Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's Not About Batman


It’s been a long week since last Thursday.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to go and sit through the complete Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy in one long sitting at my favorite local theater.  They were showing the films back to back with enough of a break at the end of The Dark Knight for the opening moments of The Dark Knight Rises to hit right after midnight.  It just felt special despite being in a very crowded theater for nearly ten hours.  It was special.  It was beautiful.  It was perfect.

Nolan’s Batman movies hold a special significance for me.  The three movies have come out during times in my life where I myself needed a hero and the experience of the films have each changed my life.  When I went to see the trilogy last week I was not just going to see the final chapter in this Batman legend.  I was going to close a chapter of my own story as well.  In 2005, when Batman Begins  was released I was living in my own personal dark times.  I was working full time in a “professional” job, but was so poorly paid that I could barely pay the bills.  I felt like I was economically enslaved, too, as my job was paying for my MBA.  I was lonely.  I had few friends, lived a full day’s trip from my family, and had lost my dreams.  I had just been told that I might have cancer.  Too many evenings were spent with junk food and alcohol as I tried to find some sort of will to do more than the minimum for school.  Too many days were spent trying to just survive the hours until I could go home and cry.  The world was cold, dark, and I was angry.  This was not supposed to be my life.

I went to see Batman Begins alone, an impromptu decision on an idle Saturday where I could feel the walls of my crappy apartment closing in on me.  I have always enjoyed Batman in general (and yes, that includes the just awful Tim Burton movie) and comic books on the whole.  In the heroes I found inspiration and escape.  It made sense, too: I grew up in a small, rural farming community.  It wasn’t a stretch for me to understand how Clark Kent must have felt and while I didn’t grow up in the wealth that Bruce Wayne did I could identify with his attempts to eradicate injustice.  I also liked the pointy ears of his cowl so it made sense that at my lowest I could turn to the heroes to lift me up.  I didn’t realize that it would change me forever.

Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered, his life is full of pain, he’s a failure (at least academically) and justice has even wronged him.  He’s angry.  He’s lost.  He’s waiting for the other shoe to drop and he’s tired of being stomped by it.  Oh man, did I understand that.  When Bruce took the gun to the courthouse and prepared to make his own justice?  I felt that in my bones.  Do it, I thought.  Pull the trigger.  Do it. But someone else did it.  The sound of the gunshot blast snapped Bruce out of his homicidal haze and left him stunned.  I was stunned, too, and stumbled with him out of that courthouse only to be slapped awake when Rachel Dawes spoke of shame.  Bruce Wayne spent the rest of the movie transforming  into Batman, but when I walked out of the theater my transformation began.

I spent the next few months dealing with my life.  I dealt with the health concerns.  I started giving a damn about my homework and graduated, earning my MBA.  The drinking stopped and I started making dinner again.  I forced myself to start writing again and put together a group of writing-inclined strangers in an attempt to socialize.  By the next summer I had left my low-paying job and had gotten a extremely well-paid position in finance.  Everything was different and, it seemed, better.

Summer of 2008 I found myself still doing okay, but I wasn’t happy.  Finance and the “business” world had turned out to be a bad fit for me and despite switching from banking to agriculture I found myself without a job.  I had gone back to school for creative writing, but was feeling a bit stagnant.  A guy I had a pseudo-relationship with had just treated me terribly.   I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself, but I had a job interview lined up and I had just made friends with a guy in my online gaming group and talking to him every day really cheered me up.  When he mentioned that he and some friends were going to go see the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight  I thought it might be fun to go see it myself so we could talk about it.  Besides, it might be nice to check in on my old friend Bruce Wayne.

Holy flaming amazeballs.  That movie was good.  The Joker?  Creepiest villain ever.  The ferry scene had my heart pounding.  The visuals were intense as Gotham was struggling with the mob and a madman.  My friend Bruce, though, he seemed to be doing well.  It looked like he was right on the cusp of getting just what he wanted.  Harvey Dent was the man who was going to clean up Gotham.  They wouldn’t need the Batman anymore, which meant he could be free to be with Rachel.  He would get a normal life!  Things were turning out okay for him…until they weren’t.  Rachel wasn’t going to choose him.  The Joker killed her and then turned Gotham’s hero, Harvey, into the villain.  These were insurmountable losses and you could see the heaviness in Batman’s eyes.  He had everything he wanted and it was all ripped away.  I could feel his pain, but I could also feel his hope.  Gotham still needed someone to believe in , even after Harvey Dent had turned to the dark side.  Batman gave that to the city.  He took the blame for Dent’s crimes and let Batman be the villain.  People could rally around Harvey Dent and Gotham could still be saved.  The other side of hurt, it seemed, was hope.

I walked out of the theater with tears in my eyes, a cheer on my lips, and that same spark of hope.  I was also inspired.  I wanted to tell stories like that and I wanted to make movies the way that Nolan made that one.  I wanted something to believe in.  I downloaded the movie’s soundtrack and over the course of the next few weeks I got a new job and added screenwriting and filmmaking to my MFA program.  I spent more time talking to my new friend and in no time at all found myself falling in love.  When they said that there would be one final Nolan Batman movie I couldn’t wait.  I wanted to know where the story went.  I wondered who I’d be when we got there.

I’m not going to tell you what happens in The Dark Knight Rises.  I don’t want to spoiler it for you.  I want you to go see it for yourself so you can experience it.  It is an experience.  It’s lush and beautiful and it ties back to Batman Begins.  The story pulls together all the loose threads and makes a beautiful tapestry.  It was perfect…and it’s not a story about Batman.  It is as it always was: the story of one person facing the adversity of life and becoming more.  We are all Batman.  Seven years of my life and it all wrapped up there.  I can be my own hero.

I walked out of the theater with tears in my eyes…and my hand in my fiancĂ©’s.  That friend I was just starting to talk to during The Dark Knight is going to be my husband.  I’m now working in a field I love and best of all I’m writing for a pop culture website.  The sad, angry girl who first saw Batman Begins is gone.  She transformed, as Bruce Wayne did.  These movies were more than just entertainment to me.  They legitimately changed my life.  One could say that that is the power of movies and of entertainment, but I don’t think just any movie could do it for me.  It was this story, this director, this message.  I am sad that Christopher Nolan isn’t making any more Batman movies.  I am also sad that I will never again see that version of Batman and Bruce Wayne, but I am happy as well.  The films rescued me.  Bruce Wayne…he’s my hero and because of him I can rise.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bruce Wayne is my Hero

Awesome badges AMC gave out for the Trilogy.
I went and saw the complete Nolan Batman trilogy last Thursday, including getting to see TDKR at midnight.  It was an incredible experience and a perfect culmination of seven years of obsession with the films and life changes inspired by them.

And then...I turned on the news. 

I will be posting my thoughts on the trilogy, but I'm just not quite there yet.  Be patient with me.  In the meantime, please enjoy the picture of the awesome badges we got for being at the trilogy and keep the good people of Aurora in your hearts, your prayers.  I know I will.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Simple.

This weekend I bought a lot of things I really didn't need.  I do this sometimes and being that I work part-time in retail doesn't help me when the urge to shop presses hard on me.  This weekend it was the lure of an increased associate discount at my department store coupled with their one-day sale that ultimately slayed me.  I bought shoes and cosmetics and came home with a happy haul.  Happy, that is, until I sat down with my things and realized that none of them really made me happy.  It was just stuff that I now had to find places for.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the junction between things and emotions and how the absence or presence of things can influence the way we feel.  My apartment has been a constant source of low-level emotional stress as I feel cluttered and disorganized.  My stuff seems uninspired and makes me angry on some level.  Somehow I translate this to a need to buy more stuff to fill a void that I don't understand.  All it ultimately does, though, is compound my unhappiness with my apartment and thus continues the cycle. 

What it comes down to is that I need to find out what I need from within myself to be happy.  I don't know what that is yet.  I do know that now that I am writing more I am more content and things seem to have meaning and a heightened level of interest for me.  Knowing that there are at least a few people reading my words certainly helps, too.  I think that writing as a focus and an outlet is a part of what makes me happy.  I just have to find the rest of the equation.  It's all within.  When I find it, and I will, everything will be different.  It's that simple.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back in the e-saddle.

Hello, Cleveland!

Or wherever you live.  :)  I'm back.  I'm somewhat motivated and I have several cups of coffee at my disposal.  Also?  It's Friday!  I'm so excited for the weekend and a schedule that appears to be aligned so that I can get some real work done between my jobs.

This blog has been on hiatus for way too long.  I realized that a bit over a month ago when I started looking in the archives for a piece that I had written about Emma Frost.  That hunt lead to a renewed interest in writing about all things germaine to my nerdiness and geekery, but also ultimately lead to something awesome.

Blind Scribblings and Incoherrent Grunts

Let me clarify: I did not create, dream up, or otherwise devise this site.  My Emma piece had nothing to do with that.  Instead, my Emma piece lead to me WRITING for the site.  I have two pieces up right now, one on Wanda Maximoff and a book review.  There are more in the works.  I am super excited about this site.  It gives me an extra outlet for my thoughts and opinions and creates a community where these scribblings become discourse.  It's opening worlds, really.  In fact, some of you might have come here from BSIG as the editor is awesome and linked the staff blogs.

I'm glad to have you here.  I'm glad for BSIG.  I'm really excited about what the future holds.

I still need to figure out a blog publication schedule and coordinate that with how I want to divide my time to write for BSIG and finish up the threads of my first novel that I have all but decided to self publish.  In the meantime I'm open to suggestions about new rants and really just excited to be blogging again. 

It's good to be back in the saddle.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Most-Hated Woman in Comics (Except for Scarlet Witch.)

(Author's Note: This blog post originally appeared here on July 30, 2010 and was lost when the original site crashed.  Through the miracle of technology I am pleased to bring it to you from the archives.)

When my online, comics-based roleplaying group opened up a new game to deal with Marvel canon characters (as opposed to theoretical offspring of canon characters) I got excited. Roleplaying is, to me, a faster-paced collaborative form of fanfic. It's one of my favorite ways to waste an entire evening when there's nothing on television (per the norm) and was the grand experiment that taught me how to write dialogue way back in high school. Being that RP = awesome fanfic to me I saw an opportunity to indulge in my Emma Frost enjoyment by crafting new adventures for her with good ol' Scott Summers and maybe even let her do something more than be smarter than everyone else in the room while rocking the corsets and underpants. Players started thinking about who they wanted to play and I excitedly pinged the friend intent on playing Scott hoping to get the ideas flowing.

Instead I was met with a flow of a different kind: an absolute flood of Emma-hate.

The spewing of dislike and argument against Ms. Frost was no different than anything I'd heard before in nearly every conversation about the X-Men I've ever had (and, to be honest, there have been several.) Emma's a slut, she's manipulative, Scott would never date someone so trashy, Emma's an untrustworthy villain, Emma's a bottle blonde, etc. Lather, rinse, repeat, interject variations on the theme that Emma is a skanky, manipulative bitch with a past that no decent American boy would touch and ever let anyone know about. I cried when presented with this. The insults hit me right in the chest and I cried, both out of my own rage and out of some sense of loyalty to Emma Frost who had, since the first panel I saw her, been a role model to me. Emma Frost, a woman who wasn't kicked or clubbed or crippled or raped or knocked up or victimized and treated like she was inferior to the goddamn men in tights. She took no shit and suffered no fools and still had emotions but managed to not be ruled by them. Guilt didn't keep her up at night and she didn't worry about what people thought. She did shit, owned what she did, rolled with the consequences.

She didn't die every so many books like Jean "Victim" Grey.

It was in the middle of my angry tears that it all made sense. Emma is her own woman. She gets things done her own way and doesn't need a man to lead the charge. She doesn't die at the end of the story; she survives and gets revenge. Her body is dangerous and her brain lethal. And people are afraid of her. That was the problem because in comics there are only two kinds of female characters: Refrigerator Girls and Those Who Will Become Them. Emma Frost sticks out like a sore thumb because in her now thirty years of publication history in spite of various writers' best efforts to knock her down and reign her in (emotionally abusive father, stripping, Sebastian Shaw...) she's still a formidable opponent, has a place of prestige and authority as a leader (so much so that people--readers and characters alike--think she's Scott's puppeteer) and is still true to herself. She's also usually the only character with any real sense of long-range planning and the first person to figure stuff out (when Hope Summers turns out to be Jean Grey as brought back by a new and extra-demented Phoenix Force remember, kids, that Emma had that sinking feeling first.) She's tough. She's gorgeous. She's smarter than you.

Emma Frost is a strong woman. That's why everyone hates her. To like Emma is to accept your own weakness and to recognize that a woman can be badass without compromise, romantic tragedy (Black Widow, I'm lookin' at you) or a desire to birth babies. She can rule the world, wear high heels, and be perfectly happy all by herself. She breaks the cardinal rule of beautiful women and it drives people nuts.

My fellow gamers didn't budge about Emma. Game Scott wants nothing to do with the White Queen in a romantic sense and even in the generational games Emma's seen as an evil figure rather than one to respect even grudgingly. I ended up picking character Jean Grey because I'd been reading "X-Factor Forever" and liking her (note, the ONLY time I've ever liked Jean Grey) but I'm still an Emma devotee. Somewhere in the pile of ideas I've got some vague outline for a series of poetry written through her eyes and maybe an academic paper or two with her as the focus. I even bought an obscenely expensive artist's statue of Emma that I can't wait to put on display. Emma Frost is the woman I want to be. I'm not scared of her; I want to be like her.

I hope other girls grow up and feel the same way.