Tag Archive | lgbtq

Erin (Re)Watches: Boston Legal, Rebuild of Evangelion, the bluescreen of a misbehaving laptop

Started rewatching Boston Legal for my comics-making background TV, and all the B-roll of streets and buildings is making me really nostalgic for Boston.

…but definitely *not* nostalgic for the 2000’s. The level of Cultural Discourse we were wading through, holy cats.

One standout: mall Santa gets fired when a kid says “Santa please make me normal, I like wearing girl clothes,” and Santa says “nothing wrong with that, so do I.”

And the baseline defense is “look, it’s not like he would tell EVERY kid he crossdresses! This was a special case!”

Instead of “oh ffs why *not* tell everyone? These are regular street clothes. Women wear them all the time. Every child in this boy’s class should be told that, hey, some men wear them too — maybe even Santa! — and there’s nothing wrong with that.”


After almost a whole month of good behavior — and precisely 3 days after the original service contract expired — New Computer did the thing again on Saturday.

And then yesterday, I woke up to find it back on its old “doing the thing on Thursdays” schedule.

(Checked the update history — as I expected, there isn’t anything new corresponding to either restart.)

Is this just going to be a Technically Harmless But Still A Huge Nuisance feature of New Computer for the rest of its operational life? Signs point to “ughhhh.”


After rewatching the first three Rebuild of Evangelion movies, I finally got to the fourth one today.

The animation is stunning. Not just the wild mecha battles, but the startlingly natural detail in tiny motions like “Shinji throws his SDAT player and it goes skittering across the ground”. And the backgrounds — they have this low-key showing-off trick where they’ll come up with a lushly detailed set, then draw it at a dozen different long-shot angles, so they have to do a new full painting every time.

Also, we spend like 40 minutes in an idyllic little farm town that’s been cultivated and defended against the post-Impact wasteland, where they apparently got Studio Ghibli to collaborate. It absolutely paid off.

How much can I talk about the plot at this point? I haven’t run into a single unmarked spoiler in the wild…which suggests that either the early viewers are being extra-conscientious, or that most people haven’t gone to the effort to see it yet.

In general:

It’s wild and twisty, but, you know, in on-brand-for-Eva ways. There’s some setup that doesn’t pay off, some payoffs that weren’t really set up, but each chunk ranges from “competent” to “deeply satisfying.”

There were characters who got to be so happy that you figured they definitely wouldn’t make it through an Eva film alive (did I mention there are people living in a Ghibli village??). A surprising amount of them pull it off anyway. Sometimes the TV-series lore gets punted off into space. Other times, they go so hard with the callbacks, the original titles are literally flashing on screen.

I will spoil this: the penguins are okay. This movie knows which questions are really essential to answer, and it delivers.

Things that are inherently human with deep historical precedent: drawing dicks on walls, taking selfies, being trans/nonbinary

1800-year-old Roman carvings in Hadrian’s Wall: “The phallus was a symbol of good luck to Ancient Romans.” Suuuure, that’s definitely the reason someone drew a dick on a wall.

Via Wikimedia Commons: “Otto von Habsburg, Crown Prince of Austria (1912-2011)” taking a selfie in the mirror as a teenager. In the 1920’s. But hey, kids these days, right?

…and now, without further ado, queer & trans links from across multiple centuries. The language and the terms change, but the people have always been here.

“Born in Maryland around 1858, Swann endured slavery, the Civil War, racism, police surveillance, torture behind bars, and many other injustices. But beginning in the 1880s, he not only became the first American activist to lead a queer resistance group; he also became, in the same decade, the first known person to dub himself a “queen of drag”—or, more familiarly, a drag queen.

I originally identified as a cross-dresser. It was in an online support group for other cross-dressers that somebody used the word bi-gendered. And it was like the lightbulbs went on, the choir of angels was singing, and the light was shining down on me. ” Profiles of 5 older nonbinary adults, talking about their journeys.

“Trans people are often mocked for being confused and emotional in regards to the choices we make with our bodies. For the sake of the trans community, I feel like I’m supposed to know what I want and who I am. But there are no roadmaps for me to follow.

PSA for yanquis, the -e suffixes for gender neutrality were brought up by Latin American native Spanish and Portuguese speakers to make our heavily gendered languages truly gender neutral and inclusive!!! It wasn’t created by some random gringue on the internet, but by ACTUAL LATIN AMERICAN NATIVE SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE SPEAKERS SO OUR LANGUAGES ANSWER TO OUR NEEDS AND REALITIES!!!”

“I think that we can—we must—hold both of our experiences at the same time, OG: Your pain and also mine. The hurt of older generations of queers who feel disrespected by younger movement builders, and the hurt of younger generations who feel that older activists weren’t there for us. We can accept the truth of both of these, as well as the truth that younger and older queers have always benefited from each others’ fight for survival and freedom.

Advice from the Doctor, experiences of isolation and recovery, the CDC in the past vs. the present

The Doctor Who crew have been releasing some heartwarming bonus content for your quarantine entertainment. Thirteen weighs in: “Listen to doctors. They’ve got your back.” And the sequel, “I just WhatsApped a Cyberman.” And a newly-released short about Sarah Jane’s funeral brings together a bunch of DW/SJA actors filming their lines from home — including a reference to Tegan and Nyssa as “a couple”, and the reveal that Luke married his college roommate Sanjay. Good job, canon.

March 28: “Thorn’s 12-week isolation was not at home but in a London hospital in 1995, a different time and a different infectious disease — tuberculosis — but a situation similar to what many are just entering. He wants to describe his experiences now to help people in isolation and to offer practical and psychological advice gleaned from the hardest lessons of his life: how to cope when human connection is siphoned off.

March 31: “When we talked, I was still so confident that this response was gonna look like the 2009 [H1N1] pandemic response, which was a good response. Initially, it had some problems… but once they realized what was going on, they kicked into gear and everything went pretty well. One thing that’s super different is that the CDC in 2009 provided central leadership. They were proactively reaching out to state, regional, and local Health officials saying, ‘Here’s what you need to be doing. Here’s what this should look like.’ And people did it. I am scared and enraged because there’s no central authority here. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

April 8: “The institutions that have their shipments disrupted get no clear information what happened, on what legal authority it was done or whether they can expect to get any of the goods back or be made whole from a federal stockpile. […] Many of the hospital systems and executives insisted that the Times allow them to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation from the federal government.” So, hey, if you were wondering what new lows this administration could find to sink to: they’re stealing shipments of personal protective equipment that were purchased by US citizens.

April 9: “All right, but apart from the pandemic response team, the pandemic playbook, the CDC expert in China, and the transition training scenario literally involving a mock pandemic, what did Obama ever do to stop this?”

Asterix vs. Pandemix

April 11 (NYT): “Health care workers who have fallen ill and bounced back fill the hospital shifts of colleagues who are still at risk. Many who have overcome the infection, including some of America’s newly unemployed, donate blood to biotech companies and researchers seeking to manufacture treatments from their antibodies.”

April 11 (NYT): “The remaining employees at Greek Peak decided to transform one of their restaurants, Trax, into a takeout and delivery operation, using the hotel kitchen to cook. After seeing pictures of empty grocery store shelves, they pivoted their business strategy again, transforming the lobby space of the hotel into a grocery store with low-cost items for the community.” Businesses adapt, in good ways.

April 13 (Borowitz Report): “In order to better coördinate their efforts to combat the coronavirus, the nation’s governors are considering the extraordinary step of forming a country.

Super Drags review: It’s the most pure distilled fabulous queerness I’ve ever seen in a cartoon (and I say this as a Steven Universe fan)

The post where I do my best to spread the Good News, that there exists a saucy gay drag-queen magical-girl animated comedy and everyone should watch it.

Okay, not everyone — I’ll give some caveats at the end — but definitely a heck of a lot more people than Netflix has bothered to advertise it to.

Look at this! Why did nobody tell me about this??

Super Drags posing

'Was anybody going to tell me' meme

What is Super Drags?

Fast facts:

  • It’s a 1-season, 5-episode adult animated comedy series, released in November 2018
  • Here’s the official page, with a free-to-view trailer
  • It packs more explicit, unashamed queerness into those 5 episodes than any other cartoon I can think of
  • The only possible competitor would be if you took the whole 5000-episode run of Steven Universe and pared it down to a supercut of Just The Gay Parts
  • This in spite of being produced in Brazil, which (in my broad understanding, as a total non-authority on the subject) is more oppressively, dangerously homophobic than the US
  • The original is in Portuguese
  • There is an English dub, fabulously voiced by contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • It’s wrapped in “for adults only!” warnings, not because the content is any less child-friendly than (say) your Bojacks Horsemen or your Ricks and Mortys, but because Brazilian authorities tried to get it shut down on the grounds of this much gay being Harmful For Children
  • It was (heartbreakingly) not renewed for a second season

Here’s a promo video, in which the main characters (Portuguese, with subtitles) play Drag Race judges for Shangela, who ends up voicing Scarlet in English:

And here’s a beautiful flashy music video of the big musical number! (Also Portuguese, no subtitles, but the melody and the visuals stand on their own.)

Plot and worldbuilding stuff!

The elevator pitch is “What if Charlie’s Angels, but also drag queens, with superpowers, because magical-girl transformations?”

In this universe, all LGBTQ people have magical energy. The Big Bad is an evil magical-drag-queen nemesis who tries to drain our energy for her own purposes. It’s like if Ursula from The Little Mermaid was a first-season Sailor Moon villain.

…sidenote, in case you were worried, the representation isn’t “cis gay men and nobody else.” There’s a butch lesbian in the recurring cast, a genderfluid person (ETA: that word is exclusive to the English dub; a Brazilian viewer tipped me off that the original Portuguese dialogue includes “bissexual”, which means exactly what it looks like) as a one-off love interest, and all the ensemble scenes are wonderful collages of different races, body types, and gender presentations.

Group shot of queer characters

Group shot 2 of queer characters

Our heroes also fight non-magical everyday homophobes, who get written with scathing realism.

The moment I knew the show wasn’t pulling any punches was in the first episode, where a newscaster complains about being Silenced by the Law of Political Correctness, then chirps “however, we have a special guest who is thankfully above the law!”

According to the reviews I’ve found from Brazilian viewers, it’s also pitch-perfect when it comes to local queer culture, community dynamics, slang and speech patterns, even memes. All of which flies right over my head, so here’s a post (with no-context spoilers) about one viewer’s favorite details.

The handful of reaction posts on Tumblr have a dramatic split between “Brazilian viewers fiercely defending the show as culturally-accurate, uplifting, and brave in a terrifying political moment” and “American viewers complaining that the show is problematic because it’s a comedy about drag queens with no perfect role models and lots of sex jokes.”

As the Super Drags tell their nemesis (and this is also in the first episode): “How dare you try to turn the LGBTQXYZ community against each other? We do enough of that on our own!”

Super Drags team-up attack

In between missions, our girls work sitcom retail jobs and deal with other everyday problems. All of which are written in amazingly nuanced and thoughtful ways for a show that also features “defeating an orgy monster with a lip-sync battle.”

Detailed character stuff!

Our heroes are Color Coded For Your Convenience!

The Super Drags themselves go by “she” in-uniform, and a lot of the time when out of it. Like the Sailor Starlights, only more so. I’ll roll with that.

Super Drags out of costume

In blue: Safira Cyan, or Ralph by day, an excitable college-age kid who’s built like a football player and squees like a fangirl. (She’s an anime fan in the original, and for some reason all the otaku references were replaced in the dub, but you can see them in the subtitles.)

Safira anime pose

Ralph lives with her younger sister (they play video games together!) and their dad, comes out to them mid-series, and is very shippable with another young guy who starts out reciting the homophobic beliefs he was raised with but whose heart clearly isn’t in it.

Safira’s weapon is a classic magical-girl wand that casts protective force-fields. Which are shaped like condoms. Because of course.

In yellow: Lemon Chiffon, aka Patrick, the oldest of the group and generally the smartest/most strategic. In most cases, the other two treat her as the de facto team leader — unless she pushes it too far.

Lemon and strategy

By day she’s a single guy with thick thighs and thinning hair, who has some body-image insecurities on the dating scene. And this show has Things To Say about unrealistic beauty standards within the community…not to mention, about masc guys who look down on anyone too flaming or femme because straight people disapprove.

Lemon’s weapon is a fluffy boa that can be used as a whip or a lasso, especially when there’s a bondage joke to be made.

In red: Scarlet Carmesim, also Donizete, the loudest and most aggressive teammate with the most cutting insults, who refuses to suppress that attitude in an attempt to appease racists. (But will give it a shot when trying not to get fired.)

Donny with insults

Donny still lives in her religious/homophobic mom’s apartment, and I’m pretty sure it’s because neither of them can afford to move out. Her rock-solid sense of fierce self-confidence is the reason it doesn’t bring her down.

Scarlet’s weapon is a fan that she uses to throw shade. Yeah, you knew that was coming.

The Charlie to these angels is Champagne, who runs operations from a cool magitech compound and breaks the fourth wall at the end to petition for viewers’ support in getting a second season.

Champagne with a contract…we let her down, folks :(

So here’s a thing. The show never draws a sharp line between “people who become drag queens because it’s a way they’re driven to express themselves as gay men” and “people who become drag queens because they were trans women all along.” That’s consistent with how South American LGBT+ culture works. (Again: best of my knowledge, not personally an authority on this, etc etc.)

Many of the characters, including Champagne, never describe themselves in ways that translate to one of our sharply-defined Anglo-USian identity categories. And I’m not going to try to impose any English labels on them here.

But I can say (in contrast to Safira, Lemon, and Scarlet), Champagne never switches out of her “drag” name/voice/presentation, not even in the most candid off-duty scenes, and still has the same bustline when naked in the tub. Make of that what you will.

Super Drags fans

You Should Watch This Show

If you have a Netflix subscription, watch Super Drags!

If you ever do a Netflix free trial month in the future, make a note to yourself to watch Super Drags!

It’s one of their original productions, so there’s no risk of missing your chance because the license expired. But it’s absolutely not getting the promotion it deserves. Which means potentially interested viewers won’t find it, which means Netflix will think there’s no interest, which means they’ll keep not promoting it…etc etc etc.

No idea if there’s any chance of getting it un-canceled, but maybe we can at least convince them to release it on DVD.

Super Drags hero walk

And the sheer gutsiness it took for a group of Brazilian creators to produce this show in the first place — that deserves to be rewarded with your attention.

In spite of various anti-discrimination laws that sound good on paper, the country has serious problems with homophobia, transphobia, and anti-LGBT violence (warning, article has a violent image which is only partly blurred).

Maybe the creators could’ve gotten a second season if they made this one softer, less sexually-explicit, more restrained…but honestly? I bet that wouldn’t have helped.

Consider Danger & Eggs, an Amazon original cartoon. It was made in the US, thoroughly child-friendly, and restricts its LGBT+ representation to things like “characters go to a Pride celebration…where nobody ever names or describes the quality they’re proud of.”

And it didn’t get renewed past the first season either.

(Note: it had a trans woman showrunner and a queer-heavy creative staff, so I blame all that restraint on executive meddling, not the creators themselves. The showrunner even liked the tweet of my review that complains about it.)

So there’s something very satisfying about how Super Drags went all-out, balls-to-the-wall (sometimes literally), all the rep explicit and unapologetic, packing every 25-minute episode with all kinds of queer content that would be censored or muted elsewhere — but here it’s exaggerated and celebrated and just keeps coming.

(…as do jokes like that, and I’m not sorry.)

Super Drags rainbow powers

Okay, there are a few legitimate reasons to not watch this show

Some caveats.

None of these things are Objectively Bad Problems that the show itself should be shamed for…but maybe they’re genuinely not your cup of tea.

It does have actual Adult Content beyond “the existence of gay people.” This show loves to swing barely-clothed cartoon genitalia in your face. There is, as mentioned, an orgy monster. If that kind of humor is going to bother you too much to appreciate the rest of the show, give it a pass.

I wasn’t kidding about how realistic the homophobes are. Opening of the first episode has a guy trying to murder a busload of people while shouting slurs at them. If that level of hatred on-screen is gonna crush your soul, even in a show about sparkly queens flying to the rescue with dick-shaped magical weapons, don’t push yourself.

Any fiction with this much crossdressing and gender-transgressing is going to hit some trans viewers in a bad way. Because trans people are such a broad group, with so many different experiences, that Every Possible Trope Involved pushes somebody’s buttons. (See also: “some trans readers complain about a storyline that turns out to be drawn from a trans writer’s actual life experience“.) If this show goes does gender things that turn out to be personally distressing for you…or even just distressing for this specific time in your life…don’t feel obligated to keep watching.

It has aggressively-sassy queer characters making jokes and calling each other things that are affectionate in-context, but would not be okay coming from straight/cis people. If you can’t wrap your head around that, go watch something else.

Other Than That, Go Watch This Show

For all its big heart, big ambitions, and big gay energy, Super Drags is tiny enough that I’ve binged the whole show 2 times in the past 2 weeks. Thankfully, it’s highly re-watchable — lots of fun background gags and subtle foreshadowing that you don’t catch on the first round.

(Pausing one last time to appreciate that a show with elements like “the high-tech robot assistant is called D.I.L.D.O.” can be subtle at all, let alone be this good at it.)

I’ve also paged through all the fanart on Tumblr and Deviantart, looked up the single fanfic on the AO3, and started brainstorming plans to request it in Yuletide next year. Someone, please, come join me in (the English-language side of) the itty-bitty fandom for this ridiculous, glittery, over-the-top, fabulous series.

Super Drags hero splitscreen

 

Vintage gay wedding photos, more-vintage cheap souvenirs, super-extra-vintage fossils, and other neat things

…the photos depict him in a commitment ceremony with another man, and unbeknownst to him, the store manager had a policy of withholding developed photos if he deemed them “inappropriate”—as he did these.The photos, though, lived on because the manager of the shop had another policy: Staff were allowed to do whatever they pleased with confiscated pictures. An employee held on to the photos.”

“About a month after they met, Hay and Gernreich combed the gay beaches of Malibu and the Pacific Palisades looking for new Mattachine members. They brought along copies of the Stockholm Peace Petition, which called for a withdrawal of troops from Korea. They mistakenly believed that the peace petition was so radical it would make the new gay organization seem mild by comparison. Nearly 500 people signed the petition. No one signed up for Mattachine.

“IDK” was attested as military slang in 1918.

“It sounds just like the kind of joke that is ubiquitous in today’s cheap-and-cheerful souvenir industry: ‘I went to Rome and all I got you was this lousy pen.’ But the tongue-in-cheek inscription recently deciphered on a cheap writing implement during excavations in the City of London is in fact about 2,000 years old.”

“As the water slowed and became slack, it deposited everything that had been caught up in its travels—the heaviest material first, up to whatever was floating on the surface. All of it was quickly entombed and preserved in the muck: dying and dead creatures, both marine and freshwater; plants, seeds, tree trunks, roots, cones, pine needles, flowers, and pollen; shells, bones, teeth, and eggs; tektites, shocked minerals, tiny diamonds, iridium-laden dust, ash, charcoal, and amber-smeared wood. As the sediments settled, blobs of glass rained into the mud, the largest first, then finer and finer bits, until grains sifted down like snow.” A geological dig preserving the day of The Asteroid.

“It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.

He stopped taking ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) three months ago and there continues to be no evidence of infectious HIV in his system. Each of the three patients were being given the procedure with that aim of treating cancer, so while a bone marrow transplant is not a viable option as a common cure for HIV infection, it does give us hope that we’re getting closer to a permanent cure.”