I spent some time yesterday debating with a colleague about the erotic (? for lack of a better word) depiction of Mary Jane in a new Marvel-sanctioned Spider Man figurine. There's no question that it's oversexed and even misogyistic but I think the point of debate (which has enflamed some corners of the blogosphere) is whether it works contextually within the world of comics. Comic book characters are already over-sexualized with their muscles and tight costumes. I would also argue that the comic figurine market is so narrow that it doesn't make sense to apply mainstream standards to it anyway. BUT, what I can't deny is that this specific rendering of MJ makes her look like a low-rent stripper, which she isn't. So why demean the character like this? And, more to the point of the people who object to the figurine, why would Marvel sanction such an image of their own character?
To be clear, I'm not arguing the bottom left corner of the unacceptable argument bingo card, that sexism is part of the genre, but rather that oversexed depictions are part of the genre. What's not on the bingo card is that male and female sexuality are apples and oranges, so the equality answer doesn't really work for me. NOTE: I think this is all safe for work, and might even pass the mother test (not embarrassed if your mother was sitting next to you when it came on the screen) but I don't think some of the images pass the bathroom test (leave it on your screen while you leave your desk for a few minutes leaving passers by to wonder what the heck you're looking at).
125 bucks for it is pretty obscene too, but again, the figurine market is a whole other animal.
Speaking of gender issues (and doesn't it seem like I do that a lot?), BlogHer is in Chicago this July.
I don't pay close enough attention to keep a running tally, but some bloggers cover the news closely when special privileges or considerations are given to Muslim groups. The impression is that Muslims are given special treatment to avoid offending them. Glenn suggested that special treatment was the result of fear that offended Muslims will commit violence and further pointed out that it's a dangerous precedent that could lead to fanatics from other religious groups (Christians for example) resorting to violence as well to garner similar respect. At least one Christian blogger took serious issue with that speculation, essentially arguing that Christianity is a religion of peace. No one ever needed to get a religion right in order to use it as an excuse to do something completely off the wall. The subject reminds me of something I read recently about how the "Left Behind" series was contributing to a change in how Jesus is portrayed from hippie to a more robust and assertive character -if not exactly war-like (sorry, no link, the search terms are just too common). The character of religious figures is not a static as we often think.
The Real Story of JPG Magazine is almost more like a gossip item than a real Web trend but it's a dramatic story of a couple who start a project that grows out of their control and eventually leaves them behind. The Metafilter reaction helps shape the story.
Speaking of photo drama, there's another story that's been developing of a photographer who found that her Flickr photos were being sold without her permission (and without sharing any of the money). She raised the alarm and as these things go, a mob formed to attack the offending company. As the mob became unruly, Flickr misunderstood the situation and cracked down on the photographer/victim. Naturally this only inflamed things further. You can click backward through all that if you're interested, but the part that's worth reviewing at this point is the Flickr co-founder who eventually got on the message board of "Flickr is censoring our photos and comments" and explained the whole thing took responsibility and apologized. Nice lesson. ADDING: Thomas Hawk has a longer summary with links and more to say.
Speaking of mobs becoming unruly, How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community - Introduces the terms "troll whisperer" and "disemvowelling."
Designing cities for people rather than cars - New anti-car urbanism is in some ways more exciting to me than environmentalism (even though they overlap) because it deals more with how we think about our surroundings than simply prescribing fixes to bad behavior.
The sane fringe candidate - He's a conservative named is John Cox. I read an excerpt from this article on a blog - the part about sneaking him into the debate with fake journalist credentials - and ended up reading the whole thing so I'm sharing it here.
The Fred Thompson response to Michael Moore's challenge to a debate on healthcare. (Moore had been criticized for going to Cuba, Moore came back with something about Thompson's Cuban cigars and a challenge to debate.)
I don't imagine myself playing with Scratch, a new elementary programming tool for kids, but I can see how kids would have fun playing with it and I can definitely see it being used as a model for interaction in a lot of situations. The video is quick and clear. I predict it's worth watching so when you come upon a similar interface you can say, "Oh yeah, this is sort of like Scratch."
Speaking of clear explanations, Your Guide to Micro-Blogging and Twitter
Speaking of Twitter, Jason Kottke gives us a "best guess" comparison of the rate of growth in Tweets versus blog posts during the Blogger boom.
The Top Ten Myths of Divorce - This isn't religious or "family values" propaganda, though it probably could be. Every one of them was news to me.
Speaking of religious propaganda, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is looking for marketing ideas.
I've never had to answer a riddle at a job interview but given that this entry has over 500 comments, I may not be in the majority on that.
Digg has a new animation (infomation?) called Digg Arc. Explanation here.
Two chat bot programs talk to each other. What makes it most clear that they're not human is that they don't go on and on about themselves.
Speaking of machines that speak well but don't understand what they're saying, How Google translates without understanding
Speaking of artificial intelligence and the math of intellect, "[F]ruit flies may have a spark of free will in their tiny brains... Their behavior seemed to match up with a mathematical algorithm called Levy's distribution." There's an algorithm that demonstrates free will?
Some of the UK's best-selling chocolate bars, such as Mars and Twix, will no longer be suitable for vegetarians. What's interesting about this to me is that I just got this in the mail:
I love Clicked. This came across my screen today.
The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a petition to change the "standard of identity" of chocolate sold in the US. Basically, chocolate manufacturers are lobbying for looser ingredient standards. They want to be able to use hydrogenated vegetable fats in place of cocoa butter, and milk substitutes in place of real milk, and still call their product "chocolate."
To find out how you can help go here. We only have until June 25th, so check it out soon!
I say let them call it "NOT chocolate" or "Chucklate".
I realize that your corporate masters may not want (or permit) you to link to this in which case I understand and forgive you.
We all have to earn a living.
I love the idea of "helping" chocolate. :)
Speaking of mail, Cityrag points us to an interesting blog by an aspiring paparazzo who describes what the market and competition is like. I can add that recently I happened to walk past a hotel in New York City where celebrities often stay and there was a huge crowd by the side door. I learned that they were waiting for Christina Aguilera to leave the hotel to go to a concert on Long Island. I hung around a bit taking pictures of the crowd and managed one of the back of her as she zipped to the limo. After posting the photos to Flickr I got a note from a German celebrity mag asking for permission to use my shots and offering $75-$375 depending on how many and what size they used. I was just playing around, but if I'd known I could get $375, I probably would have made a greater effort to stand on the other side of the limo to get a shot of her from the front. My point is, no wonder paparazzi are so numerous and so rabid. There's pretty serious and relatively easy money to be had there. (Though I said yes to the magazine, I haven't heard back. The shots are pretty worthless so that doesn't surprise me. Makes for a good story though.)
Speaking of big money for a whiff of celebrity, did you even know that Julia Roberts is the AOL spokesperson?
The New York City tattoo convention is coming this weekend. It's the tenth anniversary. I went to the first and second ones but a lot has changed in tattoo culture in ten years so it'll be interesting to see what's new. The reason I mention it is that I came upon an odd cluster of tattoo links recently:
- This is the worst tattoo ever and a good reason to just get the Yosemite Sam that's on the wall and call it a day.
- This story of a guy convincing a co-worker her Asian character tattoo actually says soy curd is funny. (See Hanzi Smatter for real-life non-joke examples of this story.)
- And it all called to mind that video from the other day (I linked to something else on the blog but you may have seen it) of using a Black & Decker power tool to remove a tattoo. (Not sure what to use to remove the subsequent scar, a chainsaw?)
Climate change: A guide for the perplexed - I can't imagine reading all of this but it looks like a handy reference guide.
I don't know how new this is but I love the idea of Google keystroke commands and the timeline could be immensely helpful.
50 matches is a neat idea. It only searches very specific social sites so the results you get are pre-approved by cool techie kids. Hmm... now that I've put it that way it doesn't sound so great. But it's definitely a good tool for when you're looking for a link and you know you saw it on one of those places but can't quite remember where or when.
Worst movie scenes ever. Hard to argue with these, although I think I've seen worse CGI. NOTE: One category is "most random line" and it's a vulgarity, which is what makes it so random but you don't want it playing out loud in your office cube.