Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who Are The Real Cybermen? Reading the Ruptures in Doctor Who Novel Made of Steel

Pulling together the arguments of Tania Modleski (Loving With a Vengeance) and Janice Radway (Reading the Romance), I contend that the Doctor Who series of novels creates for the sci-fi geek what the Harlequin romance is for the (predominantly) women who read them.  Like Harlequins, these books are not taken seriously as “literature” but understood to be simply “fun” (read: not important or worth thinking about).  Eminently consumable, Doctor Who novels follow a known formula (The Doctor faces down monsters and/or aliens and he wins in the end) that has been popular enough to keep both the television series and accompanying books in production for nearly fifty years.  Through examining a recent “Quick Reads” Doctor Who novel, Made of Steel, as one star in a constellation of texts that I read across (Felski 512) I attempt to pinpoint what ruptures are allowed by this formula.

The mass market paperback: cheaply bound, 100-250 pages, fast paced stories meant to attract and satisfy as wide an audience as possible; a model championed and mastered by the Harlequin company (Modleski).  The appeal may already be obvious; such novels are easy to pick up and set down and do not require a huge commitment of time, and there is a known emotional “pay off” at the end because of several common formulas, of which readers may choose their favorite.  Similarly, such books are easy to produce cheaply, making even a very low sell-price profitable for the publisher.  Couple these elements with a wide readership and you have hit pay dirt; a highly consumable book form perfectly suited to the needs and desires of both a capitalist market and industrial society (During 193). 

Thus it should be no real surprise that in 2006, after the BBC’s “reboot” of British sci-fi classic Doctor Who was proving to pull in the ratings like few other television shows on the UK airwaves, they decided to continue the now common strategy of “branding across formats” (During 199) and re-mobilize their literature section in the production of Doctor Who themed novels.  Yet, this time around the BBC was not satisfied with producing only the standard 250 page versions of these books, opting to also begin a new line of all-original “quick reads” meant to “promote reading” by being an even more manageable 100-150 pages  (TARDIS Index File).  In addition to their shorter length, the production and distribution of these novels follows in the footsteps of Harlequin romances: they are only ever produced in mass market paperback (or ebook) forms and carry a price tag of just £1.99, making them incredibly affordable for both producer and consumer (Radway 13)

Friday, October 14, 2011

When Columbus got off the boat...

Via Fierce...Flawless...:
"When Columbus got off the boat, he asked us who we were. We said we’re the Human Beings, we’re the People. Conceptually the Europeans didn’t understand that, it was beyond their conceptual reality. They didn’t see us. They couldn’t see who we were. Historically speaking, we went from being Indians to pagans to savages to hostiles to militants to activists to Native Americans. It’s five hundred years later and they still can’t see us. we are still invisible. They don’t see us as human beings, but we’ve been saying to them all along that’s what we are. We are invisible to them because we are still the Human Beings, we’re still the People, but they will never call us that. They taught us to call ourselves Indians, now they’re teaching us to call ourselves Native Americans. It’s not who we are. We’re the People. They can’t see us as human beings. But they can’t see themselves as human beings. The invisibility is at every level, it’s not just that we’re tucked away out of sight. We’re the evidence of the crime. They can’t deal with the reality of who we are because then they have to deal with the reality of what they have done. If they deal with the reality of who we are, they have to deal with the reality of who they aren’t. So they have to fear us, not recognize us, not like us. The very fact of calling us Indians creates a new identity for us, an identity that began with their arrival. Changing identity, creating a new perceptual reality, is another form of genocide. It’s like severing a spiritual umbilical cord that reaches into the ancestral past. The history of the Indians begins with the arrival of the Europeans. The history of the People begins with the beginning of the history of the People. The history of the People is one of cooperation, collectivity, and living in balance. The history of the Indians is one of being attacked and genocide, rather than a history of peace and balance. The history of the People under attack, the Indians, in an evolutionary context, is not very long, it’s only five hundred years. The objective of civilizing us is to make Indian history become our permanent reality. The necessary objective of Native people is to outlast this attack, however long it takes, to keep our identity alive."
- John Trudell (Santee Sioux)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fuck Columbus

This is probably my least favorite holiday. I can't think of one I dislike more anyway. On the flip side if all goes according to plan I will be joining up with the Occupy Oakland demonstration (in solidarity/conjunction with Indigenous Resistance Day) after class tonight so please send good thoughts our way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Decolonize Oakland October 10th #occupywallstreet

Via Dignidad Rebelde

Why have I titled this post "Decolonize Oakland"?  Because of this Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists and other similar critiques I've been reading this week.  I am sharing this event with you in particular because 1) it is local and that has always been a focus for me here and 2) it seems to acknowledge the important linkages between decolonization, indigenous resistance and this emerging "occupation" movement.

For more information on the event check out Occupy Oakland's Twitter account. Next planning meeting is TOMORROW.