I don’t know how much press the abdication of the Dutch Queen Beatrix in favour of her son Prince, now King Willem-Alexander has gotten in the English speaking world (the Guardian seemed to think Amanda Knox was more interesting, which is bloody depressing). But in honour of the former Queen Beatrix, here is the famous 1991 skit of German comedian Hape Kerkeling dressing up as Queen Beatrix and upsetting a real state visit. Twenty-two years later, what strikes me most about this skit is how relatively relaxed security was back in the early 1990s. Kerkeling was basically able to drive past a security cordon right into the courtyard of Schloss Bellevue, the residence of the German president, and walk into the foyer of the palace itself, less than half an hour before the real Queen was supposed to arrive. Anybody trying such a stunt today would be arrested or probably even shot. The real Beatrix reportedly found the whole skit very funny BTW.
And now for some links:
At A Dribble of Ink, Foz Meadows offers a great post about escapism, the politics of fiction and how problematic such escapist fantasies can be for minorities of all sorts who still get to play stereotyped roles and/or are erased altogether in other people’s escapist fantasies. This post exemplifies how I feel about all the times when every heroic Anglo-American character out there feels the need to fight Nazis, whether it makes sense in the context of the narrative or not (and frankly, it may make sense for Indiana Jones or Captain America or even Doctor Who, though I still hate The Empty Child, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for 21st century British council estate kids or the crew of the starship Enterprise), because everybody hates Nazis, right, and you can’t possibly offend anybody by having your heroes and heroines kick the shit out of them. And nobody ever thinks of the kid who just died a little more inside realizing that yet another of their childhood heroes would hate them merely due to their nationality. It’s not just me either, but Russians faced with every villainous Cold War Soviet general or KGB spy ever (BTW, the only person aside from me who ever hated The Empty Child was Russian), Asians faced with every yellow peril story ever, Arabs faced with every muslim fundamentalist terrorist character ever, Hispanics faced with every villainous Latino drug dealer or dictator ever, French people faced with every cowardly French arms dealer ever, Italians faced with every stereotyped mobster ever and so on. I don’t even exclude myself there. For while I try to be responsible and not portray any one group of people as irredeemable (unlike e.g. NCIS and NCIS LA, where every Asian character ever is revealed to be a villain at the end), I’ve probably still perpetuated harmful stereotypes and hurt someone somewhere.
Antje Schrupp offers her take on the debate about the pink Kinder Surprise Eggs and points out that the pink eggs are segregated not because of the girls (because girls and their parents don’t mind toy cars and the like, even though the girls would like pink fairy stuff as well), but because of the boys and their parents, for playing with or even being exposed to “girlish” toys like pink fairies is still anathema to many boys. I wrote about my impressions of the pink Kinder Surpise Eggs here.
Fantasy writer C.P.D. offers his appreciation of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Grey Mouser tales. The legacy of those stories lingers on in more recent fantasy works such as Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series or Simon R. Green’s Hawk & Fisher series.
British fantasy writer Paul Magrs lets the University of East Anglia know exactly what he thinks of them. During my own time at university, East Anglia was always known as the go-to address for creative writing in the UK. Since I took every creative writing class I could, I heard a lot about the University of East Anglia, its creative writing program and the illustrious writers teaching there. Our professors even invited some of them over. However, when I read the article, my first reaction was, “Wait a minute? Paul Magrs used to teach at the University of East Anglia? How come I didn’t know about that?” On the other hand, my creative writing teacher infamously asked “Who?”, when I told him excitedly that I had corresponded online with Michael Moorcock. So if he didn’t even know Moorcock, he sure as hell wouldn’t have known Paul Magrs.
At Anne R. Allen’s blog, Ruth Harris has an insightful article about using period details to write memorable fiction. Found via The Passive Voice.