Brain Food!

Hello one and all, and welcome to another new post here, in where I give to you the first three episodes of Brain Food, a series I started a little while ago to review the debut novel of a friend of mine, Dennis Upkin’s Hollowstone.

The idea of this series to is discuss published books and comics which are outside the norm, and by the norm I mean more adventures of the mighty whitey straight guy who gets the girl and saves the world. There is an entire world out there of authours and artists who wish to bring forth entire fictional worlds that help us to escape reality while also giving us something new to consider. I am proud to bring these stories to light because they are good, and they are worth the time and money that should be invested in them.

So lets start this off, shall we?

Episode 1: Hollowstone

Episode 2: Aspire #1

Episode 3: Flesh Which is not Flesh

I hope that everyone enjoys these reviews and the stories that I review. I have more on the way, with a review of Miranda Lo’s Huntress, as well as Terry Moore’s Hero.

When media is prejudiced, there is no “but”

I’ve always been a commentator on media and social justice and that’s only increasing. I’ve said why I think it’s important and why it matters and, besides, at this point I don’t think I could watch/read/play something without being aware of the various problematic, prejudiced portrayals or erasures that will inevitably arise.

But it seems nigh impossible to criticise the various -isms in the media without argument. Now, I don’t claim to be infallible (though do not tell my husband that. As far as he’s concerned I am correct in any and all matters and he should just accept it and do as he’s told, yes yes he should) and if I say something was prejudiced and you disagree – by all means present a reasoned rebuttal.

No, what I object to are the JUSTIFICATIONS for the -isms. They don’t argue that I’m wrong about the prejudice – but that, for whatever reason, the prejudice doesn’t matter. That something else about the work makes the prejudice irrelevant. And I call shenanigans, I do. Because it always matters – and it is never justified. So, I am I am debunking the inevitable excuses that always arise over and over – I am calling out the “buts” because there really is no but here

But but but…. it’s funny!

First of all, it probably isn’t. I have yet to see this excuse used for anything that has made me crack a smile. Of course, the problem is that humour is subjective – after all, I’m sure there are people out there who actually laugh at sitcoms with laugh tracks (and is there ever anything so mind breakingly unfunny as those damn laugh tracks?). Which is a problem, because the “it’s funny” excuse can apply to anything.

But. Y’know even accepting that there is humour there, I still say “so?” Sorry, maybe my priorities are a little messed up but I don’t really see “it made me giggle” as justifying prejudiced portrayals. In fact, I find it faintly demeaning – yes it is damaging, stereotyped, made you cringe and overall reduces your standing as a person – but it was funny so it’s totally ok, right? Um… no.

But but but… think about when it’s made!

So it was made in the 60s/80s/90s whatever. Is it never going to be watched/played/read again? It’s still being consumed, it’s still part of the narrative of our media and our society – and yes, maybe back then such problems were more common place but it doesn’t mean that the prejudiced portrayals are NOT PROBLEMATIC. A deeply stereotyped portrayal is STILL a deeply stereotyped portrayal, even if it was written at a time when such 2 dimensional tokens were rare. It’s still problematic, it still needs commenting on, it’s still not OK even if it was better than most of its contemporaries.

But but but… it’s only fantasy/sci-fi/urban fantasy/YA/Whatever

Genre is irrelevant. If the media is mass consumed then it shapes our culture, our perceptions of people and our lives. In fact, a “trashy” novel or a computer game has far more effect on us as people than a pretentious, over-written, dreadfully dull composition that will be read by dusty English professors patting each other on the back at how impenetrable and highbrow it is.

Prejudice isn’t irrelevant in any genre. It is never unimportant – and the more common the genre, the more widely read, the more people it reaches then the more good – and the more damage – it can do with its portrayals. I believe a simple widely read YA novel that has good respectful portrayals does far more for us than a dozen scholarly treaties about our rights. Conversely – a widely read YA novel with gross stereotypes and prejudice does a whole lot of damage.

But but but… they also did THIS and that was good!

And? Maybe that over work they’ve is good and progressive and avoids the fails I’ve criticised. That doesn’t mean that THIS here that I’ve just read/watched/played has problems. This media I’ve just consumed was problematic – the writer may have made something else that was vastly better but that doesn’t change what I’ve just read/watched/played.

But but but… it’s a great portrayal of Y marginalised group

And I applaud that, it’s wonderful when we see a marginalised character written well. But just because a book has great female characters or great POC characters etc etc doesn’t mean that erasure or grossly awful portrayals elsewhere are acceptable. Just because it isn’t prejudiced one way, doesn’t make it immune to being prejudiced another way.

But but but… This writer is my heeero and you should have seen them at X and and!!!

Well this is kind of why I don’t have heroes. Look, there are some great writers out there and they do amazing things – but that doesn’t mean we’re all supposed to pretend that the naked Emperor is wearing clothes. This is what I hate about heroes – look, no-one’s perfect and you don’t have to pretend they’re perfect and untouchable to appreciate their work – and they probably don’t need the fanpoodles to swarm in yapping at the critics.

But but but… I loooove it!

Yeah, maybe I do too. “What!?” you gasp? Yeah, there’s a good chance I love it to. No, really, I’m not some bitter, twisted grumpy git who hates everything. In fact I know most of the media I enjoy – be they books, computer games, films, series – they’re all problematic. My most favourite of favourite things I love are sadly rife with stereotypes, erasure, damaging tropes and out right prejudiced portrayals.

Of course they are. I grew up in this society too – and no matter how much my own marginalisation hurts me or how much I try to learn about others, I still carry their stains, I still have their programming. Besides, if I wanted to avoid problematic media I’d have to move to a cave in a mountain somewhere and dedicate my life to staring at the wall. And even then there’d probably be an advert there full of problematic elements.

And aside form that, yes some stories are awesome. The plot is immense, the performances are amazing, the settings phenomenal – I am transported, awed, amazed and overjoyed by them and watch/read them over and over and over again. And every time I STILL see the stereotypes, the tropes, the erasure and the plain prejudiced fails and say “I love them… BUT”

And yeah, it’d be really really nice to read/watch/play something and say “I loved it!” without having to include the “but.” But the answer to that is to keep SAYING “but” until there’s nothing to say “but” about – not to pretend that the problematic elements don’t exist or are justified because it’s an awesome story/game/film/whatever.

So, I beg here, please, stop the kneejerk defence. Stop jumping up and down hissing about your precious. If you disagree with something being problematic, if someone has said “this is homophobic/racist/sexist/etc” and you think (with reasons beyond privileged ignorance) that they are mistaken and you have a respectful and well thought out counter then fine – but don’t EXCUSE the prejudice, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

Sex work in fantasy literature (Case study: A Song of Ice and Fire)

Here via Miss D, who said:

I’d really like to talk about the depiction of sex workers in fantasy literature. As a sex worker I often find it alienating and upsetting.

This article is a pretty good rant about the treatment of sex workers in sci-fi and fantasy. It’s worth a look to get a handle on some of the reasons why so many depictions of sex work in made-up worlds fill people with squick.

The only fantasy literature I’ve read recently which depicts sex work is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Let’s just put it out there that George R.R. Martin is, as far as is known, a cisgender straight White guy. While in and of itself nothing remarkable, when examining the dynamics of his works, the fact that he’s on the more privileged side of gender, race, and sexuality is worth mentioning.

That said, let’s look at how he portrays sex work in his series (feel free to cheat by watching Game of Thrones).


Representation in media: Tower Prep

This is my first post so please take care of me. I always wanted to post here on this blog. Thanks to Neo-Prodigy, and RVBard. I’ll do my best to mind myself and honor those who are my senior.

Today we are discussing the Cartoon Network live action show Tower Prep. Why now? Since the season 1 is long over and there is little chance of it being returned despite the fact of constant fans asking for it back. I’m going to examine why this show presents a poor representation of people of color.


Tower Prep is the story of Ian Archer, a teenager who has an ability known as Preflex, which allows him to see things before they happen. He has a tendency to get into trouble at school and one day, after a fight with a bully which sees him suspended, he finds himself in a mysterious preparatory school that no one knows the whereabouts of and is surrounded by many secrets such as the creatures that guard the schools off limits areas in the night. He befriends CJ Ward, Gabe Forrest, and Suki Sato. Together, they try to escape the school while also trying to discover the secrets of Tower Prep. (tvtropes)

On the surface the show is promising, but when I saw the first few episodes, I couldn’t watch it. All it was a 2-D white Teen show, the characters are bland and forgettable and insert every “indie” rock song. Yeah, trying to reach out to teens with very bland music, good job Cartoon Network. In every episode it’s like looking at a typical 80s/90’s show. I understand that it’s suppose to be family friendly, but when the family friendly equals blandness. Ok let’s start with the characters then we get to the plot and why it makes me mad.

Then CHARACTERS: I’m too lazy to say it my own words so I’ll use it’s wiki for help.

Ian Archer: What can I say about him? He’s boring. I mean they put him as like a mighty whitey guy. Like the character is mostly a Mary Sue. He can fight, he’s a rebel and a good guy. Usually those traits are serving for the lancer or someone who is darker not a family friendly teen drama. My main problem he seems to be an insert to the target white male audience, like they are the Alpha race.

CJ Ward: Yes, along with a beautiful white male character comes a white female. Funny thing about teen shows, is that with the cute main character they always have a cute female counter-part and is hinted to be the love interest of the main character. This also bother me because it seems that the show want to have the boys googling the girl say that she is hot and insert themselves as getting the girl.

Suki Sato: Not much to say but she is a Typical Asian girl, family owns technology stuff. (Zaibatsu anyone?) She’s quiet and stays in the background so that they white people can have the spot light.

Gabe Forest: A Typical Geek who tries to fit in. You know that’s bad when you have to escape and some of your friends tries to fit in. Typical Geek in a teen Drama, nothing new and nothing more.


Cal Rice

After I heard some good things from the show, mind you they are mostly dorky white kids who live in a monochrome suburbia. So I read the plot, then I looked at the main character that they are showcasing and most of them are white. So I bite like a fish and watched the show. Ok maybe it will be different from Heroes. So I watched it and it was just as bad. Like it focuses too much on the white male guy, and it was boring. The college indie rock that they play every freaking time didn’t help. So when I watched the pilot of the show it was crap, ok I forgive it.

Later on when they are showing the other characters, Cal Rice, it was shown as a disrespectful, rude and a stereotypical black guy. So in the episode Buffer, for no apparent reason Cal decides to jump Ian, but is chased off by the gnomes (think the putty men in Power Rangers), so later on in the episode Cal mistreats Ian and calls him towel boy. It reminds me of the fact that the stereotype that black people are rude and cowards. And will jump at poor pretty white people only to be scared off. So later on in the show after Cal’s team wins, Ian being the good white boy, wants to shake Cal’s hand, but he spits on it. So I should add that black people are nasty people according to the show.  I stop watching the show after that but according to what I read that Cal has joined the bad guys. Yeah this show really hates black people.

I also forgot to add that cal has a crush on CJ, but CJ just brushed him off to the side. Also in the episodes he dances like in the Amos and Andy shows. I guess that the show takes it’s lesions form the black face actors. Also By the way he acts and his willingness to join the gnomes sounds like a house nergo.

(see black brute stereotype: )


Then at the second episode when Ian was framed for stealing, it ends up being the black roommate Howard. Before he was confronted, Howard was being used by Gabe whose powers were persuasion. He was using Howard like a slave. His excuse was that was that Gabe was paying too much attention to Ian. It sounds like a house Negro missing his master. So was he mentioned again no never. Later on the group rejoices that the fact that Ian has moved in with Gabe, after they pleaded with the faculty to drop the case. Yeah looks like the characters don’t care black people.


To what I’ve read according to its wiki that this normal black student wanted to leave Tower Prep. So he went to the forest and got captured by a resistance group called the Broken. So later on he dresses up as monster to scare people. This is a lot of things wrong with this. Like to the creators have a problem with black people?   They are thieves, cowards, disrespectful, and animals.

Suki Sato

She is made as a secondary female lead to CJ. Now let’s examine this. Suki by herself is ok, but when she is with CJ, it makes CJ looks more attractive and more guys will look at her. If you see the two together, the target audience will say “CJ is cute”, if CJ is alone guys will say “Oh she’s average”. I think the movie Hall Pass mention something about that. Same thing will for Ian and Gabe, except when Ian takes off his shirt and shows his Aryan body. In media the common stereotypes of Asians are that they are a model race according to white people, because they are not going to react to racism caused by white people.

Suki is shown the same way. She follows the group with no personality what so ever. Later when she does have the spotlight, it is something that we see every day in TV shows. Here’s the following of a typical episode featuring an Asian female character.

  1. Asian female goes to a school or work that is westernized
  2. Asian girl makes friends but she is quiet.
  3. Asian girl’s family comes and tells to come home (what family wouldn’t)
  4. White people fight off Asian family and win despite the fact of the said Asian group (Ian vs Shinji, again with the Mighty Whitey)
  5. Asian tells family off, and says that their tradition values are outdated and wrong. (Suki saying that she doesn’t have a father)

Yeah, Asian people and their backwards ways.

Yeah, don’t expect to find an Arab or Latino on the show because in Teen drama or in SF/F drama they don’t exist.  Unless it’s to elevate the white people, or for the WoC (women of color) as sex dolls for the white male.


For as long as I can remember, when women have powers, they are usually inferior to males. Like in the X-men cartoon, Jean Grey can’t hold a pen without shouting “I can’t hold it.”  How come when women have powers that they can’t control it and the males have to save them?

When I watch anime and read manga that although the female are dressed in skimpy clothes that they held their own and even fought in par with males. I mean look at Bleach, Rukia, Yoruichi, Unohana and Rangiku can hold their own in a battle without the help of males. Even Rukia got mad at Ichigo when he wanted to protect her when they were invading Heuco Mundo.

So that comes to mind when I watch the show. Like the females never have any good powers. It’s usually perception, mimicry and other sensitive powers. In one episode when the group was alone in the school. CJ decided to venture off, but Suki says that it would be unwise to leave because Ian knows Martial Arts. As would Paul Mooney would say about Tom Cruise being the Last Samurai. “Tom Cruise as the Last Samurai, give me a break.” It’s almost like they need a white guy to save the day.


Hollywood part

Usually when people are discussing this, the answers are always this: “Well maybe it was the best actor they can find?”

That may be true, but it’s the producers’, directors’ and the writers’ job to find out how the target audiences will perceive the show. I mean get people who are minorities and ask them how they feel about the characters on the show and how will they take it. Like how will a Black person take the show, how will the Hispanic person respond to the actors? These questions are very vital to understand true diversity.

Your Part

If you find that you are unconformable about a show, you have the right to talk and blog about. Trust me people do it all the time. Or go to here. Don’t just support a writer just because they are their ethnic group or that have the same traits like yours. Support them because of diversity and the quality of the story.  Maybe if you are good, you can write you own story and have people like really like it. It don’t have to be the next X-men or Buffy, just be a good quality story.

More info on Tower Prep
Tower Prep Wiki:

Soon I’ll try to see about I Am Number Four and Push and why they fail. I hope I can stomach it.

DC And Diversity

Greetings and Salutations everyone!

I am very pleased to be here contributing to this fine blog, having been referenced here by Neo-Prodigy and encouraged to contribute as well. I’ve been a fan of comics and pop culture since I could read and watch the TV, and some of my fondest memories of superheroes belongs to watching the old, 60s animated Spider-Man series (all voiced by fellow Canadians from CBC).

However, while fiction can be an escape from some of the prejudices and bigotry of real life, it appears that not only has this been not the case, but such prejudices and bigotry has been kept firmly in place and in such a way as to not use the language that most of us keep a keen eye and ear out for.

Today, I am posting two videos I’ve made about DC Comics, and how they’ve been dropping the ball as of late with regards to diversity not only along gender lines but racial as well. Everyone knows about the upcoming reboot called Flashpoint coming up this year, in which 52 new titles are being released, and out of all the people working on the books, only 1 percent, 2 white women, are working on it.

I hope that everyone enjoys the videos and that if I’ve missed anything, then please feel free to point it out. I do my best to catch myself and watch my own privilege, but there is always room for improvement.

Comics Rant #1 – Flashpoint

Comics Rant #2 – DC Hates Diversity

On Gay actors

Now this drama has been dragging along for something of a while now, and it’s beginning to stink like those left overs you keep putting off dong something with because you’re incapable of cooking for less than16 people *ahem*

So it seems there is some debate about gay actors playing straight roles. Because it’s just not realistic enough. Audiences just can’t see gay actors in a romantic lead (and, as an aside, can I give a big side eye to the fact “romantic lead” always means man/woman sexing?) It completely breaks their suspension of disbelief and they cannot believe the role.

Continue reading

Why I’m Down With The LXD

Random Fact # 28: The first concert I ever attended was Run DMC & Aerosmith.

Hip hop culture is a long lost love of mine.

This usually shocks people when they learn that I used to be huge fan of vintage hip hop. It’s understandable given my cerebral and uptight demeanor ie: the huge stick up my diamond crushing ass.

As a kid, hip hop culture was starting to gain traction and even then I knew it was something special. It was from the streets, it was humble, it was pure. It was by the people for the people. It was inclusive. Hip hop/rap was for everyone: male, female, black, Asian, Latino, and white.

Continue reading

State of the union

With things being so much in flux for a lot of us, it’s understandable that content will be a little light. Nevertheless, we can’t neglect our little corner of the interwebs. Ars Marginal is still the blog for examining arts and entertainment from the less privileged point of view.

We need your help.

Ars Marginal was not set up to be one of those places where people come to visit and hear the untainted brilliance of the “in crowd.” It’s more like the place where us “little people” get to speak our minds about what we really think about the shit the entertainment industry tries to shove down our throats. It’s one part sanctuary from oppressive bullshit disguised as entertainment, one part social commentary, one part rabble-rousing. Hmmm, I should probably add that to the “What the fuck is going on here?” page.

While being a little virtual clubhouse was fun, there seems to be a real need for Ars Marginal to move beyond that. That means more authors, more content, more comments, and more slaying of trolls who have no home training.

What can you do right now? A few ideas:

  • Tell all your online friends about what’s going on at Ars Marginal each time a great discussion or post shows up here.
  • Know somebody who wrote something amazing that fits Ars Marginal’s purpose and style? Cool! Ask them about reposting their content here at Ars Marginal.
  • Got something you want to discuss? Awesome! Let us know by leaving a comment at the new “What do you want to talk about?” page.
  • Tweet and retweet about what’s happening at Ars Marginal
  • Do something else that we didn’t think of but you think would help
We have a good thing going here, and we want that to continue, but it can’t happen without you.

Review: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

A boy who can see the world’s secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.

Braden’s witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything—lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder—to seize control of Braden’s powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing’s son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.

I’ve been hearing a lot about this novel and I actually had it on pre-order. However yours truly has peepuls and was able to procure an ARC (hat tip to E).

The verdict?