Addendum: Strong Male Characters (or, That Rogue One Review is Full of Crap)

Two days ago, I wrote a post about "strong male characters" that took to task some comments made in a review by Todd McCarthy. At the time, I had not seen Rogue One, so my argument essentially rested on the idea that we don't need "strong male characters" in every movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I feel it necessary to come back to McCarthy's review to address the substance of the claims. Expect some spoilers ahead! As a reminder, here is the relevant quote from McCarthy's review:
What the film really lacks is a strong and vigorous male lead (such as Han Solo or John Boyega's Finn in The Force Awakens) to balance more equally with Jyn and supply a sparring partner. None of the men here has real physical or vocal stature, nor any scenes in which they can decisively emerge from the pack in a way that engages audience enthusiasm. Both Luna and Ahmed have proved themselves repeatedly in big-screen and television performances, but their characters never pop here, to the film's detriment. And given that Jyn is rather less gung-ho and imposing than was Ridley's Rey, there's an overall feel of less physical capacity on the part of the main characters.
None of this is remotely accurate. Actually, I'd hazard to call it complete and utter bullshit. Read More

Strong Male Leads (Or, Why You Don’t Need Them in Every Goddamn Movie)

The Bourne Identity007: SpecterThe Fast and FuriousThe Dark KnightIndiana Jones, and Rocky. What do these films have in common? Well, aside from being action films and most of them featuring the name of the main character in the title, all of these films have male leads and, at best, female supporting characters. Is this a problem for these franchises? Not really. A series about Rocky should probably feature Rocky, after all, and it makes sense that the same be true for most of the films I just listed. For the most part, men dominate action franchises, with some notable exceptions[note]The Tomb Raider series, Resident EvilUnderworld, and The Hunger Games are some notable exceptions. A more complete list of female-led action films/franchises can be found here.[/note] That's been the way of things for decades, and only until recently has that power been properly challenged, with more and more female-led action franchises hitting our screens. It's a good thing. Some of those new franchises are fan-friggin-tastic. And those other franchises are fantastic, too. We can have both! Which brings me to the latest "men aren't getting their fair share" argument in film... By now, some of you have seen Todd McCarthy's review of Rogue One at The Hollywood Reporter. As far as reviews go, it's a fairly standard piece; read it if you like, but be warned there are some spoilers. Part of the reason McCarthy's review has garnered a lot of attention, particularly on Twitter, is the following quote: Read More

Why I Try Not to Talk About Things I Know Nothing About

Update:  SF Signal has officially removed the post and issued an apology on their website.  To be honest, I think they handled it well.  They responded quickly to criticism, removed the post, and apologized basically in the same evening, which is not something you could say about other places in our community.  John DeNardo has accepted full responsibility, and Sarah Chorn, who runs the column, has said her apologies and apparently gone dark for a bit.  I know both a little bit (not as much as I would like, but we do live in different dimensions, so...), so I feel confident in saying their responses are sincere and that they both feel pretty awful about it all.  I hope that is the end of it and that we can use this moment to move things in a more constructive direction.

----------------------------

In 2014, I was on a panel about postcolonialism and science fiction at LonCon3.  It was a tough panel for me because as much as I should know what I'm talking about when it comes to the field I've spent the last 8 years studying, I've always had a bit of that impostor syndrome.  And that feeling is always enhanced by the fact that I know I come from the very group which made a field like postcolonialism necessary.  My ancestors probably enslaved people, stole land from others, destroyed entire cultures, colonized entire regions of the world and stole as many resources as they could.  What right do I have studying and writing about these things in the academic context? A lot of that was in the back of my mind when I walked over to the panel location with my fellow panelists, and it stayed there even as I gave my thoughts on questions from the moderator and the audience.  What am I doing here? Read More