Yesterday was one of those days that was going along just fine until suddenly it wasn’t. You know how when you have lots of things you want to do you keep a schedule in order to get them done? Ok, maybe this isn’t normal, but it is what I do. And while the schedule has wiggle room for surprises there is only so much wiggling it can take before it falls to pieces. Last night it fell to pieces and the thing that didn’t get done was a blog post. Not the end of the world, I know, but I was disappointed about it nonetheless. However, there is no use crying over spilt milk as they say, so onward.
Ody-C. This is a comic series by Matt Fraction of Sex Criminals fame as well as gobs of Marvel comics. I was excited about it because it was gender-bending, turning Odysseus and his crew into women. Cool, right? Except Fraction sets the story in space because, why not? And all the men are gone because of Zeus (who is a woman) not wanting there to be any children who overthrow her rule like she did to her own father. Except those sneaky humans, thanks to Prometheus, have created a way of having children without men. Ok, I can go with this.
Aside from these few elements, the story sticks pretty closely to Homer. Even the language takes a stab at replicating the tone and rhythms of ancient Greek. So why did I not like this? Why, as I sat there with a pained, scowly look on my face that prompted Bookman to ask if I were having intestinal troubles, why was I unable to find any pleasure in it? When Bookman told me I should stop reading it I flipped/skimmed through the rest of it just to see if there was anything salvageable. I failed to find anything so back to the library it went, a did not finish.
One of the reasons I didn’t like it was the art by Christian Ward. Reviews by people who like the comics rave about the art. It is lurid, and psychedelic and what I imagine a bad acid trip might be like. It is also violent and at times visually incomprehensible to me (I see colors. I see an explosion? Did a ship just explode? What is that thing there? This panel is hurting my eyes.).
And then there is the story. I am not a huge fan of The Odyssey anyway, I think Odysseus is a jerk of major proportions and have a hard time understanding why everyone thinks he is so gosh darn clever and wonderful. And Fraction sticks really close to Homer and basically just changes Odysseus’ and everyone else’s gender. As I was reading I felt like it was the same story but with women substituted for men. Plus all the women’s armor has boobs and anyone who knows anything about armor will tell you boob armor is severely flawed and entirely impractical from a defensive position. There is never any reason for women to have boob armor, just ask Joan of Arc! So right off when women show up with boob armor – and it is always large boobs so you can’t mistake the armored person for a man – I get angry.
Then I read an interview the other day with Fraction and the interviewer asked him about his feminism. Huh? To Fraction, the entire act of gender swapping is a feminist act. He thinks it is pretty awesome and dominant culture challenging to have women going to war and having adventures and being Odysseus and all that. I scoffed because in my point of view just changing genders and basically having all the characters still be men but have women’s bodies, that’s not feminist to me. It is interesting to be sure, but just turning the men into women is not a groundbreaking act (at least not these days) nor is it in and of itself feminist. But because the interviewer was male, it is two dudes patting themselves on the back for how awesome they are without even stopping to interrogate what is actually going on or how women might see it. Sigh.
And maybe some women like Ody-C and find it feminist and maybe they do find it groundbreaking and that’s cool. But it didn’t work for me. I like comic book art that doesn’t feel like a bad acid trip and I like my feminism to be bolder and edgier. That’s why I am looking forward to reading the Mockingbird comics (number 23 in the holds queue, hurry up!). The woman writing them recently decided to quit because she got so much hate from trolls when she had the character on the cover wearing a shirt that says “Ask me about my feminist agenda.” Matt Fraction in his interview didn’t say anything about blowback for his feminism. Feminist men have more privilege than feminist women apparently. And now I am getting snarky so I will leave it there. If you have read Ody-C and liked it, please tell me and let me know what you liked and why. I’m curious about your reading experience.
Now for something unrelated. I am looking for suggestions for books about neo-liberalism. Mostly from a historical aspect, when did it start, how did it spread and work its nasty fingers into so many things, and what the implications and effects of this have been politically, economically, culturally. There are a lot of books on the topic so I am hoping there are those among you who have read a few and can point me in a good direction.
Another unrelated something. If you weren’t aware, Dan Rather is on Facebook and he is so amazing and awesome and everything you want currently working journalists to be but they aren’t. So follow Mr. Rather next time you find yourself on Facebook. His posts are the kind of thing you wish would show up in your feed more often.