lolaraincoat: drawing of toad (toad)
One of my previous posts about what kinds of historical change might have surprised Captain America after he was woken up from a 70-year-long period of hibernation has gotten linked around enough that I'm a bit overwhelmed by comments from nice and enthusiastic people I've never met before. This is flattering, and I'm grateful, but ... OK, a couple of things.

So, first: hello! I'm glad you're here. I'm overwhelmed enough that I am not even going to try to respond to the types of queries about stuff that can easily be figured out with a little googling - you are going to have to take your hat-related questions elsewhere, I'm sorry to say.

Second, to sum up, because I seem to be repeating this a lot in responding to comments: It actually makes no difference to me at all whether you get the small details right (either marvel-canonical or historical.) I know it matters to you whether Captain America would have listened to 78s or 45s, or whatever, and that's great. But that wasn't my point here.

My point was that I keep reading fics which make two very very very wrong assumptions. First, they assume that Steve Rogers grew up in a sexually repressive place and time (particularly, a homophobic one.) Here, the fic writers are assuming that 1945 was just like 1955 - or else just assuming that the past was always all the same. No no no! 1945 was a lot more like, say, 1970 in terms of social mobility and relatively relaxed sexual mortality than it was like 1955. If you write fics in which Steve doesn't know where babies come from, or would punch any man who made a pass at him ... well, you are going to have to explain how it was that he came to be so out of step with just about everyone else in the military in 1945.

And the other wrong assumption made in some of these fics was that the most interesting things about the fic writer's lives in the present day (mostly sex, movies, music, computers and related devices - also, clothing) would also be the biggest surprises to thawed-out Steve Rogers. They might or might not be interesting and/or surprising to him, but they would be much, much less surprising to him than changes in racial hierarchy, gender hierarchy, social class, and economic structure. Those would truly shock a white American man who suddenly went from 1945 to 2010. (As they might shock a non-white American woman, for that matter.) How Steve reacts to all these changes is up to the fic writer, but to have him not even remark on having an African-American commanding officer while being gobsmacked by an iPad is, to me, silly enough that I'll back-button right out of a fic that does it.

So that's what I was trying to say. It's interesting to see so many people coming to have related conversations, and I encourage that! But I'd appreciate it if people would at least skim through the comments others have made first, so they're not repeating each other, and I would also appreciate it if people would link to this post rather than to any of the others. Here are the links for all of them:

First post, LJ version

First post, DW version

Second post, DW version

Second post, LJ version

All of them have some really great discussions going on, so please read through those comments!

lolaraincoat: drawing of phone wirse (wires)
So there were a lot of excellent comments on the first edition of this post (both the LJ version and the DW version) but then they made me think about what I left out, so here's some more stuff that would surprise Captain America when he got woken up after 70 years frozen in ice: )

lolaraincoat: Gorey drawing of character "Mr. Earbrass" (mr earbrass)
I've been reading a lot of Avengers fics - there's been a lot to read - and I've been liking many of these fics quite a lot. Except that there's this one thing that's driving me crazy, so crazy that I keep having to back-button out of perfectly good fics before Nick Fury and the Hulk can even begin to get their freak on, which is kind of tragic. So in case you were thinking of writing anything in the Marvel-verse ever, and you were hoping to avoid me making sad puppy-eyes face, please, please, please consider this question carefully:

What would surprise Captain America in 2012? )

... yeah, anyway, there's a lot for him to catch up on.

But not sex. Really there's not too much new there at all.

ETA: Wow, that's ... a lot ... of comments. I'm glad you're here and will try to respond eventually, but no promises. In the meantime, if you are thinking about commenting here, please read this first. Thank you!

lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
So you all know the term "orientalism," right? Invented by Edward Said to indicate the western European set of ideas and images and metaphors and stories about the Middle East which supported formal and informal colonialism between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth century, right? A very handy term - once you know what it is, you start to see it everywhere, which was kind of Said's point I guess.

Anyway. My question: is there an equivalent word to sum up the set of ideas and images and metaphors and stories from the US (and France, and Britain) about Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century to the present? You know what I mean - the idea that all those people "down there" are "hotblooded little brown people" and so on and so on and so on on on. I need a word. Unless I should just use "orientalism." But probably not.

lolaraincoat: (Brooklyn Bridge)
So I have been meaning to write up my Deep Thoughts about our trip last month to western Crete, Athens, and Istanbul - thoughts about nationalisms and histories, continuities and discontinuties in uses of the material remains of the past, grilled fish, 19th c. archeology as the ruination of ruins, the spiritual uses of beauty, the ways in which physics conferences differ from history conferences, the fabulous generosity of Islamic architecture, "Europe" as a category of analysis, and the globalization of weeds - but I can see that's not going to happen. Instead, here, look at the nice pictures. )
lolaraincoat: (rabbit (Alice))
So there has been a lot of talk lately - if by talk we mean blather on the internets - about fannish identity and privacy. I'm keeping this vague for reasons that will be obvious, but let's just say that the question has been raised of whether people who act publicly as fans - by talking to the media or running conventions or whatever - still deserve to be protected by the usual fannish unwritten rule in which our real-life names and the names under which we act as fans are never publicly linked. Some people are making the analogy of linking fannish and RL identities with the practice of "outing" powerful, closeted gay men and lesbians.

Well, I know a thing or two about outing. )

Until the world is safe for the most radical, out-there of fan artists and fan writers, we will continue to require - at least for some of us - the fannish closet.
lolaraincoat: (fish1)
Well, my brother's wedding was just unspeakably depressing, so let us not speak of it. Heteronormativity gives me an itchy rash, but you knew that. Let us -- and by us I mean me -- instead give thanks to those who cheered me up after, in 24 hours in the City That Cheers Me Up: [ profile] bowdlerized, [ profile] cubby66, [ profile] stillwell, Matty O., Amanda, [ profile] twotoedsloth and [ profile] idlerat most of all. I love you and miss you and miss everyone I didn't get to see, too.

But that's not what I wanted to post about. What I wanted to post about is Julie Phillips' biography of the science fiction writer James Tiptree Jr./Alice B. Sheldon. It's not a great book, but it's fascinating me. Phillips is a fine journalist but not a historian, and so she has some difficulty distinguishing what's unusual about Tiptree's life from what's typical for Cold-War era women of Tiptree's race and class. This makes the book a little baggy and shapeless.

The details are gorgeous, though. Phillips quotes extensively from the (apparently voluminous) correspondence between Tiptree and Joanna Russ, and Tiptree and Ursala LeGuin. It was your basic lj-type conversation, smart, flirtatious, wideranging, and with identities of all sorts in play. Also, at least one threat of psuedocide. Internet fandom avant la letre! Seriously, it made me think hard about the historical roots of what we do here, how we adapted the internet to our own purposes rather than having our lives revolutionized by new technology.

The detail I loved most, though, will matter to only a few of you - but those who care will care a whole lot, I bet. So in 1975 Jeff Smith -- a fan who became Tiptree's friend and literary executor -- organized and published a written "symposium" on gender and feminism in science fiction. He came up with a list of questions and then a bunch of writers responded, and then he circulated all the responses and the authors struck up a conversation by mail that (mostly) ended up in print. It wasn't, as far as I can see, all that different from what you might find on the web, a few clicks beyond Making Light or some such, except that the participants included Russ, LeGuin, Tiptree, Samuel Delaney, some SF authors I don't care so much about, and ... "African historian Luisa White." Yeah. Yeah! Luisa White -- who must then have been just starting graduate school -- is one of us.
lolaraincoat: (heh heh heh)
I have nothing useful to say about current events, just the powerful urge to clutch my head and moan. So let's just turn our eyes to Mexico, all right?

About a decade after the worst of the fighting of the Mexican Revolution ended, a religious war broke out. The Catholic Church went on strike -- that is, the Church refused to offer any sacraments at all for about 30 months -- in response to the anticlerical policies of the new, Revolutionary government (which were frequently rapacious and sometimes vulgar and cruel); some of the Catholic hierarchy in Mexico also organized violent resistance to the government's new cultural initiatives (which in practice meant raping and murdering schoolteachers.) It was an ugly little struggle, lasting almost three years and leaving perhaps twenty thousand dead.

Making peace between church and state, and keeping it for the subsequent eighty years, required that both sides give up their most extreme positions. But it also meant that the topic of the Cristero War became pretty much unmentionable in public. Historians know about it, of course; and I think it comes up in very briefly in high-school level history classes too. It's been almost a secreto a voces, an open secret, one of those things in Mexican public life that everyone knows but that everyone claims nobody knows.

Well, until this year's Miss Universe contest anyway.

Check this out. Or here's a similar story but without pictures and in English.

Yes, this year's Mexican contestant for the Miss Universe crown planned to attend the contest in a gown covered in the bloodiest images from the Cristero conflict. And sequins. She managed to offend nearly everyone in Mexico, secular and religious, leftwing and right, which is unusual in a beauty queen, and almost even admirable. So now she's editing the gown, apparently.

But the whole story is just so ... so Mexican, you know? Because, you know, some nations deal with the historical memory of civil war and religious conflict by having even bloodier wars later. Some nations practice ethnic cleansing. Some nations obsessively police their borders to prevent contamination by the ever-lurking threat of [insert menance here]. But not Mexico. In Mexico, they just take that unbearable memory and turn it into telenovelas and historietas and the tackiest possible outfits.

Seriously, I admire Mexican culture so much for doing precisely this, and doing it so well.
lolaraincoat: drawing of skunk (skunk)
So I've spent most of the day moving back into my laptop with the nice new harddrive, and this led to updating software, including the iTunes software. That's how I discovered that one of the new! improved! features of iTunes turns out to be a neat little box beside the name of a few songs in my library, whose neat little red all-caps texts warns EXPLICIT. I just noticed it next to the Rufus Wainwright song "Gay Messiah." Prince, Bessie Smith and Funkadelic did not get boxed, which means -- I guess -- that you can be as dirty as you please as long as it's all couched in elaborate metaphor. Or that the people labelling the music figure that innocent youth don't listen to music recorded before 2003.

Yes, yes, I should be more offended by George Bush's comparison, in a speech today, between the Iraq war and the US war of independence. But if I was going to take umbrage at every idiotic remark anyone makes about the past, there would be no umbrage at all left for all the other historians.
lolaraincoat: (movie camera)
They Might Be Spoilers )

So to sum up: you have to see it, it's just as good as everyone said it is, but wow, painful, ouchy, wow wow wow.


lolaraincoat: (Default)

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