Tag Archives: fantasy

Obligatory NY post

The last time I updated was in August? Yikes! :O My New Year’s resolution is to post no less than once a month. I have some ideas on posts about representation, but I’m lacking materials to review. Every year I set a goal to read a certain amount of books by the end of each year. I am displeased to say that I was unable to meet this goal for this year. Mainly, the books I were finding were not doing the job.

Kingdom of Little Wounds: Set in 1500’s Scandinavia, it is about a royal seamstress and a maid as they try to figure out the disease that is killing everyone. According to the author, it’s a fairy tale about syphilis. This is a YA novel, mind you. The book is not sanitized and goes into the sometimes graphic depictions of daily life, including disease and sexual assault. No lush banquets or flowing gowns or star-crossed romance here.

It was an ok (and somewhat unsettling) read until I got to the introduction of an African maid named Midi Norte. For some inexplicable reason, despite everyone around her speaking normally she sounded like a mammy stereotype.  Compared to The Miniaturist, which is set in the same region in the same period and also features an African servant, this book feels like it did not even bother trying. While Midi sounds like a character from a minstrel show (a 19th century invention) the servant in the Miniaturist is every bit as eloquent and well spoken as everyone else. After reading her intro chapter I returned the book. After reading reviews which talk about the graphic and unsettling scenes (including our two teen main characters getting sexually assaulted by adults) (repeatedly) I feel like I dodged a bullet.

Captive Prince #2: I know, I know, you’re probably wondering why I bothered in the first place when I gave the first book a lukewarm review. The first book was a quick read and I figured this would be the same. I only got halfway through before I stopped. The whole nature surrounding same sex couplings reeked of being juvenile. Maybe the whole taboo nature and crass language regarding sex appeals to some but it was groan-worthy at best. What is suppose to be titillating only left a bad taste in my mouth.

Daughter of the Blood: I was excited to read this, seeing many prominent novelists sing its praises. After one chapter I had to stop. Adulterous women, lecherous men assaulting servants, the “chosen one” being a pale blonde blue-eyed girl, they even named one of the few dark skinned characters “Saten de Diablo”. Really?? This book might have been groundbreaking in the late 90’s but nowadays it comes off as stale and terribly cliched.

Needless to say it’s easy to see where I lost motivation to find new books to read. It’s a new year and I’ve started myself off with Dorian Grey. I’m optimistic that I’ll find books that aren’t quite aggravating. My only requirement at this point is that if there are any poc that they’re not walking stereotypes or villains/barbaric/etc.

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FAE Magazine and the Disapearing POC Fairies: A Mystery

The Renaissance Faire was this weekend and I forgot about it so I was unable to attend. 😦 In lieu of that, a personal antidote: Earlier in the year I went through my collection of FAE Magazines for some fairy inspiration. It’s a British faerie lifestyle magazine with news, photo shoots, articles, astrology, all that fun stuff. I was disappointed that in the 6 issues I had there was only two brown faces, one in a screenshot from Game of Thrones and another in a promotional image from a Tinkerbell movie. I was baffled that a magazine from a country as diverse as England had no poc anywhere in their magazine.

After my “discovery” I politely asked them if they had any plans to include non-white models. In essence, they responded that they rely on submissions and don’t plan what skin tones the models have. In other words, they don’t go out their way to be inclusive or seek this material out. If you couldn’t guess it, I was underwhelmed and miffed by this response. I skipped buying that quarter’s issue.

Fast forward to present day, I stumbled upon the FAE Magazine published after I sent my question. Hoping they took what I said into consideration I scan the magazine. In the entire 50+ page magazine, I saw only one black woman with bonus plus-size model (another unrepresented group in the magazine), with three other thin white women. In a standard bikini photoshoot on a beach that wasn’t even fantasy themed. This is unacceptable and felt less than half-assed. Representation isn’t doing the bare minimum, checking it off like something on a to-do list, then moving on, which this felt like.

If women in generic corsets, Hot Topic tutus, and funky dreadfalls can make the cut, they most certainly can feature someone who’s skin is darker than “peach”. If they’re not receiving any poc submissions then they need to ask themselves why a magazine with worldwide circulation can only pull in lily white people, and realize the problem might be with them rather than their audience.

If in 2015 there can be black ballerinas on the cover of dance magazines and poc leads in fantasy media (Galavant, etc), then there most certainly can be a non-white fairy, even one with brown skin. Needless to say, they are no longer getting my $9.99 plus tax until I see some non-white models. If that bikini photoshoot is the best they can do, I’m not going to bother holding my breath.

EDIT: I went through the photos on their facebook account and in all their images I counted less than 10 non-white faces, including crowd scenes. Combined with the fact that Cornwall (the city this magazine is base in) sees tourists from around the world and even has a small poc population, this is disappointing. 10 non-white faces over the course of five years is unimpressive. There have been more posts with poc in the past few months, which is a start.

**Please note, I’m not ragging on the people who submit this type of content or are featured, but rather the magazine staff themselves since they’re the ones who sort through the submissions and approve what gets published.

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Magic box viewings

Alas, I keep forgetting to write up those reviews. Here are my thoughts on some historical related media I’ve been meaning to talk about.

American Horror Story, season 4: After much pestering from several people I finally caved and watched this season. I came in not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting it to be set in the 40’s, nor was I expecting the accuracy that I saw. I’m used to the half-hearted attempts at grasping at period aesthetics, with gowns that vaguely look Victorian or weak jazz to indicate the 20’s. Not so here, the research put into this show is top notch. Everything was spot on from the flashbacks to attitudes and even the circus performers themselves. Since viewing this I’ve started the third season and will work my way through the other seasons, so expect more on those at a later time. Expect me this fall, FX. 4/5

Game of Thrones, season 5: aka everyone’s Problematic Fave. I am so fed up with this show and yet here I am, waiting for the next season. At this point, I just want to see my girls find happiness. They’re treated so poorly and it’s very upsetting. Before anyone busts out the “b-but that’s how it was back then!!1!” excuse, this is fantasy. You can make your own rules and have these girls not be used as plot devices. If what I heard from book fans is true, a lot of these changes and omissions weren’t necessary. Representation was pitiful as always. In FIVE seasons the only Asian person seen was a former prostitute and seen for all of a couple minutes in one episode. Yikes. Not even going to talk about the black slavers, this show irritates me enough. Just give my girls a good ending and call it a day. 2/5

Penny Dreadful, season 1: A very fun and entertaining show, although culturally inaccurate at parts. Considering the amount of detail that goes into every scene and character (ex. Dr. Frankenstein’s creature being true to the book and not the movies) I feel this is intentional. I heard this anachronistic mix as done on purpose but I haven’t been able to verify since I don’t want to spoil the second season. 3.5/5

HTTYD Race to the Edge: Its set in the Viking era, it counts. Aside from a couple Norse gods being mentioned and some Celtic knots, there is virtually no accuracy here. You don’t watch this show for political warfare and accurate depictions of daily life, you watch for the dragons and action scenes. 😛 In all an entertaining season, although it would be nice to see some the girls interact with each other more. (rolling eyes at each other doesn’t count!) 3.5/5

I need to find another new historical show to enjoy during the summer. I’m watching lots of sci-fi but I need something a little lighter and possibly whimsical.

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Review: Captive Prince

Finals are finally over and I am free for the summer. I didn’t have time to read for pleasure this past quarter due to my Gothic Lit class. It was a very fun and enjoyable class but there wasn’t much room for pleasure reading between analyzing themes and gothic vs sentimental works.

The instant I turned in my final exam I got started on Captive Prince by C. S Pacat. I’ve heard a lot of praise for it and was eager to see what it was about. The basic premise is Damen, a warrior prince, is captured by his half-brother and sent off to be the slave to the prince of an enemy country. While here he plots his escape while navigating treacherous court life and the sadistic prince while keeping his true identity a secret. It sounds a little generic but there is plenty of political intrigue and a little romance.

I wanted to enjoy it since everyone raved about it but I had difficulties getting into it. My main issue was the portrayal of race. Specifically, the darker-skinned protagonist lusting after pale blonde people. Then there is the fact that he becomes the personal slave to the palest, blondest person in the book. If you didn’t guess by now this did not sit well with me. It didn’t help that his preference was brought up constantly. I read fantasy to see what could be, not for existing harmful values and ideologies to be impressed upon a place that would, theoretically, not have a concept about it. This book reminded me about all the issues I have with the fantasy genre. There also needs to be less “darker-skinned nation viewed as barbaric or backwards by paler nations” but that’s for another time.

Despite that the book was entertaining and a quick read. The plot was sound, characters varied. The world building was adequate enough, although the lack of explicit detail on things like clothing made it harder to imagine what the author had in mind. Calling an outfit simply “silks” doesn’t tell me much about an outfit other than the material its made of. In all, an okay read. 3/5

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Halloween Roundup

As the month of Halloween (aka October to casuals) has come to a close it is time for me to report my costume roundup. It is with much regret that after visiting three different thrift shops numerous times my historical and vintage haul is non-existent. The closest thing I saw was a fantasy/medieval dress that had part of a bustier sewn in and made of rather weird fabric. (front half detailed, back half plain and unremarkable) It looked way too costume-y and couldn’t bring myself to buy it. As if that wasn’t bad enough the costume selection overall was weak. Last year my store got a phenomenal selection of goods while this year barely inspired excitement. All was not lost, as I was able to purchase a couple of goods including a lovely gothic lolita dress.

In brighter news, the mini series Over the Garden Wall has premiered! Created by Pat McHale who has worked on Adventure Time and Flapjack, follows the adventures of two boys lost in the woods trying to get home. It sounds terribly tired but the series is anything but. There are a lot of historical elements present in the series, although somewhat anachronistic. it is visually appealing and plenty of nods to vintage animation. The entire series is highly entertaining, unnerving, and ultimately satisfying. I will be discussing the aforementioned historical elements after the series has aired, to avoid spoiling those who are just tuning in.

Now back to bed so I can rest.

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Review: Hocus Pocus

Goodness, the final week of Halloween (October for those who aren’t in the know) and I have been slacking on my scary movie viewing. The only movie I have watched so far was the cult classic Hocus Pocus, which is required viewing this time of year. It was every bit of fun and goofy as I remembered. There were lots of beautiful period costumes in the movie, including the first few minutes (a scene taking place in the late 1600’s), when Max (the protagonist) goes to his crush’s house, and the party where Max’s parents are. In the pictures below we see Valerie, Max’s crush, at her parent’s party.

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Here we see her in a lovely robe à la française, minus the ornate ruffles and bows. In the background we see all the party attendees in various rococo dress, compete with wigs. I can officially say that I’m envious that her parents “do this every year”. There were also many lovely period costumes in the other party scene, including some medieval-esque dresses, rococo, and some fairy tale dresses.

On a side note, I don’t know if it was just a movie thing or something Salem really does but those house decorations and party set ups were extremely lavish. Either they go all out or Martha Stewart is a-foot.

Not seen: the piles of sweets and goodies hidden behind the witch hat

Not seen: the piles of sweets and goodies hidden behind the witch hat

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