(Alternate title: Smith Michaels vs. Comic-Con)
Every July I become a very conflicted comic book fan; San Diego Comic-Con is clearly the most happening place on the planet for three (four?) days, but it is also a clearly a giant cluster-fuck. There is a part of me that wants to go Comic-Con, it clearly a once in a lifetime experience. But the expense, the pure chaos, the lines, and the expense will probably stop me from ever traveling out there. And around even mildly famous people my social anxiety goes into overload (see: this year’s Heroes’ Con), I’m pretty sure the pop-culture explosion that is Comic-Con would make my head explode in a flood of crippling anxiety.
But then I think of the announcements! The talent! The free stuff! And I’m tempted again to one day head out there and reap with whirlwind.
What exactly does that ramble have to do with anything? Well I thought I do a brief rundown of some of the interesting announcements from the weekend. (I did something like this for the New York Comic-Con) This will probably be a bit (very?) redundant but I hope useful to someone.
- I spent much of the weekend tooling around Newsarama and Comic Book Resources looking for some coverage of the Oni Press panel, but for the life of me I couldn’t find anything. Even after repeated Google searches. The one announcement I was looking forward to (obsessed with?) out of San Diego was the title and release date of the 5th Scott Pilgrim volume.Luckily Bryan Lee O’Malley revealed the title and the cover on his blog and various Web 2.0 outlets. Way to stay on top of these things comics journalists.(To briefly allow myself to indulge my Scott Pilgrim fanboyness, this cover pretty much promises that we are going to [finally?] get some Ramona back story in this volume. Also: O’Malley’s art continues to improve exponentially with each volume.)
- The big announcement that everyone is talking about, I’m sure, is the new post-RIP Neil Gaiman Batman project. I should be beyond excited about this; I mean, one my favorite writers on one of my favorite characters! A big event! But I have learned, with recently big announcements, to be skeptical. My out of control expectations can only make this project worse. So color me disinterestedly interested, if such a thing is possible.
- Hey! A new War Machine series? Who would have predicted that?
- Valerie D’Orazio writing a Cloak and Dagger series? Sounds a like something to check out.
- Is anyone else over the whole video reporting shit on Newsarama? (I think CBR does it too)
- I’m glad that the Milestone characters will finally be getting so real, honest to goodness exposure soon.
- I am willing to bet that whatever thing Millar has planned in the Ultimate Universe will be over-wrought, to clever for its own good, and painfully macho.
- I am willing to give the new Superman books a look, I’ve missed fresh work from James Robinson.
I think that covers what I thought were the most interesting announcements at San Diego. I reserve the right to edit this post if I remember/find more interesting stuff.
UPDATE: Sam Jackson? The Eisners?
UPDATE II: Newsarama did get around to covering the Scott Pilgrim announcement at the Oni Press panel.
UPDATE III: Dean Trippe’s amazingly exciting time at Comic-Con…
Submitted without comment:
UPDATE: For the hell of it. John McCain is really old.
BONUS CROSSING THE LINE!
Because we had to resort to less straightforward means of viewing Song of the South, we were able to see what kind of quality the booths at Comic Book conventions hocking imported DVDs and bootlegs provided. The “50th Anniversary Edition” of Song of the South also included a Merry Melodies jem from around the same time period. Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs is a charming recreation of the Snow White story with black characters. I won’t bother with the full format with this one: the video should speak for itself.
MBRFT: As a bonus, we had a chance to take a look at “Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs,” a Warner Bros. short from 1943. In a little over seven minutes it manages to make “Song of the South” look as dignified and socially-progressive as “The Cosby Show.” I can only describe it as a spastic fire-storm of crude racist stereotypes, with Snow White being darkified into the voluptuous “So White.” The Sebben (sic) Dwarfs are strange anthropomorphic minstrels that scat in rhyme and embody a new level of racism that I didn’t know movies could ever reach. Even in its short running time, it manages to squeeze in equally offensive attacks on midgets and Japs (both of which are terms that are have since become politically incorrect).
For obvious reasons, both of these films have been swept under the rug by their respective studios and are unavailable on home video. I understand that decision from a PR standpoint, but pretending they don’t exist feels revisionist and German (Editor’s Note: or Turkish). Despite their overwhelming flaws, they are important historical documents and should be publicly available and packaged with information that gives them appropriate context as a product of their times (possibly an introduction by a white-friendly African-American entertainer such as Wayne Brady). And they also make good fodder for our weekly columns.
PsychoLarry: “Oh Honey Chile, what story would you like to have Mammy to tell you tonight?” has got to be the finest starting line in any cartoon, or story in general. I wonder if the director had to shoot extra takes with the voice actress there just to get her to sound “More Black, you know, like a real Mammy”. That opening tells you everything you need to know about the rest of the cartoon, you could probably just stop it at that point without missing any of the racism.
They persist on though don’t they? Somehow a 7 minute musical short runs the full gamut of African-American stereotypes, complete with blackface and overt black sexuality, while also managing to squeeze in some good ol’ American Japanese bashing so our kids would hate Tojo just as much as his brave Dad fighting overseas. Why weren’t there were cartoons like this for the Nazis, maybe a square jawed New Yorker messing up Fritz’s train schedule so bad he explodes, raining clocks and bratwurst on everyone.
Screaming Girl: (Editor’s note: As Screaming Girl could not be bothered to spend the 7 minutes required to watch this short and the 10 minutes needed to review it, there is nothing to put here. Pretend she said something about how she was shocked and appalled, maybe she denounced and rejected the Merry Melodies people or something. Oh, and I guess something about doing her hair or just wanting to dance tonight. Men are pigs would work too.)
It’s the film Disney refuses to release (probably)! The NAACP’s least favorite feature length cartoon, Song of the South was made in 1946 and is remembered largely for the song Zip-a-dee-do-dah and a log flume style ride in the Disney amusement parks.
Tagline: We’re headin’ for the Laughin’ Place!
Synopsis: A whiney little white kid and his family truck out from Atlanta to his Granma’s plantation, which was somehow not burned down by General Sherman (this is Reconstruction Alabama). He cries because his dad immediately leaves again for the city. He quickly forgets his angst though, as Uncle Remus, the aging black man who also raised his father, befriends him and teaches him quaint stories about the various Brer animals and their misadventures. The boy also makes friends with a young black boy and a poor white girl, and the three of them are plagued by the girl’s asshole brothers. Uncle Remus’ quaint country wisdom saves the day though, and everybody that deserves to end up happy ends up happy, singing Zip-a-dee-do-dah.
Interesting Fact: The film was first released in 1946. Disney re-released the film in 1956, but in 1970 Disney announced in Variety that “Song of the South” had been “permanently” retired, but the studio eventually changed its mind and re-released the film in 1972, 1981, and again in 1986 for a 40th anniversary celebration.
Objectionable material: Racism, white people, demon spawn children, sappy songs so saccharine that you’ll need insulin injections, ancient racial slurs you’ve never heard of, heavy handed morality and parables,
Disturbing Quote: There’s other ways of learnin’ ’bout the behind feet of a mule than gettin’ kicked by him, sure as I’m named Remus. And just because these here tales is about critters like Br’er Rabbit an’ Br’er Fox, that don’t mean it can’t happen to folks! So ‘scuse me for sayin’ so, but them who can’t learn from a tale about critters, just ain’t got the ears tuned for listenin’.
In some commentary on CNN’s main page today, Glenn Beck comes this close to making a good point, before his argument completely crumbles into nonsense. It’s really extraordinary how quickly the whole thing falls apart.
The opening of the commentary gripes about an AP article detailing Obama’s exercising schedule. Fair complaint. The AP undoubtedly has better things to do than fluff pieces. Then he gives some statistics on the amount of time spent on Obama vs. the amount of time spent on McCain since June. Still acceptable, though undoubtedly much of that coverage was due to Obama securing the Democratic nomination. He complains about the large number of reporters following Obama to the Middle East when barely any did the same for McCain during his trip in March. Let’s not forget Clinton vs. Obama was still in full swing during March, so fair or not, that greatly overshadowed McCain’s trip. Still, there’s nothing wrong with making that point.
Minor complaints aside, those points do lead up valid conclusion:
“…To be fair, Men’s Vogue also did an in-depth story on John McCain but, strangely, a photo of McCain didn’t make their cover.
Why the disparity? According to Men’s Vogue deputy editor Ned Martel, there’s a simple explanation: Obama “is what is called in the magazine world an ‘interest driver.'” Translation: Obama sells magazines.
As a conservative, I can’t argue with that logic. “The Media” aren’t around for their health, they’re around to make money, and if Obama drives sales or ratings, then I can’t really blame them for continuing to tap that well until it runs dry….”
And there you have it, Glenn. Right in your fingers. A legitimate point that you can take in so many directions. You could skewer the celebrity-obsessed media for treating Barack and Michelle like they were Brad and Angelina instead of a politician and his wife. You could challenge media outlets to rise above cheap ways to drive up ratings. You might even use this space to declare that your show will not resort to such tabloid journalism and will only discuss Obama’s policies. (Alright, maybe that last one is wishful thinking.) C’mon Glenn, show me what you’ve got!
I do, however, find it funny that many of the same people who are clearly not fans of big business or truly free markets have embraced this “run what rates” philosophy. I guess capitalism is evil until it’s you whose paycheck is at stake.
Wait… but… weren’t you just… You were upset about this a second ago. Who are these people you’re talking about who’ve embraced this philosophy? The editors at the major media outlets? Since when have they hated capitalism? What the hell does the above paragraph mean?
But all of this points to a larger point: We’ve become a country that continually chooses the sizzle over the steak. McCain may not get my vote, but he gets my admiration for at least offering some substance and new ideas when he speaks. Obama, meanwhile, is like the rock star who’s realized that he can just scream unintelligible words into the microphone between songs, and the entire stadium will still scream. When your fans already love you, there’s no reason to risk it by offering anything that might be controversial. Remember the Dixie Chicks?
What… what? The Dixie Chicks? What the hell are you talking about?
As candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain are ironically a lot like the way the media treats them: Obama is the glitzy magazine cover that screams for people to buy the issue, and McCain is the fact-filled article buried inside that makes you glad you did.
Who are you Alanis Morrisette? That’s not at all what ironic means! It would be ironic if Obama and McCain were the opposite of the way they were treated. That’s what irony is, when something is the opposite of what is expected. And where’s all this substance you’re talking about McCain having? And where’s the lack of substance that Obama has? This isn’t at all where you started with this article. This isn’t reflected in any thing you said above. How can this be your conclusion? You started out complaining about partisan, sensationalist coverage of Obama and somehow ended with a partisan conclusion about the quality of the candidates. I might as well end this post with “In conclusion, McCain is a cranky old man.” I understand that in critiquing media bias you always run the risk of exposing your own bias… but c’mon Glenn… you could have at least tried to keep your point coherent.
Glenn Beck, you get a D+ on this paper, though you can rewrite the last three paragraphs for extra credit if you turn it in by Friday. Also, for future assignments, you might want to bring drafts by the writer’s workshop offered by the English department. Many students have found it to be very useful in helping to organize their ideas on paper.