Saturday, 21 January 2017

So I Watched... The Red Pill.

This piece is about my thoughts on it and will avoid spoilers as much as possible. The copy I watched was the digital copy I received for backing it at the $25 pledge level.

Before this film came along, I was only mildly aware of Men's Rights Activists and their cause. I did not ever consider myself one and nor did I much care what they had to say or what they fought for. With that in mind, why would I back a Kickstarter for a documentary, made by a feminist, to take a fair look at the Men's Rights Movement?

I am a happily married man. I have four children with a woman who knows me better than most people ever have and puts up with my faults because she loves me too. I have seen men I have known go through either bad experiences with women after relationships have ended and come out worse off; that influenced my decision to back this Kickstarter.

Two men I knew had children with women who claimed to be taking the pill, both relationships ended and the child stayed with the mother but both cases went in different directions. One moved far away because he had not wanted to be a dad and didn't want the responsibilities of it and the other ended up having to fight to see his child after the mother moved away. In both cases, myself and other onlookers found it extremely interesting that both the woman had fallen pregnant when they did. Especially as both of the relationships were on very rocky ground and looked like they were about to end.

Another guy I knew had a child with his girlfriend but the relationship came to a bad end, due to too much fighting between them. After they parted company, out of spite she moved to a different town with the child and didn't tell him. When he eventually found her, he had to pay a stupid amount of money to a solicitor just so he could get regular visitation rights to his child; the mother received no punishment for her actions. A friend of mine had a fight over phone with his ex girlfriend over a toy he brought their daughter, when the argument looked to be going his way the mother denied him access to the child as a way to hurt him. This eventually was settled but he never forgot it. A guy I once worked with had an arrangement in place with his ex wife that he would pay a set fee to what ever their child needed as he could not afford too much, and she knew that. Without telling him, she contacted the Child Support Agency without telling him as she had decided she needed more money. One night at work, he opened his payslip to discover over half his wages had been taken; crippling him for quite a while.

Another one was with my brother. He and his wife split and she had their daughter, it was hard for him but they hard worked out an arrangement which suited both of them. She then had the bright idea of moving far away to start a job she wanted, in order to see his daughter he would have to travel in the car for three hours each way and he simply couldn't do that because of his working hours. She eventually settled on travelling back every other weekend but after a while she tried to change the arrangement because it didn't suit her. Eventually she moved back and he got to see his daughter more often, although I did my best to keep my nose out of it I was pained to see him go through this. To say I thought very unkindly of her would be putting it mildly. The final example is probably the one I try my best not to think about but it is always there.

Andy was a guy I had once worked with, he was a cocky type of guy but you couldn't help but like him. I did not know him as well as the others but we spoke here and there, when his wife of a couple of months decided that she didn't want to be married to him anymore and threw him out, the pain on his face was quite evident. I had heard at one point that she was dragging his name through the mud to deny him access to their children but I had chosen not to ask him about it, it was none of my business. One Monday night, we learned he had killed himself. The atmosphere that settled over the workplace that week was one I will never forget, I don't think I ever. My manager read out a statement on the company's behalf, behind his glasses I could see tears in his eyes and that shook me. The station I was working at, Andy would come past every shift and say Hi to me. All that week I kept looking around to see where he was.

It was because of those examples I decided to back the documentary.

The final product is a great one and Cassie Jaye should be proud of what she has made. Her interviewees tell their stories with no interruption and a lot of the stories told by these men in it about the fates that they have ended up with really disturbed me. Jaye shows some of the video diaries she made during the production and it was a nice touch, especially as she was questioning what she was hearing in parts of them. I watched them and understood why she was conflicted but in the end, the men that were being interviewed were the ones who came out better when the light was shone on them. The radical feminism on display from those against the MRAs was horrible to watch, especially the protesters at the Warren Farrell talk and they way these people talk to police and those attending the event. Various stories throughout the documentary left me feeling very cold and one scene near the end, involving a young baby boy, nearly made me stop watching it as I felt physically sick and had to turn away. That scene alone is the one issue I had with the documentary and as a result I do not know if I can watch it again.

My only fear of this documentary was that it wouldn't be fair to the men involved but I was pleased that it was as fair as it possibly could be. I respect Cassie Jaye for that and if she keeps this approach up then she will continue being a fine film maker. One thing mentioned in the documentary is when the MRAs try to have these discussions, they are shut down or prevented from doing so. The irony of this happening to Jaye when it became clear to many that her film would allow them to tell their stories is inescapable. Nasty pieces have been written about the film, showings of it have been shut down in various countries, and bloggers like David Futrelle did his best to attack her over the film, it's content, and who backed it. The fact that this was pretty much predictable when the film was being made and released, to see how many people wanted this film either shut down or silenced; that saddens me to no end. The fact that she had to go to Kickstarter to fund the film so that it could see the light of day is probably a sign of the times and I would hope certain people in the media are ashamed of themselves.

I hope she continues to make documentaries like this as she clearly is a skilled film maker and I respect her for it. Hell, if she has to do another Kickstarter because of a similar situation with funding she can count me as a backer. Finally though, I will end this with a message to those who would do their best to silence people like Cassie Jaye and hope some of them take it on board; it is a quote I am sure a few of you will recognise.

When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a lair, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

So I'm doing a Kickstarter...

This was something I had been thinking about for a while, it is a bloody big step for someone like me to try and take so it is not something I do lightly. Why would I want to do this? Well, please allow me a moment to attempt to explain it.

I am now more than ever putting more effort into my writing. So far I have a short story and a novel on Amazon but I want to get more work out there, but of course this all takes time and in some cases; money. I am also an independent author, someone who has to pay for editing and covers all by themselves and obviously that is quite a hill to climb. I took inspiration to try my own Kickstarter from an author named Robert Kroese, someone who is quite a successful indie author and even wrote a book about it which I have read. He has done numerous Kickstarters for his work and they have been very successful, I even backed his latest one because it sounded so awesome.

But why do mine? Well first off, I can pay for an awesome cover for the book which will be done by Peta Lynn Fraser, the same lady who did the cover for Nomads. I like Peta's work to no end and will no doubt be using her for every cover in the future, for those interested here is her page on DeviantArt. Editing is, of course, the big one. Nomads was not edited that well and I still kick myself for that, so I decided to make sure that it would be done properly with this book. At this point, Brian Niemeier steps into the equation. A friend of mine, fellow indie author, and Dragon award winner for his book Souldancer; as well as a hell of a nice guy. I asked Brian if he would do me the honor of editing the book once it was finished and he said he would, depending on his schedule, and if he is unable to do so then I will use the service offered by Amazon.

The best part of this for me would be bringing an audiobook option into the equation. I was referred to the services of JimFear, a voice actor and audiobook producer who offered me an audition of his work earlier this month. I was blown away by it and said that we should work together. The Kickstarter will enable me to pay him to record and produce the audiobook of the finished product so I can put it out there for people like my brother, a man who does not have time to read but listens to audiobooks regularly. Of course, I have to get the book finished so let me assure you that I am working hard to do that.

I suppose that this blog entry is my sales pitch in a sense; before I even set the Kickstarter up but I assure you it will happen. I will finish this up by not only thanking everyone who reads my blog and hopefully will continue to do so but by showing you a rough draft of the cover which Peta is still working hard on. Take care.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

So I Read... Animosity.

It is no secret to those who know me or who know what I have said before that I held Angela Queen of Hel in utter contempt. I read the series (all seven issues) for a review of it I wrote for when I was part of the site; I was not kind to it. I scored it one out of five and wrote that it was some of the worst writing I had ever seen in a comic series, it is a view I stand by to this day and will never change. I was not alone in how I felt about the series either, the YouTuber Mundane Matt did a couple of videos on it where he talked about its writing and its ultimate cancellation, they were good videos and I enjoyed them. I hold no ill will to the writer of that series, Marguerite Bennett, but those seven issues I would guess have not done her any favours in the long run.

With that said, I had a conversation with one of my friends and fellow indie authors, EJ Spurrell and he recommended Animosity to me as he had been reading it. It was a funny conversation and it went basically as follows:

"Hey, you should really check out Animosity. Its a comic from Aftershock Comics and its really good," he said.
"Who writes it?" I asked.
"Marguerite Bennet," he said.
"Isn't that the writer who did Angela?" I asked cautiously.
"Yeah it is."
"Ok, why would I want to read that?"
"Because its really good!"
"No, seriously, why would I want to read that?"
"Like I said, its really good!"

I really was not convinced but none the less, I looked into it.
After an event known as "The Wake", all of the animals on the planet suddenly show their personalities as if they were concealed, they can speak like we humans do, and most show a lot of hatred towards us in the process. This leads to fighting between the two species and it is not pretty, caught in the middle of this is a young girl called Jesse and her Bloodhound called Sandor as they travel to find a safe place to live and escape the violence.

I not only enjoyed what I read, but I couldn't believe that this was coming from the same writer behind that dreadful Marvel series. It has been written with care and some brilliant dialogue, especially from Sandor when he describes how it felt for him after The Wake but I will not spoil that here. Bennett also pulls off one of the best cliffhanger endings to a comic (issue 3) that I have seen for quite a while, it had me counting down the days until issue four's release. Bennett has crafted a story where it has two main characters that I have found myself really rooting for, and she has done this without any unwanted politics finding their way in. That alone makes me praise her to end and she deserves it. The artwork by Rafael de Latorre is also wonderful to look at, especially with the looks Sandor gives from time to time and the innocence of Jesse which will no doubt play a big part in the story. The series is obviously a popular one as well as the first issue is currently on its fifth printing and that is something I haven't seen happen for a while. This series serves as yet another reminder to me and hopefully other people out there that the better content is coming out via the independent publishers; it is so pleasing to see.

What lets the series down is the same thing that I have seen happen with so many others: the variant covers and the ridiculous amount of them. Don't get me wrong as some of them are nice, but between the first four issues (at the time of writing and not including the reprints) there are seventeen different covers available and that is a silly amount to have. I understand that perhaps variants are a way to show off new talent and so on but that number really does need limiting.

I liked being surprised these days and Animosity has been one of my favourites. Perhaps it is harsh of me so say but it does appear Bennett learned a lesson from AQOH and has come up with something brilliant as a result. I have added Animosity to my standing order at my comic shop so that I do not miss an issue, I really hope it continues as I want to see the adventures of this young girl and her guardian dog.

Anyway, I must go now.
My wife is calling me to come downstairs, our Chinchilla is giving her some evil looks and is trying to open its cage door....