Two announcements and two links

First the announcements:

All Pegasus Pulp e-books are now available in various formats at DriveThruFiction. Check them out, particularly if you’re into RPGs.

Pegasus Pulp fantasy books are now also listed at Paranormal Indies.

And now the links:

At Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s blog, Sarah Hendrix has a guest post about the different portrayals of creatures such as werewolves and vampires in traditional horror, where they are depicted as pure bloodthirsty monsters, and urban fantasy, where the portrayals are a lot more nuanced and range from romantic lead to villain.

Her observations match my own theory (to be expounded at length in my PhD thesis) that the portrayal of former “monsters” in fantastic literature has become more human, because othering is no longer acceptable in large parts of society and that includes fictional monsters who became victims of circumstance, sympathetic characters and eventually romantic figures. And of course, supernatural beings make excellent metaphors for marginalized groups of any kind. Nor is it any surprise that the current trend for humanizing supernatural beings formerly viewed as monsters has its roots in the 1960s and 1970s, the time of the great civil rights movements.

At the Guardian, Grace Dent complains about the sexist undertones of glamourous retro shows set at the uncool end of the sixties such as the new show Pan Am and “quality TV” favourite Mad Men. I blogged about this trendy retro sexism and my issues with it before.

However, it seems that those Mad Men copycats are not popular with US viewers, because The Playboy Club has been canceled after only three episodes, while Pam Am is on the ropes and probably won’t survive the season. Though oddly enough, the Pan Am show seems to be doing well abroad, at least in those countries where it’s broadcast.

The Playboy Club cancellation is blamed on one of those religiously motivated watchdog group crusading for what they consider clean television. But was the show really just canceled because fundamentalist nutters feared it might contain sex or because it was genuinely bad?

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6 Responses to Two announcements and two links

  1. What makes every religiously motivated watchdog group a fundamentalist nutjob? Seems unfair to me.

    Do appreciate the signal boost for Sarah’s post though.

    • Cora says:

      Here in Germany, hardly anyone bats an eyelash about nudity or sexual content (or swearing for that matter) on TV, unless it’s really extreme. So the extreme aversion to mild nudity or swearing among some Americans seems very strange to me. Besides, the show in question was set in a Playboy Club, which were neither brothels nor were the women nude, and was broadcast on a regular network, so there’s little chance that there would be anything really risqué in there. And I’m not wild on the show itself because of the problematic depiction of women in most of those retro shows, I still believe it should get canceled because it’s just bad and no one is watching rather than because a watchdog group considers it immoral.

      I’m not a fan of any group imposing its moral standards on other people’s entertainment and this includes the German anti-media-violence crusaders who complained about the “extreme violence” of Porky Pig in the 1970s or The Fall Guy in the 1980s and are after the likes of CSI or Criminal Minds now. I was probably out of line calling this group nutjobs, though considering they appear to hate everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Huh?) to Skins (okay, so that’s obviously not for everyone) I would still call them fundamentalists.

      And for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed the post by Sarah Hendrix, because it jibes with a lot of my own theories regarding the urban fantasy genre.

  2. my own theory (to be expounded at length in my PhD thesis) that the portrayal of former “monsters” in fantastic literature has become more human, because othering is no longer acceptable in large parts of society and that includes fictional monsters who became victims of circumstance, sympathetic characters and eventually romantic figures.

    I just saw a review of a book in a YA werewolf series which maybe runs counter to the general trend, so I thought you might be interested in it as a counter-example.

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for the pointer, Laura.

      The older werewolf/vampire/demon etc.. as monster approach still exists, mostly in the horror genre, and some of it is quite popular, e.g. 30 Days of Night which features vampires as the purely monstrous, predatory other. But this older dynamic is quite uncommon in urban fantasy and paranormal YA. What makes this even more unusual is that Bree Despain got popular writing YA paranormal romance.

  3. Sabrina says:

    It wasn’t just the religious fundamentalists gunning for Playboy Club. Gloria Steinam and other feminists didn’t like it either. Steinam actually went on record encouraging the boycott of the Playboy Club. Not politically correct enough for her, I guess. I tuned it the show. It wasn’t that bad, but probably not ready for network TV. I would’ve done better on cable. As for Pan Am, I truly don’t understand why some people are so up in arms about it. Ms. Dent’s article was the most ridiculous whine-fest I had ever read, and it was clear she had a bias against flight attendants. Maybe that’s the trouble … too many snobs who think the only women who should be shown on TV are those that are ‘successful’ businesswomen, doctors, lawyers, police, etc. They find women in traditional female jobs and roles an embarrassment for some reason, and it’s just stupid. They need to lighten up a little. Pan Am is an escape, and isn’t that what the point of television is? entertainment and escape, not more relentless negativity posing as ‘reality?” At any rate, I like the Pan Am show and I hope it airs for a long, long time.

    • Cora says:

      I’m not sure if the bias against Pan Am is a bias against flight attendants in general or just a bias against glorifying a time when flight attendants had to be young and beautiful (and at least by implication sexually available) and could get fired when they gained weight or got married or got pregnant or got older than 32. And that’s not a time anybody wants back, I think.

      If they had wanted to make a show about flight attendants, they could have just as easily made a contemporary set show about flight attendants. But instead the producers chose to set the show in the early 1960s, partly to cash in on the Mad Men phenomenon and very likely because they also wanted to evoke the “sexy stewardess” stereotype. It’s also very telling that a lot of discussions about Pan Am immediately lead to comments (usually from men) complaining that flight attendants aren’t beautiful and glamourous anymore, because the unions prevent the airlines from firing the older and uglier ones. Which I find rather disturbing, because it is not the job of a flight attendant to star in the erotic fantasies of certain passengers.

      Anyway, I’m glad you’re enjoying the show.

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