Walk On (Spoilers)

Spoilers follow…

Tragic death is kind of a way of life for the Walking Dead.  By the end of the season, at least a couple seemingly big characters are killed.  The series only has about four or five people left from the first season (Rick, Glenn, Carol, Carl and Morgan).

And yet, death was not the primary focus of Sunday’s season finale for season 5.  It was survival, mercy and the value of life.  From the seemingly certain sacrifices and threats of murder, there were only two characters that lost their lives.  For all the anticipation, Glenn survived the season, showing Nick mercy after Nick tried to murder him.

After throwing the crew under the bus, and showing Sasha tremendous disgust…after demeaning her, her brother and Bob, the truth comes out…it is really his own self loathing driving his actions.  He let his parishioners die horrible fates because he was a coward.  We saw glimpses before…but here he was ready to die, because he was broken from the guilt.  And yet, in the end, rather than kill Gabriel, we see Maggie, Sasha and Gabriel holding hands, clearly praying.  I was not happy with Gabriel going behind the family’s back…but I am all for a redemptive message.

The final moments before the credits were powerful.  As Deanna cradles her dying husband, you see her idealism seems to bleed out with him.  The look on her face tells us that in that moment, she decided to side with and trust Rick’s view on how it has to work.  And yet, the story gives us a final glimpse with Morgan, Daryl and Aaron, the reaction of horror as Morgan speaks Rick’s name.  The setup for next season is strong.

I also noticed that the show did some real misdirection, using fan’s knowledge of the comics.  The “W” did not turn out to be Whisperers.

The Answers We Seek…

A few things that have come up regarding the Val D’Orazio and Chris Sims Harassment situation…

One?  Why did he wait so long to apologize?  In an ideal world, Chris would have apologized when he realized the damage he had done.

This is the most damning part of the post harassment.  Chris offered a reason that, while I kind of get it, simply does not absolve this severe lapse in judgement.  His reason was, she had cut herself off, and he did not want to force the situation on her.  But the thing is, had he simply apologized a few years ago there are at least two possible ways it would have played out.  One, maybe she would have angrily said “fuck off, Sims.”  But at least he would have been making the effort.  That would have said a lot for others even if she had rejected it.  Another likely possibility?  She accepted the apology they made peace and the Gamer Gate folks had no (intentional or unintentional) ally.  Chris Sims blew it on this front.  It makes any apology now one that will be severely scrutinized.

Two?  This went on from 2007 to 2010.  Chris Sims started working for Comics Alliance under Laura Hudson’s guidance in February of 2010.  Why did they not vet him better?  My theory is they did not really vet Chris.  They looked at his blog popularity, his general writing style and thought he would add something to the CA world.  How could they overlook this?  I also think the truth is a little harsh.  I do not think many people thought what was going on was “Chris is harassing Val.”  I mean, I read posts where he basically said how much he did not like Val.  But I missed some of the harsher comments he left for her, since it I pretty much only read comment threads where I had commented.  And there were a lot of folks (some more progressive than Chris was at the time) who were coming down hard on Val.  The discussions surrounding threats on line had not hit full swing yet… I suspect the truth is, a lot of folks just did not think of what was happening as “harassment”.  So, it was not treated as such by CA when they hired Chris.  I am actually trying to reach out to CA folks on this one.

Three? Chris paid no price for this.  Here, I find myself wondering what the solution is…does the Chris of today not get to work in comics because the Chris of yesterday was a terrible person? If we are not demanding he be fired…what is the appropriate punishment for behavior from 7-8 years back?  Outside of apology, how must he pay?  How should he suffer?

Listen, I am not speaking in hypotheticals here.  From first through twelfth grade, I got harassed and bullied.  My bullies all got away with it.  They suffered nothing.  I stated on Facebook yesterday that Sim’s comment asking D’Orazio if she was “gonna cry, little girl” fills me with an anger that wants to punch that Chris Sims in the face.  I hate that one comment with a intense anger.  But what…was I supposed to call the WB when one of my bullies was a lead on a semi-popular show of theirs?  I really hate to believe the only justice would be to prevent them from making a living, especially when, in Sim’s case the person in question turned around for the better.  And frankly, everybody who came down on Val paid no price for it.  They all went on with their lives, and if we are going to take this seriously, it is not justice to only demand Sims pay a price.  According to Val, Sims was one of the worst not because he wrote bad things (she indicates his followers wrote far worse)…  so why are the folks who followed his lead not being held to account for not paying a price?  Because they are not about to write an x-men comic?  That seems pretty weak.

Four?  Did I mention Gamer Gate?  Yeah.  Why?  Because what actually started this was not a tweet from Val.  What started this was that Val and her husband were aware Gamer Gate was about to use this as an attack on Chris and Comics Alliance…which explains why Chris e-mailed an apology to Val’s husband.  He reached out to Chris and CA.  People have argued it does not matter.  But it does…because Gamer Gate does not care about Val or her values.  They are using her to attack people who have argued and fought for the same things as her.  GG hate Comics Alliance and their “SJW Ways”, and saw the history with Val as the perfect weapon against people who call for diversity within comics and gaming.  This is not something to be pushed aside.  It is not a diversion.  And it is not an excuse.  It matters.

Chris has now repeated taken responsibility and apologized, which is sadly rare.  If Chris lost the X-Men gig, I would shed no tears (though it is not karma-he did not get her removed from any comics)…but I am really not sure how giving in to the mob mentality now is a critical hit of the mob harassment mentality of then.  What is the price the changed person should pay?

Crawling Towrads Light

Hypocrisy.  What is it?  A lot of people seem to think it is “Do as I say, not as I did.”  That is, however, not true.  If I tell you that I did something in the past and tell you I think you would be better off not doing the same thing?  That is simply offering an opinion based in life experience.  But if, for example, I tell you sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong and a sin, and it turns out I am in the midst of cheating on my wife with a man?  That is hypocrisy.    Hypocrisy is “Do as I say, not as I am doing.”

This whole thing with Val D’Orazio and Chris Sims…it is complex.  Mind you, not the part about the 2007-2010 online harassment.  That is pretty much damning public record.  And it was wrong.  But it is complex…because I like them both.

I first was following D’Orazio and her Occasional Super-heroine blog, which I seem to recall discovering via the Girl-Wonder web community.  I found the stories of the behind the scenes in Pro Comics frustrating.  And my memory of initial reactions were her Identity Crisis blogs sparked anger in a lot of people.  Then, suddenly it seemed to change. I discovered Chris Sims and a large group of bloggers that I also found generally engaging.  And then I saw this (what seemed like an unfair) backlash towards Valerie and her blog.   I did not understand it…but to be honest, I did not perceive Chris as leading it.

I did not read a lot of stuff some of these folks posted on her blog, which skewed my perception of what was going on.  I just saw a lot of people getting down on Valerie. But at the time, as I had slammed people I did not agree with, I felt odd calling out people for saying they did not like a person that I liked.

Then Sims joined Comics Alliance, working with people like Laura Hudson.  And since I had a skewed perspective (by missing some of the harsher treatment-understand, I rarely read online comments on peoples’ blogs unless I also left a comment) Sims got a chance to mature.  The guy I followed there seemed to be getting better and better as a person.  I saw him evolve into a person that I respected.

Valerie was someone I had no issue with, she continued in various capacities to push for comics becoming a more inclusive environment for women…and none of her critics could diminish that for me.

Seeing that 2007-2010 Chris actually posted on her blog “are you gonna cry, little girl?”  That is angering, saddening, maddening….it represents everything the “Chris of Today” seems opposed to.

And that is part of the problem.  That old Chris just got to learn and grow up, while Valerie had to suffer the results of his behavior.  I don’t think it is quite accurate to say he reaped reward for the harassment career wise…rather, it was overlooked…and it was overlooked by a lot of people who condemn online harassment, so Chris got to go a path of becoming a better guy, without the sting of his terrible behavior raining down on him.

I get why his getting to write an X-Men comic (how odd is it that I found out, not from any of the news announcements, but rather from a post on Valerie’s Facebook page) for Marvel stings D’Orazio.  Chris was an utter douchebag in his treatment of Val.

These are not, of course, close personal friends of mine.  I am pretty sure neither know who I am…and my interactions with either D’Orazio or Sims have solely been of the twitter/facebook variety.  I mean, I would like to believe that if I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon hanging out with them (or countless of comics fan/pro/critic personalities I have interacted with on the social medias) it would be an enjoyable time.  But I cannot say I know the “Real Chris Sims” or the “Real Valerie D’Orazio.”

This is not vindication for those kids who hated Sims and Comics Alliance over their advocacy for diversity in the industry…I took the time to read some of the different comments, and there sure seems to be a lot of people gloating because they thing Comics Alliance and Sims are being shown for being great hypocrites.  But here is the thing, Sims is not being a hypocrite to oppose behavior that he has indulged in years past.  People can grow and regret and be horrified by their own actions and former beliefs.

Chris has publicly apologized.  His e-mail to Val’s husband where he mentioned being thrown under the bus was a poor choice of phrase…because he is not being thrown under the bus.  I suspect it was not his intention with the phrase, but there is no way around the fact that it sounds like a “poor me line”.  But he is in a rather odd place…as the people who are angry if he does not apologize, but when he does, every motive is heavily scrutinized.  And honestly?  I kind of hate that.  I support Val.  I think she deserves support.  But if we are going to be a community that allows nobody the opportunity to grow and change, where there are no second, third or fourth chances?  No opportunity to step up and offer regret and apology without folks assuming it is totally false?

I don’t think that is a community worth being a part of.

 

(As an aside, I see a pretty big difference between this and the Brian Wood situation…Brian did not fully own up to the situation and made an effort to end the controversy with a “you just misunderstood” line of defense…Sims is offering no such excuse)

More Realistic Is Problematic

Recently, there was a well intention series of images where an artist reworked multiple comic book covers to give the women “more realistic bodies”.  It was done to bring attention to eating disorders.  And yet, I admit, I found it more problematic than praiseworthy.

The first thing that stood out to me as I looked through the re-worked covers was…well, lack of variety.  It was pretty much the same body type.  Slight decrease in breast size, pudgier in the middle, thicker thighs…

There was no variety…no more muscular women, no overly large women, no pear shaped bodies and so on.  The only body type represented was “mildly overweight/pudgy”.  And when you use a phrase like “more realistic bodies” lack of variety matters.  In the fight for fat acceptance, some have taken to trying to paint many body types as less realistic.

The problem is…a body builder’s body is every bit as realistic as an overweight man or or woman’s body.  The pear shaped body and the apple shaped body are both realistic.  I am overweight, but I do not think my body type to be the REALISTIC body type over the thin person.  People can be naturally thin, naturally heavier, people can lose and gain weight.

“Realistic” is meant to be the norm-this is where we should all be…it may not be intended that way, but that is it’s real power, enforcing a norm.  And people outside that norm then become condemned.  People were reblogging a series of pictures of athletes a few months back, it showcased a wide variety of bodies…short, tall, firm, soft, chiseled physiques, heavily muscled ones.  Some of the men were broad and barrel chested, some were narrow in the shoulders and smaller chests.  Some of the women were busty, some were smaller chested.  It was a massive variety of body types.  None were shamed as being the unrealistic ones.  They were all realistic bodies.

There was a missed opportunity here…the covers could have been reworked to feature a variety of body types.  Overweight, underweight, taller, shorter, muscular and so on.  People with eating disorders are just as varied as anyone else.  They all have different body types, narrowing down to pretty much a singular body type and stating it is “more realistic” ignores the variety of body types and ironically, could be every bit as punishing as the “model perfect” standard our society already promotes.

One thing I will say that I appreciated was that they photo-shopped both male and female characters.

Expanding Their Universe

So, the dynamic duo of Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick have signed a deal with Universal television to adapt some of their properties to television.  This opens some interesting options for them as well as their collaborators.

I was a little surprised at their first work going forward under the arrangement being the Fraction/Zdarsky Sex Criminals.  I have not read any of the series yet.  It has gotten rave reviews…but I would think it was a bit risky, even in a post 50 Shades of Gray world.  I better start reading the series, maybe that will make it seem like less of a risky choice to begin this venture.

I look forward to their next announcement…hoping a bit for the DeConnick/Rios Pretty Deadly.

Congrats to Matt, Kelly and all their collaborators, I am hoping they have much success with this venture.

NERDS!!!

Through Twitter, I recently discovered the online community Black Girl Nerds.  I know…I am not their target demo (white and a guy)… but I am really impressed with the community.  Their articles are thoughtful and challenging.  And the discussions they generate?  Some of the best discussions (especially on the intersection of race and general tv/movie/comic geekery) I have witnessed.  The BGN community seems to be one of the few where people can express differing opinions without the usual vitriol.

Just the other day, they published this article.  Basically taking a stance that the author wants Peter Parker to remain white, it was met with thoughtful responses on Twitter.  Folks discussed the issue of most iconic characters being white, and whether creating new characters resolves the lack of diversity, since a new character is less than likely to get a film.

It was not a bunch of insults and name calling.  It was a peaceful discussion, which seems all to rare in the geek/nerd fan arena.

I highly recommend checking them out.