take a step back and take a good look at yourself. [Edited to remove information 12/31/2010]  Calling your opponents nasty names, wishing physical harm on them and trying to rally troops to flame anti-Gwennishly might give you a little adrenaline rush, but it's not going to make anything better in the long run. Why not spend your time on the internet creating something positive and/or fun in Torchwood fandom, instead of building a reputation as a destructive, manipulative flamer and wanker? Think about that.

[Edited to remove information 12/31/2010]

I've preemptively banned you from my journal because I refuse to engage in this destructive spiral of pointless arguments you always seem to start. I will also immediately ban anyone who tries to comment on this post and is also a member of AGA. I believe in being a responsible, positive, contributing member of fandom and do my best to respect diverse opinions in many regards other than Gwen-bashing, but I'm not too big on LJ debating etiquette and I don't believe in giving bullshit arguments a forum in my personal space. I also don't have the energy or time to respond to comments in a timely fashion so I'm not interested in presiding over a 100+ comment blowup such as the one that occurred at [ profile] taffimai's journal, and I will freeze and/or delete comments if any sort of dwama occurs.

Anyway, I'll wrap up this rant with a mixed metaphor: there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and I do believe that one day the Gwen-bashing posts will wither away like a bad patch of sickly mushrooms, and the bashers that still refuse to move on will at least be forced to recognize that they don't represent Torchwood fandom. And they never have.

ETA 12/28/2010: all comments frozen.
azn_jack_fiend: (Dagon)
Warning: this is a very long post. I think [ profile] alt_universe_me  is going to BUG OUT when she reads both the fic and my analysis of it. Other than that, I have no idea whether or not this will be of interest to anyone. But it sure is to me! I really got inspired.

So a few months ago, I signed up as a cultural beta for Chromatic Yuletide. I wrote a post explaining the concept here. I ended up getting a beta request for Mexican-American and US POC issues in general. I'm not Latina, so I made sure to specify I wasn't a primary source. I just have some decent Spanish, plus I've studied a lot of Latin-American history and culture, including a summer I spent at the UNAM in Mexico City. I figured I could beta the basics of Mexican-American stuff, and I'd pass on anything that I didn't feel comfortable giving opinions on as a non-Latina.

Anyway, it turns out the source canon was quite familiar to me.  In fact, it'll be familiar to anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes listening to a classic rock/AOR ration station.  It's... wait for it...

HOTEL CALIFORNIA!!!  BY THE EAGLES!!! That mystic and vaguely Satanic drug-freak yacht-rock anthem!

The author wrote a brilliant, almost 10k fic exploring the Latino/Chicano roots of Hotel California. A 19th century man (I would guess the date as very early, perhaps 1800) by the name of Gerardo de la Cruz sets out on his horse for a new life in Alta California. Up ahead in the distance, he saw a shimmering light, his head grew heavy and his sight grew dim, he had to stop for the night...

Siempre Cambiando, Nunca Cambiando. Go read it!

rest of my post contains some spoilers for the fic as well as a ton of geeking out about race, language, translation and fiction )
azn_jack_fiend: (Asia the Invincible (armor))
I read over this post (by [ profile] the_moonmoth): I'm torn between rageful flailing and a defeated sigh linked to at [ profile] metafandom complaining about a racist line in an Inception fic.  Here's a quote.

Yesterday, I spent several hours reading a story called Metaphors As Mixed As You Can Make Them, by [ profile] halflinen, until, after almost 50,000 words of emotional investment, I got slapped in the face by this little gem of an exchange between Eames and Yusuf:

“Oh my God, get up here. Come on, what do you think I am—a cabbie?”

Eames comes up to the front and flops down moodily in the passenger seat. “You do all look alike to me,” he mutters

Casual racism yay \o/ Just what was missing from my reading experience.

I called her out in the comments here. She kept it polite, which I will admit was a refreshing change, but her conclusion? "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree."

Well, how nice for her.

The author has eventually gone back and added this warning to the notes: "ETA: Dialogue that can potentially be read as racist." That's really the part that pisses me off. It. Is. Racist. Eames uses a racist joke against Yusuf. The writer should own that.

I don't like jumping to conclusions, so I skimmed a bunch of the fic. I'm a very fast reader.  And I read the entire exchange between Yusuf and Eames pretty closely.  I think the writer is technically fantastic. I love the way they're mixing dialogue and body language. It's very smooth and very evocative, the kind of skill I aspire to at this point in my own writing.

But man, that exchange was weird (it's on this page, the fourth section down). First of all -- and maybe this is a consequence of writing in such a hard-ass britpicking fandom that this bothers me so much -- two characters who are emphatically not American in the movie sound like they're US college students. Yusuf sounds like a wussy version of Kal Penn in Harold and Kumar, with none of Kumar's power over words. "Dude, eyes up here," he says at one point.  They also say stuff like "this sucks".

In the movie, Yusuf speaks this fantastic soft-edged Indian English. It's very indeterminate as to where exactly he comes from, but I read the class marker as upper-class, maybe someone who was actually educated in England, though not born there. I also happened to have seen the same actor, Dileep Rao, in that Sam Raimi movie, Drag Me to Hell, where he had a quite similar striking accent.  I looked up Dileep Rao in Wikipedia and found out he was actually born in LA but spent some time in Saudi Arabia.  I didn't look up a spoken interview, so for all I know, in real life he sounds like Kal Penn in Harold and Kumar, regularly says things like "Dude, this sucks," but lays on that accent because it sounds really cool and got him more acting jobs for exotic parts. It's hard as hell being any kind of Asian in show business so I wish the guy the best of luck and I think it's awesome he's getting such exposure.

I have a feeling I just spent about a hundred times more effort reimagining Yusuf's voice than the author did.  And that's kind of the problem.

When it comes to that exchange, given my background, I'm not imagining myself as Eames. I'm imagining myself as Yusuf. That's why the joke comes as a slap in the face.  Many other people of color will have the same experience. And that's not a bad thing, necessarily... good fiction does visceral things to you. But the fact that Yusuf just takes it creates this instant alienating effect from the fic. If the reader hurts it should be meant that the reader hurts.  So the slap in the face gets compounded as we understand that the writer just sort of assumed all their readers would be white, and they would all instantly identify with Eames-as-agent and Yusuf-as-subservient-prop.

There are a lot of ways to fix this and all of them involve making Yusuf a more three-dimensional character instead of just a prop to show that Eames isn't such an asshole after all because he has a good buddy like Yusuf. And that doesn't even mean giving him lots more page time. Writers can do it by implication, creating a "you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg" effect.

So I'm imagining Yusuf. Maybe he despises Eames for being such a pretentious, Kiplingesque dickhead, but he's a cynical fucker himself, so he lets Eames go on thinking he's his best buddy. Drop a few lines that show Yusuf's words don't match his body language earlier on, change his dialogue a bit to make it less sappy in the exchange, then maybe close the gap between the two later on, making their friendship seem more interesting and ambiguous.

Or maybe Yusuf has his own serious issues with internalized racism, which is why he just takes the joke. He's sort of tormented inside and again, his body language shows that.

Or maybe he does act like a true equal and takes the joke and gives it back to Eames in stronger form, in some way that actually could hurt Eames. Mildly insulting Eames' taste in music? Saying "you suck at sitting around?" That just doesn't cut it.

That's a major issue with using racial humor: you have to really consider the power dynamics. The same joke can be a nuclear weapon or a little finger poke depending on the race of the person that says it. It's impossible to hit a white person with a pure racial slur and have anywhere near the same effect. The often-cited "cracker" is much, much more of a class slur than a racial one. 

Racial jokes accentuate power differences much more than they equalize.   

When I was in college I used to hang around with a crowd of international students, mostly from Arab countries and a few from Singapore.  The funniest was my friend I'll initial NA, an Iraqi-Kuwaiti from a super-rich family. The only three US people were me (Asian-American), an African-American with Haitian roots (neither of us came from wealthy families, at all), and an Arab-American guy that NA made fun of mercilessly for supposedly a) thinking he was black b) thinking he was Arab, because Egyptians "weren't real Arabs".  NA made fun of everyone, though.  One of his best friends was Israeli, and they used to go at each other, trading stereotypes and insults that made everyone else's jaws drop.  The students from Arab countries mostly came from well-off English-educated backgrounds, like NA, except for one that didn't even go to the college because he had to work at his family's convenience store all night, which was in a heavily black neighborhood. Anyway, lots of racial jokes, some of them very funny, and very bitter, and sometimes they twisted a little too sharply. NA even lost it once... I won't even go into details, because I'm rambling now. 

My point, I guess, is that these jokes and slurs do very different things depending on who says them, how they're used, the context they're used. And it takes some mental effort to work all of that out and use them to express yourself or affect someone else in the way you want to affect them.  Characters who can do that successfully? Even if they don't have power because of their race or class or background or otherwise, they still have power over words. They should have an aim, a goal, whether they know it or not, and whether they succeed or fail should be woven into the power dynamics of the story. 

If writers of any race or ethnicity want to put this sort of racial stuff in fics, that's awesome. Really, I think there should be more of it. I just don't think it should be there only as filler sections in between the main "Two Hot White Guys Fucking" sections. Make it part of a fully realized world with three-dimensional supporting characters, that's all. Don't include it if you want the tone to stay purely escapist, because reading that stuff feels like the opposite of escape for readers like me.

Comments off.
azn_jack_fiend: (father ted diagram)
How do you win a writing contest like [ profile] whoverse_las? After following WIAD and now wholas, I'd like to lay down a theory or two.  I may or may not follow up with an analysis of what I think are the top five contenders.  That would be sort of tricky, because I don't want to piss anybody off, and any comparison would have to discuss weaknesses as well as strengths.

I love these writing contests because I really do think they reflect quality.  Not 100%, in perfect light, but they're reflective.  Much more so than the real world, once money enters the equation.  I can understand and comprehend the imperfect reward system of these contests much better than I can the inexplicable success of abysmal writers like Dan Brown and Laurell K. Hamilton.

I think these contests both reward and punish innovation, but they tend to reward it more than punish it. A mediocre story with popular appeal will win over a good story without popular appeal, but the really stellar stories will still tend to win, even without obvious popular appeal.

First of all, the writer has to have stamina to stay the course on the contest: actually writing something every week, and summoning up the motivation to try to win every week (or at the very least, try to not get disqualified). This is a very, very tough bar to meet. I certainly couldn't meet it myself!  It's going to take a lot more time for me to develop the stamina and skill to enter something like this.  In the meantime I can lean back in the peanut gallery and indulge in my love for applying objective standards to incredibly subjective processes.

It takes a special kind of mental space to be in it to win it. Most writers are motivated by complicated, deeply personal emotions. Competition of the sports variety doesn't come naturally. The mixture of the two motivations, competitive and personal, can become quite volatile.

The contest isn't just about the writer and their story; it's about the relationship the story creates with the voting audience.  And ultimately, once you get a large enough pool of voters, the audience becomes somewhat predictable. Some voters will still vote for ridiculous reasons like THIS STORY HAD TOO MANY VOWELS but the majority will tend to fall into a pattern.  They want certain basic things.  If writers give them more of those things than other writers, they will win. Here are the four basic things.

1. Poke their Ids. Stir up the lizard brains of your readers. There are only two simple ways to do this: evoke sex, or death. Ideally, both at the same time.  There's a universal theme across millenia and continents of human literary expression: the "let's fuck before we die" theme.  Seriously, it is everywhere.  In fanfiction, it even gets condensed further into FUCK OR DIE format.  Angst or porn are both great at poking the id: angstporn is the best at it.

If you fail at this or are too obvious about it, you will just gross out your readers.

2. Inspire their Souls. Evoke higher emotions of romantic love, justice, and the rightness of the world. This doesn't mean a story with a happy ending.  But it means evoking readers' aspirations of being better people by identifying with characters who represent striving towards better things... whether those characters succeed or not. 

If you fail at this you will produce what appears to readers as manipulative schlocky schmoop-sap.

3. Dazzle their Minds.  Create an innovative story with a unique concept. Challenge readers. Pull off a tricky POV.  Write a twist ending. Use a strong style that calls attention to the writing itself. Readers will get the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, or the pleasure of opening a mystery package and finding a shiny, unique toy they've never seen before. 

If you fail at this, readers will think, "This writer is a dumbass. What the hell were they thinking?" or "This writer must think I'm a dumbass, so fuck them!"

4. Pat their Backs.  Confirm something the reader suspects or already knows. Create a sense of solidarity with the reader through the story.  This doesn't have to be done with a popular pairing; if you create a strong enough identification with a rare character or pairing, it can work. Ideally, the reader should think, "A ha! This puts into flesh a formless theory that has always been floating around my brain!" or "This is exactly how such and such would have happened!"

If you fail at this, the reader will resent you for something that feels like an in-joke that excludes them.  You will actively push them away.

I could retroactively go back over all the winning stories and explain their victory in terms of these principles. But I'd like to keep it short, so here are just a few notes on four winning stories.

Now Go, Cat Go did all four things perfectly.  There was no explicit sex, but parts of the story felt like pure sex to me.  And it was all about death in the sense of change.  It was gloriously romantic. The concept of the time skip was brilliant and seamless. The imagery made me think this is exactly how they would have looked based on my knowledge and love for the characters.

En Flammes was a Mickey/Rose fic, a deeply unpopular pairing, but it still accomplished #4 beautifully, and did well at #1 and #3.  There was even a hint of #2, because the characters are presented as yearning for something better.

Moonage Daydream
seemed to have no plot and no concept. But it touches #1 (death in the sense of ego dissolution through drugs), hits #2 (romance, elements of trust and hope and comfort) slams #3 (dazzling skillful descriptions of drug-altered sensory input) and nails #4 (everyone who ever took drugs ever which is almost everyone goes AWW COOL IANTO IS TRIPPING BALLS DUDE GOTTA VOTE THIS ONE UP).

Personal Statement skipped right by #1.  It's a very subtle almost all-dialogue story, and the dialogue doesn't call attention to itself at all, so #3 is barely touched. It hits hard on #2 and #4 though, evading the shoals of sappiness and reaching the harbor of soft sighs over Rory's nobleness.

So how do you actually hit all four points? Part of it is picking the right concept, knowing the audience and writing in such a way that you don't exclude them (which doesn't mean catering to them in every way, either). But most of it is just being a skilled writer, having great dialogue, imagery, turns of phrase, grasp on character psychology, being comfortable with the format and length, and not screwing up and doing stuff like this.

I love trying to predict the winners in advance! Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. I'm really looking forward to the results for this round, and there's still an hour left to vote.
azn_jack_fiend: (father ted diagram)
There are less than 20 entries at [ profile] whoverse_las now, so it's a very manageable size to read and judge.  The quality is nice this round too! Lots of dark, interesting, quirky stuff.

Without discussing my vote in any way, because that would be against the rules, I'd like to give a piece of general advice to writers.  This is from my perspective as a reader, that's all.  

Please try not to write summary fics. They are almost never fun to read. 

I think of summary fic as something that's basically a entry with some emotional color added.

Here's an example from the recap for Gridlock.

The Doctor arrives at the Motorway, where he discovers thousands of Volkswagen-like hover vans in a traffic jam. He starts to cough and choke from the fumes. A cat person invites him into his car, introducing himself as Thomas Kincade Brannigan and his human wife as Valerie. Their kittens, two months old, have never seen sunlight or trod on ground. The Brannigans themselves have been driving for twelve years, and have travelled only five miles.

Here's my summary fic version.

When the Doctor arrived at the Motorway, he discovered thousands of Volkswagen-like hover vans in a traffic jam. He coughed and choked from the fumes. A cat person and his human wife invited him into his car. Their kittens, two months old, had never seen sunlight or trod on ground. The Brannigans themselves had been driving for twelve years, and had travelled only five miles. The Doctor sobbed.

I don't think anyone sets out to write something like the "fic" above. It's just that the exciting events and character arcs of the show tend to explode out of our brains in this form unless we're careful not to let it happen.

Summary-plus-emotional-color isn't an invalid mode, by any means.  I remember reading recaps of Battlestar Galactica and Six Feet Under at Television Without Pity, and the recappers there had raised it to an art form. Sometimes their recaps were more moving than the episode itself! Plus, judging by reactions and comment rates, they probably had a larger audience than most fanfic.  But the recaps didn't present as fiction: they were part of a conscious dialogue between the recapper and audience, and that dialogue enhanced the emotional content and made it feel powerful and immediate.

Summary in pure fiction is fine too.  Science fiction could barely exist without it. Sometimes writers have to summarize the rise and fall of civilizations over millions of years. As long as they keep an element of suspense and make it entertaining and work out a good style for it, it can be fantastic.

But in fanfic, it's usually deadly. There's no possibility for suspense when you're describing events that everyone already knows about! You have to trust that emotional detail you reveal will make up for the lack of suspense.  But the emotional detail won't be powerful, because it's not grounded in time and place and person.

I've seen it done well in fanfic; it should ideally be very short, very punchy and have a nice twist.  The Harkness Variations has some good examples.  I think everyone loves that (or at least I love it).

If you're a writer in a contest, and your non-punchy summary fic is up against another piece that's actually grounded in time and place and person, and has unique imagery, you'll be at a huge disadvantage.  Your readers will have a nagging sense that your emotional content isn't powerful. 

I've been reading the wholas entries since they started, and I believe the voting results bear out my theory.  Summary fics don't fare well.
azn_jack_fiend: (snarl)
I thought I'd gotten all my fandom irritation out yesterday, but I just got hit from another quarter today.

I don't believe words have power in and of themselves.  Words exist in context, as spoken by people, as heard by other people. Words like "slut" and "whore" are used in all kinds of contexts, positive, neutral, and negative.  They can be part of a light-hearted joke or even a mark of pride. But when I hear those words used in the context of trying to beat anyone down for liking sex too much, even a fictional character, that really pisses me off.

I tried to drop some knowledge on this thread, but the "RTD is making Captain Jack a slut/whore" comments are mushrooming all over now and I can't just keep repeating myself.

Here's where I'm coming from. I'm a straight, married woman. I used to work in the sex industry (fairly briefly).  I don't describe myself as "sex-positive" due to a couple reasons that I'm not interested in talking about now, but I'm 95% down with sex-positive goals and ways of thinking.  The heart of it: sex is good. Having sex with only one person is good. Having sex with multiple people is good. There are also, of course, bad things that can get brought into sex, which can make sex not good. But as long as we can avoid or minimize those bad things, sex is good.  Simple, right?

Jack is a sex-positive character.  He enjoys sex, either monogamous or not, he's open about it, he's graceful about it and he doesn't demean anyone else with his sexuality, or demean himself.  I think this is something we should aspire to as a society, not hate and look down on. 

If you're getting worked up about Jack being a slut, and dropping nasty comments to that effect, you're in bad company, and I'll judge you for it.  Company like...

Someone who looks at a woman who got raped and says "she's a slut, she probably deserved it".  Or thinks that gay men, while interesting in the abstract sense, are often disgusting in real life because they're too slutty, or not always as monogamous as they're supposed to be.  Or looks on transgender women prostitutes as subhuman because that's easier than thinking about why and how they're in the sex industry in the first place, and who took away their other choices.  After all, a whore is the worst thing anyone can be. The worst thing you can call someone. Never mind people that murder or rape or cause giant oil spills, it's those women (and men who act/look suspiciously like women) who trade sex for money that are the really terrible people in this world.

If the paragraph above doesn't sound like you?  If you don't want to be in that company? Then stop using the word slut and whore as insults.  No, usages like "comment whore" aren't necessarily insults, and if you're using them in a positive or even neutral context I don't think that's particularly damaging. But when you're using them to attack, to insult and demean, you're not just hurting your target, you're contributing to a whole fucked-up social complex of shame, denial and hypocrisy.

I'm a big believer in saying what you mean and not using words to shirk responsibility.  Like I said on that thread above, if you mean, "I'm angry because Jack isn't in a monogamous relationship with Ianto", then SAY "I'm angry because Jack isn't in a monogamous relationship with Ianto."  Own it. Don't throw around a bunch of bullshit that hurts other people.

azn_jack_fiend: (father ted diagram)
When I read RTD's latest interview, my jaw dropped. Damn, that was harsh.

AE: Any new characters you can talk about? There's a rumor floating around that there's going to be a pedophile character. Anything you can tell us about him or the other characters?
RTD: Yeah, there is a pedophile.

AE: Interesting.
RTD: Why is it interesting?

AE: You don't see something like that very often.
RTD: I see it every other CSI, don't you?

AE: I don't watch CSI.
RTD: Well, don't get all poncy about it then, but there we go.

What a dick! He's certainly not going to win any detractors over! On the other hand, I like the fact that he doesn't apologize or back down on any of the artistic choices he's making, or spoil us with ameliorating details.

After some semi-serious discussion of the interview, I guess I'll jump in the shark-infested water and give my own roundabout opinions on having a pedophile character in TW S4.

First of all, I'll address the genre argument that RTD is making.  His basic point is absolutely correct. I have to get all poncy about it and say that I don't watch CSI either, but I have watched a fair amount of Law & Order: SVU, which has even more pedophiles. And yes, of course they're villains, but the way that the show works, they're rarely black-and-white villains, either.  If we knew who the perpetrator was at the start of every episode, it wouldn't be very watchable. The narrative kick mainly comes out of introducing a series of morally ambiguous characters and forcing the audience to guess which one of them is the pedophile or otherwise rapist.  Many times, the most obvious choice won't be the one. 

I'll detour a bit to talk about genre. I've read a lot of Samuel R. Delany's critical writing, and he's massively influenced my perception of genre. He talks a lot about how genre is actively negotiated and dependent on surprising external factors.  For example, take Kurt Vonnegut. Why isn't he shelved in the science fiction section at bookstores?  If you've read any Vonnegut, his books are packed full of aliens and time travel and future speculation.  But he's not science fiction science fiction.  It's not because his books are necessarily more philosophically complicated.  It's the result of a complicated process that starts off with who Kurt Vonnegut knew and was friends with when he started publishing. 

The genre of any given work doesn't depend wholly on the stuff that's actually inside the work.  It's an active process of framing and negotiation between the creator(s), the audience, and everyone else who has any kind of financial interest in the work.  The given genre of a work then has a dynamic relationship with the content of the work, and frames the expectations of the audience.  For example, if I see a paperback with puffy raised letters on the cover, I'm more likely to think it's crap.  Other people might take that as a positive marker.  If I see a video game movie, I'm more likely to not take it seriously, because I've already been conditioned to think that movies based on video games are crap.  Or conversely, when I saw that Bad Lieutenant 2: Port of Call New Orleans was being released, when most other people thought "WTF!", I thought, "Awesome! Werner Herzog! Must see!" 

If audiences don't like the placement of a work in a certain genre, they can influence creators to stop placing it in that genre, or to create related works that fit the audience's expectations better.  A lot of commercially popular stuff is done based on focus groups and explicitly tailored to audience tastes, calculated to maximize earnings potential. The resulting artistic quality is debatable, of course.  Sometimes audiences don't really want what they think they want.

Genre is often contentious, even violent.  Creators disagree among themselves what genre their stuff should belong to.  Sometimes, even for things with one individual creator, the creator will change their mind in the future about what genre their stuff should belong to. Creators and audiences disagree with each other.  Audiences disagree amongst themselves. 

The CoE schism in Torchwood fandom is fundamentally a genre debate. 

I think there are many ways to approach and outline the terms of disagreement, but I'll start with moral consequences.  That's the one that jumps out at me the most.  Doctor Who has science fiction, science fantasy and pulp roots, but it's practically a genre unto itself by this point.  Taking a show like Law & Order: SVU, I imagine its genre framing as a set of solid steely blue bars.  Doing the same to Doctor Who, I see a frilly, ornate border whose edges form weird fractal patterns and trail off randomly into space.  This genre framing has a huge impact on audience perception of moral consequences on the show.  For example, The Master. If you take him at face value in terms of body count, the guy is basically Hitler squared.  In Season 3 he kills about a billion people!  Yet, he's made into a sympathetic character to such a degree that lots and lots of people write fluffy porn about him (nobody does that about Hitler, at least I hope not!). Inside the Doctor Who genre framework, The Master's character draws on a long history of cartoonish pulp villains whose excesses are so excessive that they lose the potential of real moral weight.

When TW S1 and S2 split off from Doctor Who, I think they didn't change the pulp dynamic of moral consequences that much.  I've argued this before, but there's a lot of gruesome death in S1 and S2 that gets taken very, very lightly.  Whether you're bothered by this or not is really a function of how you as a viewer determine genre. There's no one absolute right way to do it, just different opinions.  And no one has to pick one and stay with it.  When people write fanfiction, they often play with genre, either consciously or unconsciously.  They'll take the same contents and change the frame, make it more serious, less serious, weirder, fluffier, then produce something new and hybrid from the combination.

CoE did drastically change the framing dynamic of moral consequences.  I talked a lot about differences between CoE and S1/S2 in a post here, so I won't repeat them.  A lot of the differences are fairly obvious.

S4 is going to mean yet more redrawing of the genre frame.  RTD is obviously aiming for something hybrid.  He's going to make an argument for genre before the show, and then during the show, once we see what it actually contains. 

So getting back to the pedophile character... I don't have a problem with a pedophile character per se, even an ambiguous one.  First of all, because I don't think it's automatically inappropriate. Torchwood is not a children's show.  Ahem, sex gas episode? I certainly don't let my kid watch either Torchwood (way too violent; death is treated too lightly) or Law & Order SVU.  Second of all, I think the idea has narrative potential.  I was fascinated by the Roman Polanski case, as were a lot of other people. Talk about a sympathetic pedophile... not that I sympathize with him at all, but a lot of other people did, and defended him vociferously. He violently raped a child, and got away with it. Why? I think our culture is fascinated with pedophilia as an ultimate sin, but sometimes that outrage masks the way in which we also have nasty tendencies towards victim-blaming.  It's easier to blame the perpetrator than the system that covers up the perpetrator.

Can a subtle issue like that be handled within the sort of hybrid genre framework that RTD wants to establish?  I don't know. I really have no idea.

I'm not 100% confident. There are other reasons I don't like having an ambiguous pedophile character.  One, the amount of enormous fandom wank it has already produced and will no doubt continue to produce over the next year.  Second, how we're going to navigate the homophobic trope of drawing an equivalence between pedophilia and LGBT people... especially since another element of the genre framework is that Torchwood is the only big-budget show in English (probably in any language, but I don't want to make assumptions) with a bisexual superhero (who will be read as gay by a substantial part of the audience).  That's a pretty big standard to bear.  In the future there will be more, I hope, but for now, anything it does is going to be very foundational, and very risky.  I don't think that creators, especially ones who are gay, should be given a set of anti-homophobic restrictions saying "never mention pedophilia anywhere near LGBT characters", but it is something that at this moment in time presents more pitfalls and possibilities for harmful misrepresentation.

Getting back to the interview, I also had the thought that RTD is sort of presenting himself -- his own persona -- in a hybrid framework.  Half huckster, half auteur, all snarly.  There was an interesting comment on this thread that asks if there are any other major television shows in which the creator has such an antagonistic relationship with many of the most ardent fans.  And the answer, basically, was "no". 

Someone like Werner Herzog doesn't have to worry about selling action figures. He has a dedicated fanbase who'll watch almost anything he makes.  I don't care if it's pointless remakes starring crackhead!Nicholas Cage (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, which I loved) or lyrical, philosophical documentaries about the relationship of humanity to nature (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World), or epics about fucked-up conquistadors (Aguirre the Wrath of God)... if you're a Werner Herzog fan, you know you've got to roll with the punches, and you're not entitled to have an opinion about what he should do next.

I think RTD has one foot in the realm where he wants to sell action figures (you will like it! I promise you! I will please everyone!), and the other foot in Werner Herzog land, and he's sort of jumping up and down in the middle, pumping his fists.  It's a bit disconcerting, but also very entertaining to watch. 

azn_jack_fiend: (father ted diagram)
The [ profile] tardisbigbang Round 3 fics are up.  I haven't started reading them, but I'm looking forward to it soon.  Probably this weekend.  I'm going to start off with these three, since I've read other stuff by the authors that I've really liked:

The Rose of Jericho by [ profile] kaydeefalls 
The Roots of the Quadratic by [ profile] nancybrown 
Beyond the Yellow Brick Road by [ profile] plutokitty 

I have to go back and rec last year's Round 2 story, And Seven for a Secret by [ profile] aeshna_uk.  It's soooo good.  I'm thinking of actually printing it out so that when I read it for a second time I won't have eyestrain.  It's one of the fics I really want to discuss if I ever get around to the third part of my meta on action, because the action is so present and so fantastic, and that's such a rare thing in fanfic. 

I dropped out of the Torchwood Big Bang, and my story's been stalled for a while, but I want to get back to plotting it soon.  Every time I write another fic, I get some confidence about my ability to actually finish a longer fic.   For example, I've never done a really introspective and dialogue-heavy piece before, and I feel like I pulled that off with reasonable competence last week with "Don't Think You Knew You Were in This Song".  Comments are awesome (and I like to thank every person who leaves them, especially long ones, though short ones are great too, because no one has to leave comments, and taking the time to leave them is the equivalent of paying money) but a large part of why I'm writing is to challenge myself and learn how to write.  I'm also strongly motivated by other-centered reasons: making readers happy, contributing to ongoing debates/discussions by fleshing out theories in fictional form, simple recognition.  But my most immediate motivation is self-centered: to try something I haven't done before, and do it in such a way the fic doesn't make me groan when I go back and reread it a week later.

So here are my current top goals for general writing:
- work on making language richer and more figurative, something I worry is a particular weakness
- work on plotting and setting description, both of which are crucial for longer stuff
- work on making dialogue as naturalistic and powerful as possible

And specifically:
- Start on [ profile] retconbookwrite soon
- Get back into Big Bang plotting and researching and start writing little pieces of it.
- Porn? I have a problem here. It's so labor-intensive to write that I want to stick to shorter pieces, but I feel like writing longer pieces.  I really want to write a threesome scene (Jack/Gwen/Ianto or Nine/Jack/Rose) because man, I love those.
- Write an actual Torchwood Torchwood fic. You know, with the team, set in the Hub.  I haven't done that yet. I think I have a block against it. Maybe it's because I feel like all the best stories have already been written by better writers.

And another thought. In writing the short post about Michael Moorcock, I realize there must have been a fair amount of cross-pollination between Doctor Who and Moorcock.  They both got started in 1960s UK, after all.  I know Moorcock actually started writing in the 1950s when he was 14 or something but I've actually tried to read something he wrote back then and it was horrible.  He hit his stride in the 1960s and started pumping out the really mind-blowing stuff. 

Right now, I could characterize the Doctor as someone who happens to be the last of a vanishing/dead race who are kind of dicks, so he ends up throwing in his lot with humans.  That is so incredibly Moorcock. I think he's the one who took science fantasy to a whole different level of complexity from its origin in the pulps, and that's what Doctor Who is like on a television level.
azn_jack_fiend: (Seven Samurai)
I don't want to tell anyone that their feelings are wrong, if they feel differently from me, and obviously many people do.

I personally feel that Ianto Jones' death was, in fact, very meaningful.

Instead of listing all the pro- and con- arguments that have already been extensively discussed over the last year, I'll head off on a rambling film geek parallel. 

Cut for Spoilers for Seven Samurai and a Passionate Defense of RTD )

azn_jack_fiend: (Default)
Here's a recap of stuff I learned from in Part I:

- action is worthless without suspense. A good action scene is simply a suspense scene that requires action to resolve.
- every action scene should have its own internal logic of objective/complication/resolution and this should be as multilayered as possible.

I think Day Two of Children of Earth was the high point for action in the entire Torchwood series. I was biting my nails through most of the episode. I'm not going to analyze every single component, but I'd like to list the big ones that went into creating the suspense.
Read the rest behind the cut. Contains CoE spoilers of course. )
azn_jack_fiend: (gun2)
This is a question I'm thinking through as I'm writing.  I thought I would get to an analysis of the action/suspense scenes in Children of Earth, talk a little about hopes for Season 4 and a little about some of the rare fanfic I've read that's heavy on action/suspense, but this piece has gotten so long I don't have time for that today, so I'll have to continue the Torchwood-specific stuff later on in a Part 2.  I love writing this sort of thing, but I hadn't predicted how much time it would take.

Anyway, I'm trying to approach the question in a multimedia way, predominantly as a reader and a viewer.

First, I wondered why good action scenes are so hard to find in fanfiction.  Fanfic seems to excel at emotional and intellectual suspense, but fail terribly at action, or just not bother to include any at all, because it's obviously so difficult.

Then I realized I was asking the wrong question.  It's not just fanfiction.  The vast majority of American action movies fail at action!  I read a fantastic analysis of this at a scriptwriting site called  As a movie/TV viewer, the analysis fits very much with my experience and aesthetic judgments and I couldn't agree more.  In a nutshell, most action movies have action without suspense.  Action scenes need to have their own internal logic, or else they're pointless. Michael Bay, the crappy king of action, is a perfect example of this.  His movies constitute one long series of utterly predictable explosiongasms.

Read more... )
azn_jack_fiend: (gwen)
In her world, that is? I've been wondering about that recently, partly in relation to comments speculating on Gwen-bashing, and then also in relation to this story by [ profile] blue_fjords , which I thought was absolutely fantastic.  It's a post-Cyberwoman story from Gwen's point of view and includes a short passage with Megan and Trina, the bridesmaids from Something Borrowed.  

The story ends on an optimistic note.  Gwen is somewhat hopeful that she'll be able to hang on to at least some shred of a normal social life.  It's very convincing.  It's also very early in Gwen's career in Torchwood, and I think her attitude would be different post-S2.  Here's my slightly darker interpretation of her situation. 

I imagine that Gwen's social circle shrank dramatically around the time she became a policewoman.  1) a lot of young people are weirded out by police, for obvious reasons: they might want to smoke a joint at a party or something and knowing they're in the presence of an off-duty police is rather dampening. 2) Policing is a high-intensity job with a lot of internal camaraderie, but if you're a woman, navigating that situation and making friends on the job would be really difficult.  PC Andy, for example, is a friend of a sort, but it's not an easy or supportive friendship for Gwen because he's half in love with her and half pissed off at her for not reciprocating.  And any woman in a male-dominated field feels the pressure to prove she's one of the boys, and making friends with other women often works against that goal, but if you don't make friends with other women, you're incredibly isolated. 3) Because policing is such a high-intensity job, it's hard to talk about your work with people outside the profession.  Working for Torchwood is like that times a million, but policing has the same problem in miniature. 4) She's entered into a serious relationship with Rhys around this time, who seems much more social than she is, and in any kind of relationship like that, it becomes really tempting for the less social partner to relinquish logistical responsibility for the social life.  It's a common male-to-female dynamic -- a man marries a woman and drops most of his friendships, which is why older men after divorce often end up more isolated and depressed than older women -- but it's just as possible for a woman to do this with a man.

By the time she started working for Torchwood, I imagine it was difficult for her to keep up her relationship with Megan and Trina, and her other friends from college had almost all drifted off.  On her hours off, she probably spent more time with, umm, Banana Boat than with any of her own friends, casual or serious.  I don't think she was desperately unhappy because of this.  It was a trade-off... she had a challenging job she loved (most people don't have that) and a solid relationship with Rhys.  Torchwood just made that trade-off a lot more apparent.

I think some people who don't like her want to fit her into a "popular girl" mould which doesn't apply at all.  She takes a lot of care with her appearance, and yes, she's empathetic, but neither of those qualities means she has a lot of friends, or that she's actively seeking people to be friends with her or to pay attention to her.  I really see it as a case of correlation, not causation, and I don't see the evidence for it in any part of any show. 

Post-S2, I think her world had shrunk to just a few very intense relationships with three men: Rhys, Jack, Ianto.  Her job hours and those relationships took up every ounce of emotional energy. 

After CoE, it would shrink even more... down to just Rhys.  At this point she would really take stock of her life and make some major changes, or else fall into a deep, deep black hole of depression.  This is the kind of shock that often causes divorce, as well.  When two people become used to a relationship where they're apart most of the time, and then things change rapidly so they're together all the time, and one of those people has changed a lot... it can end pretty badly. 

I think she'd ultimately be okay, and make those changes successfully, because she's also been shown to be flexible and adaptable throughout the show. 
azn_jack_fiend: (Dagon)
I've been following the discussion referred to here at [ profile] rm's journal, which led me to the bingo card and [ profile] smirnoffmule's older post here, which gets right to the point:

On Slashing While Straight and Writing While Queer
So. Writing slash, for straight people, is kind of like being invited into the living room of the LGBT experience. And it's one thing, as a civilised guest, to make yourself comfortable, relax, and have fun in someone else's house, but it's quite another to litter it with your own crap, stamp your muddy boots all over the carpet, and wank off all over the couch.

That's speaking right to me, as a straight woman, and it's a great warning.

I'm new to these issues in fanfiction, but I'm also more sensitive than average, for reasons I'll go into later.  In fact, I didn't really start seriously reading fanfiction until I figured out that 1) there were also some LGBT/Q people writing it 2) these people were OK (with varying kinds of reservations, of course) about straight people being so involved in it. 

Before a few days ago, I didn't know that warning for slash, or m/m sex (or f/f though that isn't discussed as much) was such a hot-button topic.  I've read tons of fanfic in the last couple months, but I never thought about the subtle differences between "Warning:" "Contains:" and "Rating".  I did know that I hated the movie rating system where sex = NC-17 and violence = R, but it seemed pretty much inescapable, like the real movie rating system.  However, the posts and discussions I've read in the last couple days make it crystal clear how offensive it is to have your sexuality "warned" for when it's not sanctioned by the mainstream in real life. 

In contrast, warning for "het" seems silly, but it's really not very offensive.  It's not like I get a lot of messages telling me that straight sex and relationships are a crime against nature.

I'm actually embarrassed I never thought of this issue before, but I'll definitely keep it in the forefront of my mind from now on.

I mentioned being sensitive because (and I intend this more as a ramble, not a derail or serious qualitative/quantitative comparison) ever since I was a teenager I've been plagued by the Wapanese.  I hear they call them "weeaboos" too, for some reason.  When I first encountered them, I thought the phenomenon was wonderful.  People who liked Japan! And anime and manga! Instead of blaming me for WWII and stealing their parents' jobs, which is what I was more used to.  I quickly figured out how much they sucked and have done my best to avoid them ever since.

It's not the fact that they like Japan, or study Japan, or appreciate Japanese cultural products. That's totally fine, in and of itself. Also, issues of cultural appropriation from Japan don't concern me, because I'm not a Japanese national... Japanese can complain on their own if they want, but mostly they wouldn't bother, the same way I don't care if someone in Japan happens to be appropriating/borrowing American culture. The issue is more their concrete actions and how those actions negatively affect my life. Here are just a few ways (I could make the list ten times longer if I wanted).

1) They treat Japanese-Americans (me) like crap and judge us according to their own bizarre, ridiculous standards of cultural authenticity.
2) They treat other Asians and Asian-Americans like crap. E.g. "You're Korean? Ewww. Too bad you're not Japanese."
3) They've created a stereotype that Japan is uniquely weird because they purposely obsess over and import the weirdest stuff, which also means that...
4) Their insatiable demand for shitty hentai masturbation material makes it impossible for me to find stuff I could watch with my kid, dubbed in English, that's not Pokemon.  That's too boring for them, I guess. 

Anyway, I have no desire to educate or argue with those people. I don't even have the mental energy to distinguish between the minority of decent ones who've learned basic manners and respect for other human beings, and the majority of bad ones.  I just avoid them and insult them from afar. 

It's led to a few uncomfortable social situations. Last year a friend of my mother's kept trying to get me to meet with her teenage daughter.  "She's crazy about anime!  She'd love to talk with you about Japan!"  She kept bringing this up every time I saw her, when the last thing I wanted to do was be some walking museum exhibit for a Wapanese.  The problem was that I really respected this woman (she's a political activist) and I'm sure her daughter was a very nice girl who was simply curious. I ended up sending her a long, polite email explaining that being introduced to her daughter like that would be way too uncomfortable for me, and to please stop asking.  She still didn't understand but at least she stopped bringing it up.

Economically, and numbers-wise, among other factors, it's a totally different situation from fanfic, but there is one lesson that overlaps: the idea that just because someone likes "your stuff", that doesn't automatically make them your friend, even if they tell you that you're supposed to be their friend. 
azn_jack_fiend: (Default)
There were several anti-CoE posts this last week on [info]torch_wood, sparking a lot of discussion, and one pro-CoE post here.  If I had to choose a side to debate, I'd be pro-CoE. A large part of it is probably that I got into Torchwood after CoE had already aired, so I never experienced the same level of identification and immediacy as people watching the live shows.

On the other hand, I've heard a few pro-CoE arguments that disparage Season 1 and Season 2 as "not serious enough".  I don't like that; it doesn't resonate with me. Oddly enough, I've heard the exact same idea repeated in a different way... to attack CoE. That is, Season 1 and 2 are supposed to be preferable because they have a less-serious magical ingredient (crack?).  

I'm just beginning to get a feel for what "crack" means.  It's really interesting to think about its etymology.  If you'd asked me when I was a teenager, crack would just mean "the nasty kind of cocaine that makes people smell bad and steal your television".  Later on, it turned into "anything that's bad for you, and cheap, but you want it anyway."  If you want to say something's really addictive, you say "it's like heroin", but if it's addictive and cheap, it'd probably be "it's like crack".  There's a subtle racial aspect as well, of course. 

At first I thought "crack" in fanfic vocabulary simply meant camp-minus-gay-cultural-context, but now I think most people are using it in a broader sense that also includes a surreal aesthetic (humorous or not), whimsy, sexual extremes (but generally not gore) and a self-reflexive, tongue-in-cheek sort of awareness.

How cheap is "crack"? Aside from character treatment, maybe that's an alternate key to why many people are so resentful of CoE.  Killing the crack could be read as a statement that says "what you're seeing is more expensive and high-class now. We're leaving you behind."  That's kind of insulting.

I don't happen to see things that way, but I also don't want to use my own attitude as a yardstick.  Personally, I loved Season 1, Season 2 and Children of Earth.  I even loved "Random Shoes".  The only episode out of all Torchwood I don't ever plan on seeing again is "Combat" (ugh! I hate it!).  Otherwise, it's all good.

Again, suspending the issue of character treatment and development, because that's already been exhaustively covered from all angles, here are some major differences I saw between S1/S2 and CoE.  I want to cover them without making value judgments.

- CoE was very linear. In comparison, S1and S2 were halfway between linear and nonlinear.  There were arcs, but some of the episodes could have been switched without much difference.  Being nonlinear isn't necessarily good or bad, it's just different.  How we went from "I'll watch you suffer and die!" to "stopwatch?" for example. You could call that bad writing, or you could call it a tantalizing opportunity.  CoE was like running a race; S1 and S2 were like playing hopscotch.

- CoE was claustrophobic. There was a motif of confinement along with a motif of being hunted.  Both restrict space and narrow it down.  There was no time travel.  S1 and S2 were expansive. There was an outrageous amount of time travel.  Most of the episodes centered around searching an area, or finding an object, or chasing someone.

- CoE created links with more realism-based narratives: politics, race, class, sexuality.  Homophobia came to the foreground.  The series also drew on traditions from thrillers and action movies, of course, but it didn't wink and nod to specific ones.  S1/S2 created links with more fantasy-based narratives. Episodes were stuffed with references to prior works of fantasy and science fiction.  Beyond the obvious (the hand in the jar: Doctor Who) there were subtle links, like Eugene in Random Shoes and his video rentals, the Evil Dead reference in "Something Borrowed," the Ray Bradbury elements of "Out of the Rain". And there was the massive unspoken influence of Buffy/Angel throughout.

- CoE did have humor, but it was dark stuff.  S1/S2 had a mix of darker humor and lighter jokes.

- I don't think CoE was nihilistic. In fact, it's more the other way around.  In S1/S2, human life was pretty cheap. Civilians die like flies and no one cares that much about what happens to them. It starts at the beginning, with the resurrected murder victim, the chomped janitor, the massive sex gas body count.  Only a minority of episodes had any sort of humanistic feel to them. CoE had a lot more to say about moral consequences.

No matter the season, what I love about EVERY EPISODE is that they tell big, bold stories, take risks and look awesome.

If Torchwood was any more self-reflexive, it wouldn't be as risky.  If you keep on packing in winks and nudges and references into any work of art, it starts getting too safe. It's like the creators are saying, "Hey, don't take this seriously, I don't even take it seriously myself. If you think it sucks, whatever, I don't care."  Past a certain point, you end up with Family Guy.

For me, Torchwood hits a sweet spot: enough reflexivity to be clever and complicated, but not too much so that it edges into pure comedy or whimsical irrelevancy.

I'm sort of a film geek, and I remember an interesting argument I once had with a film professor and Tarkovsky fan. I was arguing the merits of Alejandro Jodorowsky.  Jodorowsky does incredibly surreal movies that are generally not considered high cinema, unlike Tarkovsky.  Part of it is because they have tons of sex and gore.  The woman I got into an argument with complained that Jodorowsky didn't know the meaning of irony.  It depends on your definition of irony, I guess, but her complaint made me realize that what I love about Jodorowsky is everything she hated.  It's the attitude that goes something like this... "This is an epic story, it's full of weird twists, nothing is halfway, it tries to do everything at the same time except make sense, it makes no concessions, it looks beautiful and it tries to outrageously manipulate your higher AND your lower emotions as much as possible, hey check out this lesbian whipping scene in the middle of a desert that represents a metaphysical concept."  Jodorowsky movies aren't like Torchwood at all, and they're not really "crack", but my love for them feels very similar.

Extremely fucked-up clip from a Jodorowsky movie below... do not watch if you have especially tender feelings towards frogs and lizards!

I'm considering an issue along a slightly related tangent.  I just checked, and Supernatural has 35,797 stories, and The Wire has 1, and it's not about Omar.  There has to be some kind of equation that explains these numbers! I would love to see it.
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