I’m fascinated by utopias. Thomas More’s 1516 novel Utopia coined this term for a perfect society. In the book, More explores the politics, religion, and culture of an ideal island nation. I’ll never forget learning More created “utopia” from the Greek words eu-topos, which means “a good place,” and ou-topos, meaning “no place.” The text was satire and the name a pun. That blew my mind…and made me a little sad as it inherently implies such a good place may not be possible. Part of what fascinates me about utopias is how little (comparatively) we envision them in our art. Scores of dystopias fill our films, TV shows, comics, and novels. It feels like we’re always imagining our end. But what a perfect society looks like? How it functions? We don’t create those as often nor celebrate them when we do (remember George Clooney’s Tomorrowland? …that’s my point). When it comes to the Marvel Universe, Wakanda has always been the shining example of a perfect society. But when writer Jonathan Hickman was given the keys to the X-kingdom in 2019, Marvel’s mutants settled on the living island Krakoa (a mutant itself), creating an independent nation and new utopia in the MU. As Thomas More did 500 years before, Hickman’s Krakoa gives readers a good place which invites us to consider whether no place like this will ever exist…and it got me hooked on reading and thinking about the X-Men again for the first time in twenty-five years!
Doctor Who’s “The Face of Evil,” the Nature of God, and the Role of Religion
Doctor Who is, in many ways, an inherently religious show. At least according to Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor himself, who’s played the Doctor longer than anyone else to date (a grand total of 172 episodes across eight seasons). I agree. In fact, I’d argue one of the many, many reasons Doctor Who has been around for nearly sixty years is because it does what religions often do and we, by nature, are drawn to such stories. By this I mean it addresses the fundamental questions of human existence and invites viewers to dialogue with these questions of meaning, purpose, morality, and the like. It offers hope, even when such stories are out of vogue. Most of all, its central catechesis is to be kind. Religions, when they are operating at their best, call us to do the same as they seek to connect us to the Divine and to each other. However, religion doesn’t always operate at its best and this can lead to confusing conflations of our ideas of “good,” “evil,” and “God.” “The Face of Evil,” the fourth serial of Series Fourteen of Classic Doctor Who, brilliantly explores the dangers of conflating the role of religion with the will of God.
Would You Go to Westworld If It Were Real? Would I Go to Westworld?
This is a piece I wrote awhile back but never posted. I’d planned to use it to help fill the quiet on the blog as I was writing my book (yay!) but, well, I just kinda forgot. What can I say? Life was busy. But with Westworld Season Four arriving this weekend, I figured it was the perfect time to share it! Enjoy!
This last HBO show I became completely obsessed with was Westworld. As I started it just months after I watched (and raved incessantly about) The Leftovers, my brother was worried I’d fall into the “HBO Cult” and become one of those people who ONLY talks about HBO shows. Granted, this fear was more prevalent and the reality more pervasive in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s before the rise of streaming services changed our experience of TV. But David’s fear/warning was valid all the same and I agree; “those HBO people” can be SO ANNOYING. Thankfully, while I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about Westworld, HBO never fully consumed me. There are still plenty of things I like to think and talk about. So, let’s think and talk about HBO’s Westworld, shall we?
What is #Comicsgate? Small Minds with Big Mouths
I’ve intentionally avoided writing about “#Comicsgate” until now. Honestly, I felt it didn’t deserve any more attention than it already had. It’s a movement of intolerance fueled by a small (compared to comic fandom as a whole) group of angry, close-minded individuals. They are very loud about their displeasure with the modern comic industry in an attempt to a) appear larger and more influential than they really are and b) garner more attention for their rantings. As such, I haven’t written about it. Why give this little, prattling monster what it wants? However, as someone who writes about his love of comic books while often showcasing my appreciation for the social justice lessons the better ones teach us, I figured it was time to finally talk about it. As it’s sadly not going anywhere (yet) I’d also like to offer my two cents on how we can counter things like this in the comic fan community. Continue reading