Tag Archives: American Gods

Starscream’s High Heels and the Androgyny of the Trickster

Starscream prime

I like Transformers now, and I like Starscream. Who’d have thought? And who’d have thought it would lead me down a tangent about the mythological archetype of the Trickster and the blurring of the gender binary within?

It’s the high heels, is what it is. The Transformers property I’ve grown attached to is the 2011-2013 animated series Transformers Prime, which WB got me into, and in which Starscream is rocking a pair of stilettos built in to his very mechanics. Many of the characters went through a design overhaul for Prime, most notably baddies like Soundwave, who is no longer a walking boombox that you can slot other Decepticons into; and Starscream, who’s now delightfully spindly and spiky compared to his earlier, blockier counterparts, and who now has better-looking legs than me complete with those wonderful heels. To me, this look conveys his character well—one glance at this robot and you can tell he’s bad news, but you can also tell what kind of bad news he is. Continue reading


Filed under Archetypes and Genre, Fun with Isms

Gods and Umbrellas: Alex Reads Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman makes you believe in magic—fairy tales and swords and sorcery sometimes, but mostly, and in what I’ve decided is my favourite genre of fantasy, corner-of-your-eye magic. Magic that coexists and overlaps with the everyday world that we know, but magic that simply chooses not to reveal itself, or we choose on some subconscious level not to notice because we’re content to go on with the lives we’ve deemed sensible. A hidden world in the cracks and forgotten places of London? Gods and spirits eking out a living in modern day America? Ancient spirits residing in the hill of an overlooked and overgrown graveyard? It’s all there, and you really do believe that these things can exist and we can all be walking straight past them every day.

I haven’t read Sandman or any of his graphic novels, but mostly ended up in his novels and short stories and the interweave of bizarreness and normalcy within. The fact that he won an award for an Arthur Conan Doyle/H.P. Lovecraft crossover fanfiction (A Study in Emerald) should tell you on its own that his imagination is versatile, playful, somewhat macabre, and has no problem magpie-ing other people’s creations and toying with them until they’re made into something new. Gaiman’s recently released a Sleeping Beauty retelling, and it’s not the first time he’s played with fairy tales either, given Snow, Glass, Apples, a chilling reimagining of Snow White from the stepmother’s point of view, Snow White being a vampiric creature she’s trying to stop from sucking the life out of her husband and kingdom; and Stardust, his own ‘fairy tale for adults’.

Does this mean he’s one of those ‘let’s take well-known pre-established and much-loved ideas and make them into something gritty and mature and horrifying’ authors? In some ways, yes, but he manages not to be so overt about it, and you always get a sense of fun as an undercurrent to even his most serious works (yes, even you, American Gods). The same way he blends the magic with the mundane, he manages to blend things we recognise with his own original ideas, which purees together into a beautiful creative smoothie that’s very interesting to read. Continue reading

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Filed under Alex Reads

Fall of the Divine: the Power of Belief as a Story Device

Rise of the Guardians art

I finally got around to watching Rise of the Guardians—such an arduous, complicated task it is to sit down and watch a movie, I know. In any case, I can now join in WB’s adoring mouth-frothing over the visual spectacle that is this animated delight, and sit and ponder the key concept of film, which is one that I’ve noticed popping up all over the place.

The Guardians, for the uninitiated, are a crack team of magical spirits tasked with protecting the children of the world—Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, joined reluctantly by a mischievous and somewhat angsty Jack Frost. The great evil this squad of awesomely re-imagined childhood heroes is combating is Pitch the Nightmare King, alias the Bogeyman, who’s crawled out of the woodwork with a flourish and is concocting a plot to do away with the Guardians and snuff out all the hope in the kids of the world.

And how does he go about this? Why, by destroying the children’s belief in them. The entire reason Pitch is so bitter and fabulously maleficent is because kids stopped believing in and fearing him, causing him to lose power and fade into the shadows. He can’t be seen or touched by humans, but he can swan around blasting us all with Jude Law’s evil monologues, and he can defeat the Guardians by killing the idea of them.

This is the idea that fascinates me: the concept that belief in something gives it power. Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings