Friday News: VidCon’s science stars, taking a closer look at comics, and Beloit’s Mindset List
YouTube’s Rock Stars of Science Make a Splash at VidCon – Given the sexual assault scandals associated with VidCon, I was pleasantly surprised by the success of science bloggers and their popularity at VidCon. I would have been pretty excited to listen to Emily Graslie myself.
With tens of millions of views per video and hundreds of millions of views overall, these science YouTubers have reached more young people than Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson combined. By blending humor with their personal lives and irreverent style, these online identities are popularizing science in new ways. They are also playing an increasing role in advancing science literacy, combating the misappropriation of science, motivating young people and influencing informed public policy discussions.
With online video on track to make up 80 percent of Internet traffic by 2020, the influence of these personalities will grow ever stronger. So who are these science rock stars? Here are some of the top creators featured at the sixth annual VidCon. –Scientific American
What Our Failure to Cover Attack on Titan Says About the Comics Industry – A thoughtful essay on the way that those comics often covered most prominently and broadly by various blogs and media outlets are not always those that sell best or are most popular among readers. There are some similarities (and differences) here to the discussions around diversity in Romance, especially in regard to what is defined as “mainstream,” and how those definitions tend to marginalize or “otherize” content that is perceived to be outside that narrow definition.
Two parallel mainstreams seem to have developed. One mainstream includes Marvel, DC (and very soon Image) and the other entails books that actually dominate the sales charts; in other words, the comics considered mainstream by comic readers and comics considered mainstream by statistics. This dissonance is best illustrated thus: much of the general public still thinks comics are for kids (which is why every mainstream publication has published a “Comics aren’t just for kids!” headline at some point); primarily, comics reading circles maintain that the medium is designed for adults—and not kids, which is how you get a DC comic where Frankenstein sews Black Canary’s head to his chest. . .
Ironically, Marvel’s own Ms. Marvel presents a perfect example of this scenario: the ongoing title remains one of Marvel’s most successful series, but its success is still qualified and written off, because it’s just “placating a vocal minority at the expense of the rest of the paying audience.” Another prominent example is how The Walking Dead #100 sales were qualified—it sold nearly 400,000 copies, and the series’ collections sell consistently well in bookstores and online, but it’s still an “indie” book despite evidence to the contrary. Book after book continues to regularly dwarf the sales of Marvel and DC output—some even casting a shadow on the historic sales of Star Wars #1—but their success is overlooked. Regardless of how many units are sold, Marvel and DC are mainstream and everything else is “other.” –Paste Magazine
It’s time to kill ‘The Killing Joke’ – Given the discussion yesterday about the Jack the Ripper museum and the objectification of women’s victimized bodies, this post on “The Killing Joke,” the Batman story that gives birth to the Joker and features the assault of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is timely. As Donna Dickens points out, one of the areas of fascination with the story is whether Batgirl was raped, which, Dickens argues, is “beside the point,” because “[h]er pain and her naked body was used to shock and titillate the reader, to drive home how deranged the Joker really was without giving Batgirl a chance to fight back or even have a shred of agency.” A comment by Siddhant Adlakha during the ensuing discussion builds on Dickens’ argument:
Textually, Barbara Gordon’s function in The Killing Joke is that of a plot-point. Her father’s arc and his subsequent anguish are most certainly interesting parts of the story, but Barbara’s entire role is that of a victim – not a victim in the narrative sense (she is, but bear with me), but a victim in terms of how she’s treated by the text and its point of view. Her victimization is not contextualized as hers. She experiences it, but the story doesn’t allow us any insight into that experience. Granted, that’s not what The Killing Joke is about, but what happens in the process is that the experience of victimization (not literal, but from a story standpoint) falls on the shoulders of Jim Gordon. A father would most certainly be traumatized by this (though not nearly as much as an actual victim, which I don’t think anyone is arguing), but in focusing primarily on his experience, it renders hers secondary, treating her sexual assault as something that holds weight only for the male characters around her. Is this a problem in and of itself? Well, yes and no, but The Killing Joke is not something that exists in vacuum.–Hit Fix
THE MINDSET LIST -Given the popularity of New Adult Romance, and in particular stories set on college campuses or about college-aged protagonists, here’s a great list that Beloit College puts out every year – The Mindset List – that gives some historical and cultural context about each year’s entering freshman class (assuming the students are of traditional college age). The 55-item list is very well known in the higher ed community, and although the new list is not yet out, the 2018 list (for the 2014 entering class) is a lot of fun to peruse, especially if you’re a wee bit older than 18 or 19. And if you’re writing characters that age, it could be helpful, as well.
For students entering college this fall in the Class of 2018…
1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.
2. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.
3. Meds have always been an option.
4. When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon.
5. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.” –Beloit College
I think describing The Killing Joke as giving birth to the Joker is a bit odd. He’d been for 48 years when it was published.
I’m significantly older than the class of 2018 and I don’t associate wire-rimmed glasses with John Lennon either. He’s a pretty outdated reference for them to use there.
Though I think the Killing Joke completely disregards Barbara’s agency, I really admire where writers took the character afterwards. Dealing with her injury and the fact it wasn’t even about her, exploring her power as a disabled superhero, building dynamics with other female characters who’ve been mistreated by writers in the same way… And though I like the new twenty-something batgirl and her world, wiping all of that out (while keeping the Killing Joke in continuity!) just seems like a backwards step.
Oh, I like that mindset list! Every so often it occurs to me that my nieces and nephews are growing up in an age that has always had smartphones (nevermind cell phones), Netflix, and Youtube — and have no idea why icons like “save” is an old disc, “call” is a phone handset, and “video” is a TV-studio or oldschool video camera.