Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sketchbook

I've had this sketchbook since September, and it's finally been filled up.  I took some scans of some (not all) of the pages and made a quick little slideshow of it.  Realize that this is a flattering selection of drawings, and that there are quite a few pages I didn't want to put in here.  The video isn't the best quality, but it's not a huge deal.  I encourage you to go full screen.  Enjoy!

video

Many of these drawings are of my friends.  Quite a few are just invented from my imagination.  Some are drawn from life.  Sharp eyed comic book nerds might notice a few drawings that were clearly referenced from the work of Frank Quitely and Karl Moline.

A note:  I do not draw in a sketchbook in any kind of order.  I draw on random pages until I fill it up.  I think I do this in order to combat my natural obsessive compulsiveness.  I believe that perfection is boring and has no place in art.  Drawing on random pages therefore helps me get into that mindset.  I also like it when someone finds a half-filled sketchbook of mine and thinks I stopped drawing in it only to find another drawing after 5 blank pages.  As a result of this method, though, it's hard to know when I drew what drawings.  Some of them I clearly remember drawing, such as the first one in the video (drawn within the first week of having the sketchbook), but most of them I have no idea.  I remember making the drawing, but have no idea when it was.  I kind of like that too.  It makes the entire -- what seven months? -- blur together into a uniform chunk of time in which I had the sketchbook.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Feminism

A couple of weeks ago, Whedonesque posted a retroactive link to a four-year-old post by Joss Whedon about the "honor-killing" of Du'a Khalil Aswad.

I feel that Joss's words on that particular subject are far more eloquent than any of mine can be, and I encourage anyone and everyone to follow that link and read what he had to say.

Ever since I reread that post, I've been feeling a lot of anger and frustration at the world.  So much that I feel like I might explode.  This blog is a venue for me to air my own personal feelings and/or rant about crap that pisses me off.  So here I go.

I just don't understand people.  It doesn't make any sense to me that someone can look at a group of people and decide "you're less than me."  For thousands of years of human history, in almost every culture and with few exceptions, women have been considered to somehow less than men.  How does that make sense?  How is that okay?

The fact that women can be considered a persecuted minority infuriates me.  A minority?  Really?  Half of the population is female.  That is hardly a minority.  What kind of a world is this where every other person receives significantly less respect just as a result of their gender?  In what possible way can that be construed as right or even logical?  It makes absolutely no sense to me.

And I don't want to hear about how it's not as bad as it used to be.  Sure, we in America have much more gender equality than we used to, but we're far from equal.  And there are plenty of places in the world where women are not treated anywhere near equally.

We have a black president.  And that's great.  It really shows how far we've come as a country.  But I don't understand how, during the election, I could hear people praise Barack Obama while simultaneously calling Hilary Clinton a "bitch" when they had pretty much the same exact policies.

The true discrimination of women comes in subtle ways.  Societal double standards.  A man who has an active sex life is respected and revered, a woman who does the same is a slut.  Hell, a woman who is even comfortable with her sexuality is considered wrong and evil.

Women are expected to act and look a certain way by society.  So many more unrealistic expectations are placed on women than on men.  The media tells women that it is more important to be thin than to be healthy. I've known several women in my life -- very beautiful women -- that have an extremely poor self-image and a few that have even put their life in danger in order to correct what they see as flawed.  You know  what's even worse?  This is common.  We live in a society that encourages women to hurt themselves to please men.  How do so few people see how insane that is?  How absolutely ridiculously insane.  If you take the most beautiful, confident, healthy, self-respecting person and tell them that they are wrong enough times, they will believe it.  But that does not make it true.  I HATE HATE HATE that this is what is happening and that so few people even seem to care.

I'm far from perfect and far from the person that should be preaching out against this.  I've objectified women before, and I'm not proud of it.  But I feel like the fact that I am ashamed of that at least puts me ahead of most people.  The kind of people that tell vulgar and sexist jokes and don't feel one iota of shame for laughing at them.  The kind of people that take advantage of women because they can.

I hate that I can't seem to put my anger about this into words.  I am really trying to express just how angry and infuriated all of this makes me, and I feel like I'm failing.

I guess the main thing I'm trying to get across is that I don't believe this is how the world should be.  If you are a man and you are reading this, I think you have a responsibility to make a conscious effort to be a pioneer for our gender.  Show the world that a real man doesn't need to put women down in order to feel masculine.  A real man understands that every person is valuable and that nobody deserves to be treated as less than what they are.  This isn't something you do one time.  This is small and everyday.  Next time you hear people calling a girl a slut, or telling a demeaning joke, speak up.  Say something.  Don't just let it continue.  That's what a hero is.  I often get mocked for calling myself a feminist.  But I think the fact that I get mocked for saying that is the very reason I must continue to do it.

If you are a woman reading this, you can do the same thing.  You have just as much right to speak out against sexism as a man, and you probably should.  I also feel that you have an even bigger responsibility, and it's a tough one.  You need to try your hardest to be strong.  To face this world of women-fearing people and say "I don't care what you think, I am a woman and that is okay."  To fight against all of the people telling you that you are wrong.  I can't even imagine how hard it must be to live in a society that constantly tries to undermine you.

You can also donate to charity, and I highly encourage you to do so if you have the means.  In particular, I suggest paying a visit to the Equality Now website.

This is a hard and cruel world.  But if we stand strong, stand together, and speak out against discrimination and injustice, we can change it.  We can make this world a kinder place.  A place our sons and daughters will be proud to call home.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

I doubt that I am going to say much about this film that has already been said.  And yet, I feel inclined to offer my two cents, and for what other reason do I have a blog than to share my unimportant opinions with the internet at large?

The greatest failure of this movie is creating a compelling love story.  Every single scene devoted to the Padme/Anakin relationship left me waiting impatiently for it to end and to get back to the much more interesting main plot of the movie.  When your lead character is in only the most boring scenes of the movie, you have a problem.

The relationship is almost unbearably awkward.  It was clear Lucas had almost no idea how to write convincing, nuanced, and interesting romantic dialogue.  In the first half of the movie, Anakin seemed more like a creepy stalker than a sympathetic young hero in love.  (If being creepy and overbearing is the secret way to a girl's heart, then... well, that would explain my lack of a love life.)  My biggest problem with the relationship as presented is that we are given no reason that these two characters get together.  It just happens.  When two people get together, there is always a reason.  There is something that they give each other.  If there isn't something there, it's not love, it's just infatuation.  Without a foundation of real connection between two people, there can't be love.  This is were the Anakin/Padme relationship completely fails to convince me.  I can see Anakin simply being infatuated with Padme (to the point of obsessive creepiness), but Padme seems more sensible than that to me.  It almost seems as though the only reason they get together is because we know that Anakin has two children.

Another thing that really bothers me about this movie is the sheer lack of any kind of character development.  Of all of the major characters of the film, only Anakin is noticeably different at the end.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a dynamic protagonist and a static supporting cast, but I personally find it to be a boring choice.  Padme, in particular, seems woefully underdeveloped, especially to my feminist sensibilities.  Before she and Anakin get together, she seems strong and capable of her own actions and thoughts.  After they get together, though, she becomes scarily passive.  I thought it was particularly disturbing how, upon Anakin telling her how he killed all the sand people in rage against his mother's death, she didn't seem concerned that her new boyfriend had just KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE.  She tells no one, and seems content to let it remain a secret.  Personally, if my significant other revealed to me that he was so mentally unstable that he killed a bunch of (mostly) defenseless people, I would at the very least want to take a break for a while.

That said, the character development on Anakin was really pretty well done.  Hindered only by Hayden Christensen's acting abilities, his actual fall to the dark side is believably done.  They do an excellent job at showing how fear is a perfect motivator to do some horrible things, and Yoda's predictions in Episode 1 are fulfilled.

Of course, the combination of Christensen's acting abilities and Lucas's subpar dramatic dialogue do much to harm the presentation of Anakin's character arc.  In particular, the scene where he reveals to Padme that he killed the sand people came off as an annoying teenage temper tantrum where it should have felt much more dramatic and important.

The noticeable Windows Movie Maker transitions between scenes still bug me quite a bit, but I've made peace with them at this point.  I don't know why they are there and I don't like them, but I guess whatever floats George Lucas's boat.

All in all, I actually think this film was better than the previous -- a view that I think many will disagree with -- simply because it has a stronger sense of progression and consequences.  Also, the noticeable lack of Jar-Jar is a plus.