Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Campaign for Real Fear submission

As the Campaign for Real Fear narrows down to those lucky ten winners, writers who got rejected seem to be posting their entries up on their blogs. Here's my entry...


The rumour spread through the playground like wildfire, it spread like head-lice.

There was a vampire in the graveyard!

It had sharp teeth and glowing red eyes! It would suck your blood, drinking you up as if you were just a big chocolate milkshake!

The Elmfield Road 'three and a half' gang (the half because Charlie was only five years old and didn't really count,) knew what to do. Just like the day they'd solved The Case of the Interfering Priest, they met in Lucy's treehouse after school.

"How do you fight a vampire?" Billy asked them.

"With a steak!" said Lucy.

"With garlic on it?" asked Billy.

"I wanna ice-cream!!" said Charlie.

"Cut off its head!" announced Simon, delightedly. His brother had an impressive collection of horror movies, and Simon could therefore be trusted on matters such as these.

They arranged to meet outside the graveyard at midnight, because vampires, as Simon had informed them, only came out at night, much like those ladies who lived in the house up on Park End Street.

Lucy was already there when Simon arrived. “How did you get away?” he asked.

“I climbed down the drainpipe!” She grinned proudly.

When Billy arrived, holding Charlie’s arm and trailing his father’s firewood axe in his other hand, neither Simon nor Lucy asked how he had got away. It was common knowledge that Billy and Charlie’s parents didn’t much care what they did.

“It must be feeding,” said Simon. “It’ll be back before sun up.”

"Will the vampire be ‘sexy?’" asked Lucy, as they waited. She had seen an entirely different sort of vampire movie.

Billy huffed. “Don’t be such a girl.”

Dawn crept slowly into the sky. When the vampire arrived, it wasn’t ‘sexy.’ It had nasty red eyes and its hair was matted. The children were sure they could smell its rank breath from where they hid behind the wall.

Muttering darkly, it pushed open the heavy door of the crypt and went inside.

“We’ll never open that door.” said Simon. “We’ll have to lure it out.”

The plan was this: Lucy and Charlie banged on the crypt and shouted, while Simon and Billy waited to attack.

“Damn kids!” shouted the vampire, pushing open the door.

It tripped over Charlie. The vampire cried out in surprise as it fell.

Billy, seeing the vampire attack, lunged with the axe.

“Arghgl…!” gurgled the vampire.


The Chief Constable today blamed violent videogames for the recent surge in juvenile crime, and urged parents to take more responsibility for where their children go at night. He could not confirm whether a five year-old had been present at the attack, but said that all children involved were being dealt with by the relevant authorities. He said that this incident only confirmed the need for the new government’s latest censorship laws, which will...

The newspapers sucked the story dry.


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Who's read Transmetropolitan? I have.

So those three old white guys are on TV, competing for our attention again. David Cameron really reminds me of somone...

Okay, so I know the 'smiler' character's look was based on Blair, but everyone is comparing Blair and Cameron these days. It's just something behind the eyes. You know he's not got your best interests at heart...

I wish I had the time and mad photoshop skillz to change 'CALLAHAN' to read 'CAMERON'. Also that other guy could totally be Brown...


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Some things we have to do on our own...

So, when I announced on twitter today (@Jenni_Hill) that I was going to Saturday's Million Women Rise march in London, and asked who was coming with me, several men of my acquaintance complained that they wouldn't be going because men weren't allowed, and wasn't this awful?

Well, no. It's not awful. Not really.

To be fair on the men in question, they care very deeply about these issues and framed their arguments in the most respectful way, but the 'why are men excluded from this protest?' debate is one that comes up a lot on the forums and blogs I frequent, as both the Million Women Rise marches and the Reclaim the Night protests do exclude men.

From now on, when this debate comes up, I will be able to point people to this post. There are four things to understand:-

1. There are plenty of marches where men are allowed.

2. This is not one of them.

3. There are rape survivors/ex-prostitutes/victims of domestic abuse who do not feel comfortable at marches where men are allowed.

4. Those people deserve to be able to march on these issues. As do you. You need to look closely at point 1.

Lesser points:-

-Complaining that you're not invited to the party is not constructive. It doesn't make you an ally. If you care, get involved at the White Ribbon Campaign* or somewhere else, and don't attack the organisers who are trying to do something about these issues. You're derailing the important dialogues going on here by shouting "What about me?" when really, truly, and I say this in the kindest possible manner, it is not about you. If you are a privileged person, you are used to most things in life being about you. For a tongue-in-cheek discussion of what derailing is, go here: Derailing for Dummies, I really recommend it. For discussion from my mate Laurie Penny of why it's not about you, go here.

- How often do you see women come together in spaces which are mainly full of women and march on something, and get angry about something? You don't. The visual of many, many women walking down these public streets and protesting will be a strong one. Strong enough to make some men angry, shout abuse and spit at us, in some cases.

- Don't argue that the support of men will somehow add legitimacy to the issue, or that 'sexists will listen to men' because that's just wrong-headed and therein lies madness or, alternatively, this onion article (wherein 53-year-old management consultant Peter "Buck" McGowan uses the old boy's network to 'fix' feminism).

- We're not 'Reclaiming the Night' if you're with us. I may feel safer walking down Tooting Bec road at 3am if I've got my six-foot boyfriend with me, but that is Not How Things Should Be.

It's about NOT having to walk down the road arm in arm with a man - please try to understand that. Some things we want to do on our own. This is one of them.

- Jen

*The White Ribbon Campaign is one of those places that makes me want to stand up on a high place and shout "FUCK YEAH!" and maybe wave my fists in the air for a bit. Seriously. Go check it out. What are you still doing here?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Just to apologise for not posting on here recently - life's been a bit hectic. I've basically been given the geeky job of my dreams, editing for sci-fi and horror publishers Solaris Books and Abaddon Books, at Rebellion. There's a big commute involved, but I'm really happy with the work I'm doing.

Haven't found anything too unprofessional/incriminating on this page so I'll be using this blogspot account to contribute to staff blogs here:



And also I'll keep updating Under the Goggles with thoughts on the industry and so on.

And yes, change of job does mean that I can no longer wear goggles to work. Sigh...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

This thread...

Huh. Well, this opinion piece at The F Word is probably worth a read.

"Someone even said to me once: “You know, you’re beautiful and clever, but you’re such a geek.” Coming from someone who is herself clever and beautiful, I utterly resented that comment. So, let me get this straight. Being a geek is a bad thing … right? Oh yeah, I forgot. Clever little girls should be pretty and sweet, and leave the boys to their toys."
~ Wisrutta Atthakor, writing for The F Word.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Zaphod: "Oh, Belgium!"

Shii - the Wii for women - video as found by gender equality blog Feministing on 27th April.

Firstly, let me state, as the blogger at Feministing neglected to do, that I understand that this video is satire. A moment's googling tracked down its source, which is the Belgian comedy show M!LF (Man! Liberation Front). So, satire. Obviously.

Having said that... it's not great satire. I'm pretty sure that the outdated Battle of the Sexes "heey, women enjoy cooking, cleaning and being sexually available to lazy men, riight?" brand of humour belongs entirely to our dads' generation, if not to the generation before that (and also to Benny Hill and postcards found in seaside towns featuring rosy-cheeked cartoon British people).

Then again, I don't speak Flemish! This could be a witty comment on the state of the gaming industry. It should be. For instance, doesn't anyone think this imagined scenario is a little too close to real games such as Nintendo's Cooking Mama and its ilk? No, Cooking Mama isn't a game about cannibalising your mother. It's a cookery game - because in the Nintendo household, 'mama' does all the cooking while father brings home the cash, of course. They're springing up everywhere these days, these games designed by PR executives trying to appeal to the nurturing instinct. Domestic drudgery - it's the new fun, apparently.

There's Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, Gardening Mama, waitressing game Diner Dash and so on. Notice how in the Shii video, nearly all the tasks the women did were ways to nurture and basically take care of their men.

Ubisoft's Imagine brand, described by their official website as "the only range of videogames offering activities dedicated to girls on the Nintendo's DS," offers a just delightful range of possibilities for young girls to imagine.

Here's the full catalogue of stereotypes:-

Imagine: Master Chef (released 2007)
Imagine: Fashion Designer (2007)
Imagine: Animal Doctor (2007)
Imagine: Babies (2007)
Imagine: Figure Skater (2008)
Imagine: Girl Band (2008)
Imagine: Teacher (2008)
Imagine: Babysitters (2008)
Imagine: Baby Club (2008)
Imagine: Fashion Model (2008)
Imagine: Modern Dancer (2008)
Imagine: Fashion Designer New York (2008)
Imagine: Champion Rider (2008)
Imagine: Pet Hospital (2008)
Imagine: Interior Designer (2008)
Imagine: Dream Weddings (2008)
Imagine Party Babyz (2008)
Imagine: Ballet Dancer
Imagine: Movie Star (2008)
Imagine Fashion Party (January 20, 2009)
Imagine: Cheerleader (February 3, 2009)
Imagine: Ice Champions (March 3, 2009)
Imagine: Family Doctor (March 26, 2009)

THESE are the ambitions being sold to the young girls of today?

God, at least you could mutilate the tacky plastic baby mama crap that they bought you when I was a lass. All MY Barbies sported mohawks, coloured in, in felt-tip pen. What's a young girl to do if a relative buys her Imagine: Babies? Let me tell you, in my day etc. etc.

Even the most recent 'doctor' incarnation of the Imagine series has that insidious 'Family' tacked onto the title - Imagine: Family Doctor. There's a sweet picture of a female doctor with a child holding a teddy bear on the box, bringing up pictures of giving babies spongebaths and curing toddlers' sniffles. Not handing out STI medicine and contraceptive advice which is, you know, some of the less PR-friendly stuff that family doctors do (and might be useful for young girls to learn about, too).

And Imagine: Teacher has primary school children on the front, a job that is usually lower-paid than lecturer or high school teacher and, as is often the case with lower paid careers in care, where UN statistics show that women outnumber men.

Now don't get me wrong. I'd be pretty damn pleased if a future daughter of mine became a doctor, or a primary-school teacher, or a talented figure skater, or pretty much anything else that made her happy and secure. BUT. There are themes here, oh yes there are. Underlying, subtle themes which say to us that young girls must be nurturing, they must care about appearances, and they absolutely must desire marriage and lots and lots of babies.

There are a lot of statistics about how computer game companies are appealing to women these days. Some studies even claim that there are more women playing computer games than men. In a time of financial crisis when corporations are looking wherever they can for profit, Ubisoft will certainly be pleased with the success of their Imagine range.

Well. Congratu-bloody-lations, you broke into a new market. But by god don't kid yourselves that you're doing anything progressive or special if you're just going to go and vomit back the same stereotypes we've been seeing for years.



A final thought on the Shii video: Because when a woman has a giant pink plastic dildo hooked up to a games console, putting it in her mouth is exactly what she'll think to do with it...

*exits to the Benny Hill music*

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Life After 'Watchmen'

Authors note: This article was written for a job application. If I had written it with entirely free rein, it would simply have read: YOU WILL READ TRANSMETROPOLITAN NOW.

You’ve seen the movie, you’ve read the comic, you’ve bought the funny blue action figure (happily devoid of large blue penis)… what do you do next? How do you get your Watchmen fix?

DC Comic’s latest marketing move asks us exactly this question. A new section of their website approaches the problem in a logical fashion, trying to define what it is that makes Watchmen one of their most successful graphic novels.

They divide the possibilities into five categories. Are we now looking to read other books by Watchmen scriptwriter Alan Moore? Are we looking for more books for mature readers, or are we looking for more comics by best-selling authors? Are we intrigued by the way that Watchmen pushed the boundaries of science fiction, or would we prefer to find books that redefine modern superheroes?

Helpfully, the website even provides us with a checklist on which we can tick off each of the titles that they suggest. All of these titles, we cynically observe, are owned by DC.

So what do they suggest?

Well, if you’re after more storytelling from the great bearded wizard of Northampton (a.k.a. Alan Moore), the site recommends V for Vendetta. Already a successful movie, this anarchic portrayal of resistance in a totalitarian Britain both terrifies and fascinates the reader. Also suggested is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a graphic novel which sees Moore gleefully merging the various heroes and horrors of Victorian fiction. Want to see Mr. Hyde grappling with one of War of the World’s tripods? The League is the place to be. However, it would be a shame to forget that Moore has scripted comics for publishing houses other than DC, and fans of the short story format will enjoy his Complete Future Shocks, collected by 2000 AD.

DC suggest award ceremony favourite Neil Gaiman if you’re looking for works by critically-acclaimed graphic novelists. Lost scriptwriter Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man is also mentioned. This Hugo Award winning work imagines a world in which almost all males have suddenly and mysteriously died out. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse director Joss Whedon has also written some well-received graphic novels for publishing houses Dark Horse and Marvel Comics. His Astonishing X-Men is worth a read even for those new to the characters, and his ‘Season Eight’ continuation of the Buffy series is one of the best-kept secrets in comics.

We find Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan accused of both ‘mature’ content and of pushing the boundaries of science fiction, which comes as no surprise to this reader. This furious, paranoid romp through the dystopian 23rd century sees foul-mouthed, drug-taking gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem making the leftie press look cool in his mission to take down a corrupt presidency. Push the boundaries? This ten-book series pulls them down and stomps all over them in its hobnailed boots.

Garth Ennis’s Preacher also finds itself in the ‘mature’ category. The Reverend Jesse Custer’s road-trip through darkest America is packed full of blasphemy, bullets and booze, but there’s romance and good old-fashioned heroism in its black little heart. If Watchmen’s anti-heroes are what attracted you to the story, then books like Preacher and Transmetropolitan are what you need to be reading. DC’s Vertigo imprint, aimed specifically at mature readers, is a great place to find such characters.

If you’re looking for a new take on the modern superhero, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is recommended. Published in the same year as Watchmen, this work by Sin City writer Frank Millar is regarded with great critical acclaim. A much less sophisticated, and more recent take on the superhero can be found in Dynamite Entertainment’s The Boys. This comic follows a government-sponsored team which takes out corrupt superheroes. Fans of DC and Marvel comics might enjoy spotting the irreverent parodies of their favourite icons.

So, whether you have trouble telling the Green Lantern from the Green Hornet (and you’d be in good company), or you’re a more seasoned comics veteran, it’s comforting to know that life does, indeed, continue after Watchmen.