10 Things That Need to Change in Spec-Fic, a Pan-Medium Gripe

Note: I am using Spec-Fic to encompass everything from fantasy, to sci-fi, to spy-fi, horror, and other things related to the fantastic genres. None of this “Neal Stephenson said science fiction isn’t a genre” stuff, please.

1. Joss Whedon. Fine. Great. He has given us some good television and films, but he isn’t the only person out there who has ideas. His shadow looms impossibly large over the televisual and cinema landscapes and it is getting to feel a little same-y. There is homogeneity to the Whedonverse that can wear a little thin. If he loved the genre as much as he says, he should take a step back and let some other voices (not coached or shepherded by him) emerge. There are only so many clever dialogue sequences we can take, or need. Even Kevin Smith realized his shtick was getting old. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is as good as you think it is. Hell, people bought pet rocks and mood rings. Everybody may have raved about The Avengers, but Dredd was the comic book adaptation of 2012.

He is a talented man, but a little Whedon goes a long way.

2. JJ. Abrams. I. Don’t. Give. A. Damn. We all know that the new Star Trek films made money. But they sucked. There was nothing Trek about them, save the name and some of the ship designs. Dude is everywhere. His name is associated with so many genre shows that it doesn’t seem fair. Bless his heart for leaving Trek behind to helm the new Star Wars film. Can we get an actual Star Trek fan to take the series forward? Can’t front, though. Fringe was dope, right up until the Observer future storyline. It was like skateboarding downhill for miles, and then hitting a good-sized rock. Forward motion stopped. Instantly.

Oh yeah, he gave us Cloverfield and Super 8, too. So screw him.

3. Scientists/tech-geeks as socially awkward or impossibly hip. Fitz, Simmons, and Skye from Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Eli from Stargate: Universe; Claudia Donovan from Warehouse 13, and on and on. I have no idea why show runners of genre television feel the need to assault us with these characters. They are like popcorn in your teeth that no amount of flossing can get rid of. Scenes drag when they appear on screen. Just because you’re into science and tech does not mean that you have the social skills of a raisin. Granted, I worked in tech for several years and those folks are out there. But in these universes, a new archetype can be created. I get the argument that a certain demographic wants to see themselves represented, but come on.

4. White people. Your perspectives are perspectives, and not the truth. Can I make a suggestion? Let us all move toward a post-Tolkien/post-C.S. Lewis future. You can suspend your disbelief enough to read about dragons, elves, and elder races, but cannot muster any empathy or prosocial connections to a character of color? Fuck outta here. Junot Diaz already dropped dime on you about your intolerance. You’re down with Klingon, and Elvish, but not Spanish or Arabic. Put the tired white folks sword and sorcery down and pick up Saladin Ahmed’s book.

5. Adaptations, remakes, and reimaginings…all that shit. Can we get some original stories? I’ll admit to liking and patronizing these types of films, but I’d rather see more things along the lines of Duncan Jones’ Moon than another superhero bang ‘em up — unless it is T’Challa King of the Wakandas. He is long overdue for a film.

6. The lack of diversity in genre film. Out of the 20 highest grossing films of all time, all but one (Titanic) is sci-fi, animated, or fantasy. None of these films have a person of color as one of the first three important characters in the story (James Rhodes in the Iron Man films was fourth lead).

And no, the blue folks in Avatar do not count. The Na’Vi were racebended from the white characters in Fern Gully.

7. Urban fantasy has to stop it with this fairy/fae court living “just beneath the surface of the cities we know.” Damn the Sidhe. How about using local legends to fuel your tales? But if you have to deal with that fairy ish, read Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. She did it first and best.

Oh yeah… until vampires get scary again — as opposed to being sparkly and immortal statutory rapists — screw ‘em.

8. How about the objectification and sexualization of women just stop. Stop it in comics, video games (the two worst culprits), film, television… just stop it. It’s disgusting, creepy, and detrimental too. The thing is, both men and women participate in this characterization. There is a chasm between sexual beings and sexual objects. Don’t portray women according to your fantasies; try and portray them according to theirs. Do some damn (feminist) market research. Just because something is popular does not mean that it is right — in the sense of right and wrong. Oversized boobs and ridiculously small waists do not make a woman.

9. Events in comics. Fuck all of the Crisis/Secret War/Invasion-Versus-Fatal Attraction/Civil War/Amazons Attack/Final Night/One Million… ad infinitum. Some are/were great, but most of them sucked. I don’t want to buy one-offs of a series I don’t collect just to get a piece of the story. I also don’t want to wade through multiple creative teams. When the creative continuity is off, you eject the reader from the story. Just be smart and collect them all in trades from the get go. More people will buy them… if they’re any good.

10. The following genre film screenwriters. David Goyer, Akiva Goldsman, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Just stop.

‘Nuff said.

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