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October 16, 1793 Let them eat Cake — Today in History

At first the people liked their new Queen-to-be, but the Royal Court was another story. A shark tank of grasping ambition, this crowd had promoted several Saxon Princesses for the match and called the Dauphine “The Austrian Woman”. She would come to be called far worse.

October 16, 1793 Let them eat Cake — Today in History

Here is a fascinating post about Marie Antoinette, a historical figure I always felt intensely sorry for.

Harry Osborn’s Comic Appearances: Amazing Spider-Man #34 – #38

Welcome back, true believers! Okay so the other day this happened in the spideycomicsverse and it reminded me to kick this little project back into gear.

So! Last post we met Harry for the very first time and he was, to be honest, incredibly meh. But only SO FAR! Because the man who would end up being the Big Bad of the Spiderverse is coming and Harry just so happens to be his son and heir.

But before any of that takes place, here’s ASM #34, in which Harry continues to be Flash Thompson’s rather uninteresting henchman.

In case you’re wondering who Mao Tse-Tung is, that would be Chairman Mao. In the year this comic was written, 1966, he started the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. So… uh… yeah.

Harry thinks Peter is a snob, which is kinda weird seeing as Harry is the son of a wealthy businessman and Peter is a broke orphan. You’d think it’d be the other way around. (I suppose he means intellectual snobbery.) Geez you’d never expect them to end up with one of the most enduring friendships in all Spider-Man media would you?

On to ASM #37 and this is the VERY FIRST TIME (I think) Norman Osborn is ever named. Humble beginnings and all that.

But first we meet Gwen’s Giant Hand.

Original Pre-Death Gwen is almost completely forgotten but she was hella cool. In amongst all the giggle-worthy Sixties slang you get the idea that geez it must really have sucked being a female science student in that era so no wonder she’s angry all the time.

Hereeeeee’s Norman!

And he’s a PRICK!

Even taking the very different approved fatherhood qualities of the ’60s into account Norman’s just a kinda a dick to his son here. Of course, we’ve barely scratched the surface of that yet, we have many issues and many increasingly disturbing modern-day retcons to go.

Now, in ASM #38 we’ve got Norman being more affable to his kid, and then dressing as the guy from Breaking Bad before Breaking Bad existed.

But this is primarily about Harry so what’s going on over at the college? Well, there’s a protest it seems.

This little scene remains a complete and utter mystery to me. What are they protesting about!? Based on the dialogue given to the student protestors Stan Lee does not seem to like them? For some reason? But there were SURE AS HELL things to protest about in the ’60s so this bit just comes off as really uncomfortable and Old Man Yells At Cloud.

(This is Lawrence Welk, by the way, and I don’t know what that insult is supposed to mean either.)

Man you sure can be clueless about a lot of history via comics! (No I’m not American.)

Anyway Harry in this issue is just a regular old weaselly coward, nothing’s changed there-

-but things are ABOUT TO! Stuff happens next issue which shaped ALL of Spider-Man comics to come!

a bad Harry Osborn update

I don’t read comics anymore because they are Very Expensive. However I do tend to google how my faves are doing every now and again and it turns out that a few days ago Harry went back to being a supervillain again.

(just not the Green Goblin this time. Also Norman is good or neutral now for some reason.)

So I’ve talked before about why Harry is important to me in terms of presenting characters with mental illnesses. And that still very much stands. Making him an evil supervillain again after he’s already overcome the dark side of his nature ruins everything. This reddit comment I thought summed up nicely why this is a terrible twist even if this Harry isn’t “our” Harry right now…

(comics eh)

Okay I’ll admit that chances are this will all be resolved pretty quickly, heck Norman saying “my son” could also refer to Gabriel Stacy (remember him?) which would make more sense. But right now I’m disappointed. :/

Why Palpatine’s return made perfect sense (+ redeeming the Jedi Order)

Hey it’s time for the the Star Wars Blogathon!

And I decided to write about a Star Wars twist I very much liked.

So…Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker was… a point of contention among most Star Wars fans, I know. And some of the criticisms I agree with! It wasn’t executed well at all. (If you have to both read the novelisation and play Fortnite to get the whole story, something’s gone wrong.) But…

Palpatine actually being there in the first place? In terms of the overall Star Wars story, it makes sense!

Palps has always been the Big Bad of Star Wars. He’s not really a person in a way, more just the embodiment of evil in the world. (Sometimes I think of him as the Star Wars equivalent of the One Ring.) But the prequel trilogy makes pretty clear that the Jedi allowed that embodiment of evil to rise, via neglect, ignorance, arrogance or all three. Like – the individual Jedi are great people, but their system is so very broken. They don’t free slaves, they don’t intervene where they should, they don’t understand Anakin’s connection to his mother… they’re part of the reason for Anakin’s fall. Not on purpose obviously, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This gifset sums it up really well I thought:

And in the movies – I’m not counting all the secondary material here – it’s something the Jedi never really get to make up for. Anakin’s throwing Palpatine in the pit is a redemption for him but it doesn’t quite redeem the Jedi for their part in things. They just get to die.

Until The Rise of Skywalker! The Jedi are able to finally redeem themselves by assisting Rey. It’s a wonderful scene because it does the thing Star Wars has always been about, making up for the mistakes of the past.

Windu: Feel the Force flowing through you, Rey.

Anakin: Let it lift you.

Adi Gallia: Rise, Rey.

Qui-Gon: We stand behind you, Rey.

Obi-Wan: Rey.

Yoda: Rise in the Force.

Kanan: In the heart of the Jedi, lies her strength.

Obi-Wan: Rise.

Qui-Gon: Rise.

Luke: Rey, the Force will be with you. Always.

I dearly wish we had seen the Jedi in uh… the flesh? In physical form. But hearing their voices was powerful as well. When Rey says “And I am all the Jedi!” to Palpatine it feels deserved, to me at least, because now these other people have finally got the same thing Anakin got – a chance to make up for their mistakes.

And that’s why I liked Palpatine’s return. :)

Some recent trailers for stuff

I am so darkly amused by the fact that none of the Stand trailers so far have mentioned that the story takes place after a deadly pandemic. Maybe they oughta just lean into it at this point.

The Queen but mostly Princess Diana! Honestly I always had a lot of sympathy for Princess Di. She was just a messed up kid thrown into the royal family and expected to fend for herself while everyone treated her like shit. (Wonder if they’ll mention the quite significant age difference between her and Charles :/ )

Okay The Watch doesn’t look terrible as a show (I guess) but it very obviously has NOTHING to do with the Discworld series it’s based on. So why even bother? Ugggh. Rhianna Pratchett’s thoughts are also mine.

The Boys season two, a long and uneven post from a part-Jewish person

Remember when I watched season one of The Boys and I said, “I very much enjoyed watching (most) of The Boys, but I don’t want to think too hard about it“? Well the same goes for season two except I did think about it this time, and… well. I have lots of really complicated, semi-personal, not really all that positive thoughts. Some of it’s more to do with people’s reactions to the show, I think, rather than the show itself, but still.

(There are MASSIVE spoilers from this point on.)

This show does very much take the political position that police brutality, capitalism and Trumpism are bad, and that’s always nice to see. But it rings hollow because this show thinks everything is bad –


Let’s go straight to the ending. All through the show we’re presented with a character who is very obviously supposed to be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right down to the lipstick. We’re meant to think she might be the antithesis of the white supremacy Homelander and Stormfront are peddling, but nope, she’s evil too. Or at the very least extremely morally compromised. So the message there appears to be, “Yeah, Trumpism is bad, but AOC is bad as well!” And I think this article here points out why that’s a downright irresponsible move to make:

“We’ve never had Congress on our side before,” says the ally (Grace Mallory, ex-CIA, played by Laila Robbins), asking Butcher to play along. To which Butcher spits, in his classic brutal form: “Congress? Please! What a bunch of corrupt fucking cunts they are!” Neuman replies, casually: “You’re not the first to call me a cunt, Mr. Butcher; I’m starting to think it’s like a badge of honor.” Rep. Ted Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez “a fucking bitch” on the Capitol steps in July of this year, so this can’t have been an explicit connection since this season of the show was already in the can, but Ocasio-Cortez certainly gets enough abuse online to make the connection resonate.

[…]

When we find out she’s a supe secretly working against the Boys, Victoria Neuman’s force of personality—the leadership qualities that draw people to attend the rallies she convenes, toting signs that say “Victoria Neuman, Political Badass”—becomes instantly suspicious. It’s just too reminiscent of online right-wingers making up fables about AOC’s secret nature (Snopes.com has debunked conspiracy theories from “AOC is an actress playing a congresswoman” to “AOC wants to ban motorcycles.”) Clearly jealous of her youth and beauty, these real-life conspiracists insist she’s too good to be true. I wish this show hadn’t done the same.

Which brings me round to Butcher. I really hate him, and I can’t stand the show’s constant positioning of him as a hero, the person who has the narrative fully on his side when he calls a woman a cunt. What’s most baffling of all to me is that this man pressed a button which would kill a baby in the last season, knowing full well what he was doing, and this is just… never brought up again. (Yes, the baby lived but he wasn’t to know that.) The show’s attempt to position him as a father figure right at the end is almost laughable to me. Butcher hates the child in question for being the result of rape and for being born with an abnormality, and those are the among the many reasons violent men in real life murder kids. And he is, I cannot stress this enough, already a person who harms children! I wanted Ryan to kick him in the nuts and run.

I also wanted Becca to do the same because I find the Becca/Butcher relationship so incredibly creepy and unsettling. There have been some good articles about how she existed in the show only to push Butcher forward and make him a better person but that was her function to Butcher as well. He didn’t care until the last possible second that she loved her child and would pick Ryan over him, he wanted her all for himself. She dies begging him to look after her son and as soon as her eyes are closed he picks up a crowbar to try and murder the innocent traumatized boy she was desperate to save. Just as she predicted he would actually! This is a man Becca is so scared of she didn’t tell him she’d been raped and the moment she was dead he proved he never gave a shit about her as a person.

So in the end, Becca’s only role in the story was to be raped, be abused, and provide a shot at redemption for a man who utterly and completely does not deserve one. God, even Game of Thrones managed to do better than that eventually.

I think the last thing I’m gonna talk about here is the bit most personal to me. I wasn’t raised in the Jewish religion, but I did always know I was a fourth (a third? A half? Man who knows) ethnically Jewish, and I think there’s always a point in childhood where you sit up and go “Wait, Nazis would DEFINITELY have killed my mother, wouldn’t they, especially since she’s also disabled.”

So for me there was… a lot to unpack there and I find it hard to really express my thoughts. It’s frustrating to me in a way I can’t really describe that a lot of the Discourse ™ that surrounds Homelander is in the vein of, “Sure, he’s evil but at least he’s not a Nazi!” because he is a Nazi. What else would you call a man who kills a disabled person just for being disabled? And that one scene in question bugs me too because it seems like unneccessary brutality, you know? We are very much aware Homelander is pure evil, we don’t need to see that.

And this seems to be a running theme with the series in general. I believe wholeheartedly that the showrunners are against fascism and racism! Honestly. But it’s like – when the show has one of the fascists in question kill an innocent person in an visually cool or interesting way, it changes the game, you know? It turns something horrible into something thrilling, it makes you want to watch more of the fascists killing innocent people. And obviously, this is the sort of thing that’s existed for probably as long as movies has, it’s not unique to The Boys. But the writers are, I think, playing with pretty high stakes here and there’s just a feeling of wrongness you get when Homelander or Stormfront kills someone and it looks cool. Maybe that wrongness is how you’re meant to feel, I dunno. But add that to the fact that almost all their victims are nameless and voiceless and I don’t think it’s… great? But it’s in a way I can’t describe.

Like, take the scene in the first episode where Black Noir is tracking someone in Syria. He takes a moment to murder a female bystander and her blood drips stylishly into the glass she’s holding as her throat is slit. And there’s no real point to that, you know? Not least because the “Fictional American soldiers committing violence against nameless Muslims in Syria” quota has already been thoroughly filled. Someone else can probably explain this better than me but it’s like, if you want your show to protest fascism effectively then kinda by default you also need to not show off stylized violence against already marginalised groups, ya know? Does that make sense…? Like you have to treat the victims of the fascists as people instead of props and that’s something this show just doesn’t seem to do very much.

Where was I? Yeah, the part about Jewishness. This sort of ties into another thought. The Boys takes some shots at Disney/Marvel, which seems fair enough until you remember this show is made by Amazon. And though I’m a very firm believer that stories belong to no-one but the audience what we’ve basically got here is one pessimistic multi-million superhero franchise telling us the other more optimistic multi-million superhero franchise is bad and we’re dumb for caring about it, and I hate it when fictional things tell me I’m dumb for caring about other fictional things. You can rest assured I still loathe Disney-the-company (Walt Disney after all famously gave Leni Riefenstahl a tour of his studio) but I do like superheroes. And there’s a thing there which I guess a lot of people don’t know… almost all the major superheroes were created by Jewish people.

Superman? Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Captain America? Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Batman? Bob Kane and Bill Finger.
Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, many more? Stan Lee.

And that feels Important, it always has really. During World War II and its aftermath it also feels to me like these writers were people fighting a battle of information and representation that just happened to involve men in capes.

“…Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, ‘There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America’. To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.” [x]

Alan Moore once said that superheroes are “very much white supremacist dreams of the master race” and it’s one of the many reasons I don’t take him seriously anymore. How can a concept we got from Jewish people be a white supremist dream of the master race? That was an offensive thing to say, and it was cruel.

“It’s a history with many parallels to the beginning of the American film industry. Jews were discriminated against on the job market. If you were a writer or illustrator, not many jobs were available if you could be identified as Jewish. Some Jews changed their name and hid their identity in order to seek employment. Jewish artists such as Jakob Kurtzberg or Stanley Lieber became Jack Kirby and Stan Lee [respectively], even if they often claimed that their name change had nothing to do with them trying to hide their Jewish background.

“When, thanks to Superman, comics became a lucrative industry, job recruitment in this new market happened by word of mouth. Friends and family were hired. That’s why, for instance, many comic book pioneers came from even the same high school, such as DeWitt Clinton in the Bronx, where pioneers such as Will Eisner, Stan Lee or Bill Finger, to name but a few, had been students. [x]

I think that some of the frustration I feel about The Boys (especially its finale) is the feeling that it could easily fix a lot of the problems with itself if it wasn’t so devoted to shock value. I get why it is and everything but it’s shocking for the wrong reasons. The ending of season two shouldn’t be, “Yeah, the guy who kills babies is right, the world sucks and everyone is evil.” And maybe they’ll turn it around next season, who knows. I will be watching it, because I’m invested in Hughie and Starlight and the Boys who aren’t Butcher, at least. And I do appreciate that they made it clear Stormfront being a Nazi makes her dangerous and evil. A look at some online forums and you get the feeling many would happily have missed that point if it hadn’t been explicitly made. (Which is unfathomably depressing.)

But I also feel like, the Jewish superhero creators did a more effective job of fighting Nazism and they managed to do it without having to show the Red Skull fucking someone over the mangled body of one of his victims.

Hemingway Writes The Baby-Sitters Club

You absolutely must read this. It’s a work of art.

The four girls were friends. In a small town, friends make the days long and the sadness short, though it is still there. The turtlenecked girl wore a cap and a ponytail. She sat in the beautiful girl’s room; the beautiful girl’s vices tucked in the nooks and the folds and the curves of the room. The beautiful girl offered another girl, the shy girl, a Snickers. The shy girl offered to break the thing in half and give half to yet another girl, the new girl. The new girl shook her permed hair no and sat on her hands. She thought of the needle in her bag.