When is a (fictional character’s) death not an indicator of disposability?

I want to write a story. There’s just a huge problem that keeps me from even being able to begin – the story I want to tell involves some controversial issues. I mean, there’s a lot of issues that are widely controversial that I might hit on either on purpose or accident that I’m ok with dealing with, but for the purposeful ones that’s part of the point and for the accidental ones, well, that’s an accident. I’ll try not to do anything accidentally but no human is perfect. This particular issue, though, is one where the audience I specifically want to reach out to and connect with are kind of unlikely to be ok one particular choice, and their opinions are of high importance to me.

The story I want to tell would include the death of a lesbian character.

Now, most people don’t know anything else about me (other than what you might be able to glean from my other posts and the Twits). They definitely don’t know much if anything about this story. But that statement alone without any further information has caused people to immediately treat me as a hostile entity that needs to be educated and stopped, most often because they tend to automatically assume that I am a straight person who doesn’t have a personal history with Dead Lesbian Syndrome.

And don’t get me wrong – I get that. This topic is an ongoing source of deep pain with a long history that has recently been prodded at with a thousand flaming spears. After the events of the last couple of years, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s a lot of people that still, somehow, don’t get why this topic carries so much weight and why it’s so important that the narratives change. I even have automatic defense systems that tries to take over when I talk to people I don’t know about it because I’ve also been bitten and burned by people who just don’t get it. Sometimes it’s stronger than others, depending on the story and current trends.

For example, Sam from Scream Queens was never going to elicit any kind of feeling from me no matter what happened to her or in the greater culture around the episodes she was in since she and most of the cast only existed to fulfill their trope-tastic roles and then die. Everyone I expected to die, died. Everyone I expected to live lived. On all fronts Scream Queens might as well have been called Trope Queens because the show was 90% about taking tropes to 11. It was the most watchable train wreck I’ve seen in years. Sure, despite the it being absolutely atrocious from the get-go, I loved the first season (and gave up halfway through the second out of boredom). But I had no feelings about Sam’s death because I expected everything to be offensively bad from the get-go.

On the flip side, while I don’t follow or care about most TV since it would just take way too much of my time to keep up with all the popular programming out there, even I’m deeply angry and hurt by the number of lesbian and bisexual women killed in very quick succession back in 2016. Even on shows that could justify it I deeply wish some of them just hadn’t. Sadly, though, the majority didn’t even have the excuse of being a vast wasteland where death is probably more common than a good meal. 2017 isn’t looking like it will be much better, though at least they seem to not be killing as many front-and-center characters this season. Since, you know, they’re already dead.

Now, I know those examples are in television. I’m going to talk a lot about TV here even though my goal is to write a novel or ten. TV is far more public and is more easily accessible for a lot of the population than most books, especially books about specific topics that people may have to go out of their way to seek out. After all, not every book can be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings. And the books that do end up that readily accessible tend not to have much in the way of overt LGBT-ness.

Also, though I am ashamed to admit it, I actually haven’t read that much LGBT+ literature. I don’t like romances or books where the primary focus is definitely romance, no matter what it tries to bill itself as, and just by the nature of the topic at hand it can be kind of hard just to find LGBT+ stories that aren’t romances. Beyond that, I don’t have a ton of money, so outside of college most of my reading these last several years has been what I can find or acquire as a free PDF. While that’s great for catching up on classics that are now public domain, it’s not so good for following current trends. So please forgive me for sticking to easy examples. Before college, there wasn’t a great deal of interaction with LGBT+ media either.

I came from the kind of ‘we don’t talk about those sorts of things here’ environment. It wasn’t even a forcible kind of environment, but one where gayness just did not come up on its own, programs that it occurred on were not watched, probably not due to the gayness explicitly as much as the kind of shows we, as a family, watched didn’t often discuss LGBT+ themes, or when they did it was so sloppily done that I didn’t notice it until I was older. The topic also wasn’t ever brought up on purpose – there was no reason for it to be. Since popular media for most of my life shunned gayness outright, it just wasn’t a hard topic to avoid. In fact, outside of a few phrases thrown out by bullies that I should have asked Jeeves about but never really got around to asking, the only person I remember ever addressing gayness was my Freshman Health teacher. He told us that HIV wasn’t just for gay men and left the topic at that. No one seemed surprised by this either because no one, from what I could tell, even knew of that history. It was the mid-2000s. ‘The Gay Cancer’ hadn’t been something HIV was called since before we were born.

Until Queer Eye for the Straight Guy became a popular TV show, literally the only encounter I can recall having with anything even remotely LGBT+ related was a news story I happened to pay attention to in third grade about a little ‘boy’ my age who’s ‘mother made him wear dresses all the time.’ I don’t know if the mom was actually forcing them to wear dresses, I don’t know if it was a choice on the child’s part and she was completely supportive of him in a time where that would be considered child abuse. I didn’t have a developed enough sense of the world around me to even ask those kinds of questions then and since that was 20 years ago and I have no idea what channel it happened on I haven’t been able to actually find any history of that story. I don’t even know if it was something that happened in my childhood state or if it was something they’d picked up to talk about from another state. But the story itself is burned in my mind.

Note: I never actually saw Queer Eye for the Straight Guy until we dissected a scene from it in a media class I took in college. I was aware of its existence though, and I kind of knew what it meant even if I didn’t understand anything about it, which is a weird mental place to try to explain, especially when it’s so hard to even begin to try to comprehend what was going on in my child-brain now that I know so much more.

When I first felt non-straight attractions my immediate reaction was “oh…that’s not right…does this mean I’m a boy?” because that was the logical conclusion at the time. No, I had no idea that trans was a thing either. All I knew was that boys liked girls and there was no deviation from that, at least as far as ‘normal’ people were concerned and for some reason it seemed to me easier to just be a boy than to be a girl who liked girls. Of course, really didn’t want to be a boy because I found boys to be quite gross at that age. Instead, I just told myself ‘hey, someday you’ll grow up and be normal’ and decided to hunker down and wait until that day came. Spoiler alert: that day never came.

Outside of my family and media, the only indications I had as to what gayness was came from school bullies. I’m sure it’s pretty clear that bullies don’t exactly make you feel good about things, which is why Tara and Willow’s relationship from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so important. Buffy wasn’t the kind of show my mom would typically be watching around that time, but I was around the age where I’d tape shows to watch later when she wasn’t home (and choosing what was on TV). Alone I watched a kick-ass girl beat down demons and vampires alongside her friends with possibly one of my favorite wise-elder characters, and alone I saw Willow…start a relationship with a girl. The exact thing that I didn’t know was possible. Willow and Tara made it possible for me.

 I was one of those kids that people like to talk about as being affected by all these lesbian deaths. They were my only positive imagery for years. In the comments section of a lot of articles about last year’s massacre, there are people saying that those who are upset with things are just butthurt. They cite male lgbt+ characters still living in the shows as a reason we shouldn’t be upset. But that misses the point. This is specifically a conversation about girls. Or, rather, a lack of living ladies. For a girl trying to understand herself, that’s rough. It’s already a rough game out there for girls. A female lead outside of romance stories is still very much a novelty, though things have been moving towards evening out with each passing year thanks to the help of stories with multiple protagonists.

Of course, as I said, that’s just our most popular visual media of television. Movies are far, far worse. Literature, though, tends to be a bit better, but that might be due to books not being bound to timetables. They don’t have to fight for a spot on the TVGuide or to be squeezed into at least one of the limited number of showrooms in your local theater. Sure authors hope their books will be put on a shelf where they’ll be noticed and picked up, but there’s nothing to limit the number of books published in a year. Sure, movies can be released outside of theaters, but most people probably aren’t hiking to a film festival just to see something that’s lightly buzzing. We got busy lives, yo. Anyway, there’s a wide range of books. If you want something, I’m sure it’s out there by now. It might not be completely to your liking, but it exists. You can build your own literature bubble and be completely ignorant to trends outside of it very easily. We get one Harry Potter or one Hunger Games every few years. (The sparklepire and fanfic-of-sparklepire books will not be named here, understood?) Everything else is up to you, your tastes, and your willingness and ability to seek out the books that match up to your desires.

That said, the trends are a problem for a reason. When your minority character of whatever type is a disposable token, that sends a subtle message. Each time it happens in every medium the message grows a little bigger. If for every Clexa we had a Britanna maybe things would be different, but unfortunately the numbers are disproportionate. The numbers stay disproportionate for every other group, too, aside from white, straight folks. Well, men in particular, since dying wives (and mothers and daughters) are a good motivator. I mean, it can be such a moving addition to the plot that I want to use it. For my lesbian protagonist. Look, if she wasn’t such a raging lesbian she’d have a dying husband. Either way I want her spouse to be the one who dies.

So…what turns divides the disposable tokens from the moving and meaningful deaths?

They have happened, after all. And I want to write one. Perhaps it’s tied to my own history – the feeling of disposability, the feeling of being brushed aside, ignored, forgotten. I want to challenge the trope and give it meaning. (Though my ability to write is an entirely separate issue and if it turns out to be complete trash I promise I won’t even try to publish. Though you’ll have to bear in mind that ‘complete trash’ is an opinion based descriptor, so we might not be in agreement. But I do promise that I am one of my own harshest critics.)

I want a death story that isn’t a direct slap in the face, where it actually means something. I want to know that the loss of an important character is meaningful, important, that they weren’t a throw-away who ultimately won’t matter. That their loss changed the lives of the characters forever. That they weren’t just there for the shock and drama, they weren’t just removed because their part of the plot was done.

From what I have developed so far, I feel like I meet those parameters. This is a character who could have gone on in the story, she didn’t have to stop there. In a way, it’s both senseless, as any death in real life might be, and a highly meaningful game-changer. I picked the character that was most well-liked and respected by those around her. She’s still learning, but a promising student. The main villain doesn’t have a vendetta against her, she is a casualty in an inherited war. Whose death just also happens to deeply emotionally scar the protagonists. They have to deal with it, find a way to keep living, find a way to continue on together. There are consequences, deserved or not. And all of that is well and good, but whether or not it meets that criteria hinges on two things: will it be written well (I hope!) and is that what other people define as ‘meaningful’?

This is where I start to panic. I’ve gone through so many pages on TV Tropes and read through so many articles trying to figure out how I can write this story without making things worse. One article said that even full-rainbow casts shouldn’t kill LGBT+ women since it adds to the statistics. Now I know I’m not on board with that concept. That limits some potentially poignant stories to not existing since a big part of life is the end of it. That will happen. Others seem to have set criteria, but the criteria can be heavily opinion based. I mean, some things are easy. Only LGBT+ female? Nope. Not even close. Others are difficult to meet. Was it a ‘punishment’ for their happy ending? I mean, I’ll try not to, but they are married. They’ve been in a relationship for some time at this point. They are happily together. Until, well, the reaper pays a visit.

I also know that I cannot get a pass simply for being a lady-lover myself. There are so many stories about women that were written and/or produced or directed by women that are just horrible, misogynistic dribble. It happens. Easily, sometimes, when certain concepts are ingrained in society. Even things that were revolutionary in their own times would be ass-backwards if written today.

So I honestly want to know…where is the line? When is it ok? Will it ever be ok? What will it take to avoid the whole thing being horrible?

I know my own circle isn’t a fair judge. We’re a small slice of the pie. Very small. Like a sliver, at best. For the most part the opinion is ‘as long as I like it, I’m fine with it.’ Which isn’t an easy thing to gauge, because I don’t know everyone. I know the trends show that this isn’t ok right now, and worse is that it’s almost never done well. I also know that there’s no pleasing everyone – but I also also know that when a large enough portion of a group is saying the same thing then maybe it’s worth paying attention to since that’s probably a generally widespread feeling.

And, taking all of that in its own consideration, there’s also the consideration of the author. Why they wanted to tell this story. Drama? No. I mean, there’s no escaping it. It is dramatic. But it’s for the characters and what they have to go through. It’s for the other characters from other media who were butchered for the ratings. It’s for the people who had to patch up themselves as the world again told them that they were just there for the straights.

At the end of the day, no explanation is truly worthy. It’s all excuses. But is it worth it?

For this story, it really seems to be. I’ve thought a lot about what would happen if I didn’t do it. My original plans didn’t include any main character deaths. All of these roads, though, come out a little…weak. It’s just a story about two fantasy kingdoms fighting each other, with ours (the ‘good’ one) being led by relatively inexperienced royals while the other one is helmed by a centuries-old monster who’s been biding their time to ensure that when they go to war, they will win and they will retain control for the rest of eternity. Pulling out the mediator (that being the character that binds all the others together) in a very permanent way is the best answer I’ve found to break all the typical-YA-fantasy-stuffs up into something with more depth. It ruins everything in their universe, which is the best thing that can happen for a story.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I don’t double down on the emotional aspect – when thinking of deceased characters and pairings that didn’t end in happily ever after, I can only think of one that doesn’t upset me. Rose Quartz. From Steven Universe. And she most likely, despite being a female-coded sentient rock from space, was technically ‘straight.’ The character that makes it, though, is Pearl. Madly in love, almost definitely completely unrequited love, broken without her.

I know I can’t top that. Don’t think I’m trying to. I’d be happy just landing somewhere in the same ballpark.

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Taking Baby Strokes

Ok so right from the start of this whole blog-thing I’ve been doing, I’ve been talking about my art. Now I’ve made good on some of my pen-to-paper scribbles, but what I haven’t yet done is share any digital…anything. Well, that’s because I wanted something decent to show for it and for a while I most definitely didn’t have that. There’s a fair few reasons for that.

Reason one: Technical Difficulties. Two-Fold.

The set up seemed easy enough at first. My intuos seemed easy enough to set up. I picked out some features for the buttons (the quick keys as they’re called). The ones on the stylus themselves weren’t really working, mostly because I kept bumping them at first, so I just disabled those and had my quick keys set to do the things I’d tried to set the stylus-buttons to do. That was fine. (At first.)

No no, the first problem came, apparently, with my choice of program. I admit I hadn’t looked too much into my options. I knew Photoshop was a thing, and I knew Gimp was your free semi-equivalent program. It…is not. Equivalent that is. It will do the job if you need a free photomanipulator and you learn how things work with it, and I have used it as such for a while. I don’t manipulate many photos extensively mind you, but I can tell you most pictures I’ve posted on this blog have been lightened. And anything on white paper was ‘whitened’ because all of the lights in my home have a yellow hue to them so it made all those drawings look weird. However as for making actual art, I very quickly ran into extensive and obnoxious glitches that had very long and complicated ‘solutions’ online. Since I can’t afford Photoshop I assumed that this was what I was stuck with and settled down for hours of troubleshooting.

Luckily that didn’t happen. In the first thirty minutes I stumbled on someone mentioning this other program that was also 100% free by it’s very design – Krita. It also, apparently, fairly recently released a very much improved version 3. It’s been fully created by kicksterter backing since the beginning, and it was specifically designed so that anyone and everyone can make digital art if they so choose.

Well there we go! A free program designed for drawing tablets and aspiring (and professional) digital artists. And it has not disappointed. But it has had a learning curve of its own. Which I will address in reason two (the learning curve).

Ok, I know this section has been long so I’ll keep the rest short: I’ve had a few problems with the tablet itself. Specifically I had to uninstall all components and re-install the drivers once in the first few days because it hadn’t installed correctly. After I did that, though, my ‘back’ option (essentially ‘undo’) no longer worked. So I uninstalled and re-installed again, among other various troubleshoots. It still doesn’t work. I’ve tried it on all the buttons on both the tablet and the stylus. Every other potential setting works. So uhm, if anyone has a solution for this, please tell me. Thank you!

Reason Two: The Learning Curve

Hooooo boy. There is a learning curve. It took me a while just to be able to make lines in a way that resembled my current skill level – which I’m well aware isn’t particularly high, but it’s not as bad as it was looking for a minute there. Basically the first couple sketches I tried to make – including my first attempts at just drawing basic shapes – looked like grade school scribbles. I mean regular kid grade school, not pro artist grade school. I’ve seen some pros put up their grade school ‘scribblings’ and even that looks great. It looks like the kind of stuff you see in movies that you just know was drawn by an adult trying to make it look like it was drawn by the kid because of how unfairly good it is. (So unfair guys.)

Then there’s learning Krita. Some things are obvious and easy if you have any knowledge of these kinds of programs. Layers work similarly to how you’d expect them to, though you might have to learn some of the more advanced options. The color selector is there, brush options, etc. But there’s so much more. But we’ll get there in a minute. First – my first attempt!

Yeah, I cannot draw a proper circle on a good day, and this was while I was still struggling with straight lines. So please for give my lumpy sphere. And just…everything. I gave up on the shapes fairly quickly, considering they never really work out well for me anyway. I know that’s not a good sign artistically, but I do know to use my shapes to build bigger pictures and…well, I have a lot of work to do as far as shading goes.

So I hope it’s fairly obvious but I started in on that without looking up any tutorials beyond basic troubleshooting. I wanted to see what I already knew and what I still needed to figure out. Turns out…I need to figure out a lot. Especially because a lot of things in Krita are significantly different from Photoshop. Like blending and, to an extent, shading. (There’s still options like ‘burn’ but, one, I had no idea where to find it at first and two, there’s better options than burn, as I found out.)

So let me give a mega shout-out to all the artists on YouTube, especially ones who uploaded how-to’s with programs other than Photoshop. There are a fair few programs out there, too, and it’s nice to get a chance to see others looked at.

Specifically there’s a channel called GDquest (and they have a Twitter too) which had a great blending tutorial which I copied a little bit on my own to create this magnificent beast:

I originally had a bright yellow sphere but that was horrible so I turned it orange and then I actually liked the outcome, even if some of my edges are a bit weird on all of them. I wasn’t too concerned about completely cleaning the edges up since this was more focused on shade/highlight/blending. These spheres give me hope.

I also found a lot of help from Jazza(Draw with Jazza)’s YouTube channel in general, though I can’t tell you specifically what videos as there’s so many and I think I’ve had them on non-stop for the last couple weeks. Well, when I’m not watching Good Mythical Morning that is. That latter one is unrelated. But it is on YouTube so kinda related? Anyway Jazza has a lot of tutorials too, but he mostly sticks to Photoshop. He also has the highest level drawing tablet (Cintriq) so sometimes some of his tutorials are a bit, well, geared towards not me. But that’s fine. There’s still plenty to learn outside the technical realm too, and watching all the different challenge videos he’s done has also been rather inspiring.

Anyway, one of the other tutorials I found was one discussing various brushes available in Krita – at least, that particular person’s favorites. While I did play through with all the different ones he suggested, I also took that time to test out literally every single brush. Which was fun, but unfortunately I don’t have anything to show for it because I didn’t change canvases as I was doing so and as such as I ran out of space I just colored over the canvass and switched colors and kept on going with the next batch until I’d done every one of them. I can easily say that I verily agree with Mart(‘s Struggling with Drawing)’s suggestions. But then, I’m also super newb so maybe I’ll eventually branch out to others. Right now, though, this feels like a good solid start point which I didn’t have with the initial attempts.

Also later in the video he made a jellyfish which I sort copied but also made my own:

One thing I very quickly noticed was how easy it can be to make things look nice. Like, if I’d had to draw this out without the options in Krita…..well, you can see my most recent efforts at drawing in previous posts. (As for how accurate that jelly is, I know it’s not at all accurate. But I’m not sharing it because it’s a super accurate realistic jellyfish. I’m sharing it because it actually looks kind of nice just as it is.)

So that’s where I am as of now, and there was some procrastination involved since I didn’t want to go and read all the long articles or watch all the 30 videos I had open (yes – I had 30 video tabs opened alone, some pertinent to beginning with Krita or as an artist, others more advanced but I was really curious, but it was 30 all the same). But when I buckled down and did it I noticed marked improvements right away. Which in turn got me really excited to make more.

And since my next effort is a bit more ambitious than my last few, I do admit I have some concern that I might get frustrated again. But I’m also immensely excited. Plus so far it doesn’t look horrid. If I stick to what I’ve learned and keep learning new things as I go, I’m certain it’ll turn out fairly decent.

I think the mock up I was making for myself up in that corner looks better than the actual picture I was trying to make. I’ll probably take it and make it it’s own picture after I finish the first one.

About Garnet, Rosie, Not-Rosie, and Reddit.

So, empowered women love themselves some Rosie. I know I do. She got women into the factories, she got them to the jobs that they would later be remiss to give up and learn to fight for to get them back*. She played a prominent role in the history that allowed me the liberties I have today! This cover for the next issue of the re-booted Steven Universe comics made me outright squeal the first time I saw it, posted on the Steven Universe subreddit because I don’t really follow the comics that much, but I will look at one if I see it. Oh, also, take this as your spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the show.

Comics by KaBoom Studios, art by Katy Farina(? – please correct me if I am wrong on this, I couldn’t find anything actually crediting a specific artist, but she’s credited as the artist on the series).

I love this art as a work of art – everyone who creates in regards to Steven Universe is spectacular and I am quite jealous, but I also know they’ve probably been drawing a lot longer and with a lot more dedication than I have so it doesn’t make me give up hope in myself. It gives me something to aspire to. Even when characters are making ugly faces they’re still amazing.

For the concept Garnet is absolutely perfect. The original is eye-catching for the strength she conveys so effortlessly. The original poster looks like she could really mess someone up, not to mention it’s iconic status in the history of feminism. Garnet herself could easily be an icon – she is, in and of herself, the power of love. She’s also very representative of three different types of amazing women, and in all of her forms (including her further fusions with Pearl and Amethyst) she’s definitely a get-the-job-done sort. There could be a whole ten posts written on the wonders of Garnet alone, but that would be a good digression for another day. For right now I want to talk about Rosie and my recent experience on Reddit which came from this cover.

When I first stumbled into the thread on Reddit, there were a few comments, and it had only been up for about 9 (more or less) hours. There was, of course, the simple little ‘love it’ type comments, but there was one which caught my attention. It was from a person who had a different view than me. Regarding this poster. Now, below that comment had been a bit of a rough patch but that was more or less well handled. It did give me pause, however, especially because another person had already casually and chipperly addressed the main problem with the initial comment.

See, the woman credited as the inspiration for this poster, the argument went, wasn’t exactly someone that should necessarily be looked up to, considering she only worked in the factory for three days before quitting to prevent injury to her hands. For me, that in and of itself is reasonable considering her life’s work required her to have functional hands, but I do see the point there. It’s not very empowering and it’s actually kind of annoying to have such an icon actually be backed by someone who didn’t put in the kind of effort that the poster was calling for. For the record, this lady was Geraldine Hoff Doyle, and she did pass away some years ago. Also for the record, again, I completely respect her decision considering how invaluable her hands were to her everyday life. Not that everyone’s hands aren’t important, but the kind of injuries possible might have been easier for other people to get on with.

Except, as was found out fairly recently, the iconic photo that is perpetually associated with the ‘We Can Do It’ poster wasn’t of Ms. Doyle at all (she was actually still in high school when the photo was taken), but of an entirely different lady – Naomi Parker-Fraley. Also, the original article the photo was taken for was, it seems, about proper factory fashion for the women who were just coming to work at the factory for the first time. Yes, the iconic headband was important to that piece. Women gotta keep their hair from the dangerzone somehow. It definitely would not do us good if everyone was being severely maimed after all, especially considering the appropriate work clothes (like steel-toe boots) didn’t come in average female sizes at the time.

Also of important note, there wasn’t just one lady that could be credited as Rosie. There is one iconic photograph that has been up for contention (that being the photograph that the headband is supposed to have come from), but there are many ladies who contributed to the art and the mythos. Rose Will Monroe was believed to be the model for the ‘We Can Do It’ poster, and there was Rose Bonavita (and her work partner) who set a record for most rivets produced who I read was potentially the inspiration for the song, which was in turn the superhero origins for the whole existence of any fictional Rosie the Riveter. And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t pay our due thanks to the many other Rosies who helped out in the war effort, both for what they did at the time and for everything that has come since. We do have those factory jobs to thank for the strides we’ve made to workplace equality today after all.

Anyway, as far as Reddit was concerned, that had already been addressed, and politely and kindly and without erupting into name-calling battles. It was honestly impressive, considering the current state of any social sphere on the internet. I can’t look at even the most innocent of pages without something seemingly turning into a verbal bloodbath. It’s almost like the concept of a debate has warped entirely from ‘here’s my opinion and argument to support it, now present yours’ to ‘my opinion is superior and you must suffer since you don’t share it.’ On one hand, that makes me more afraid than ever to engage in conversations online, considering how dangerous that can be. I created this entire blog-twitter-etc set of accounts to keep them separate from everything else I do/have done just in case, and even then I know that savvy trolls are capable of almost anything.

So with that in mind, and with my deep love for debate…I poked the conversation a bit. Now if you’re expecting something grand like a fight or a long and deeply meaningful conversation….there wasn’t one of either. There were three total posts, and two of them were mine and the comment from the other person was ‘that’s interesting, but what about this other point?’

‘This other point’ was about how they didn’t like propaganda because it was false and meant to manipulate people, which is fair, since propaganda exists purely to manipulate people – though my opinion is ‘as bad as that sounds, I’d rather be manipulated into joining a war effort across an ocean and on a continent I will probably never visit than let actual literal Hitler become Fuhrer of all of Europe.’ Of course, I have 20/20 80 years in the future hindsight to help me make that choice, but as far as the outcome of WWII I can say I’m glad that Americans helped it not go in worse directions. But that is a completely separate discussion. No no, why I bring this whole thing up is because, in trying to teach and converse with another person (who I’m not sure was actually interested in the same, since they never replied, and that’s fine), I learned something.

For the people who have gotten this far without angrily going to the comments or just closing this post in annoyance, congratulations – and thank you deeply for reading this. *See,  I put a star way back in the first paragraph on purpose, and here is where it comes into play. I found out, while double checking myself so I didn’t sound like a fool, that everything I’d known about this poster was wrong. It’s not 100% my fault, since the culture around us definitely calls her Rosie, and I’m pretty sure my history text book in high school also referred to her as part of the Rosie the Riveter campaign. But see…she’s not actually Rosie the Riveter. She wasn’t even associated with Rosie until the 1980s, which, as you may note, was decades after WWII ended. This poster actually wasn’t even widely used. In fact, it was only used in one factory and for a short period of time at that.

The painting that was widely referred to as Rosie the Riveter (and was actually widely used at the time) was actually on the cover of The Saturday Morning Post, and while she is powerful in her own way (she’s stomping on Mein Kampf with a giant piece of machinery that could definitely do some serious damage), she doesn’t look ready to punch anyone’s lights out. In fact, she’s eating a sandwich:

She also isn’t the primary Rosie, as I already mentioned. The original Rosie, as far as the fictional war propaganda character is concerned, is the one from this fun little wartime ditty:

Now this isn’t to say one is greater than the other. They are all great in their own wonderful ways. It’s just that our favorite and most remembered poster isn’t the actual Rosie which got everyone riveted to Rivet. She was an icon for one factory for about a week or two in February (1943). That factory didn’t even have riveters.

So, this poster has a long history with being muddled at best. I saw many arguments regarding her purpose as the protector of the status quo – women were working in factories as mommy-type defenders of their domestic lives, knowing they were going to give those jobs up. I know I wasn’t around then to vouch for or against anything from back then, or even for anything from the 80s, but there’s something to the social dynamics of the ever changing times. Both what they were and what they became because of the effects of the war. We still have an on-going battle today about being a stay-at-home-mommy-housewife or putting the career first. There are still so many people who believe it has to be one way or the other, that somehow both can’t qualify as valid ways of living.

The iconic power of Rosie getting women into the factories did give weight to the grand scale changes in the work force even if the women at the time received less than half of what men made. The re-surging poster in the 80s served to unite a sisterhood to get ‘it’ done. There are a lot of things that ‘it’ could be, too. It’s the icon of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work that’s most important…even as she’s appropriated by Clorox to sell cleaning supplies to a bygone era. (Even the idea of feminism itself has been appropriated for advertising all kinds of weird things, and sometimes it’s effective, sometimes it’s horrible, and almost always whether or not it’s good or bad is entirely dependent on the viewer. After all, I kind of like a lot of the Dove commercials, aside from their weird recent one about the bottle shapes being more representative of different female body types, but a lot of people find it to be patronizing or exploitative of women’s insecurities.)

Do we need more icons? Yes we do. Do we need modern influences? You betcha. But we can’t discount the simplicity of an easy icon and the power that she wields. It’s an easy way to demonstrate strength, determination, and fearlessness. After all, I’m sure I’ve mentioned already how ready she looks to punch someone’s lights out. Whether or not that was intentional isn’t really that important. What matters now is what we’ve made of her. We have turned her into the icon of the powerful women who, lest we forget, did put in some serious backbreaking work that they probably were not accustomed to in order to do their part to defend their country. She represents those same women who were later forced out of their jobs, who found that domestic life wasn’t truly as rewarding as they’d been told it would be, the ones who pushed into the workforce and have gotten us as far as we’ve come today. She represents those of us who have to pick up the mantle and go the rest of the way (heeyy that’s what Garnet’s doing now that Rose is gone – did anyone else forget this started out as a Steven Universe post?).

Art doesn’t just stop at it’s history, or it’s original intent, or it’s appropriation. Sure it is also all those things but it is also what society molds it to be.

(On a side note, I recommend these comics. They’re interesting, lighthearted, and can be thought provoking, just like the series. They also have nothing to do with this topic aside from the awesome art of Garnet.)

Man, I’d forgotten how much I liked to essay. I’m not going to create a proper sources page at this time (sorry professors everywhere!), though I might come back and edit this. Please also don’t judge me for using Wikipedia instead of the original sources cited in Wikipedia – this isn’t some big professional presentation, Wikipedia already made the concise points that I wanted to make, and besides that, Wikipedia can be really chock full of good, truthful information as long as you’re staying away from hotly contested pages. In some cases of rare pieces of literature, Wikipedia might even be one of very few internet sources out there. My Old English professor swears by Wikipedia for learning more about Old English literature since there’s so little of it…and I’m going to stop now before I ramble about Old English literature. That shall be for another day.


Smithsonian: We Can Do It!

Wikipedia: We Can Do It!

Wikipedia: Rosie the Riveter


Naomi Parker Fraley, The Original “We Can Do It!” Gal

Steven Universe Subreddit

Kaboom Studios

Steven Universe Wiki

Norman Rockwell Complete Cover Gallery

The Many Faces of Rosie the Riveter

World Digital Library: We Can Do It!

History.com: Inspiration for Iconic Rosie the Riveter Image Dies


Sorry Beyoncé, Rosie the Riveter is no feminist icon.

Rosie the Riveter is a bogus icon of female empowerment

progress bar · Rambles

Some days things are just good.

My roommate is cranky, but aside from that I don’t really have any complaints about today. How often can people say that? I mean, I think I complained today, at times, though I didn’t mean to. But I don’t have any overall complaints. Work was fine, all the things that were going wrong seem like they’ve been fixed and I have a new supervisor that has reigned in all the mistakes of my previous one. They’ve even started my promotion paperwork (which I was told would happen over a month ago, but that was other supervisor). I’m back on track at work, and I even managed to draw Ruby multiple times and she didn’t look completely demented even once. That’s not related to work, but that’s some #artpride right there. Progress is always worth celebrating.

Actually, there is one art complaint I could easily make – I’m still struggling with the Wacom. I’ve had to uninstall/reinstall the drivers twice now, and there’s been serious trouble with registration. I also was originally trying to work with Gimp, a program I know rather well, but there were so many glitches so I tried a different program (Krita, which I’d never heard before let alone played with). I have so far played with colors and shading the basic shapes…which I know I’m not a super artist, but I’ve always been extra super bad at the shapes. Once I learn a bit more about the program itself (especially selection, layers, blending options, etc) I’m going to give them another go. I want to know a bit more before I start sharing even the scraps, though I probably will share the scraps of my first attempts after I have something I feel better about to compare it to.

But none of that is really a complaint as much as a ‘welp gotta roll with it!’ kind of thing. My goal is to learn and learn I am trying to do. Now, since I talked about drawing I don’t feel I can leave this post without some of my scraps.

First is a check-back with my old favorite – I’ve shaded a bit more and I think it looks quiet a bit better now…even if I put Steven’s shadow-arm in the wrong spot.


This is simply a sick day sketch dump. I was still really feeling awful on Monday, but I also didn’t want to not draw something, so I started working on something I thought couldn’t turn out too bad, considering I’ve drawn quite a bit of Ruby and Sapphire. Then I got mad at how it was going and started throwing down a bunch of other things. All from memory, since I couldn’t have references when I was drawing these. For not using any references at all I don’t think I did horribly. It could be a lot better, but it’s not the worst I’ve ever made. Doing a dump also gave me chances to work on a few smaller details (like attempting to draw walking…and dancing, which I have a lot of other really bad flops of attempting that pose elsewhere which are even worse than these – no I will not share them). Then I started sketching out a thought and it turned into a cute little Pearl, and then I had to give the Pearl a little story, and then that story gave me another sketchy. That being the Garnet in the bubble room sketchy there beside her.

Then I sketched her some more. I really like her actually. She could be really helpful for me developing something of my own. It’s not totally mine, I know, but it’ll help me branch out some more.
Lastly are a few pieces from a bit of a longer thing I’m making that I’ve been calling ‘Getting to Know You,’ which I’d also include the other little Ruby-Sapphire bits as well. It’s just them getting to know each other during that time between when they escape Blue and join Rose. Oh and also that one from before they come to Earth at all.

My goal is to ‘draw a little every day.’ Sometimes that becomes very little, and unfortunately for a few days there that little bit was limited to very minimal attempts at coloring in Krita. But we don’t get better if we don’t keep at it. So I’m going to keep at it. My other goal is to write a little every day. So far I’ve been doing mediocre at that, and I’m not counting twitter posts as writing since 14o characters is about the equivalent of a couple of texts. Or one text, depending on what’s going on. I’ve written some summaries of ideas but I haven’t started developing those ideas yet. If I ever want to use my writing to buy a car, or something else that it’d be nice to have extra money outside of my paycheck to buy, I know I really need to get started on that.

Oh, semi-unrelated to the art, but Cartoon Network added a clip from one of the upcoming SU bomb episodes. The whole episode was already leaked so most people have already seen it so it’s been a bit of a big deal. At least the leak entirely watchable, so here is the very watchable clippit they put out:

Rambles · Uncategorized

The Hero of Theorule Returns!

Matthew Patrick, more lovingly known as MatPat, is returning to the YouTube livestream tonight! Actually in less than thirty minutes, but I just got off work so please forgive me for not having this pre-prepared.

One day I might go more into detail about the great MatPat, but right now here’s a simple short explanation: He is the game theorist, also the film theorist, and almost every day of every week he has a gaming livestream, and the worst controversy I’ve ever seen him face is “COME ON MATPAT MAKE ALEX SPEAK!” when he played Oxenfree. He’s originally from Ohio, like all the world’s greatest people, he loves Diet Coke, but I can forgive him for that, and he has a cat called Skip, oh and also a super amazing wife that is pretty much half the reason I watch the stream. Obviously MatPat is the other half, but Stephanie is absolutely amazing. You can find them on twitter @GtLive or @CordyPatrick, and of course you can always find them on YouTube. Which you should do tonight.

Or if you don’t want to or if you miss it (since it’ll only be tonight once), here’s a couple generally safe videos for you to check out. One is a theory based around the plethora of zombie tales we have and the other is a live stream of the Impossible Quiz (book) which forever whoops their butts.


There is One Good Bomb – it’s Called a “Steven Bomb.”

I am about…way too far behind this. I mean, they already dropped the second video (edit on the second video: I had been given the wrong link before, apparently there’s a whole second promo, which I’ll link at the bottom and hopefully get a chance to discuss later) and I’m just now addressing this at all. Please forgive me, I had a very late-season flubug this past week so I didn’t really have energy to really devote into a more in-depth post. Anyone who is heavily interested in this cartoon already knows this, but there is a Steven Bomb coming. For those who aren’t, a Steven Bomb is when they drop five new episodes one right after the other. The first gave us the world’s greatest ship and an epic Estelle song, and the most recent one gave us adventures in space with a Patti Lupone song. I don’t expect a big song to come from this one, though a girl can hope. Not all bombs have had songs, and season four has been a little bit skimpy on the songs anyway. It probably wouldn’t fit with the tone they’re creating.

Now, I’m going to link the trailer. Obviously there are spoiler warnings for people who don’t want even the tiniest bit spoiled and huge spoilers for people who’ve not yet watched the show. There’s especially spoilers for season four. But it’s also a good glimpse at what you’ve been missing, and hey I never would have watched the show myself if not for the greatest spoiler of the whole show which I’m immensely sad I was spoiled on TUMBLR. I can’t be too mad though. One of these days I’ll find someone who hasn’t seen it yet and get them to watch it with me and watch their face as they see the greatest ship for the first time. That’s…the closest I can come to seeing how excited I might have been seeing it for myself. So, trust me, I feel you on spoilers. In this show, the tiniest bursts of excitement from the fandom can spoil all sorts of people. So definitely watch if you need help finding reasons to watch the show but try not to go Googling and spoiling yourself on all the other hidden greatnesses this show has to offer.


Oh also from this point on I’m going to probably discuss all the spoilers in context of the show, since about the only non-spoiler things I can say are “WOO EXCITING MYSTERY AHOY!” though it’s not really that big of a mystery unless the big plot twist is that…oh wait, that’s also a spoiler. So uh, to stay spoiler free why don’t you mosey on over to literally anywhere you can and watch the show. I can recommend Hulu, since it’s on there. I’ve heard talks that it might eventually be on Netflix, but I don’t know about that one. All the episodes are also available for purchase on Amazon. And if you want to watch a bit before committing, yes you can find them out there. As you know, I’m cheap. I don’t like buying things unless I know they’re worth it, and as much as I can tell you this is worth it I know you have to find out for yourself.

So go! Find out! Discover the wonder. Adults, you don’t always need a dark gritty bloody live-acted tv show. (Remember, this show is created, passionately so, by adults as well. It’s not one of those mind-numbing ‘for kids’ kinds of entertainment programs. It’s more of an all-ages sort of thing. There’s even a few semi-hidden adult jokes if you need them, as well as some very frank looks at somewhat grown up topics. Of course, I’ll get into all of that later when I actually get around to breaking down why Steven Universe is so great.)

Anyway. After this point, it’s full on spoiler time. You have been warned. Don’t be me. Don’t let a huge spoiler be your introduction. If you aren’t caught up, go get caught up.



First and foremost

We can get the obvious things out of the way – Everyone is talking about it, everyone is ready for it. NEW GEMS. Apparently they’ve already been revealed to be Aquamarine (the maybe-bitty one with wings) and Topaz (the flattop beside her). This is always a big deal, running all the way back to everyone’s favorite green dorito. No new fusions noted, though who’s to say we won’t get one? We haven’t seen the bomb yet! (Yeah I’m not holding out hope either, but it technically could happen.) I’m most curious to see how big Aquamarine actually is, since if she matches the little sprite from the last bomb then, well, I can easily see them putting her in a jar like a lightening bug. Though of course she has Topaz there to stop that from happening.

I was thinking of purposes for a gem that small, and I realized that they’re actually the perfect spies. They can lean in on a conversation without anyone knowing they’re there. Whether or not we actually go this route – I doubt it – remains to be seen, but that is at least one logical job for a gem of her size.

Other things people have noted:

– Jasper’s theme is played during the trailer. I really don’t think Jasper is coming back though, at least not during this bomb, considering her current state.

– Considering YellowTail has a harpoon gun, apparently Vidalia has a gun, and I bet Sour Cream and the rest of the cool kids in town have some kind of…something. Even if it is just raving at the enemy. Onion probably wasn’t the smartest capture choice for the kidnappers.

– Pearl’s tears. I mean, they’re right there, you don’t have to notice them. They’re an important shot. But those tears man. We’re really in for it now.

– The ride’s door opens by itself. Is it the wind? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll have to see. (Has that ride always been in FunLand?)

– Is it “Are you my dad?” or “Are you ‘My Dad’?” While I’m definitely with the fandom leaning towards the latter (and that it’s Aquamarine asking that phrase), I know by now that the Crewniverse is famous for their surprise twists. As I saw in a (joke) post on reddit, it’s possible that it’s Steven’s son from the future come back to warn him about something that’s coming. That would most likely be a bad twist, but it’s still a twist we wouldn’t expect.

Now some thoughts.

There’s been a fairly heavy discussion about how this is the Diamonds kidnapping humans for the zoo. Or, rather, having some of their lesser gems round up humans in preparation for hauling them to the zoo. I don’t contest this at all, of course. It’s something we’ve been waiting for since, well, they said they were going to do it half a season ago. I am curious about one thing though – why Beach City?

Beach City doesn’t seem like it was particularly special in the war. The great battlefield was some longdistance warp away, Pink Diamond’s palanquin was in South Korea, not to forget that Blue Diamond also picked up Greg from South Korea. Unless they’re doing a blanket pick up of apparently a lot of humans across the Earth, it seems that they got rather lucky, in a sense, randomly selecting Beach City as their culling grounds. Now, it’s entirely possible that they’re targeting this place because this was where Peridot was heading back in season one, but even back in season one it had me curious. Peridot encountered the Crystal Gems at the Galactic Warp and at the Kindergarten – not in Beach City. She also stated that the Red Eye, which was conveninetly aimed at Beach City, didn’t pick up the presence of other gems. Somehow. I mean come on Red Eye, how bad at you at your job? They were literally chucking Amethyst at your face! I mean…I know the iris didn’t necessarily have to be the camera, but that’s kind of dumb of Peridot to aim the camera at space or the ocean if the camera isn’t in the iris.



I know Pearl has mentioned that they ‘attract’ these sorts of things, but damn ladies. Actually, thinking about it, this attraction probably has something to do with the temple. There is a lot of weird gem magic mystery stuff going on inside that there giant woman. Although the Ruby Squad did manage to make their way directly to Steven’s location that one time…but then again the barn isn’t that far in Beach City, from the looks of the shots in Back to the Barn.

Ok, I’ve fallen way too far down the theory hole and popped out in the land of ‘making up answers to appease myself’ at this point. This could easily just be a classic case of Cartoon Logic, and I’m ok with that. Though I would love if we got a concrete answer as to why Beach City is so special. Although on the other hand it could go the way of Sunnydale (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and become the HellMouth of Earth. I wouldn’t like that excuse much. Maybe it used to be – no, no no. I said I wasn’t going to keep digging in that hole.

The Steven Bomb.

As far as the gems go, Pearl was a clear focus. I’m not sure if that was on purpose, if it’s a sign we’re going to get more Pearl development or not, but I know one real good reason why she was in there: She really sells this trailer. There’s a reason all the YouTube videos that aren’t using Topaz and Aquamarine as their thumbnail are using her distraught tears. To be fair, Pearl’s tears always make for good moments.



I’m not a big theorizer. I mean, I can be, if you push me to theorize. But even in college I never really liked being pushed to assume things about what an author meant or to come up with ideas for what might happen, unless it was for a fanfic type deal, though hopefully fanficcing the crap out of history or future or in betweens of various media isn’t considered theorizing. I don’t consider it theorizing, so. I once had a teacher who gave me the option between theorizing on what Turn of the Screw, a book I’m pretty sure was written just to piss off obsessive theorizers (my classmates in college were quite close to starting a theory war over their personal readings of it – like one guy actually wrote a passive aggressive essay about why everyone else’s theories were wrong and his was right), was trying to say, or write a ‘short story’ about what happened after the novel. I chose the fanfic option. But it was that or If you’d ask me how I felt about the possibility of Garnet’s fusiondom way back in the day (y’know, if her fusiondom hadn’t been the giant spoiler that introduced me to the fact that this whole thing existed) I probably would have said “the evidence is stronger for x-theory, but it could go either way and I won’t be upset, so long as it’s written well.”

That’s how I feel about this too. About everything with this show – mostly because they don’t disappoint. I have already addressed that I agree with the Aquamarine theory…and I also rammed myself face-first down the question-line which could have led to theorizing about why Beach City. BUT there is one theory that I’m really not interested in either way: If Steven turns himself over to the Diamonds and tells them he’s Rose Quartz.

That could be fun. But it also might be a bit dark for this show, considering how badly it seems Yellow wants to shatter all Rose Quartz gems just for being of the same make as their old enemy.  I don’t personally think that he’s going to get himself abducted again. Those lights look kinda like they might belong to that ride at Funland. But then I also don’t care what happens. All I care is that it is happening. May 8. STEVEN BOMB IS COMING!


For Your Viewing Pleasure: People Watching




Let’s just start you right here with episode one:

Ok, speed dating isn’t necessarily a topic everyone can relate to, but their premiere episode still had my interests piqued. I’ll admit I haven’t watched every episode of this series, but the ones I have are absolutely spectacular. This series never disappoints, and often it drops bombs of emotion and just really seems to manage to connect to me.

I also can highly recommend this to anyone who judges millennials at large in any negative capacity. A couple of the videos in this series (two of my favorites, actually) might help them remember a bit more what it was like to be twenty-something and scrambling in a world that they were never really properly prepared for. They might not be able to relate to everything, like the ever changing technology, rapidly changing society, or the fact that college is not even close to what it used to be. We truly are overall more educated and vastly more underpaid for that education than any previous generation, considering college is now essentially a requirement for even the most basic of jobs. No lie – when I was looking at jobs in my last year of college, ‘McDonald’s Manager’ was on the list on my school’s job search website. Not some high up manager either. It was for your average shift manager. Yes, that’s still a job you can get without a degree. But they, like many others, prefer a degree. College degrees now are what high school degrees were in the 80s. On top of that, college costs are wildly out of proportion with the average family’s yearly salaries when compared to just twenty years ago. While average wages have barely risen, college costs have skyrocketed over 300%. Now…People Watching hasn’t addressed that topic too much. That’s just a topic that continues to frustrate me the more I see people bickering about millennials and the perceived entitlement issues and completely missing the entire planet with their complaints. Anyway, that has been a ramble. And now to get back on topic.

Here’s some important credits to know: The series is published by Cracked.com on their YouTube channel and it was created by Winston Rowentree whose last name makes me think of hobbits for some reason. I’m sure he is not himself a hobbit. He also has a webcomic called Subnormality (link is for the Patreon page if you would like to support his work) that I have not read but seems pretty good. I’ll admit I don’t know much about him but if this video series is any indication then I adore this man.

People Watching covers a lot of various topics using so many interesting characters that I can’t pick just one as a favorite. The proud stripper (no, there is no stripping in the series, she is just unashamed of her job as a stripper and I am proud of her for it even though she is just a cartoon) is easily the most memorable. She’s the one on the title card of the first episode and her truth bombs tend to be the ones that sink in the deepest. The series also takes on all sorts of topics, ranging from simple, such as performers interacting with their fans (who often act like the performers owe them something), to complex, like functioning on a social level when you have depression. I want to link all of them here for you to watch, but I’ll only post three more. The first is episode 10, which they just released two days ago (at the time of my writing this), and the other two are episodes 2 and 7. If nothing else I encourage you to at least watch episode 10, but if you find yourself interested in what more there is to offer then keep on scrolling down. If you want more than that, well, the playlist is only a click away.