Martha Thomases: And Today’s Holiday Is…

Today is Boxing Day. According to Wikipedia “Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a ‘Christmas box’ from their bosses or employers… in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other Commonwealth nations, as well as Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.”

Which is, as the British say, bollocks. With no history or evidence whatsoever, I consider Boxing Day to be the holiday in which we put all our unwanted gifts into a box they came in and return them to the , store for something we want. And since that works better as a premise for this column, that’s what I’m going with.

Here are some trends from 2014 popular culture that I would like to see returned and exchanged for something better:

  • The new Wonder Woman team. I don’t know anything about the strategy that involves putting a married couple to work on the same book at the same time. Perhaps the editors thought everything would flow more smoothly if the writer and artist were in the same house. However, in the case of Meredith and David Finch, I think they made a poor choice. Finch’s art is too reminiscent of the kind of T&A that passes for story-telling these days, and Meredith’s words and plots don’t help any. I don’t think I would enjoy their characterizations of any super-heroines, but certainly not Wonder Woman. She is supposed to be strong and independent and a peaceful warrior, not armored eye candy.
  • Making trilogies into four parts. I understand that movie studios want to get every last penny they can from the ticket-buying public (and, later, the video-on-demand buying public and the DVD buying public). I understand that lots of people get jobs from making an extra movie. Unfortunately, they don’t take the epic and re-divide it into four parts. They take the first two parts, then split the third in two. The first part of the third book ends on a cliff-hanger and is not in the least bit satisfying. That’s not how story structure works.
  • Incompatible media. I’m old enough to remember the conflict between Beta and VHS. More recently, I remember the conflict between Blu-Ray and HD. It was incredibly aggravating and stressful to want new technology, but to also know that picking the wrong format would cost thousands of dollars.

The problem this year is not the machines, but the purveyors. I enjoy lots of streaming services, especially Netflix and Amazon Prime. Unfortunately, my Apple TV won’t let me watch the latter on the big TV in my living room. I could buy the plug-in that Amazon makes, but that way lies madness. I don’t want a bunch of little plastic devices sticking out of my television set. I want one that lets me access whatever I want.

  • Intolerant fan bases. I never thought I would live to see the day when my beloved comic books would be an important part of the popular culture. Not only do they inspire movies and television shows that win awards and top the ratings charts, but they earn spots on top-ten lists. It’s really great. People I know from the non-comics parts of my life read graphic novels now.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to see nerd culture in general, and comics in particular, become popular. Gamergate is still an issue. Women at comic conventions still get hassled, especially (but not only) if they are cosplayers. Twenty years ago, when a bunch of us started Friends of Lulu, we were harassed by those who were threatened by our involvement in the industry>.

I think the reactionary voices are louder now than they have been because they are on the way out. I think the capitalist glee at the new customer dollars will eventually overcome the boys club (and the white club, and the straight club and the Christian club etc. etc. etc.).

Here’s wishing you more and better in 2015.