march 20: conquer

Hello everyone. For the past couple weeks I’ve been working on my uni assignments; I finished and submitted one yesterday, and I have two to go!

The one I’m currently working on is for Literature Resources for Children and Young People. It’s definitely one of the more interesting courses I’ve taken – I’d never really stopped to think about how important children’s literature is, and I’d never guessed there would be so much to learn! There are six different types of picture book if you can believe it… the paper also focuses on Young Adult literature too, which I’ve always been interested in.

So, for my assignment right now I’m writing some small book reviews for children’s books. I’m posting them on another wordpress – I was going to post them here but I feel like creating a sideblog would be more professional. I have several thousand words in essays to conquer in the next ten days, so wish me luck!

world of tomorrow [review]

I just finished watching a short science fiction film called World of Tomorrow, and I really really liked it so I wanted to share it on here, along with a few of my thoughts on it. It’s 16 minutes long, and was created by Don Hertzfeldt.

The two characters in the film are Emily Prime, who is a young girl, and a clone of Emily. Emily’s clone contacts her from the future, and takes her on a journey through the Outernet. Together they go through a number of memories, and Emily’s clone explains how the world has changed. She also talks about a number of jobs she has had, as well as how she had fallen in love with a rock, a fuel pump and a clone of a man named David.

I absolutely loved watching this. It was funny and horrifying in equal parts, and the story was so clever and unique! The style, the music and the very different voices of the two Emilys made this a really incredible film. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film. Overall it has won 42 awards.

You can watch World of Tomorrow here:

on disney’s first openly gay character.

So a few days ago the director of the upcoming live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast revealed in an interview that LeFou will be Disney’s first openly gay character. There has been a lot of hype about this. ‘This Disney film is going to make history’ and all that.

Predictably, there are people who are now boycotting the movie, because Homophobia™. One theater in Alabama is actually refusing to show the film at all; their reasoning is, in their words, that “when companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand.” Some people are literally even threatening to boycott Disney altogether. Kind of pathetic.

On one hand, finally having LGBT+ representation in a Disney film is wonderful. On the other, this might not be so much of a ‘film history’ kind of moment as people are expecting. This Cosmopolitan article (spoiler alert to anyone who reads it!) describes the scene which director Bill Condon had called an ‘exclusively gay moment’.

There has also been a lot of talk about why LeFou was a poor choice of a character to be given this storyline. If you aren’t familiar with Beauty and the Beast, LeFou is the cunning and doting sidekick of the movie’s villain, Gaston. His name literally translates to ‘the fool’ and ‘the madman’. In the original film, while not romantically desiring him, LeFou hugely respects and looks up to Gaston, and puts up with a great deal of abuse from him. He is loyal to Gaston despite being physically thrown, punched and hit in the head with the barrel of a gun. This is all shown as comedic relief, of course, and LeFou’s purpose pretty much seems to be existing as comic relief too. Possibly not the best and most respectful choice for Disney’s first gay character?

I’m still very excited to watch Beauty and the Beast when it comes out in New Zealand cinemas, and I’m happy that Disney has finally gotten around to writing an openly gay character. While I don’t want to completely make my mind up before seeing the film, I’m not going to have my hopes up. Based on what I’ve heard, the representation is subtle enough to not be worth the hype surrounding it.

Not Like the Other Girls: How to Fail at Writing a Feminist Character

I’ve been reading a number of popular works on Wattpad recently. Something I’ve noticed about the novels in the increasingly popular Teen Fiction genre is that the protagonists (who are almost always female) are written as being absolutely perfect. Some authors have tried to avoid writing their characters as ‘Mary Sues’, and some have gone for ‘feminist’ protagonists who break the stereotypes you generally see in these online novels. Thing is, the authors don’t really seem to understand what feminism is. In addition, there are some dodgy ways that Wattpad authors try and fail to write feminist stories, and I’d like to talk about a few of them over time.

Not like the other girls.

This is when the author decides that it’s time to try defying stereotypes, and writes their main character  – Mia  – as a tomboy of sorts. She doesn’t wear makeup, she hates One Direction, and she loves being ‘one of the boys’. Maybe she’s into sports, maybe she doesn’t care about her looks. Hell, maybe she even orders a burger instead of a salad when she goes out.

Thing is, it doesn’t matter what Mia enjoys doing, because the focus of her personality and interests is on what she doesn’t do. This is often voiced in the story itself – because people like Mia firmly believe that they are not like the other girls.

This isn’t just about Wattpad characters, either – you see this in pop culture all the time! The main character is very proud to that they aren’t a ‘plastic’ girl who is interested in makeup and clothes and boys. They care about things that really matter!

Mia is everything that the other girls are not, and that’s what makes her good, the story tells you. Being yourself is a decent message in itself, but that isn’t what it’s about in this case. Mia isn’t a feminist character for not caring what boys think and not wearing makeup. She looks around at the other girls at her generic American high school and believes that she’s better than all of them by default. She doesn’t own a pair of high heels so she isn’t an ‘airhead’ like everyone else. So long as she’s putting people down to create a pedestal for herself, Mia is hardly a female character to root for.

If you’re going to write a character and you don’t want her to be a stereotypical Wattpad heroine, that’s good. If you want her to enjoy things that aren’t as feminine as the interests of her classmates, that’s good too! Your character can have platonic relationships with male characters and choose not to wear makeup. She can hate Starbucks and never wear dresses. She can even eat the god damn burger.

Just know that the second your character looks down on the girls around her for being ‘fake’ or wearing lipstick, you’ve failed to write a feminist character. You’re saying that the more feminine a girl appears, the less deserving of respect she is. That isn’t a message anyone should be spreading.

arid earth; arid days

Today the Daily Post’s one word prompt was ‘arid’:

                  1. (of land or a climate) having little or no rain; too dry or barren to support vegetation.
                  2. lacking in interest, excitement or meaning.

1. The Port Hills fire is still burning;   Yesterday we drove into town, and you could see where the fire had blackened the hills. It was completely burnt, the plants withered down. Just fields of charcoal – it’s a real contrast to the bright greens and yellows you usually see up there. If you look up at the hills, the ones that haven’t been burnt, you can see how dry the grass is. It’s a relief that there has been rain for the past couple days, but it still hasn’t been enough to put out the fire.
2. As of late a lot of things have felt arid to me, but I’m working on ignoring that feeling and keeping busy. Writing things for the sake of writing, watching movies, listening to a new song and really focusing on the words – anything that shifts my focus or distracts me. It’s difficult to be proud of doing any of those things when most people don’t see them as productive or useful. Thing is, they’re a lot more productive and useful than what I’d be doing otherwise. It’s better to invest my time into things that won’t matter in a few weeks than to sit and worry about how things are getting drier and drier. The fire could spread at any moment, but I can’t control that. Nobody likes to focus on a sense of impending doom, now do they?

a dystopian hideout

Daily Post’s one word prompt today was ‘hideout’ – this reminded me of something I need to work on for a creative writing piece I’m working on currently.

I started a story on Wattpad yesterday called White Sun. In true Wattpad fashion I have written the first chapter with absolutely no idea where the story is heading, and basically I’m just going to make it up as I go along. I’m not very confident about how good it is, but it’s the most creative writing I’ve done in months, so it’s definitely worth it.

White Sun is written in a dystopian setting – the story is relying quite heavily on setting at the moment as I really do have no idea what I’m actually doing with the plot. It’s set on a disaster zone of an island – White Sun Island – which serves as a place for the trademark YA dystopian Evil Government to banish anyone who threatens to disrupt their dastardly evil dystopian plans.

The main character, Myrtle, has been banished to this island, and is currently living in a shelter with a handful of other convicts. I’ve been having fun with deciding exactly why the island is so perilous. The other inhabitants of the island probably pose the most danger, but I’m brainstorming other dangers I could include.

Having radioactive bears on an island probably isn’t the most believable idea now that I think of it. Does this mean I’m going to can it? Nope. Radioactive bears sound awesome.

The Daily Post prompt made me stop to think about the next chapter of White Sun, where I want to further establish part of the setting – Myrtle and her company’s hideout. I want it to be well-concealed, so perhaps the basement of a building? Or a bomb shelter maybe?

I’m considering rewriting the first chapter as if the island as is dangerous as I’m saying it is, living in the city in the centre of Danger Island probably isn’t the best idea. To the west of the city there is a rather thick forest, and beyond that the ocean. Having a hideout in the forest, maybe on the edge of the city, might make more sense.

A hideout in the forest, then. Perhaps a shelter the convicts have built themselves. Perhaps a treehouse! A tree fort would be the ultimate hideout, and depending on how well-hidden it is, it would be a pretty safe place to live. I’m guessing the radioactive bears mainly hang out in the forest though, so I’ll have to work that out too.

I might write some more updates here on if White Sun progresses anymore. In the meantime, here’s a link to the current story! I’m keen to hear any feedback people might have for it. It’s not perfect, and there’s a lot of room for improvement and ideas.