31 Days of Halloween: Dead Alive — We Minored in Film

This October, we’re challenging ourselves to watch at least one horror movie a day. Today we took our first request and revisited a film one reader asked us to weigh in on because, really, once you’ve seen Dead Alive you just have to talk about it. It’s easy to forget now, but Peter Jackson once trafficked […]

via 31 Days of Halloween: Dead Alive — We Minored in Film

The Bloggers at We Minored in Film are on an ambitious project, Reviewing 31 Horror Movies in 31 Days. I asked them if they would review one of Peter Jackson’s earliest movies for me, and they did such a great job, that I’m posting it here! Please visit there blog to see the other 20 or so films they’ve reviewed. I’m sure you’ll come across some favorites.

Thanks guys!

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Many Resisters Don’t Want Change; They Want to Get Back to Brunch

Throughout history, photographs have captured the emotion and message of movements or pivotal times in history. Many of us can recall seeing images that spoke to the times with many of the photographs moving, inspiring, challenging, angering or calling us to action. I can still recall the emotion I felt seeing former President Barack Obama…

via Many Resisters Don’t Want Change; They Want to Get Back to Brunch — WriteSomeShit

I had to reblog this because this is exactly my faith level when it comes to White women in the US. I don’t have any. Not one ounce. My faith in them was never very high in the first place, but its pretty much at 0%  , and has been since the election.

Don’t spin this to mean I hate White women, or dislike them. I can smile and laugh with them about their favorite TV show, or a nice purse they just bought, but I don’t trust them when it comes to political or social issues, unless they are walking the walk as much as they are talking  the talk. And I have seen very little walking from many of them, although running they’re mouths seem to be a great hobby for some of them. The same thing goes for intersectionalism feminism, and the #MeToo movement. Many of them are just talking the talk because they want to be seen to be doing it, not because they care.

13 Great Comic Books For Halloween

I stopped reading superhero comic books, a little while back, and went back to my roots. When I first starting reading grownup books, I started by reading Horror novels by Stephen King,  and comics like Eerie, and Creepy. I never completely got away from them over the years, but when I gave up superheroes (because of the paucity of storylines, and the hot mess of continuities that is Marvel and DC), I  started reading the work of individual writers, and following different artists I like, which led me back to reading horror comics again.

Here are some great comic books to read for Halloween. I’ve read all of these except the Honorable Mentions.

 

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

30 Days of Night has since become an entire series of books, with crossovers with other horror comics, and a movie starring Josh Hartnett. The graphic novel is so much better than the movie, and the movie is pretty damn good. The atmospheric art of Ben Templesmith is a huge factor in how scary the first book is. I became a huge fan of Steve Niles after reading this.

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Arkham Asylum: A Serious  House on Serious Earth  by Grant Morrison

This is one of my all-time favorite Batman books. If you ever wanted to know what being inside Arkham Asylum must be like, this should give you a pretty good idea why the criminals keep trying to escape. But this isn’t your typical Batman chases down some insanity through Gotham. No, Batman has to journey into the heart of the asylum, where he not only confronts his greatest opponents, but the inner workings of his own psyche. Naturally, it’s the Joker who asks the most important  question: Why isn’t he in there with them?

The artist is actually Dave McKean, but I think you can see a pattern forming, in that I like either cutsie, or painterly, styles of art.

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The Nocturnals (The Gunwitch) by Dan Brereton

I was intrigued by the  illustrations for this series long before I’d ever heard it was a comic book.That first image was of The Gunwitch, and I loved that name so much, that I went on an all out search for more of it, and came across The Nocturnals. Essentially, this is a Halloween superhero team, with the various members having superpowers based on being supernatural creatures. The Gunwitch is the former bodyguard of the young lady holding the stuffy, with the pumpkin purse, named Evening Horror.  The art is funky and colorful and, despite the presence of sexy women, this is safe  for juveniles.

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Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin

This is similar to The Nocturnals in theme. I discovered this comic in an anthology series about Halloween, about a group of neighborhood dogs, (and one cat), who fight the various monsters that keep invading their territories. My favorite part is the relationship between the various pooches, who are all brave and  good doggos. It’s not all sweetness and light though, because the stakes are very real, and sometimes the dogs get killed. It’s safe enough for pre-teens because there is very little gore, but not okay for small kids.

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http://deadshirt.net/2014/03/11/hellhounds-and-scaredy-cats-why-beasts-of-burden-is-the-best-horror-comic-youre-not-reading/

 

Constantine Hellbalzer: All His Engines by Mike Carey

I would definitely consider myself a Constantine fan, as I’ve read most of the graphic novels. Not all, but most, and I do have some favorite storylines. This is a particular favorite of mine, because apparently all you have to do is throw in an old Aztec god, and I’m in. The art is exceptionally well done, very detailed, and disgusting, and very, very effective. In this one, Constantine manages to find his way  to Los Angeles, investigating why his best friend’s grandchild has fallen into a coma, only to find its a trap meant just for him, in a war between an ancient god, and a demon wannabe.

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Spiral/Uzumaki by Junji Ito

This is one of those comics that has no gore, but nevertheless, haunts you long after you’ve finished the story. A curse causes the people in a small Japanese town to become obsessed with spirals to the point where they begin physically  transforming into spirals. If you like geographical horror, like the movie Annihilation, this is a great spooky story for Halloween.

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Enormous by Tim Daniel

The earth has been taken over by gigantic monsters. In the first story, Ellen Grace tries to get some orphaned children to a safe place, after the death of her mother, and the destruction of most of Arizona.

You know how much I love monsters, and the art for this series is truly spectacular, with full color paintings. It also has a female lead, ala Ellen Ripley. This is a pretty graphic and harrowing adventure story about not just physically surviving, but surviving emotionally. This is a comic you read in small sips.

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Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse by Ben Templesmith

I mentioned this series some time ago. I love horror-comedy mashups, and this is Ben Templesmith knocking it out of the park, with the hilarious, and terrifying stories of Wormwood, a tiny little worm inhabiting a rotting corpse, which  has not stopped him from living up to his responsibilities of  drinking, cussing, and saving the world from the interdimensional, Cthulhu-like horrors, waiting to destroy the Earth.

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The Goon Series by Eric Powell

For those of you who like monsters, but don’t like being scared, here’s some  humorous horror from Eric Powell. Think Ash vs. The Evil Dead, (and everything else), including mad scientists, zombies, Cthulhu, and femme fatales, set in the forties. The Goon usually wins by punching things, and when that doesn’t work, his loudmouthed partner will offer to shoot it. Don’t let the artistic style fool you. These books are nice and gory, but that’s okay, because they’re also deeply, deeply silly.

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Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing

I knew about the original backstory of the Swamp Thing because I read the comics when I was a little  kid, but when Alan Moore began his run in the 80s, he turned all of that on its head, and created one of the best story arcs for any character in the DC universe. Moore was aided in this endeavor by the  artists Bernie Wrightson, Steve Veitch, John Totleben, and Steve Bissette. (Please read the 1984 story “The Anatomy Lesson” if you want to be emotionally devastated.)

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Shaolin Cowboy by Geof Darrow

I was first introduced to the art of Geof Darrow in the book HardBoiled. A book with almost no dialogue, but plenty, and Imean plenty, of art. His work is so incredibly detailed, it’s ridiculous.  I went on to read Big Guy and Rusty (Who remembers that cartoon, but me?), and this crazed adventure here, Shaolin Cowboy, about the supernatural adventures of a Shaolin monk, in a techno alternate future America. Once again, there’s no dialogue to speak about, but you will spend hours staring intently at the pages trying to parse every detail, and it will be worth it, because Darrow likes to add lots of easter eggs to his work. It’s fun without  that anxiety producing gameshow feeling of  having to search for Waldo.

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Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles

Criminal Macabre is like if Ash from The Evil Dead had been born with the psychic ability to see the supernatural world, and tried unsuccessfully to suppress that power with a ton of booze and drugs. This series is deeply funny, mostly due to Cal McDonald’s ability to wisecrack, in even the most dire situations. This man takes so many drugs, it’s a wonder he’s able to stand up straight most of the time, often walking into fights drunk, high, or both, yet still somehow managing to prevail. And for those of you who consider comic books a little  too juvenile for your taste, there is a nice, fat, prose anthology of Cal’s adventures called Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories. The prose version isn’t as funny as the comics but the plots are just as ridiculous.

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Hellboy and B.P.R.D Series by Mike Mignola

I’m a long time Hellboy fan. Some of the love is at least partly due to the artistic style of Mike Mignola. If your only knowledge of Hellboy is through the two Guillermo Del Toro movies, then I urge you to check out the comic books, graphic, and prose novels, which are deeper than the films, and if possible, even more dark and moody. The biggest difference between the style of the movies and the books is tone. There’s not as much color or  humor in the books. If you’re looking for fun and funny, this ain’t necessarily it.

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https://nerdist.com/hellboy-rise-blood-queen-comics-history/

 

 

Honorable Mentions or What I’m About to Start Reading Soon

Aliens Salvation by Dave Gibbons

I actually haven’t read a whole lot of books in the Alien franchise. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the series. It mostly means I’m  too chickenshit to consume a steady diet of them.

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann

This story about tiny mutated people living in and around the rotting body of a little girl abandoned in the woods, sounds suitably horrific and yes, very, very strange.

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Gyo by Junji Ito

I’m told that the actual title of this book is called Death Stench and has something to do with people dying horribly from intestinal gas. This should resonate with anyone like me who is lactose intolerant and has ever made the mistake of drinking dairy products.

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Hillbilly by Eric Powell

Since I love the midwestern horror stories of Manly Wade Wellman, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like this other series by Eric Powell, about a Hillbilly guardian who fights monsters, in the hills of Appalachia, accompanied by his friend, a giant bear.

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Neonomicon by Alan Moore

I heard that this book was deeply frightening, about two government detectives stumbling across a supernatural mystery. It’s written by Alan Moore, so I trust that assessment.

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Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs

Another monster book, about a couple who decide to spend their honeymoon hunting bizarre natural monsters. It sounds really cute, and I hope it’s not too scary for me.

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Supernatural S14/E02 Review: Gods and Monsters

In “Gods and Monsters,” Supernatural begins a slow reveal of the mayhem Michael (Jensen Ackles) intends to introduce with his experimental creations. While Michael attempts to bring his ghastly vision into being, Nick (Mark Pellegrino) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) explore unacknowledged aspects of who they are. Writers Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming construct the form […]

via Supernatural S14E02 Review: Gods and Monsters — The Supernatural Fox Sisters

I didn’t get to review this episode in time for tonight’s, so I’m just going to put this here, as it makes a lot of my own points. The Sisters are holding it down on the SPN front, really well.

I do want to add: Is anyone else excited about Sam’s new badassedness. I mean he was always like that but it was kinda lowkey most of the time. I mean I love Dean but whenever he steps out of the picture Sam always seems to level up in his demeanor.

And is anyone else worried about Sam’s proclamation about there being no more Kings of Hell. That sounds like a challenge, or the kind of declaration that’s going to put him in the interesting spot of actually ruling Hell himself, which I admit, I’d love to see, and it would be an interesting bookend to Dean’s possession by Michael at the beginning of this season.

Essentially both Hell and Heaven are completely leaderless, with whatever angels and demons that are left, just out in the world doing their own thing. The Brothers Winchester have created  two power vacuums that  makes me wonder who or what is going to take up that slack. Michaels already trying, but no one has stepped up to try for Hell yet (unless you count the possibility of Nick or Sam).

But I’m getting waay ahead of myself here, even though y’all know that sometimes what the guys say and do, at the beginning of a season, may come back to bite them later.

I’ve told you guys I’m not a huge fan of Buckner and Leoming, but they’re actually pretty good when someone keeps a tight rein on them, and that’s the case here, becasue I didn’t see too many problems with the episode, and overall I enjoyed it.

So, for the first time really, I’m going to give these two writers high marks for starting off the season with some nice action with Sam and the demons, an interesting mystery with Michael’s actions, just a touch of pathos with Jack’s, and Nick’s stories, and some intrigue by damseling Castiel this time.

Let’s hope the rest of the season hits the same high marks.

These Shows Look Exciting

For some of these TV shows, I already posted trailers, but recently new trailers were introduced at the New York Comic Con, which got me enthused all over again. Now these are surefire shows and returns that I will definitely be watching when they air, usually because I enjoyed the first season, or read the book, or because I just like the premise and actors.

Wolf Creek Season 2 – Dec. 15th/?

Some of these shows, I don’t have concrete dates for, and for some of them I don’t even have a network, nevertheless, I will be scrolling through my TV guide to find them at the appointed times.

I remember doing a mini review of this when it first aired. The series was unexpectedly good. I say unexpected because I hated the movie on which this was based. Wolf Creek is based on the story of a real life serial killer who roamed the Australian Outback, several years ago, and I had trouble watching the film because it was more like torture porn than a legitimate movie, and seemed to be glorifying the killer, and I seriously didn’t like that. I also hate films where the soundtrack consists entirely of women screaming. I was sort of expecting that with this series, but what I got was a tension-filled thriller, where the  usual “Final Girl” plays a long cat and mouse game with the man who destroyed her family.

This time around I didn’t see any of that in the trailer, and there seems no continuation of the fallout from the first story, as far as I can tell. I think this is an entirely new cast, although once again, there’s a little bit too much glorification of the killer for my comfort. I’m not a fan of portraying real life serial killers as funny and entertaining, but I will tolerate that, if the show is really, really compelling.

We’ll see.

Good Omens – 2019/ Amazon/BBC

I’m a big David Tennant fan, so I will probably be here to watch this. No, I didn’t read the original story and have no great urge to do so. Sometimes I like to watch a source based show, solely on its own merits, and I want to do that with this one. I like the premise, and it looks hilarious, which I’m told is also true of the book its based on.

The Passage – 2019/Fox

I mentioned being excited about this earlier this year. Now this series, I did read the book but not because I knew it would become a TV show. I read it because it has some truly scary vampires in it, and I really liked the writing. The trailer heavily reminds me of Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts, and I can’t help but think this may have been influenced by it, (although it wasn’t.)

The one problem I had with the first book in the trilogy by Justin Cronin was about halfway through the first book the story really slowed down, especially after those great first 200 pages. I seriously considered simply dropping the book, but I persevered, and I’m glad I did, because it picked up again for the last 50 pages or so, and the last part has some relevance to the next book in the series, called The Twelve.

The makers of the show have said they plan to stick pretty close to the first book as much as possible, including that 100 year jump that happens just after the events in the first 100 or so pages. Now I’m curious as to how they’re gonna pull that off without losing their audience. I almost didn’t finish the book for that reason.

Titans – DCEU Streaming/Today

I have no plans to subscribe to this network. I’m not buying one more damn app to watch shows on. I spend enough money now on cable. Nevertheless, I’m still excited about this show, not so much because of Anna Diop, but because I’m a big fan of Beastboy, mostly from watching Teen Titans Go, with my niece. (I’m probably one of five people, in the US, who doesn’t give a single  gotdamn that Starfire is being played by a Black woman. I think she looks gorgeous! I still hate her outfit.)

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 – Jan. 17th/ CBS All Access

The more of this I see, the more excited I am for the new season. I hope to get more insight into the Bridge crew, and I actually like Pike with his cocky ass. It’s still kind of bittersweet when you consider his life trajectory, though. It’s fitting there would be some Spock in this season, as Spock eventually comes to serve with Pike on the Enterprise, before Kirk became Captain. I really like Michael, and I love how she was so much of the focus of the first season, as is fitting, but I’d also like to see a little less focus on just her, and a little more of a focus on her interaction with the rest of the crew, and what their lives are like together.

And I have to watch it for the promised reunion between Culber and Stamets.

Siren – Jan. 2019/Freeform

I mostly enjoyed the first season which was kind of uneven as far as pacing and character. It seems like this season the show is going to focus on Indigenous shapeshifters, not just the mermaids, which I think is very exciting, and it appears the show will  continue to  slam it out of the park on the diversity angle, by adding more Indigenous people to the cast.

Daredevil Season 3 – Oct. 19th/Netflix

I’m almost excited for this new season because the trailer looks great. I was okay with the last season. I give it a C, as it could’ve been better, and mostly I just seemed to see all its faults. Well, it had a lot of faults. But I really like Vincent D’Onofrio though, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Kingpin again, only because Vincent is so damned good at playing him. The fight scenes look really good, and I’ve heard the other characters on the show get some major screen-time, separate from Matt’s shenanigans as Daredevil. Frankly, Foggy deserves it.

American Gods Season 2 – 2019/Starz

Do I even need to talk about how excited I am for the second season of this show. I do have a few misgivings though because the prolific Bryan Fuller is no longer in charge of this season. I think Nei Gaiman has taken over the writing or something, which is good, but Neil is not Bryan and I don’t know how or if he will approach the racial issues of the story the ay Bryan did. I’m always wary of White writers when it comes to the subject of race, unless they have proven track record of care and improvement. I like Neil, and have read many of his books, but I don’t know how he planes to approach the show.

Nevertheless, I’ll remain optimistic based on this trailer, which looks pretty good. I’d watch the show even if I hated the trailer, because I’m looking forward to meeting all the other Gods, like Mama-Ji. There’s also an Indigenous character, a young woman, that was added from the book, and another Asian woman called New Media, since Gillian Anderson left the show. New Media represents the god of social media and the internet, and is strongly aligned with Technical Boy. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the Native gods of America, even though they were briefly mentioned and seen in the first season, although I have to say that such beings don’t show up til the end of the book, not that I think we should wait to see them.

What I’ve Been Watching: Mini-Reviews Of Dr. Who And Others

TV

Dr Who

I’m hooked! I know I’ve stated that I do not consider myself a Whovian because I’m not as steeped in the history of the show as some other more knowledgeable people might be, but I’ve always liked the show, and watched specific episodes when I was a kid in the 70s. I remember the Daleks from back then, and I know most of the villains on the series, and am familiar with a lot of the Doctors and their companions. I’m not steeped in minute details, but I know enough to navigate my way around a season.

In season 9 I started watching the show in earnest, because of the presence of Peter Capaldi, of whom I’m a big fan. I really loved him as the Doctor and I loved his new companion Bill Potts, and I was sorry to see them both gone.

I didnt actually know what to think of Jodi as the new Doctor at first. I was reserving my opinion on the entire issue until I saw some trailers or something, but after I saw the first trailer, I was intrigued, and I’ve seen her interviews about her new role, and her love and enthusiasm really captured me. I really like the actress herself. She so captures that sense of the Doctor. In fact, she reminds me of one of my other favorite Doctors, David Tennant whose career I’ve been following ever since. The first time I saw Jodi was in Grabbers, playing a drunken cop, and killing aliens, and I liked her in that movie, so when it was announced she’d be the new Doctor, I wasn’t upset, because I kinda knew of her.

Well, I watched the first episode and she is a darling . I really like her and I plan to watch the rest of the season. Now don’t get me wrong, the show isnt perfect, and did some things I found frustrating, but not frustrating enough to stop watching it, or lose interest, and overall, I really enjoyed myself. Some parts of it were a little heavy handed, and it remains to be seen how her companions, three at the moment, two of them PoC, will be treated by the writers. I have it on good authority that there are PoC in the writers room  for the very first time, so I feel optimistic about it.

Her new companions are a Black fellow named Ryan,and  his White stepfather, Graham (which is a dynamic I hope will be elaborated on in the future as their relationship is not an easy one), and a young Asian woman named Yasmin, who is/was a minor detective with the police. I like the relationship between Yasmin and Ryan as they are old grade school chums.

As for the Dr., she is her usual obnoxiously intelligent self, but with that little something extra that only Jodi could have brought to the role and something which all the actors who have played the Dr. were chosen for, their unique take on the character. It doesn’t hurt that she’s as nice to look at as any of the other Doctors like Tennant or Capaldi. I love her usual  know-it-all enthusiasm, which can get a bit grating after more than a little bit of it, but that’s okay, because the doctor usually prevails, and that’s also part of the reason I like this show so much.

So I guess this actually does make me a fan, huh?

Supernatural

I’m cautiously excited, and yet dreading, the rest of the season, because I care  so much about all  these characters, and know they’re in for a hard road, and some of them ain’t gonna make it out alive. Well, I’m in it til the end, so there. I’ll give a more detailed review at my other website and link it to this one. But I  really liked the premiere, and I’m going to give it a pretty high rating, and hope the rest of the season continues at that same level.

Charmed

I’ve been trying to drum up some enthusiasm for this show, but it’s been hard. I’m not a fan of the original show. In fact, I pretty much hated it, and that might have something to do with this retread. I don’t dislike this show. It’s only been one episode but I have a couple of objections.

I was really hoping, since the characters are meant to be Latina, that there would be some introduction of Brujeria magic into the show. Instead what we got was more of the European stuff, with Latin, and sparkly lights. It would have been a great idea to introduce Hispanic/Latinx cultural traditions into the show, and I would have liked to have seen that. I’m also against remaking old shows with Brown characters. Just give us a new show with a new name, maybe even the same characters, but an original show.

Now the show isn’t actually bad. One of the minor concepts in the premiere was the issue of sexual assault on campus. There’s a background story about one of the Professors being exonerated of sexual assault charges, who later turns out to be a demon who feeds on women’s strength. I thought that was neat little dovetail connecting the two issues, although occasionally heavy handed.

My biggest issue was the acting and the actresses. I’ve never seen two of them in anything, so I don’t know them, but they need a little work on their skills. And the youngest sister is one of those annoying narcissistic teenagers who doesn’t want to be special because it will ruin her chances to pledge with a sorority. The middle sister is a Lesbian with anger issues. Normally I’d have a problem with that but the writers try to be subtle about it,and it’s implied that the anger is a result of her coping with her mothers death, so this gets a pass. She’s the most intriguing character becasue I don’t know her as much about her, whereas with the younger sister, you feel like you know all you need to know about her.

I did like Mantocks older sister though because I understood her, and she’s just a better actress than the other two. Remember Mantock from Into the Badlands, so she’s got a great deal of experience p,and I liked her on that show. She shows up at the house after the girls mother dies and she’s lonely, and looking for a family. At first the two sisters reject her, and I kinda felt for her on that, but eventually they accept her, and try to bond with her. Mantocks acting is top notch. She almost brought me to tears a coupe of times. She’s also a scientist, which is something that plays out in an interesting way in the show. I liked that the writers combined some of her scientific knowledge with the magic,and it’s also really rare to see Brown women in STEM, so I’m all for it.

I feel like the writers need to spend time fleshing out their characters more, which they will of the show lasts beyond season one. The baby girl seems like she’s the comedy relief, and she can hear peoples thoughts. The middle girl seems to be the hearts and feelings one. She can stop time. The oldest played by Mantock is the brainy, logical one. I forget what her unique gift is though, so now I need to watch it for that.

Well, I don’t hate it, but I don’t dislike it either, and sometimes it takes time for me to determine if I liked something. I’m leaning in the direction of I Cautiously Like It. I’m not in love with it, but there’s the possibility of love, maybe.

Black Lightning

This is another show I’m invested in. I enjoy these characters, and want the best for them and like the dynamics between them. I’m a little tired of Tobias Whale as a villain and hope the season moves on from him, but I get why he’s present. There were a number of unexpected plot turns in the season premiere, so I’m looking forward to how the season turns out. I continue to be impressed by Anissa and even Jennifer. Yes, she’s still a  bratty teen who doesn’t want superpowers, but circumstances will force her to face her issues, whether she likes it or not, so I’m interested in what happens to her.

I didn’t see Siren’s (Tobias henchwoman’s) death coming. She was less likable than Tobias, so I’m not too broken up about her being killed by a sharpened stiletto through the throat. Incidentally, Anissa’s fight scenes are definitely the shit. I love to watch her put her thing down. She’s less conservative than her father. She’s a lot more of a maverick, and it shows in her fighting style, and I like that. When told that she can’t do something, she manages to find a workaround.

Jennifer is losing control of her powers, but that statement implies she was in control of them in the first place. She mostly tried to deny having them. At one point she has to be rescued by her father, when she can’t turn off her abilities. When she’s manifesting, he’s the only one who can make physical contact with her without dying, and from the looks of it, it’s still pretty painful for him. I mentioned to my Mom that in the comic books, she’s basically a sentient  bolt of lightning (or at least that’s how she’s drawn, and that her sleep/ floating is an indication of her flight powers manifesting.)

Lynn is her usual beautiful self. My mom and I had an interesting discussion about Lynn’s statement that Jennifer needed therapy. My mom thinks that’s a crock. What’s a therapist gonna do? But she feels that way about a lot of therapists. Some things she thinks talking about doesnt help at all, but I think Jennifer has been going through some major traumatic events outside of having superpowers, and needs to talk to someone who’s not her dad or sister.

Jefferson outed himself, and Anissa, to the Police commissioner. I didn’t see that coming, and I wonder what that means for their future endeavors as vigilantes. Is it gonna be like a Gotham city Batman type thing, where he quietly calls on Black Lightning to help him out from time to time, or will it be  a Dark Knight thing, where he has to pretend to want to catch him?

The show started off with a young Black man being killed by the police for having superpowers. This event is tied into the Black Lives Matter movement very neatly by a preacher on the show who says that the police are using the presence of superpowers to terrorize and kill young Black men. Now that’s how you do a racism allegory, by tying the fantasy aspect into the actual real life oppression of a marginalized group, and showing how that would affect that group. I talked about how I’m not a fan of racist allegories that don’t include any members of the group that the allegory was appropriated from. Here, it’s been done correctly, in a way I stated I would like to see in a sci fi fantasy show. And since it involves superpowers, this is done in such a way that I don’t too caught up in my feelings about police brutality. There’s a bit of an intellectual remove. If children from marginalized communities were suddenly developing superpowers, how would that affect how they’re treated by the dominant culture, and  their community. How would they react? It seems like the show will be addressing some of this. I hope they elaborate on it a bit more.

I loved the music for the show, too. I think Anissa’s fight scenes get some of the best music and its usually a reflection of her youth and general attitude. Jefferson’s music tends to be a bit more old school R&B, with some Jazz thrown in.

So, yeah, I’m definitely invested. Hopefully, the show will continue at this same high level for the rest of the season.

The Walking Dead

I’m watching it. Things seem okay. It certainly seems less depressing than previous seasons. I understand that this is Rick’s last season on the show, so I’m curious as to what is gonna happen to him and Michonne, and if the show can survive without him. I think it can. The show has built up the other characters enough that it would still be an emotionally compelling show without him.

I’m not a huge fan of intrigue and political gaming shows, though. It’s one of the major aspects that I dislike about Game of Thrones because I’m not interested in watching people fight with each other over who gets to be in charge, and I don’t want to see Game of Thrones during the Apocalypse, which is what this seems to be becoming, as Maggie and the others scheme to …well, I’m not sure what they’re scheming, but it feels bad though. I like these characters, and don’t want to watch them fight each other for power, although I’m always here for watching Michonne beaning somebody over the head when they start acting a fool.

I’m curious about the outcome of this season, but I’m kinda burnt out on the show, as a result I’m less enthused about it then I have been in the past. I’m pretty sure some of that lack of enthusiasm was caused by the death of Glenn, who I really, really miss. The show hasn’t felt right since his death. Without him, the past two seasons have just felt pointless, and depressing, in a way it didn’t when he was on the show. I’m not entirely done with the show, but I’m not making the huge emotional investment that I did in the past.

Also, part of the reason I’m reluctant to become as emotionally involved in the show is that I’m too damn tired to do it. Things are so batshit right now in this country, that I’ve quite used up all my emotions, and don’t have any to spare for a TV show like this. If it were a more intellectual series, than maybe I could, but this show is not Westworld, a show which requires less emotional investment, only a mostly intellectual one. This is actually a pretty draining show, which is part of the reason why I stopped reviewing it.

Well, I can always keep abreast of the show through the Talking Dead show which airs right after. I’m not a fan of the host of the show, since he tries too hard to be funny, but the guests discuss their characters and the plot in depth, and I can get an idea of what’s going on without having to sit through an entire episode.

Mr. Mercedes

This series is based on the trilogy by Stephen King, which I really enjoyed. The first season was based on the first book, about a serial killer, named Brady who plays cat and mouse games with the retired cop, Hodges, who assigned himself to capture him. He’s accompanied by a young black kid, named Jerome, his love interest/neighbor Donna, and a young woman on the autism spectrum named Holly. (Hint: I’m a huge fan of Holly.) The first season, and the book, ended with Brady in a coma, being kept in a special hospital.

The new season skips over the second book, which doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Brady, and skips to the third book in the series, called End of Watch, and chronicles Brady’s mental superpowers that result from his doctors experiments with drugs, and Brady using those powers to target the people who put him in his condition.

Since I didn’t finish the first season of the show, I missed out on the fact that there are a lot of PoC in this show. Sure Hodges is the center of it but not completely. The other characters get major screen time and are shown to have lives and family outside of Hodges. Especially Jerome, whose father is going through some financial issues, while his little sister seems to be going through some emotional ones. I already like Jerome, but his family members didn’t make a good impression on me because the plot requires them to be assholes to Jerome, and I didn’t care for that.

I’m going to stick around for a bit and see if what happens on the show lines up with what happens in the book, which I think was the best book in the trilogy.

Mr. Inbetween

I’m not a huge fan of shows which sympathize and humanize incredibly violent men but this show is intriguing because it does some unexpected things with the characters and I liked the mood of it. The show is out of Australia and that may have something to do with the approach which, while kind of light at times, is not played for comedy. The humor arises out of the dialogue and decisions characters make on the show. The violence is not played for laughs.

The lead character is named Ray, a hitman, and an ex-con, who gets into various misadventures while trying to juggle his relationships with his loved ones, and attend anger management classes. The most poignant relationship is with his young daughter, who is really cute, and so far as I’ve seen, does not exist to be put in danger, and his relationship with a young woman he just met. The show is unremarkable beyond the acting and dialogue. The plot consist of Ray getting into and solving crazy situations while being harangued by whatever criminal employers he’s with that week, while sorta keeping things secret from his family. The Typical “hitman as lovable rogue” type plots really.

Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’ Cancelled by Netflix — WE ARE GEEKS OF COLOR

That’s right guys, Netflix has officially given the ax to one of their Marvel-based series’, Iron Fist. It is currently unclear how this decision to cancel the show will affect Marvel’s Defenders, a series which involves an entangled plot line with Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones, along with the characters and plot lines of Iron Fist. In a joint […]

via Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’ Cancelled by Netflix — WE ARE GEEKS OF COLOR

Bon Voyage, Sayonara, So Long!

I’m not too broken up about this, despite the fact that I was kind of liking the second season of this show. It’s much better than the first, but its still not great. What I’m hoping is that these are characters that can be integrated into other shows, like Luke Cage with Iron Fist, because these two characters  just work better together than they do as individuals, and The Defenders.

Its apparent that we’re gonna be stuck with a White Danny Rand, even though the comic books do leave room for there to be different Iron Fists ,as that is a title and not a name of a person. I would love to see the title pass on to a new person at some point, then maybe we can get that Asian Iron Fist we were asking for. That would be nice, even if it was just for a little while.

I’d also like to see that Daughters of the Dragon spinoff that we’ve all been clamoring for because that would be awesome. Misty and Colleen have great chemistry together, and now that Colleen is no longer with Danny, this would be the perfect time for it, especially if we could get a female showrunner. (I will accept Lucy Liu anytime.)

Unexpected Hiatus

Hey there!

I know I haven’t posted in about a week. My internet was down at home, and I’ve been on medical leave from work, so I’m sorry to say I got nothing for you guys for this weekend. But I’m working on some interesting stuff, more on my season three Hannibal rewatch, a couple of horror movie essays, some show premiere mini-reviews, and more Halloween related stufflum (that’s the words “flotsam” and “stuff” mixed together).

It’s cool everybody! We got all month long.

New York Comic Con 2018: all the trailers from NYCC

From The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to Aquaman to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
— Read on www.vox.com/2018/10/6/17942870/new-york-comic-con-2018-trailers-movies-tv-nycc-full-list

Oh, we’ve got some great stuff showing up in 2019. Later I’ll have a list of books, movies and TV shows I’m most excited for next year, which is creeping ever closer (along with the potential end of my car note! Yay!!!)

My internet access has been very limited this week because our broadband modem decided to act like a fool, but I’ll have some weekend reading for you guys. No, there’s no test, but there will be a surprise quiz in 2023!

Do I need to tell you how excited I am for American Gods? And how terrified I am that the new showrunners are gonna fuck it up and get all the race stuff wrong?

White Men: The Pandering (Pt. Two)

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Most Americans know the rest of the world only through the media they consume, and unfortunately, most of them are content to leave it at that level,  never bothering  to question what we know of the world, how we know it, or who gave us the information, and why they gave it to us. (The corollary to this is the rest of the world learns about America through the media we create.)

The media, especially popular mainstream culture, shapes our American worldview, and that worldview springs from the minds of largely one group of people, so it’s very interesting when White male critics (and let’s be frank here, these critics are primarily White, straight, male, and we must not forget it when talking  about this issue), when they talk about how the media is “pandering” to the SJW’s. At the same time these same men say things like “This is our media, and those people are invading it.” There’s a reason why they think Pop culture belongs exclusively to them, and that statement  is  both a declaration of ownership, and a subsequent lack of control over what they claim to be theirs.

If there are two essential truths in today’s media and popular culture, it’s these: One, virtually the entirety of mass popular culture is geared towards pandering to the wants, needs, interests, and desires of male nerds. And two, those male nerds often fail to believe that they’ve been pandered to quite enough.

 

I can’t cover everything, so this is going to be a broad 101 of the topic. There are going to be some subjects I avoid as being too lengthy, and deserve posts of their own. Some topics I’m going to  avoid talking about in depth, because I’m not a member of the community in question. There were so many resources I wanted to add, so many videos, so many links, but I simply couldn’t cover everything. I used the terms White characters, White men, and White people, interchangeably, but they are not all the same thing.  For the purposes of this essay (which I have edited the hell out of, and I’m too tired to go back through it and change all the terms) we’ll use them interchangeably here. (And yes, I am including White women in those terms, since they have often aided and abetted cis-heteropatriarchy in movies, books ,and TV.)

White Men Control The Stories

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Let’s talk about what pandering is, how it gets done, and what it looks like in Pop culture. I’m primarily going to talk about the three biggest forms of media:  Music, Movies and TV and Gaming.

One of the reasons we tend to think of White men the way we do, is because our point of view has been aided and abetted by the vast amount of entertainment we’ve consumed, that privilege the White, straight, middle class, cis-gender, male viewpoint of themselves, and the rest of the world. Narratives that are created, controlled, and distributed by White men.

 

White men are  prioritized and normalized in the stories we read, watch, listen to,  and play. This is so ubiquitous that most people never notice it, until other stories start being told. Their presentation,  desires, wants, opinions (of themselves, and others, and their needs, are often placed front and center in many of the stories we’ve consumed, while those of women, gays, PoC, and other marginalized groups are de-centered, or placed in the stories to make them feel good and look heroic. Issues like erasure and whitewashing serve the same purpose, and while those may  have recently become household words, some of the prioritization of White men  are much more subtle, and often go unrecognized.

For example, movies may appear to present an issue, but that issue gets sidelined to focus on how the White characters think about the issue, rather than how that issue affects the people involved in it. In the movie Three Billboards over Ebbing Missouri, the movie presents issues of police brutality. But…there are only three Black characters in the entire movie, and we don’t get any idea how they feel about what the police have been doing to them. Instead, the focus  is on them sympathizing with the White male cops who have committed  the brutality. Not only is the audience encouraged to see the humanity of these corrupt  police officers, but the Black characters (written by two White men) show sympathy and empathy for them too, unwilling to be angry, or hold the police to account for what was done to them. Police brutality of Black people is presented as background scenery for the story of a White woman’s feud with a group of White men.

 

Normalization, Exceptionalism and  Universalism

In books, movies, and television shows, White men’s activities, no matter what they are,  are presented as a normal outgrowth of being a man, and is something that can, and should, be applied to all men. The understanding is that the White male view of the world is shared by all men. The activities in which they engage, and their reaction to events, is something shared by everyone. Paradoxically, White men want to be shown to be rugged individualists, who are exceptional, and don’t share any mundane qualities with other men.

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We see the “normal” nature of whiteness in film and television too, in which most main characters are white, and in the case where a show or film prominently features actors of color, it is considered a “Black” or “Hispanic” cultural product. Film and television that primarily features white people is “normal” film and television that is thought to appeal to the mainstream; those that feature actors of color in lead roles and casts composed predominantly of people of color are considered niche works that exist outside of that mainstream.

 

One of the more subtle ways that White men are depicted on screen is through sympathy and innocence. White men in movies and TV shows are often given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to criminal behavior, or sympathized with when they experience pain.

I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them. When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.

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Basically, every trope and stereotype present in film, and television, was invented, created, and reinforced through decades of use, by straight, White, middle class men, and the result is that White men end up looking heroic, commanding, smarter, mentally stable, and more powerful than everyone else. Their mistakes and transgressions are to be  forgiven or excused. Their abnormal circumstances and /or criminal behavior is meant to be sympathized with, and in some cases applauded as heroic. Even their most villainous behavior is meant to be understood, justified, and sometimes even romanticized. Witness the number of TV series and movies that romanticize White serial killers, for example. There are no shows and movies romanticizing the exploits of serial killers who happen to be men of color.

Some of this is obvious, some less so, but the end result is that White men are given a pass for their behavior, no matter how toxic, while  making themselves look sympathetic, in  television shows like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Sons of Anarchy. There are few shows depicting men of color as mobsters and drug dealers in a sympathetic manner. Men of color who engage in criminal activity are painted as thugs, terrorists, and ne’er do wells. White men’s ideas about crime pervade popular media in the form of procedurals, reality shows, and action movies.

Simultaneously, White men  have also gotten to be the only representatives of law and order. Up until thirty or so years ago, men of color were not depicted as cops in TV shows, and rarely depicted as such in movies. There were no Asian cops in American police procedurals until the 90s, few Latinos, and no Muslims.  White men broke the law, but almost always as Anti- Heroes, and Likable Rogues, (unless of course they had accents, or were coded as Queer) who were justified in committing violent acts. They also happened to enforce the laws which made them look like heroes. The majority of the rhetoric one sees in online commentary about the police has been heavily influenced by decades of propaganda showing the police as society’s heroes, keeping, the usually Black and Brown criminals, in check.

The idealized image of the Los Angeles Police Department that the series portrayed, of a thoroughly modern agency dispassionately dispensing justice, is sharply at odds with the historical reality of an imperfect force beset by racism, brutality, and decades of scandals. 

 

 Thus these shows are also the closest we will ever get to putting on a metaphorical cape, defeating the villains, and saving the burning city from collapsing on itself. We are able to live out our criminal and heroic fantasies simultaneously through both the lawless perpetrator and the take-no-shit cop.

 

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Even in movies that are ostensibly about other people’s stories, it is White men who get to be the heroes. In the movie Hidden Figures, a movie about the lives and careers of three  Black women who worked at NASA in the early 60’s, Kevin Costner gets to be heroic when he destroys the segregationist bathroom signage, that he never noticed or paid any attention to, until of course, it was pointed out to him by one of the Black women in his employ. Needless to say, this isn’t something that ever happened in the real world. Costner was  added to the story as someone for  White audience members to identify with, and feel good about themselves for doing so.

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Prioritization

From: ‘Forced Diversity’ in Modern Media

The expression“pushing identity politics/representation” is just the beginnings of addressing racism in problematic cinema

by: Thaddeus Howze

White people are in almost every movie and paint themselves as the heroes of every event, no matter how great or small. The complete invisibility of people of color, even in our own stories has been part of the American experience since mass media began. Even after we began to appear, it was always in subservient roles, either taking care of Whites or subservient to them.

White media paint White characters as indomitable, unstoppable juggernauts overcoming any obstacle. From seaside Viking raids to intergalactic alien invasions, no matter where it happens, the perception is, only White people will be leading the way and will WIN, because of their <insert ability inherent to and uniquely held by White protagonist here.>

This failed perception, this false worldview, is both problematic and reductive. It makes White people seem to be the only problem-solvers in movies and the lack of participation by other groups is because they have nothing to offer. The world view which says Whites are the ultimate expression of knowledge, culture, significance, beauty and creativity is a lie and it has been promoted through mass media since the turn of the last century.

This perspective has become so ingrained, people of color from around the world are bleaching their skins and divesting themselves of their own culture to gain access to the White hegemony and its oppressive racially-intolerant culture. Online bleating by racist fans of <insert media genre here> would have you believe the nature of inserting people of color into any media, no matter how appropriate to the very job of acting is an affront to their whiteness and the integrity of the work.

 

White male consumers are taught in a million subtle, and unsubtle, ways that everyone/everything belongs to them, centers around them, or is meant to serve their happiness. The industries of gaming, movies, TV, publishing, and music have been the fuel of their entitlement, and have pandered to White male fantasies of power, sex, and money, for decades.

Not only are White men the center of their own universe, they are meant to be the center of everyone else’s. They believe this because American media has been telling them that since its inception.

White men believe these things because they have been pandered to by a raft of  stereotypes and tropes,  from Whitewashing, to White Savior, to Mighty Whitey, to Generic Male Leads, which all designed to prioritize them. Their motivations, feelings and identities get to be the center of the stories, and they are the sun around which every other character (often  the marginalized, who are acting as emotional support and sidekicks) revolve.

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White men have been the only characters available, (for everyone who is not them), to identify with in most  fictional narratives, even in stories that are not theirs, such as movies like Mississippi Burning, where the focus of the Civil Rights Movement is on the White FBI agents investigating the  deaths of  the Civil Rights workers, and  how that investigation emotionally affects them.

 

Despite a few outliers here and there, White men in TV continue to mostly tell stories that are only of importance to White men, (which accounts for the sheer numbers of White, male, coming of age stories so prevalent in books, movies, and sitcoms). White men love to tell the mundane stories of their childhood, many of which were unexceptional, but are always lauded by the White critics who identify with them.

“It’s important that Hollywood showrunners and writers recognize that many of the narratives they put out in the world and how they do business is not in the spirit of who they claim to be,” Hunt said. “White men dominate the major positions, and people of color and women have a long way to go to attain any type of equity.”

 

… that problem stems back to the underlying systemic racism in society. The publishing companies are run by White men who have decided what is able to be published, what people are willing to buy and base their latest books on projections that figure Whites are the primary purchasers and thus are the only audience worth catering to.

 

 In a 2015 study, novelist Nicola Griffith (Hild, Ammonite) looked at 15 years worth of data from a few top literary prizes. She found that fiction written by women about women won hardly any prizes, and fiction by women about men fared a little better. Books by men about men were miles ahead.

 

Prioritization doesn’t just happen in the making of media, it can happen within the story itself. Movies that would ostensibly be told from the point of view of the characters that the story is about, often get sidelined, in favor of telling the story from the point of view of  White men who have been added to the narrative. This particular form of prioritization (often called The Generic Male Lead) is a lot easier to spot than others, although it is so ubiquitous that it’s all but invisible to a lot of people. Not only are White men the centers of other people’s stories, their presence in the story seems to be of primary importance to all the other characters.

The Generic White Male Lead

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I already discussed in The Pandering (Part One),  how movies, games, and shows are  written  to star a generic White male lead, because White males, aged 16-35, was the key demographic that was of most interest to Hollywood and advertisers. This particular trope is sometimes  called The Average White Guy, The Everyman, or just The Generic Guy. Most often this trope is little more than a power fantasy for the average White male audience it is aimed at. They can imagine themselves having heroic adventures in space,  the past, the present,  or obtaining the love interest. They’re still an average, mediocre fellow, but they get to be heroic, and have adventures, in the meantime.

White men are who the story is about, with the cultural histories, homelands, and marginalized people used as a  backdrop for their heroic undertakings, character growth, emotional angst, love stories, or family dramas.  Sometimes famous (or infamous) men and women of color are sidelined in their own stories, because the White man’s story takes precedence. For examples see : The Last King of Scotland,  and Birth of the Dragon, in which famous men of color (Idi Amin and Bruce Lee) are sidelined in their own stories, their lives used as backdrops to tell the stories of generic White men feeling some type of way about their circumstances, or falling in love.

The 2015 movie, Stonewall, came under fire from the LGBTQ community for centering a White man in the middle of a story that was supposed to be about the uprising of a group of transgender people of color at the Stonewall Inn in the 60’s. The original “real life” Queer people of color who were present at the event, got sidelined in a story that should have been about them, their lives, and their activities leading up to the rebellion, but they were instead used as  background color to tell the  coming of age story of  a generic fictional White guy.

…a San Francisco-set coming-of-age story involving a rough and tumble young white man who matches the feuding fighting legends in the brawl as he pursues a Romeo and Juliet romance with a young Chinese immigrant [JingJing Qu] under the control of the Chinese mob.

Many of the tropes listed here often overlap, and sometimes all of them can appear in just one movie. Movies where a White Generic Lead is Chosen to be a White Savior to a group of natives being colonized, or killed, by people who look like him, because it is his Burden, as a White man, to civilize those people, while being better at their cultural traditions than they are, and falling in love.

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A perfect example of all these tropes meeting in just one film is The Legend of Tarzan, which was released in 2016, (although all the Tarzan books and movies suffer from this, because it’s  what they are based on). In this modern retelling, Lord Clayton is a scruffy White dude, who is also the Chosen One of the African tribe which has adopted him. He knows how to be a better African than the Africans in the movie, making him a Mighty Whitey, as he talks to the animals, who love and obey him. As a White Savior, he has a responsibility to save his adoptive tribe from some evil Dutch Colonists. Further examples of all these tropes appearing in one movie are: Avatar, Dances with Wolves, John Carter of Mars, A Man Called Horse, and The Last Samurai. All of these movies have the same basic plot.

Mainstream video games are almost exclusively the province of the scruffy White every man. It is well documented that  White male audiences are prioritized when it comes to mainstream gaming. Women, LGBTQ, and PoC are often pushed out of gaming, not just by a lack of representation, but by the heavy sexualization of female characters, the mockery of Queer characters, and the harassment and violence of White male gamers.

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The problem faced by woman and minority-starring video games
is largely the same as the problem facing traditionally underrepresented groups across all forms of representation: their failures are treated as definitive,and their successes are ignored. Dozens of white man-starring video games have underperformed, but their failures are treated as specific to that game.

 

The White Savior and the White Man’s Burden

To this day, some people still latently believe what imperialists such as Rudyard Kipling said, that colonialism was important for everyone: the conqueror and, most importantly, the conquered. That without the colonizers, the colonized had no hope of survival. And by constantly churning out movies with plots in which white people “save” people of color, Hollywood reinforces colonialist dictum.

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In movies, the White Male Savior (and there are also more than a few female characters that fall into this trap, but this is a genre that is written, controlled, and distributed by men, so I’m leaving those movies that star White women in this space) happens often in film and television. When it’s women, they show up as characters like Daenerys in Game of Thrones, Skeeter in The Help, and  Leigh Anne in The Blind Side, with some of the most frequent depictions of the White Savior trope occurring in classrooms, with movies like Dangerous Minds, Conrack, Up the Down Staircase, and Freedom Writers. (No. To Sir With Love  does not fit this trope. That’s a story about a Black man saving a group of disrespectful White students.)

The number of White Male Saviors in movies are fairly  numerous and cross all genres: Movies like Amistad, To Kill a Mockingbird, Radio, Avatar, Dances with Wolves, District 9, The Soloist, Hardball, Gran Torino, The Great Wall, Tarzan, and The Last Samurai.

Sometimes this trope overlaps with the Chosen One, The Mighty Whitey, or The Generic Male Lead. The White Man’s Burden is a reference to the colonialist idea that White men had a responsibility to civilize the rest of humanity who were not as evolved, and neatly dovetailed with the White Savior Trope. The White Savior often functions as an audience identifier, which allows White audiences to believe themselves to be “good” people  because they identify with him or her.)

The white savior is a cinematic trope in which a white character rescues people of color from their plight.[1] Certain critics have observed this narrative in an array of genres of films in American cinema, wherein a white protagonist is portrayed as a messianic figure who often learns something about him or herself in the course of rescuing characters of color.[1][2]

…In the praxis of cinematic narrative, the white savior usually is a man who is out of place within his own society, until he assumes the burden of racial leadership to rescue non-white foreigners and minorities from their plights. As such, white savior stories “are essentially grandiose, exhibitionistic, and narcissistic” fantasies of psychological compensation.[4]

 

The Chosen One

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The trope of the Chosen One isn’t always a White man, (occasionally women and men of color get in on it). It includes everyone from Harry Potter to Anakin  Skywalker. The Chosen One trope is old and tired,  but not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the trope itself is rather neutral. The problem begins when  the special Chosen one is paired with any of the above tropes, which it often is. The Chosen One trope is an Average White guy fantasy that he is secretly exceptional, with some grand destiny. The Fantasy genre relies on this trope far  too often.

 

The Mighty Whitey 

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This falls under the heading of  Exceptionalism, when it is only White men who get to be good at everything,  outdoing the people’s of the native cultures he has adopted (or who have usually kidnapped him.) We already discussed Tarzan, which helped to begin this trope in popular culture (although it existed before that), but The Last Samurai is also a near perfect  distillation of the Mighty Whitey trope. Tom Cruise goes to Japan as a colonizer, but gets kidnapped by a tribe of Samurai. In the space of a few months, however, he manages to befriend the leader of the tribe, Katsumoto, fall in love with the man’s sister, Taka, (despite having killed her husband), and master the use of the samurai sword after only a few months of lessons.

TV Tropes characterizes this trope as a typically noble Caucasian man who, due to often extenuating circumstances, comes to live with native tribesmen. He not only learns the ways of the native people, but surpasses their skill, becoming far better at being a member of the culture than those of the tribe, and naturally their greatest warrior or even their leader. The trope in some cases also involves a romantic story-line between the hero and the Chief’s daughter, who will often continue to love him despite the hero’s sometimes direct involvement with the death of a significant family member.

 

Many in the west clearly still believe we need an identical identifier on screen, if not a white savior than at least a proxy embedded into an exotic group. Someone apparently thought it necessary to have a white male lead in an early draft of Disney’s live-action Mulan remake. And a lot of people are still interested in seeing Tarzan as the superior white hero of Africa, given the global box office success of The Legend of Tarzan. Fortunately, discussions of the “Mighty Whitey” trope problem grow with every example.

 

Whitewashing

Roles that should rightly be played by  fat people,  people with disabilities, transgender,  gay, or people of color, will often be replaced by White men (and sometimes women) in a  story, but the term Whitewashing  itself, often specifically refers to the replacement of PoC with White people. Contrary to popular confusion, Whitewashing and Race Bending are not equivalent. Whitewashing also applies to more than just film and television roles, but across the whole of the entertainment industry.

The portrait is one of pervasive underrepresentation, no matter the media platform, from CEOs to minor characters. “Overall, the landscape of media content is still largely whitewashed,” the study concludes.

 

“It is the height of white privilege to think a white person is better equipped to play an Asian character than an Asian person.”

 

Erasure

This means the  removal of gender, racial, and sexual diversity from Historical, Present, and Futuristic Narratives in movies, television, and gaming, especially when they should be present. The past was not as homogeneous as people like to argue and  I consider the question of homogeneity, at any point in  European history, to be a thoroughly moot point, if one has also added dragons, orcs, elves, wizards, and other fantastical creatures to the landscape.

To remove marginalized people from present and future narratives is to make a deliberate choice to not add them, which says something (none of  it good) about the creators of such stories. Sometimes, the White creators of these stories cannot imagine a future in which PoC, gay people, or people with disabilities contribute to the creation of the culture, or have adventures separate from White people. In many of the movies in which these marginalized groups do appear, the writers cannot imagine a future for them that is any different from their past, or their current level of  oppression. Poc of color are still secondary citizens, who live to serve the needs of the White characters in the story, homophobia still exists, no accommodations have been made for the disabled, and  White men are still the leaders of everything. For  example see : Ready Player One (book and movie), Bladerunner, and any movies about the future that were made before 1979.

The Past

The Present

The Future

 

What all of the historical erasure of non -Whites  has led to, is the popular mainstream belief that different groups of people contributed nothing to the historical record, which is then used as an excuse for excluding them from fantasy narratives, which is  then extended  into the future, or any form of speculative fiction.   The impression that is  given is that  the only worthwhile contributors to all of human culture are White people, specifically White men. This also  aids in the perpetuation of the belief that it was exceptional White men who created civilization.

 

Cultural Appropriation and Orientalism

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The most egregious purveyor of these two tropes are Science Fiction films, and most noticeable in films which feature an entirely Asian cast except for that White Savior, or   Mighty Whitey. It also includes appropriative narratives like The Handmaid’s Tale, which appropriates the oppressive histories of WoC, but  with a cast of White women, and just about any X-Men, comic book, or movie, where the histories of Black Americans, and LGBTQ people  are appropriated to tell the story of those oppressions happening to White straight, cis-gender characters.

Many of these examples are just allegories of oppression. The use of allegory and metaphor is a neutral act, and I don’t actually have a problem with allegories about oppression. I think the problem occurs when these stories are almost always told through the lens of straight, White victims. I discussed why in my reviews of A Handmaid’s Tale, and the series The Gifted.

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/06/28/533818685/cultural-appropriation-is-in-fact-indefensible

Cultural appropriation can feel hard to get a handle on, because boiling it down to a two-sentence dictionary definition does no one any favors. Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”

The movies most notable for both cultural appropriation (and Orientalism) are the Bladerunner films, in which Asian (specifically Japanese) aesthetics are used as background settings for a story that uses the American version of slavery as an allegory, but which stars no prominent Black or Asian characters.

This doesn’t just happen with different Asian cultures, but with African American, and Gay subcultures, and in music and books. Cultural appropriation is a product of White Western thinking that finds the cultural artifacts of other nations to be nothing more than amusing or pretty trinkets.  There is rarely  any understanding of what’s being appropriated, and this is often coupled with a denigration of the people that produced whatever aesthetic was stolen. Often, it is only the cultural aesthetics that have any value. To the White people who do this, the people who produce what they’ve stolen have no value. There is also  the added side effect of centering White people in the middle of other people’s stories and culture.

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There is some confusion over just what constitutes cultural appropriation, especially when it comes to more shared activities like music, art ,and fashion, but sometimes there are clear cut cases where corporations have stolen design elements from Indigenous, or geographically exclusive cultures, and profited from the theft, without giving credit to the originators of those design. Cultural appropriation has been very well documented for several decades.

An example of an appropriation of a musical style was Disco, which was primarily created by Latinos, WoC, and LGBTQ creators, who were also primarily the audiences for the music. By the time Disco made it into mainstream culture, most of the elements that made it so appealing to those marginalized groups, had been stripped from it by White men seeking to make a profit. The faces of Disco became White, straight, and male in the form of Saturday Night Fever, Abba, and The Bee Gees.

Every musician has influences, that is very true. The issue, however, lies with the lack of proper credit to these influences, and more importantly, that these influences aren’t getting their due monetarily and popularity wise. Moreover, these black influences experience barriers in terms of industry gatekeepers, while the influenced white musician is skipping through an open gate. Lastly, the trend of showing off the negative stereotypes of black culture and disregarding the other parts that are involved, demonstrates a lack of understanding and respect for the music one is taking.

 

The film Saturday Night Fever, a fictional account of a hetero Italian-American disco fan, whitewashed the genre and sold it – very, very successfully – to mainstream America.

  • Appropriation of Indigenous Culture in the Fashion Industry

Appropriation is typically defined as taking an idea or reproducing an artifact for one’s own particular use, altering its original meaning, and doing so without the original producer’s consent. Cultural appropriation is often related to the exploitative and commercial use of traditional and customary elements of long-established cultures. 

Tokenism

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Tokenism is something that can be applied to every marginalized group. Often they are the only member of their group in the narrative and don’t actually get to be their authentic selves, because their words are written by writers who aren’t a member of their group. There’s often only one woman, or one gay character, or that one lonely Black man, who gets killed first. And then there is the burden of representation, where that lone character now has to be all things to all the members of their group, because they are the only one present.

Because characters of color are rare on screen, when they appear, they carry ” the burden of representation,” which means that they are a symbol or representation for an entire community,…”For white people, this is not a problem, because their roles are so varied and so numerous that audiences do not see them as representatives of the white community, but simply the individual characters,…”

Narratives that contain two or more  gay characters, women, or  PoC, are considered niche markets, that are only of appeal to the group in question, and subsequently don’t get marketed to a larger more mainstream audience, which is what happens when members of the dominant group control the means of distribution. (This is very slowly beginning to change with movies created for, by,  and about marginalized audiences seeing mainstream release.)

Why do Black people like White movies? The short answer here is that we don’t have much of a choice.

 

One example of tokenism  are most of the MCU films, although this is a trope that can be spotted anywhere. The MCU film, The Avengers, fell under scrutiny for the  Smurfette Trope, as the only female character to appear in the movie, with a speaking role, was Black Widow. When there is only one token character in the story, the writers don’t have to expend time and energy imagining what such a character could be thinking, and they  certainly don’t have to imagine what two or more of them would talk to each other about.

Another trope I’ve been noticing recently is when there is more than one person from a marginalized group in the narrative, they may actually have names, and  speak to one another, but their relationship is antagonistic. Once again the MCU comes under fire, for this. The movies have been slowly adding more men of color to the franchise. In Captain America Civil War there are two Black men, Rhodes and Sam, but their relationship is antagonistic. There are two White women in the cast, but they have only two lines to each other between them. The rest of the time they don’t interact. The Netflix show, The Defenders, did slightly better by featuring multiple women of different races, but none of  them are friends, and in some cases actively work against each other. The only  two WoC who interact, and are shown being friendly, are  Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing. Even in the series Jessica Jones, only two of the several women in the cast are shown to be actual friends. The rest are all antagonistic to each other, and the lead character.

It’s almost as if the writers cannot conceive  that women (and others) would have any conversations that are not about White men, or what subjects other people could possibly be talking about, when White men are not  present, or even that they might like each other. This is especially easy to point out in the Token PoC Trope, where men and women of color don’t have lives that are separate from the White characters and they don’t seem to have friends or family of their own. Their lives (and deaths) revolve around the White leads.

Even the deaths of such characters are there to serve White men. People of color will sacrifice their lives to save the White characters. Women’s deaths have whatever meaning is assigned to them by the White man they’re  related  to in the story.  In  comic books women are “fridged” to provide an emotional arc for the lead characters, but  there are countless movies based on White men going on killing sprees that have been spurred by the deaths of wives, daughters, lovers… so many that this plot point almost constitutes its own film genre, The Vigilante/Revenge Film.

The Presentation of Everyone Else

 

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In stories that are ostensibly about women, PoC, and Queer characters, White men still get the most speaking lines, get to portray the gay and transgender characters, and even non-White ones. According to White men, the past was all White, the present is almost as White, and the future is every bit as White as today. When it comes to fictionalized universes the  White  straight men who control these narratives,  are hard pressed to imagine any point in time in which they are not a priority.

Since the vast majority of Pop culture media is owned and controlled by White men, White men get to speak for, put words into the mouths of, and then give their opinions on, everyone that is not them. They have created all the labels, the identities, and the narratives of everyone who is not them, instead of allowing those groups to speak for themselves.

 

The Presentation of Gays and Lesbians

As chronicled in The Celluloid Closet, it was White men who got to decide what images of gays and lesbians were acceptable for TV and movies. There were gay men involved in the creation of gay characters on screen, but after the implementation of the censor codes in the fifties, they often had to hide, deflect, or depict gayness in a comedic or villainous way.

Hollywood accounted for the creation of some of the most egregious gay tropes, like the Sassy Gay Sidekick, Kill Your Gays, or the “It’s Just A Phase” lesbian. Hollywood often engages  in the erasure of gay characters, in movies like Alexander, and A Beautiful Mind. In the past, the only way that film studios could get gay characters past the censors was to present them as being laughably harmless, tragic, or associate them with crimes they could be punished for.

The Celluloid Closet is not available at this time for free streaming but it is available on Youtube, iTunes, and Vudu, for a fee. Since I’m not a part of the community in question, I don’t feel I should speak for them, but I can signal boost the voices of those who are.

 

Queercoding Villains

One of the ways Hollywood excuses violence against gay people is to cast them as villains, thereby associating gayness with crime, or evil activities in general. Sometimes though, a character’s homosexuality is only alluded to by gestures, and dialogue.

One of the most difficult things about approaching film and television’s use of queerness is that there will rarely be a single verdict on any given cultural product. With the exception of the most simplistically supportive or bigoted representations, there is room for much discussion and debate in determining a positive or negative LGBTQ presence. Because of this shift, seriously engaging with and thinking about the images we consume has become more important than ever.

Transgender Men and Women

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Transgender characters come under special scrutiny in Hollywood. They are almost always cast as tragic victims of their “lifestyles”, or villains. Needless to say, since none of the imagery we see of transgender men and women are actually created by them, their depictions have always been problematic. Then there is the mainstream obsession with transgender men and women’s genitals, and whether or not they have transitioned, are going to do so, or are doing so right now. This is leaving aside that transgender actors  rarely if ever get to star in their own stories.

 “Media has a history of telling the world a story that transgender people are always victims or villains, instead of true depictions that show the transgender community as citizens worthy of equality and respect. 

In the past, transgender characters have been the butt of jokes, and objects of disgust, with transgender women being the focus of the greatest amount of  attention. That type of transphobia is to be expected when White, Straight, men are intrigued by them, mistakenly believe that them to be men in drag, and are  homophobic, and misogynistic. The hyperfocus on transgender women, as objects of ridicule and disgust,  is called Transmisogyny. There is also the common trope of transgender women as being male deceivers of straight men.

 

Transgender villains are often a common trope in Horror movies, too and serves the dual purpose of showing the creators disdain of the community, and associating transgender men and women with evil, and crime. Often the characters are not transgender at all, they are merely men dressed as women, and the effect is that transgenderism becomes associated with the idea that gay men are trying to deceive straight men, by dressing up as women to fool them.

Some of the most famous depictions of transmisogyny are from the movies Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Silence of the Lambs, Psycho,  and  The Crying Game, in which a member of the IRA goes to London to visit the girlfriend of a man he killed, finds that she is transgender, and reacts with vomiting and panic. In fact, vomiting at the sight of trans women was a common trope in the 90s, usually as a form of comedy.

Obesity

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This is a topic of considerable interest to me. Consider for example, that all of the media stories that feature fat people as  characters,  almost all are entirely written by conventionally thin people. This has real world consequences, and accounts for the worst stereotypes believed about  fat people, especially fat women. They are most often seen as comedy relief to be mocked or laughed at, or undisciplined, unintelligent, ugly and desexualized slobs, whose lives are a dysfunctional mess.

In the movie Death Becomes Her , one of the lead characters is played by Goldie Hawn, a conventionally attractive White woman wearing a fat suit. There’s a scene where her life is shown as having spiraled out of control due to her jealousy of Meryl Streep’s character. She is shown at home,  in her pajamas, messily eating tubs of food with her fingers, in a roomful of cats, while watching TV. Her hair is a mess. She is late on her rent and about to be evicted.This is a  type of shorthand often engaged in by visual media. There is nothing sympathetic about this scene or her character. It is a derogatory image meant to symbolize how pathetic her life is. The screenplay was written by David Koepp and Martin Donovan.

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https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2018/08/10/insatiable-netflix-fat-women-television-chrissy-metz-dietland-nicole-byers/945835002/

This is, inevitably, just new packaging for offensive stereotypes about fat women on TV. The logic goes that the “good” fat women are the ones trying to lose weight or who already have (Monica on “Friends,” for instance), because staying fat means you are lazy and disgusting. As a result, the characters that stay fat have to be the villains or comic relief (see “Mike & Molly” or any number of jokes in shows like “How I Met Your Mother” or even “Jessica Jones”).

Another example is a scene in Jessica Jones, a show about a female superhero, that’s meant to be empowering for women. There’s a throwaway insult made by Jessica about a fat character, seen through a window on the street. Why was this scene added? It has no bearing on the rest of the plot, and that character is never seen again. If it was put there to showcase how much of an asshole Jessica is there are other ways that could’ve been conveyed to the audience that didn’t require throwing fat women under the bus, and since that scene was written by women, has the perhaps, unintended side effect of making the writers seem like assholes. It has also been pointed out, that a show about abuse survivors is telling us, not so subtly, that verbal abuse of fat women is okay. That idea (and its associated stereotypes and myths) has always had real world repercussions for fat men and women. (Yes, the show is written by  White women, but they  have often been complicit in White patriarchy.)

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/drive-by-fat-shaming/

This is drive-by fat shaming. Just a quick reminder to everyone watching/listening that it’s hilarious and cool to make fun of fat people – even on a show that is supposed to be feminist. 

 

None of the derogatory images we see of fat people are written by people who know what it’s like to live life as a fat person. Women of color are often “mammified” for being fat, while men of any color are most often mocked, even in sympathetic portrayals. It is Popular culture that is responsible for disseminating most of the myths we believe about fat people.

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…the film industry has a long and varied history of producing movies that feature overweight characters. Some movies portray weight sensitively; others make a mockery of the subject; but few politely disregard the subject of weight altogether – perhaps mirroring our collective real-life inability to do so.

 

Poverty

Many of Americans most entrenched  ideas  about being poor have come from politicians demonizing them,, and decades of watching the depiction of poor people, in movies and television, that were written by middle class people (who are themselves steeped in myths about poor people), and who have been conditioned by politicians to think of the poor as lazy, ignorant, and deserving of their fate.

Did you notice that a lot of the stereotypes and myths about fat people, poor people, immigrants, and poc are similar in nature. All that is said about the poor are the same things said about anyone who is not White, thin, middle class, , mentally abled, or male, and meant to paint the picture that the creators of these stereotypes are the norm, and anything that deviates from it is “other”, abnormal, or dysfunctional.

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…with more than 43 million Americans living below the poverty line, the topic is surprisingly rare in Hollywood films. And yet many common misconceptions about what poverty looks like, and how people can overcome it, have been reinforced by movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, The Pursuit of Happyness, and The Fisher King. 

One of the most common stereotypes is that homelessness is exclusive to men, and that all homeless suffer from mental illness. That is who we often picture when discussing the subject. We do not often consider the idea of women and children being homeless, or that homelessness itself would exacerbate any already held mental illness, or sometimes even cause it. When we picture the homeless, we picture them looking a certain type of way. There are homeless people who look indistinguishable from everyone else, some of them  work and many  live in rural areas. Those people are called the Invisible Homeless.

Homeless people in movies and TV shows, are usually played for comedy relief. When they are shown sympathetically, it is usually to serve some well meaning and often middle-class, White  character’s personal  growth. This also falls neatly into the White Savior trope.

While the rural homeless may not be sleeping on city sidewalks or in public places, they are not any less homeless than their urban counterparts. They may be sleeping in their car, a church, an abandoned building, or, most commonly, on the couch of a relative or friend. 

Part of the problem, as it is in most years, is that few movies about poor or homeless Americans were made in the first place. My previous researchfound that between 1902 and 2015, of all the films made in the US, only 299 of them were in some way significantly concerned with issues of poverty and homelessness.

 

 

 

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Disability

Characters with disabilities are almost all written and created by people without them. The characters themselves are often depicted by actors who lack the disability in question, and non-visible disabilities like chronic pain, or mental illness are  rarely depicted on screen, without attaching ideas of laziness or  violence to them. Why do we believe so much of what we believe about the different groups of people to which we don’t belong? We probably got those ideas  (and they were most certainly reinforced) from decades of television and movie viewing.

Not only are people with disabilities stereotyped, the full range of disabilities is not reflected in media portrayals. Lynne Roper of Stirling Media Research Institute, in her article “Disability in Media,” notes that “wheelchairs tend to predominate… since they are an iconic sign of disability. Most actors playing disabled characters are, however, not disabled. The wheelchair allows the character to be obviously disabled, whilst still looking ‘normal’, and does not therefore present any major challenges for audience identification.”

 

The media, however, especially the movies, portray schizophrenia in a different light than the actual disorder. Common misconceptions are that schizophrenics are violent, drink alcohol heavily or use narcotics, behave comically, or suffer from a non-curable disorder. Some believe that schizophrenia is punishment for acting immorally, or that contact with a schizophrenic can lead to mental disorder. Others believe schizophrenia is the result of poor parenting and that schizophrenics behave unpredictably, are loners and isolated from society, or manifest disruptive behavior.

 

On Race and Gender

White, straight, cis-gender, Middle class, non-fat men get to have their say about  everyone else. Narratives about fat people that aren’t written by fat people, stories about men and women living in  poverty, where not one poor person was actually consulted, stories about women’s lives written from a male point of view, along with stories about gay people, Blacks, Asians, Latinx, where the opinions of who they are as a group are given no priority over the White men in the story, or the White men who wrote the script, or directed the movie, or even critiqued it,  is what is meant when we talk about seeing the world  through a White male lens.

We only  get the White male  point of view, and that point of view, reinforced through decades of pandering to White male audiences, is that everyone else is less than.That people who are not like them do not deserve sympathy or the benefit of the doubt. That those people’s lives are unstable because those people are somehow dysfunctional. It is not that White men don’t get depicted in unflattering ways, it is the overwhelming sense that White men deserve sympathy and compassion when they’re lives are out of order, while everyone else deserves mockery, dismissal, or erased. Decades of television, and film consumption have made Americans less tolerant of the differences between them, which is a (sometimes)  unintended side effect of White men being in the dominant position of catering to their key demographic: other Straight, White men.

The White male lens on race and gender in movies and television is well documented. They have   crafted, over the past fifty to sixty years of television, many of the stereotypical images of race and gender seen on our screens. Many of these depictions have been the only ones fans have consumed, since many Americans simply don’t read very much. White supremacy, ignorance, a lack of imagination, and laziness help to perpetuate these depictions throughout mainstream media, and even into fandom. Once again we’re not talking about individual depictions of gender and race, or outliers from the stereotypes. We’re discussing the whole of cinematic and television history.

 

Here, Lindsey Ellis discusses the  “Male Gaze”, and also makes the point that the male gaze isn’t just about how women are depicted on screen. Its also about how White men are depicted. She uses the Transformers movies as an example of gender and race as seen through the male gaze.

 

The Presentation of Men of Color

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Just as media images of White men can make their centeredness and superiority seem normal and inevitable, the stereotypical depictions of other men in media can do the same to them. It  becomes natural to associate Black men with criminality, Middle Eastern men with  terrorism, Latinos with sexual promiscuity, and East Asian men with technology. These racial stereotypes were created by White  creators, and  used as justification for inequality, racism, and White supremacy, and have been helpfully maintained by lazy and incompetent creators ever since.

I keep mentioning the Whiteness of the the creators, because I want you to imagine  an American made film,  which features a Black, Latino, or Asian man’s anguish at, or revenge for, the loss of their wives, daughters, or lovers. or at least imagine such a narrative wherein he is not punished for doing so. Men of color don’t get cast in mainstream shows and  films like that, because the media doesn’t cater to their power, fame, or money fantasies. A man of color can only be an adjunct to  a White man’s goals, whether those goals are avenging a loved one, or getting the girl.

One of the things to keep in mind when reading these stereotypes of men of color is that they are essentially all the same stereotypes, with slight variations. The same racist narratives used against Middle Eastern men has also been said about both  Black and Asian men. All men of color are uncivilized, and barbaric. That they  are both oversexed and desexed are stereotypes lobbed at both Blacks (The Black Brute), Asians (The Horndog),  and Latinos (The Latin Lover), and that they are all obsessed with White women, who need to be saved from their attentions.

One of the ways White men in pop culture seek to maintain hegemony is to desexualize or emasculate certain characters, Whether men or women,  while hypersexualizing others, and presenting these qualities as somehow admirable, when really those qualities are being promoted to make White male characters look good by comparison.

 

Black Men

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Characters of color remain underrepresented in mainstream movies and TV shows, and those actors who land roles are often asked to play stereotypes—from maids and immigrants to thugs and prostitutes. This overview breaks down how blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Arab Americans and Asian Americans continue to face stereotypes on both the big and small screen.

 

…negative mass media portrayals were strongly linked with lower life expectations among black men. These portrayals, constantly reinforced in print media, on television, the internet, fiction shows, print advertising and video games, shape public views of and attitudes toward men of color. They not only help create barriers to advancement within our society, but also “make these positions seem natural and inevitable”.

 

There’s no shortage of black male actors playing drug dealers, pimps, con-artists and other forms of criminals in television shows and films such as “The Wire” and “Training Day.” The disproportionate amount of African Americans playing criminals in Hollywood fuels the racial stereotype that black men are dangerous and drawn to illicit activities. Often these films and television shows provide little social context for why more black men than others are likely to end up in the criminal justice system.

 

One of the more disturbing tropes I noticed in the MCU, but have since noticed in other media are White characters who are meant to be heroes, punishing and torturing Black and gay men. In Captain America The Winter Soldier, there’s the torture of a Black man for information. In the movie Magnum Force (1973), Harry guns down a fleeing transgender woman. In fact, Clint Eastwood made a career out of vigilante justice in films. In The Defenders, you have a group of White heroes torturing a Black villain for information (of note: they didn’t torture any of the other men of color).  Torture happens frequently in the shows 24, Iron Fist, and The Punisher. Americans have  been conditioned for decades, by movies, TV series, and comic books, to see torture and vigilante justice as a  heroic activity. : a heroic activity that is  engaged in primarily by White men.

American society has been conditioned through vigilante imagery, to the acceptance of the use of torture and violent punishment, and  one of the side effects of this is the idea that Blacks, Gays, Latinos, and even women, get  considered to be  “non-normative”, and deserve to be punished and  killed for their transgressions against White men. This has the effect of associating White men with  law, order, and stability.

Hollywood’s obsession with black torture porn: Why the genre’s not important.

The film industry has mastered this skill to a tee, feeding us skillfully written, romanticized versions of the black American plight and later showering us (i.e. in many cases, white producers and screenwriters) with the highest of film honors and nominations when award season rolls around. But it’s starting to fail.

 

Asian American  Men

Like Black women, Asian men are often shamed for being Asian, don’t get to be shown as being loved, or lovable. They are often emasculated, not seen as sexy, and are still the butt of nasty jokes involving their penis size. Asian men get to be stereotyped as a danger to White women, smart but unnattractive nerds, misogynists, and perpetual foreigners in their own country. They rarely get to star in their own stories. When they do they are often the sidekicks to White characters.

 

 

Middle Eastern Men and Orientalism

As for Middle Eastern Men, they are almost always depicted as villainous barbarians obsessed with sex, and the beauty of White women.  America has a vested monetary interest in subduing the Middle Eastern regions of the world, so the people of that region have become handy scapegoats to blame US problems on. Before these visual tropes existed though, the West engaged in what is known as Orientalism, where the East was exoticized and romanticized for its barbarity.

“Orientalism” is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab peoples and cultures as compared to that of Europe and the U.S. It often involves seeing Arab culture as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and at times dangerous.

 

Growing up, it was quite normal for us to see ourselves on the silver screen in two scenarios – firstly as a terrorist/evil character/backwards thinking individual/collateral damage, or secondly absolutely nowhere at all. It was fine growing up – we were used to it. Hollywood was a place that we were allowed to watch, but not allowed to be a part of. 

 

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When it comes to Hollywood, the White male creators of media there, have a keen interest in showing men of other cultures to be less than them, so as to make themselves look better by comparison. Men of other races have many stereotypes in common. They are often shown to be oversexed,  desexed, hypersexualized, uncivilized, barbaric, villainous , or unintelligent.

 

 

The Presentation of Women

I talked about the sexual exploitation of women in pornography and mentioned the same in mass media in another post.The exploitation of women in mass media is another entire post  by itself, and it too,  is very well documented.

https://documentarylovers.com/film/miss-representation/

Since most popular media is controlled by White men, and the women they are most interested in are White women,  they have crafted dozens of stereotypes and tropes in movies, books and TV shows, that while they can be applied to all women,  were specifically invented to condition  White women to accept White men’s behavior towards them, and show White women those qualities in a woman they consider to be most important. These tropes are so prevalent that they are all but invisible.

One of these tropes is the Born Sexy Yesterday trope, where White women are shown as childlike, fragile, and vulnerable, that you don’t actually have to listen to, because you won’t understand anyway. This trope appears in dozens of movies. It’s basically a form of wish fulfillment. This is what White male creators, and by extension, White male audiences, find appealing.

 

Tropes for White women include : The Final Girl, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, The Just One of the Guys Girl, The Disposable Object, The Sexy Floor Lamp, The Nagging Wife, and The Strong Female Character, who overlaps with The Final Girl. These tropes are not all wish fulfillment, or sexual fantasy, some of these are created to shame behaviors that White men find displeasing, or as a way to center a narrative around White male anguish.

How to think of White women  isn’t all that  audiences  are learning. White men are also shown by these narratives how they should perform masculinity, and the things they should care about as men. These narratives reinforce the status quo by showing men how to be men towards both men and women. Men are supposed to have an interest in women, technology, cars, computers, games, the hard sciences, and sports, or they somehow are not real men. When they don’t choose to engage in one or more of these interests, they are losers, pussies, faggots, bitches.

In other words, they are equated to women.

Men are taught that being seen as  feminine is the worst thing possible for a man, and it is how they insult men of other races, by accusing them, not just of being less than human, but being like women. Not only are men being taught how to be men, but it is these same stereotypes that reinforce to  men of color how to behave towards women. So you have Black, Asian, and Latin men, all trying to be men according to  rules of behavior that were created by middle class, straight, White men. (Misogyny/machismo is not the sole province of White men. Trust me, those two things are a global phenomenon. But mainstream American media has done nothing to challenge either.)

Narratives that are created by White men also teach women how to appeal to men. Decades of sexist narratives teach White women how they’re supposed to behave for the reward of White male approval, (and that WoC need to be as much like White women as possible, but will still  be inferior to White women who are behaving properly.) They  prioritize those qualities they find most important, like sexiness without awareness of it, youth, vulnerability, submissiveness , thinness, thoughtlessness,  helplessness, and fragility. Through these narrative decisions White men shame those behaviors in women they find distasteful and/or inconvenient to fulfilling their needs, qualities like  physical and emotional strength, intelligence, ambition, immodesty, and being old, or overweight.

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And yes, this applies to WoC too, who have gotten the message loud and clear. In the recent dustup over a cartoon image of Serena Williams, the White man who created it, called upon decades of Black female racial stereotyping. These were images invented by White men to demean and diminish Black women, to show why Black women were/are the least desirable of all women, while, at the same time,  the sexual assault and exploitation of Black women  by White men was occurring.

The legal and social double standard that allowed white men to commit sexual violence against black women with impunity, while the most baseless fear of sexual contact between a black man and white woman resulted in deadly violence, continued after emancipation. 

It is through entertainment culture created by White men,  that Black women learn that they are unloved, unlovable, and not capable of love. Latinas learn that they are desired for being passionate and sexy,  and that they will be rewarded with male attention for exhibiting such behavior, and Asian women will learn that they are the most desirable of all women, especially if they are as quiet and submissive as their stereotyping requires.The purpose of these stereotypes is to keep all groups of  women in their place, by teaching women that their purpose in the world is sex, that their priority should be procuring male sexual attention, and how that should be done.

 

Women who fail to gain the sexual attention of men (attract the male gaze) are denigrated, shamed, and/or erased. Women who reject male sexual attention (those women who are anywhere along the LGBTQ spectrum) are made to serve the narrative in other ways. They still need to be sexy and appealing to straight men, hence the creation of the stereotype of the “Just a Phase Lesbian”, who is only with women, until the right man comes along. Women in same sex relationships, must be made to seem desirable (and attainable) to straight men, otherwise they are of no use, and must be criminalized and punished.

Women are not worthy of male attention if they are  too old, too fat, too poor, or have a disability that cannot be classified as sexy, (for example, if you are a woman suffering from  certain types of mental illness, or depression, that kind of vulnerability can be made to seem sexy, fun or exciting, to a male audience.) The end result is that all women are taught that their highest priority is gaining the sexual attention of men, (without seeming to actually do so, because women who make it clear that they want that attention are also shamed for  that.)

Image result for latina stereotype

The most popular types of movies, even those prominently featuring PoC and women, often consist of  violent power fantasies, sexual fantasies,  and the use and misuse of technology. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and there are plenty of movies that are exceptions, but most of the top ten highest  grossing movies  consist of these topics.  (Most White men have plenty of  interests outside of  those topics, but this s not what you would know from watching visual media.)

The Presentation of Indigenous People

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It is very easy to make up stories about a group of people that everyone thinks are extinct, and White US Americans have been making up all kinds of stories about Native Americans since they arrived on these shores, stories that serve whatever purposes White people need them for.  When White people want to use and  exploit Native Americans, the women become sexy squaws, to be used and disposed of, the men become inspirations for sports teams. When White people  want to play White Savior, or steal elements of their culture, then the Indigenous communities  suddenly  become  proud, noble, downtrodden people to be saved, and the  theft of their culture, becomes elevation. They should feel honored.  Does a White man have a chip on his shoulder about his life? Well, then Indigenous people morph into a highly successful group who get free stuff, because they own casinos. When White people want to use their resources for their own ends, and Native Americans refuse to get out of the way? Well, then they are  transformed into a bunch of ignorant savages who need to be put down.

From fashion, to sports teams, to oil pipelines, Indigenous people in the US can be turned into whatever White people need them to be, and Pop culture (mainstream) media has aided, and abetted this exploitation, reinforcing whatever  stereotypes were needed for White America to accomplish their goals.

Most Americans know almost nothing about the lives of Modern Native Americans, as most of them have gotten all their information about them from TV shows and movies that are not created by them. When they get the opportunity to tell their own stories however, the depictions we get of Native American lives are significantly different from what is seen in mainstream media, which continues to erase their present existence, and get their past existences wrong.

 

It’s better to hear about their lives from their own lips:

 

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the western U.S. was exploding with colonialist ventures. For the U.S. government, their biggest obstacle was conquering Native Americans and establishing power and control over their land and their resources.

 

The murder and  exploitation of Indigenous women is ongoing.

 Native American women across the country are being murdered and sexually assaulted on reservations and nearby towns at far higher rates than other American women. Their assailants are often white and other non-Native American men outside the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement.

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This is not an essay about exceptions to all of the above. This is an overview, of as much as I am able, to cover of the past 60 70 years, of how White men having temper tantrums over how the current Pop culture is pandering to groups of people that are not them, is an accusation that stinks of hypocrisy. White men have been pandered to for decades, and the fallout from that pandering has helped to  create a level of ignorance about American life and history that is unmatched by other Western nations.

There are some real world effects to all this pandering. All these stereotypical images of PoC,  LGBTQIA, and Transgender people have real world repercussions, and a part of those repercussions come from the effects that all this pop culture pandering has had on White men. But Hollywood, and television are paying attention and thinga are very slowly starting to change, or at least be questioned by new thoughts, new imagery, new types of plots and characters. Contrary to White men’s tears, this new attitude towards diversity is not pandering. I really do like to stay positive on here, so I’m not going to dwell anymore on what Pop culture has gotten wrong. In part three of The Pandering, I want to end on a happy note, and talk about how this can be fixed, and what pop culture media is getting right.

The Devil Went Down To The Crossroads

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please”
Ooh, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooh-ee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, risin’ sun goin’ down
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, eee-eee, risin’ sun goin’ down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin’ down
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues this mornin’, Lord, babe, I’m sinkin’ down
And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad, baby, I looked East and West
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress
— Cossroad Blues – Robert Johnson

 

I was inspired to write this essay  by an episode of Supernatural, titled Crossroad Blues, which aired in season two, and is a direct reference to the above song. In the episode, Sam and Dean are investigating the deaths of two people who said they were being followed by Hellhounds, and chronicles their first meeting with a Crossroads demon, whose job it is to collect the souls of humanity by offering people their fondest wishes, for a limited span of time. When their time is up, (a year, or five, or ten), Hellhounds are sent to collect the hapless soul.

The  folklore about haunted crossroads comes from many cultures, but the folklore referenced in this particular episode of the series is sourced directly from  the part of the South in which my mother was born, the Mississippi Delta. This is the kind of music I grew up listening to, and my Mom was the one who tried to explain the concept of Hellhounds to me.

The idea of Hellhounds (Black Hounds, Black Shuck, or Fetches, as harbingers of death) isn’t unique to the South either, but all these ideas come together directly from a song by Robert Johnson, where he sings about a man named Willie Brown, meeting the devil at a crossroads, making a deal with him for fame, and naturally, because the Devil is the Devil, regretting the whole matter, when it was time to pay up, and having to deal with the Hellhounds now on his trail..

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Tales of bargains with The Devil are even older than that, with one of the most popular being the German  legend of Johann Faust, who makes a deal with The Devil/ Mephistopheles, for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. So many movies, operas, plays, and stories have come from this legend, (and the Greek legend that spawned it), that it has become its own genre, The Faustian Pact/Bargain, in which a greedy person makes unethical, or soul destroying choices to get fame and glory,and pays a nasty price, although these specific stories are more religious in theme and origin than Southern folklore.

There are also lots  of tales of The Devil traveling down South and losing bets, due to the cleverness, or skills, of a human opponent. Before The Devil Went Down to Georgia, he was sung about in Lonesome Fiddle Blues, a song later adapted by the Charlie Daniels Band in 1979. In the song, a boy named Johnny competes in a music contest with The Devil, for a golden fiddle, and wins. It’s an entirely appropriate song for the show Supernatural, containing elements of Rock music and Country/ Bluegrass folk songs,  and its David and Goliath theme of a little guy being underestimated, and triumphing, over a supposedly larger, stronger foe. Sounds like a couple of guys we know, huh?

 

Going down to a Crossroads, to make  Faustian bargains, is also a popular trope. In the 1986 movie Crossroads, which was inspired by the legend of Robert Johnson and featured the title song, Joe Seneca stars as Willie Brown, who must go to the crossroads, and make a deal with The Devil to get back the soul he bargained away decades ago.

Willie is accompanied in this soul quest by Ralph Macchio, as Eugene,  and Jamie Gertz, as Eugene’s scheming love interest, Frances. The movie culminates in a guitar showdown between Eugene and a famous Rock guitarist, named  Jack Butler, played by Steve Vai, a contest which directly echoes the fiddling contest in The Devil Went Down to Georgia, right down to referencing  two different genres of music. The Devil, also known as Legba, (from Voudon), and Scratch, (a very old Southern name), is gleefully played by Robert Judd. The very first time I ever heard that name for the Devil was from guess who!

The entire movie has a poetic resonance, because the music Eugene uses, in a desperate bid to win his contest against Jack Butler, is the same classical music style that he’d spent the first half of the movie treating  with some contempt.

 

The 1941 movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster, is another retelling of the Faust legend  in which a famous lawyer goes up against the devil in a courtroom, to save the soul of a wayward farmer. Its based on the short story by Stephen Benet. The original title was changed to  All That Money Can Buy.

 

In the 1987 Angelheart, The Devil, played by Robert Deniro, as Louis Cyphre, gets as far South as Louisiana in his search for a runaway soul housed in the body of Detective Harry Angel, played by Mickey Rourke. This movie was most famous for the sex scene depicted between  Rourke, and Lisa Bonet, who was fresh off her stint on the much more wholesome Cosby Show. It’s a gorgeous film, although somewhat gory. This doesn’t contain a musical contest, but more of a contest of wills between Harry and Louis.

My favorite scene is one of the more innocent looking ones, where Deniro offers Harry an egg. Within the context of the movie, and its version of Christian mythology, the peeling of the egg is highly symbolic:

In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, with further symbolism being found in the hard shell of the egg symbolizing the sealed Tomb of Christ — the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead.

In this instance the egg represents the soul, most specifically  the soul of Harry Angel as Louis Cyphre peels off the egg shell, which is symbolic of the plot of the film, as Harry peels back the layers of his life and memories, until he reaches the film’s tragic conclusion.

Angelheart is available on Hulu.

 

One of my personal favorites is this little nugget  called The Devil and Daniel Mouse, based on the above movie, and created as a Canadian Halloween special in the early 80s. It took me a really long time to find this again. Once again, we get echoes of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, as the lead character tries to bargain back her soul from the devil, and is aided by the mouse who loves her, who contests the Devil in a musical fight.

This is available on Youtube.

 

 

Another cartoon offshoot of the Faustian Bargain is an echo of the above story called Rock and Rule. This is another favorite of mine, as it introduced me to a lot of different artists I’d not heard of before like Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. I was already a fan of Debbie Harry, though. Its a very surreal film, with lots of music, and well… no people, just these furry type citizens living as if they were people, and while the Devil isn’t going down South in this movie, it does contain  the Devil’s Bargain theme. My favorite character is of course Mok, voiced by Don Francks, and sung by Lou Reed. My favorite song from this movie is Debbie Harry’s Angel’s Song.

(The full movie is available on Youtube.)

 

 

Check out any of the above, and if you have any recs for more Faustian Bargain movies, let me know in the comments. I may or may not have seen them.

Other Faustian Bargain films to Watch for Halloween:

Rosemary’s Baby

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Ghost Rider

Spawn

Devil’s Advocate

The Witches of Eastwick

Constantine

 

Finally here, have some more Robert Johnson:

Most Horror Movies Suck — Pop N’ Crunch

Most horror movies suck. This isn’t a result of a new phenomenon, where an over-reliance on jump scares and cheap tricks has lowered the quality of horror movies. No, this is something that has existed since the dawn of the horror genre in film. Now, you might be saying, “There’s plenty of classic horror movies”, […]

via Most Horror Movies Suck — Pop N’ Crunch

I’ve been watching Horror movies about as long as I’ve had eyeballs, and I agree. Most of them are bad. That doesn’t mean I don’t like most of them. Some of them are serviceable and okay films but the number of bad ones outweighs the greats and the classics. I’d argue that a good 75% or more of horror movies are just plain awful.

October Is Here!

I love October! Its what many of us Octoberites call Halloween month, the weather has changed, which is an especially good thing for those of us suffering from Summer allergies, or who just hate any temperatures above 80 degrees, and I get to knit lots of hats, sweaters, and scarves without looking weird.

Its also time for me to focus on Scary Movie Stuff (which is the technical term, probably). Of course I do this all year long, but I have the excuse now to drop everything else I’m writing and focus on things like the scariest short movies, and reviews of my favorite scary films.

So here we go, and I’m going to start the month off with my top five  favorite scary short films right now. There will be more of these as I fall down that rabbit hole of short, scary films on YouTube.

 

Tinglewood

This is a very effective, straight horror story with genuine emotional depth. It’s  about a family that goes camping, and ends with a fight for survival, when they meet with the unexpected.

 

 

 

Mannequin

I think I told you guys about my fear of inanimate objects coming  to life. This film worked for me just fine.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

This isn’t scary so much as tragic, but I loved the style in which it was done. It’s been Gorgeously filmed, Backwards!

 

 

 

The Monster Under My Bed

This one startsed  off pretty scary. I too have that monster under the bed fear sometimes, but ultimately this turned out to be deeply cute.

 

 

 

Battleground

About twenty or so years ago, this video was in an anthology show of Stephen King stories based on his book, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This specific story however is from his very first anthology, written in the 70’s, called Night Shift, and it’s also one of my favorite short stories, written long before the movie Toy Story. It’s both funny and deeply terrifying.

 

 

As an added bonus here are some  of the scariest movies to watch this month:

 

The Ritual

I talked about this movie in one of my short reviews. It’s still available on Netflix. It’s a lot deeper than it looks.

 

Radius

Although I was somewhat disappointed in the ending of this movie, I did get really caught up in this movie’s premise. It’s about two people, a man and a woman, who can’t be separated from each other for a certain distance. They have to remain in each other’s radius, or everyone else in their radius will die. The movie spends the first third with them figuring out what’s going on, the second third of the movie is spent putting them in intense and inevitable situations where they will be separated, as they try to solve the mystery of what happened to them and why.  I thought the final third of the movie was rather anti-climatic, but makes sense given the setup of the first part of the movie. This is also available on Netflix, and is for those of you who like suspense, but not a lot of gore.

 

The Monster

I thought this was a pretty terrifying premis especially since the monster is never explained. Which means of course that the monster isn’t really the focus of this movie, and is a symbol of something else.

A mother and daughter are fleeing an abusive relationship, I think, and their car breaks down on a deserted road, and they are menaced by a monster. This is pretty straightforward but the plot is complicated by the antagonistic relationship between the mother and daughter, which I found just as compelling as the danger provided by the monster.

Theres quite a bit of for in this one, and those of you who don’t like to watch children in danger, take warning. This movie is  free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

 

Seoul Station

If you’ve seen the Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan, then this is the animated prequel. It chronicles particularly of how the zombie plague in the second movie began and stars a different cast of characters. I discussed this in one of my mini-reviews. Like the live action film, it’s basically one long chase scene, but entirely animated. This is the first time I’ve ever encountered an animated zombie film, and it is a very intense film that is not for children.

This is also available through Amazon Prime’s Shudder subscription. Shudder has a monthly cost of 5.00. I got it as a gift for  my Mom because she absolutely loves horror movies.

 

 

 

 

The Final ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Trailer is Out Now and Action Packed — The Nerds of Color

The trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Crimes of Grindelwald is finally out! Here’s hoping the movie can keep up with all of the plot lines that the trailer packed in. Below is a rundown for a few magical extras in this fantastical sequel. Spoilers start now!

via The Final ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Trailer is Out Now and Action Packed — The Nerds of Color

Okay, this trailer I’m actually excited about!