Through some clever finagling, I managed to find a way to write a paper about webcomics for my sociology class. My central thesis is that webcomics have provided fertile ground for comics which explore strong female characters and other feminist themes by offering a space completely free of the restrictions the comics world had in the past. I just finished the first draft. It references the following:
- The Penny-Arcade rape joke controversy
- User Friendly: the original webcomic, complete with one female character
- xkcd: The comic which tries so hard not to be sexist, or maybe it doesn’t, who can say
- Least I Could Do: The despicable piece of misogynistic drivel so disgusting that I won’t link to it directly because that would only encourage them
- DAR!: Erika Moen’s diary of life, love, and crude humor
- Octopus Pie: The comic I don’t actually like very much but which supports my thesis nicely
- Girls With Slingshots: Good female characters, funny jokes, and basically everything that LICD isn’t.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Proof that men can write good female characters too. You should be reading it, what are you waiting for?
- Kate Beaton’s honest request for less-sexist compliments. Really, was it too much to ask?
The full essay, complete with one of the longest lists of works cited I’ve ever seen, may be available at a later time.
Anyone can hate the word moist, or hideous portmanteaus such as staycation or funemployment, but never to be outdone, I have here assembled a list of otherwise perfectly legitimate words which I humbly submit should be excised from the English language at the soonest opportunity.
In descending order, #1 being the worst:
5. Like – In either of its uses, be they I like this or So I, like, went to this, like, etc. etc. The former usage listed here is not really wrong in any sense, but I take issue with how commonly-used it is considering its shallowness. These feelings were, of course, grilled into me by four years of art professors, but regardless of my reasons, I now have a low tolerance for like. Now, of course, Facebook is exacerbating the problem by sticking those stupid Like buttons all over the internet, encouraging us to think in meaningless binary terms of Like and Dislike. Don’t cooperate. Use more specific terms and say how you really feel about something whenever possible. When the word like is what works best, do at least elaborate on what you mean by it, because it doesn’t mean much by itself. (This is my disclaimer, I guess, since I’m currently working on a multi-part essay entitled “Why I Like Star Trek.”) ¶ The second usage listed there needs no explanation, I think. Stop doing that. Please. Just stop.
4. Boyfriend / girlfriend – Who introduced these horrible constructions into the English language? Vague, infantilizing, and cumbersome, this duo of outmoded terms has been used to describe any number of different kinds of relationships. I suggest we scrap both and replace them with about six different words (preferably gender-neutral) that will do the same thing in better ways.
3. Trafficking – Not a bad word really. Perfectly useful in many contexts. That said, can we please either reform how it’s spelled or restrict it to spoken language only? I know it wouldn’t read correctly without that K in the middle, but it looks wrong!
2. Gorgeous / Scrumptious (tied for 2nd place) – These are just plain ugly words, both of them used to describe things that are ostensibly good. They sound like they ought to describe vile space aliens rather than beautiful/delicious things.
1. Gubernatorial – Undoubtedly the ugliest word I have the misfortune of knowing. Egad. I can’t even begin to say what this word sounds like it should mean; it’s such an unholy combination of sounds that all I can think whenever I see it is ick. Let’s change this, please, and pretend it never existed.
Now, in an attempt to make this post slightly less negative, here are three words which I enjoy:
1. Idiom – Makes me laugh every time. “Stupid idioms!”
2. Bludgeon – Something about the sound of this word is very amusing to me. blʌdʒən. Naturally it’s somewhat of a guilty pleasure considering its meaning. Ouch.
3. Defenestrate – Another guilty pleasure. I know defenestration is bad, but come on, we have an actual word which means “to throw out of a window!” What’s not to like? Heck, I’d jump at a chance to be defenestrated, assuming proper safety precautions, just so that I could use the word.
After my final critique with my professor I will post the final lineup of images from the project online. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview:
I was just linked to this from Scott McCloud’s blog, and I feel obliged to link it again. This is a beautifully-drawn short comics story with a creepy twist. I won’t say more about it; it’s only a few pages long so you should just read it for yourself. It’s good. Link.