Meta: Reading Girolamo Riario (Da Vinci’s Demons) as on the Asexual Spectrum

I head-canon Da Vinci’s Demons’ Giralomo Riario as somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Not necessarily completely asexual but possibly grey-asexual or demi-sexual, maybe with some sexual attraction to all genders; I also think he could be biromantic and/or demiromantic.

Continue reading Meta: Reading Girolamo Riario (Da Vinci’s Demons) as on the Asexual Spectrum

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The Myth of the Relationship Hierarchy Strikes Again

ralb

I was reading an interesting story recently. It happened to be fanfiction, but I’ve had this experience with plenty of mainstream novels. I was enjoying the storyline, the plot was good, the author was hitting some of my favourite tropes and the story was, overall, well-told.

Then: bam. The relationship hierarchy* reared its ugly head.

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Watsonian vs Doylist: an Overview

picture of an open book with an illustration of a pipe, and an actual pipe

(image composite from images found at pixabay x,x)

Some cultural artefacts become so well known that they can be used as shorthand to express ideas and concepts. For example, movies like “Terminator” and “Robocop” made the idea of cyborgs, any being with both organic and mechanical parts, more visible to the general public.

So it is with Sherlock Holmes, widely read and studied in-depth for many years. Media analysis has adopted the terms Watsonian and Doylist, referring to the Sherlock Holmes fiction written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The ideas behind the two terms are useful when discussing any media artefact and TV Tropes mentions that the terms may have originated or at least been popularized by the Lois McMaster Bujold fan mailing list. 

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Sex is Not Vital For a Loving Relationship

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Sex is Not Vital For a Loving Relationship (No matter what real or fictional therapists tell you)
Excerpt:
This supposed professional just denied the existence of asexuality. She erased the right of not just asexuals, but people with physical disabilities which preclude sex, to be in a “loving relationship”. She basically implied that survivors of sexual trauma need to have/resume having sex or they cannot be loved.

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Monsters and Motherhood: An overview of articles comparing Jurassic Park with Jurassic World and the latter’s treatment of its female lead

Promotional Image copyright Universal
Promotional Image (c) Universal

Jurassic World is due for a Blu-Ray and DVD release on 20 October. I didn’t see the film at the cinema and while I may see Jurassic World at some point it’s not high on my list of want to see movies.

I’ve seen the other three films and read the first book, and there’s been a lot of buzz about the action and Chris Pratt. Yet even in the trailers and teasers there was a clear harkening back to the sexism of an earlier era. I’ve read many articles addressing the themes and tropes in Jurassic World and I’ve gathered them up here – this is not a review, more of a meta-analysis of existing articles which all speak to the same problems the movie has, particularly when it is compared to Jurassic Park, the first film in the franchise. As a childfree woman these articles are of especial concern to me.
Continue reading Monsters and Motherhood: An overview of articles comparing Jurassic Park with Jurassic World and the latter’s treatment of its female lead

What is Meta

Meta is a term you’ve probably come across in jargon such as “metadata”. You’ll hear it quite often in relation to media and fandom. Meta refers to the self-referential nature of something.

For example, a metafiction might be the “play within a play” featured in Hamlet. It might be about a character who knows they are in fictional universe. It might a story about a storyteller, or a movie about filmmaking. It might invoke the conventions of narrative such as in the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett in which “one-in-a-million chances crop up nine times out of ten”, because, as the characters themselves understand, that is how stories work.

Meta is often used as a blanket term within fandom to denote critical analysis and discussions about media artefacts. This is not the same as a review such as “The cinematography is good but the plot is poor”. Instead you will find readings such as “Sherlock’s Coat: The Importance of Costumes” focussing on the BBC’s Sherlock or “Comparing BBC’s Sherlock to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes: Misogyny and Subtextal Homoeroticism” or “Reading Ron Weasley as Bisexual” or “Magic: Representations of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in Popular Media”.

These types of readings are common in academia, where, for example, feminist readings or Marxist readings of a text are used to critically examine a book, film, or television series. Fandom however has picked up on the tools used professionally and uses them to start their own discussions about subjects of interest.

Meta in this sense can also denote metafiction as discussed above, such as a map of Hogwarts (Harry Potter), or works intended to assist fans to create other fanworks such as a character list giving key facts as a ready reference, or a primer on writing about emergency medical treatments to give realism to fanfiction.

In fannish terms then “meta” can refer to a variety of non-fiction texts as well as texts incorporating the self-referential nature of storytelling. For many, it’s an interesting and important part of fandom. Fandom is about more than just reading a book or watching a film or show or listening to a particular band. It’s about a sense of community with other fans, but it is also about engaging with the work which can include discussing it, analysing it, and creating transformative works inspired by the original work.

Meta is about taking a deeper look at a work, comparing and contrasting, reading it from different angles. It recognises that media is important, that it informs us and our world, and as such, deserves to be studied as well as enjoyed.

Resources/Further Reading

The Wikipedia Metafiction page has more examples of the types of metafiction while the TV Tropes Million To One Chance page gives examples of that trope, including that of the Pratchett usage mentioned here.
None of the fandom specific meta titles given here are real but were created to give a feel for the types of meta created. It is considered poor etiquette to link to specific fannish endeavours outside of fandom without prior permission. However searching for “meta” and your favourite fandom will probably bring up some results if you’re interested in reading some examples, though as with all work, professional or fan-created, quality varies considerably.

Leverage: Reading Parker as Asexual

Introductory note: “Leverage” is a television show which originally aired on the TNT network from 2008-2012. It centered on a group who acted as modern day Robin Hoods, tackling the powerful and corrupt who could not be brought to justice by the ordinary people they’d hurt. The characters were given archetypal identities such as “mastermind”, “hacker”, and in Parker’s case, “thief”. Parker was played by Beth Riesgraf.
An earlier version of this article was originally written for Asexual Awareness Week 2014.

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