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The Female Perspective: What The Heck “Westworld”

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!


Are you watching Westworld? You are? Are you confused, are you searching for your “cornerstone” because you think you might be a robot?

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Are you wondering:

  • What’s real?Is this real? Is life real? Is this world real?
  • AM I A ROBOT???

Good. Then we’re on the same page.

Again, SPOILERS will happen so if you aren’t caught up, don’t read this.

I have to say that Westworld is hands down one of the best sci-fi shows I have seen in AGES. Well done HBO. Well. Fricking. Done.

If you haven’t watched the show then why are you reading this? Go, get yourself some access to HBO and WATCH IT. For reals.

Okay. Now that’s all taken care of.

OH MY GOD. Bernard is a robot! He’s Arnold! He’s dead! WTF?

I loved him and didn’t love him and loved him again and now he’s gone? Oooooh Westworld, you tricky beast. You are diabolical like Game of Thrones. You keep us on our toes, we literally have no idea what’s coming and then you tell us and then BAM dead people, uh robots, and well people too I guess. It’s a violent place.

I was introduced to Westworld via the 1973 movie. It’s a great flick, written by the amazing Michael Crichton and well worth your time. It poses the same questions as the TV show in that you sit there and wonder, is this okay? Is it moral to have a “theme park” that’s humanoid robots that act, talk and die like humans, but that humans can mess with, murder, rape, etc, with impunity.

In the Westworld of the film, it’s so much more than just the Western concept, there’s a Greek concept world and others, the scope of it is truly amazing and I wonder if eventually they’ll bring that into the show. I sure hope so.

What’s similar about both the TV show and the movie is this idea that people in the future go on vacation to a place where they can literally do whatever they want to other “people” (aka, hosts as they’re called on the show). That means that people go there and have sex with whoever they want, however they want. They murder people at will, they rob, pillage … You get the idea. The worst of people comes out when they’re given free reign with zero consequences or guilt.

Honestly, It turns my stomach a bit, especially in this current world climate of anger and chaos. I don’t think I could ever hurt someone for “fun”, robot or not. It makes you truly wonder about the people who frequent the park. I mean sure, there are plenty of folks who go just to have a good time, to immerse themselves in the old West. To drink, play cards, act like a cowboy or cowgirl and have fun. No murdering or other nefarious adventures. But then there are those that go to do not so nice stuff. Who go because they have never killed and want to do so without the fear of jail time or their own death. They go because they enjoy having power over others, because they see the hosts as less than human, as below them and therefore, they see the hosts as their playthings.

Again, it’s a bit stomach-turning when you start to think of it that way.

That being said, what I love about the show is that the women are given equal, if not more, power than men. There are multiple story lines evolving, and almost all include a powerful, smart, savvy woman taking control and getting stuff done. Rachel Evan Wood, who plays Dolores, (and who is always enchanting to watch) is discovering her true self by going on a mission to discover her past,  a past which she realizes is much more awful than she imagined. After all, she has wonderful, informative chats with Arnold, only to discover that she killed him.

Oh Dolores, what did you do???
Oh Dolores, what did you do???

Dear God, what? Dolores killed Arnold???? No, say it isn’t so! But I can’t say I’m surprised, we all knew that Dolores had a dark side, we just didn’t know how dark it could actually be.

Then we have Maeve, wonderful, brutal, brilliant Maeve played with a wonderfully sinister ease by Thandie Newton. She has a nervous, unseasoned tech wrapped around her beautiful finger and I cannot wait for the finale on Sunday to see if she gets her wish, to be free of Westworld altogether. Though we know that that may be impossible, and may even kill her if/when she tries to leave.

The thing is, these women are as brutal the world around them. They are products of their environment. They are products of their past stories that they are remembering with horror. They remember the rapes, the murders, the brutality brought upon them in their other storylines and they want out. They were created by Westworld and therefore, they are cruel, they are battered and they are ready to be something more than just a plaything for humans.

She's a wiley one, that Maeve.
She’s a wiley one, that Maeve.

They want freedom, or do they? Dolores makes the point in this past Sunday’s episode that the men all assume she wants out so that begs the question, what does Dolores want?

I think it’s very simple: they want to be able to decide their own future.

They want choices.

AH! It’s fantastic! I absolutely love this show and I look forward to the finale, while also being sad that my weekly bouts of, “Huh?” and “Holy cow!” are going to be over until Season Two premiers. I also live in fear as to who is next to die. Is it Maeve? Dolores? Ford (played with perfect level of menace and sadness by Anthony Hopkins)? Oh my gosh, it’s almost too much!

How about you? What do you enjoy most about Westworld? What do you hope the finale shows us? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Vampires, Bats and Crazy, Stuff I’m Watching

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


With fall quickly approaching that means new TV shows are coming soon, but if you’re looking for something entertaining to binge watch this weekend (or week, whatever works for you) I have some great ideas.

Now, I could go with the typical like Stranger Things which is fantastic and totally binge-worthy, but chances are you’ve already watched it. So I’m going to go a with few shows that seem to have flow under the radar, but are fantastic all on their own

Penny Dreadful (Showtime & Netflix)

Penny Dreadful
Penny Dreadful

Now, this show took a while for me to warm to. I thought it was  bit overly dramatic, a bit slow, and I still think that at some points it does get a bit dry, but overall, the 3 season drama/horror show is truly fantastic. Using old-time characters like Dracula, Frankenstein (both Doctor and Monster) and even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you really can have a lot of fun with this show. Not to mention, the female characters are not just relegated to damsels in distress. No sir. One of my favorite plots was when Dr. Frankenstein created a bride for his monster and … Well, let’s just say things didn’t go as he planned. Instead of her being a docile housewife type, she declared a war on men and started an entire revolution against the men that had been using the women for so very long. It was fantastic, and horrific the methods she used to get what she wanted. There is so much mythical goodness wrapped up in this show it’s hard to summarize and still do it justice, sufficed it to say, if you have fond memories of old-school monsters, this is a great show to revitalize the myths and maybe change your perspective on these characters while also getting a heavy dose of horror, drama and feminism.

Ray Donovan (Showtime)

Ray Donovan on Showtime
Ray Donovan on Showtime

This one might be a no-brainer since Donovan has been on for 4 seasons now, but I have heard about this show for quite awhile and only just got to start watching it. I’m on season 3 now and zipping right along and I have to say, this is a terrifically written show not afraid to face challenging topics like child abuse, alcoholism and more. It’s a show about a family and the mess they are along with the insane work Ray does as a “fixer” of sorts in LA. He’s like the Olivia Pope for the Hollywood elite. It makes for some mighty fine TV I have to say.

Not to mention, in the role of Donovan we have Liev Schriber, who is one of my faves. He has a way of acting with his face that conveys exactly what he is thinking without him having to speak, it’s dynamic and exciting to watch. Not to mention, every time he gets out his baseball bat, you know something big is going down! Add to Schriber’s fantastic portrayal of Ray, we have Jon Voight as his father, Mickey Donovan and he is brilliant. He is a horrible, horrible father and human being who  you also fall totally in love with because he is such a mess.  I have to say though that my favorite character is Ray’s little brother, Brendan, aka Bunchy, played by Dash Mihok. Bunchy has been through the ringer and is sweet and kind and I just want to hug him all the time! This is not to say the women don’t get their fair share of screen time. I love how the women are written on this show! They are strong, capable and just as messed up as the men folk. Again, as with Penny Dreadful, the women are not damsels in distress, they are smart and their growth in the last few seasons is amazing to watch (especially Abby, Ray’s wife. I can’t decide if I feel bad for her or if I love her or if I hate her, that’s how awesome this show is!).

My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 1 is on Netflix)

https://youtu.be/AIuh1mMKsEs

I started watching this show because I was curious after doing a transcription with one of the show runners. I had passed on this show originally because I wasn’t interested in a show about a crazy ex-girlfriend honestly. I thought the term was sexist and that did not interest me in the least bit. After learning that the title is meant to be a joke of sorts, I thought, okay I’ll give it a go.

Color me surprised when first, they had musical numbers. MUSICAL NUMBERS in the middle of the show. The musical stuff is hilarious and often extremely clever and I have to applaud them on that. I’m still trying to decide if I actually like the show as it deals with, as expected, the main character being in love with her ex-boyfriend from camp when they were kids. I have issues with the way she runs about desperately trying to get his attention even though he has a girlfriend (who’s equal parts horrible and kind of hilarious, see video above for her song about Yoga).

I’m about 2 episodes away from the end of season 1 and I have to say that this show is worth a watch if you like musical numbers and can distance yourself from the stupid, unbelievable stuff she does or at least find it mostly funny. I’m willing to give it a chance because the supporting cast and their stories are pretty engaging (one character just outed himself as a bisexual and it’s pretty funny and also kind of amazing) and I am hopeful that by the end she will be over her ex and onto something more interesting.

So those are some of my faves, what are YOU watching?

What are you looking forward to seeing in the next couple months? I’m pretty psyched about Luke Cage on Netflix and the return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D!

 

 

 

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The Female Perspective: Character Drama In Adaptations

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


This week there have been a few bits of information regarding the re-casting of comic book characters. One is that the new female Iron Man will be called Ironheart and the other is that Zendaya will supposedly be playing Mary Jane in Spiderman: Homecoming. In all honestly, I am not overly concerned with the re-casting of characters in terms of race of sex. If they can portray or tell good story, then their skin color and sex shouldn’t matter one bit.

The sad thing is, it seems to matter to quite a few people, I’m sorry, trolls.

When I was checking out the story about Zendaya playing Mary Jane the comments that ran along with the story were what interested me more than the actual story (I really have no clue who Zendaya is, nor do I care to find out and I am not a Spiderman fan in the least). The fact is that Zendaya is the daughter of an African-American father and a white mother, and she is playing a character that has always been portrayed as pale skinned with red hair. So you can imagine the derogatory comments and accusations of racism that have abounded alongside the announcement, many of them I cannot print here.

Where it gets murky is when people start covering their racism by saying they want these characters to be “portrayed in their true form” on screen.

Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart leaves you realizing that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.
Food For Thought: Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart you realize that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.

Is that racism masquerading as fandom or is it just simple fandom? It’s a question I don’t know the answer to and honestly, in the current cultural climate, I think casting a woman of mixed race as a character who is known to be pale skinned with red hair is perfectly fine. What matters in the end is the performance,  not the skin color.

Where I get annoyed (and hang in here with me, it gets confusing) is when those same people that got mad over changing Mary Jane, then get mad when others get mad over white people playing Egyptian or Asian roles. I’ve seen those same people who pitched a fit over Mary Jane go on and on about how race doesn’t matter. Argh! Pick a side of the debate and stick to it people!

Where is the line where it becomes okay to hate on casting because of skin color or sex? The answer to that one is it’s never okay, but in a world constantly on edge, it’s very difficult to say or do the right thing, no matter what side of the debate you’re on.

I’m not a racist fanboy, but I want to see a white Mary Jane, like comic books, the same happen[ed] in The Flash (Iris West) and Supergirl (James Olsen). What happens if there was the other way? If they put a white Black Panther?

Junior Sara on Facebook

When you have to start a comment with “I’m not racist”, then you need to stop typing or speaking right away because the chances of you saying something intelligent after are pretty much zero. The fact is this (poorly worded) comment stuck out to me (among others I cannot put in this blog) because this is really comparing apples to oranges. The character of Mary Jane is not rooted in her cultural identity, Black Panther is. He is the leader of an African tribe, he is the first black superhero–changing him from African-American to white would be a comic book catastrophe, not to mention hugely insulting to the characters legacy and backstory.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, while I am a fan of comics, I love books even more and when I see a movie based on a beloved book, I want the characters to make sense. I want to see the character I always imagined on screen, but the simple fact is, the people making the movie are not seeing the same thing I am!  A recent example of that is Idris Elba being cast as The Gunslinger in the upcoming gunslinger movie. I was PSYCHED they picked Elba, but many, MANY people were upset. They had always seen Roland as a white man, a Clint Eastwood type, and if this movie was being made 30-40 years ago, yeah Eastwood would be great. But it’s not being made in the long ago, and honestly I think that Elba will do a phenomenal job at it. He has that broody, quiet thing down pat and it’s going to be a blast seeing him on screen playing one of Stephen King’s best characters. In the end for me it comes down to character portrayal, writing and directing. I do not care one whit what color or sex they are.

Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!
Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!

The fact is, what I see time and time again online is people that are unhappy. People who don’t have the faintest idea what it takes to make a movie, especially one that they are adapting from beloved source material. Same thing with comics, when writers and artists and studios want to revamp a character (Like making Thor into a female) it throws people off, we are creatures of habit (and some of us are racist, sexist jerk-heads) and as many have stated, we want to see the characters we loved stay the same, to be on screen looking the same as the writer described.

As a writer, I can think of nothing more exciting then having one of my books made into a movie. I also know that I would really want nothing to do with it because I would become endlessly frustrated. I have a vision for my characters and story that someone else might not have. I am also completely unbiased and would not be able to make the hard choices of what gets cut and doesn’t get cut. That being said, would I care if they changed the ethnicity of a character or turned a she into a he or a he into a she? If it served the story, I wouldn’t care one bit.

Art is a fluid, always moving aesthetic. One person’s vision is not the same as another persons. We have to learn to not get stuck in the rut of expectation. Instead we can feel shocked, dismayed or disappointed (I felt all those things when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, but you  know what? He did a killer job) and then we have to move the heck on because guess what folks? It’s only a movie. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it, don’t buy it, don’t read about it. Just live your life as if this stuff doesn’t really matter because it really doesn’t. Enjoy the parts of an artistic vision that you can, be wowed by it, love it and let that be enough. For the stuff that annoys or disappoints, let it go. That won’t help with the racist trolls, but it will help us all get a little less tied up in thinking a character has to look a certain way, because these characters were created out of thin air and therefore, they can look pretty much any way they want.

Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie...
Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie…

What do you think? Are studios using too much “artistic vision” in their character changes? What casting/comic character change has irked you the most or made you the most happy? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: The Rio Olympics and Feminism

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


When I was a kid I adored the Olympics. The pageantry, the excitement, the athleticism was so impressive when I was younger and full of dreams. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could be that dedicated to something, to anything. The 2 weeks would fly by and then it was all over for another few years.

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I haven’t actively watched the Olympics in a few years now. I simply find it difficult to find the same excitement I did when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to hear about Phelps winning his 27,000 gold medal, but I simply don’t get excited about the Olympics anymore.

This year was different though, I felt actively angry and insulted about the Olympics. First off, with them being in Rio, a country that is extremely poor and in desperate need of financial stability, seemed in poor taste. Sure, it will bring money in, but the fact is they had to borrow millions of dollars to create the venues needed to host the massive events. The water is practically poison and even though it’s technically winter there, Zika was  a fear on many people’s minds. Not to mention crime that runs rampant through the streets. But I don’t make the choices over who hosts the Olympics so like many, I shrugged it off as “better minds know better”.

What really got me peeved was the blatant sexism being expressed by the commentators and news outlets. From the female athlete’s being referred to as “girls” even though they are grown women, to the news headlines in print and social media that state things like:

I don't know about you, but it would seem to me that someone breaking a WORLD RECORD is a bigger deal than a TIE.
I don’t know about you, but it would seem to me that someone breaking a WORLD RECORD is a bigger deal than a TIE.

AND…

With the headline: "Wife of a Bears' lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics"
With the headline: “Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics”

These 2 examples are perfect as to what’s wrong with the world in terms of feminism and sexism today. First off, a woman breaks a WORLD RECORD and she gets the smaller, less impressive headline while Phelps, who TIED for silver, gets the big headline. There could not be a more perfect example of sexism if someone actually tried. To essentially push someone to the side who broke a world record is insulting to her athletic ability. Besides the fact that hey, Phelps has won like a gazillion medals, let’s let someone else have the spotlight shall we?

When I saw the Twitter post from the Chicago Tribune regarding Corey Cogdell winning bronze I wanted to scream. Not only does the post not even mention her name, but it also puts her neatly into the box of someone’s wife. Not bronze medal winning athlete. No, we wouldn’t want to let her have her own achievement. Her husband has to be in there as well. It’s unfair and it’s also ludicrous.

There have been other examples of this, commentators praising another female swimmer by giving all the credit to her husband for her ability to perform.

NBC credited Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s coach/husband as “the person responsible for her performance”. ~News.com

That one stunned me as well, I’m sorry, is he in the pool pushing her along? Is he paddling along beside her? Because it would seem to me that she did all the hard work. She was in the pool. She is in the Olympics. Not him. Why does it seem to be impossible for the media to give credit where it’s actually due when it comes to the women? Why do their achievements have to come tied to some man in their life? Why can’t these women be praised the same way that their male counterparts are?

Sadly, there are quite a few examples of this type of sexism that have run rampant through the 2016 Rio games. From commentators discussing the importance of makeup on the female gymnasts during their gymnastics routines to NBC completely botching the coverage of a HISTORY making swim by Simone Manuel when she became the first African-American woman to win a swimming medal in an individual event. They did air the medals ceremony eventually, but an hour after the historic moment occurred rather than airing it in real time (as the BBC did).

The fact is, our country is going through a massive period of change. A huge paradigm shift. From racial tensions to sexism to financial inequality, we are all watching our world shift and break apart in ways we never though we’d see. Donald Trump spews hatred and bile everywhere he goes while Hilary Clinton makes history, only to be overshadowed by her husband in the press coverage. It’s a strange world and the Olympics is simply putting a magnifying glass on that strangeness and showing us how the things we thought were gone (racism, sexism, etc) are still very much here and they are no longer as subtle as they once were. Now they’re right in our faces. It’s painful and it’s infuriating to watch women talked about as being “girls” and to have their accomplishments, in many ways, shrugged off or obscured by a male figure in their lives.

The fact is, women have been competing in the Olympic Games for 116 years;

Female athletes have been a part of the Olympic tradition for a whopping 116 years, since they first competed in the sufficiently ladylike lawn tennis at the Paris Games in 1900. –News.com.au

And yet, even after over 100 years of competing, the women still have far to go in terms of finding equality in their sports, but I will admit, progress has been made. I don’t want to deny that fact. I am hopeful though that it won’t take another 116 years for us to get to a place where female athletes are treated as equals to the male athletes and we will no longer talk about them in terms of their husbands or boyfriends, but in terms of their accomplishments and athleticism.

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What do YOU think of the Olympics? Are you watching?

Tell me your thoughts!

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The Female Perspective: Harley Quinn v. Wonder Woman

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I’ll preface this blog by saying I have not read any comics with Harley Quinn. I’ve done some looking into her backstory and watched a Justice League movie awhile back, but I am by no means a HQ expert, so I ask those that are experts to be kind and offer up some corrections if I do get anything incorrect here. This blog is entirely based on my opinions, nothing more. I don’t presume to be spouting facts!

That being said…

Like many folks, I am looking forward to the Suicide Squad movie with baited breath. Unlike many, I have enjoyed the Superman movies that have come out as late so my expectations are not as low for Suicide Squad as many others. I think this looks fun and I don’t give one great big hoot about the reviews that have come out stating otherwise, I don’t trust reviewers and like to experience a movie for myself.

GalleryChar_1920x1080_Harley-Quinn-#1_54b9c3a0058de1.57883431

I have heard of a few of the characters and one in particular, Harley Quinn, is one I’ve seen in cosplay form a lot at various cons.  She’s a popular one, in all her various iterations and I’ve always wondered why. From the research I’ve done and from what I’ve seen, I am not overly impressed with her character. She’s in love with The Joker (we’ve all made bad choices in love, so that I am okay with) and eventually goes crazy from that and becomes a villain, and eventually more of an anti-hero. All right, all of that I can deal with. What I don’t like and what really irritates the holy heck out of me is the weird, totally dysfunctional and abusive relationship she has with The Joker. He shoved her in a vat of acid and yet, she still loves him. There is literally nothing he can do that would make her not love him. It bothers me, and I thought about the reasons why it bothers me. It’s just a comic book right? It’s not real life. But the fact is, young girls do look up to these heroes and villains, they do emulate them and I have seen many young women wearing Harley Quinn costumes and I think, why her? What is it about her that makes you want to be her in some way? I may have to ask a few HQ’s at the next con I attend because I am honestly curious.

wonder-woman-435

I’ve always been a huge fan of Wonder Woman. Her strength, beauty and smarts are compelling and inspiring. While she may have fallen in love from time to time, it never seemed to be the thing that defined her as a character. She was defined by her power, her mission and her fairness. Of course, she’s the polar opposite of HQ because one is a hero and the other a villain, so of course they’re going to have different stories. I know this and yet, I do not get why anyone would want to be HQ. She’s abused, she’s mis-treated and she’s debased by The Joker time and time again and yet, she comes back for more.

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I think for me, her backstory rubs me the wrong way because I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship so watching anyone (fictional or otherwise) go through that pushes my buttons.  It’s a personal thing, sure it is, but isn’t that the beauty of good art? It triggers you (for good or bad), it makes you feel one way or the other. I guess the creators of HQ did a good job with her if I feel so strongly anti-Harley Quinn and so very pro-Wonder Woman. As I said on the outset, I don’t presume to know everything about Harley Quinn so if I’m off the mark, let me know, please. I’d love to learn what makes her so popular!

For me WW represents everything I wanted to be as a kid. Not a super hero so much as a woman with integrity, morals, bravery and strength. For me, watching HQ just makes me feel ill-at-ease. I want her to shove the Joker in a vat of acid and walk away, never to speak to or think about him again. I want her to be emotionally stronger than she seems to be. I guess what I’m saying is I want her to be a hero.  Which I realize may be a ridiculous wish to have for a comic book character.

HARLEY-QUINN-WONDER-WOMAN

What do you think? Who’s your favorite between the two?

Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn? Or is it someone else?

Why? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Frank Cho and Wonder Woman

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


So last week there was a flurry of stories regarding artist Frank Cho and his variant Wonder Woman covers. Seeing as a lot of the articles dealt with people being aghast at the amount of skin Cho was drawing and his departure from DC Comics because they did not like his covers (he quit the job) I became curious. Was this another case of women being drawn as fodder for drooling men?

Nope.

The few covers that Cho did do are actually quite stunning. They are well-executed and I have to say, awesome. I am neither offended by the amount of skin or the poses Wonder Woman is in. I am confused as to why there is even a story.

The fact is, Cho acted like a petulant child, posting this online:

All the problem lies with Greg Rucka.

EVERYONE loves my Wonder Woman covers and wants me to stay. Greg Rucka is the ONLY one who has any problem with covers. Greg Rucka has been trying to alter and censor my artwork since day one.

Greg Rucka thought my Wonder Woman #3 cover was vulgar and showed too much skin, and has been spearheading censorship, which is baffling since my Wonder Woman image is on model and shows the same amount of skin as the interior art, and it’s a VARIANT COVER and he should have no editorial control over it. (But he does. WTF?!!!)
I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible. Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics.

To DC’s credit, especially [Art Director] Mark Chiarello, they have been very accommodating. But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

I just wanted to be left alone and do my Wonder Woman variant covers in peace. But Greg Rucka is in a hostile power trip and causing unnecessary friction over variant covers.

ComicsBeat.com

Sure, Cho isn’t really taking the “high road” here, but whatever. What really annoys me is that DC hired him, knowing exactly what kind of artwork Cho is famous for (click here, but be warned NSFW) so why the heck are they hiring someone who has a website called Apes and Babes and who is KNOWN for drawing naked ladies in sexy positions?

The mindset of these comic companies baffles me. In 2014, Marvel had a similar issue, only they actually published a variant cover of Spiderwoman that was fairly insulting to women, spiders and anyone who has any respect for women. In this case, Cho’s covers are actually pretty awesome and in keeping with the characters spirit.

It’s a difficult thing in this world today, toeing the line between being “too” sensitive and being sensitive “enough”. I have to go with my own thoughts and feelings on these things, but as a feminist, as a woman, I see nothing wrong with Cho’s covers. I may not care for him as an artist (or as a human being), but his artwork here is pretty great. What I have to wonder is if DC was simply looking for some press (which they got) or if Cho just wanted out of the deal that he signed because he was frustrated with the team at DC, (or, Cho wanted some press) or these guys are really just children in disguise, and none of them know what they’re doing. My bet is on that last one.

There’s another aspect to this story though, is it inappropriate for the creative in charge of the story to want to have some control over how his/her story is packaged? Is it wrong that Greg Rucka didn’t like what Cho was doing and kicked up a fuss? That’s a tricky one. As an author, I would be aghast if someone took my character Katrina (from my book The Last Daughter of Lilith) and drew her as a sexpot wearing heels and a miniskirt (or something worse than that) because she is a simple character who wears simple clothing. I wouldn’t want that to happen either and would kick up a big ole fuss about it. In this case though, I’m not sure what is going on since (as you can see below), these covers are pretty cool, and not at all insulting to the source material.

Original Art.
Original Art.
Finished piece.
Finished piece.

While the cropping is different, ending at the knee, everything else is the same. There is no extra cleavage, no under skirt shot. I feel like I am missing some piece of a puzzle and these guys at DC are holding the piece I need to complete the puzzle over their heads going, “Nope, not gonna give it to you!”

Let’s look at one more.

Original Art.
Original Art.
Finished piece.
Finished piece.

Yep, I still don’t see it, do you? Am I missing something? If so, please enlighten me!

Tell me what YOU think about all this? Do you see the problem? Do you think there’s no problem and everyone in comics is coco-NUTS? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Book Review Time!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I’ve been watching Game of Thrones and I also just began the task of re-reading the books. Before I began reading that series, I finished re-reading (what can I say, it’s been a re-read kind of summer) one of my favorite Stephen King books, 11/22/63.

11-22-63

I wanted to re-read it because I had watched the Hulu TV series made from the book and while I liked the show quite a bit at first, as I got deeper and deeper into the book I realized that I the show really wasn’t that good. In fact, when compared to the book, I got seriously bummed out about what was left out.

Now, before I get into things you should know there are spoilers afoot and that also, I quite certainly realize that they can’t put everything into an adaptation. I just have to wonder at the choices made is all and why they would leave out some of  (what I think) are the best parts of the book in order to make a multi-part TV “event”.

The Beginning

In the beginning we get a moment with Jake Epping where he tells us;

I have never been what you’d call a crying man … I wish I had been emotionally blocked, after all. Because everything that followed–every terrible thing–flowed from those tears. ~Stephen King 11/22/63

Epping is a teacher and he reads a theme one of his students rights, an older man named Harry who is off, a little slow, a little different. It’s because his father, in a drunken rage, killed his family with a hammer and while not killing Harry, he whacked him in the head and gave him some brain damage. This moment, this small, few pages of talking, is what sets into action the events that unfold in 11/22/63 and while that’s touched upon in the TV series, it’s not given the importance it should have gotten.

I also think that James Franco was bad casting, but that’s a different blog post.

Regardless of casting, what unfolds in the first portion of the book is that Jake is told by his buddy Al that there is a time traveling portal in a closet at his restaurant and Al needs Jake to do something for him, something big, something world changing.

Al wants Jake to go back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Why can’t Al do it himself? Well, because Al has cancer and he’s dying. When you go through the portal you continue to age even though in the current world (at that 2011) only 2 minutes pass by, years can pass by for our intrepid time travelers and Al is simply too sick to carry out the mission. When you step through the portal you are in 1960 and it have to then wait potentially 3 years to take care of business. After some hemming and hawing, Jake finally decides to give it a try, but first he has to know the rules of time travel.

Before Al dies, he gives him as much info as he can, he even has a notebook full of notes about Lee Harvey Oswald’s movements up until that fateful day in 1963.  But Jake wants to test this theory of what happens when you change time, Jake wants to see if he can not only save Kennedy, but maybe he can help his student too.  Maybe he can prevent the death of that mans family and his brain damage and give him a real chance at life (or so he thinks).

The thing about this portal is that every time you go through, it resets itself. So if you change things in 1960, go back to 2011 and then go back to 1960, everything resets itself, so you have to be sure you have things right or you’ll be doing them over and over again, like a twisted version of Groundhog Day. This happens to Jake as he screws up his first attempt at preventing the murder of Harry’s family, has to go back through the portal and do it all over again (but this time, he does it quicker), but not after putting a phone call through to Harry to see what happened to him and discovers it’s not such a good future for Harry after all.

card-1963

The Repercussions of Time Travel

We all think about it, or at least, I have anyway. What would happen if you changed one event in a persons life? How would things turn out? Would they still find their way to that point in time? Would they have a better life? Would the world around them be the same? In 11/22/63 we get Stephen King’s answers to those questions. What Jake discovers is that changing an element of a person’s life has a profound effect on them, but it’s not always a good thing. If Harry is never injured, he ends up at Vietnam and he ends up dead. But that doesn’t stop Jake because he thinks, if Kennedy lives, maybe there is no Vietnam for Harry to die in. Maybe he can prevent Harry’s premature death if he keeps Kennedy alive!

It’s a mind twister of a book because Jake is constantly faced with the idea that time is obdurate and that it does not like to be changed. We see that a little bit on the TV show, but not to the extent we see it in the book. Jake also ignores the advice of his friend Al who tells him not to get involved in the lives of the people in the “Land of Ago”, he ends up falling in love with a woman, making friends, establishing a life. Which of course turns out to be a big mistake. This is a Stephen King novel after all, while we don’t see the death toll rise like in a George R.R. Martin book, King doesn’t always do perfect happy endings.

For Jake Epping, his life in the 1960s slowly becomes more real to him than his life in 2011. He says, near the end of the book, after everything has gone to Hell and he has to make a choice he doesn’t want to make,

I should also tell you that I  no longer think of 2011 as the present. Philip Nolan was the Man Without a Country; I am the Man Without a Time Frame. I suspect I always will be. Even if 2011 is still there, I will be a visiting stranger.  ~Stephen King

My Thoughts

I’ve already said that 11/22/63 is one of my favorite Stephen King books, right after The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon. The reason why I love it so much is that it isn’t a typical King book. It’s not horror, it’s more of a sci-fi adventure. It’s a love story. More than anything else, it’s a toe dipped in reality, the “what-if” scenario that so many of us wonder about.

What if Kennedy had lived?

I won’t tell you what King’s answer to that question is, but it’s a hum-dinger, that’s for sure. The quick reveal of 2011 post-Kennedy Alive was a shocker to me and it is a reminder that these things happen for a reason. If presented with the opportunity to change a moment in history, would you, and more importantly should you even try to change it? Who are we to play at being God? Who are we to mess with the strings of the Universe? It’s an amazingly thought-provoking book and a great summer read. If you like history mixed in with fiction, then 11/22/63 is a great choice.

Also, read the book before you watch the show if you can. It’s so much richer and more interesting. Besides that, I am seriously bummed out that they really lessen the impact Harry’s life had on Jake. For pete’s sake, Harry is the entire reason Jake goes back! Harry is the reason Jake gives up years of his life to try and stop Kennedy’s assassination. And yet, Harry is barely a footnote in the show. To me, that was an opportunity lost to really showcase the acting Franco can do and how poignant the story really is.


Pick up your copy of 11/22/63 online or borrow one from your local library!

What do you think? Would you change the past if you could? Why or why not? What would you change? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Is Body Positive Really Positive?

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I see things all the time regarding the “body positive” movement and about fat shaming and skinny shaming and all that. As a woman, as a human, I have struggled with my own self-confidence and self-acceptance pretty much as long as I can remember. There have rarely been times when I feel super confident about how I look and what people think about me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a better grasp on it, but it still haunts me.

Some of you may know that last year I had Gastric Bypass Surgery to help me lose a substantial amount of weight. Since March of 2015 I have lost about 140 pounds and am still trying to lose another 10-15 pounds to get to my goal weight, therefore I feel that I am in a place where I can talk about what it’s like to be overweight and to also be what is considered a “normal” weight and how frustrating it is to see people online mock those who exercise, mock those who don’t, make fun of overweight people, make fun of skinny people, blah, blah, blah. It goes on and on and on.

It’s no wonder that most of us have body image issues, there doesn’t appear to be any one image that appeals to everyone, so you know what I say to that? F*&k it. What society needs to learn, what so many of us need to learn, is that your body is beautiful. Your choices are yours to make, and unless you are self-harming, you are just perfect.

Why Being Body Positive Kind Of Stinks

I’m really tired of seeing meme’s, gifs, videos, etc of women basically shaming other women for how they choose to live their lives. You want to exercise and eat healthy? Great! Good for you! You want to not do either of those things? Great! Good for you! You know why? Because it is YOUR body and therefore, YOUR choice. Our choices define who we are in the world, our choices make us who we are. What other people think of you is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of life and what matters most is that you love yourself. Of course, being 6 feet tall and 90 pounds is not so healthy, so is being 6 feet tall and 500 pounds. Our bodies are made to carry a certain amount of weight and that varies from frame to frame, but if you can move around and feel good and do the things you love to do, then I’m happy for you and I think you’re awesome.

Our differences make us great.
Our differences make us great.

What I don’t think is awesome is men and women who think that being overweight is “disgusting” or “shameful” or, and this is my biggest pet peeve, that if you are overweight you are lazy. Yes, that is sometimes true, there are people who are overweight and they are also lazy, but there are also overweight people who make an effort to eat well, exercise and they still can’t lose weight because they simply aren’t knowledgeable about how to do it correctly or, if you’re like me, you are a food addict. You cannot help yourself because you are ADDICTED to food. Yeah, food addiction isn’t as well known or perhaps as interesting as alcohol or drug addiction, but it can destroy lives. It can kill, and it does kill. It’s serious and needs to be taken seriously.

We need to stop looking at those that are obese and think that they are simply lazy. There’s a lot that goes into that weight gain: genetics, depression, stress, lack of self-esteem, etc. It’s more than just fat, it’s a security blanket that keeps us safe.

When I see women (or men) who are overweight and singing the praises of body positivity I am always torn. On one hand I think, yes! Be proud of who you are! Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t amazing. On the other hand I think, you are overweight and your body does not like that, your joints don’t like that, your internal organs don’t like that. But I am not a doctor, nor am I here to judge your choices.

Honestly, I want people to be proud of who they are. I want people to look in the mirror and think, I love myself. I didn’t feel that way about myself for a VERY long time so I chose surgery. I chose to change my stomach size so that I could eat less, it was a tool in a very big toolkit that has saved my life. I also changed what I ate, how much I exercised and more important than anything else, I changed my relationship with both myself and with food. It’s not the crutch I lean on when I’m sad or stressed. It’s something I have to have in order to nourish this body as well as I am now able to enjoy, to savor the food. Not to just shovel into my face mindlessly.

A Feminist Bikini Body

I recently saw this video posted by Bustle.com and I am confused by it, again, on one hand I see their point, any BODY can be a bikini body, but just what are they saying here?

I watched this video and thought, hmmm, they’re kind of making fun of people who exercise in that they seem to be saying that if you exercise, you are trying to attain the status quo beach body and not the beach body you have. I have to strongly disagree with that. As a person who exercises every day (something I never thought I’d say) I don’t do it because the world thinks I need to look a certain way, I do it because it FEELS GOOD, it makes me feel strong and powerful and sexy and more than anything else, I feel darn proud of myself for being able to run/walk (aka wagging) 7-8 miles a day. It feels good when I lift weights and I can do that extra bicep curl or add more weight. It feels amazing that I can do yoga comfortably now. I didn’t lose weight to please the patriarchal societal ideal of what beauty is, I did it for me, for my health. To have that mocked so openly is frustrating and why I think the body positive movement is so flawed.

Also, why is this specifically “feminist”? Because it’s women? Because it’s supposedly empowering? Labeling something as feminist simply because it seems “radical” is a waste of time in my mind. I don’t go around saying, this is my feminist point of view (with the exception of this blog). I don’t say, “This is a feminist reading a book”, or, “This is the way a feminist takes a pee.” I simply do my thing, and if things get all feminist-y then so be it.

Why do we have to poop on one side of things in order to lift up the other? Why, as humans, do we have to put someone down to make someone else feel better? I say this as someone who is guilty of doing this. I say this as someone who was once 343 pounds and who mocked skinny people, who scoffed at those who could lift weights and jog, because I was sad I couldn’t. I was sad that I was overweight and felt trapped in my own body. Now, I’m not saying these women feel that way, I’m not even saying every overweight person feels that way, I’m saying that we can lift each other up without putting others down. Let’s try that for a change and see what kind of world that brings us to.

I’ll start:

You look beautiful today and I hope that you feel good in the skin you are in because it’s amazing and I am quite sure that the brain inside that head is amazing too.  You are more than what you look like and you are more than what you think. Those are just parts, you are a whole, complete person with dreams and power and kindness within you. I am proud of that. 

Now you go…

Just in case you've forgotten...
Just in case you’ve forgotten…
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The Female Perspective: What Is Civil War?

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


If you’re like me and you love superhero’s but haven’t fully delved into all the comics then you might also be a bit confused by the story of Captain America: Civil War. I’ve been asked a couple times what “side” I’m on and I have found myself struggling with an answer. When I did some research around the books, I realized that the answer is hard. It’s not as simple as picking one side and sitting comfortably with it. The sides of anti and pro-superhero registration are fraught with wrong and right. Good and bad.

portrait_incredible

The Beginning

Civil War starts simply enough (as all wars do, right?). After a series of events that cause world-wide damage there are those who seek to register all people with powers in order to keep them in check. To make sure that they receive proper training with their powers and how to fight in a more urban setting so as to minimize casualties. Understandably there are heroes who are for and against such registration and the sides begin to form. At the head of each side is Captain American (on the anti-registration side) and Iron Man (on the pro-registration side).

Iron Man, with Mr. Fantastic and Hank Pym, argued that the changing political landscape meant that resisting the law was pointless, and that it is reasonable for heroes to have proper training and oversight, whereas Captain America, alongside Luke Cage and Falcon argued that heroes required secrecy in order to protect aspects of their ‘normal’ life, such as spouses and children, and to allow them to act in whatever means are needed against threats which the ordinary emergency services couldn’t cope with.  – Wikipedia

The War

Once the war began it seems as if it was fairly brutal in terms of backstabbing and subterfuge on both sides. You can learn more about it on the Wikipedia page I linked to above, but it appears that in the comics Captain American was eventually captured when it became apparent that not surrendering would cause more damage and loss of life and he was imprisoned by Iron Man and his cohorts in the Negative Zone.

It's super sad when your friends start fighting...
It’s super sad when your friends start fighting…

What Side Are You On?

It’s not easy for me to pick a side, on one hand I see what the pro-registration movement is trying to say. They want people with powers to be in control, not rampaging out in the world destroying property and accidentally killing those they are sworn to protect. On the other hand, it seems extremely discriminatory to make all those with powers register, it also seems like a lame attempt to try and control people who are ultimately uncontrollable. People with powers are scary to those of us without them because we cannot control them even if we do know they exist. Besides that, having a registry like that puts those that love and live with these heroes at risk for capture or worse.

It’s a tricky question and one that is extremely poignant in our politically hyper-charged climate right now. How do we pick a side? How do we make a choice when we have no idea what the repercussions of that choice will be until they actually occur? Do we force people to register, to be known, when being unknown is part of what keeps people safe? Do we let them run rampant, doing whatever they want without any consequences for their actions?

I definitely have to think on this one…It’s not so easy as, “hey I love Iron Man, let me choose him!” In truth, I do love Iron Man, but his lack of a moral compass and his insistence that the is always right make him extremely dangerous. One man does not know it all. On the other hand, Captain America is super cool and good and extremely moral, but he was frozen in ice for a few hundred years and therefore, does he really understand the current world and climate? It’s definitely a tough choice for me…

If you’re curious about what side I choose, check out the Trailer Snark blog this Thursday! I will reveal my choice then!

In the meantime…

What Side Are YOU On?

Marvel-Civil-War-alternate-poster

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The Female Perspective: Who You Gonna Call?

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


If you’re answer to the title of this blog was, GHOSTBUSTERS! Than you’re my kind of people. Though today I am going to talk about the “reboot” (good lord I detest that word these days) with the all female cast that stars comedy powerhouses Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. I am SUPER excited about this movie. Even more so now that the trailer has come out and shown us that yeah, this movie could potentially be awesome.

I am a huge fan of the original films (even though the 2nd one wasn’t great, it was still the Ghostbusters so I give it some slack), I even remember going to see the first film in the theater and being scared silly by that ghost in the library at the start. I loved the comedy, the silliness and was only slightly confused (I was a kid) by that scene in the ghost montage with Dan Akroyd and the pants unzipping … That part mystified me until I was much older and “wiser”. The original Ghostbusters film is a classic film, one that many feel is “untouchable” in this world of remake after remake.

ghostbusters2016
I would call these ladies if I had ghosts giving my trouble

The fact is, to try and improve on the Ghostbusters original film is pointless, so to cast a group of men to fill the shoes of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddmore is lacking in creativity. The idea of an all-female cast is appealing to me because I used to want to be a Ghostbuster when I kid so this is a serious case of wish fulfillment happening, I admit it. Also, as a woman, it’s really fun to see women in the lead of so many films these days. This is just cool because now little girls can see themselves in the shoes of the “Busters” and see them kicking some otherworldly butt!

I know the all female cast is irritating to many folks and it mystifies me. Is it simply the idea of a reboot that has them annoyed or is it because it’s women? I mean, if it was an all male cast, would people be as up in arms? I seriously wonder about that one. I really hate how in this day and age, women in lead roles once held by men are found to be inferior. The fact is, the women in this film have proven their comedic chops time and time again. So what’s the issue here? Why can’t women be in roles that men held? Why are we still stuck in a world where feminism and female-led casting are held in such low regard?

These are questions I ponder time and time again and I have no good, solid answer for them that doesn’t seriously bum me out.

Thor as the god of paperwork!
Thor as the god of paperwork!

Honestly, you cannot go wrong with this cast. Melissa McCarthy makes me laugh when she does sneezes and Kristen Wiig … Jeez Louise, talk about a huge comedic talent. Add  to that the lesser known but just as funny Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones and I think you have a winner here. I also LOVE that Chris Hemsworth is playing their secretary in a great flipping of the roles. Hemsworth was great in his small role in the recent Vacation so I am pretty certain he has the comedic chops to pull off being around all these strong women.

Ghostbusters-2016

I know there has been a lot of talk about how this is not needed and blah, blah, blah and I just want to make the point, what movie is ever really needed?

The idea behind entertainment is that it (you guessed it) entertains us, makes us laugh, cry, think, get angry, etc. Some films are simply there for us to avoid real life for a little while. If something doesn’t appeal to you, don’t watch it. Watch something else, but please, for the love of all that is holy, stop complaining as if you have some choice in the matter. This movie is happening and I, for one, am pretty happy about it.

If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to enjoy the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters film.

Ahhh this trailer makes me so HAPPY! The music, the effects, the jokes…It seems like everything I ever loved about the original film is making a fun appearance here and I have high hopes that any one (or all 3) of the living, original Ghostbusters make an appearance in this film, that would be the icing on an already pretty darn exciting ghost-like cake.

So tell me, are you gonna call these Ghostbusters to save the day or are you going to skip it and fend for yourself? Sound off in the comments!