Ok bookwormy geeks – it’s time to stock up on your ebooks!
Save 40% (Code: MaySave40) on 186 different titles on Kobo!
To be honest, I had a scan through some of the titles and I didn’t really know many of the titles but hey – if you’re an avid reader then it always pays to be able to read something completely different every once in awhile, if just to surprise yourself.
Go on and grab a cheaper book! Sale ends on 13th May!
[Trigger warning: discussion of abusive relationships]
Over the weekend, Liz and I attended Supanova Pop Culture Expo (post on that coming) (also why there’s no comic this week, my sincerest apologies). On the Saturday, I went in costume as 80′s prom date Joker. It’s the second time I’ve done a Joker costume, and it’s always a lot of fun. It also speaks to one of my lady-parts’ greatest weaknesses: villains.
A brief list of some of my evil crushes: Loki, The Joker, Catwoman, pre-reform Zuko from Avatar: the Last Airbender (post-reform is fine, too), Poison Ivy, the Phantom of the Opera, Bane, Spike, Drusilla, Jareth, Alan Rickman in most things, bleedy-eye guy in Casino Royale.
So aside from my fetish for facial scarring, what is it about villains that I’m so into? And, most importantly, why is it that my lady-boner for bad doesn’t translate into the real world?
Most of the guys on that list have huge female fanbases. The heroes of their films do as well, but frequently fans of villains can seem to eclipse those of the heroes in passion and numbers. I imagine this is somewhat perplexing for casting agents and the like, but first, let’s analyse why heroes and villains are cast and characterised the way they are.
Male heroes in films occupy a certain role, and that role is male wish fulfillment (as do the women, but that’s a whole other article). He is muscular, traditionally handsome and intensely masculine, solving his problems through the twin strategies of punching and shooting (I am a huge fan of Bruce Willis, so don’t assume I’m knocking this as a method). The women love these heroes with their rippling, virile manliness. Villains are, generally speaking, the antithesis of this – they are what men are taught to push against, the opposite of what they should aspire to. Villains are smaller, thinner and generally physically weaker than the heroes of their films, and gain the upper hand not through physical combat but through their vast intellects and cunning use of traps. Heroes are usually blonde and tan, villains pale with long, raven locks – long(er) black hair and/ or some kind of facial scar is a sure-fire sign of villainous tendencies. Villains are not supposed to be sexually desirable to women on a physical level, though they are frequently extremely charismatic, and thus attract a single (usually crazy) female hanger-on, who they order about and are generally massive butts towards (this is often shown as a sign of their evil tendencies, despite male heroes treating their female admirers in remarkably similar fashions – but again, I am digressing into an entirely different argument). Villains are delicate male Snow Whites, consistently geniuses, sly and effeminate, while the heroes are great, hulking Fabio’s, frequently battle-smart but school-dumb, brave and hyper-masculine. There are some very obvious exceptions to this rule, but these are the models on which most heroes/ villains are based. It’s the jock/ nerd dynamic, only with death rays.
The main reason I can see for the appeal of these villains over their heroic counterparts is that the heroes are, quite frequently, boring. Even if they do manage to spend reasonable portions of their films shirtless, a glorious set of abs is generally not enough to base a relationship around. Liz will likely take me to task for this but Thor is, in essence, a loghead. He’s pretty, certainly, but ‘roguish charm’ and ‘bravery’ tend to translate into ‘frightfully dull’ when I imagine what Thor would be like in a long-term relationship. Your typical hero is certainly eye-candy, but they’re generally written with about as much depth as a Petri dish. That’s why, for the discerning person of intellect, the jock-y hero seems a pretty bland option.
The villain represents an extremely enticing long-term possibility: stimulating conversation. Aside from being able to talk about something other than truth, justice and the American Way (I assume that is a diner), they are also frequently much more complex characters than the heroes, with many layers of moral ambiguity. Characters like (movie) Loki and Two-Face struggle with their good sides. Catwoman frequently oscillates between good and evil (my usual answer to when people ask me of her villain status is that it depends on whether or not she’s boning Batman at the time). Their actions are not inherent in their characters, but fluid and dependent on intervening circumstances. In this way they are much more human. Villains also, importantly, have that sexy, sexy ‘danger’ thing going for them. Plus, they typically wear more leather, which is always good.
Heroes do good stuff because they’re good; their motivations are always very simple and approvable. Sometimes they struggle with what is right and what is wrong, but they always make the right choice in the end. Villains always believe they’re doing the right thing, even when they’re committing acts of terrible evil. Often, they’re trying to ‘save’ the world, or reform it. Heroes can be rebels, working outside the system for the right cause, but villains try to crush the system completely. They are intellectual anarchists trying to fix the world, not afraid to tarnish themselves for the Greater Good. Heroes seek to preserve the established order, one which we in the real world know is flawed. In the fangirl mind, just about every villain is secretly an anti-hero in disguise.
So why is this complexity so important as to turn murderers into heartthrobs?
This next thought should always, always result in alarm bells for anyone: they’re bad, but I could be the one to fix them.
I don’t like admitting it, but it’s important and I have to: the subconscious appeal of villains is the appeal of the abuser. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and a very hard one to get out of. The romanticised appeal of the ‘bad boy’ is an extremely dangerous one. We are taught that if we just show them a little love, or help them be more secure, they will be revealed as romantic and emotionally deep, the dude in the motorcycle jacket capable of far more sensitivity than the dunderhead on the football team. Unfortunately reality is much harsher. Reality has fists, and it will use them on you, not to protect you.
To demonstrate with pop music, please watch the following video:
Realistically, no person really wants to be with someone who goes around murdering people in cold blood a whole lot. We might want to be able to show them forgiveness, and for them to move on, to grow and change, like in Beauty and the Beast, but given the option it would be a rare person indeed who’d be willing to shack up with Pol Pot or Gaddafi. The fictional villain, on the other hand, allows for the wishes of a darker part of ourselves.
To look past the abuser dynamic that is the reality of falling for a ‘bad’ person, we with a hankering for evil must focus on the fictional nature of these characters. The distinct line between fiction and reality is extremely significant in the appeal of the villain. We know exactly the kind of person a villain is, so we cannot be deceived the way we can deceived by real people. We can pretend they wouldn’t kill us or maim us in an instant because we can imagine ourselves as the one thing they cherish, and it doesn’t have to be a lie. Kidding ourselves about the behaviours of a fictional character is safe, because they can’t actually hurt us if we get it wrong.
Even those who fundamentally ignore all the murder going on will agree on a central point: evil is sexy. We pinpoint the appeal of these characters in the fact that they are bad. This is really obvious in the case of classic femme fatales, whose source of evil is their sex appeal. Villains aren’t a Project on the same level as the problem person may frequently be in real-world abusive relationships. Rather than wanting to root out the evil in the villain we allow ourselves to give in to it, to fall through the rabbit-hole of temptation and into a world where we sit beside these characters, laughing maniacally along with them. By imagining ourselves as a villain’s squeeze we can give in entirely to our subconscious fantasies, the ones we can’t actually ask for but which we know our villains are smart, sympathetic and plain ol’ messed up enough to understand – and be into. In our minds, we can always make it stop while it’s still fun. It never has to be real, with all the consequences that would bring. It’s all very Freudian, really.
We can’t really help who we’re attracted to, and my ‘thing’ for evil has led to more stigma, ridicule and disgust than my thing for being into dudes and ladies at the same time. Still, as with everything in our lives, it’s important to know what it means, to analyse, question, and dissect. And, for all you out there wondering if your crush on Loki could get you in real-world trouble, it is so, so important to know where to draw the line.
HELLLO HONIES I’M BACK!
I know it’s been a while, and I’ll be getting to all about the why of that in a few articles’ time, but today I’m going to sit forward, grin manically, and say:
Let me tell you about Homestuck.
(Minor spoilers to follow. You’ve been warned. But they’re very minor.)
So, I know I got to this late in the game, and chances are a fair few of you are already readers, or have at least heard of the Greek Epic that it is, but the fact is I’ve talked to enough people who haven’t that I feel like it’s worth doing.
Homestuck is a part of mspaintadventures.com (the main part, these days), which is a website created by Andrew Hussie to host his fabulous array of Text-Based-Adventure-Game-Novel-Comics. It begins by following four internet kids as they play a fictional computer game called Sburb, which transports them into another dimension while simultaneously destroying the earth. I guess that technically counts as a spoiler, but not by much in the Homestuck scheme of things, so I’m okay with it. Once Hussie stopped taking forum suggestions and the story got some plot….Ohhh the things I could spoil….
Now that I’ve given you some background info, I’m going to take the coward’s way out and provide you with LISTS!
I loved Homestuck Because:
Dear lord the worldbuilding. The homestuck multiverse is huge, well developed, and full of intriguing aliens, magic, and worlds, all with well developed backgrounds and intricate connections. There is also a whole lot of fourth wall breaking, which is hilarious and interesting at the same time.
There are so many and they’re all fantastic! I mentioned the original four? well, right now I can count 38+ main characters. All with distinct motivations and characteristics, and personalities…and don’t even get me started on the shipping. Suffice to say that Hussie has successfully managed to devise a shipping system which will keep his fanbase entertained for years to come. Another cool thing about the characters
in general is that there is a complete gender balance, and I mean that both in terms of representation and characteristics. There are just as many crazy, mass murdering, brutal gals as guys, and a whole cohort of insecure, sensitive guys. There is at least one fully gay character, at and probably at least one fully lesbian character (that’s more ambiguous, for alien biology reasons), and almost all the characters are functionally bisexual (again, alien biology…). There is at least one onscreen m/m kiss, and ditto for f/f kiss, both between some of the mainest of main characters.
Besides that, most (if not all) of them have super powers, and at least half of them are blatant parodies of Hussie’s own fans, and their little tropes too! There is also a Troll Jesus side character.
People keep asking Hussie “What’s Homestuck all about?”, and he keeps replying “Kids and fun!”………..which is terrifying. Just remember, when you’re deep into the bloodbath of acts five and six, that this is a story about “kids and fun”….because every main character has died at least once. Messily. Sometimes at the hands of their friends, or themselves. And the fridge horror abounds.
Plot and Beauty and Hilarity
It gets good. Really good. And really funny. And the art and music that go with it, as well as the many flash cut scenes and fully realised walkaround game scenes, are simply gorgeous. Check out the music here, you can listen to it all for free.
What I hated it for:
The main problem with Homestuck is the fact that it takes so long for the plot to get going in the beginning. When Homestuck was first being created, it was done panel by panel taking suggestions from the forums, as an actual collaborative text-based adventure, so the first few panels (*cough*acts*cough*) tend to ramble. A good example of where this format worked well is Problem Sleuth, Hussie’s older (and completed) comic, which is much easier to get into at first, and hilarious. If you’re having trouble getting into Homestuck properly, some people have suggested starting at the beginning of Act 5 and then going back to read the rest once you’re hooked.
Because once you’re hooked, it’s beautiful.
Peace out and Play Sburb
I recently saw the highly anticipated movie, “Silver Lining Playbook”, and what I saw didn’t sit right with me. Okay, at this point on kids, there are spoilers, so look away if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know how it ends.
So the first thing you should know is, up until the very end, it was a pretty okay movie, it had great actors acting on top of their game, it had great themes, tension, humour and truths about how people treat others with mental illnesses. So all in all, great!
…. Until they had to ruin it by adding a BS ending. If you haven’t guessed by now, they slapped a ‘And they all lived happily ever after ending’ on to it. So, since when did love become the end all cure for mental illness? After they do their dance competition, they’re smiling an laughing and being a great couple.
I hate to be this person, but the novel sounds so much better then the movie plot. Seriously read the wikipedia on how it was supposed to end.“After the contest, Tiffany gives him several letters, supposedly written by Nikki. Pat wants to reunite with Nikki but Nikki demurs. Pat suggests a meeting, despite no reply, he slips away from his family on Christmas Day to meet Nikki. Nikki is not there, Tiffany is there and admits she has forged Nikki’s letters and that she had been trying to help Pat move on and gain closure on his marriage because she, Tiffany, is in love with Pat. Pat is furious that the last two months of correspondence were a lie. In shock Pat runs and runs into an unfamiliar neighborhood and is mugged. By chance he encounters Danny his roommate from the Baltimore mental health facility. Danny helps him get to a hospital and reunite him with his family. Pat still doesn’t recall how he was separated from his wife, only when he watches his wedding video do the memories eventually return. After several weeks Pat recovers from his injuries and after receiving a letter agrees to meet Tiffany. She explains that Ronnie and Jake had forbidden her from attending his birthday. They talk and Pat explains that he went to see Nikki. Pat asked his brother Jake to drive him to see Nikki, and observed her from afar he realizes she has a new family and is happy, and accepts it as the ending of the movie of his life. Tiffany gives Pat a belated birthday present, a cloud chart and they lie on the ground and watch the clouds together. Tiffany pulls close to Pat and tells him she needs him. As they lie there on a frozen soccer field in the middle of a snowstorm Pat kisses her on the forehead and says “I think I need you too.”
That is a whole lot better then Pat seeing Nikki at the dance competition for the first time and after so long and his goal of nevering seeing her just some how manages to resist. And can we talk about the fact that in the movie Tiffany still has the ring up until the last scene? So what happened to her problems? Being in love suddenly solves all problems in relation to your husband being dead and all hang ups you have? What utter BS.
The end of the novel is a happy one without it being cheesy! And it would have translated so well into film! The ending scene in the novel is about hope, it suggests that these two are still struggling but they have found someone that gets them. They have found someone who understands how love can destroy you and how life can be cruel. BUT they have also learned together to start again and the understanding of ‘this may not be what I wanted but I’m glad it has happened and with you’. ALSO that line “… I need you’ is there is the heart of the story. It’s there because they still have problems! And that’s okay! It’s a part of life, and how they came to be! It also means they still have something to work towards, together.
Hollywood, you need to understand that just because it isn’t the perfect ending, it doesn’t mean the characters can’t be happy or the audience don’t know how to take it in. People who watch this aren’t going to be children who needs the disney finish. We know that life isn’t perfect.
In the movie Pat goes on about Hemmingway and that how cruel it was to end it the way it does and he mentions happy endings and that life is hard enough. The opposite isn’t to slap laughing togther couples. The end should reflect life, the joys, the hardships, the hope.
So Accoring to DeviantArt on Tumblr:“Neil Gaiman has teamed up with BlackBerry 10’s revolutionary Keep Moving Project, asking your imagination to bring his series of short stories called “A Calendar of Tales” to life. Contribute your work now to get a brand new badge and use an exclusive Neil Gaiman Journal Skin!”
To expand on this, this is a chance to collaborate with Gaiman on matching his tales to your art.
The idea is 12 stories each relating to a month of the year. This means it gives 12 different people from all artistic mediums the chance to produce and publish their art.
Submission of entries start from February 19th and close March 11th, 5:00pm GMT, all entries have to be in landscape.
Go to their website for more info or to submit! Or hear from Neil Gaiman, himself!
The illustrious Alicia Keys and Robert Rodriguez have also joined the BlackBerry Keep Moving project. To find out more just go to the BlackBerry site!
If you are learning English or know of anyone trying to learn English, these maybe the best way to learn the English alphabet.
To see the full set see the click here.
I would recomend checking out her tumblr page. It has Snape on a Segway. Plus she is Australian, so check out her tumblr now!