Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I want to review

John Carter of Mars
Yeah, sure ... so I'm a woman? I'm almost automatically a minority with respect to old-fashioned SciFi. Dig the cover of the first volume of the Mars stories, Princess of Mars. The cast for the movie is pretty impressive, too. You are surprised that I like this? I'm not.

Try those power-pusher women who guiltily read bodice rippers with throbbing members seeking her moist femininity with ... but I digress. Those are truly misogynistic, in a way that old male-driven SciFi can never hope to achieve. ... ... Old white guys in the '30s writing about women being subservient to men? So what's news? Middle-aged white women in the 21st Century demanding million dollar contracts for stories about young white women being frustrated in their social inequalities while putting out for some hunk they don't really want to like? Who's undermining socio-eco-political equality more? Some dead dude or a NY Times best seller author? (e.g. #4,8,9,16 on the mass market paperback list, 2/25/10.)

Hypocracy? No. Sure, I read them once in a while. But I don't read anything with guilt.

SciFi, possibly even more so in its own golden age in the 1930s, provides more fodder for the imagination. Those 'bodice rippers' truly pale in comparison to Pulp Science Fiction as a genre.

Quite often you at least need to use your imagination to see the world in a way beyond 'ordinary' fiction. Well, afterall, there was no Wikipedia in 1930 (unless it was the one entitled "Encyclopedia Britannica") ... yet there are plenty of photographs of just about anywhere in the UK or the Wild West the most popular locations for bodice rippers recently. John Carter of Mars starts off in the American Civil War. We even have photographs of that. But Mars? You need imagination, even with the author's words, to really enter into the story. Ray guns, interstellar travel, green skinned aliens ... Star Trek was not, by 80 years, unique.

I suppose Boris Valejo might be an okay artist, but boy, does he paint to his audience, which would be any white Euro-American male who discovered SciFi around the age of 12 and who likes big tits. I can only hope that - unlike Lord of the Rings - the director doesn't use the most popular art style of the source material as the basis for the art direction of the film.

What do I want to see on the big screen? John Carter of Mars? Or The Elusive Bride (#8, above)? Mars, hands-down. If there's a great-looking leading man in the "romance" story, his primary function is still going to be "good looking man"; at least in John Carter of Mars he gets to be "good looking man who can kick ass" and will still likely have sex in the movie, with fewer violins & no soft-focus.

Within recent literary consumption here in GopherLand was
David Weber, Shadow of Saganami (modern techno-heroine sci-fi)
Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane (gothic/demon fantasy & yes, the author of Conan the Barbarian)
Cormac McCarthy, The Road (I can go finish the book now, film review coming eventually) &
Henning Mankell, Die Hunde von Riga got set aside when Mr.Gopher practically ripped it out of my hands and sucked it down whole ... I think instead of buying him books in English, I might want to switch languages - doubly so since we own a copy in German, but the original is Swedish which he no doubt would also enjoy)
Stieg Larsson, another Swedish offering, The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet's Nest, a follow-up story to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. The latter of which is a cliff-hanger & I'm going to have to wait in line at the library for a copy.

Robert Howard's Solomon Kane is also on the slate for release as a movie soon eventually. With James Purfoy as Kane (a.k.a. Marc Antony in Rome, and some Martian in John Carter, too). I've never read Conan the Barbarian, or the Conan books; I have, however, read Howard's Bran Mak Morn, something I found while perusing old Irish sagas. 'Solomon Kane' was written in the grand style of the heroic-fantasy. My Irish forefathers 300 years ago would have recognized the general heroic epic aspect of it; my dad/mom might recognize the dime store pulp fiction magazine serialization of the epic style; me? I just enjoyed it.

Had I been a 10 year old boy when I read either Solomon Kane or John Carter of Mars, I would likely have been found the next morning playing sword & pistol kill-the-demons in the back yard. I am a 44 year old woman, and I would still rather read them than the mysogenistic lame-o excuses for un-erotic literature currently marketed as "romance". (a completely different rant)

Who would I rather close my eyes and imagine being? A beautiful never-over-25 woman who is oppressed and dismissed by society but can't manage to either keep her legs together or pull her head out of her ass and become her own woman .... ... or the sword-wielding powerful hero(ine) destroying evil and receiving adulation from all?

Seriously ... Cerebus the Aardvark: yes; Arwen the Elf, no.

So, it is with no guilty pleasure that I look forward to both Solomon Kane and John Carter of Mars on the silver screen. Or if someone manages to make anything from E. E. Smith (e.g., Galactic Patrol), or (almost) anything else from Boroughs. but lord, lord, lord, not another dorky Tarzan!. Afterall, I really liked The Mummy, too.



ccyager said...

Two things: first, there are a LOT of women who love sci fi, me included. I belong to a sci fi appreciation group that was started by 2 women. As for misogynistic sci fi, have you read any Heinlein? He's the worst in my opinion. And even if it reflects the times he wrote in, it's still disgusting...as disgusting as what you reproach bodice rippers for....

Henning Mankell was on one of the ships in the flotilla that was boarded by the Israelis off the coast of the Gaza Strip. He was held in custody by the Israelis for 2 days, I think, then released. The publishing world was all abuzz about it....

There's a wonderful movie about Robert E. Howard, an independent film that's available on DVD. I saw it many years ago. It's called "The Whole Wide World," starring Vincent D'Onofrio and based on the memoirs of a school teacher who knew Howard in Texas in the 1930's.

Gopher MPH said...

It wasn't being a woman & liking SciFi. It was more an issue of *that particular* piece of SciFi. The movie isn't out - but the book the traditional female-subordinate role.
There are quite a few women who write good SciFi and men who write strong women roles (c.f. David Weber's Harrington books).

I was (trying to) comment more on a woman looking forward to seeing something based upon sexist source material -- and (trying to) point out that women read sexist b.s. in the form of bodice rippers.

in other words, sexist literature is enjoyed by both sexes.

Yes, I have read Heinlein, quite a bit, although it was quite a while ago.

I'll have to check out the R.E.Howard movie you mention.

ccyager said...

OK, I get it. Yeah, women tend not to regard the bodice rippers as being misandrous in any way but I suspect they are (I don't read them) and also terribly old fashioned. Jane Austen, although I haven't read her books I have seen many filmed versions, seems to have been way ahead of her time in that regard as well as sharply insightful about the social scene of her time.....