Queer Tropes Redux

As many of you know, June is the month of LGBTQ Pride and I couldn’t think of a better time to call out a few tropes that inundate comics and media when it comes LGBTQ characters/themes.

Tropes that if I never see again for the rest of my existence, I’d be eternally grateful. While this by no means covers every trope/issue/fail, it definitely hits the major ones.

Take thorough notes, I’m gonna move fast, and this will not be pretty. Class in session and you’re about to get schooled by Prof. Upkins himself!!!

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Q Is For Queer Speculative Fiction

Originally published on The Future Fire

As a writer, storyteller, and a queer person of color, it goes without saying that diversity and inclusion is very important to me.

Anyone who’s known me for five seconds is aware of the fact that I’m a rabid comic book fan. It’s modern day mythology and as a writer and an artist, this medium especially appeals to me for obvious reasons. Watching beautiful muscular men is a pastime that I can live with.

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Navigating Through Race- The Plight of Storytellers of Color

Originally published at Fangs for the Fantasy

A gent by the name of Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Many people often wonder how I’m able to reconcile being a spec fic author with being a social justice activist. Malcolm X’s quote is that very reason.
Because while the media has the power to control the minds of the masses, it’s also a platform to hold a mirror and expose inconvenient truths such as bigotry to a society who is still plugged into the proverbial Matrix of privilege and institutional oppression.
But in order share the truth, marginalized artists have to make many decisions that can play an impact on our careers, our art and its potential impact on society.

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Profound Media Lessons Learned By An Impressionable Mind

When it comes to the media, the Original X-Man, First Class, Brother Malcolm said it best:

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Like most children of the 80s, He-Man was not simply a cartoon but a way of life. From him I learned morals and values—such as telling the truth, taking responsibility, bigotry is wrong, respect the environment—and what it truly meant to be a Master Of The Universe.

From He-Man’s relationship with his twin sister She-Ra (most notably how they always worked together as a team and the writers portrayed them as equals), I learned that girls are just as awesome as boys and can easily kick just as much butt.

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The Political Is Personal

Since Donald Trump’s presidential election victory last week, there’s been much discussion and preparation in regards to the fates of minorities given the Presidential Elect[?]’s bigoted platform.

Whether it’s the election, Ferguson, Flint, Orlando, or DAPL, one of the most infuriating things I hear from people, and by people I mean white people is that there needs to be more dialogue, more education, more love.

If only there were more people out there teaching and educating then tragedies like #Orlando or #Ferguson or #Baltimore wouldn’t be a reality.

Why is that infuriating? Because there are people who have dedicated their lives, doing that very work. In fact you’re reading one of their pieces right now.

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An Honest Review: Suicide Squad

So let’s talk about Suicide Squad, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year.

Synopsis:

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

The verdict? There was some pacing issues and the worldbuilding/mythos was a bit rushed, especially considering this is only the third movie in the DCEU universe. Definitely some areas of opportunity in terms of the editing. It made the one scene with Amanda Waller handing out pinkslips gangsta style a bit on the nose.

Thankfully we get bare minimum Jared Leto. Because seriously, fuck that guy.

Suicide Squad is a fun popcorn movie that’s got heart, strong characters and a pretty solid story. It proves to be far superior to 95 percent of the crap Marvel has produced. Anyone have any objections to that? What about you Billy Jean? Oh okay then.

But I now understand why Rotten Tomatoes and early reviews trashed this film.

DC just gave Marvel/Disney and fandom the middle finger in proving that diversity and artistry are not mutually exclusive.

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Gamechanger: Upkins Media Litmus Test

Originally published on Mental Health Matters

They say necessity is the mother of all invention. One thing was certain, I found myself in desperate need a few years back.

As a speculative fiction author and a queer person of color (QPoC), I’m constantly frustrated not only with the lack of diversity, but the nonstop misogyny, racism, and queerphobia that continues to be the status quo in media.

More than that, as someone who suffers from depression, high anxiety and ptsd, I found the subliminal bigotry taking a toll on my mental health. Not only was I having trouble writing and creating, but some days I found myself physically ill and under the weather.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, I decided to take action.

I always appreciated the idea behind the Bechdel test. Designed to call attention to gender equality and combat sexism, the Bechdel test must satisfy three requirements:

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something besides a man

As wonderful a tool the Bechdel test is in combatting misogyny, unfortunately, it doesn’t address the racism and homophobia. Similar racial criteria have also come up short for me. This was certainly an opportunity to fill a void for QPoCs such as myself.

The Upkins Media Litmus Test is a set of questions I’ll pose before I even entertain watching a television series, movie, reading a novel, a comic book or any other form of media.

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This Year’s Supergirl

Originally published at Bitch Flicks

At 8 years old, I would wake up early every Saturday morning to tune in and watch Superboy. Over the years, I’ve been a faithful viewer of the original George Reeves Superman series, Lois & Clark, the Bruce Timm animated series, the live action films, and of course the comics. I’m a comic book guy through and through. For me, Superman isn’t just a superhero. He is THE superhero. I’m very protective of the Man of Steel’s mythos and legacy. Suffice it to say, I had my concerns when the CBS series Supergirl was announced.

Somehow when I wasn’t paying attention, my reaction evolved from, “The pilot was cute, I guess I’ll tune in,” to “Jesus Christ is it Monday night yet? I need my Maiden of Might!!!!”

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Gods of the Arena

As a queer person of color, I can say firsthand that it’s rare my existence is acknowledged in the media, much less portrayed with any modicum of respect.

This is one of the many reasons that I’ve taken it upon myself to pass a personal edict that with the exception of an elite few works, I only consume media that has PoCs and LGBTQs as the central and lead characters. If it doesn’t, I’m generally not interested.

I recently rewatched a miniseries that featured one of my favorite gay pairings; Barca and Auctus from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

Overall Spartacus wasn’t perfect, but more often than not, it made some progressive moves surprisingly on the feminist, racial, and LGBTQ fronts. 

Which brings me to another point. Pro-tip: if a story set in Ancient Rome is more progressive and diverse than your 21st century narrative, that should be a clue for you to examine your failures as an artist and a person.

With Gods of the Arena being a prequel to Blood and Sand, I knew Barca and Auctus’s fates were sealed by your Bury The Gay trope. Nevertheless they were a groundbreaking gay pairing to watch.

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