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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Diversity?

As a long time fan, reader,  and collector of Marvel Comics I have to be honest in admitting that my disappointment with their movies has grown as  steadily over the years as has their popularity. Back when I was a kid, with both a live action Batman and Superman show running on air and Marvel offering only a poorly-animated cartoon, it was way easier to be a DC fan. And most of my peers were. But there was something about those Marvel characters that just had a grittier, more ‘real’ appeal for me. 

A lot of the credit has to go to Stan Lee. From the time he first defied his boss and ran a character called “Spiderman” despite being told that it was a terrible idea because NO ONE likes spiders, he consistently broke new ground on every front. He gave his heroes tragic flaws, he had them argue, and he found hero material not just in muscular white males, but with scrawny teenagers, geeky scientists, mutated freaks, women, and even the handicapped. (And this was all in the 1960s!)  And as for racism? Marvel comics tackled such loaded topics as prejudice, affirmative action, ‘tokenism’, the KKK, interracial romance, and Lee even based an entire comic as a color-neutral allegory for the differing ideologies of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. It was called: 

The X-Men. And while it did not originally boast as diverse a roster as this one that included a strong, Black female, an Asian, a Native American, and representatives from Canada, Ireland, Germany, and Russia..... it did start out with a woman, and a leader in a wheelchair.

And in 1966 Lee also introduced the first Black superhero…...and rather than have him be some subservient sidekick, he made him a wealthy and educated king of an African country famous for its technology. He was called the “Black Panther”.


The first appearance of the Black Panther! Great stuff!!!

Now there is a very popular movie out, breaking all kinds of box office records featuring this character, and while I have always liked the Panther, and am glad the movie is doing well, I am a little disturbed by the characterization of this film as an example of Hollywood “diversity”.

As someone who has seen a very intent policy of diversity evident in so many Marvel movies, I find this recent assessment to be somewhat inaccurate. From what I can see, Black Panther has none of the diversity prominent in so many of the Marvel films that preceded it. Let’s take a short tour of how filmmakers went beyond the diversity already inherent in Marvel Comics to really make sure everybody had some representation in the movies:

Here are a couple of examples of how Stan Lee’s first family of heroes….the Fantastic Four changed things around after being the comic where the Panther first made his debut:


Johnny Storm in the comics.

Johnny Storm in the 2015 movie.

Kelly Washington playing Alicia Masters, shown on the right.

I am a huge Daredevil fan and, while having Ben Affleck play my favorite character was like a punch in the stomach, I was further surprised to see the iconic Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) being portrayed by the late Michael Clarke Duncan. But after watching him, I had to admit it was great casting. Duncan had the size, voice, and commanding presence to overcome any doubt that the Kingpin could be Black. He was the best thing in the movie.


The original Kingpin.



The "movie version".

Then the Avengers came out and introduced Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. And while some might say that in the “Ultimates” series produced years after the original runs, Nick Fury was depicted as African American, for decades before he looked more like this:


How most of America thinks of Nick Fury.



With Doctor Strange, besides getting the title character completely wrong ( since audience’s seem to love snarky quips, a la Robert Downey Jr.’s ‘Tony Stark’, the makers of this film just decided to make Stephen Strange….a man who in the comics is so perennially focused and intense that he seems like he could crack walnuts between his asscheeks….into the surgeon-version of  super-quippy ‘Tony Stark’.) they also managed to……


......"diversify" Baron Mordo.

And have a bald Tilda Swinton play........

....the iconic character on the left.

But while changing things around in these past instances served to diversify the film without really altering anything crucial, Thor gave an example of the most absurdly forced substitution. Based on actual Norse Mythology, Heimdall is a Norse god who is quite solidly Scandinavian.....


Illustration by Emil Doepler. ca. 1905. Walhall, die Götterwelt der Germanen.

 and yet…..


......actor Idris Elba on the left, got to portray the comic character on the right.

They also made Hogun Asian…..but this is a bit more understandable since “the Warriors Three" were fictional creations of Marvel and not based on actual mythology. Even in the comics, Hogun is from a ‘far off land’.....so why not an Asian one? 



Hogun is on the right.

But even as a fan of Idris Elba, and someone who appreciates a bit of diversity, a Black Heimdall kind of irritated me. But what the heck. No biggie right? It’s Hollywood and diversity is the watchword of the decade. 

So then what happened to Black Panther? Where’s the diversity? Every character is exactly the color and ethnicity they were back in the comics! No changes at all!




Now, it could be argued that the story takes place in an African country so it makes sense that they’d all be Black…...but Thor is based on actual Scandinavian mythology and we still got some change-ups there. And Wakanda is not a real country….so why not have an Asian woman as one of the dora milaje at least? It would work. The dora milaje were supposed to be chosen from outside of Wakandan tribes…...so why not WAY outside? That would at least follow the pattern of 'diversity' employed in Marvel's previous ventures.

Now I don’t really care if the Black Panther movie has kept the ethnicity of their characters as originally conceived. Hell, given what I’ve already shown, it’s kind of refreshing…….but isn’t it a bit hypocritical to have a fairly monochromatic cast being touted as a testament to diversity? If a movie had a cast that was almost entirely white who would dare to praise it as ‘diverse’? Doesn't 'diverse' mean VARIED?

And there is another point that keeps coming up in the myriad of fawning reviews and that is that this is the first time a Black character has been depicted as self-assured and in control…...a confident badass as it were. First time? Really? How about:


And Snipes made THREE of these.....all way before Black Panther. Anybody want to tell this guy he's NOT a Marvel Comics badass?

And why is it that when a white hero is portrayed as square-jawed and smooth, and as aloof and self-assured as a super-powered James Bond…..the character comes off like an asshole? If you like that sort of thing, you’re probably a DC fan.  Instead, Marvel people tend to like their heroes a little flawed, slightly insecure, and not always perfect…...or anywhere near perfect. In fact, these ‘flaws’ were what made Marvel characters so great. Being a Marvel hero always had some tragic downside. But now for a Black hero to be depicted this same flawed and human way is somehow demeaning? If we have to see everything from cast diversity to character portrayals in polarized qualifiers where one set of rules applies to one ethnicity and another set to the other…...just how close to true equality are we? Or ever will be? And so, in that light, is “Black Panther” really the breakthrough critics are claiming it is? Or just one more example of how screwed up things still are? Something to think about as we close out Black History Month.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Inevitable

With the third "50 Shades" movie out in theaters, I thought I'd post this cartoon I did back in the 90's (when Robin Williams was still alive and making movies) as a sort of wry prediction of things to come:

It could still happen......only now I'd imagine them using the voices of Scarlett Johannsen and Chris Rock.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What's in a name?

Recently I saw a post on “All Things Spanking” advertising the impending arrival of a Canadian-based Dominatrix in NYC. Nothing too unusual about that…..however, I could not suppress a snicker when I read her name: “Mistress Rattan”.  (Damn, I am snickering again just writing this.)


Mistress Rattan of Toronto


“Mistress Rattan”? The only thing better would be if she had an exotic side-kick/apprentice named “Bamboo” and a dog named "Wicker". I looked at her website and her personal profile says she has a great sense of humor........and with a name like that who could argue?  What is it about the sex industry that results in so many ‘themed pseudonyms’? The only time you see more “ironic names” is during Halloween.


My favorites are the Halloween tombstones where the ironic name is linked to the cause of death: Elle E. Vader- fell down a flight of stairs.

And while strippers and porn stars can have some gems, it’s really the Dommes who seem to have taken the practice to its most extreme level. There are Mistresses named: Lila Stern, Madam De Sade Fatale, Goddess Severa, Simone Justice, Elizabeth Payne, Georgia Cane, to name just the ones in NY and LA. 


Mistress Payne

Not since the halcyon days of drag queens with names like “Virginia Hamm” has there been so much fun with names. And it occurred to me: why don’t ALL industries feature such a fun practice? The only great ironic names seem to be accidental:






This is one of those times when you have to ask, "even if the founder's name IS 'Stubbs', might this not be a good time to just name your company 'Acme'?"


But like the old jokes about the law firm, Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe,  how much fun would it be if everyone in every field gave themselves a themed pseudonym? 


"Name?"
"Shropshire Slasher."
"Occupation?"
"Shropshire Slasher."


Fabric maker, Polly Esther? Undertaker, Doug Plotz? Florist, Rose Thorn? The world is waiting for you. Don't let the Pro Dommes have ALL the fun!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Experts?

I have nothing against “professional” Mistresses, Dominatrices (yes Spellcheck that is the correct plural form of Dominatrix), or Disciplinarians. They provide a needed service. And I realize these ladies often end up making a lot of money. But can’t that be enough? You know….do your job, get your pay, have a good life……………...but otherwise shut the fuck up! Please.

I am so sick of articles and interviews with these professionals wherein they pontificate on power and dominance and roles. Now within the D/s, DD, BDSM communities these are not just valid topics, they form the central core. But when two people come into a situation on equal footing and negotiate an agreement wherein the power elements end up drastically skewed, the psychological elements are fascinating. The very reason I blog is to share and compare experiences and thoughts on these factors. But a professional ‘scene’ has an inherently different dynamic.

For any of us who ever collected a paycheck in exchange for goods or services, it is not an alien concept to think of the person or entity cutting that check to be in a somewhat inherently ‘dominant’ position. Even huge corporations spend millions trying to seduce customers. Providers advertise, post references, and otherwise try to convince potential customers that they are the ones to come to. Pro Dommes do the same. And it makes sense. How else would you find them? Or find a good one? BUT…….as a paid service provider, they may be holding the whip…….but they are  not in charge.

Asking a  professional domme about D/s power exchange in an interview is like asking someone who produces and sells reproductions of famous paintings about what it’s like to create a masterpiece of Fine Art. A pro is there to provide needy subs with an outlet for their desires when that person is unable to find such a partner or arrangement in the real world. They may be handier with an implement, they may be experts with techniques through their constant practice…...and in these regards their opinions would indeed be valid. But unless they are talking about their own personal relationships, what can they offer about what it’s like to live a DD lifestyle? They are substitutes for the real thing…...not the real thing.

I don’t blame a pro for wanting to know what their client wants. Even a Top in a regular relationship is smart to know what their submissive partner wants out of the situation. But if your income is dependent on giving your client pretty much exactly what they want…...it’s kind of hypocritical to discuss how one maintains real behavioral control. A pro’s control is a scripted control…..even if the client insists on an unscripted experience…...they are still paying for that unscripted experience. And if the pro wants that guy to return for another session, she has to work to provide that imaginative adventure.



From some of the interviews I’ve read, a lot of these women have a very skewed view of D/s activities precisely because of their professional status. Others seem a bit deluded. (They remind me of that one particularly obnoxious clerk at the DMV who uses their bureaucratic position to intimidate their customers. Or that snooty waiter who tries to  look superior by making their diners feel stupid.) And then there are the others.  These are the ladies who.......well let’s just say that some may be very sexy…...but obviously didn’t graduate summa cum laude from an Ivy League university. 

So if you are one of those “lifestyle journalists” who like to explore provocative topics: stop interviewing professionals. Go online. Find a real couple and interview them…...and to be really accurate, do that with another five couples and compare notes. 


And if you are a Pro Domme? By all means keep doing what you’re doing…...but please refrain from speaking for me and thousands like me…….when you really haven’t the faintest idea about what D/s or DD is like when there’s no money involved.



Friday, February 23, 2018

Power, porn, & perspective

Visual thought equation for the day:


Take one guy who has been denied an orgasm for well over a month, lock up his parts and multiply by a couple of extra weeks.....

...mix in some provocative imagery......and you get:



Well that's a practical math equation I can relate to, and one I'm sure those around me not subject to the same restrictions may even find amusing. My frustration has been hovering at peak levels for a while now, inducing all sorts of thoughts. One thing that I have pondered many times is whether the "selfie" and the Internet have changed how we now perceive "porn"?

Going back to the days when the only pornography one could view came from an industry reviled for its miserable treatment of women, the argument against pornography focused on the debasement, objectification, and exploitation of women....and rightly so. How many horror stories are out there about the things that went on and still go on in that business?

And women rebelled against it and took a stand. They educated men in how negative an impact pornography had on attitudes, relationships, and actual lives.  Looking at images of naked women became bad.....or if not bad, then at least something no one would brag about. And then the cell phone camera came about.

Suddenly any person could be an instant sex object........and they could do it on their own terms and for their own reasons. And rather than being victims of someone else's exploitation, people could celebrate their own sexuality. It was pretty empowering. 

I was thinking about that today as I viewed some amateur selfies. And given my situation, I found that there was something about viewing these self-created images that affected me more profoundly than the slickest photo of the most beautiful model, put out by the most technically-savvy studio. These were regular women of all ages, shapes, and situations who all chose to proudly, sexily, and even humorously use their own bodies to make their own statements. And perhaps, if I was free to use these images as fodder for gratification rather than frustration, I might feel like there was an understood, yet anonymous pact of mutual satisfaction between subject and viewer. But instead, I feel like the "sexy selfie" has turned the tables on us.....and maybe me, and other chaste/denied guys like me, even more so. Instead of being victims, these women are confident and in control. They know the allure that their bodies possess and they are having fun using that for their own motives rather than as way  to barely survive as others grow rich.

So I wonder: is there anything objectionable to viewing erotic images that are made and sent out by the 'models' themselves? As a locked male, these images certainly seem to have a more torturous effect on me as a viewer than for the subjects in the images!

Here is a sampling of some random selfies I came across that appealed to me for different reasons:

This woman just exudes confidence and strength. 

A little blurry......but adorable.

Proving that 'sexy' is not reserved merely for the young.

Although you can be young, and even silly, and still be a little temptress.

Here's a look that says, "who needs a fancy studio and some sleazy photographer with a beer belly and a ponytail when all I need is my cell phone, a bathroom mirror, and my own cute self?"

As I'm sure this agile vixen agrees.

And speaking of agility!

"Oh so you think only  skinny 18 year-olds making 'duck lips' do selfies?"

Well OK so maybe they aren't the only ones, but they do make up a lot of what you see. Now if someone just went the extra mile and made "duck lips" expressions with BOTH sets of lips!




Thursday, February 22, 2018

Warm Day

Yesterday the temperature hit the 70's here in NJ, and Rosa, in need of some Winter respite, took the day off from work. Rather than revisit old haunts, we decided to explore some new territory and embarked on a trek to NJ's Turkey Swamp State Park. We had a nice and fairly long hike on a trail before having lunch.

While at the park, I picked up brochures for neighboring attractions and since we still had some time suggested we try one called Deep Cut Gardens. I took this shot while there:



Naturally, being February, nothing was in bloom, nor were the ponds in operation, so we vowed to return in the Spring. One fun spot was their greenhouse which contained all sorts of tropicals and succulents. Rosa and I LOVE succulents and have a fairly nice collection of our own, but I saw one there that was not labeled that I MUST HAVE!

Today I will will be researching this plant to see what it is called and where I might get one. (edited to add: found it!  Epiphyllum anguliger (Fishbone Cactus)

The only downside of the entire day was that all this hiking and running around knocked me out and while we had planned on some private fun later on......while our spirits were willing, I just didn't have the energy. I always tend to beat myself up mentally when I miss such an opportunity, but I am trying to focus on the positives and just look forward to our next chance to play.

One other thing that happened as a result of the unseasonable weather yesterday was Rosa's mania to open windows to let the fresh air in. While we DO have screens, I couldn't help but think of this cartoon of mine and to end with a more lifestyle-oriented thought, I offer it here:








Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Finished Arbalest

It's done! (OK, well maybe it needs a little touch-up on one spot and two brass guide brads tapped in, but you wouldn't see them in a photo like this even if they were there, so.....) It's done! 

I fired it with the 'play' bolts and it works nicely.....as a toy/replica. But it was never my intention to make it functional in accordance with the power levels normally associated with a medieval crossbow............because we'd never be able to fire it in my backyard for the RenFaire. So here it is....ready for wall-hanging and the occasional "light play":

The white inserts are really just bits of sheet plastic tapped into the recesses with brass brads.....BUT I used a sharp Exacto blade to score them and then rubbed 'dirt' into the grooves so that when you look at them, they appear to be bone/ivory.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Caption Challenge Pt. 2

So, it seems a few of my intrepid readers, undaunted by the sarcasm of my post, went ahead and offered some captions that turned out to be pretty clever. Initially I was just going to offer captions written totally in the annoying style of what I routinely see on Tumblrs throughout the internet, but now I feel like I should get in on the fun and offer some of my own kind of captions as well. So what I did was use a cheap&cheesy captioning program to turn these iconic images into something quite different. 

Since I really wanted to have some fun mimicking the types of captions I always see,  I'm offering captions that hopefully have that desperate aroma of "I'm-so-obsessed-with-spanking-that-my-mind-sees-everything-as-a-vehicle-for-my-fantasies" with just a hint of "KDPierre"-flavored sarcasm. Below each image are the offerings from my creative readers. Enjoy!



Dan: "Victory! Victory! Pat said she would spank me to clear the air on that whole Watergate thing. Now it will all just be water under the bridge."

Merry: "No more spankings for me!"

DownunderDon: "tricky dicky, a man very much in need of a very good spanking"


Dan: "I look so uncomfortable sitting on this slab of stone, because four score and seven swats ago . . ."
Merry: "Get up on my lap already!"



Dan: "I sooooo should fucking spank him for moving us to Oklahoma."

Merry: "He is getting such a beating when he gets home!"


Dan: "I'm rethinking this whole non-violence things. What these Crackers need is wives with paddles."

Merry:  "I have a dream that ALL men are deserving of spankings!"



Dan:  "You know nuns make the best disciplinarians."

Merry: "Eat every bit of your dinner, or I shall spank you!"




Dan:  "We are not punished for our anger. We are punished by our anger." 

Merry: "See how I’m smiling? It’s because my ass is red."



Merry: ONE CHERUB TO THE OTHER: See what happened to Him? We better behave!