A lot of hubbub has been made of this J. Crew ad that has a kid with pink nail polish on his toes. The argument is being made that J. Crew is pushing the boundaries of gender identity, and some have gone as far to say that J. Crew is somehow promoting transgender lifestyles (Oh, silly old, Fox News bear). If you think about it, it really is in the best interest for one of the blandest, most conservative clothing companies to promote transgendered children. Because what do angry parents cover up their transgendered children with... lots of clothing. And what kind of clothing... the blandest, most conservative clothing they can find. Win, win... they promote a liberal agenda and milk conservative sales in the process.
Maybe, it's just me, but it's kind of a stretch to say they're sending out some sort of subliminal message about gender roles through the color of nail polish. The biggest problem I have with this is colors have no gender. Any gender role that is applied to a color is something we as a society have applied to that color. And these societal norms and values have a tendency to change over time. Pink used to be a masculine color in American society. 100 years ago pink was the color associated with baby boys, and at the very least was considered a gender neutral color. It wasn't until the 50's when the color pink heavily entered French fashion that pink took on a more feminine undertone. This being the case, I don't think it's anything particularly gender bending about pink nail polish. It's just a kid with any of his favorite crayon colors on his toes. And how do know that's it's about the color and not the nail polish itself? Maybe, he wants to be goth? We don't know.
I think the bigger question is what's up with his shirt? This is what they're actually selling. It's interesting that French fashion helped changed gender roles 60 years ago because that shirt is awfully French looking. Is J. Crew really trying to say something about France? This is the same exact shirt popular with ol' timey French sailors and baguette salesmen from Paris to Marseille. Are they trying to promote sex in every port? Bread? Underage wine drinking? Amelie? I don't know, but that kid is a beret and a pencil thin mustache away from being a famous painter. And is that what J. Crew is trying to say? I see that shirt and I just want to paint and be all kinds of artistic. Are they trying to turn our children into French Impressionists? Visible brush strokes, unmixed colors, capturing the natural changing qualities of light? Is this how we want our children raised? No sir, this is America and if they're going to be any sort of Impressionists it is going to be Freedom Impressionists. But why would J. Crew want to create a generation of French Impressionists? Well, what happens when you paint? You get paint on your clothes, you ruin them, and you have to buy more clothes. You're sly, Mr. Crew, but I'm onto you.
Or is this something about sailors? Are they trying to get our children to join the Navy? Has the United States Navy paid J. Crew to create fashionable nautical friendly attire to inspire our children to enlist 15 to 20 years from now. Or is J. Crew still trying to promote gender ambiguity, not through nail polish, but through sailor suits. Striped shirt = sailor = Navy = In the Navy = Village People = mustaches = gay sex. Is that what you're up to J. Crew!? Is it!? IS IT!?
Most likely. I can't see how it's not.
If J. Crew is trying to send some sort of message, French Impressionism and any of this is just as likely as transgendered lifestyles.
When Joseph Gordon-Levitt was first announced as being in Christopher Nolan's third Batman film the rumor mill immediately spouted tails of Gordon-Levitt being the new Robin. It's since been announced that he'll be playing Alberto Falcone, whether this is just a smoke screen or the real deal is yet to be seen. Then Juno Temple was rumored to be a female Robin based on her character description of “a street-smart Gotham girl” reminiscent of Frank Miller's Carrie Kelley in The Dark Knight Returns. Both rumors have been met with mixed reviews. Nolan has been fairly dead set about Robin never being in a Batman film he's directing, and I think the fan community has largely been in support of this.
Few people are willing to say good things about Robin. Even fewer people want to see a modern, realistic Batman standing next to a boy in red and green tights. Why do we resit Robin? Is it just some sort of deep seated homophobic impulse left over from Fredric Wertham? It seems after he mentioned the gay overtones of their relationship that's all we've been able to think about. Are we saying that a man and boy can't sit in a cave together or a roof top together without something inappropriate happening? What does this say about roofers or chimney sweeps?
And because we're so worried about what it would look like and the questions that might arise, we've tried to annex Robin from films and Batman history in general. Tim Burton avoided Robin. Christopher Nolan has vowed against Robin. And, of course, all our worst S&M, rubber nippled Robin nightmares were realized in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin fiasco. But this isn't how it has to be, there can be a place for Robin in motion pictures. In fact, Robin is integral to the Batman story
Batman needs a Sidekick
Unlike some superheroes, Batman actually needs a sidekick. Flash doesn't need a Kid Flash, Aquaman doesn't need an Aqualad, but Batman needs a Robin. You see Batman doesn't have superpowers—he can't run faster than a speeding bullet or talk to fish—but the world doesn't know he doesn't have superpowers. The average criminal doesn't know that he's just a man, to them he's the GODDAMN BATMAN. To that cowardly lot, he's a supernatural being on par with Superman. And to pull that off Batman needs help. I like to think of Robin as a magician's assistant. Batman needs someone setting booby traps, throwing batarangs, lighting smoke bombs, creating distractions, and generally watching his very mortal back.
The Batman Mythos
Batman debuted in May 1939, Robin made his first appearance in April of 1940... meaning Batman spent 11 months by himself. A Robin has been with Batman for 71 years of storylines, he's been a lone vigilante for 11 months. Robin haters will argue that Batman has always been a lone avenger and him being alone is him getting back to his roots, but he's almost never been alone. This is a story of hero and his sidekick. Batman's mythology doesn't stop at vengeance, vengeance is just the beginning. Batman's tragedy isn't the death of his parents or the life of vengeance he chose, Batman's tragedy is he enlists a partner to keep the cycle alive. His legacy isn't getting revenge for his parents, but the lives of thousands of Boy Wonders who will follow in his footsteps.
Robin keeps Batman grounded, and this actually doesn't help their questionable sexuality. Batman doesn't have an iconic love interest. Oh, he gets a couple of smooches here and there, but there's no Lois Lane waiting for him to come home at night. But let's face it, he's too busy knocking skulls together to ever come home at night. So, Batman doesn't have a typical damsel in distress or someone to champion for. But he does have Robin. Robin is someone for him to care about and to fight for. Fighting for some faceless society or concept is one thing, fighting for a real, live human being is another. Of course, he has Alfred, but do you put up your best fight for an old man with one foot in the grave or a young boy full of life? Without Robin, Batman is a homicidal maniac, with Robin he's a champion for justice. Without Robin, Batman's just The Punisher, and while I like The Punisher, he sure as hell ain't Batman.
Batman is a Symbol
This is probably the most important reason to include Robin in the new Batman films. Nolan's version of Batman keeps coming back to the theme of symbol. Batman is a symbol for justice, Batman is a symbol for Gotham City. As a symbol, as Batman, Bruce Wayne is bigger than a man. Except he's still a man. We know this, and he knows this. A man that could die at any time: shot by any thug, stabbed by any goon, slipped in any shower. To be this powerful, everlasting symbol for Gotham City, Batman cannot die. Which means Bruce needs a backup—a break in case of emergency Batman—he needs someone to take his place should anything happen. He needs Robin.
Are we going to let our own sexual hangups ruin an iconic relationship? Are we so uptight that a man and a nubile young boy cannot dress up in colorful costumes and frolic to all hours of the night? Robin can be more than just a Boy Wonder, but a symbol for tolerance and understanding.
Actually, maybe, Batman and Robin are a little gay.
I had fun at Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo this year, perhaps, more fun than San Diego. It should be said though that I'm not huge on conventions (or gathers or public) mostly because I'm not very big on signatures or dropping large wades of cash on said signatures. If a signature from a celebrity is just a symbol meaning you were in this place at that time and met this person than the signature is worthless because you were there. A signature doesn't validate the meeting, the experience does. All of this meaning, Robert Picardo's signature is worthless... ipso facto, you're worthless, Picardo. I'm kidding, of course, Robert Picardo is wonderful and his surprisingly forceful minions are equally enjoyable.
But back to C2E2, I liked it better because it was a little more laid back. I just liked my big booming spectacles to be relaxed. San Diego Comic-Con was my first convention, which is not really your convention starter set. That's like the first time you've had sex being with a Vietnamese prostitute: Comic-Con is dirty and confusing with a couple of okay moments but mostly not, and don't touch me there, and you walk away somewhat mostly scarred. C2E2 was the girl next door: sweet and familiar, a little frumpy, but a bit of a wild cat that you can't discount. The best part of C2E2 was that I could breathe and there was room to move. The ability to move should never be under appreciated. Orderly lines, accessible booths and panels, these are all good things. The only problem was once you got there, there wasn't much to see. C2E2 was billed as a 3 day event, but there was really only about 1 and quarter days worth of fun.
The main problem was it's mostly comics, which I know shouldn't be surprising at a comic convention, but it was supposed to be Comics and Entertainment. It was really COMICS with a very special appearance by entertainment. And they're growing the other aspects, and from what I heard it was even a more lopsided comics to entertainment battle last year. So, it should continue to get bigger and grander and all encompassing as the years go on. But is that a good thing?
The bigger a convention is, the more fun it will be. Sorry to say, lads, but bigger sometimes is better. It will attract bigger celebrities and companies will pay more money to pimp out their booths. But with better booths and a better breed of celebrities, also, come more conventioneers, longer lines, and a general sardine feeling. With the rate C2E2 has expanded, it will be probably be the perfect comic convention next year, however, this will quickly be consumed by all the will be C2E2 of two years from now, which will result in C2E2 either becoming self aware or a black hole.
In conclusion, did I have fun? Yes. Could I have had more fun? Probably. Did I want to have more fun? Not really.
Other things I enjoyed:
- Knowing my way around town
- Not sleeping in a motel
- Getting a Press Pass
- A ton of free comics at Archaia
- Katie Cook's mini pet paintings
- Lonely Robot Comics (they drew costume covers)
- Mjolnir (By the Hammer of Thor, this list is getting long)
- Missing work
- They didn't let me spectate at the Geek Speed Dating... but I would have enjoyed it if they did.
- And did I mention sleeping in my own bed?
I'm still a little upset that Corey Haim was snubbed at the Academy Awards. It just stings that they could over look perhaps the greatest Corey of our time. I've always been a vehement Haim supporter. I believe the downfall of the Coreys can be tracked back to inverting the Corey/Corey dynamic from Haim/Feldmen to Feldman/Haim. Or it was the drugs. Probably the drugs. However, this shouldn't prevent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from appreciating the lasting mark Haim left on society.
Namely the Douche Grin.
The douche grin tells the world that yeah, you're a douche, and you know you're douche, and you know that I know that you are douche, and that's what's charming about you. It's not entirely unrelated to the Dreamworks face, the Douche smile works a little differently. The Dreamworks face is more like, “What? You want me to save the day? But I'm lovable goof, not a hero.” Which is great for the loser protagonist that has to rise to the occasion in an animated romp. The Haim smile is more like, “I got your daughter pregnant, but, at least, the Feldog didn't get her pregnant, right?” Which is great for the loser protagonist that still needs to be liked by the audience in a teen comedy.
It's sort of like telling the audience even though the character's not a good person, he doesn't mean to be that way, and he really just likes to party and what's the harm in partying. And Corey Haim invented this smile. It's like the gift from the gods. He's a douche smile machine, the uniform precision alone is something to be admired.
As you can see it's sort of a smirk, definitely a hint of mouth breathing though, and almost a perfect triangle. The secret of a good douche grin is hitting that three point triangle: smugness, bewilderment, and disgust. It says: I hate you, I'm better than you, but I really don't know why. The level of confusion in a douche grin almost borders on the stoner smile, but that's its saving grace: A smile that says I'm so clueless that I can't really be a bad person. Haim was a master of making his almost innocent in a Bart Simpson/Denise the Menace sort of way. A grin like this can make the audience believe the “bad boy” villain has some sort of soul, or the underdog hero who has never done anything right has something worth rooting for. Every douche grin after owes a dept to Haim and that's why it was shame it wasn't appreciated by the Academy.
This is not Bill Gates's Daughter. It's like in The Matrix: There is no spoon. Do not try and bend Bill Gates's daughter. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth. There is no daughter. Then you'll see, that it is not Bill Gates's daughter that bends, it is only yourself.
A few weeks ago when I was looking up pictures of Bill Gates (as one often does), I stumbled across these pictures of Bill Gates's so-called “daughter,” Jennifer Gates. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. However, just because she's cute doesn't mean she can't be of or related to Bill Gates, it just makes it unlikely. Ivanka Trump came from Donald after all, even Chris Elliott managed to produce Abby Elliott. A hot enough mom will make up for any of inefficiencies with the father's contribution. A 10 mom and a 4 dad should produce, at least, a daughter who's a 7. Although, it's almost never as mathematically even as that. DNA is unpredictable, hotness can come from almost any combination of ugly genes. Even unfortunateness like Bruce Willis face and Billy Joel face can happen.
But back to Bill Gates. The problem is being a well known connoisseur of cute brunettes, I was instantly able to identify this picture as Rachael Leigh Cook (even as unbrunette as the pictures may be). Ever wonder what happened to Rachael Leigh Cook? No. Well, I have, and apparently she's been posing as Bill Gates's daughter at cocktail parties. So, how did Ms. Cook get embroiled in these internet shenanigans? Maybe, it was penance for the awful movie Antitrust, which also starred Tim Robbins as a Bill Gates wannabe if Bill Gates was the world's nerdiest Bond villain. Or, maybe, it's because Bill Gates's wife, Melinda, looks vaguely like Cook if you squint real hard and rubbed Vaseline all over your computer screen (now how I knew there was Vaseline by your computer screen is the real mystery). One reason Rachael could have been used in this prank is since she hasn't done anything in 10 years, she's recognizable enough to seem familiar, but not to actually pinpoint who she is... unless, of course, you're a Rachael Leigh Cook superfan (which I am). It's anonymity without being actually anonymous. You know her, but you don't know her, so her being Jennifer Gates is entirely possible.
From what I could tell this particular rumor started as a chain letter then someone added the clever tag line “The Best product from Microsoft,” to the photos and from email to email it replicated into internet fact. And if enough people say Jennifer Gates starred in She's All That then it must be true. But why are we so ready to believe? That's the thing that really fascinated me about all the websites and YouTube videos that promoted these pictures as the genuine article. Not that so many people simply believed them to be true, but how readily and obediently they believed them to be true. Like I said, when you see the truth, you'll see that it is not Bill Gates's daughter that bends, it is only yourself. We believe that Cook is Gates's daughter because we need to believe it.
Why we want Jennifer Gates to be Hot
The first reason, the simple reason, is it's a bonus. Every programmer dreams this dream: you code your little hearts out in school, get hired by Microsoft, meet Bill Gates's daughter at orientation, woo said daughter after orientation, marry daughter in first week, and never work again. Now this fantasy unfolds no matter what his daughter looks like, but it becomes a bonus when she's hot. Anyone would jump on top of Rachael Leigh Cook regardless of how many billions of dollars she was set to inherit.
But the deeper reason we want her to be cute is the rabbit hole cute leads down. Cute goes to Hot goes to Slutty. A hot daughter is a curse we wish on Bill Gates, a pox on his family. There's nothing but bad days when your once sweet little girl becomes Paris Hilton. Okay, so you 56 billion dollars, it doesn't make up for your daughter starring in a night vision fueled sex romp. A small part of us wants his daughter to be beautiful on the very, very off chance we can marry into the Gates fortune. This is minute even in fantasies. The larger part of us wants her to be hot so we can see this end badly.
There's a certain nudist streak that lurks in the hearts of cartoon animals everywhere. Shakespeare said it best: To pants or not to pants, that is the question, whether 'tis nobler in the fur or to wear the bow ties and tiny hats of outrageous fortune. Some cartoon animals wear pants, some do not, and I've always found it difficult to navigate the difference. When is it alright not to wear pants? Should Donald Duck be ashamed of his nudity, or is bare nuked duck a thing of beauty? Who decides? Are there even rules?
Nudy toons come in a few varieties: pants but no shirt, shirt but no pants, and nearly nude (maybe just a tie).
States of Cartoon Characters Undress
|No Shirt||No Pants||Nearly Nude|
|Mickey Mouse||Porky Pig||Tony the Tiger|
|SpongeBob SquarePants*||Chip & Dale (Rescue Rangers)||Yogi Bear|
|Crash Bandicoot||Donald Duck||Donkey Kong|
|Kung Fu Panda||Winnie the Pooh||Wally Gator|
*SpongeBob is technically fully clothed, but with such a large sponge torso there is a vibe of shirtlessness.
It's best to remember that animal cartoons are never really nude. Daffy Duck is fully clothed except when all his feathers are blown away or plucked off. Or a turtle is only naked without his shell. Feathers and furs counts as appropriate attire. Bugs Bunny always wears a rabbit fur coat, and it's only until he's skinned does he experience nudity. In the hierarchy of animal hide feathers are more clothing than furs, furs more clothing than scales, and scales are more clothing than bare skin. However, this doesn't explain Porky Pig who is technically the most naked of all then.