Monday, August 25, 2014

Young Hollywood Outshining Hollywood Greed

Last night at the MTV video music awards, Miley Cyrus pulled another stunt...

This one, since all eyes were on her, was one of using her platform as a chance to speak to and reach out to youths around the nation about a very serious problem.  That of homeless youths.

Many are calling this a publicity stunt.
Well, they aren't wrong.  It is a publicity stunt.  One to draw attention to a very real problem and trying to help make it better using the platform she's been given to speak with.  The award acceptance was a podium where kids and young adults around the world were watching.  This was a moment where she could reach beyond even her fans.  It was a moment where fans of all music performers and more were paying attention that allowed a reach far wider so that even people who aren't fans of hers would see and listen.

I wish more publicity stunts were as well thought out and researched as this was.  It showed genuine forethought and research attached to present the actual statistics.  This wasn't some media fueled "forgive me for last year."  This came across and was delivered beautifully as a "now that I have your attention and you're listening, here is a very real problem we need to work on."

It showed respect to how it was handled.  She took the time to hear his story and talk to him.  She didn't pick some random homeless person off the street and drag them to the show last minute.  She took someone to the show that she had taken the time to get to know and hear their plight.  She showed respect and allowed them to have their dignity while sharing a very special night that person may not have had otherwise.  She didn't use this as a set piece prop.  This was respectful and moving.  Those that want to berate her for it, well, I'm not sure what they were expecting would be the proper way.  She did this in the most humane and human way possible that both reached out to the problem and did so with dignity while also allowing an undertone of surprise.  This surprise was well-warranted as it shows directly that we are all human.  What you see on the outside doesn't tell you the story of who they are or what they've been through.  It relates back to perception of how people see the world.  Most of all, she did this with showing him respect and treating him like a person.  This is a historic VMA moment, and it's one that I hope is remembered for decades.

Honestly, between this year and last year.  I almost want to call her outright a mad genius.  She's saying this is only the start, and I look forward to seeing where she takes this from here in trying to cause real change.

In other celeb related news, it seems more are drawing attention to the societal ills that awareness needs to be on to try and help fix.

Human trafficking is another very real concern among youths around the world.  Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars has long been an advocate in the fight against it, and it's nice to see one of her co-stars, Lucy Hale, helping join the fight in the ways she can help draw attention to it too.

This independent film she highlighted this morning looks like it could be highly interesting with the message it carries and their goal.  It's one I look forward to seeing, and for the time being may be the closest we get to a NYX feature film as well.

NYX you may remember is the Marvel comic miniseries that dove into these topics back in 2003-2004.  While it featured the first comic appearance of X-23, it also was a quite emotional and disturbing read because of the topics it entailed about suicide, homelessness, school violence, human trafficking, prostitution, and more.

It's amazing to see so many of the youths of Hollywood using their platforms to help make a difference with the reach they have.  It'd be even nicer to see the big studios helping to join the fight.  These young women are leading the charge for change, and the big studio support with the larger intellectual properties could very well make a big difference too.  These young women are bringing awareness to very real topics, and maybe it's time the big studios joined to do so too.  The music and movie industry makes billions each year, and while to them it'd only be a drop in the bucket, their help could change lives and generate positive momentum to begin to make lasting and historic change.

Independent features and fandoms can do a lot for these causes, but alongside those, imagine what a large intellectual property like one from Marvel, or Sony, or Fox could do to help raise awareness and provide ways to help those that need it most.  They could show they stand with their heroes that are on the screen and want to help make change that could save lives.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - MCU Sexism still at play?

Here's an article you should all read.  Awhile back in praising Guardians of the Galaxy for its forward thinking, I hadn't realized how much infighting it took to even get that far, and how backhanded some of the comments internally and in interviews had been about it.

Further reason why I think an X-23 film with a full female behind the scenes crew could really rock the industry and again exactly why it's needed. (Fox, you've just been given a chance to one up Marvel and a moment to gain praise for having the X-Men licenses instead of them.)

This makes me ashamed of the Disney led Marvel cinematic universe outright.  Toss this in with previous questionable actions towards how they've mis-handled a female director that was originally attached to Thor 2, and there seems to be a growing misogyny trend here among their film division.  A trend that sadly if spoken up against could hinder careers which makes it all the more infuriating about Hollywood treatment between talent and those that cut the checks but-mostly-sit-on-their-behinds-doing-nothing while reaping the rewards and profits.  I wouldn't be voicing concern on this if it was something that only happened once or was a genuine fluke.  This seems to be repeated behavior.

There might be a further in-depth entry on this at a later point after some further information gathering pertaining to past and present women in the industry treatment from the Disney led MCU under Marvel's hand.

If Marvel wants to effect change, and I mean real change, maybe they should start within instead of pointing at the characters they put on screen.  I do love how they changed Jane Foster from what was a nurse or paramedic in the comics to a full on scientist in the films as a role model, but it's moot if their treatment of women behind the scenes is as bad if not worse than the villians they have onscreen.

The Art of Warren

Thank you Bendis.  I'd been wondering if I'd ever be able to use that word play.

So the newest relationship showing up in Laura's life right now is the from the past Warren Worthington III, aka Angel of the original 5.

Issue 30 shows their relationship budding after a quite confusing and mildly out of character build up out at a club, but it plays to Laura's recklessness so it's hard to fully dive into that as yet for where Laura's head is.  She's dealt with jealousy before, so under previous instances it seems out of character, but jealousy isn't an emotion that makes sense.  It can cause unique reactions to any instance besides of course other factors that could be at play like the innocence the original 5 display over what their contemporary selves have from the lives they've lived.  They still maintain that doe-eyed youth like innocence that their modern selves have long lost.  Something that in itself may be appealing to Laura as it's something she was never allowed to have.

Another for instance is Warren's wings themselves.  Laura witnessed his future self having them ripped off of him by Wolfsbane outright over in the X-Force v3 comic run.  It may make sense that she'd be more protective of them on his past self because of this and knowing the future in store with him during the Mutant Massacre as well(she did read the X-Men archived files as shown in the Academy X run, similar to what Finesse did with the files at the Avengers Academy, that one X-23 probably also did her due-diligence on reading).  It plays up to the spiritual end of Laura that's been a subtle undertone in previous comic runs as well because of what his namesake and wings symbolically represent.  She may become more infatuated with him because of her relatively recent travels and inner discoveries on her spiritual side.  She's a character that's grown a lot over the years so it's a hard call to make to really say what's out of character and what isn't as yet.  Especially when you factor in the psychology elements of her character and the various aspects she represents under those ordeals.  His displayed restraint, or willingness to stand up and keep her on the right path may also factor into her current infatuation with him.  The younger Warren doesn't have the same baggage and arrogance his contemporary counterpart built up over the years.  This works in his favor as a character and avoids such complications as we saw with his older self's usage towards Paige Guthrie a long while back.  Bendis is walking a fine line of showing these characters to not be as full of themselves as previous usages of the contemporary versions had displayed over the past 2 decades.

There are elements that come into question in her actions that can be considered out of character, but most of it has simple enough points that could push them aside for now.  The most troubling was the lack of her foot claws early on, and the ad-libbed "oops I forgot about those" author acknowledgement technique used in the trial of Jean Grey, but there are other aspects that he has been adding that are showing character growth as well.  So far it's been a trade off, and Bendis seems to be still getting his footing on X-23, so most complaints may fade over time that could be pointed out.  Besides of course the few that can be explained away.

And on this point of his usage of X-23, her night with Warren is really a point in favor of Bendis' writing.  Until further explored, it's not out of character but also carries hues of growth and finally feeling at home with her new team.  He seems to be channeling elements of Faith from Buffy for X-23's conveyance which is working in many ways but he adds his own twist to it that helps make X-23 stand as herself.  It really depends on where he takes it from here and it looks like issue 31 may explore this more in-depth as will later issues.

A big point I'm grateful on with his usages so far though is that he hasn't degraded her to a sexual object for the comic page.  He's carried her character story fine so far in her growth without resorting to being gratuitous or using her as a set piece to turn her essentially into porn for the comic to gain readers.  In balancing his usages, he's kept the majority of her character intent intact while still allowing her to grow and cater to wider audience appeal.  It's this balancing act that helps make his work stand on its own so far.  It would have been easy for him to have gone more towards debasing her to gain readership, and it's a testament to his push in maintaining the characters for what they represent while still allowing them to display the full human experience scope for readers to better identify with which in turn allows them all to grow.  He hasn't really shown if anything happened, but also subtly implies it was still intimate in other ways from how they talked.  This verbal intimacy displayed shows a deeper bond building overall, and I thank him for this more robust human touch than what in previous years would have been an excuse for the writer and artists to provide what's often been called fan service.  What they've done or haven't done is immaterial to the moment, but that verbal expressed intimacy of sharing themselves with each other on this emotional and mental level shows a maturity we haven't seen from X-23 since her Target X miniseries and Academy X run, and even those were mostly devoid of emotion on her end.  This shows her making a real emotional attachment, and it's quite refreshing.

I look forward to seeing where Bendis takes this character growth.

Black Widow Issue 11 to Feature X-23

X-23 potentially will be appearing in Black Widow's December 2014's issue 11.  At least she's shown to be on the cover of it.

So if All-New X-Men's characterization of X-23 doesn't feel accurate enough for you, here's potentially a throwback to an X-23 that may feel more in character.  It may even continue on to grow this friendship as previously shown in the pages of the Marjorie Liu run of X-23 v3 in the final issue.

Special thanks to Phil Noto for the heads up via his Tumblr with the cover he drew.

Girl Scouts and the Let's get her to Camp Campaign.

Check it out.  It's a worthwhile cause, and the Girl Scouts Organization is an amazing group that does try to empower and uplift young girls.