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I watched the new Ryan Murphy series, Feud: Bette and Joan, even though I have extremely mixed feelings about his work. I think he's often a capable writer and certainly very creative, but I tend to think he sets things up well and lacks follow-through on the good idea. Also I occasionally find him not to write female characters so much as drag performances, caricatures of women rather than human beings. But Tom and Lorenzo recommended it and they have excellent taste, so I wanted to give it a try.

It's well-made production, focusing on the late-life rivalry between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, with mostly a solid script and excellent acting performances all around. It's still an odd blend, at TLo pointed out, of camp and pop feminism, as well as kind of padded and stylized to shape the relationship between Bette and Joan in such a way to serve the story. But what I found most fascinating were the ideas behind it. The most interesting foundational notions are two-fold. The first is that it's about the struggles of female aging, how even successful women are in danger of being cast aside when they start to get old. And the second is the framing of the rivalry between the women: that they aggravated each other's insecurities because Joan was cast as a beautiful woman who was never talented enough, and Bette was a talented woman who was never beautiful enough.

If you know even a little bit about me, you can guess that I find that fascinating. Firstly aging is probably my greatest fear for specifically that reason, that the world no longer takes an older woman seriously and views them with varying levels of pity, horror, and contempt. And I also love the examination of the dichotomy of pretty versus talented, particularly how they are constantly pitted against each other for the thing that they each have that the other one lacks. Bette can be the best artist at her craft in the world, but she still has a big gaping lack in the fact that she's not pretty and never has been. And Joan is automatically run down by the stigma that she only got by on her looks, and now that they've faded, she's got nothing. And I really loved the scene where they asked each other what it was like, to be "the [prettiest]/[most talented] girl in the world" and they each said it was the best thing ever, and it was never enough.

That I personally have felt the tension between the two very keenly, that I have to do everything I can to demonstrate the most of both. I often feel plagued that by the notion that even if I do a great job of one, it will get discounted because I haven't done enough to show the other. And then when I split my focus too much, I worry I'm coming off as mediocre in both respects. I know that to a large extent it's just a sick perception, and a target too utterly unrealistic to hit-- I want to be the PRETTIEST, MOST TALENTED GIRL IN THE WORLD apparently! --but that moment where they expressed it was the best thing ever AND STILL you never feel like it's enough was very resonant for me. I don't know if it's a truly accurate representation of Crawford and Davis, but as a conceit for drama, it really impacted me.
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Kind of had a breakthrough this weekend in the justification of one of my theories. I prize analytical thinking really highly (and in fact have been called upon to teach it in recent years) and as such I like to come up with codified assessments to assist in my understanding and interpretation going forward. Usually they’re about the craft of storytelling; sometimes they go a little broader than that, but most of the time it’s me working out my thoughts on how people convey ideas to tell stories.

I spend a lot of time thinking about female gaze. It’s my pet feminist issue, and I work to specifically tell many of my stories from that perspective. Female gaze encompasses a number of dimensions, but one of the most fundamental ones is how men are regarded as objects of attraction. And I have long believed in my gut that the key component of female gaze is vulnerability. By which I mean, that to the feminine perspective responds powerfully to the presence of vulnerability in the regarded object—perhaps even is drawn more strongly by it than anything else.

For example. Between a man who is beautiful, and a man who is equally beautiful but demonstrates some kind of vulnerability, be it physical or emotional, I would say most women are more likely to find the second man more appealing. Even between a beautiful man and a somewhat less beautiful man with greater vulnerability. Still the second one will be more appealing.

I have mountains of anecdotal evidence. Everywhere from the popularity of hurt/comfort and angst scenarios for male characters in fan fiction written by women, to the development of my own obsession with Captain America. The Steve Rogers character in the comics always bored the hell out of me, because he was so perfect and without texture. But the character in the film? A heartbreakingly gorgeous man with fears, insecurities, uncertainties, and even some feminine encoding? THE RECIPE FOR SEXUAL OBSESSION. Apparently!

(As a side note, I love, love, love this essay on how much feminine encoding the MCU portrayal of Captain America actually has. It articulates a bunch of things I felt and fell in love with about that version of the character.)

I didn’t come up with that idea on my own. I encountered it in an article several years ago that I can’t seem to find today. In that article, it mostly was examining that idea from a sort of BDSM context; if I recall correctly, it was about how femdom expressed. That part of it I couldn’t speak to, at least partially because I don’t think they supported their assertions that well. But that central IDEA, that the female gaze reacted so strongly to vulnerability, that part rang true in my bones.

So I’ve believed that for a long time on a gut level. But as a theory, I really couldn’t intellectually justify it except that it felt right. Which is not sufficient for analytical conclusion. Even “I have evidence that this phenomenon happens” is not the same as being able to articulate the REASON why it happens. And I couldn’t. After all, what’s to say it isn’t just a preference of SOME women? If I’m going to generalize it broadly, I need to be able to attribute it to something about the straight female condition.

This weekend, however, I think I finally was able to do that. And I think the root is in violence against women. One in three women will experience violence from her partner worldwide. Straight women are drawn to one of the greatest possible dangers against them. These two simultaneous facts makes any indication that a man will not be dangerous to them INCREDIBLY attractive. And I think the presence of vulnerability we tend to read as a sign of that.

Now, of course it’s not necessarily an accurate sign. But here’s the logic that I think applies. Men are not socialized to show vulnerability. Of course everyone has it sometimes, but they are encouraged to hide it. Specifically, they are encouraged to cover vulnerabilities with aggression. It’s that aggression that makes them dangerous. So there’s this sense that the willingness to admit and show things like fear, insecurity, or weakness marks a man as on the opposite end of the spectrum from aggression— and therefore, safe.

I would argue that any kind of indicator of what traditional masculinity would characterize as softness— sensitivity, femininity, delicacy —can fall under the heading of “vulnerability display.” These are also things men are culturally “not supposed to show” and they often face ridicule for these as “not befitting of a real man.” So, for example, a man who admits having qualities that are considered traditionally feminine is making himself vulnerable to attacks from other men who would perceive him as weak and unmasculine because of them. Therefore, that man’s willingness to own the qualities that could encourage others to attack him is perceived as making himself vulnerable.

Of course not all women are the same. We don’t all have exactly the same feelings, attractions, or even totally identical social encoding. But I think that this is why so, so many women are interested in stories where men cry, experience powerful emotions, are uncertain, or “in touch with their feminine side.” Not all women; we are not a monolith. But a large number, given what we do share from our experience of existing in the world as women. And I would suspect that of the women who DO NOT find themselves drawn to vulnerability, they are the ones who do not have as strong a concept of the problems stemming from traditional masculinity.

So I think I finally have a thesis on this that I can actually support. You may disagree. But I really do believe this. Vulnerability is the key component of female gaze because it acts as an indicator of an absence of the kind of masculine aggression that is most dangerous to women.

War paint

Jun. 20th, 2016 02:41 pm
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One thing I actually have done a little work on in the last few weeks is practicing with makeup. As I've mentioned, I don't like to wear it often; in fact, my dislike is strong enough that the fact that my practicing has led to me showing up places painted more frequently has made me a little uncomfortable. I prefer to cultivate an #IWokeUpLikeThis kind of beauty. But I respect its transformational power, and I'd like to have the ability to harness it within my capability, so lately I've been practicing.

The primary skill I'd like to develop is the ability to simulate flawless skin. I've got a noticeable acne problem and I'm somewhat self-conscious about it; I'd say it's really the only unattractive part of my appearance. So most of my effort has been focused on how to hide the bumps and pits in a way that doesn't make me look caked with product.

The problem with that, however, is that when you make your skin look more uniform, you run the risk of eliminating the definition. I find sometimes the foundation and powder makes me a little moon-faced; round and smooth, obscuring my cheekbones. I like the chiseled look, and having soft features I think playing that up is not a bad idea. To that end, I’ve started trying to learn how to contour, or use makeup to make my features look a little sharper. It’s not something I’d want to do in person very often, but it can look very good in pictures, and since I do Skype interviews it can keep me from getting too washed out. It’s not easy, though, since the danger is making yourself look like a clown with too much paint on. I’ve only practiced it a few times, but with more attempts I can probably get the hang of it, at least for the camera if not in person.

As for the rest of it, it’s a mixed bag. I have great eyelashes and not much in the way of under-eye circles, but I’m still trying to learn the tricks. My eyebrows sit very low, so figuring out how to use fun colors that don’t make me look weird is challenging, but a touch of eyeliner looks great. I’m trying to learn how to use liquid just to get that really sharp black line. As for lip color, well, I’ve honestly yet to find one that I don’t think looks weird on me, so I usually don’t even bother.

Maybe I should ask a makeup person for help. But I really love how you can go on YouTube and watch tutorials for just about anything you want to learn how to do. With observation and practice, I think I can pick up what I need. Except for maybe the color thing. That I might need somebody in person who knows their shit.
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I know it’s a waste of energy to have any feelings at all with dumb comedy franchises, but Zoolander has annoyed me on an ideological level for a long time. When it came out when I was in high school, everyone I knew loved it while I just didn’t get why it was supposed to be so funny.

But the more I think about it, the more it makes me kind of angry. It basically has one joke to it, the absurdity of male models. Yes, when I was a little older I saw that there was SOME commentary on the constant-need-machine of the fashion industry with the whole Derelict thing. But mostly you’re supposed to laugh because you recognize how dumb and frivolous any man who models is, not to mention how silly the whole idea of a man modeling.

First of all, they hammer that stupid, unnecessary term, "male model." Why would you need to specify that a man is a male model, unless you think it's weird that a man even is a model? Secondly, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson do not look like models. I mean, people might find them attractive, but they’re not beautiful or even of the unusually extreme features your average female model is. The fact that they could be passed off as models speaks to the much lower bar men have to be considered attractive. Men don’t have to be beautiful! In fact, men AREN’T beautiful! The idea that you could be invested in the beauty of men is silly! And look what idiots they are. Any dude who would want to model would have to be a moron, right? Also, I’ll admit, there is one actually funny thing about the movie— Blue Steel and its variants —but it ties into the notion of how absurd it is that dudes even would model. Look how silly dudes are when they try to present themselves so as to be aesthetic!

I don’t mind people poking fun at the modeling or fashion industries. But I wish they were aiming for the INDUSTRY rather than basically JUST the idea of aesthetic men. Even the new one’s marketing campaign ties into this. I mean, thanks to a marketing tie-in, those actors are making appearances as their characters in actual, real Valentino couture. What’s the joke there, if they’re basically just doing what actual models do— that is, wear and demonstrate high-end clothes? It’s only funny if you think it’s funny that they’re BEING MODELS. I get really, really irritated at anything that feeds into the myth of Men Not Being Hot, and that’s basically all I see in those films.
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I heard that there's a rumor that Chris Hemsworth is playing the receptionist in the new all-female Ghostbusters movie. And I HOPE TO JESUS that it's true, because that would be awesome.

Not just because I love that sculpted god of a man. And not just because I love the idea of him playing this role in the gender-flipped conception. It's that particular kind of character. Chris Hemsworth is a gorgeous man-- in terms of raw beauty alone, I might even go so far as to say he edges out even my beloved Chris Evans --and in that role, he might immediately call to mind the "pretty bimbo" type receptionists. It would be neat to see that particular script flipped, but I think if the character is truly a reinterpreation of Janine Melnick, I think it'd would be something even fresher.

Janine wasn't a "pretty bimbo". She was attractive, yes, but she was more of a mousey type who didn't skate by in the world on her looks. She was working a job she didn't love and was sometimes a pain in her ass because she kinda had to, and she coped with that and all the insanity around her by being snarky. It was why we liked her, because we got what that felt like.

Now imagine Chris Hemsworth in a role like that. He's so beautiful and so masculine that we usually see him in these powerful, manly, in-control type of characters. It would go TOTALLY against his type to have him in that sort of mousey, snarky role. Getting bossed around, annoyed by the people around him, but having to pitch in anyway, bitching humorously all the while. It would be so different and fresh. I love when actors get cast against type-- especially against GENDERED types.

And of course he'd be all Hollywood Homely, so he would get all the signifiers of being kinda dorky and unassuming, but we'd still be able to see he was Gorgeous Chris Hemsworth. We'd have our cake and eat it too. Everybody wins!

If they put him in a hilarious pair of glasses, that would be the cherry on the sundae.
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I remember when I first saw Iron Man 1 in theaters. I found Tony to be incredibly hot, and this annoyed me, because he was a jerk, and I didn’t like the idea that such jerkiness wouldn’t kill my attraction to him. Every time I see Jon Hamm, the guy who plays Don Draper, out of character, I’m always struck— “He’s so attractive! Why do I never notice this?” I watch a ton of Mad Men, he’s super-handsome, and he looks fabulous in the period drag. But it’s because his character, while admittedly interesting, is such a jerk that I find him completely repellent when he’s portraying the man. This pleases me, because as above, I don’t want to be attracted to jerks.

There’s a tired old stereotype that women are attracted to jerks. It’s the only explanation some can manage to come upon for why certain awful men have no trouble finding women, when men without their obvious downsides get ignored. It irritates me a lot, as it gets used as a justification for men to treat women badly. So I get annoyed when it seems I verify the stereotype by wanting to jump Iron Man’s bones, and smug with myself when I blow it by being immune to the charms of a Don Draper.

But the truth is, women AREN’T attracted to jerks. Women are attracted to the qualities that enable men to be jerks in such obvious ways without experiencing the immediate social pushback that stops average people from being jerks. When Tony says something rakish and nasty, he’s displaying his wit. When Don solves a problem by saying something aggressive rather than apologizing, he demonstrates guts. Tony may have a huge ego, but it shows a wellspring of self-confidence. And everybody likes good-looking people; beauty can allow people to get away with murder. All of these things— beauty, wit, confidence, courage, power —make people attractive to others. While the use they put these qualities to may be undesirable, or even off-putting, the fact remains that they still require the possession of these qualities in order to perpetrate them. And that is what is sexy.

I think that’s an important thing to remember. It’s a shame that kindness and gentleness aren’t so paramount on that list of attractive qualities that the absence of them can cancel out the approval, but I think this explains what’s going on there. At least, a hell of a lot better than the theory that people actually like badness and being mistreated.
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Last night I saw Alex Davis's original play, The Contractual Death of Jonathan G. Faustus, a reinterpretation of Christopher Marlowe's play. I was quite excited for it. The Marlowe play actually has a lot of significance in my life, due to my lifelong and typically Catholic fascination with hell. Plus the title character was Jared's first role in theater, which I encouraged him to try out for. More the fool I, as it gave him something to get a big head from and act like a dick over.

Alex's reimagining is very good. That kid is one of the best young actors I've seen, so I'm especially impressed that he can write too. I've been itching for years to direct him, so because I enjoy him and want to support him, I will see anything he's involved with. It was smart, thoughtful, well-researched, sophisticated in places, with a wit and humor that was very Alex. I could strongly hear his voice in it.

The lead playing Faustus did very well, even if he could stand to vary up the cadence of his delivery a little. I've seen him before, he has talent and great comic timing. It was pretty weird how much he made me think of Jared, though it didn't diminish my enjoyment. He even sat at the same desk Jared sat at when he played Cassander in To Think of Nothing.

And then the other guy playing Mephistopheles was even more fun. He was portrayed as a sardonic, witty, embittered, tall hot goth kid. I was surprised at how much that worked for me. These days my type is much more big, masculine guys with movie star good looks. I'd rather thought I'd outgrown the fascination with skinny painted goth boys in too much hair gel. But...



...apparently not.

He reminded me powerfully of Alain, at least aesthetically, whom if nothing else, had the pretty going on. This guy was even a bit broader and more substantial without losing that long lean line. Nothing wrong with that. But with that combination, It created the rather strange viewing experience for me of watching my two college exes snipe at each other for an hour and a half.


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I am one of those people who thinks it's a shame that there is no real "dressing up" anymore. Mostly I think it's a good thing that in our daily lives we're allowed more freedom of expression in how we dress, and that we're not always being held to some rigorous arbitrary standard. But I do wish there were, in addition to that freedom, more occasions where it was expected and normal to dress according to formal rules. I love the way people, specifically men, look in formalwear, and there's just no occasion to ever wear black or white tie anymore. It's just so striking, so attractive. It lends an air of elegance, power, taste, discernment, and it looks so damn good.

Last year, the Met Gala theme was white tie. It was one of the few places outside of Downton Abbey one could actually see real people in white tie. Honestly most people didn't wear anything close to it. The handful of people who did didn't always execute it traditionally, and the aesthetic effects were variable. But the one person EVERYONE was talking about, as not only having nailed it, but having knocked it out of the park, was Benedict Cumberbatch.

Now I'm no Benedict Cumberbatch fangirl. I think he's charming and talented, but I really don't like how he's freaking everywhere, even in roles he's not suited for. I get how he's attractive but he doesn't really do it for me. But have you ever seen him in what he wore to the 2013 Met Gala? It's quite possibly the most exquisite white tie ensemble I've ever seen.

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As I said, I'm a Downton Abbey fan, so I have a fondness and a familiarity for men who look GOOD in white tie. I still keep every image from the couture men's formalwear shoot the male actors did a couple years back on my iPad. They all look hot, though most of the articles have some kind of modern twist to them. But Benedict's here is so perfectly styled, so carefully composed, so exquisitely tailored that it makes for a sort of ur-example of a classic ideal. It flatters his figure, and the details are so thoughtfully chosen-- the exact distance of the waistcoat below the cutaway, the single Albert watch chain, the perfect length of the trousers. And it SO technical and correct, going back to the earliest codifications of the style. They throw the word "timeless" around, especially when it comes to the varying levels of men's formalwear, but dressed like this, Benedict could walk into a ballroom at any minute going back to 1870, and every woman's head would turn and murmur, "Who. Is. That?"
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Immortalizing here:

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The picture in question:

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I think I can be forgiven for my wandering eye.
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I am working away furiously on my new film script Adonis, set in a matriarchal alternate history Ancient Rome. It's a hard road, but it's coming, and I'm really starting to believe in this project. I need to get it finished so it can be read on the last Sunday of the month.

I have so many thoughts about this story, about the process of putting it together. I can't spare the time to write them all down now, because I need to hit that deadline. But it's challenging and at times even wringing. But I think it will be worth it in the end.

I gave this piece its title because the myth of Adonis always stuck in my mind. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because it was one of the rare touchstones in our culture referring to a beautiful man. I wasn’t always as invested in the beauty of men as I am now, but since becoming so, the character has stood out even more for me.

Trigger warning: sexual assault )
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I was on Tumblr this morning, when I came across an unlabeled picture of some guy.

Funny story about how pathetic I am below. )
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It doesn't take knowing me very long to know that I have a thing for extremely beautiful men. I've never been shy about that fact, and indulging that part of myself is something I really enjoy. Female gaze is my pet feminist issue, partially because I think it's a small thing that is a good indicator of a number of much larger, more important matters of respect towards women. An acknowledgement of female gaze is the acknowledgement of women as sexual beings with preferences, agency, and desires of their own, and do not exist solely for the needs of men. It's an equalizing thing, an indicator that women aren't so different from men after all-- we're all visual, we all physically objectify each other sometimes.

But also it's important to me because I feel it so strongly. I get A LOT of joy out of looking at men I find physically attractive, probably more than the average person. It makes me feel good to exercise my ability to be the subject rather than the object; it makes me feel powerful, like my viewpoint and my desires matter. Generally, it's a fun thing for me. Sometimes, I want to just spend an evening parked in front of Tumblr or one of the Marvel films and do nothing all night except abandon myself to hard-core objectification mode and enjoy that warm, tight feeling it gives me in my chest.

I've also mentioned before, with no small degree of bemusement, how... stupid it can make me. Sometimes I have literally been so consumed with the beauty of a particular gentleman that I cannot think straight. It's like a cloud creeps into my brain, so slowly I don't notice it at first, but before I know it it's like my judgment has been fogged up. It sounds completely idiotic to say that, but I swear it sometimes happens and I feel like an absolute moron. It's like the worst stereotype of men, and here I am actually experiencing it. Most of the time it's not that big a deal-- I'm sure I've frustrated a friend or two with my occasional inability to hold a conversation after discovering a new screenshot of Captain America, but generally it hasn't really been a problem. I just sort of muddle through it and when it passes I move on.

But recently it's struck me just how much trouble this tendency in me can be. It's mostly been no problem because it usually only happens to people who aren't actually present, who I'm not interacting with in real life. But it can color my interactions with real person to an absurd degree. It makes me place a value on those people that they might not otherwise deserve-- what might otherwise not be appropriate. And when my judgment is already demonstrably less objective. That part of myself scares the hell out of me.

It takes me back to when I was obsessed with Alain. I just found him so attractive that I couldn't think straight around him. I mean, I was also eighteen and had never experienced feelings of romantic attachment to a real person before, so I had much worse sense of how to handle that situation. But because I found him so beautiful I made decisions as if he were a much better man that he was, as if it gave him a value he didn't really have. And this did not work out well for me.

I learned a ton from that awful experience and would never get into that mess ever again. But there's a small part of me that's really glad he's put on weight and doesn't have that raw beauty anymore. And I can feel that tendency in myself still. I have to watch myself really carefully to make sure it doesn't lead me to do things I'll regret. And I hate that shallowness in myself. I would do well to find the way to rip that part out of me. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the physical beauty of others, but it shouldn't have so much control over me.

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5.6.13

I've started a new Tumblr, in addition to the one I use as a purely self-indulgent collection of pictures I like (which ends up being mostly just shirtless shots of Captain America.) This one is dedicated to images of men who have a presentation that reads as traditionally masculine while participating in an activity that reads as traditionally feminine. I've always loved this combination, as it suits both my aesthetics and my belief that shouldn't be any proscribed gendered behavior. I like men who are secure enough in themselves to do whatever it is they want to do, regardless of whether our society traditionally codes those activities as "unmanly." Feminism of course requires women to enter into fields they were kept out of because of their genders, but it also requires celebrating instead of devaluing the work women traditionally did-- sewing, childcare, nursing, teaching, and all other such fields. And, as valuable pursuits, to encourage men to participate in them too.

The thought that inspired this was when I learned that apparently Jeremy Renner, the hard-as-nails-looking actor who plays Hawkeye in The Avengers, paid the bills while struggling to make it by being a makeup artist. And not like, movie monster makeup, traditional feminine made-up-face kind of makeup. I love the idea that somebody who reads SO HARDBUTCH was interested in something coded SO SOFTFEMME. It's very attractive, and I just love the extremity of the contrast.

One of these days I would like to design a costume that if you boiled it down to its literal component parts, the ensemble would be coded as feminine-- like, high-heeled shoes, a skirt, a corset, items that tend to read as gendered female --but designed in such a way as, when worn by a man, would instead come off as masculine. Like, give those gendered clothing items enough characteristics that read as masculine as to cancel out their feminine signifiers. "Harder" styling, dark colors, metal, leather, geometric shapes, heaviness, solidity. The corset would emphasize a masculine shape rather than a curvy feminine one. Stuff like that. I'd love to design a look like this and then take pictures of some male-bodied person wearing it. I like how it would mess with people's perception of societal coding. 
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Today is Chris Evans's birthday. To celebrate:

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Here's to one more year of that beautiful, beautiful man.
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Getting a little sick of things that bill themselves as “alternative” that stick to the same old young, skinny, white standard of beauty that the mainstream does. Fat people, dark people, old people, asymmetric people, presented as alluring and beautiful? That's alternative. Sticking a hundred and twenty-pound blonde model I to, I don't know, a hood and something with spikes is pretty much pandering to the standard with some slightly different icing on the same old cake.

I’m young, skinny, and white myself, and you may find me aesthetic, but I ain’t nobody’s “alternative” and I don’t pretend to be.

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They've released some new images from the set of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.

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God damn this beautiful man. <3 About time I had some new junk to feed my habit...
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I love vintage images of people of color. I love vintage images, period, I've gotten extremely into period pierces that are immersed in the trappings and the zeitgeist of a different time, particularly of women. I love the differences in the way they dressed, how they decorated their homes, the music they listened to, it has this beautiful particularity to it. But it's especially compelling to see a woman of color with a sharply classic hairstyle or dress. It's very aesthetic to me, first of all, but it's more than just I find it pretty.

It's a powerful statement against erasure. Media, advertising, whatever until very recently only had white people in it. It's very easy to get an image of periods in the past as very whitewashed. But America had other people in it too, people who wore clothes and did their hair and participated in culture just like everybody else. It's one of the reasons I love the TV show Cold Case, which I am going to have to do a full review of some point. It solves murders from a long time ago, and it encapsulates fabulous period pieces that very often tell the untold, underrepresented stories of marginalized groups-- women, people of color, queer people, trans people. An in doing so, it depicts those people as we very rarely get to see them. Here are two images from particularly good episodes, one of a family that was sent to a Japanese internment camp during WWII, and one of a woman who traveled South to support the freedom schools during the Civil Rights Movement.

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I love their vintage hair-- rolled in the forties, styled up and out in the sixties -- and their vintage clothes that are the marks of the time, and all the experiences, through which they lived. Vintage images of people of color, bearing the marks of the time and place in which they live, scream, "We were there! We experienced! The things that were going on then, we went through them! We mattered!" I love how Cold Case depicts this.

And, seriously. Are you going to tell me they're not fabulous?

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Seriously. As a side note, go watch Cold Case. Start with this episode, Best Friends, from which that last image is drawn. If it doesn't blow your mind with its fabulousness, well, I don't know what kind of person you are.
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This is my mom around the time she was married.

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Ridiculous.
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Had a photo shoot for Lame Swans yesterday, the third we've had so far. I was feeling pretty awful, and I really do not know what I'm doing with these photography jaunts, but fortunately everyone is patient and willing to help me out such that somehow we muddle through. I'm really happy with how the images look; now I just need to lay them out and edit them to my satisfaction to turn them into a comic book.

[livejournal.com profile] niobien has really been my muse for this project. Not only is she so pretty, she's a joy to take pictures of. Her face and carriage are so expressive. Also, because she has talent and experience in ballet, an art I've become very interested in recently, she was the perfect person to build this project around. Look at what a supermodel she is.

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Gorgeous. I've been extremely lucky with all my models. They have tried hard, been patient with my muddling through, and best of all did a great job acting with their physicality and facial expressions alone.

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There's something in my head, though, as I take and look at these pictures. Recently I have been exposed to a number of blogs and resources that highlight issues of objectification of women in comics. It's a thing that eats me, the frequency with which female characters are just incidentally presented in sexually objectifying ways, because of an often underlying, unconscious assumption that female characters are only interesting if they're sexy. My comic book has mostly female characters, so I have a strong desire to create an example of the medium that bucks that convention. When I ask them to pose, I try to let the acting of the moment and the shape of the dancing decide how they hold themselves. There is some concern, of course, for the aesthetics of that posing, but I try to make it about the image rather than the body of the model. Everyone I asked to participate is a good-looking person, and I think that adds to the charm of the visuals, but I want them to come off as pretty people, not pretty objects.

But on the other hand, the dance which is the motif I have chosen to tell my story is about a celebration of the capabilities of the physical. Showcasing the body as it performs ballet is the true visual richness of this graphic novel. I need to do it to achieve the right effect. But I find myself struggling to balance things like inclusion and focus on faces with inclusion and focus on bodies, especially given that the images have to fit in a specific layout. I don't want it to be like I wrote a story about ballet that doesn't actually show any ballet. It's an interesting challenge. I hope I'm up to it.
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My daylilies are growing up nicely.


They've been in the ground since June 15th, so that makes a little over two and a half months. They've gotten a lot fuller since the last time I checked in with them, and they've been very healthy and easy to care for, needing a little pruning of dead leaves. One of them is even starting to branch out into other clusters. When the first one sprang up I thought it was a little weed that blew into the pot at first, but when I bent to pull it I saw it was a new plant springing from the same bulb.


Also, the daylilies may not have bloomed yet, but the kitchen has flowers in it. [livejournal.com profile] bronzite very sweetly brought [livejournal.com profile] nennivian flowers, and she put some of them in a lovely arrangement in a vase on the table. The kitchen is my favorite part of Illyria, so it made smile to see how cheerful they made the place when I came home yesterday.

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