Archive for June, 2008

From Wired

According to a press release from Sony and Eon Productions, the Quantum of Solace trailer will debut on online today on in the U.S. and worldwide during a two-hour window from 9- 11:00 a.m., PDT. While it’s unlikely most fans will rearrange their day around that two-hour glimpse, it’s more than long enough for some Q impersonator to snag it and put it up on YouTube.

This new Whedon project looks like so much fun!

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

Joss blogs about it at Whedonesque. The fan-site can be found here and the official site is here.

This came to me through the Comics Scholars List-Serve and the deadline is fast approaching (July 1st!). It’s for junior tenure-track faculty, but I thought I should post it in the hopes that at least one person gets a great opportunity out of it.

ESSAYS OR BOOK CHAPTERS ON Women of Color in Popular Culture

Thurs. Sept. 18-Sat. Sept. 20, 2008
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

The CENTER FOR ETHNIC STUDIES AND THE ARTS (CESA), University of Iowa, seeks proposals for participating in a two and a half day workshop for junior tenure-track faculty on their research-in-progress on “Women of Color in Popular Culture.” Workshop participants are also CESA Junior Fellows for Fall Semester 2008 and are part of a collaborative network of scholars.

Topics may include but are not restricted to:
➢ issues of representation regarding gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexualities in any form of popular culture, including literature, music, photography, film and television, comic books, art, dance and performance, technoculture and cyberspace
➢ women of color as creative producers and expressive artists
➢ body politics and women of color
➢ feminist or womanist approaches to race and popular culture
➢ stardom and celebrity
➢ race, gender, and American popular culture in U.S. and transnational contexts
➢ female and racialized audiences, reception, and popular culture

The workshop will consist of: sessions and written feedback on individual drafts: style tips; networking with faculty from many colleges and universities; information about publication and fellowship application strategies.

Participants are expected to participate in sessions from Thursday afternoon Sept. 18 through Saturday afternoon Sept. 20. Preference will be given to faculty from CIC-member or Midwestern universities and colleges. For out-of-town participants, travel and lodging expenses will be reimbursed up to $700.

This workshop is part of CESA’s 2008-2011 Arts in Everyday Life Initiative. CESA recognizes that art and creative expression are integrated components of religion, ritual, everyday life, and other cultural practices of minority communities. The Center seeks and encourages multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches to studying these practices as well as to the ways that ethnicity and popular culture shape U.S. national and international issues and cultures. It seeks critical histories as well as contemporary ones.

All participants must be Assistant Professors with a tenure-track faculty position (effective September 1, 2008) and must submit a draft of approximately 7-15 pages of the article or book chapter being proposed for workshop development. Only work that has not yet been published is eligible. Please send: a letter of interest that includes an abstract of your submission, a CV no longer than 4 pages, and workshop paper draft to: Please send materials electronically as attachments to your e-mail letter of interest.

DEADLINE: JULY 1, 2008. Participants will be notified by AUGUST 1, 2008.

For questions and further information, please contact: Professor Lauren Rabinovitz, Director, Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts; (319) 384-3490; or

On the subject of female heroes in movies and television I wanted to link to a couple of thought-provoking posts & sites.

The first is by Cindy Cooper of Blog Spot “The Bad Genious” who passionately writes about the need for women and girls to see positive heroic representations of their sex/gender to be able to grow up believing in themselves. In fact, she relates a story about spinning with her sister until dizzy and nauseated, hoping upon hope to burst into Amazonian Princesses, that echoes one I tell in my book introduction almost word for word. She also asks, and answers, the question,“So why didn’t those little girls watching superheroes grow to be a generation of women reading about superheroes?” and notes the frustrating fact that movies featuring superwomen just aren’t given the same respect as those with supermen–which forces young girls to identify with either the love interest or the contemporary male heroic ideal.

Supervillainess over at “Female Comic Book Superheroes” asks female audiences an important question with What’s Your Dream Superheroine Movie? (My desires include: A Modesty Blaise movie worthy of her character, a Promethea movie, a good Buffy movie, Wonder Woman, natch, and Birds of Prey.)

And Heroine Content always has thoughtful critiques of race and gender in movies and television.

USA Today reports that Robert Rodriguez will be producing a new Red Sonja film, with an estimated release date of 2010. The script, he says, was brought to him by his girlfriend, actress Rose McGowan. As he told the paper,

“I was surprised when Rose brought me a script of Red Sonja that she liked,” adding, “I found it very entertaining. Sonja was strong, smart, cunning — just about everything she’d have to be to survive.”

Rodriguez wants to cast the slight McGowan as the red-haired warrior, saying

“Rose is a pistol. She’s whip-smart, has attitude to burn, is sexy, extremely strong, yet has a vulnerable side that would surprise her closest friends. That description also fits Red Sonja.”*

This isn’t going to be an adaptation of any particular comic book story arc, nor will it be a remake of 1985’s awesomely awful Dino De Laurentiis produced Red Sonja which starred a young and svelte Brigitte Nielsen in the title role.

Red Sonja became the final installment in a trilogy that included the fabulous Conan the Barbarian which was followed by the atrocious Conan the Destroyer, which unlike Sonja can’t even be described as “good bad.” And it’s so good bad that I had to go buy a copy. See what I mean – –

The characters of these movies were loosely based on the 1930s pulp writings of Robert E. Howard. Red Sonya had appeared in only one of his stories, “The Shadow of the Vulture,” as a pistol wielding Russian in the 16th century. In the 1970s, the character was adapted by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for Marvel comics as a supporting character in their Conan title. The spelling of her name was changed from Sonya to Sonja, and her origins were moved from Russia to Conan’s fictional prehistoric “Hyborian Age.” Her deftness with a pistol was changed to mastery of the sword.

Sonja proved popular enough to support an eponymous title. In the original edition of The Superhero Women, Stan Lee refers to her as “the ultimate female warrior” and suggested that because Sonja is depicted as holding her own against any combatant—regardless of gender—“perhaps through the medium of the contemporary comicbook [sic], society may inch itself a bit closer to the time when we judge an individual on his or her own merit, rather than the accident of sex.”

I’m not sure whether the comic book Sonja accomplishes this (and I invite thoughtful comments on the subject) but the movie, though it has Sonja spouting pseudo-feminist rhetoric such as “No man may have me, unless he’s beaten me in a fair fight.” and “I don’t need any man’s help.” actually ends up putting Sonja in her rightfully gendered place by the end of the movie. (I go into detail about this in the book, and so only mention it here. Regardless of Lee et al’s intentions with the comic, the 1980s film focuses more on Sonja’s gender than on what should be her impressive sword skills.)

Still, it’s a Great God-Awful film, well worth watching. Although it’s a bummer to see Sandahl Bergman go from her portrayal as the glorious Valeria in Conan the Barbarian to playing the campy Queen Gedren in Sonja–a role for which she “won” a Razzie award.

Finally, I’d originally found the news of Rodriguez’s new venture over at Superhero Hype where the comments are filled with disturbing, if unsurprising, misogyny—most of it in this instance directed at McGowan.

A brief rundown includes such sexist gems as:

“She’s witch” who’s “plum bewitched Rodriguez.”

She’s called a “dumb Ho” and “Marilyn Manson’s leftovers” who is only getting roles because “she’s banging robert rodriguez so he got her another movie.”

She’s not only blasted as unattractive, but as a both a home-wrecker and career poison.

One poster “Wishes Rodriguez was back with his wife cause they have a ton of kids and I know that’s hard.” –an over-simplification of the situation—and another claims “She’s doing to Rodriguez what Nielsen did to Stallone. (Wrecked the first marriage, leading him into dopey career moves).”

One poster even goes so far as to praise the scene in Death Proof in which McGowan’s character gets “all broken and bloody.”

It reminds me of Violet Blue writing that at some point “every woman on the Internet gets called slutty and ugly and fat (to put it lightly) no matter what; all we have to be is female.”

Regardless of what one thinks of Rodriguez as a director, or even as an adulterer, and regardless of what one thinks of McGowan as a Beauty or an actress, the vitriol with which her attributes are addressed is alarming. These are not critiques of her capacity to fit the role, or take on this particular acting challenge, this is venomous rhetoric against women.

I don’t know whether McGowan can be a phenomenal Sonja, I do think she will be perfect in the couple’s remake of Barbarella and she was super kick-ass as Cherry Darling–a go-go dancer cum leader of her people in Planet Terror.

*This is all good, but I hate when strong women are praised for being “vulnerable” –as if it’s a necessary qualifier. You never hear the same adjective used to praise the strengths of a male warrior.

“They’re called ‘Underoos’–all women wear them when they’re fighting injustice.”