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Welcome to Dangerous Characters!

Ever since the beginning of my Internet Career (TM) (ugh) I’ve done two things: Political op-eds, and pop culture coverage.

Dangerous Characters is a place for me to blend the two, pairing the ladybusiness of the day with the female characters of film, TV and literature that I think best illuminate the issues. Each newsletter profiles one character, and tells you why I think she matters, and the newsletter goes out twice a month.

But those are the free e-mails.

Behold the Hidden Benefits of the Inner Circle

Substack also allows you to opt in for a paid membership, which, for launch, I’m setting at $5/month and $50 per year. The members-only e-mails will contain exclusive content:

  • In members-only e-mails, I’ll take requests and review one character nominated by a subscriber. You can make me watch your favorite thing, or you can make me watch something horrible, just to see how I react. Make me watch a YouTube video of a dog eating poop off the street, if you want. I can analyze that dog. It’s really up to you.

  • I’ll also field questions and reader mail. Tell me who your favorite (pick one) sci-fi/horror/YA/comic book character is, and why! Explain why I am wrong about the last thing I reviewed! Ask me for life advice and/or skincare recommendations! I don’t know why you’d want that, but again: Whatever!

  • If enough people are interested, there’s the potential to share audio and video content. If not enough people are interested, maybe I’ll do it anyway! But the “video content” will be an Instagram story of me eating granola in 97-year-old leggings. Don’t make me film my leggings. Join today!


Why do you want my money?

Well, for one thing, writing is my job. I have several places where I write regularly; in order for me to commit to any one project, I have to justify the (literal) cost of setting aside that time. If I don’t get paid for something, I just can’t do it very often. I have a small baby, and the baby needs food. Getting funding is the only way I can do things I love.

Ever since my very early days as a blogger, I’ve set up reader donations; I find that when you have a direct line to me, and function as my boss, I’m able to produce content I’m passionate about, and pursue ideas that are a little too wild and weird to sum up in a short op-ed. Those also tend to be the pieces people like the most, so I’m hoping that the donation arrangement allows Dangerous Characters to grow into a good space.

How do I nominate a topic for a member e-mail?

Members are given the *~top secret~* e-mail address for nominations when they subscribe. (Sadly, responding directly to the newsletter gets filed into some mysterious bin in the ether where I never get to see it, so you will need that e-mail address to play.) Just send an e-mail explaining what you’d like me to cover, and why.

There are a few rules, but they’re very basic:

  • You can nominate either a piece of fiction (book, movie, TV, etc.) or a character. So, you could request a piece on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a piece on Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  • The character must be female, or at least femme — I’m open to flexible interpretations of those concepts, but it can’t be a dude. So, I could review the bear from Annihilation, since it has a woman’s voice and is coded ambiguously female, but not Xander from Buffy, since he is Xander.

  • Try to be a little mindful of the time it would take to watch or read your recommendation. It would be great to write about Middlemarch, but it might take months for me to read the whole thing; Doctor Who has been running for half a century, so I cannot actually watch the whole thing before passing comment (though I might be able to review a specific companion, like Martha). That’s not to say your long-running TV show or epic novel isn’t a great pick, or that I won’t do it, but it will take time, so shorter pieces like movies are often a better choice.

I follow you for politics. Why this?

First of all: This is political stuff. If you read me for op-eds or mean Twitter jokes about Mike Pence, this newsletter is also going to contain responses to current events.

Secondly: Honestly, writing about art is the only way I keep myself sane and functional in the Trump administration. Art situates the current crisis in some deeper understanding of the human condition. It reminds us that all of our stories have been told before, in some form, and that by knowing how the culture’s narratives work, we can change them. If you’re stuck in a rage-coma, frantically refreshing social media to find new things to be appalled by, stepping away into a story is a way to put your spirit back in your body.

The fictional characters I spend time with teach me how to live, and keep my head above water. I hope they will do the same for you. If not, I really hope you enjoy the Instagram story of my leggings. They are patterned in black-and-white splotches, of the sort you’d see on the cover of a composition book, and are perhaps too hideous for words alone to do them justice. You have been warned.