In the wilderness, a new deconstruction appears: “Miki Falls”

noviembre 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm (Comic Books, Commentary, Miki Falls) (, , , , , )

(Note: This was originally written nearly a year ago.)

If asked to describe Mark Crilley’s graphic novel series Miki Falls in one sentence, it would have to be “Twilight in Japan”. While the truth is more complicated than that, it’s also not wholly inaccurate: like Twilight, Miki Falls is the story of a high school girl living in a small town, who meets a mysterious guy who turns out to be more than human—what’s more, he forms part of a secret community of similar not-quite-humans. They both fall in love with the other, but their relationship is not even slightly accepted by the boy’s community. At the very least, there’s lots of potential for audience crossover.

I first learned of Miki Falls rather accidentally: while browsing the manga isles at Borders (moment of sadness, please—its downfall means I can’t access most books anywhere but online, and It’s Just Not The Same), I stumbled across the creator’s name in the series’ first volume, which immediately got my attention, since Crilley was responsible for Akiko, a fantastic little series which can be most concisely described as The Wizard of Oz meets Star Wars, and which I heartily recommend to anyone with young children. Anyways, I decided to buy it. And then I bought the second volume and so on and so on. Twilight had not yet entered my personal consciousness.

Based on what I’d heard and read about Twilight (I have not read the series, save for roughly the first half of the first book) I’d come to believe that Falls was Twilight done right, in that the characters were likable an root-for-able and that the work itself was not inherently problematic. However, the last few months—thank in no small part to Ana Mardoll’s fantastic Twilight deconstructions—have made me to see Falls rather differently. And it turns out that when seen in a critical light, Miki Falls is, in fact, rather problematic, and the fact that I didn’t see those problems before doesn’t speak very highly of the kind of person I was a year ago.

So yeah.

So I’m writing these now—partly to compare and contrast the work with Twilight, partly to highlight its own particular ideas, and partly to exercise my critical writing skills.  I can’t promise I’ll do it regularly, because I have a history of not keeping those, but the aim is to make one of these per week.

The book is divided into four manga-sized volumes, one for each season of the year, which form the titles for each individual volume. Given that each book covers roughly three months of time in great detail, I’ll be discussing individual scenes, much in the style that Fred Clark first popularized among Slacktivites. While I intend to quote passages, I am not entirely sure to what extent I’ll be doing that, since I’m not sure how much would be considered fair use in a medium in which I could repeat all the words and only tell half the story. There will also be occasional pics, depending on what I can find online and how well scans work out.

So without further ado…

 

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“Sword of Sorcery”, Amethyst, Beryl, and “That Scene”

septiembre 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm (Animation, Comic Books, Commentary, Rape Culture, sexism) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Content Note: Rape and Rape Culture)

On episode 91 of their House to Astonish podcast, Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy discuss the return to Amethyst to comics and her debut in Sword of Sorcery #0.  The bulk of their review is spent discussing a scene in the protagonist Amy Winston stops the attempted gang rape of Beryl, an unpopular girl whom she’d met earlier that day, by three of their high school classmates.  Kennedy, in particular, considered this scene as the low point in the issue, being utterly unnecessary, disruptive of the book’s general feel, and yet another example of comic book writers’ use of rape as a source of cheap drama.

To quote the Slacktiverse, I think it’s more complicated than that.  While I am like Kennedy rather sick and tired of the way rape and sexual assault is usually presented in fiction–as something that doesn’t exist beyond the actual act, is often presented in an misinformative manner, and is at times fetishized–I’m not sure altogether sure that the scene shown here was an example of what he refers to.

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One Tentative Step Forward, One Million Definitive Steps Back: My Thoughts on the New Lara Croft

junio 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm (Rape Culture, Videogames & Vidcons) (, , , , , , )

Content Note: Rape, Objectification of Women, Fetishization of Helplessness

So there’s a new article on that new Tomb Raider game out—one that seems to confirm what some thought of the latest game in the series.

In the past, Lara Croft didn’t need protecting. She was a fearless daredevil, a crack shot in short shorts with enough attitude to scare off a pack of bloodthirsty gorillas.

But in the upcoming Tomb Raider  reboot, things will be different. She hasn’t become that woman yet. And executive producer Ron Rosenberg says you’ll want to keep her safe.

“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character,” Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.

“They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.'”

[…]

“She’s definitely the hero but— you’re kind of like her helper,” he said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”

I’ve never played any of the Tomb Raider games; everything I know about the series has been filtered through third parties, each with their own biases.  Still, I understand that the first couple of games were actually quite good, which helped buffer up her sudden status as the PS1 era’s leading lady (if only by default), but that once the quality of her games dropped, it became harder to claim that she wasn’t a sex object first and a character second. So when it was announced that Lara would undergo through an extensive makeover for her latest incarnation, reducing her proportions to ones that did not imply tough times finding comfortable bras and which bring to mind the movie version of Katniss Everdeen, people who felt embarrassed for enjoying her games breathed a sigh of relief.

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