Tina K. Russell

February 3, 2009

Learning the Tropes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 7:15 pm

What Do You Mean, It’s Not Didactic? – Television Tropes & Idioms
Right, so you’re looking through the library and come across a copy of Moby Dick. First published in 1851? Wow, if it’s still being published after more than 150 years, it must be good! You’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel, so you eagerly check it out and head home.

Later, you open it up and discover there’s a preface. Might as well read that to get an idea of the context it was written, and so maybe enjoy it even more. You start reading, and naturally the preface begins by summarizing the plot… wait, why are you annoyed? You weren’t planning on reading it for the story, were you? This isn’t just literature, it’s a work of True Art! In the minds of Really Clever Literary Critics, the true worth of a book, movie, or TV series is not in telling an engrossing story with interesting characters, but in allowing people to write long, complex, deep essays on the true meaning of the subject matter, whatever they think that may be. Once the critics have done this sort of analysis, they can objectively declare these works as True Art: it doesn’t matter how much you personally like or dislike these works so long as you understand the deeper meaning behind them. Only ignorant fools don’t understand. Such an attitude may be expressed in several ways:

You can even get away with Completely Missing The Point if you’re a Really Serious Critic who wants to reveal all sorts of Family Unfriendly Aesops inside a work, whether or not they have anything to do with the actual characters or plot. Goodness forbid that the author(s) wanted you to do so. How long will it be before high school/college students are forced to write long-winded essays about the philosophical and socio-religious undertones of Harry Potter? (Answer: Already happened.)

Note that having the plot given away becomes less and less of an issue the older the subject is. Most people who haven’t read, for example, Moby Dick will still be familiar with key plot points due to Popcultural Osmosis. See It Was His Sled.

See also True Art Is Angsty, True Art Is Incomprehensible.

Good God, this website is brilliant! It’s already sucked away hours of my life. It’s a complete listing of clichés that have appeared in (despite the site’s title) every fictional work, ever. All are named, identified, and catalogued. It feels like a certain consumer comeuppance. And, as such tropes are not necessarily bad (as the site eagerly points out), it’s like revealing that the emperor has no clothes—and hey, the emporer’s not that bad looking. He could be Mr. September on the Vainly Deceptive Heads of State swimsuit calendar. (I hope there’s a trope entry for what I just did, going too far on an allusion. You know, like instead of going out on a limb, you’ve staked out a tree for a week as part of an anti-logging public protest, only to find that the threatened tree you needed to protect is a couple meters over and already chopped down. It distracts from the text.)

December 22, 2008

Maddie and Meowth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:24 am

Awesomed By Comics: R.I.P. Maddie Blaustein
Maddie once told me the story of how she was inspired to fully transition from male to female (and to come out to her co-workers as transgender) by an episode of Pokemon. In the episode “Go West, Young Meowth” her character travels to Hollywood to make it big. There, Meowth falls in love with another Meowth, who spurns his advances. He decides to learn how to speak and to stand upright in order to impress her – but she rejects him for being a “freak.” Meowth was a human trapped in a Pokemon’s body.

That episode was extremely dear to me as a kid! I’m happy to know it was part of her story, her inspiration. We all have lessons to learn from Maddie, certainly.

Meowth was a lovable cat gangster with a gold coin charm on his head and a bad attitude. He’d follow up every Team Rocket “motto” with his signature “Meowth, that’s right!” He had boundless energy and an affinity for bad puns, and was often seen pulling the levers of the latest improbable Team Rocket contraption. For a sample of Maddie’s work on Meowth, see the catchy Meowth’s Party, a GameCube tech demo used as a special musical segment. Maddie, thanks for touching my childhood with your warmth and charm, and my adulthood with your intelligence and courage.

Dear Maddie

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:08 am

Life According To Maddie (According To Me)

Maddie Blaustein died this week. I… I don’t know what to say. She was an accomplished comics writer (I know she did Static, among others) and voice actress, having roles on Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and yes, some Sonic games. She was one of my heroes, and I always dreamed I’d write to her and, because we’re both transsexual, she’d feel a certain kinship and write back, and I’d treasure her response forever.

There’s a huge hole in me now. I guess this is one of those lessons about how now is the best time to do anything, since you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But also, I just lost a woman I’ve had immense respect for, a woman who showed me what I can become. Rest in peace, Maddie… I already miss you deeply.

October 6, 2008

The crisis is spreading

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:48 pm

Formidable Opponent | Thursday October 2 | ColbertNation.com

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Is this financial crisis too complicated and weird for you to get your head around? You’re in luck, as the folksy, plain-spoken Stephen Colbert has put it in terms we can all understand. (It’s frighteningly accurate.)

(Dear WordPress: This video was maddeningly difficult to embed. Simply copying and pasting the Comedy Central “embed” code into the post’s raw HTML resulted in that code, and the player, being deleted whenever I saved the post, with no explanation. I had to use this roundabout way, learning about and signing up for a service I’ve never heard of… this service had a dumb name, it was service I hope I’ll never use again, it was a service with a counterintuitive and remarkably buggy interface. Oh, and I had to install a Firefox extension, at that; at least, that’s what WordPress’s instructions led me to believe. This is just about my worst “Web 2.0” experience ever… I just don’t feel privileged to sign up for a stupidly-named service that exists only to make my life difficult by getting in between me and what I want to do. Get your act together, WordPress… seriously.)

April 4, 2008

Awesome Transsexuals: Part 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 11:41 pm

Transgender Talk Show Host Tackles Taboos in India : NPR

India may be the home of the Kama Sutra, but for years frank talk about sex has been utterly taboo.

Lately, however, a transgender talk show host is changing the boundaries of dialogue. In recent episodes of her show Ippadikku Rose, Rose has tackled workplace harassment, divorce, premarital sex and the benefits of legalizing prostitution.

“I want to break the big myth that they have by being a highly educated, highly articulate, sociable transsexual person who is talking about social issues — their own concerns,” Rose says.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. This woman is my new hero!

By the way… I don’t know where it was, but I read another article about her a while back that mentioned that, going into adulthood, she had trouble learning to tie a sari correctly, because she never went through a “proper” girlhood and never learned how. I can’t tell you how deeply I identified with that… in America, of course, it’s other stuff, like learning how to use makeup and cook. I still feel sort of an inferiority complex around that, ’cause I never had a “normal” girlhood and never had girlfriends growing up.

But, life is what you make of it, right? God made me transsexual, and I have to live with that.

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