Supporting Stitch’s Media Mix

Stitch's Media Mix

WHO I AM AND WHAT I DO:

I’m Zina and I’ve been running Stitch’s Media Mix since March 2015. I created my site as a site for fandom and media criticism after being frustrated by my inability to find a safe, welcoming place where I could be a part of these conversations in the fandoms that I already belonged to. I love being in fandom and I love the act of being a fan, but I feel as though there’s room for improvement that is always being overlooked. I’d love to be able to change certain things about the overarching institution of fandom, but for now, I’ll settle for educating and snarking my way to change in my main fandoms.

Using my academic background (I have a BA in History and am getting my MA in Literature) and my experiences as a queer Black member of fandom, I try to tackle the media I consume and the fandom spaces I inhabit from a critical and faintly snarky angle. I use my website to host my writing: media critique, analysis of fandom tropes and trends, book reviews, and the occasional bit of original fiction.

My goal is to talk critically about the media we create and consume in order to urge fandom to become a more welcoming place for marginalized and underrepresented groups of people. I want everyone to be able to have a seat at the proverbial table without it being pulled from underneath them.

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Talk About A Super Let-Down in Supergirl Season 2

A Super Let-Down in Season 2

It’s not like Supergirl started as a really good example of diverse representation.

Sure, its first season was female-focused and had some great moments focusing on Kara’s relationships with other women, but they’re basically all white women. From the titular character on down, the women of Supergirl are almost all thin, conventionally attractive, straight, and white[1] women of a certain age.

Black characters James Olsen and J’onn  J’onnz didn’t get the development that wanted them to have and both characters’ respective arcs weren’t as satisfying as you’d expect considering that James was basically the male lead for season one and J’onn is one of Kara’s father figures.

And, in the first season, there were no other recurring characters of color of any gender, no queer characters “on the page”, and no disabled characters showing up on a recurring basis.

So, I mean… I wasn’t exactly expecting the second season to do better.

Especially not once it was set to move to The CW.

And for the most part, it doesn’t do better in its second season.

Sure, Supergirl’s second season tries and there are some good moments and excellent new characters, but I maintain that not only does the show not do enough to be empowering for more women and girls, it takes several steps backward on the empowerment front.

I got into Supergirl because at first glance it was this super empowering, lady-centric show. Somehow, I forgot that Agent Carter was promoted in the same way and wound up being super white and super White Feminist.

Supergirl, like Jessica Jones and Wonder Woman, is called a win for women and for feminism, but it’s not exactly empowering for every girl and young woman due to the lack of significant and consistent representation.

The only female character that looks even remotely like my small niece is only in seven episodes of her favorite show. I’m pretty sure that M’gann is the only Black female character with a significant recurring role in the series.

Other little girls don’t even get that.

At first, lesbian cop Maggie Sawyer (lowkey responsible for Alex having her own lesbian awakening) seems like a great character because she’s covering representation bases that the show hadn’t before. Her relationship with Alex was one of the highlights of the season and I know that her appearances made many queer little girls feel comfortable about being themselves.

However, the fact that Maggie is played by an Italian actress despite the character calling herself “non-white” onscreen and being portrayed as a Latina kind of… makes it hard to enjoy the representation.

Then there’s the fact that the show straight up dropped the ball on the chance to cast a disabled actress as Lena Luthor and bring in some necessary disability rep for the show. Yes, Lena doesn’t use a wheelchair in every single one of her appearances in the comics, but considering that Supergirl is playing fast and loose with canon… They should’ve gone for an actress that uses a wheelchair in her day to day life.

And I guess I could be proud of James for becoming the Guardian, but I mean… the show’s second season also destroyed his romantic relationship with Kara and reduced him to a background character. Really, the second season wrote over  the very relationship that it spent most of the first season trying to build up.

And why?

So that Chris Wood’s Mon-El can sweep Kara off her feet because he gets her? (No for real, there was an interview where one of the producers said that they broke up Kara/James because they were literally too good together.)

I watched the season finale with my nieces and I could feel the anger rise in my SOUL when Kara went off on her “Mon-el is the first person I’ve ever liked… loved” tangent at the end because of how the show basically tried to pretend that James and Kara’s everything, all that “will they won’t they” in the first season, was a fluke or a dream.

I’m still mad.

Moving on…

Sure M’gann/Miss Martian is “racebent” thanks to the casting of Black Filipina-American Sharon Leal and the villainous Roulette is played by biracial Tibetan actress Dichen Lachman, but they don’t get enough screentime to hit the spot when it comes to diverse representation.

Roulette only appears in two episodes and she’s a villain that sells other humans into slavery at one point so that’s not exactly great representation even if you squint.

Additionally, while the J’onn/M’gann relationship winds up being cute as hell, it also takes up a lot of M’gann’s characterization and motivation, constantly putting her into relation with J’onn and J’onn alone.

Both characters are important to their respective arcs, but they’re barely present in the entire season and they have little to no positive interaction with the main characters.

Let’s look at the math: Roulette is in two out of twenty-two episodes while M’gann is in seven. That’s about nine and thirty-one percent of the episodes respectively. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that the other new character Mon-el is in every single episode of the series’s second season and gets a meaty chunk of the main plot.

Straight up, Mon-el gets more screentime than basically every single one of the new characters in this second season. He gets way too much of the show’s narrative focus, too much of the dialogue, and way too much of Kara’s attention.

At one point as I was watching the epiode with Tiny T, I tweeted that whenever I looked up while my small niece was watching Supergirl, half of the time the only people onscreen were white women. The other half, Mon-el was center stage and hogging the screen like it was his show.

What kind of feminism is that exactly?


[1] I don’t want to place labels on people so I’m not labeling Jenna Dewan-Tatum as a WOC or not because I don’t know how she thinks of herself and her Lebanese heritage.

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The Great Big Anita Blake Reread – Circus of the Damned

Circus of the Damned

“He’s dead, Richard, a walking corpse. It doesn’t matter how pretty he is, or how compelling, he’s still dead. I don’t date corpses. A girl’s got to have some standards.”

— Anita on why she won’t give in to Jean-Claude

Circus of the Damned, the third novel in Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, has some serious shapeshifter issues.

Published in 1995, the book introduces Anita and the readers following along on her adventures to several of the powerful (and problematic) lycanthropes that populate St. Louis. After a series of murders committed by an unknown group of vampires sees Anita called in to work with the police force once again, the character is forced to deal with several different, stressful things.

To start, Anita has master vampire Jean-Claude panting after her and trying to do everything in his power to make her a proper human servant. Then, everyone who’s anyone is out trying to find out who the master of the city is. With two of Jean-Claude’s marks on her and a reputation for working in the master’s employ, Anita is basically the woman of the hour. Which leads to shenanigans and even more attempted murder.

Circus of the Damned isn’t terrible (and in fact was one of the better Anita Blake books), but it has some problems that keep it from being close to perfect. Continue reading

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[Book Review] Archangel’s Viper (Guild Hunter Series #10)

Archangel's Viper Cover

Title: Archangel’s Viper (Guild Hunter Series #10)
Author:
Nalini Singh (Twitter)
Rating:
Highly Recommended
Genre/Category:
Urban Fantasy, Angels and Demons, Vampires, Diverse Romance
Release Date:
September 26, 2017

Publisher: Berkley

Purchase Links: AMAZON | AMAZON (PRINT) | BARNES & NOBLE

Note: I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All of the views in this review are my own.

SYNOPSIS

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel…or human…

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman–it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself–because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

REVIEW

While it’s far from the end of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, Archangel’s Viper is almost too satisfying to be real.

Not only does Archangel’s Viper answer a bunch of the questions that the series has given readers since it began with 2009’s Angel’s Blood, but it also gives us a deeper look at characters that have been with us from the start of the series. Continue reading

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Dear Comic Fans, Guess What: You’re Still Not Handling Racebending and Diverse Casting Very Well!

Dear Comic Fans - 2017

We did this in 2015.

And in 2016.

Now it’s 2017 and I’ve got at least four different posts on racebending under my belt because nerds still don’t know how to behave.

This is an ongoing project looking at the continuing state of fandom’s reaction to  racebending following my first piece on how badly comic fans respond to racebending in the works that they love and three years in,  people are still cutting up about racebending while claiming not to be racist.

They’re not racist, they claim in comment sections across the internet, but the idea of Black women being cast as aliens, goddesses, and the iconic love interest of the Fastest Man Alive, still sends them into literal conniptions. They assume that racebending is Social Justice Gone Wild, not the best actor/actress being chosen for the role. At multiple points, I’ve seen them claim that white redheads are being erased from popular culture.

Of course, these same people screaming about authenticity and sticking to the source material stay silent in the face of whitewashing (as in the case of Deadpool actor Ed Skrein initially being tapped to play a Japanese character in the upcoming Hellboy remake). Continue reading

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[Series Squee] Angel Sanctuary

With “Series Squee” I’m trying to do something new (that can be regular content) by sharing the love for some of my favorite series so that y’all could get a better look at what I like and why I like it.

Note: in this first installment, I cover horror-fantasy manga Angel Sanctuary and I talk about the series’ weird fascination with incest and a character that is frequently portrayed as a transmisogynistic joke in the series.


angel sanctuary cover

Who wrote this series?

The mistress of horror manga herself: Kaori Yuki

What’s this series about?

I’m bad at describing series, but I’ll copy and paste the description from Wikipedia:

It focuses on Setsuna Mudo, a teenager who learns that he is the reincarnation of an angel who rebelled against Heaven. After the death of his sister, he travels through Hell and Heaven to reunite with her.

And Comixology:

With just seven days to find his beloved sister Sara in the afterlife, Setsuna goes to hell, only to find himself sitting in judgment of the very angel who condemned his soul to life after life of suffering. But the only way out of the pit is through it, and how much time can Setsuna waste on revenge? Meanwhile Heaven is falling apart as assassins move in to murder God’s highest ranking angels! Will there be a universe left when-and if-Setsuna gets out?

You can find the series for sale at Viz.com. Continue reading

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[Book Review] Ride The Storm (Cassandra Palmer #8)

Ride the Storm cover.png

Title: Ride the Storm (Cassandra Palmer #8)
Author: 
Karen Chance
Rating:
Your Cup of Tea Maybe?
Genre/Category: Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Witches, Time Travel, Psychics
Release Date: August 1, 2017

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Note: I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All of the views in this review are my own. Additionally, this review talks about sexual assault and a creepy relationship the main character has. There are MAJOR spoilers for the book’s romantic relationships.

SYNOPSIS

The New York Times bestselling author of Reap the Wind returns to the “fascinating world”* of Cassie Palmer.

Ever since being stuck with the job of pythia, the chief seer of the supernatural world, Cassie Palmer has been playing catch up. Catch up to the lifetime’s worth of training she missed being raised by a psychotic vampire instead of at the fabled pythian court. Catch up to the powerful, and sometimes seductive, forces trying to mold her to their will. It’s been a trial by fire that has left her more than a little burned.

But now she realizes that all that was the just the warm up for the real race. Ancient forces that once terrorized the world are trying to return, and Cassie is the only one who can stop them…

REVIEW

I’ve been reading Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series since I was a teeny tiny high schooler. I count it as a formative influence and one of the first (and best) urban fantasy series that I’ve ever read.

That’s why it’s been so hard for me to write this review for the latest book in the series Ride the Storm. Continue reading

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[Small Stitch Reviews] Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (Five Chapter Preview)

Children+Of+Blood+And+Bone Cover

The first five chapters of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone are the most stressful things that I’ve ever read. And believe me, they’re so worth it.

When I first heard of Adeyemi’s success and talent (the bidding war and the upcoming movie), people were comparing her to George R. R. Martin. I get it. I do. At this point, when faced with an epic fantasy series full to the brim with political intrigue and the kind of vivid writing that leaves you able to visualize the world, Martin’s works are kind of the “go-to” for that sort of thing.

But Adeyemi’s writing is next level amazing. (I’m not going to be like “She’s better than Martin” but like…)

In the five-chapter preview, we’re introduced to three very different characters in different roles of life. There’s Zélie, a diviner trained to fight against the guards that oppress her and others like her in the name of King Saran. Then, there’s King Saran’s two children: Amari, who comes face to face with ugliness in her family, and her brother Inan, a young man who appears to be torn between duty and desire.

All three of the POV characters introduced in the first five chapters are fascinating figures that I want to know more about. The world they live in is dark and distressing, but even in these five chapters, I got the feeling that we’re going to see so much more unfold as the book (and subsequent series) goes on.

I think that the best thing about The Children of Blood and Bone is seeing multiple characters on the page that look like me and my family. Epic fantasy series aren’t exactly known for their stunning racial diversity and it’s been hard to get into the subgenre of fantasy considering it’s yet another one that I can’t picture myself in.

But I can with this book. I can visualize the characters and the setting they live in without having to jump through hoops like whoa. I know that when the movie comes out, it’ll be like Black Panther where I sob all over the place from the first trailer on (but better) because Black people – especially Black women – don’t get to be the Chosen One. We don’t get to save the day or have a prince (maybe) fall in love with us.

We deserve that.

We do.

And Adeyemi delivers in a big way.

You can check out the synopsis for Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone on her website along with the first few chapters of the novel. If you read the preview and like what you see, consider not only pre-ordering the book, but spreading the word!

 

 

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Luke Cage – Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll…

Note: This piece largely revolves around sexual racism and the sexual objectification of Black male bodies. There are references to sexual assault, descriptions of objectified Black bodies, and a link to an article on the “Brute Caricature” that includes images of lynchings.


Looks Like a Cinnamon Roll - Luke Cage (1).png

Fandom seems to think that Luke Cage “Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll”.

To them, Luke may read as a threat, “but is actually a cinnamon roll” because they see that he has tender and sweet moments throughout his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, fandom sanitizes his character so that it can fit this super narrow archetype about what he should be – all while assuming that he was a threat to begin with.

I’m assuming that most, if not all, of the nuance written into his characterization in Luke Cage just went right over their collective heads because a huge chunk of Luke’s arc in his solo series revolves around him trying to figure out how to effectively use his body (rather than having other people use it).

At several points, the series actually addresses Black masculinity and how Black men are inherently seen as violent threats just by existing. And yes, Luke is one of the heavy hitters of the MCU, but he doesn’t want to hurt people: he’s just constantly backed into positions where he has to use his strength to hurt people in order to protect the people in his life.

I’m also assuming that the people who look at Mike Colter and immediately go “wow, this guy looks like he can kill me” haven’t watched the news in a while to see what many killers these days look like. They also have zero common sense because Mike Colter hardly looks like he could hurt a fly.

Saying that physically powerful Black characters such as Luke Cage and American Gods‘ Shadow Moon (played by biracial Black actor Ricky Whittle) “look like they could kill you” prior to calling them cinnamon rolls seems harmless and endearing, but can be linked back to the fact that their bigness and their Blackness are what cause white audiences to view them as threats in the first place.

It’s only after these characters prove their value and their softness (usually in a way that appeals to whiteness), that they’re revered for cinnamon roll status.

But it’s rather clear why fandom does this. Continue reading

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[Stitch Elsewhere] “Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth” Review @ Strange Horizons

Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth

To the gods and ghouls that he cooks for, Rupert Wong is little more than a mouthy piece of meat. At best, the titular character of Cassandra Khaw’s gloriously gory series hardly registers as anything more than an annoyance. At worst, he’s viewed as a tool to be used up, until he can only serve as fuel and food for divinity.

Part of Abaddon Books’s shared “Gods and Monsters” universe, the sequel to Khaw’s 2015 novella Rupert Wong: Cannibal ChefRupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth plucks main-character Rupert Wong from the familiarity of his life in Kuala Lumpur, dropping him headfirst into a conflict between some heavy hitters of the Greek pantheon and members of a mysterious organization known as Vanquis. Persona non grata in his hometown due to events in the previous book that lead members of his own pantheon to view him as a traitor, Rupert is removed from everything that is familiar and is transplanted, rather abruptly, to a dreary London neighborhood that seems downright lousy with Greek gods and figures from other European mythologies.

There are two huge things that Cassandra Khaw does in Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth that make the book—and the characters that inhabit it—too interesting to walk away from. First, there’s what drew me to Khaw’s writing in the first place: how she writes about flesh and food in a way that makes reading about the go-to nourishment of ghouls and gods a chilling, but captivating experience. Then there’s the way that Khaw writes the remains of the Greek pantheon struggling to gain a foothold in a world that has largely written them off as obsolete—and whose new gods are far less open to sharing.

If you’ve been paying attention to me at any point over the past year, you probably noticed that I’m a bit… fixated on cannibalism in fiction. From Tokyo Ghoul to Hannibal to an actual non-fiction book about how very natural cannibalism is, I’ve been hip deep in media and non-fiction centering the subject. It’s been great and gross!

Back in 2015, author Cassandra Khaw (who happens to be one of my pals on top of being a fantastic writer)  wrote a novella called Rupert Wong Cannibal Chef and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. And when the sequel came out this year, well… I just had to review it. When else would I get to talk about one of my favorite writers’s work, cannibalism, and Greek mythology?

Head on over to Strange Horizons to read my review of Cassandra Khaw’s gloriously gory Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth today!

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