Yes, the post title is search engine bait.
Meanwhile, the unseasonably hot weather has made me slow and sluggish and teaching an afternoon class of fifth graders that are tiring under the best of circumstances doesn’t really help.
I did my superheroes exercise with the fifth graders today, which is supposed to teach question words and reading comprehension and does so using characters most kids already know (namely Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Hulk). I really wish Hollywood would make a blockbuster movie about a female superhero for once, because while there are plenty of great superheroines in the comics, the kids mainly know the characters from films and videogames and not from the source material. And in superhero films, female heroes mostly play a secondary role. At any rate, I doubt that any of my students would have been able to identify Catwoman or Black Widow or Elektra or Storm or Jean Grey or Rogue, even though they have all appeared in comic book movies.
During the resulting discussion, the question came up whether Batman was gay. Hmm, my students are certainly quicker about picking up on that aspect of the character than I was. Especially since the most recent portrayals of Batman don’t really suggest the gay angle as much as the 1960s TV series, which was my introduction to the character. Though The Dark Knight makes a lot more sense, if viewed with the premise that Batman is gay and in love with Harvey Dent rather than Rachel.
I also ended up giving a quick and age appropriate summary of the main point of Larry Niven’s famous essay Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex (basically: “There’s the theory that Superman could not have sex with a human woman at all, because he might accidentally kill her, and some guy called Larry Niven wrote an essay about it”), though this was mainly to shut up a student who thought it was very funny to add “And he has got a penis” to every single one of my lists of facts about the different characters. Another student was very concerned about how Superman would be able to have children or whether he would have to adopt.
Talking of comics, at iO9 Greg Rucka explains why and how he writes so many strong female characters.
Dave Farland a.k.a. Dave Wolverton has a good post on characterisation and how characters are defined both by their own self-image and by the image others have of them.
Cassandra Clare has a great post about rape culture and rape myths, based on the reactions she got to a sexual assault scene in one of her books. The reactions she gets to her gay characters and to mentioning condoms are really sad as well.
The nominees for the 2012 Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards have been announced. There’s a nice range of works and languages there.