Saturday, May 21, 2011

In case you've been missing the Wonder Woman ranting

Oh, and for those of you who've been wondering when I'll get back to Wonder Woman. I've been having a rather lengthy conversation on Tumblr, here and here.

All kidding about Steve's intelligence aside, we've actually got a couple really good reasons he doesn't realize he's working with his girlfriend. I'll get around to posting about them sometime when I'm finished making pilot jokes.

Also, the usual twitter conversations with jmatonak and mizzelle. Got into a tangent today on how anti-military fans get at times. It's not just that guy on Tumblr. It's just something that comes up a lot when talking online about stuff with a civilian-military mix. You see it among SGA and Green Lantern fans too. I've seen John Sheppard, Steve Trevor, and Hal Jordan all dismissed in the same derisive way by different fans. From the POV of someone who works with military men, these are three widely varying personalities, but somehow there's fans who hate them for the exact same character traits (which they don't all possess...?).

What's really annoying is that comic writers seem to be buying into military as shorthand for one personality type, whether they like the military or not. John Stewart is being made more Marine stereotype and less John anymore. Hal's being slid into this macho military caricature. Steve was shoehorned into being Hal in the animated movie. Bucky's not always handled by other writers with the complexity Brubaker gave him. Not to mention that soldiers are pretty much cannon fodder henchmen in a lot of stories, and you only ever see reviewers point out that's a bad thing in their jokes.

Wonder if Captain America fans ever get this, or is he just a special character?

Petition to get the Wild Hunt on the Daily Show

I'm late to this because it broke last week, but over at Patheos they're fed up with the current media take on religion:
When the Washington Times thinks it’s appropriate to publish a column stating the Air Force Academy is “pandering” to my “fringe” religion, despite the fact that Pagans have fought and died for this country, I get angry.
Around the 1950s, fringe leftists enamored by the concept of worshiping the Earth adopted the ancient labels and pretended to follow the old ways.
When David Barton can advocate for a Christian government and actively work against my religious rights only to get away with lying about these activities on television, I get angry.
The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses.
When I have to deal with people who feel it’s appropriate to tell me I will burn in hell because they are the “keepers of the truth”, I get angry.
So do I. Star Foster has a more productive idea than ranting, and that's to petition to get some more pagan voices into the mainstream.

Specifically, Jason Pitzl-Waters on the Daily Show.
Instead I’m going to ask you to write The Daily Show and suggest they invite The Wild Hunt author and Washington Post columnist Jason Pitzl-Waters on the show to discuss David Barton and the real challenges religious minorities face in this country.

As a journalist he is familiar with the legal battle facing Patrick McCollum, the discrimination against Santeria, the triumphs of and challenges before the Lady Liberty League, the AFA earth-centered spirituality space, the Witch-Children of Africa and India, and many more stories important to our communities. He’s the journalist at the nexus of all of these stories, and he’s an excellent public speaker.

I'm going to take a moment to whine personally here. I do not represent pagans or the military or even pagans in the military. I certainly am not telling anyone US Air Force policy. I just want to tell you a little about my experience.

I'm scheduled to go a less intense unit soon, but in the midst of preparing for that, training my replacements for my multiple additional duties, and taking care of my personal stuff I was in the all-consuming field exercise this month. I just spent weeks working my ass off to help train and prepare folks so they can go to the middle of nowhere and do their job even when there are no amenities and a bunch of people are trying to kill them. That's not political, that's what we fucking do no matter who's in charge. (Whether it's for good or bad is all based on who you vote into office if you're in the US, so if you're an American citizen who sits out the primaries because "only the jerks ever win" I personally hate your guts.)

While I was in Afghanistan last fall, I saw no information about pagan services or a pagan rep at the chapel, but regular Christian services were scheduled. We had one Muslim dude in our unit, and he had to personally contact the Chapel to get a waiver for some Ramadan practices. They were nice about it, he didn't get any trouble over it, he just needed a special letter for some uniform thing. I never got any trouble over my solitary practices and I didn't feel a need to keep my religion under wraps on site, but I wasn't comfortable going to the Chaplain about Wiccan stuff and there was no contact information available for pagans there. I accept There were posted hours for Christian services, though.

At the field ex last week, Sunday was tear-down day. Work for everyone taking down equipment and tents. I got a good laugh when my boss (who knows that I am a witch) interrupted me to ask me if I wanted to go to Church. Our Group's Chaplain came down from base and they were busing anyone who wanted to attend Christian services to the nearby German Chapel. My boss was required to ask everyone in the office if they wanted to attend, to make sure no one who wanted to go missed it.

This is not against the rules, or oppressive. I haven't seen anything personally to file a complaint about (I've heard stories, but I've been lucky) or been treated bad by anyone in my chain of command. I've just seen some examples of the consideration Christians get that I will never see extended to pagans. It's like how Christmas is a federal holiday but I have to ASK for a special consideration if I want Beltane off. It's just an extra step I have to take (though I haven't ever actually gotten Beltane off...). These conveniences are all over the place, and I can actually see the necessity because it would suck if someone missed the bus for Sunday services while they were pulling up grounds like I was...


Anyway, I understand completely that I'm the rare religion here. I don't want to end Christian services or anything like that, and I'm not mad at anyone who goes to Church. I understand that if I want a group service for my religion, I have to contact the Chaplain personally (and cross my fingers that he's not a dick, because some of them are about this) and if we don't have a POC already ask around the unit to find the pagans and get a group together. I've known this at every base, it's more difficult some places and less others. And really, this unit is not bad in the regard.

I understand that there are a bazillion Christians, so everything is already nicely set up for Christians. There will always be networking at Churches. They don't have to worry about whether or not there's a volunteer POC for all of monotheism at their new base. They don't have to explain what they're reading when someone sees their bible. Good for them. That actually doesn't make me angry.

What makes me angry is when someone tries to make it seem like I want special treatment when I want the same consideration the Christians get.

What makes me angry is that we can't get a Pagan Chaplain attached to any of the four branches.

What makes me angry is that if I want the symbol of my religion on my tombstone to protect my remains and soothe my soul after death, the VA Administration is going to pale and stammer and give my relatives the runaround.

What makes me angry is that a ridiculous extremist can be elected if they're a Christian, but pagans and Atheists are scared risk political doom if they just mention their beliefs.

What makes me angry is when I log onto my computer to see someone who likely wouldn't even think of joining the National Guard in an admin position talk about how my religion isn't a real religion, it doesn't matter, and that we are being PAMPERED and PANDERED to when someone dares to set a place of worship aside for us.

This is old in social networking time, but it's still necessary. Do me a personal favor and do this, even if you're an atheist or a Christian reader. I want to see an intelligent Pagan speaking on these subjects in the mainstream for once.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So we're back to frisson of woo.

So last week we packed up the Squadron and went out to one of the many beautiful forested areas of Germany so we could destroy the meadow with our tents, our trucks, our vans and our competition. It was both stressful and relaxing, stressful for the long hours working and relaxing for being outdoors in Germany with no access to phones or internet. As lovely as it was, we still packed in record time once we got the endex and convoyed out of there before the Germans could see what we'd done to their lawn. (I'm kidding, they play war games on that lawn too. We saw some of their units training out there, trying to ignore us.) We spent a week and a weekend there.

Oh how I wish it had been this week instead.

When I returned, the first thing I saw was the unfortunate news that NBC had passed on the Wonder Woman pilot. I had been dreading that.

Not because I badly wanted to see a Wonder Woman TV show by David E. Kelley. I did want to see it, of course. He had some interesting ideas and really, in lieu of nothing I'd take it. I read the Byrne years, after all.

Not because I knew it's failure would be used as an excuse to kill any subsequent female-led projects. It will, but sexism is overwhelming and they'd find other excuses if this was successful.

Not because I'm worried that we'll never see another media adaptation of Wonder Woman. Oh, it's going to be a long long time but that wasn't my primary concern.

No, my primary concern was the immediate Internet reaction to a Wonder Woman failure. By that I mean the hundreds of posts by hundreds of idiots who have never read Wonder Woman, yet somehow know exactly what is wrong with her. Or the ones who have read and have concluded that there is something fundamentally weak about the character as opposed to a problem with the individual creators. The ones who claim that she only survived because she's a female hero, even though there were tons of female heroes from the 40s who did not survive. The ones who claim that Freudian bondage was the only reason for her popularity, which is akin to suggesting that little boys only ever watched He-man for the homoeroticism. The ones who blame the costume or the time period. The ones who say there's nothing compelling about Wonder Woman in the post-feminist world. The ones who think she's tied solely to the war. The ones who claim that she's a piece of cardboard, a physical presence, a pair of tits, an untouchable character with no personality and no humanity.

Basically, just a giant pile of bullshit. A lot of female heroes didn't survive the end of the Golden Age, but Wonder Woman made it despite the deck being stacked AGAINST her because she was female and singled out by Wertham. Her personality is actually more clearly defined in her Golden Age origin than Clark's is in his Golden Age origin. Everything you need to know about her personality is spelled out in the classic origin, if writers can't get those traits across they are poor writers. We are not in a post-feminist society. That costume is no less stupid than Superman's. Little girls are the audience that elevated Wonder Woman to iconic status, not 40 year old fanboys.

And stop letting Frederic Wertham set your talking points, for fuck's sake.

Seriously. Wonder Woman was one of a handful of characters published continuously from the Golden Age to the Bronze Age. She is the best known female superhero in our society. People still remember that cheesy 70s show. Women who have never read comics get tattoos of her logo as a symbol of strength. She sells underoos, t-shirts, purses, barbie dolls and cosmetics.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this character.

There is something inherently appealing about this character.

DC is doing something wrong when they hire writers to "fix" Wonder Woman. You can't approach her like she's a third-string failed character who needs to be revamped. That's a road to disaster. She's not a third-stringer that only you see the potential for. She's a top tier character that millions of women have adored.

I know, post-Crisis fans are screaming in horror when I say it but this is the one character who can actually benefit from some nostalgia. They need to go back to her origin, and to the incarnations where she was the most popular (the Golden Age, the TV show) and figure out just what was the appealing aspect back then. Don't raze the place and add new stuff. Find the positive from back then, and accentuate it. Take Wonder Woman back to her roots, and streamline the old story for modern sensibilities.

If you're really confused, get outside help. Get together some people and--without telling them this is Wonder Woman's story--tell them the Golden Age origin story. Tell them about the Amazons, the princess, the pilot, and the contest. Tell them about the daughter who defied her overprotective mother. Tell them about the princess who fights dragons. Tell them about the woman who personally struggles against the God of Violence. Tell them about the warrior who rescued the monster (and don't dance around it, Men are the monsters Amazons use to scare their daughters into eating their vegetables) and nursed him back to health. Tell them about the first woman to leave her hometown in 3000 years.

Then ask them what they think of that woman, what they like about the girl in the story. That's where you'll find your Wonder Woman.