Activision Blizzard’s Toxic Culture is Part of a Larger, Ongoing Conversation about Video Games

This week, employees at Activision Blizzard plan to walkout in protest over work conditions and leadership’s poor response to workplace treatment of women — particularly women of color, transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups, according to a Kotaku report. On July 20, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit alleging that the company cultivated a toxic and sexist, “frat boy” workplace environment, and since the bombshell news dropped, scores of former and current employees, reporters, and gaming leaders have voiced their concerns over the lack of accountability on the part of Activision Blizzard.

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We Made a Wonder Woman Jacket… and Guys Hate It

by Tony B. Kim | Originally posted at Hero Within

On Monday morning we released our summer collection that included our new Wonder Woman Denim Jacket. Out of everything new we are creating this year, this is the one piece I am most excited for. Wonder Woman is FINALLY getting her own live action film after almost 40 years since Linda Carter’s iconic TV version. Fortunately, in the past few years, we have seen more social advocating for equal representation of gender, orientation, and race in our favorite comics, TV, and films. Much has changed. Much has not.

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How Diverse is the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The Movies: Phase One

The Doctor Strange controversy — combined with the push to cast an Asian American actor as the title character Danny Rand aka Iron Fist —  has been buzzing for the last couple months. With the release of the first official trailer for Doctor Strange, Marvel’s next would-be blockbuster movie after Captain America: Civil War, the controversy has reached an all time high. So much so that a Marvel spokesperson gave this statement to Mashable regarding the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange:

Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

Is this statement true though? Has Marvel Studios really pushed diversity in their movies? Have they increased the visibility of marginalized peoples in their film franchise or television properties? Has Marvel Studios subverted stereotypes? Enough to supposedly excuse recent controversies surrounding Doctor Strange and Iron Fist?

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White Virgin/Whore of Color: #DaredevilProblems

I wasn’t gonna do this, but in a conversation on twitter, @BlackGirlNerds asked me to expand on what I recently called “Daredevil‘s White Virgin/Whore of Color Complex” and I would hate to disappoint. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not just trying to dump on Daredevs. I still love the first season, and the second season, despite serious problems, is still great television in a lot of ways.

But I hope — on this site especially — I don’t need to go over again why/how problematic representations of POC and women spread like mayonnaise over a beloved television property can be like an all-day, all-you-can-take, face-slapping machine. And Arthur Chu has already shown you the wasabi-infused mayo currently salmonellizing on Daredevil‘s bread.

I’m here to show you the ketchup.

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Ex-Machina Abuses Women to Show that Abuse is Sick

I saw Ex-Machina a few months ago at a special pre-screening here in Los Angeles. Now that it’s out on video, I’m going to jump right in and address some points critics have made against how women — specifically women of color — are treated in the film. I disagree with many of these views and this is why.

Also, SPOILERS — and expletives — ahead. Consider yourself warned.

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Our Toxic Remake Culture: Why Do We Insist on Making the Same Old White-Guy Movies?

Originally posted on Salon.com

Like it or not — despite the many, many hectoring jeremiads by the people who fall on the “not” side of the argument — “remake culture” seems to be here to stay. The most anticipated films of the upcoming year are all adaptations of or sequels to works that are decades old.

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Beyond the Cape: Batgirl and the State of Women in Comics

by CG | Originally posted at Black Girl in Media

[Trigger warning in these posts for mention & discussion of: sexual violence, molestation, rape, and violence against women]

Fiction always reflects the cultural temperature of the times. This could be a good thing, and sometimes be a great thing. But most of the time, it leads to us uncovering not so pleasant parts of our society. Comics have always been an accessible part of that cultural narrative, as their mix of visual and written storytelling have led to them being embraced by fans for decades. Comics and superhero culture are very much at the center of dictating societal norms.

So when we have instances of dictating women’s dress, allowing for female oppression and violence against women for book sales, the issue goes beyond just the individual books or characters in question. It’s about questioning the system that we’ve allowed for this behavior and thinking to flourish enough to reach the success that it has with the comics industry.

This is the state of women in comics.

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People on the Internet Get Things Wrong: Comic Book Cover Edition

by William Evans | Originally posted on Black Nerd Problems

Trigger Warning: Some of the images pulled from comic books depict assault and violence towards women.

DC is celebrating the Joker next month with a plethora of variant covers devoted to him. The Joker, who by definition is a deranged, sinister and disturbed individual is shown on most of these covers the way he’s always been: scaring the shit out of somebody. One specifically that sparked a lot of outrage was where the Joker is cozied up to a frightened Batgirl for her cover. After a lot of people voiced their displeasure with the cover AND RECEIVED THREATS OF VIOLENCE FOR IT, the artist Rafael Albuquerque asked DC to pull the cover. Now of course, there’s the backlash to the backlash as many fans and creators are crying foul and constructing this as an evil feminist argument that ruins everything. Sigh.

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Much Ado About Batgirl

Originally posted at WilliamBruceWest.com

So, usually I’d just let this kind of thing go, or just drop a casual mention of it in West Week Ever, but I was inspired to say more about this particular thing. Last week, DC Comics revealed a variant cover for the upcoming Batgirl #41, which can be seen here:

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Barbarians at the (Gamer)Gate

The latest Hard NOC Life dives headfirst into the internet controversy that is #GamerGate. Joining guest host N’Jaila Rhee (@BlasianBytch) are Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect), from This Week in Blackness Aaron Rand Freeman  (@ANSFreeman), #StopGamerGate2014 creator Veerender Jubbal (@Veeren_Jubbal), and Tanya (@INeedDivGms), creator of the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag.

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Don’t Be Silent! Things You Can Do about GamerGate

by Patrick Miller | Originally posted on Tumblr

I have spoken to a lot of people in the games industry who are frustrated about GamerGate but shaky on the prospect of speaking out themselves; they’re worried about receiving death threats, or drawing unwanted attention to their employer, or just overextending themselves getting involved in an exhausting conversation.

All of these are valid concerns! The problem is that good people being silent on the matter is what enables this to continue; many of the folks who organize under the GamerGate banner (both harassers and non-harassers) genuinely believe that they’re speaking up for the silent majority who share their beliefs but aren’t brave enough to speak out. (Personally, I tend to assume that people are jerks despite their good intentions until proven otherwise; IMO the hard part of being a good person isn’t thinking the right thing, it’s doing the right thing). In other words, silence is interpreted as implicit permission to continue.

So, here’s the thing. Speaking out doesn’t mean you have to wake up every morning and only get out of bed after reading the previous night’s GamerGate stuff for twenty minutes and getting angry. (I will say it’s pretty good at getting me out of bed, though). There are a bunch of different ways that you can make your voice heard, depending on how your personal HP/MP are doing.

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It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry?

Originally posted at The Daily Beast

Okay, gamers, let’s have a talk.

First of all, my cred — rest assured I am one of your tribe. I have saved the princess, I have united the Triforce, I have shot rockets into the giant goat skull to blow up John Romero’s head. There is documentary evidence that I proposed to my wife at a video game convention where she had to beat the final boss from Sonic 3 & Knuckles before I would marry her.

So no, I’m definitely not one of the fake gamer girls you fear and loathe so much, especially since I’m not a girl. So when I tell you you’re being misogynist losers who are making us all look bad, maybe you’ll listen.

Probably not, though.

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Genius: The Controversy of Creation

by Afua Richardson

I wanted the opportunity to voice the reasons for the design of the cover for a comic book by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman entitled Genius. Before the book’s release, it has already been the subject of many heated conversations. Some feel offended that a black character being celebrated for her tactical Genius, is displayed nearly nude on a floor with caution tape loosely bound around her. They think  the cover is over sexualized and offensive. Some feel it’s a poor representation of the book and black women as a whole, without ever having read it.

Others have their burdens of color on their shoulders because of the past suffering of blacks, its subsequent plots and the negative portrayal in mainstream media being so prevalent, that anything slightly resembling that, is tarred and feathered in the digital town square. Where I can understand why this may be the case, I’d like the opportunity to explain who I am and why I’ve made this. If you then feel I should be hung on the proverbial cross for doing this, c’est la vie. I have spoken my mind and created something without apology or retraction. Not everyone will like my work. But I won’t have it misrepresented by people who don’t understand it.

I warn you, there are spoilers in this. So if you prefer not to know the twists and turns, I’d wait until the end of the month after the book has reached its completion. Otherwise, journey forth, brave soul.

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With Batgirl, Is DC Comics Finally Getting It Right?

I have made no bones about my dislike of the direction DC Comics has taken in the last several years. From the sameness of the “DC House Style” aesthetics to the many narrative and PR missteps along the way, the New 52 has been divisive to say the least. While I’m not a fan of the overall strategy, I will admit that it hasn’t been all terrible. Most of Scott Snyder’s Bat books, Greg Pak on the Superman booksCliff Chiang on Wonder Woman, and Bernard Chang on Green Lantern Corps were highlights, for sure1.

As a longtime DC fanboy, it’s always pained me to hop on the DC Comics bashwagon, but sometimes it was hard to root for the publisher that let this and this and this and this happen. Over the last several days, though, news of DC’s plans for the last quarter of 2014 and beyond are proving that maybe on my world,  the DC logo means hope, too.

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Yes, All Geek Men

This culture of ours saved my life. This isn’t an exaggeration. If not for Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Star Trek, The Wild Wild West, comic books, Isaac Asimov, and Dr. Who, I would probably be dead. I grew up in a neighborhood where the idea of dreaming outside of the concrete, glass, and busted elevators that encroached on my every day was damn near forbidden — it could also get you killed. Dreaming above your station was discouraged as you didn’t want others to think you were better than them. If they were in the shit, so were you. So in secret, I visited fantastic worlds — these worlds kickstarted my dream machinery, inviting me to see beyond what I thought were my limits.

Fiction has a way of doing that. It forces you to imagine worlds so very different than your own — and want to live there.

As I got more into SF (my catchall designation for all the outré things we love), not just as a consumer but also as a creator, I started to see just how amazing this stuff ours is. The potential for SF to affect real world change was absolutely astonishing. But the thing is, most of these changes happen only in the realm of the object. Cellular phones, teleconferencing, mobile digital health monitoring — all these things delivered on the promise of SF. These were delivered in tangible forms.  What disturbed was that the human element stayed contemporarily human.

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In Support of the #iamcomics Campaign

by Arturo R. Garcia | Originally posted at Racialicious

The author’s submission to #IAmComics

If you’ll allow for a moment of first-person writing today, I’m happy and proud to announce that, in addition to being part of the team at The R, I was asked to be part of We Are Comics, a new campaign created by longtime comics pro editor Rachel Edidin over the weekend to spotlight the fact that comics fandom extends far, far beyond the cis-het white male realm often attached to it.

In her words:

We are comics: creators, publishers, retailers, readers; professionals and fans. And we are a lot more diverse than you might think.

We Are Comics is a campaign to show—and celebrate—the faces of our community, our industry, and our culture; to promote the visibility of marginalized members of our population; and to stand in solidarity against harassment and abuse.

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Sexism at New York Comic-Con

So New York Comic-Con was held a couple weekends back, and while head-NOC-in-charge Keith was holding it down at the Epic Proportions/SIUniverse booth, there were some shenanigans going on down on the con floor.

Apparently, a camera crew from a local cable show called “Man Banter” got in to the convention hall on SiriusXM credentials and proceeded to racially and sexually harass any and every woman they could find. From cosplayers to journalists to comics professionals, if you were a woman — and got caught in Man Banter’s crosshairs — you were gonna get harassed. Heidi has a roundup of first person accounts from the con over at The Beat.

Our friends at 18 Million Rising have put together a petition to demand SiriusXM fire Mike Babchik, the producer who used his credentials to get his cable access crew into the show. They’ve met about 75% of the signatures needed to meet their goal of 2,000. Info about the petition — and a link if you want to add your name — is available after the jump.

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Whore of the Orient Video Game Slammed for Anti-Asian Racism

(H/T Asian American News)

Team Bondi, the Australian-based maker of the popular 3rd person shooter L.A. Noire that was distributed in the U.S. by videogame behemoth Rockstar Games, is in hot water over an upcoming video game currently in development. The game, which is a collaboration with filmmaker George Miller (an animated film director responsible for such works as Happy Feet 2), is titled “Whore of the Orient” and is set in 1930s Shanghai.

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