zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
Firefly gave me something to do during the early weeks of the quake, but I never got around to telling the world my view on it.

My view is simply this:

It could have been quite a decent show if they'd removed all the men and replaced them with some actual plots.

Okay, I lied, I have other views too. ) So the best part of Firefly/Serenity, in my opinion, is the fanvids. And with that I segue smoothly into:

Three fanvids about words
(This was going to be "three fanvids about words from shows I've never watched, except I only had two of them, and while I waited to come across a third I watched Firefly. Also the third one I came across was from Star Trek, which I had watched. Also technically I've seen bits of episodes of SGA too. So I just gave up on that part.)

Verb (Star Trek Reboot) by [personal profile] lapillus
Nice fun educational fluff. --I feel the need to clarify that 'fluff' isn't a bad thing, it's just not narratively or thematically deep, and that's okay because it's fun. And also in this case educational!

Language (Stargate:Atlantis) by [livejournal.com profile] newkidfan
I know who the people are, more or less, but not what's happening, and it doesn't matter a bit. The silence this speaks about is almost tangible. It makes me hold my breath straining to hear what isn't actually in an auditory mode. And that tension is held throughout, never resolved.

Sequence (Firefly/Serenity) by Lim [warning for some strobe effect]
Again I knew a bit about River Tam before watching, but nothing about the plot, and this vid worked just as well for me before I'd seen the series as after. And again, oh, the tension. It's coloured differently than that in Language but the shape is very much the same.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
For the purposes of this post I shall focus on freedom of speech in the USA, whose First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press [...]

People abiding in the United States are constitutionally protected from the specter of a law forcing them to say one thing or forbidding them to say another thing. They are likewise constitutionally protected from the specter of a law forcing the press to espouse some point of view or to suppress some other point of view.

This means that people abiding in the United States need never fear being arrested or prosecuted by the government for what they say or don't say, and this is a very good thing indeed. It also means that people can trust that US newspapers and TV stations aren't all just mouthpieces for the government (unless of course those newspapers and TV stations all individually choose to be, which seems unlikely) and this is also a very good thing.

Note however what this amendment doesn't say. It doesn't say that a press may not espouse a point of view or suppress a point of view. (If it did say such a thing, that would be a law abridging freedom of the press, and it's just said that there shall be no such law.)

It doesn't say that a non-governmental organisation may not espouse a point of view or suppress a point of view. It doesn't say that a person may not espouse a point of view or suppress a point of view. (If it did say such a thing, that would be a law abridging freedom of speech.)

It doesn't say that a media channel may not fire someone who has said nasty things. It only says that Congress shall make no law that a media channel must, or contrariwise that it must not, fire such a person.

It doesn't say that a convention may not refuse to honour someone else who has said other nasty things. It only says that Congress shall make no law that a convention must, or contrariwise must not, refuse to honour them.

Even if you count "honouring someone" as a speech act or as enabling a speech act, which I think is stretching things rather a lot.

Because the fact that one person has freedom of speech does not mean that someone else is obliged to pay for or otherwise actively support that speech. It doesn't give anyone the right to demand a column in the newspaper, or a segment on Fox News, or a minute on the radio airwaves, or comment space on someone's blog, or a podium at Wiscon.

Wiscon/SF3's decision to disinvite Elizabeth Moon as Guest of Honour does not abridge her freedom of speech, even if you think that organisations as well as government bear some moral responsibility for upholding that freedom. She can still write books. She can write blog posts. She can call up talkback radio. She can chat with her friends in the coffeeshop. She can speak at any other convention that's willing to have her. She can even, I believe, attend Wiscon and speak with people there; she just won't be officially honoured for it.

So she can still say anything she wants to say, and she will never, in the USA, be arrested for it, because Congress shall make no law abridging her freedom of speech. She just has to find somewhere else to say it than Wiscon's Guest of Honour podium (nor will she find this hard).

And if anyone really thinks that everyone everywhere in the US has the moral obligation to uphold everyone else's freedom of speech by providing them a platform to speak on, then six weeks before Wiscon/SF3 made their decision you should have been protesting Elizabeth Moon's mass deletion of comments from her post. Wiscon/SF3 aren't the ones engaging in censorship here.

(Personally I think she not only has the legal right but also the moral right to censor and otherwise control what's said in her own space. That she chose to exercise this right in this way and this context, however... was not the most constructive way to show respect for the people involved, shall we say.

(--Incidentally, my own personal policy on censorship is that if someone posts a comment to my DW or LJ which I feel I cannot in good conscience allow to remain here - which will generally be because it's hurtful to some third party - then I'll delete it and, where possible, email the text back to them so they can repost it to their own blog if they so choose. People are free to speak, and I'm free to refuse to host that speech.)
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
One thing about being sick (better now! mostly, anyway) is that it gave me a lot of free time, not all of which I swallowed up by playing Solitaire. So I've been watching from the start of series 1 and have noticed a couple of things.

1) Father's Day doesn't actually set up a bunch of rules about time travel that are subsequently forgotten. It's not that you can't change history or the bugs will get you, and it's not that you can't touch your earlier self or terrible things will happen. It's that if you weaken space/time by having two sets of yourself in one place and then change history... then you're at risk of (possible but not inevitable) infection. And if you've already got infection going on and then touch your earlier self... then that gives the infection a chance to spread.

2) There's a big theme of accepting responsibility going on. The good guys accept the responsibility for their mistakes (or just for fixing what needs fixing, regardless of whether they broken it); the bad guys try to pass the buck.

See the undertaker of the Unquiet Dead whose insistence that the spirits inhabiting "the stiffs" aren't his fault.

See companion Adam, whose meddling with alien tech ends up betraying the Doctor's identity to the Editor. It's not made explicit that the Doctor would have forgiven him if he'd just owned up to his mistake and apologised, but I bet he would have (well, though see #3). What we do see is Adam making excuse after excuse (not even decent excuses like "Technology like that could alleviate the suffering of billions!") and looking more and more of a git.

See how Rose accepts responsibility for what she's caused in Father's Day. And how her father accepts responsibility for fixing it. (My eyes may have got a bit of dust in at some point while watching this.)

See Jack, whose meddling with alien tech ends up infecting a bunch of people with gas masks and an Oedipus complex. Again Jack is portrayed negatively in how he insists that the alien ship has nothing to do with what's going on; but he redeems himself by saving Rose and the Doctor when he has the chance to escape by himself.

See how the plot is only resolved when Nancy takes responsibility for the situation and for her son. [Which is not to dis her decision to keep that secret as far as society's concerned - not just for her reputation, but to avoid, say, Jamie being taken away from her and sent off to Australia or something.]

See the Doctor's continual angst over his actions in the Time War.

And see how the Doctor constantly takes responsibility for Rose's safety, and agonises over his inability to protect her. Um, except this is where…

3) I don't actually like Nine anymore.

This is weird. I remembered liking him more than Ten. And if he weren't a Time Lord the romance with Rose would be kind of sweet. But... there's points where this gets a bit creepy. Even aside from the age gap, I mean.

Like in Father's Day, where he's shouting at her about being just another dumb ape and then they make up like this:

Doctor: Just say you're sorry.
Rose: I am.
Doctor: <smiles>

Not a small smile. Not a soft smile. A really cheerful smile. I'm absolutely certain no-one intended to portray this as "the Doctor is glad he's forced Rose to say she's sorry so that she has to be grateful for him forgiving her" but that's exactly what the smile looks like.

Earlier in the episode Rose accuses him of being annoyed that she cares more about her father than about him. And I think this is meant to be only half-true, but you know what? It goes a long way to explaining why he dislikes her mother (who's a bit abrasive, perhaps, and not sufficiently respectful of his elite Time Lordshipness, but on the other hand her daughter was missing for a year because of him) so much that he's positively gleeful at having the chance to order her around.

And it goes a long way to explaining why he so irrationally dislikes Mickey and keeps calling him "Ricky" and "useless" even after Mickey kind of like totally helps save the planet.

See also how he's jealous of Adam and Jack. But that's just because he's falling in love with Rose, right? It's totally romantic, right? Apart from the fact that he does it while acting like an emotionally abusive creepface.

I'm suddenly feeling like I've seen all this said before, and probably rebutted too. But I liked Nine and would excuse him if I could, but when I was already feeling a bit uncomfortable that smile was seriously ew.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
Today, season 5 episode 16. And the final scene struck me. (No serious spoilers.)

JJ, Prentiss and Garcia are tidying up after a case. And the awesome mother of one of the victims comes in and they talk briefly about the case and their job; and then JJ narrates the final voiceover quote by Emily Dickinson.

5 women in one scene, and the first time I watched it I saw nothing remarkable about it, because Criminal Minds has been awesome about having women just be people. Yes, the victims are mostly women, but they still have agency, whether they're being kept in a cage, a car boot, or a paralytic state. Women also take their turns as perpetrator, cop-of-the-week, key witness, key expert, strong friend-or-family, the-one-who-got-away, and the-one-who-stabbed-the-perp-before-Our-Heroes-could-get-there.

And Garcia is the tech genius. And Prentiss is a geeky polyglot who's ready any day to strap on the kevlar, shove her hair into a ponytail, and kick in a door -- or to let herself be beaten up to protect her male colleague. And JJ is quiet and sweet and can flutter her eyelashes with the best of them, twist the media (or Hotch) around her little finger -- or alternatively kill three attacking dogs with three shots in the dark while standing in the blood of their last victim.

Season 5 episode 16 - okay, here are spoilers after all - (skip) we find out that every time there's a missing child case, JJ has to deal with the mother of a boy taken 8 years ago, who thinks the cases are related. And then JJ realises that this time the cases are related. And when Morgan thinks maybe JJ's just being a mother (Morgan is always a doubter. Also did I mention JJ's a working mother? Her partner's the stay-at-home dad) Prentiss steps in to back her up, and they take the case. And the mother of the first victim has done a pile of research for them. And it turns out that the dominant unsub is a woman. And... you get the picture. Basically, without the women, there'd be no story. And this wasn't that unusual of a storyline.

So of course CBS wants to get rid of JJ and reduce Prentiss from regular character to some kind of guest appearance arrangement. The male characters can stay, they've got no problem with the male characters.

Someone's done a rejigged version of the opening credits which says it all:

There's a petition going around -- I signed it when it was about 170 signatures, and now it's about 32,000. There's Twitter and Facebook campaigns, and people phoning the CBS folk and sending "Missing" posters and lipsticks and all of that.

But, y'know? It's not like the CBS folk are trying to be sexist. It's just that all of Hollywood and all of society is sexist -- no matter how well-written Prentiss and JJ and Garcia have been, the male characters still got all the *really* meaty plots, and/because/so guess who the fans' favourite characters are? -- and if CBS thinks they can save money by collaborating with that then by golly they'll collaborate. So I don't know if I should bother hoping at all.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I'm rewatching some old episodes of Due South and...

(apart from omg yeah, that's some really skeevy appropriation of the Inuit; and apart from how I'm quite admiring at the nice structures, eg the bookends of jumping into water, and the use of fire, in Burning Down the House)

...I'm watching Eclipse and they're in the crypt and there are weeping angel statues all around. I used to love these scenes with the wittiness and character development -- there are some absolutely wonderful moments here -- but now I just want to shout at Ray and Fraser,
"Don't turn your back, don't look away, and don't blink!"
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

Mere fanart? Can this painting be art if a viewer who doesn't know the source material can't understand it?
In the ongoing debate about fanfic, [livejournal.com profile] heleninwales said:
Fan fiction writers, however, don't bother to learn [how much backstory to include and how to insert it into the story] because they know they don't have to.

Which is not at all how I'd describe it. I'd say that fanfiction authors don't explain canon backstory because doing so would actively get in the way of the story they're trying to tell to their audience.

They do still have to learn what non-canon backstory to include and how to include it.

And moreover I don't think this is completely different from other fiction. All fiction walks the balance between the audience already understanding certain things but not knowing certain other things. Set a novel during the reign of Elizabeth I and bang, there's a whole heap of backstory you don't need to explain because people already know it. You don't need to explain who Elizabeth is and how she rose to power; or Walsingham, or Drake, or Mary of Guise, or... You can, of course, if you have a novel take on it, but otherwise most of the time you're better off not to and just getting on with the story.

It's the same with fanfic.

And though it's most obvious with historical novels (which are after all blatantly history fanfic), it's also true of other genres. In a science-fiction novel, unless you've got a novel take on faster-than-light travel, you can assume your readers are up with the flow. In a crime drama, you can assume your readers know how the criminal justice system works. If you set something in New York City, you can assume your readers know something about the geography. If you're writing a romance you can take shortcuts in explaining why the main characters belong to each other because you know the readers know that they're reading a romance. When producing a church play, I can assume the congregation understands why this guy's walking down the aisle with a cross on his shoulder. When titling this blogpost, I could assume that most of my readers would understand the allusion.

All fiction assumes that the reader shares some background knowledge with the reader. In fact, all communication relies on the same assumption. The only question is what that domain of knowledge is. It might be Arthuriana, or it might be Regency social mores, or it might be the seven books of Harry Potter, or it might be the details of a particular controversy in the Supernatural fandom.

The fact that a fanvid author doesn't explain certain kinds of backstory is no different from the fact that an original-fic author doesn't explain certain kinds of backstory. They've made a decision based on their assumed audience, is all.

[livejournal.com profile] heleninwales also said:
if anyone can point me to a fan fiction story that they consider good and that stands alone and works even for people who have no knowledge of the source fandoms, then I'll be happy to revise my opinion.

I haven't really been in fandom for a long time, but from my bookmarks I think:Fanvids:[These both comment on the original source, which I hadn't seen before viewing the vid.]

Professional fanfic:
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
Usage Summary for your current monthly billing period which ends on 11 Oct 2009: You have used 3.61 GB which is 72% of your monthly traffic allocation. You have 1.39 GB left in your current monthly usage cycle.

(I've watched more Korean historical drama than I normally would in a month.)

  1. A TV episode is approximately 385MB, call it 400MB to allow for overhead.
  2. There are 2 more episodes in the Iljimae series I'm watching.
  3. There are 2 more episodes of Criminal Minds before the 11th October.
  4. Being able to talk about a TV programme with USans on the day it airs is infinitely more fun than coming to the conversation 3 months later.
Should I:
  1. Watch Iljimae now and delay on at least one of the Criminal Minds episodes?
  2. Watch Criminal Minds as it airs and delay on Iljimae?
  3. Watch Iljimae and Criminal Minds and switch to text-only browsing for everything else for the rest of the month?
  4. Pay some stupid amount to add another 5GB to my monthly allowance, of which I'll probably only end up using 100MB anyway?
(I'm leaning towards c. Though I really should be doing other stuff this weekend: I promised to write a pseudo-journal article for a library zine, and a linkdump for the Outer Alliance Blog, and I need to put together a presentation, and I'm trying to help add stuff to the Carl Brandon Wiki, and I've got my sister coming over to be writer-buddies, which time I'll probably use for my overdue taxes, and there's visiting parents, and running the projector at church, and shopping and laundry and window-cleaning, and I'm pretty sure I'm missing something. <thinks> Oh yeah, Daylight Saving is making away with the hour of 2am, and I did want to catch up on some sleep.

(But Iljimae! And Criminal Minds!)
zeborah: It's not that hard. A dalmatian could do it. (Criminal Minds)
I guess I really ought to get around to posting that Criminal Minds fanfic before the season 5 premiere tomorrow makes it entirely moot. Though I suppose the trailer already will have. (If so, please don't tell me until I've had a chance to see the episode itself!)

Title: Five times Aaron Hotchner felt helpless, and one time he didn't
Author: Zeborah
Spoilers: Criminal Minds season 4 finale
Warnings: (whitespace) References to alcoholism; unintentional-and-regretted-but-still-it's-there child abuse; attempted date rape of a walk-on character. (end whitespace)
Disclaimer: I don't own them; please don't sue me.

Five times Aaron Hotchner felt helpless, and one time he didn't )
zeborah: It's not that hard. A dalmatian could do it. (procrastination)
I used to write a bunch of fanfic, first (if you don't count juvenilia, and anyway those were... heavily derivative original fiction) Star Trek Voyager and then Due South. It was fun and good practice and ultimately I decided to put my effort into original fiction.

But from time to time, eg when I'm watching the entire first season of Criminal Minds while the end of season four plays out an hour at a time on NZ TV and Hotch is making me nervous in a way that hits all my kinks -- I get the urge to write out my theory of what'll happen to him in the form of fanfic.

In an effort to stave off this urge, I go searching for fanfic on the grounds that if someone else has already written it, I won't have to. Makes sense, right? Yeah, but no, that was a bad idea.

I only searched very cursorily but here's what I found:

1) A fic in which Hotch has turned serial killer and Reid has to help catch him except the two have fallen in love. The first scene was really really hot. But then the writer started writing actual erotic stuff and I got bored.

2) A fic in which Hotch and Prentiss develop a relationship. There was some really sweet stuff in here. However it also suffered from Fangirl Misogyny Syndrome, to wit, Hotch's ex-wife was portrayed as an evil controlling abusive bitch because she dared to divorce the poor martyr even though the show made it fairly clear that she divorced him because she couldn't cope anymore with him regularly abandoning his family to go chasing serial killers.

Fangirl Misogyny Syndrome is widespread in every fandom I've encountered. In Due South the clearest example is Ray Kowalski's ex-wife Stella. On-screen, we see him stalking her. In fanfic, she's frequently portrayed as an emotionally abusive bitch. Strong female characters like Thatcher in Due South or Nechayev in Star Trek TNG become absolute harpies in fanfic. Less assertive women like Francesca Vecchio (Due South) or Deanna Troi (ST:TNG) become in fanfic stupid, whiny and weak; and if they try to become more assertive (attending police academy; taking the exams for commander) that's a joke, at best, to the fangirls. To be fair, in ST:Voyager, Admiral Paris also suffers from the vilification of those who worship Tom Paris, by becoming anything from a neglectful father to a child molester, so it's not *just* women; but it's predominantly women. I gather from smallcaps that the misogyny is endemic to Supernatural show and fandom, and fangirl pressure has made things even worse on the show.

The creepy thing in Criminal Minds fandom, though, is that we've seen episodes about stalkers obsessing over their object of affection to the point of wanting to kill people who are a "threat" to them in any way, or a "threat" to the stalker; and I see in Fangirl Misogyny Syndrome echoes of the way obsessing over a character turns to vilifying any woman who in any way hurts him or conversely is too close to him for the fangirl's comfort.

3) A fic in which a (female, fwiw) scientist creates a love potion "for personal purposes" and it's stolen and released into a) Quantico, causing everyone there (though we focus on Hotch and Reid) to jump for the nearest body and have wild passionate sex, then, "if their biochemistry is compatible", to require sex with said partner every few days for the rest of their life on pain of death; and b) Congress, ditto, at a time when they're being live telecast. Hijinks ensue. Hotch and Reid bond for life. The public inexplicably thinks that an orgy of politicians is hot. Congress sees the error of its homophobic ways and enacts gay marriage so Hotch and Reid can live happily ever after.

No-one ever points out that this love potion is indistinguishable from a date rape pill. People whose "biochemistry" isn't "compatible" (and what the heck does that even mean?) barely even suffer embarrassment and pregnancy is just a "Eh, I always wanted a baby anyway. If you're the Dad you'll help support it, right?" We have no broken marriages. No STDs. No trauma. And no trauma. Also no trauma. Did I mention no trauma? I'm just saying here.


So now, not only do I want to write a fic about:

1) Hotch as serial killer;

but I also want to write fic about:

2) Hotch's ex-wife's painful decision to divorce him because, though she loved him, she couldn't cope with the stress of his job, and she knew that if she asked him to give up that job he'd be miserable; and

3) A random love potion infestation in which being under the influence is terrifying, the aftermath involves serious trauma, and those who have bonded long-term but don't actually *like* each other have to nevertheless find some way to stay alive.

This was not my original intention.


zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

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