Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Male Black Sexuality--As Expressed In Introspective Non-Fiction VS Satire.

This Is One Of Those Rare Occasions, I'm Going To Be Serious

If the post title, and inside-header didn't tip you off, this is one of those occasional posts where I look inside, use my brain, and get serious. I wrote this a bit ago, edited it off and on, and thought the end of Black History Month was a good time to put it up. Thoughts are either my own or those of the author's I discuss and may be a bit controversial--although I don't really say anything that touchy, the men I'm quoting don't hesitate to do so.

 Today I'm going to examine the portrayal of male black sexuality and the intricacies that entails as expressed through the non-fictional and somewhat autobiographical, "Hung: A Meditation on The Measure Of Black Men In America," by Scott Poulson-Bryant and the satricial comic, "Gangsta Rap Posse #2," by Benjamin Marra.

I discovered, "Hung," through an excerpt which was printed in an issue of Vibe magazine before it went defunct (and then came back). It makes sense they put in an excerpt as he was one of the founding editors--I would hope the pay him some courtesy. I discovered the, "GRP," through the internet when various people discussed it, from internet site Robot 6 giving a mention to it being released, or Tucker Stone doing one of his humorous review segments and talking about it on The Factual Opinion. However, it wasn't until I read Sean T. Collin's review of the comic on The Comics Journal that I got really interested. You see, Mr. Collins posted an extremely interesting review discussing how the comic is so over-the-top of everyone. How? Well, with almost all the white people being racist, the gangsta rap posse being drug-doing, white-women-fucking, people-shooting tough-guys, and of course their manager as a Jewish fellow because this is a surreal comic with everything cranked up to 11 in terms of absurdity. The thing is, it really focuses in on the whole black-male sexuality. The white women all want that black male penis, and the black men definitely want to have sex with all the white women. It's like if an interracial porno came to life in terms of how the characters think.

This made me think of another book I read discussing black men, and how their sexuality has been viewed by the world, i.e. "Hung," and you know I had to get me a copy of, "GRP #2," to read and then compare and contrast what I found. The interesting thing is that there is a treasure-trove of things to discuss just as I anticipated. You see, Scott Poulson-Byrant talks about how you always hear, "Big black cock," but would never hear, "Big white cock," or, "Big Asian cock." Guess what the women say they want in, "GRP #2?" Indeed. Poulson-Bryant says in his book that in his mind, making the black man subpar to the white man in every way back in the days of slavery except in physical strength and sexual virility gave them an excuse to treat the black man as a hyper-sexual child. Something that was a wild animal unable to control its wild lust. It had a big penis, of course, because it was built for nothing but physical labor and fucking! You see, Poulson-Bryant says in his book the title itself is both a dirty joke and a dark statement. The joke is that black men are supposedly more endowed, or, "hung," than other races, but at the same time this same supposed gift is the very thing that resulted in them being viewed as a threat and lynched--hung, as it were.
"Hung" author, Scott Poulson-Bryant
In Gangsta Rap Posse the men aren't thought of as mindless beasts, they just are hyper-sexual, hyper-violent, big on drugs, and fans of white women. In, "GRP#2," I didn't see a single black woman have relations with the gentlemen, but plenty of white females pleasured them in various ways. This is satire, it's so obvious from the way the GRP behaves, to the fact their manager is Jewish, how all the white women just want that big black thing bugs me though. Some people actually would think this. You can go online and there are people who think of black men as nothing more than white-women-lusting, drug-doing, violent beasts. There are people who say it is all Jews who help get rap music out there (look online at the hate sites, I have and it made me feel ill). There really are people who are convinced that if white women get a taste of that black penis (no pun intended) they will truly, "Never go back," and somehow the purity of the white race will be diluted or some twisted reasoning. There is a strange alternate world that exists in some people's minds where this comic is pretty much accurate.
Note: His opinion is one of the less racist you will find on the internet about rap music.
If we could go back to the pornography aspect, in the book, "Hung," Poulson-Bryant talks about how there is so much interracial pornography, and by that it isn't white men having sex with black women (not a big genre in porn). No, it is black men with white women. Fun fact:  A fair amount of women in pornography won't have sex with black men--at least on camera--as that can put them in a different sort of category than other performers, as if it makes them less desirable than other porn-actresses for the, "mainstream," porn films, with their being relegated to the genre of interracial. Another fun fact:  The majority of consumers of this pornography of black men with white women are white males. What is a majority? The number varies from under 50% when put with other wide demographics to Poulson-Bryant's claim of 3/4. So, we have the black men who supposedly are lusting after the white women, yet all these white guys want to watch the, "big black cock," they fear so much penetrating the white women they so desperately want to protect the innocence of. It's as if in the process of hating something it becomes a sort of fetish. Guess what? Gangsta Rap Posse touches on this in a silly way too. 

You see, the mayor of the city wants them dead because they had sex with his wife, filmed it, and sold the video. However, the mayor may want them dead, but at the end of the comic, guess who is watching the video, masturbating furiously to the image of his wife being gang-banged by four black men? Yup, the mayor. He hates that black cock, he wants it destroyed, but it also turns him on so much in a weird fetishistic way to see it on his wife--the wife who no longer wants to be with him because after being with the GRP, "All she wants are those big black cocks...they took away my manhood!" This is all for laughs, as this is a silly comedy comic, but as Poulson-Bryant clearly points out, this comic inadvertently touches on some complex race-relation issues through what is supposedly just a simple gag of the mayor touching himself.

I'd like to discuss one more thing, though I can't really be as much in-depth as it isn't really covered in both texts, just one. You see, Scott Poulson-Bryant in, "Hung," readily admits to being attracted to both men and women, and having had sex with both. In "GRP #2," the boys don't hesitate to call people, "faggot," as an insult. As anyone who knows anything about popular culture is aware, the most masculine thing in the world is to be straight and have sex with women, being gay is non-masculine supposedly. It supposedly threatens the straight male so much we get the homophobia of straight people being afraid their children will be "turned" somehow. You see where I'm going? You have the white men who fear the white women having sex with the black male, and yet you also have this straight-panic about anything gay. Arguably, in black culture there is a much stronger homophobia than even white culture, but that would be its own essay and I just wanted to point out an interesting parallel to consider as a bit of a closing, "Hey, by the way." Of course, to say rap music in general can be homophobic would be an understatement.
Gangsta Rap Posse is loosely based on NWA; sadly a member of the group who actually did have a lot of sex--Eazy  E--died of HIV back in the 1990s when it was still thought of as a "gay disease". The irony is depressing.
Clearly, views of the black male as some sort of hyper-sexual being unable to control his urges continue to persist, Scott Poulson-Bryant chronicles it from the past to present, an even when Benjamin Marra plays the idea for laughs in, "Gangsta Rap Posse #2," there is a tinge of sadness when one has the knowledge that a fair amount of people still think in a way shown to be clearly absurd. The white neo-Nazis the GRP shoot-up at one point in the comic (the one potentially "heroic" thing the GRP does) may very well be the heroes of the book to some people who were to read the comic and not grasp that it is satire, but think it is all being played straight and that, yeah, black men sure do have drug-habits and love trying to fuck our white women. In, "Hung," we read of a world where the white man possibly secretly both fears and has a fetishistic view toward black male sexuality, thinking that black men just might have bigger penises, and want our white women, and even though we hate it we want to watch. Meanwhile in, "GRP #2," we see a world where its no secret, but in the world of the Gangsta Rap Posse with the stereotypes being true, everyone is arguably to blame for their behavior--from the racist white men to the outlandish black men.

The question is, who's to blame in the real world for such views persisting despite the best efforts of people to dispel them?

Seriously, who? I wish I knew.

Newest Avengers Trailer = Quite Snazzy.

The newest Avenger's Trailer is out. It's around 2 minutes of goodness:

That's pretty cool, I would say. I'm still not sure what the alien threat is, but this trailer is doing a good job making us interested in the movie. It shows a big threat, inner-team conflict, spotlights almost all of the team that makes up that conflict, has some cool action bits, a smidgen of humor, and of course lots of things explode. I'm excited for the premiere and hope this is really, really, good.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Newest Rant Promotional Posters

Using a great iPad app known as Phoster I have spent the past few months occasionally making a mini-poster. These 6 are the best I created. Feel free to print them out and put one in your room if you think a particular design looks cool. Hell, if you want, plaster them about your town and in places with bulletin boards (after getting permission, of course).

First off, is my personal favorite:
It's simple, a clever comic reference, and the color-scheme has our favorite hero/villain's red incorporated subtly.

My most kitschy one is this:
It evokes the old romance comics and black-and-white movies but puts in a bit of pink as if to show some shattered love. Or something.

Here is a professional-looking all-text piece:
It's pretty business-style but not completely dull.

For those who like a piece with just an image and the website text we've got this Iron Man piece:
I of course did not design the Iron Man drawing, it was Salvador Larroca, but it looks so cool.

Here is a pretty old-school and word-heavy poster, it appeals more to the comic geeks:
Yup, the famous, "35 minutes ago," line.

Lastly, I have this funny mini-poster that should give you laugh:
Indeed, The Vision can cry.

There they are, click on them for more detail of course, and I hope you found them interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Oscars AKA Disappointment Abounds

That Was Boring OR Scattered 84th Oscar Event Thoughts

I watched the Oscars last night despite having planned to skip them figuring that there would be pretty much no surprises. Because at my current housing location I get so few channels however I ended up watching it with my girlfriend instead of doing school-book-learn'in-reading.

Our first thoughts about the show each were, "What in the hell is going on with all this feedback?" a thought we continued to have throughout pretty much the whole night. Seriously, a big-name show like this can't get their sound wired correctly?

The Best Film and Director  awards of course went to the Artist, which was completely predicted by everyone on the planet with 2 brain cells (so maybe members of the Republican Tea Party called it incorrectly, ZING!).

Billy Crystal tried but his jokes seemed mostly outdated and dull. Maybe the Academy should have just let Brett Ratner get away with his gay slur so that he would have produced the show and Eddie Murphy would have hosted. I'm pretty sure whatever Ratner would have made could have been more entertaining than this, as even Tower Heist had more laughs than the Oscars from what I've seen of it. Plus, again, Eddie Murphy could have hosted and when he's having a good day the man is pretty funny.

Almost no one got played off during their acceptance speech, the only people they had to essentially force off the stage were the men who won for their documentary, "Undefeated," and I think the music started playing more so because they had to, "bleep," one of them who must have sworn and less because they were going long. At least the appearance someone said a dirty word woke me up a bit from the doldrums the telecast had me in.

The only award I really went, "Hmmm, I have no clue who could win this, and actually am interested in the result," about was Best Actress, and that went to Meryl Streep, so congrats to her for winning and delivering a thank-you speech that actually was a bit humorous so I didn't want to go into a coma during it.

For an event that went so damn long why did they have to do the admittedly impressive but time-consuming Cirque De Soleli bit? Actually, I liked that enough that I want that kept in. No, we can cut the pointless skit about a focus group for the Wizard of Oz. What the hell this barely funny skit was doing in the Oscars other than sucking up time I don't know.

You know, in the old days the Academy Awards recognized mainstream blockbuster films, but as time has gone on it now is more and more artsy fare. I don't mind the art-house stuff as I love some of it too, but maybe a big-name movie could deserve to win Best Picture sometime besides a rare exception like when Lord Of The Rings 3 was thrown a massive bone in the form of sweeping one of the awards shows. You know, the year you had a big name movie taking up so much attention you actually got a lot of viewers, hint, hint.

Really, what was the deal with that feedback? It was giving me a headache!

I saw Drive recently and it really was snubbed by the Oscars other than that one nomination for sound editing or such. Then again, the last Harry Potter movie only got technical nominations for things like Makeup and that has made billions of dollars and brought joy to lots of people, so if an arty movie about a Driver can't make it, and neither can a big-blockbuster about a boy wizard, it seems you have to be in very specific categories for the Oscars. You know, historical stories (Iron Lady), touching life tales that may suck but pull on the heart-strings (The Loud and Close Movie everyone hated), cute arty films (The Artist), and of course often anything by certain huge-name directors who can be guaranteed a nomination no matter what schlock they put out even if we know full well they ain't gonna win (No, I'm not talking about Hugo even though that did have a huge director in the form of Scorsese, people actually liked Hugo).

One thing I dread about the Oscars is actually what comes after, when we start seeing floods of advertisements for movies on DVD and in theaters now bragging how they won an Oscar so you have to see the movie or somehow something is wrong with you. Yeah, a bunch of people involved in the movie industry liked you movie enough to give it an award, that doesn't really make me any more or less likely to go see it in the theaters or check it out from Redbox or iTunes.

All-in-all it was a pretty boring show and I would have better spent my time actually doing work, reading comics, or playing video-games. I don't know how to make the Oscars better, but I think we really need to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rant-Reviews--Heroes, Failing.

In four out of these five comics the heroes are currently losing/failing miserably at whatever goal they are attempting to fulfill. In only one comic do they win and that is because it is the last issue of a mini-series--and that mini-series was at one point made an ongoing before being downgraded back to a mini-series, so they kind of already lost as hard as possible.

The Twelve #9
Holy crab-apples, this mofo actually came out? How many years late is this thing now? Well, I was enjoying the comic and someone who we saw die at the end of the first issue in a flash-forward finally bites it in this one, so that's progress, I suppose. Still, it took so long for this to come out I'm kind of just beyond caring too much even if I was really liking the tale--when it originally was being released, in 2008. However, it is nice to see something by Straczynski actually maybe come to a finish and/or not be terrible. I remember when he did good work like Supreme Power. I miss that Straczynksi. Plus, Chris Weston always provides killer art. Enjoyable enough.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Glory #23
The first issue of the re-launch of Rob Liefeld concepts where the interesting idea to get writers and artists completely unlike Liefeld to tell his stories strangely continues to pay off (as with Prophet, which I plan to review later on). Here we get a more extreme version of Wonder Woman that I had never read about before, a person with strange dreams, interesting flashbacks, nice art from the author of "Wet Moon", Ross Campbell, and things turn out to make a really good comic. Apparently when you take Liefeld, erase everything except the most faintest of his presence, and let people loose with it, you get some good stuff. As for the failing in this issue? Great last page reveal, that's all I will say.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Justice League #5
Jim Lee's monsters look nice, I can give the comic that. Um, and there is a nice moment between Batman and the Green Lantern even if it feels pretty tacked-on. Also, it is cool how the bad guy, Darkseid, just does his damage and doesn't talk. I find it annoying when bad guys monologue endlessly instead of actually enacting their evil plan. Besides that though, not much else I'm really too big on here. This comic has been slow to develop an actual plot, the characters have been coming off as somewhat one-dimensional, and I'm just bored. It's sort of like the most indulgent comics of the 1990s where writers and artists got to engage in their masturbatory fantasies of drawing super-handsome and muscular men and pretty ladies who looked impossibly perfect while writing them as cardboard cutouts with one particular personality trait and patting themselves on the back with their free hand as they felt somehow what they were doing was genius by taking a story you could tell in one issue and stretching it out over six.

I read this and I just hear, "Wonder Woman likes to fight" "Batman doesn't trust the super-folk," "Green Lantern is cocky," "Look at their cool armor-like outfits," and mainly, "Buy 5 issues of this comic and bag up 3 in hopes they rise in value even though so many copies are sold you'll find it in a dollar bin in a few months!" Geoff Johns can write better than this, and Jim Lee has done better art even though he is pretty much known for a style that people think of when they think 1990s comics (well, he and Rob Liefeld, but that is more-so a painful memory for many folk). If this is the comic people are supposed to read from DC to get interested in reading comics again then hoo boy do we have some problems. Oh, who loses in this issue? Well, all the heroes get beat up, but I'd say the biggest loser is the reader.
1.5 out of 5 stars.

Alpha Flight #8
Poor, poor, Alpha Flight. Yes, technically they win the battle against their foe in this issue, but considering how at one point this was going to be an ongoing before it was made a mini-series again after a joyous announcement...well, Alpha Flight pretty much lost as badly as any comic can--through cancellation. True, one of the writers (Fred Van Lente) and the artist can write their happy little essays in the back saying how they are pleased they told a complete tale and its all okay, but I can taste their salty tears that mixed with the ink of the comic. You may ask why I'm licking my comic, and I refuse to answer that question. All that aside, this issue does feel a bit rushed too so I'm kind of let down overall. It still was pretty good though.
3 out of 5 stars.

Ultimate Comics X-Men #7
An issue all about the Ultimate Universe version of Quicksilver, whom was one of my favorite aspects of this re-launched title being written by the sometimes-great sometimes-pretty-bad Nick Spencer. This issue has a whole lot of death and blood as Quicksilver's plan  (whatever it was, I still don't understand) fails and results in thousands of mutants being slaughtered. The fact that the end of this issue is so much like the conclusion of issue #6 but with a different person maybe-possibly being back from the dead or just in our hero's mind is annoying. I wanted to like this more than I did. Sort of like hearing about a girl who sounds wonderful but then you actually go on the date and she turns out to be more unpleasant than gangrene.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Television Tuesday--Key and Peele

Television Tuesday--Key and Peele 
AKA Moments of Genius Between Bouts of Boredom

Comedy Central has introduced a new show titled, "Key and Peele" which just ran its 2nd episode last Tuesday night after Tosh.0, Comedy Central's current big-ticket show. I find this show to have some bits of pure genius but also at times be a bit dull. Also, as the hosts are two men of color (Keegan Micheal Key and Jordan Peele are both biracial), and the show is on comedy central in an AD--or After Dave (Chappelle)--era,  comparison's to one of Comedy Central's biggest shows ever, Chappelle's show are inevitable. That isn't quite fair though, because even though the show has some similarities to Dave's show, this is its own beast. First, let's deal with that elephant in the room though.

The similarities to Chappelle's show and Key and Peele are ones that really could be said about a variety of shows. This show is sketch comedy, has stand-up bits, and features a good amount of racial humor. Chappelle's show did do that, but so do countless other programs. Unfortunately, Key and Peele will suffer comparisons (Numerous headlines on the web have asked if they can fill the Chappelle's show void or take its place, etc.) due to being on Comedy Central. Other than at the end when I'm going to compare it to Chappelle in more of a tonal way, this review is dropping any Chappelle reference as of now (even though it was an incredible show).
Martin Luther King and Malcom X have a  discussion  in a play that goes awry in one skit.
Key and Pelle often will find a single thing to make a punchline of and harp on it until the end of the sketch. This can work well such as a sketch where two soul-singer men who are heart-throbs to the ladies happen to have one member trying to confess his love for the other in song on stage, but it can also backfire such as in a painfully dull sketch where Key and Peele play two women who keep snapping photos and then deleting them due to thinking they look shoddy (even with the twist it still lacks much humor). A skit where two mousy men say, "Bitch," quietly can be grating--we get it, they fear their wives--but the now-viral clip of President Obama having his anger-interpreter Luther shouting things for him can be quite fun. 

This back-and-forth nature of good and bad would make for a just somewhat above-average show were it not for the sudden burst of brilliance that sometimes erupts making the show give a hint that we could have something really special lurking beneath the mediocre-to-pretty funny. A bit where a newscaster freaks out on a helicopter isn't that funny, until we learn it is actually about to crash making all of his fears now valid, and the below embedded bit is just amazing. Watch this all the way through, because while it may start out a bit silly it gets so great:

This is where I will bring in the Chappelle's show comparison. Why? Because while watching this clip, I felt some of that feeling I got from the best bits on Chappelle's show. That dark, twisted humor. You know, pitch-black in tone and very angry. It starts out with a character fulfilling all sorts of racial stereotypes but then he actually breaks out of the mold, shows vulnerability and reveals he isn't some cliche, and does this only to be rewarded with a twist I genuinely did not see coming in the bit.

Chappelle's show would show us a stereotype, say, "Is this what you want, America? Someone living up to your cliches?" and then shock you by actually doing something clever with centuries of our hideous racism and assumptions about people. Key and Peele does that in this bit. Someone stops living up to the stereotype he is expected to be, but the result in only being belittled by the doctor. He tried to be a real person, and is crushed for it. Welcome to American society, it is a cold place. This bit of just over three minutes is so amazing, so clever, so funny, and in some ways so heartbreaking, I can't help but be planning to tune in to Key and Peele again tonight on Comedy Central at 10:30 PM Eastern Time, 9:30 PM Central.

Obama and Luther
Key and Peele has a bit of a ways to go before it is a truly great show, right now its just a good one. However, with hints of incredible genius I think something beautiful could form if this is given enough time to develop. Time will tell if this is given a chance or Comedy Central decides to ax it as has been done to many shows that don't immediately perform outstandingly well on the network.
4 out of 5 stars. 

Valentine's Day has Arrived

It is Valentine's Day. It may be little more than something invented by the card companies to bring in money, but why not spend it with someone you love or care about? They can be a significant other, or just a good friend. That or you can just gorge on chocolate.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Announcement: I Have A Column On A Website!

I have a column on a website about geek culture! The column is titled, "The Comic Drawer,' and it is located at! This week's post is about T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Volume 1 and why I like it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thoughts and Links AKA Before Watchmen? No, Just No

Before Watchmen: The Event No One Wanted At A Time It's Not Needed

We have this event, called, "Before Watchmen" that is happening. It's a prequel bunch of comics to Watchmen. When I first heard about this I thought the announcement was about a series of one-shots so I thought, "this is probably a shameless cash-grab, but a little companion trade-paperback to Watchmen could maybe, just maybe, be interesting." Then I read this link and learned how we are getting a ton of issues. 30+ books? Really? Do I need to remind anyone the original Watchmen was 12 issues? Alan Moore may be a bit cranky sometimes but is of course correct in pointing out how its sad that DC is mining his ideas from 25 years ago for new material. Then, as David Brothers discusses, someone has the nerve to argue out that Alan Moore being pissed is somehow a good thing? I don't know why David Brothers even reads Newsarama.
I think it is the nerve of DC to do this that boggles my mind. They just did a huge re-launch they should be focusing all their creators and money on, and instead they decided to try and exploit this old property with the idea that maybe they can maybe make some cash or another movie from it (note: just a theory about a movie). Watchmen worked best as a tale about a bunch of washed-up heroes who were an ensemble, and now we're going to expand something without the creators guys who made it so special being involved one iota. What. The. Fuuuucccckkkk?
You may be asking, "David, I get it, you're annoyed and a bit pissed, but are you going to check out any of the books?" No, not really. The only one that seems the slightest bit promising is the idea of Brian Azzarello writing Rorschach as he does a good job with gritty, crime-stuff. Then again, couldn't Mr. Azzarello just make his own amazing crime caper without trying to mess with Watchmen? 100 Bullets was pretty good, why not make another thing like that instead of grabbing Alan Moore's baby and shaking it until all the money in its diaper has fallen to the floor? I know I'm mixing my metaphors horribly, but the point is Watchmen worked best a 12 issue series and now DC wants to do this...yuck. Also, who wants to take bets that somehow Straczynski ends up not being able to finish his Dr. Manhattan book for some reason and they need someone else to take over?

In less annoying and more heartwarming news, but which still oddly involves a comic company jumping around in a series' time-line, Archie is going to have a baby with Valerie of Josie and the Pussycats in his comic set in alternate futures. Some people are making a fuss as the baby will be multi-racial. He has a future with Veronica, Betty, Valerie, they had a comic with gay character Kevin Keller getting boggles my mind Archie comics got so progressive. They are selling though, so I guess it all works out.

In sad news, the creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, died. Soul Train was an awesome show and beat the lame American Bandstand in awesomeness hands-down.

Donald Trump endorsing Mitt Romney...hmmmm. Is an endorsement form Trump really something you want?

Apparently some people  don't believe a groundhog has the power to predict how the season will work out. You are all non-believers; of course a small mammal that burrows underground controls the climate!

An airline added a $2.00 fee for, "Unintended consequences." You know, I hated flying before security got even more crazy, tickets went through the roof, and shit just generally went right into the fan in regards to airline industries. Imagine how I feel about going to the airport now.

I hated how Iron Man 2.0 ended. Well, maybe there was a lot more going on behind the scenes than I realized to make it so terrible, as one of the artists, Ariel Olivetti revealed in an interview.

I will never be as clever as Tucker Stone, or his friends he gets to help review things like movies.

That's the end of that.
Some interesting links, pointless events, there we go.