Do You Remember Werewolf the Series?

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So I started watching this on Youtube and I was mostly struck by how bad the clothing is. This series was released n 1987, and I’m not sure why I don’t remember people dressing that bad, but they must have, and I just blocked it out or something:

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The series opens with a monologue, which is a really bad sign. I’m calling bullshit on it because its so full of  80’s macho crap, and I mostly just rolled my eyes. After that, there’s a scene at a night club, and you can tell its one of those 80’s movie nightclub scenes because the music sucks, its full of old white people who can’t dance, and I find it really, really hard to believe that women used to dress like that in da club. You could put someone’s eyes out with those shoulder pads.

So the young blonde victim and her date are walking to the car and they are talking about his job as a company manager or some bullshit, and I’m like, really? This is the shit you’re talking about? Were Yuppies actually this fucking boring that they went to the club, and flirted with each other about monetary futures, or network assets and shit? At this point I was rooting for the werewolf, that I knew was about to attack them,

in that completely empty, fog shrouded, parking lot, outside the club!!!

Anyhoo..

This show is like a cross between The Incredible Hulk, and Teen Wolf, where the lead character named Eric Cord, is bitten by his roommate, after he was bitten by a guy named Skorzeny, played by, of all people, Chuck Connors. Now my Mom watched this because… werewolves, and Chuck Connor, but you know I probably watched it because Eric, like most of the men on TV in the 80s, had a luxurious head of hair. See!

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This was most likely my impetus for watching a lot of shows in the 80s. At least that’s my excuse.

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Well, glossing over the plot really quick, after being bitten, Eric and his useless girlfriend, played by one of the hottest, flavor of the moment, TV chicks of the eighties, Michelle Johnson, go on a road trip to find the werewolf that bit his roommate, because only by killing the original werewolf can someone escape the curse. In the meantime, Eric is being hunted by a sheriff/bounty hunter, because he skipped out on his bail, after shooting his roommate, without explanation.

This show also heavily reminded me of the show Manimal, because each episode involved at least one scene where Eric turned into werewolf, even though the episodes were only thirty minutes long. That sounds really weird to those of us today, who are used to hour long dramas. Eric traveled around the country getting embroiled in other people’s stories ala Mad Max. Like Manimal, Eric had to occasionally solve a mystery, but unlike that series, Eric had no sidekicks. The 80s were a curious blend of shows with a combination serial, stand-alone format. There were individual events that happened from episode to epsode but they were all tied together by a common theme. Herer the common theme was Eric hunting, running into  werewolves, and various other creatures.

The highlight of the show was the werewolf transformation scenes, naturally,  that were heavily ripped off …erm, based on, the werewolf movie craze of the early eighties, An American Werewolf in London, which won an Oscar for its special effects, and its cousin, The Howling, which didn’t.

This show managed to last an entire season and  I most definitely watched it. I remember the pilot, and the transformation scenes, and even Chuck Connors growling his way through the script. So I definitely LOOKED at the show.

But I don’t remember nan’ detail of a single episode of this show beyond the pilot. But that’s okay becasue there a quite a number of the episodes available on Youtube, so they can now be forgotten by, yet another, entire generation of teenagers.

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10 Unexpected Pleasures

Sometimes I sit down to watch a movie I had absolutely no plans to watch. I wasn’t going to spend money on it in the theater. I wasn’t going to watch it on cable. Yet there I am, looking at a movie I hadn’t planned on looking at. Sometimes I’m mad at the movie because the trailer was bad,  or the discourse surrounding the movie pissed me off, or the movie just doesn’t sound particularly interesting, but apparently, none of those reasons  has ever stopped my nosy-ass from watching some stuff. 

Curiosity is my middle name, I guess.

So here it is. The top ten movies I was surprised I liked.

Fantastic Beasts (& Where to Find Them) (2016)

Okay, this one was just me straight asking, “Oh hey, what’s this movie about?” It turned out to be an unexpected pleasure.

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I’d heard a lot of not so good things about this movie, and there are some things that are just irksome, and make me not want to watch something. One of the biggest turnoffs for me was the lack of PoC in turn of the century, Harlem Renaissance, New York. New York, like London, has always been very cosmopolitan and full of many different types of people, and it was kinda disheartening to see that the creators of this movie hadn’t even considered PoC,  as part of the fabric of this city.

In fact, one of the biggest drawbacks to my watching the movie, was I didn’t get any sense of New York as a hodgepodge of cultures. Everyone in the movie seemed like your standard, White, English speaking, suburbanite, instead of the Italians, Irish,  and various ethnicities  that were actually there. In the movie, the city feels curiously clean, and antiseptic.

Nevertheless, despite the absence of PoC, (and grittiness), it did have adequate representation of the kinds of women  who actually affect the plot. I liked most of the female characters, and thought they were intriguing, but I was also inspired to watch it because of a review I read on Stitch’s Media Mix, that talked about the treatment of Creedence, one of the primary characters.

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I fell in love with the two male lead characters, though. These two men, Newt Scamander ,and Jacob Kowalski, are written so differently than the way most men are written in action/fantasy films, that’ it’s a really pleasurable experience to watch them, something you don’t realize until after the film is over. The two of them are just sweet and likable characters. Even Creedence is less a villain than a victim.

Don’t get me wrong, the Fantastic Beasts of the title are, by turns, cute, terrifying, and deeply funny (and I now want a tiny, sassy, Mr. Picket for my own). But the real draw for me was the relationships between the characters, and Newt. I’m not a huge Eddie Redmayne fan, but he’s great as Newt, as he’s unlike your typical movie hero being, because he’s gentle, fearless, compassionate, slightly snarky, emotionally vulnerable, and unimposing. Redmayne also turns out to have great  comedic timing, as one of my favorite scenes was the mating dance of the Erumpant.

Raising Arizona (1987)

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https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/speaking-of-crime-raising-arizona-1987/

My best friend in college was the person who talked me into watching this film. Well, not talked, exactly. She mentioned it to me a couple of times, while I scoffed at her, (You don’t know me!), but eventually, she had enough of my  disrespect, and  forcefully pushed me into a chair to make me watch it. I wasn’t a Coen brothers fan back then. I didn’t know anything about them, but she insisted that this was a type of movie I would enjoy. I was very resistant to watching this, because she was so insistent and, like most housecats, I enjoy being contrary, just for the sake of it.

One Saturday, she physically pushed my ass down in front of her little 20 inch TV, and said, “Sit down! You’re gonna watch this movie!” I was a little huffy about this, and said so, but really, she knew I wasn’t doing anything important that day, because I was hanging out at her place, so she knew I had no excuses.

Lemme tell you, those were two of the funniest, most memorable, hours I’d ever had in her presence. Raising Arizona will probably always be the funniest Coen Bros. movie, ever. What captured me  was the music, and the language. The incongruity of Hi’s low class actions, along with his lordly manner of speaking, thoroughly tickled me, and the yodeling soundtrack was totally ridiculous.

She and I didn’t remain friends, but whatever her faults, bad taste in movies wasn’t one of them, because she also introduced me to:

Seven Samurai (1954)

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The same roommate, referenced above, was also the person who introduced me to this movie.  I watched this at her parents house, at their insistence. Until this movie, I’d only ever watched Chinese Action movies. The closest I ever got to watching something like this was The Streetfighter with Sonny Chiba, which is a much, much, shorter film. I hadn’t paid any actual attention to the samurai genre. Didn’t even know it was a thing, although I had watched those gawdawful ninja movies Hollywood kept pumping out during the eighties, that had nan’ Japanese person in them.

I fell asleep towards the end of the movie, but not because the movie was bad, or  boring. I was engaged right up until I could no longer resist the room’s temperature. Cold rooms make me sleepy, no matter what I’m doing. Add in  a crackling fireplace, and a comfy chair however…and sleep is guaranteed to occur. (Later that week, I watched it again, in the daytime, without the fireplace.)

Do you have any idea how many movies this influenced the making of over the years? Everything from Magnificent Seven, to A Bug’s Life, to the Three Amigos was a riff on this movie. If you loved any of the films that it influenced, then you have to see the original .

https://filmschoolrejects.com/legacy-seven-samurai/

Not only did I develop an appreciation of Samurai movies, I developed a love for the movies of Akira Kurosawa, (Drunken Angel, and Dreams are two of my favorites) and through him, a number of other  notable Japanese directors.

Cabin in the Woods (2011)

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My first instinct was to turn up my nose at this movie, thinking it was going to be your typical Agatha Christie type,  “ten little Indians” in the woods plot, where pretty, young people, who had planned on having Teh Sex, would be brutally killed by something, or someone. And yeah, there is an element of that in the movie, but it turned out to be so much more, I was kinda kicking myself for having passed it up for so long.

I gave a review of this here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/tag/cabin-in-the-woods/

Mystery Men (1999)

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I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I sat down to watch this. I knew I liked Ben Stiller, that the characters were meant to have superpowers,  that they  didn’t actually have superpowers, except when they actually do have them, which was a whole lot funnier to me, than if the writers had simply been upfront about their powers. I do remember the trailers for this movie which emphasized Paul Reubens and Janeane Garofolo.

Supposedly this movie is based on some type of indie comic from the 80s, which I had never heard of, called Flaming Carrot, which features an image of a man with a giant carrot for a head, that is, naturally, on fire.

This movie turned out to be exceptionally funny, and I really liked all the characters, including The Invisible Boy, played by Kel Mitchell from the Nickelodeon show, Keenan and Kel, who can only turn invisible when no one is watching,  Mr. Furious played by Ben Stiller, whose only superpower is the ability to become really, really angry, and my favorite, The Bowler, or rather his daughter, played by Janeane Garofalo, who keeps her father’s skull encased in a clear plastic bowling ball.

We watch them become a team and defeat the villain, saving Champion City from Casanova Frankenstein as played by Geoffrey Rush, and his ridiculous henchpeople, The Disco Boys, lead by Eddie Izzard, who are conquering the world through the power of …well, Disco, I guess. They are aided in their quest for superhero stardom by Wes Studi, who is as baffling as his name states, (The Sphinx), and this movie’s version of James Bond’s Q, played by Tom Waits.

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It also stars Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing, a smug Superman/Batman parody, William H. Macy as The Shoveler, who gets one of the best speeches in the entire movie, Hank Azaria, as the Blue Raja, Master of Silverware, and in one of his many quiet, comeback roles, Paul Reubens (PeeWee Herman) as The Spleen, Master of Flatulence. (I hope to one day grow up to be as cool as The Bowler,  although, according to my friends and family, I have already mastered The Shovel.)

With such a great cast, this movie really doesn’t get enough love. I chalk it up to timing, Had this been released five years earlier, or five years later, it would’ve been a real hit. People should recognize this movie more, especially since the whole superhero thing has taken off.

Paddington (2014)

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I had absolutely no plans to watch this movie, but it was on TV one night, and I didn’t change the channel fast enough, and just sat through it. I do have to admit to some mild curiosity beforehand, but not enough to make an effort to see it. I do remember watching the trailers, and thinking to myself that the little talking bear was kinda creepy, and who would watch something like that. Apparently, I will.

It turned out to be a perfectly sweet and lovely film, and now Paddington is one of my favorite bears, right up there with Pooh, and those  baby pandas on YouTube, that like to terrorize  their Chinese handlers. If you liked the movie Babe (a 1995 movie about the little pig that could herd sheep) than you’ll like this movie. (And now I want a meetup between Babe and Paddington.)

Dr. Strange (2017)

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I know I wasn’t supposed to like this movie, especially considering how much shit I talked about it, but it actually turned out to be pretty enjoyable, and not at all the grease fire I thought it was going to be, because of the whitewashing of The Ancient One, and the presence of Benedictine Cucumberpatch. (To be absolutely fair, I’m still not a Cumberbatch fan.) The man is a lofty twat, but then, so is Doctor Strange himself. I’m still not happy about the whitewashing either, because Lucy Liu (Or Michelle Yeoh)  should have been in this movie, and I’m still mad about the movie we could have had, with a Hispanic Dr. Strange, and an Ancient One of some type of ethnicity, other than pasty.

But this movie wasn’t bad. It was actually kind of fun. I mostly enjoyed the special effects, (I liked all the pretty colors), which were excellent, and the plot was not objectionable. My favorite character turned out to be Wong, played by, appropriately enough, Benedict Wong, who I’m excited to see has  been getting more roles in popular films. I just saw him last in the movie Annihilation, and he needs bigger roles, and should do more comedy. (I was glad to catch a glimpse of him in the Infinity War trailer.)

In my defense, I didn’t spend any money on this movie, beyond what I spent on Netflix.

(Seriously though, Wong, Peter Parker, The Falcon, Drax the Destroyer, and Shuri need to meet. I guarantee you, that would be one of the funniest discussions ever had by any five people on, or off, Earth.)

The Accountant (2016)

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Lets make this clear – I am not a Ben Affleck fan. I’ve disliked him since he messed up Daredevil, and I refused to forgive him enough to watch any of his movies, until I saw this movie, and decided maybe I can try to forget about Daredevil. (I’m still not gonna forgive him for it though.)

I had heard about this film but I wasn’t particularly interested in it until I saw the trailer on HBO, which was a little different from the mainstream trailer. Then I read about it in some magazine, and my curiosity got the better of me this time, (although occasionally, I do manage to wrestle it it into submission), and I was in. Also, it came on HBO, one idle Saturday, and I was too lazy to look for something else to watch.

This turned out to be a surprisingly good, and emotionally touching film though, about an assassin who is autistic, who comes to the aid of a young woman being set up to take the fall for a corrupt company CEO, because she knows too much about what happened. After he protects her, the company  hires an assassin to kill him (not knowing that is his actual career), and his brother, played by Jon Bernthal, is the one who takes the job. (His brother didn’t know this was his target.)

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There’s also a subplot with  J.K.Simmons, as a detective who has been on Affleck’s trail for years, and tells the story, in flashback, to his protege. This is interspersed with flashbacks of Affleck’s character as a child, being raised by his brother and father, while being taught the various military skills his father insisted the two of them learn. This is also connected to a special home, for children with autism, that the accountant secretly funds through his illegal activities.

I didn’t find the subplot to be especially interesting beyond Simmons acting,  but Affleck was very good in this film, and Jon Bernthal was pretty good too, and I wasn’t expecting the film to be quite as emotional as it was. One of my favorite scenes is when the woman he’s protecting tries to establish a romantic connection by kissing him, but that scene doesn’t play out in any typical way, which I found refreshing.

I can see why most people ignored it, or never heard of it. They probably would’ve just been confused by it, because the movie wants to be a drama, but has too much action to be thought of as such. Its not a thriller, either because there’s too much drama, and its kinda melancholy. This is not a loud, action-y type of movie, although there are some good hand to hand fight scenes, and some shooting, of course. Its more like a Jason Bourne type  drama, and the ending is especially low key, and I thought it was  really beautiful, as it involves a painting by Jackson Pollock.

Troll Hunter (2010)

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I was just being nosy again, when I watched this. It came up as a recommendation for me on Netflix, and it kept coming up, no matter how much I tried to ignore it. I’ve been fascinated by trolls since I was a little girl, reading about them in the school library. This was the very first book I ever read about trolls:

D’Aulaires’ Book of Trolls (New York Review Children’s

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So, despite my background in Troll-Lore, I refused to take the bait and watch the movie. I gave in late one night, as these things always seem to happen late one night. (I should really stop doing that, and take my ass to bed, like regular people, but then I wouldn’t be able to bring you guys this kind of quality entertainment.)

I thought it was going to be a comedy, because all of  the reviews I’ve read say it’s a comedy, it has  comedians in it, and its called a mockumentary, like the movie What We Do In The Shadows, but I didn’t find it especially funny. In fact, it was occasionally terrifying, but I liked it just fine, even though I didn’t laugh once.

This is not the animated cartoon of the same name. This is a Norwegian movie that was released in 2010.

The title is pretty much what its about. It’s set someplace cold, (there’s a lot of snow, which is always attractive to me), and its about an “intrepid group” of crew-members who have taken it upon themselves to not just prove the existence of trolls, but capture them on film, in their natural habitats. Its one of those live action camera type things, so if you hate those types of movies, watch it anyway, because even though it sounds typical, it moves in unexpected directions. I suspect it does so because its not an American made film.

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It consists of a series of interviews, and raw footage, of a man who hunts trolls, and thinks they’re a secret from the government, but the government knows all about them, and employs other people to keep the trolls a secret. I have to admit, I didn’t pay much attention to all that stuff. I mostly wanted to see the trolls, and I think Norwegian humor just  escapes me or something. Okay, I  did find the idea funny, that trolls like to kill Christians, so the group hires a Muslim woman, and aren’t sure how the trolls will react to her.

The trolls are genuinely scary, and I can’t imagine living in an environment in which such creatures happened to be real,  lurking around bridges and overpasses, or just wandering around in the woods. At one point there’s a mega-troll, that’s several stories tall, that gets blown up by a UV rocket of some kind, because remember, sunlight turns trolls to stone.

I thought this movie was a lot of fun, even though there was Norwegian humor in it.

Bring It On (2000)

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I only watched  this movie because one of my little sisters insisted that she wanted to see this. I held no hopes at all that it would be a good film, or even mildly interesting , although I liked both Eliza Dushku, and Kirsten Dunst. I wasn’t entirely aware that it was a comedy, either. I’d paid only peripheral attention to the trailers, although looking back on the trailers now, I don’t see how I could have missed that it was a straight up comedy, rather than the teen soap opera I expected.

It turned out to be a fairly pleasant experience and I can now count Bring It On as the only cheer-leading movie in my comedy lineup. I wasn’t expecting the performances to be so good, I wasn’t expecting any Black people of substance to be in it, like Gabrielle Union. I wasn’t expecting any of these very young actors to be especially funny, but there you go. I was expecting to fall asleep while my sister watched the movie. But I was actually engaged, and it was definitely the performances.

But then they had to throw some icing on top, and that was the theme of cultural appropriation. You have an all white middle class suburban cheerleading squad, called the Toros, competing to go to some national competition. When it turns out that all of their successful cheers were stolen from a Black cheerleading team in Compton, called the Clovers, the Toros have a decision to make. That decision is made a lot easier, when the Clovers show up at one of their home games, and embarrasses them by performing their entire routine in front of the school, after which the Toros fully understand they need to come up with a routine of their own. They figure the best way to make amends for what they’ve done is to help the Toros make it to the competition, but Isis, the team leader of the Clovers rejects their help, and she appeals to a television talkshow host, who grew up in Compton, to help finance their trip to the Nationals, where they win first place.

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The plot is just enough  to keep a person engaged, and the romantic subplot between Dunst’s character, the brother of the newest cheerleader, and one of the male cheerleaders on her team, is interesting for people who like romance. I  generally have no patience for romantic subplots (except when I feel like having some patience) and I was able to tolerate it, in this movie, solely on the basis of the actor’s performances.

It was also interesting to watch the cheer-leading parts of the show. I had never harbored the belief that cheer-leading was easy. Like most little girls, I was fascinated by it, and I had pom poms as toys, and learned how to twirl a baton, too, but I didn’t expect the choreography to be so good, and the music was fun.

This was not a deep movie, and it was a kinda silly, but still a lot of fun. The performances were good, and my little sisters both loved it, and all the women in the family have  watched it multiple times.

Yep! Even Mom.

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…(Movies)

I think its very interesting that we all have so much choice out there today, as regards popular media, that some of us PoC are making the bold choice of only supporting films and TV shows which prominently feature other PoC. So there is progress being made as far as diversity and inclusion. Its slow, and hasn’t reached any level of normalcy, to the point where we can just disregard these films, but hopefully we can reach that point.

For myself, I’m just reaching a point where I dont give a flying hot damn what any White fanboy thinks of most movies. I am completely and thoroughly disregarding all of their opinions on movies, (I long ago stopped listening to them as regards music) and most of television. They’ve had their say long enough. It’s time for other people to be heard now.

March

(9) A Wrinkle in Time

This movie is being released this weekend, and I’m  to take my 12 year old niece to see this. I read this book  as a child, so I’m almost as excited about this movie as she is, even if she has not yet read it. She just likes seeing little girls having adventures in movies, and I am more than happy to provide her with a steady diet of that. And yeah, watch out for the bad reviews until you’ve seen the movie yourself. They’re already getting started panning this movie, (probably because they can’t hate on Black Panther without looking like a fool.)

 

 

(23) Pacific Rim Uprising

I’m sort of in love with John Boyega. I plan to take my niece to see this one too, because she isn’t just sort of in love with him, she is crushin’ bad. We both liked the first film, I’m a huge fan of  kaiju movies,  and this looks really exciting. Plus, its  got that whole Power Rangers thing going for it, too.

 

 

 

April

(20) Rampage

My Mom loves giant killer somethings in movies -dogs, crocodiles, dinosaurs. It makes no difference to her as long as ts based on a real animal, is large, and eats people. The film does receive one demerit from her because she is not a Dwayne Johnson fan. On the other hand, I am a Dwayne Johnson fan, and it also stars Naomie Harris, which gives this movie the distinction of not having any of the Chris-es in charge of this action thriller.

 

 

 

May

(4) Avengers Infinity War

I got plans!

 

 

(18) Deapool 2

I love the trailers for this movie, but I don’t know if I’ll be inviting my niece  to see this one, and the thought of seeing this with my Mom is kinda terrifying. I think it’s just a tad too mature for my niece, so I may have to go this one alone, or not at all. I do like the movie’s version of Domino. She’s so Pam Grier! And of course, my girl-fave, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, (What an awesome name!!!) will be present, so I have to support her.

 

 

(25) Solo

This looks like fun, although I do wish the movie was about Lando, rather than Han, and the lead actor has luxurious, cheesy 70’s hair, which is annoying, since I am over that phase of my life..

 

June

(8) Oceans 8

The only reason I want to see this film is to see Rihanna. I probably won’t see this anyway. I’ll be all out of money because I have plans to also see…

 

 

(15) The  Incredibles 2

Yep! Elastigirl is worth 2 Rihannas, and Edna Mode is worth about a couple hundred of whoever else is starring in Oceans 8.

 

 

(22) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Oh c’mon! You know! Giant animals? Check! Eating people? Check! Jeff Goldblum? Check! Running and screaming? Check!

Okay then.

 

 

July

(6) Ant Man and The Wasp

I had no plans to go see this movie, just as I had no plans to see the first film. Then this trailer dropped, and it looks like hella fun, so I’m thinking about it. Just remember, nobody was asking for the first movie. Marvel just decided, for whatever reason, to give us an Ant Man movie, despite our asking for a Black Widow movie. On the other hand, I fully support Janet Van Dyne, (I love her in the comic books) and wish the first movie had been all about her.

 

 

(27) Mission Impossible: Fallout

I have never gone to see any of the Mission Impossible movies at the theater, but I’m considering seeing this. The trailer is totally batshit, and Angela Bassett is in it, so…

 

 

August 

There are no trailers for these two movies yet.

(3) The Equalizer 2

I only kind of enjoyed the first movie, but I’m interested in this one because the little boy from Moonlight is in this one, I think. I don’t know why people are resting on Antoine Fuqua’s movies, almost all of them starring Denzel Washington, though. He’s no Ryan Coogler, but he’s a Black director who has been quietly going about the business of putting his thing down, and we should probably show some respect for that.

 

(10) Crazy Rich Asians

http://www.vulture.com/2017/06/crazy-rich-asians-full-cast.html

I’m almost as excited about this movie as a lot of Asian people. It will be the first movie starring an entirely Asian cast, along with an Asian director, based on a book by an Asian author. Its a romantic comedy , and while I’m not fond of such movies, as a general rule, this movie stars some of my favorite people, like Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Harry Shum,  and Michelle Yeoh. This is their Black Panther moment and I hope people come out in support for it, especially if you want to see more Asian actors in American films.

In their own words:

 

September

(14) The Predator

I haven’t seen any trailers for this yet, but I’m kind of excited about it becasue Keegan Michael Key is in this movie, and I’ve never seen him be a badass with a gun, outside of a comedic purposes. It also stars Edward James Olmos, Sterling K. Brown, and Olivia Munn. I really like the Predator franchise, which has a good history of showcasing PoC in prominent roles,  like Carl Weathers from the first film, Danny Glover from Predator II, and Sanaa Lathan in AvP.

https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/02/shane-black-shares-first-cast-photo-of-the-predator-as-filming-begins/

 

October

(5) Venom

I don’t know what to think about this  movie yet, because the trailer doesn’t actually show anytihng, or tell anything. On the other hand, it does star Tom Hardy, and I have to support his crazy ass. I’m a fan of some of  the comic book versions of Venom, so I’m cautiously excited about this. I also heard that this movie isn’t related to any of the MCU films, so I don’t think we can expect a cameo from Tom holland.

 

November

I have not found any official trailers for these movies.

(2) Mulan

I am cautiously excited about this movie. I will be even more excited if there are no White people in the cast. We watched the cartoon version and that  didn’t feature any White people, so I don’t feel we need any in the live action version either. Why would you add White people to this anyway?

Hollywood needs to learn that you do not need White actors to tell a story, or draw the audience in. If the story is good, it can stand for itself. On the other hand, overseas audiences see White people as exotic, and that might be a reason a White character would be added to this movie.

 

(16) Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I’m less than happy that Johnny Depp is in this, and I’m still in my feelings about the lack of PoC in the last movie, even though I enjoyed all the characters, and the plot made no sense. This one, I think, is set in France ,and I’m looking forward to seeing all the characters from the first film, although I probably won’t be seeing this in the theater.

 

Also: Creed 2; Mary Queen of Scots;Aquaman

I got nothing on these films. They just sound mildly interesting.

 

 

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…TV

Ooh! There’s some great stuff coming to television this spring. Also, some not so great stuff, but we won’t know that until we look at it, soo…

Now:

Altered Carbon (Netflix): I have not yet watched this. I will get around to it and let you know what I think at some point.

 

 

Ash Vs The Evil Dead Season 3 (Starz): I’ve watched a couple of episodes of this season. Lucy Lawless has returned, and Ash finds out he has a daughter. I don’t think I’ll watch the entire season, but as far as I can tell, the show is even gorier, and zanier, than that first season. Next to Happy, and Legion, its one of the most batshit shows on TV.

 

 

Mute (Netflix): I started watching this but checkedout because I got bored. Since then I’ve read a number of great reviews comparing it to Balderunner and Altered Carbon. I also happen to like the lead actor who  played Eric from the show True Blood. There’s lot so secretive conversations, half naked dancing, and neon, so my tolerance may be a bit low, but I’ll try to watch it again.

March:

(1) Atlanta:Robbin Season (FX): I missed a lot of episodes of the first season, so I had to go back and catch up. I’ve watched the first episode of this new season, and really enjoyed it. You have to see it to believe it. The special guest star for this episode is Katt Williams, playing a man who owns an alligator, and has kidnapped his girlfriend until she pays him back the money she stole.

 

(2) Ravenous (Netflix): I think this show is Swedish, or Danish, or French or something. Its not in English anyway. It’s about a small town beset by zombies, and looks intriguing. I’m taking some vacation next week, so I’ll check it out then, and let you know if the subtitles are worth it.

 

(7) Hard Sun (Hulu): I have no idea what this is aobut, but the description sounded kinda like a British version of The X-Files. I like the X-Files, and I like British shows, but I don’t know that I’ll like this. It just sounds interesting.

 

(7) Hap and Leonard Season 2 (Sundance): I’ve read a couple of the books, and the show looks like fun. The books are definitely an acquired taste, and have a kind Pulp Fiction meets Justified feel to them. I’m interested to see if the show captures the same flavor. I’m not going to bingewatch it though, just check out a couple of episodes. The trailers look like fun, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy a steady diet of this.

 

(8) Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix): I couldn’t make it through the first season of the show for…reasons. Maybe I’ll have better luck this weekend. I want to like Jessica, but she is such a downer type person, that its hard to watch her series. She was cool in The Defenders, and the trailers look a bit more appetizing though, so I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll see more WoC in this season, yeah?

 

(9) The Outsider (Netflix): Despite my judgmental nature, I’m not actually  willing to completely condemn a show before I watch it. I’m also one of five people who does not simply hate Jared Leto, although I probably should. I’m not a fan, but I’m not averse to watching (or liking) any vehicle he happens to be in.I also happen to like movies about The Yakuza and will pretty much watch anything with them in it, probably because I get a kick out of watching Japanese men behaving badly.

 

(9) A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Netflix): I rarely watch anime series, but this looks interesting and scary, so I’m going to try it.

 

(11) Timeless Season 2 (NBC): I have never watched this, but I’m sure some of you may be interested in it. Its my understanding that the show did some interesting things with the Black character last season, and have not neglected to take into account that he is a Black man, who travels into time periods that are probably not too good for his health.

 

 

(21) Krypton (Syfy): I would not normally have included this, because I have no interest in watching a show that doesn’t actually feature Superman, and the trailers look a little too soap opera-adjacent for my tastes. But hey! I’m sure someone, somewhere is very excited about this, and it might turn out to be a good show.

 

(26) The Terror (AMC): You already heard me gushing about this one. Still gushing!

 

(29) Siren (Freeform): This is like a horror movie version of The Little Mermaid. The acting looks really dodgy, but I’m going to try it, because i’m always here for evil sea-creatures, pretending to be beautiful, but talent-less actresses.

 

(30) The Titan (Netflix): I’m not a huge fan of the lead actor here, but I like the idea of hideous transformations and planetary travel.

 

(30) A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix): I missed the entire first season, but hey! it’s still on Netflix, so theoretically I can catch up anytime, right? Well, maybe someone besides me can catch up. I liked the movie okay, but I got bored in the first episode. Not that its a bad, or even a boring show. I’m just much more likely to fall asleep while lying in bed with the Netflix on.

 

 

April:

(2) The Crossing (ABC): I like the premise of this show which reminds me of The 4400, which was canceled right when I was starting to get into it. Hopefully this has shown up at a good time, and will do well. Sometimes half the success of a show is the timing of its release.

 

(3) Legion (FX): I think the first season hurt my brain.This is unlike any other superhero show on television. If you like wild situations, that may or may not be tangentially related to the plot, or even real, occasionally linear dialogue, and zany imagery, then go for it.  I think this show broke my head, but I’m gonna watch it again anyway.

 

 

(8) Killing Eve (BBC): People are always clamoring for female lead shows that are dark and thrilling. Well here you go! I hate the lead character, just from the trailer alone, but I know there’s an audience out there for a female psychopath. I do happen to like and respect Sandra Oh, and she looks wonderful in this.

 

 

(13) Lost in Space (netflix): I don’t know why they’re making a remake of this, but I’ll watch it, since I watched and sorta liked the original. Of course I was a kid when I saw the original so that may have been a factor in my enjoyment, and also I wanted a Robbie the Robot just like in the show.

 

(13) The Expanse Season 3 (Syfy): One of these days I’m going to watch one of the seasons The Expanse, all the way through to the end, after which there shall  commence a day of celebration. There shall be much rejoicing, (and possibly some wailing and gnashing of teeth, too.)

 

(22) Westworld (HBO): AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Allow me to repeat that, in case you didn’t get that…uh’hem! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

 

(22) Into the Badlands Season 3 (AMC):  Well naturally, to punish me for my enthusiasm, my two favorite shows will air on the same night. Fortunately HBO likes to show multiple repeats all week long, so I can watch this, and record the other. And of course you know, this means reviews, reviews, and more reviews.

 

 

 

May:

Apparently, there’s nothing coming on TV in May. All the stations will just be blank, which will be the signal for the Apocalypse to begin, because What the Fuck!!!

Oh yeah right!  Bear Grylls is gonna be doing some shit, on the last day of the month, if you’re into that sort of thing!

SAVED!!!!

 

June

(7) Cloak and Dagger (Freeform): I read this comic book as a teen, but I don’t think this show is gonna be a whole lot like the comic, which is a really good thing, because that book was hella racist. I mean half the stuff they did with those two characters, would not fly on TV today, without a major backlash. Cloak’s superpower is that he absorbs light, and Dagger’s power is that she emits it.

 

(22) Luke Cage Season 2:

Write your own, highly  enthusiastic, response here!

TBD:

Castle Rock (Hulu): We still have received no date for this show. All I know is that its coming to Hulu this year, but I can wait. It looks interesting.

 

I Saved It From Tumblr

Just another collection of interesting items that came across my dashboard.

Best Insult on Tumblr:

“You Uncultured Common Fly!”

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*Putting this here:

Image result for killmonger

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This is a beautiful collection of information, and images from the movie Coco. This movie did as well in Mexico as Black Panther did in the US. I haven’t yet seen it, but when I finally do, I’ll know what to look for. The writers (and I believe many of the animators themselves), are Mexican. This is why it’s so important for people of other cultures to write their own stories. They know their stories and audiences better than anyone. And its just a wonderful cache of information, and had I seen the movie first, most of it, would’ve gone right over my head.

References to Mexican Culture in Coco

By now, you’ve probably heard Coco is one of the most well researched films about Mexico and its culture. There are many small details that make it feel like Mexico: the stone roads in a small town, the traditional embroidery patterns in the shirts of Miguel’s female relatives, an uncle wearing a soccer team shirt, even a bowl of limes in a stand of aguas frescas. Of course, the looks of papel picado, day of the dead altars, and cemeteries are also well represented. The clothes of the relatives Miguel sees in the world of the dead is accurate to their eras. While these are a nice touch, you’re ultimately not missing out on anything by not spotting them, so in this post I wanted to talk about the more culturally based details that show the most research and you might not understand if you’re not very well acquainted with Mexican culture:

Image result for coco

Names and pronouns

1. Coco

This one is the most straightforward, so let’s start with the name of the movie. While the protagonist is called Miguel, we soon learn that Coco is his great grandmother. “Coco” is what we call a woman called “Socorro” (lit. “help” – it’s a very traditional name that’s considered old fashioned).

The Rivera family calls her “Mamá Coco,” which means “Mother Coco.” They also call Imelda “Mamá Imelda,” and so on. Calling your grandparents “mamá” or “papá” instead of “abuelita” and “abuelito” is a thing you can do, though I can’t say how common it is.

In the Spanish version of the film, Miguel’s grandmother, Elena, talks to Mamá Coco with “usted” (I didn’t notice other instances, but they might be there). Spanish has a formal and an informal version of singular “you:” “usted” for formal, “tú” for informal. The verb conjugation also changes depending on which one you use. It is used differently all through the Spanish speaking world, but in Mexico, other than older people you respect (like a teacher), you can talk to older family members with “usted,” which means respect rather than the distance the formality might imply. Nowadays, it has fallen out of use: as someone born in the 90s, my grandparents talked to their parents almost exclusively with “usted;” out of my parents, my mother talked to hers with “usted” and my father with “tú;” I speak to my parents with “tú.” I have cousins on my mother’s side that talk to their parents with “usted,” but I would say that makes them a minority nowadays.

Traditions and beliefs

2. Crossing to the world of the dead on a bridge of marigolds

If you paid very close attention, you might have noticed two children scattering marigold petals on the ground and their mother telling them not to scatter them, but to make a bridge so the dead could cross over. It was easy to miss, but that’s actually something we believe!

There are several types of flowers you can place in a day of the dead altar, but the one you can’t do without is the yellow marigold. Its petals are scattered all around the altar, and at the very front, you’ll form a path surrounded with candles. The bright yellow will help the dead properly make their way to the altar, and the candles surrounding the path will light their way.

3. Crossing to the world of the dead with a xoloitzcuintli

Several prehispanic cultures had a similar concept of the underworld as many other cultures around the world, in which there was a river they had to cross to get there. For both the Aztecs/Mexicas and the Mayas, a xoloitzcuintli would guide their souls so they could cross the river safely and arrive to Mictlan (Mexicas) or Xibalba (Mayas). To achieve this, a xoloitzcuintli would be sacrificed and buried with its owner. Day of the dead altars can have a xoloitzcuintli figure so that the dead can make it back safely as well.

4. Being thrown into a cenote

My screenshot isn’t the best but at some point, Miguel is thrown into a big pit with water. That’s not just any random pit, but a cenote.

Cenotes are naturally ocurring sinkholes caused by the collapse of limestone. The word “cenote” has Maya etymology, as cenotes are commonly found in the Yucatán peninsula, where they (still!) live. In old times, they would sacrifice animals and people as tributes to the gods, and also throw ceramic objects and jewelry as part of the tribute.

5. Alebrijes

I left these for last because they don’t have any deep meaning. Alebrijes are colorful fantastic animals that a man called Pedro Linares saw in a fever dream. He was a skilled artisan, so when he woke up from his long sickness, he brought them to life in his art.

In Coco, alebrijes are spiritual guides, and while their designs are to the likes of the real alebrijes, the film actually gave them a more important role than they have for us.

Music

6. Genres of Mexican music

The songs in Coco all belong to genres we’ve grown up with, so even if someone isn’t that knowledgeable in music theory or genres, we could vaguely tell they sounded “Mexican” (some more than others). Someone who is more knowledgeable of music genres can help me out here, but I think:

– Remember Me / Recuérdame is a bolero ranchero.

– Much Needed Advice / Dueto a través del tiempo is a ranchera.

– Everyone Knows Juanita / Juanita is a corrido.

– Un Poco Loco is a son jarocho.

– The World Es Mi Familia / El mundo es mi familia is huapango inspired.

– Proud Corazón / El latido de mi corazón is a a son (son de mariachi? I’m most uncertain about this one).

6.5 Un Poco Loco

Un Poco Loco starts in English as

What color is the sky, ay mi amor, ay mi amor,
You tell me that it’s red, ay mi amor, ay mi amor

And in Spanish as

Que el cielo no es azul, ay mi amor, ay mi amor,
Es rojo dices tú, ay mi amor, ay mi amor

(You say the sky isn’t blue, oh my love, oh my love,
It’s red, you say, oh my love, oh my love)

This might be a deliberate reference to a huapango called “Cielo rojo,” which says:

Mientras yo estoy dormido
Sueño que vamos los dos muy juntos
A un cielo azul
Pero cuando despierto
El cielo es rojo, me faltas tú

(As I sleep
I dream of us close together
Going towards a blue sky
But when I wake up
The sky red, I am missing you)

Within the universe of the movie, this would make it an anachronistic reference, though. Additionally, Cielo rojo is a song of loss and Un poco loco is about a woman who thinks very differently and likes to say everything backwards, and that makes him crazy (in a good way!). Hence, in English we’ve got her saying to put his shoes on his head instead of his feet, and in Spanish him saying she might think with her feet and also how she keeps playing with his thoughts. Cielo rojo is a pretty sad song.

7. La Llorona

And I purposefully left La Llorona out of that list (it’s originally a son istmeño, though).

There’s a full musical number in Spanish, which seems to have suprised some people. For those of us who watched Coco in Spanish, it wasn’t too hard to guess it was this one: La Llorona was likely left in Spanish because it’s a very old folk song, one of those that are so old it has no known author and there are many different versions of the lyrics.

“Llorona” just means “weeper,” which is not really as unusual of a word in Spanish as it is in English. It’s closer to “crybaby” in use. If you’re curious, the version used in Coco says the following, with “llorona” being the singer herself:

Poor me, llorona, llorona dressed in sky blue
Even if it costs me my life, llorona, I won’t stop loving you
I climbed the highest pine tree to see if I could spot you
Since the pine tree was so green, llorona, it cried upon seeing me cry

What is grief and what is not grief, llorona: it all is grief to me
Yesterday, I was crying to see you, llorona; today, I’m crying because I saw you

Poor me, llorona, llorona dressed in sky blue
Even if it costs me my life, llorona, I won’t stop loving you

Famous people

8. Ernesto de la Cruz

“Isn’t he an original charact-” NO LISTEN STAY WITH ME.

Remember how I said Remember Me is a bolero ranchero? Guess who we associate boleros rancheros with?

That would be Pedro Infante, who happens to have a strong resemblance to no other than Ernesto de la Cruz.

It’s probably not a coincidence at all, as later on we see Ernesto with Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete at his party. Ernesto de la Cruz was explicitly stated to be inspired on both of them and another singer of the same genres, Vicente Fernández.

My parents left the movie saying “Pedro Infante didn’t deserve that burn,” lol.

9. Frida Kahlo (and Diego)

She does have a rather prominent role so she’s hard to miss. For those unaware, Frida is the artist who made the flaming papaya.

The themes in Frida’s are autobiographical, as she had a rather unusual life due to polio and injury. She painted herself and her suffering a lot. That might be why we get performances with many Fridas and things like a crying cactus that’s herself.

Bonus: her husband, Diego Rivera, is also in the same studio where we meet Frida. He was an important artist, specifically a muralist.

10. Other Mexican celebrities

I already brought up Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete as characters that appear right beside Ernesto de la Cruz.

But we also get to see a cameo of many other famous Mexican names in Ernesto’s studio! Excluding the people at the piano, from left to right:

Emiliano Zapata, a revolutionary; (my best guess is) Adela Velarde, another revolutionary; Ernesto and Miguel; (probably) Agustín Lara, composer and singer; (probably) Dolores del Río, actress (in Hollywood too!); Cantinflas, comedian and actor; Pedro Infante, singer and actor; María Félix, actress; El Santo, wrestler and actor; Jorge Negrete, singer and actor.

They kind of looked like this:

Another bonus: this gal looks like the calavera garbancera / the Catrina illustrated by José Guadalupe Posada.


There might be more things I’m missing or forgot; if that’s the case, feel free to let me know! You can also fix my music genres for me since that’s never been my forte.

I hope this was of interest to someone!

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*Frankie Trixx came across my dashboard, and I totally fell in love with him. I was just in tears. Now, its my understanding that this guy isn’t actually from Africa. I believe he’s Canadian, but he has an African name, and this is one of his Instagram personas. He is absolutely hilarious though, and has a lot to say about everything. Here, he discusses unseasoned chicken:

Check him out!

“Why is the chef seasoning his chicken with amnesia?!”

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*Another one of my favorite comedians is Quinta Brunson, who has her own Youtube channel. Check her out too.

https://theglowup.theroot.com/queen-quinta-why-quinta-b-is-everything-and-every-wo-1821726180

The real comedy here, outside of Quinta’s dancing,  is her boyfriend’s facial expressions. He was not ready!

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 *As a parallel to my calls for diversity in  commenters and reviewers, there is a call for people within fandom to step up their game, to be sensitive to media that is for, and by, Black Americans, and any media that holds special emotional, or religious resonance, or speaks on internal issues within our communities. Don’t write fanfic, or create fanart, or meta, without a thorough understanding of what you’re creating. Do your research. Listen to Black fans discussing how the movie affects them, and read, read, read! (The same goes for media that features other poC, and their cultures.)

Do Your research!!!!

Dear White Fandom

Let’s talk for a second.

So Black Panther opens nationwide today. I saw it last night, and let me tell you: it’s absolutely incredible. It’s as good as you’re hearing. It’s gorgeous. It’s compelling. Everyone acts their faces off. It’s also, inarguably, the most complex movie in the MCU.

You might leave the theater super jazzed and wanting to write meta and fic about how beautiful Wakanda is, how badass the Dora Milajae are, or who the real villains might be and why, or over that little cameo at the end (no spoilers). And you’re not wrong – but if you’re white, pump the brakes on that feeling for a few days.

There’s a lot to take in, about Black Panther. It’s an intricate, incredibly well thought-out movie that covers a lot of ground in terms of thorny and important themes. It stares right in the face of generational trauma, the legacy of slavery, conflicts between the diaspora and Africans and what responsibilities and connections each feel to each other, how colonization continues today under different names, and on and on.

And you’re gonna be missing the context for a lot of that. So hit pause on that content creation for a little bit, okay?

There’s a lot of meta, fic, thought posts, personal experiences, and resources already being shared by Black fans. There’s gonna be a lot more. Take the next few days to read them. Get lost reading up on the historical and cultural touchstones that the movie draws from. Follow Black fans and reblog their stuff. Listen before you hit post on that fic or meta.

And maybe you don’t end up posting it at all. Maybe you learn the context of the characters and issues and history you saw up on screen, and that great idea you came out of the theater with seems more and more like a hot take. That’s okay. It’s totally fine just to listen.

I’m not saying that white people aren’t allowed in the Black Panther fandom. I’m not saying that only Black people can write Black Panther fic. First, that would be incredibly hypocritical of me; and Second, I think that white people not putting in the effort to humanize non-white people literally makes us worse human beings.

What I’m saying is, if you wanna do it: it’s worth putting in the work. Not just to create content that isn’t full of microaggressions and outright racism, but participation means you have to put in the work to do it right. If you’re not willing to wait, and listen, and learn, and work – then just don’t.

Source:

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*This is pretty much my mood whenever I’m experiencing bouts of insomnia.

Don’t trust morning you. Morning you is a dick. Morning you would sell your loved ones if it got them 5 minutes of extra sleep

maybe morning me wouldn’t be such a dick if that flaky bitch evening me had gone to bed instead of tumblring til butts o’clock in the morning

Well evening me might have fallen asleep at a reasonable hour if that dumbass afternoon me hadn’t lain down for a “little nap” that lasted four hours.

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*I love this woman’s clapback. I know we called a moratorium  on inviting various White people to the cookout after Trump, but  really, this is how you ally.

As a general rule, I don’t give one flying hot damn about who some random Black guy is fucking, but if you feel the need to scandalize  my name, (i.e. Black women) to justify who you’re fucking, the problem is not us. The problem is your insecurity about who you’re fucking. There’s no need to put us down to declare your love of White women, and Liv was correct to put these men in heir place:

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This right here…MOOD!!!

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*Yeah, there’s a reason why people didn’t rally around Catwoman the way they did around Black Panther, and it has nothing to do with disliking Black women. The movie was just shit. Even I checked the fuck out halfway through it. When even the movie’s own writers realize the movie was shit, well..

Also Catwoman had nothing whatsoever to do with the culture. It was essentially culture-less, which is how all Black characters are, when written by non-Black writers. The only White director I’ve ever come across, who got it right, was Steven Spielberg, and I suspect his being Jewish informed a lot of what he did on The Color Purple. (Not even Tarantino gets it right, even though I liked Django Unchained.)

I feel like people are making unfair comparisons to other movies, when really the only movie that comes close to doing what Black Panther has done, is the 1998 Blade movie. It had a couple of Black cultural moments in it, but that had more to do with its star, Wesley Snipes, than the director Stephen Norrington.

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*I’m obviously gonna have to do another post on this show. I love this show. It’s like a weekly Luke Cage/Black Panther fix. But really, what I like about all these different Black stories, isn’t just the primarily black cast, but how  they truly represent the individuality of our culture,  how  different they all are, in style and flavor. Atlanta, is a very different type of comedy than Black*ish, or Insecure. Black Lightning feels very different than Black Panther or Luke Cage. They’re all telling very different types of stories.

Below: The Iconic Thunder Foot Stomp! straight out of the comic books. You  have nan idea how loud my Mom and I were whooping and hollering, during these scenes.!

Image result for black lightning gif/anissa

Image result for black lightning gif/anissa

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And finally I want to introduce all of you to Shaina West, also known as THE SAMURIDER, a tiny stuntwoman doing her own thing on Youtube.
 

Black Panther Selected Readings 3

*Since this movie blew up the theaters there have been a metric ton of think-pieces and examinations about it. I’ve tried to collect as many of these as I thought were interesting, leaving out all the contrarian negative stuff. I know I promised to write a review, but there’s nothing I would say in it that isn’t already covered by the three lists of think pieces I’ve collected. (Maybe later, I’ll jot something down about my feelings for the various characters or something.)

*But first up, I thought this essay was related to the idea of Wakanda having never been colonized, versus how we are all taught by popular media to think of the continent of Africa. You can read this first ,and then play a drinking game of how many times the writers do these things in the following articles:

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

—-   https://granta.com/how-to-write-about-africa/

 

Politics:

Black Panther has a lot to say about politics:

Image result for black panther movie politics

https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/2/27/17029730/black-panther-marvel-killmonger-ir

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/the-provocation-and-power-of-black-panther/553226/

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/black-panther-and-the-invention-of-africa?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/black-panther-review/553508/

https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/2/26/17029572/black-panther-marvel-politics

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-passionate-politics-of-black-panther

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther

https://www.theroot.com/when-wakanda-was-real-1822745590

https://www.theroot.com/america-wakanda-for-white-people-1823224399

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a18241993/black-panther-review-politics-killmonger/

*I didn’t agree with this review but I’m including it here because some of you will find it interesting, and the author does make other salient points. I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by the depiction of the lone African American in the movie. I was deeply saddened by Killmonger, while agreeing with much of his philosophy. I get why he was angry. I was also saddened by the fate of the only African American woman in the entire film, and I wish the director had put more thought into it. I get the point he’s trying to make, but it still felt pretty bad to watch that point being made.

http://bostonreview.net/race/christopher-lebron-black-panther

 

View story at Medium.com

5 Lessons from Black Panther That Can Save Our Lives — and Transform Black Politics – Medium.com

Dear Fellow White People: Go See “Black Panther” – Medium.com

Here are six reasons. Do it this weekend. Seriously, just go.

 

*This article is about people who are trolling the movie. As the movie began to take off last weekend, there were a number of alt-right trolls who posted fake tweets demonising the movie’s fans, and claiming that white people had been beaten up at theaters. 

I put this here to point out the utter futility of their efforts in trying to disparage and destroy this movie. Their efforts will always meet with failure, not because they’re awful, (because yeah,  they are) but because, by the time they are resorting to  efforts to sabotage these movies, it’s already too late. These acts are purely defensive, and only illustrate how little control such people have over mainstream media.

All they have in their arsenal to combat progress is more of the same lies and vitriol against black people that they’ve always espoused. Their messages are not new, and not effective.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/black-panther-loved-by-the-world-hated-by-trolls/

 

Psychology:

*Not all of these essays were written by Black reviewers, but even so, I thought the reviewer, regardless of race, had interesting things to say about the philosophies of, and psychology behind, the film’s characters. Just becasue White reviewers can’t (or won’t) talk about race,  doesn’t mean they have nothing worthwhile to say on other topics.

https://www.theroot.com/on-the-duality-and-double-consciousness-of-black-panthe-1823260321

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/black-panther-erik-killmonger/553805/

https://www.theroot.com/killmonger-was-wrong-and-ya-ll-know-it-1823134207

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/indepth/opinion/black-panther-pilgrimage-180218151402202.html

https://io9.gizmodo.com/director-ryan-coogler-explains-the-identity-issues-at-t-1822937410

https://melmagazine.com/what-black-panther-teaches-us-about-when-fathers-lie-to-their-sons-183113d95520

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2018/02/13/the-fleshing-out-of-black-masculine-archetypes-in-ryan-cooglers-films

One Tribe: Black Panther’s Altruism

 

The Women:

Let’s face it, women are the backbone of this movie, holding it down and keeping it 100. I was surprised to find that my favorite female character was Nakia. (I thought it would be Okoye.)

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I was watching and after Okoye was called the general a boy next to me said : “I didn’t know girls can be generals!”
That’s why representation matters

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One of the best things about was definitely the women. Shuri, our princess is cheeky, charming and a fcking genius. Okoye could kill me and I’d gladly thank her. If I have even an ounce of Nakia’s compassion, I would be a better woman that I am now.

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https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/02/black-panther-who-plays-shuri-letitia-wright-profile

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/another-reason-why-shuri-is-the-greatest-disney-princes-1823136306

https://io9.gizmodo.com/black-women-are-black-panthers-mightiest-heroes-1823205912

http://blacknerdproblems.com/blackpanther-movie-review/

https://io9.gizmodo.com/wakandas-indomitable-culture-is-why-the-women-of-black-1822923859

 

From Tumblr:

 

The Making of:

*Everyone wants to know everything about the making of Wakanda, and Ruth Carter’s  major influences on her designs for the film.

Ruth Carter is a Hollywood costume designer who grew up in Springfield. Her career spans a long list of major motion pictures, and she is best known for her work on Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” receiving Academy Award nominations for both films. Carter’s most recent work can be seen in “Selma,” a film about the trio of marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

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Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ is a broad mix of African cultures—here are some of them

https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/how-black-panther-composer-ludwig-goransson-found-the-sound-of-wakanda-interview/

 

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 darkdamiaknight

“The PanAfrican flag is red, black and green, so when you see Okoye, T’Challa and Nakia in their covert looks, you’re seeing the PanAfrican flag.” – Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther.

 

 

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Oh, yeah. The hair thing:

 

The Fans:

*This essay was originally written as a response to Beyonce’s Lemonade but many of the writer’s arguments can be equally applied to any media that is made by, and speaks to, a Black audience, including Black Panther.

Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Lesson on Appreciating Art That Wasn’t Made for You

 

*This is what Tumblr fans are saying about representation:

*Took my african dad to see Black Panther

theghostwasblue

*no spoilers*

He does not like superhero movies and normally he falls asleep in the cinema. But not this time, he was on the edge of his seat and he said that he didn’t wanna miss a single moment. He absolutely loved the movie, the first thing he did when we got home was to call his african friend, yelling at him to go watch it as soon as possible. The second thing he did was ask me when the sequel will be out.

I asked my dad what he liked about the movie and he said everything. He loved that almost everyone was black and that they spoke Xhosa. He was so happy that they captured what life is actually like in many african cities in those scenes when they were walking around in wakanda. Seeing the people sit in cafes, buying food from food stands, kids running around with school bags, just people living their everyday life all the while being unapologetically african. He said he felt as if he was back home. And he was so happy that there finally was a movie where africans weren’t starving, or warlords, or dealing drugs. He told me that this is the kind of movie he has wanted to see for years, not alluding to the superhero stuff but the fact that they portray africans the same way that most if not all movies portray white people and not criminalize or dehumanize them but uplifting them. He loved every single character and especially M’Baku but his absolute favourite was the Queen mother Ramonda because she was so calm and collected while simultaneously being this strong queen. My dad, coming from a culture that really uplifts and value mothers and holds them above all, felt like the movie really captured that in Ramonda and that’s why he loved her.

He loved the soundtrack and how they mixed in djembe drums and traditional african singing with modern western music and he loved the costumes because a lot of the clothes look like the things people are wearing at all the african parties we go to.

The only complaint my dad had was that the sound was to high, which was his own fault for insisting that he sit at the end of the row right next to one of the speakers.

So yeah, representation do matter. I’ve never in my life seen him so happy about a movie. And he wanted to talk about it after it had ended which never happens normally. We joked around with the idea of him being a wakandan wardog stationed here and we did Shuris and T’Challas little handshake saying that is the only way we will now greet other africans. This movie gave my dad pure joy and happiness and it gave us a bonding opportunity because we finally have something that we both could geek out about.

Source: theghostwasblue
*Hollywood needs to start getting itself together:

*This needs to be said…

After Black Panther, and Coco, and all the other great films that have come out and boasted great representation (and great Box Office returns) I hope all movie studios are aware that nothing can every go back to the way it used to be.

Like, you know how when you’ve had something high quality, and you just can’t go back to the bargain brand again because you know what this product is supposed to be?

Well, Black Panther and Coco just introduced an entire generation of people (young and old alike) what positive representation is supposed to feel like.

People aren’t going to stand for “This character couldn’t be X because it’s a stereotype.”

People aren’t going to stand for “This character had a small role but it’s fine because X”

People ain’t gonna stand for “Finn can’t be written well because there’s no place for his story to go”

People aren’t going to stand for “Iron Fist couldn’t be Asian-American because it perpetuates a stereotype.

People aren’t going to stand for “We couldn’t find the right type of actor so we just went with a white person.”

People aren’t going to stand for “Let’s make the black woman a frog for the entire movie.”

People aren’t going to stand for “There weren’t any people of color in this era. It wouldn’t be historically accurate.”

People aren’t going to stand for “Well…it’s close enough, isn’t it? Why’re you complaining?”

Movie studios  thought it was bad before? Honey. Buckle up.

 

*The Alnur African Drum and Dance Troupe as The Dora Milaje

The Fans

 

In Africa:

I loved the African reaction to this movie:

 

*And the windup:

https://bidoun.org/articles/how-to-write-about-africa-ii

 

 

A Fistful of Mini- Reviews

Happy

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This show just finished up its first season, and I really enjoyed it. What’s even more surprising, is that my Mom started watching this show, with no prompting from me, and seemed to really enjoy it as well.

Nick is a loser, a drunkard, and a once great police detective, who becomes peripherally involved with the mob. Nevertheless, he gets called upon to rescue Hailey, who is kidnapped by a man possessed by some kind of ghost or demon, and dressed like Santa Claus. He gets recruited to find Hailey by her imaginary friend, Happy, a tiny, blue, flying unicorn, who is desperate to save her, and is voiced by Patton Oswalt.

The show is every bit as zany as it sounds, and even manages to have moments of pathos, as you find out that Nick is actually Hailey’s dad.  There’s lots of action, and crazy fight scenes, as the camera zooms and zips around, to give us a Happy’s eye view of the proceedings. And Happy is a real character in his own right. When he and Nick become separated, Happy has his own adventures, one of which involves an imaginary serial killer of imaginary creatures like himself. Christopher Meloni continues to be a thoroughly underrated actor. He’s great in this show. I didn’t expect to get attached to, or even like Nick, but Meloni manages to make him sympathetic.

It still isn’t explained why Nick is the only adult who can see and hear Happy, but maybe we’ll get an explanation for that next season, which has already been promised. I promise to be there.

Counterpart

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This is another one of those shows that flew below most people’s radar. For some reason Starz simply doesn’t have the cache of HBO and Cinemax. Even though its been pumping out some pretty solid shows, like Outlander, Power, and American Gods, no one has been showing this network as much love as it should get.

Counterpart has an intriguing premise.About thirty years ago an alternate world was discovered, that looks exactly like Earth. Most of the people of Earth have a counterpart in the other one. For some reason these two Earths have become rivals that are trying to keep themselves a secret from the general population.

It stars J.K Simmons, as a mild mannered nobody, named Howard Silk, a depressed, unremarkable, man whose wife is in a coma, whose family dislikes him for keeping her alive, and who works for a mysterious company. The company is a portal to the other world, but he doesn’t know that. When some type of company froo-fra from that other world spills over into this one, Howard has to team up with his identical counterpart, who is a spy and assassin, to stop the killings.

On the surface, it seems like a science fiction show, but it’s really a pretty intense spy drama, with a lot of killing, with most of the drama occurring between Howard and his counterpart, and their frequent conversations about the nature of  their identity, and why the two of them are so different.

The series really isn’t as compelling as Starz is making it out to be, though. The dialogue is a bit dodgy, but Simmons acting is, as always, on point, and he’s worth watching. If you can get past the grim intensity of the acting, the dreary setting in Berlin, and the  dialogue, then you’ll find a good nugget of a show in here.

 

Godzilla : Monster Planet

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There was not enough Godzilla in this episode. Maybe in the next few episodes there will be more of him. The show mostly consists of humans ,who had left the planet because Godzilla was making life difficult for everyone, returning to Earth, and attempting to eradicate the giant monster. I wasn’t interested enough in any of the characters to learn their names.

Seeing Japanese interpretations of Christianity in these movies, is always interesting though, as one of the characters keeps spouting what you think is scripture, in that it sounds vaguely biblical, but I don’t think any of the verses they’re quoting are actually in the Bible. For one thing, the Bible doesn’t have a whole lot in it about Kaiju. Then again, this is sometime far, far in the future, so there’s no telling what they’re actually quoting. (Probably something that came about as a direct result of Godzilla’s destruction.)

There are lots of action scenes, and explosions, which ultimately don’t do anything but piss Godzilla off, and I got bored, as most of the dialogue consists of people yelling tech-speak, when they’re not arguing among themselves, or quoting fake scripture. I may watch the next episode. Its meant to be a series. I was really looking forward to it because I like Godzilla movies, although I dislike the American versions, which never have enough Godzilla, and too many annoying characters in them. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was made by Americans, but the annoyingly upbeat music, that is a requirement in all Japanese anime, kinda gives it away.

 

 

The  Cloverfield Paradox

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I am one of five people that actually enjoyed this movie, and its probably because I didn’t have the soaring expectations that everyone else seemed to have. Its been universally panned as the worst movie in the Cloverfield franchise, but I’m giving these reviews the side eye, for a couple of reasons. Because it really is a straight up Scifi horror movie that you actually have to pay close attention to, and actually  have to think about. I’m going to bet that most of the people panning it just didn’t understand the movie. Also most of the reviewerswho panned it, are White men, and this is another movie with a very diverse cast, without a White man in the center of it.

I’m starting to increasingly distrust White reviewers when it comes to diverse films. In the back of my mind is the thought that maybe the movie isn’t that bad. Does this person have a racist agenda? Although on occasion, the movie actually does happen to be bad, but there have been a number of movies, starring PoC, that I thoroughly enjoyed, but which got horrible reviews. (Oh, c’mon! I’m certainly not going to question my own taste in movies, which is impeccable, naturally! I’ll have a post on that later.)

The other two movies in the franchise, at least in my estimation, have a pretty standard, straight forward horror movie style plot. They also have White actors as the leads. But not his one, which involves alternate dimensions,  time travel, and a cast that’s about 75% of color. None of the plot is spelled out for the viewer. Most of it is shown,  and some of the events are  talked about by the characters. You have to pay attention and figure it out on your own. I went in thinking it would be the standard monster movie, and maybe that’s what affected a lot of other people’s reading of this movie, because there are no monsters, but I still thought it was a pretty effective horror movie, and enjoyed the twists and turns.

This movie  stars David Oyowelo, and Gugu MBatha- Raw. The very first review I read about this movie, and most of the reviews since then, have been written by White people, all of whom uniformly panned this movie, and didn’t mention its diversity.

This movie may have been bad. “Badness” is subjective after all. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as these people have made it out to be, and I’ve seen far worse movies than this one. Compared to other horror movies I’ve watched, this movie is a gem, so I’m not sure what criteria any of these reviewers are using. I used to be able to trust film reviewers, but I’m beginning to doubt I can do that now, as I question their motives for panning films with diverse casts. I don’t rule out the possibility that the film sucks, but I’ve been seeing far too much of this sort of “piling on” to what are usually not bad films, merely mediocre films, that star PoC as the lead characters, and are being judged much more harshly than mediocre films with a White cast.

In one of the first reviews I read about this movie, the reviewer said that the actors were instantly forgettable. These actors are only forgettable if you don’t know, or care, who any of the actors of color are. Gugu  graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, has won numerous awards, and is most famous for her role in the movie Belle, which also won film and critics awards. She is on her acting game in this movie and really sold the emotional arc of it for me. David Oyowelo is most famous for his role in the movie Selma, which won a host of critical awards. He doesn’t have much to do here beyond giving people orders and looking horrified, but he’s not awful at that. Zhang Ziyi also has an impressive film career and has won many awards.

Like most movies of this kind, there’s not a whole lot of character development for peripheral characters. They’re just there to die. But how is that different from any other horror movie in existence? And why was this one judged so incredibly harshly? What was the great sin here? All of the reviews I’ve read have panned this movie, but none of them have been very specific about what it was that actually made the movie so bad. Any one of their complaints could be said about any other horror film released in the past year, and I couldn’t see anything in the complaints about this movie that set it apart for special consideration as being awful.

Everyone who panned this seemed to have extremely high expectations for this movie, that doesn’t match the other two films in the franchise, and I wonder where these high expectations came from, as the first two movies didn’t impress me as grand cinematic endeavors. At least not enough to warrant this level of vitriol for this one. The major difference I see  between the first two films, and this one, is there are no White actors in the center of this story, and there are no giant monsters. So you know what? I’m calling bullshit on those reviews.

I didn’t find the story confusing. I understood it just fine. The horror elements were as horrific as they were meant to be, and I thought it was a moving and emotional drama, told through a science fiction lens. But perhaps my view is not colored by things that didn’t happen onscreen, or were merely talked about behind the scenes, or in the writer’s room.

This excerpt is from one of the few positive reviews I could find about this movie:

While this is happening. the emotional core of the movie is anchored by Ava. She is someone who we empathize with…because the reason she is on the ship is heartbreaking. But, because we are in this new universe, she must struggle with the fact that the impossible is possible. What she is missing in her universe is in this new universe. What would you do if you were in her shoes? The logical side of you is screaming No! at the TV. The emotional side of you is in teary-mode for Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

In Defense of Cloverfield Paradox – The Disconnect Between the Moviegoer and the Critic

This is very definitely Ava’s story, and I won’t give any plot details, but it is more of a very, very dark, science fiction drama, which I thought was different enough to be impressed by it. If you liked the atmosphere of Alien Covenant, and found the secondary plotline of Aliens, between Newt and Ripley intriguing, then you’ll may like this movie.

 

Blue Planet II

 

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I love a good documentary, and I really enjoyed the first Blue Planet series. If you like watching shows about marine life, this is one of the best showcases for that. Its got some absolutely stunning  camerawork. Now I’m waiting for the Making of…episode.

The Alienist

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I still don’t know what to make of this series after watching 3 episodes. Its so tentative, in whatever points its trying to make about its characters, that  I don’t know what to feel or think about any of them yet. It looks gorgeous, and so far, that’s whats been keeping me watching. That and the fact that I’m a sucker for Jack the Ripper type stories, which this is.

I think the problem is that the story itself is very lurid, but the writers seem to be playing it safe and respectable, except for the sex scenes.which seems incongruous. As with most Victorian fiction, there’s a sexual component, and lots of repressed emotions. A lot of of the characters stare blankly into the camera and speak in hushed monotones, to impart how serious all of this is. If you’re expecting something like Penny Dreadful, you’re going to be disappointed. This show doesn’t cross any lines.

The show is based on a book of the same name by Caleb Carr, and its about an Alienist, (a Victorian word for psychiatrist), named Lazlo Kreizler, who is trying to solve the serial killings of young boys in New York city, at the turn of the century. He is assisted by Dakota Fanning’s character, one of the first women on the police force, who works a a secretary for the police commissioner. It also stars Luke Evans as an interested socialite. Some of the topics addressed in the series are the sex trafficking of young boys, sexism on the police force, and poverty. As usual there’s only one Black guy in all of New York, and we don’t know what he does for a living, beyond giving people messages.

There’s not a whole lot of action, chase scenes, or really even that many scares. It feels really inhibited, and a little claustrophobic, and I think that’s meant to be some sort of commentary on that era. Its not a bad show, by any means, but if you’re expecting more exciting TV watching, this is not it, although the conversations some of the character’s have are intriguing. This is definitely a slow burn type of show, that you have to pay close attention to, because knowledge of the  the characters is all in their conversations.

This is the Victorian era, so the only people allowed to show character are the poor, and this show ain’t about them, although they make plenty of cameos. Sometimes Dakota Fanning forgets what show she’s in and shows some genuine emotion, (usually towards any men who are trying to talk down to her), and I’m starting to like her character. I hope to like some of the other characters by the end of the season.

Star Trek Discovery: Review of Season One

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The Plot:

When we last discussed this show, the Discovery was stranded in the Mirror Universe, where our characters encountered their worst selves, and had to touch base with the darkest part of their natures to survive. many of them worried that they might not recover from the ordeal, and some didn’t. Ash  discovered he was the surgically altered Klingon Voq, and attacked  Michael.  Captain Lorca originated from the Mirrorverse, and more than likely, the original Gabriel Lorca is dead.

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Michael Burnham encounters a dark version of Philippa Gheorgiou, who is the Emperor of the Terran Empire. Captain Lorca, and the Burnham of that universe, became lovers, and betrayed her, teaming together to form a coup against her. When Dark/Philippa discovers that this Michael is not her adopted daughter, the two of them team up to defeat Lorca, and he is killed. The Discovery makes it back to its own universe, but the mushroom spores they used to travel there, are all destroyed, and they overshoot their mark, and land nine months in the future, where they find that the Klingons are winning the war.

Because of the death of their leader, the Klingon clans never united and are now contesting among themselves to see how many humans they can kill. Earth is about to be attacked, as well. Having kidnapped Philippa from the Mirrorverse, Michael enlists her aid in defeating the Klingons. Philippa’s solution is to destroy the Klingon homeworld, but Michael talks her out of the idea by giving the power to destroy the Klingons to L’Rel, who uses her new weapon to unite the Klingons, which brings about the end of the war.

Realizing he has no future in Starfleet, Ash Tyler accompanies L’Rel on her mission. Philippa is free to go her way,rather than remain a prisoner of Starfleet, and Michael is reinstated as a Commander on the Discovery, having been the architect of the end of the war, and she and Sarek reconcile.

In the last few minutes of the episode, the Discovery is on its way to pick up its new captain from a nearby starbase, when it receives a distress call from Captain Pike of the  USS Enterprise, the ship on which Spock is the First Officer.

 

Themes:

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One of the things I know I’m good at, is seeing the bigger picture, yet being a visual artist, is what taught me to pay attention to the tiny details that make up that picture. The ability to see the “macro” from a micro level is a mindset that not many people cultivate, but if the viewer is to understand this season, they will have to. Michael’s story and her future is all in the details.

There are a lot of plot details during the course of the season, so this show is much more complex than some previous series of Trek. Because it’s so complex, a lot of fans haven’t been able to grasp exactly what this season was about, and have had difficulty wondering what the writers are trying to do. A lot of fans have complained that the show isn’t very Trekky, but that’s the point.We haven’t got there yet.

Every character has an arc, and so does the crew and ship. but the overall point of all these arcs, appears to be getting to know Michael Burnham, not just through the things we see her do, and the situations she responds to,  but  through her relationships on Discovery, and how other characters respond to her. Through Michael we are also witnessing the origin story of this crew. By the end of the season, we are on our way to seeing the ideals of Starfleet reflected in Michael, the crew, and the  plot.

All of the plot points, and all of the characters, revolve around, and are informed by, the existence of Michael Burnham. We are watching a show chronicling the growth and maturity of a StarFleet officer, and its crew. We visited the Mirrorverse to learn what type of crew, what type of people, they are not, and cannot be, to contrast with who they should, and can be. The writers wanted to show us negatives before showing the positives.

The flavor is different from the other Trek shows, but then they all felt different, so this means little to me. The colors are brighter, the lighting is dimmer, the humor is a little different. There’s sex, nudity and a little cussing, but over the course of the season the show begins to lighten and there’s a little more humor between the characters.

The Bridge crew is very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them next season, with stories being told about them, and narratives involving them, as we didn’t get to see or hear much from any of them. In fact, we know nothing about any of them beyond how they look, so I’m excited to get to know them. (Interesting Note: There’s not a single White man in the regular Bridge crew of the Discovery. Actually, the only White, straight man, in the entire speaking crew, was Lorca and he turned out to be evil. The present cast consists almost entirely of PoC, and mostly women. Make of that what you will.)

http://trekcore.com/blog/2017/12/meet-the-star-trek-discovery-bridge-crew-cast/

 

Michael Burnham

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Michael is introduced to us as a rather reserved, and somewhat rude, Vulcan wannabe, in the premiere episodes, but during the course of the season we watch her become more human, discovering and dealing with the faults of her character. As the audience, we travel with her on her path to self discovery. Essentially, we are watching Star Trek: The Making of a Starfleet Officer, or The Fall and Rise of Michael Burnham.

We see her fall from grace in the first couple of episodes, as she mutinies against, and then presides over the death of, her Captain, a woman with whom she had established a mother/daughter relationship. Michael’s hubris begins a war with the Klingons, and she will have to live with the repercussions of this for the remainder of the season. This is why the very first minute of the first episode is a shot of Michael and Philippa together. Their relationship is going to be the center around which almost all of Michael’s decisions will revolve for the next 14 episodes, and the loss and betrayal of her mother figure, and commanding officer, will be the impetus behind many of Michael’s decisions later in the season, just as the death of her parents informs her decisions in the show’s premiere. I think,had that particular trauma been dealt with, by the Vulcans, Michael would not have made those decisions.

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Everything that happens, for the rest of the season, can be traced back to Michael’s betrayal and mutiny of Philippa, and that can be traced back to unresolved trauma, after the deaths of Michael’s parents, at the hands of the Klingons.. The war she inadvertently started with the Klingons, killed her captain, and made it possible for Capt. Lorca to be present in the Prime universe, which puts him in  place to make certain decisions that affect her  development, and the lives of the Discovery crew. For Michael to become the person she will be, her old life needs to be destroyed, but she cannot move forward until she deals with all of its loose ends.

Her introduction to the crew of the Discovery is a bit rocky at first, but she eventually establishes herself as a reliable and intelligent officer, and even develops a positive relationship with her roommate, Silvia Tilly, that echoes her relationship with her late Captain, with Michael in the role of mentor. The first part of the season finds her making peace with Lt. Saru, her former Science Officer from the Shen Zhou, and developing a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler, a former prisoner of war.

By the middle of the season, Michael experiences another setback as she visits the Mirror Universe, and discovers the worst possible versions of the people she knew, including Phillipa, Capt. Lorca,  and Ash Tyler. Since coming on board the Discovery, Michael has had a  decision to make, about the kind of human she would like to become, and in the MirrorVerse, she is presented with the contrast, and the temptation, to be the worst kind of human she could be, which she roundly rejects. In every episode Michael gets a chance to redeem herself and reflect the ideals of StarFleet.

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Just because Michael knows what kind of person she wants to be, doesn’t mean she is done. She  must still deal with the emotional fallout of Philippa’s death, which is also tied into the emotional trauma of her parents death, that she has never dealt with either.  Given the choice between allowing the Mirrorverse version of Philippa to die, or saving her life, Michael saves her life, and takes her to the Prime universe. Michael’s, guilt and regret, at causing Prime-Phillipa’s death, informs her decision, and even though this version of Phillipa isn’t hers, Michael hopes to atone, by saving the soul of this less worthy version of her former mentor.

Michael  cannot do anything with her life, until all the issues in her past have been properly acknowledged and dealt with. We are really seeing an origin story for Michael Burnham.

 

Captain/Emperor:  Philippa Georghiou

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Philippa adopted Michael as a surrogate daughter by the time we saw her in the season premiere, and had done a lot of work to introduce Michael to her human side by that time. Michael’s attack on her,  and that betrayal, was really hard on her ,and the situation was never resolved between them because she died.

Later in the season, we meet the Mirrorverse version of Phiippa, who also had a mother/daughter relationship with the Mirrorverse version of Michael. That version of Philippa is also the autocratic, despotic, Emperor of the Terran Empire (So when Michelle Yeoh said we would see her character again, she really wasn’t lying.). Her version of Michael had also betrayed her, and she feels some type of way about that. When she discovers that the Michael she is talking to is not the one who betrayed her, she teams up with her to defeat her rival, Gabriel Lorca.

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When her life is endangered, she makes it clear she wishes to go down with her ship , but Michael decides to save her life instead, and spirits her away to the Prime universe. The two of them have many feelings to work out between them. Mirroverse people claim not to love, considering it a weakness of character, but it is clear they have feelings for one another, and Philippa  has feelings for this version of Michael, whom she refers to as Not Her Daughter. Mirrorverse Philippa needs to reconcile with the “ghost” of her version of Michael, and Michael needs to finally lay Philippa’s ghost to rest through this version of her.

This Philippa’s presence will give Michael an opportunity to work out issues that she had with the Prime universe version. This is yet another opportunity for growth, to lay to rest the demons in her past, and move forward. To become the person she is meant to be. Because she was raised on Vulcan, Michael did not mature in the way that most humans did, and a lot of what we see is Michael experiencing these emotional life events for the first time. Through letting go of Philippe, she is dealing with the trauma of losing parental figures.

In a sense, Michael is still a teenager, albeit a teenager with a formidable intellect. She makes the kind of mistakes that only a human, who has not reached emotional maturity, would make. There’s nothing wrong with her intellect, but she is interacting with humans, and with issues that, had she been raised with humans, she would long ago have dealt with, like the deaths of her parents by the Klingons. Vulcans simply don’t handle emotions the way humans do, and Michael had been taught to act like a Vulcan by suppressing them, not working through them, which brings us to:

 

 Silvia Tilly

https://io9.gizmodo.com/my-favorite-character-on-star-trek-discovery-is-the-on-1822646454

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One of the first people Michael meets is one of the most important people on the ship for her, and that’s Lt. Silvia Tilly, Michael’s  irrepressibly bubbly roommate. It’s important that Michael meet Tilly first because Tilly will be her very first human “friend”, and that s important in the development of Michael’s personality. Tilly also turns out to be one of my all-time favorite characters in Star Trek, right next to Spock and Data,and a great embodiment of StarFleet ideals. Tilly is also one of the youngest members of the crew, and one of the greatest things is  watching her grow and mature, along side Michael.

When we first meet Tilly, she pulls one of those mean girl stunts towards Michael that immediately causes me to dislike her, but later she redeems herself by becoming  Michael’s biggest supporter and cheerleader. Michael develops a relationship with Tilly that has deep echoes of her relationship with Philippa, as a mentor and mentee, as she encourages Tilly to fulfill her dream of becoming a starship captain. Tilly’s acceptance is the first step in Michael’s long journey to find herself.

It is Tilly that gently encourages Michael to open herself up to her feelings. Later, she encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with Ash, and when that falls though, she is the one who puts forth the idea of closure, telling Michael she needs to speak to Ash and resolve the issue between them, when Michael would rather run from it. Every time Michael tries to ignore,  run away from, or suppress her emotions, it is  Tilly who encourages her to fully engage, and  experience  the human condition, and does so without judgement. In return Tilly receives Michael’s full trust before anyone else does. It is Michael’s relationship with Tilly that paves the way for her relationship with Ash.

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Tilly experiences her own character arc as she becomes more confident in her ability to solve problems, and in the Mirrorverse, she gets an opportunity to sit in the Captain’s chair, encouraged by Michael’s words of support. In fact, Tilly’s time in the Mirrorverse results in a positive outcome for her. Getting in touch with her worst self allows her to channel that energy into the self confidence that will get her that captain’s chair. After her adventures in the Mirrorverse, we can see the seeds of the captain she will eventually become.

Michael’s affect on Tilly is especially evident after Ash Tyler is re-introduced back into the crew rotation, after his Klingon persona killed Hugh Culber. In any other environment, he would be a pariah, as Michael was when she first came onto the Discovery. But Tilly, in an act of reconciliation , decides to put Ash’s behavior in the past. She takes the initiative to welcome him back, and the rest of the bridge crew follow her example. This is an example of Tilly’s growing confidence in her leadership skills. Her compassion, her positive experience of befriending Michael, another social pariah, informs her decision here.

 

Lt. Commander/First Officer Saru

When Michael is brought on board the Discovery by Capt.  Lorca, Saru does experience a bit of panic. I didn’t really like this character very much, at first, mostly because he didn’t like Michael, but as the season moved on, I began to understand that he had his own traumas that he was dealing with, and  he feels those traumas are Michael’s fault.

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Michael cost him his captain, a woman he respected, and had worked under for a long time, and he not only had to deal with that loss, but the loss of his position, ship and crew, and the knowledge of  Michael’s betrayal. He is understandably a bit wary of her, thinking her dangerous to him. I’ll wager, since Saru is the way he is, he probably had his entire career mapped out on  the Shen Zhou, and Michael derailed all that, so he definitely feels some type of way.

One of the first hurdles Michael has, is to get past Saru’s guard, reconcile with him, getting him to trust her once more. Over the first several episodes, she goes a long way towards getting him to trust her again, and one of the ways she does so is by acknowledging her mistakes, and bonding with him over the shared loss of Philippa. When Philippa died, she left remembrances to Michael, one of which was a family heirloom, a giant telescope. Michael gives the telescope to Saru instead, and this goes a long way towards mending fences between them.

In another episode, Saru gets possessed by alien spirits that cause him to turn on Michael and Ash during an away mission. This is a callback to Michael’s betrayal of Philippa because she believed she was doing so with the best of intentions , as  Saru believes that he is helping Ash and Michael, when he attacks them. This puts Saru in Michael’s footsteps for a short time He then has some understanding behind her thinking when she was on the Shen Zhou.

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I  want to give a shout out to Doug Jones, who turned in an exemplary performance this season, given that he can show so little facial expression under all that makeup. He has to convey everything about the character through voice and body language, and does a wonderful job of this, reminding me of his work as Abe Sapien in Hellboy.

I was a little reluctant to cozy up to Saru, at first, but he’s become one of my favorite characters. We even get to see him give a rousing  speech, and be a total badass, in the Mirrorverse, when he becomes acting Captain, after Lorca’s demise.

 

Lt. Paul Stamets

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It is through working with Stamets that we get regular doses of Michael’s fierce intelligence, and her compassion. If the first two episodes are meant to introduce us to Michael’s weaknesses, than the next two introduce us to Michael’s strengths, and stoicism, as she works closely with Stamets to develop a new kind of engine, a kind of Sporedrive that works with mushroom spores to allow the ship to travel along a plant “neural network” that connects all things.

Stamets was not a very likable character at first, but redeemed himself when he stepped in to take the place of the creature that he was torturing to get the SporeDrive to work. He also nearly sacrifices his life. I feel like he did it as a form of atonement for the harm he initially caused, and also because he’s thoroughly dedicated to his work.

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He and Michael don’t interact much, but he does exist, as an example to Michael, of self-sacrifice and  atonement. This is why I think Michael takes the attitude she does with Saru. Reconciling with Saru is one of the first steps on her journey to dealing with her past mistakes, and mature as a person, and I think Stamet’s self sacrifice may have been the inspiration for  at least part of that.

Michael isn’t just being affected by the world around her, she is also affecting the world, and people, in her orbit. I believe that it’s her act of compassion towards the creature they realized they were killing to run the SporeDrive, is the impetus behind Stamet’s decision to atone by taking the creature’s place, after Michael sets it free.

Being infected by the spores has the added benefit of mellowing Stamet’s personality because I wondered what it was that his lover, Dr. Hugh Culber, saw in him. He is goofier, and more funny when he’s possessed by the spores. As  we see  Stamets and Culber interact during the season we start to get some idea, not just of the deep love between them, but why they’re together.

Later, we are treated to a touching scene of the two of them, meeting after Culber’s death, inside the spore’s neural network. Many viewers were devastated about Culber’s death, but we have been assured by the writers (and the actor, Wilson Cruz) that this is not a Kill All Your Gays Trope, and that we will see Culber again in the future, and I’m inclined to trust all of them on this. After all, we got to see Philippa, again.

 

Voq/Ash Tyler

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In the Harry Mudd episode, we learn that Michael has never been in love, and she begins a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler. Their relationship has all of the torrid passion that you expect in a first love situation. Michael is rather emotionally immature for a human, with her emotional development having been suppressed while being raised on Vulcan. There are a host of situations that are brand new to her, that most humans have already been through by the time they reach her age, so Michael falling in love with Ash, is another step forward in her emotional journey.

So is betrayal by one’s lover and  the breakup song. It turns out that Ash isn’t just a traumatized victim of the Klingons. He actually is the Klingon, Voq, who has been surgically altered to look like the dead human, Ash Tyler, with Tyler’s personality as an overlay. When Voq’s personality begins to reassert itself, after meeting his counterpart in the Mirroverse, he tries to kill Michael. Naturally Michael is having some serious trust issues after the Ash Tyler personality is restored. She breaks up with him because she realizes that neither of them are well enough, or mature enough, to have a healthy relationship or be good for each other, which is probably one of the most mature romantic decisions I’ve ever seen in any show. Most plots are predicated on the characters making really bad romantic decisions.

A lot of the things Michael goes through in the season are the kinds of events that most humans have already dealt with by the time they are Michael’s age, like love, trust, and the  betrayal of those things, against her, and by her. She must deal with the enormous fallout of her betrayal of Philippa, and in turn with being betrayed by others like Lorca and Ash.

 

Captain Gabriel Lorca

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One of the primary themes of the season is trust and betrayal, with many episodes dealing with the the emotional fallout and events that occur when characters betray each other’s trust. In one episode Lorca betrays Harry Mudd, leaving him behind to be tortured by the Klingons after it is discovered that Harry is their spy. This is something that comes back to bite Lorca in the ass later, when Harry Mudd gets revenge by taking over his ship. Lorca also betrays Cornwell to the Klingons, in the episode where he refuses to look for her, after her capture by them, which he set up.

But most importantly Lorca betrays Starfleet and the Discovery, when it turns out that the real Captain Lorca is probably dead, and has been replaced by the Mirrorverse version, as the audience suspected. While in the Mirrorverse, there are a number of crosses, and double crosses, as Michael learns that the Mirrorverse version of Michael had also betrayed that world’s version of Philippa, and had teamed up with Lorca to dethrone her as the Emperor. It turns out that, in the Mirrorverse, Lorca started out as a kind of father figure and lover (Eww!) of that world’s version of Michael. The two of them planned to rule the Terran empire together.

We had wondered about the meaning of Lorca’s bond with Michael and why he was so protective of her. Not only was he in love with her, but knowing  Philippa’s greatest weakness was her love for Michael, he used her to gain access to the Imperial ship, to get close to Philippa. In the end Lorca dies when they both turn on him.

Now that Lorca is out of the way, we can see the bridge crew start to behave more like the Star Trek crews we’ve always known. The writers have stated that because of Lorca’s presence, the crew of the Discovery didn’t get to bond in the way they should have, and now that he is gone, they can show a level of teamwork that Lorca may have actively worked to suppress. It is the female members of the bridge crew who make the effort to welcome Ash, after his Voq personality has been destroyed. Contrast that with how they treated Michael when she first arrived.

More than anytihng else, its the regard and respect that starship crews show for one another that makes Trek, Trek,  and we get to see them really come together and start to act like a crew, ironically, enough, during their stint in the Mirrorverse. So the show isn’t just about the evolution of Michael its also about the parallel evolution of the various crew members, and the ship, in general.

Sarek

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Having grown up on Vulcan, Michael has only ever suppressed her emotions, instead of working through them. After her parent’s death by the Klingons, and then her own death, as a child, from Vulcan rebels (who hate humans), she has a lot to work through, including her feelings of betrayal from Sarek.

When Sarek is attacked and nearly killed by the same Vulcan rebels who killed her, when she was a child,  Michael has to save Sarek’s life, using the mindbond he established with her to bring her back to life. Through that  bond, Michael discovers Sarek’s deepest regret.  Sarek had an opportunity to gain her entry into the Vulcan Science Academy. he could only enter one of his children to the school, and he chose Spock over her.  In doing so, he derailed Michael’s life and career. This decision put Michael on the career track that would eventually land her on Philipa’s  ship, and Sarek feels that all that happened afterwards, Michael’s betrayal, the mutiny, and her conviction, are partially his fault. She and Sarek both have to come to terms with their feelings about what he did, and Michael needs to restructure her relationship to Sarek, before she can move forward.

We are essentially watching Michael take care of all the failures and remnants of her past. Watching her clean it all that up,, and begin to tie up loose ends, before embarking on whatever new phase in her life, which is something she cannot do, until all these issues have been acknowledged, and purged, and her relationships reconciled, including the one with her adoptive Father, and by the end of the season the two are on their way to doing so, with Sarek acknowledging her as the child of his heart, and Michael, with a better understanding of what type of person Sarek is.

Rather than the trusting and childlike relationship we saw at the beginning of the season, with Sarek admonishing Michael, like a child, to “Behave” before leaving her alone with Philippa,  the two are developing a  more equal and adult relationship, built on mutual respect, rather than obedience to his authority, a stage  most humans have undergone by her age.

 

Last Episode

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Last episode saw the death of Lorca and the return of the Discovery to their own universe. But they miscalculate and jump forward in time by nine months, where they discover that the Klingons are winning the war, in a piecemeal fashion. The Klingons, because of the disappearance of Voq and the death of their leader at Michael’s hand,  never unified under one clan, so all 24 of the clans have been carving up the Federation in a contest to see who can take the most human lives, and have been indiscriminately killing all humans, with no honor. Admiral Cornwell is still alive, but reaching her breaking point, as the Klingons make a play for Earth.

Sarek and Michael go to Mirrorverse Phillipa to request her aid in defeating the Klingons. Her suggestion is that they destroy the Klingon home-world of Quonos, a ploy that the last remnants of StarFleet have agreed to. In preventing the destruction of the Klingon homeworld,  Michael is finally putting to rest the trauma of her parents deaths, at the hands of the Klingons. Michael demonstrates the best ideals of StarFleet by  showing compassion to a race of people who affected her life course, through their actions. She has come full circle from wanting to kill them on sight, ,which set the entire Klingon war in motion, to helping to save their race, which ends it.

 

In Conclusion

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This entire season is one where we have been watching Michael essentially play catch-up to the other humans around her. Having been raised on Vulcan as a Vulcan, has built her intellect, but stunted her emotional growth. Because of how she was raised she has no emotional experience to call on when dealing with a highly emotional situations, and I think her past trauma, coupled with her desperation, is what informed her decision to attack Philippa, as there are other ways she could have handled the situation, that did not include giving her captain a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Whether  or not Michael was right, in the decision to send a Vulcan Hello to the Klingons, is beside the point.  She thought she was right, above all and everything else. Her panicked decision to have her way, and impose her will on the situation by attacking her captain, set an entire series of actions in motion, that affected two universes,  cost countless lives in both of them, and that  Michael has no hope of fixing any, or reorganizing her life, until she clears away the detritus of her old one, and that’s what this first season was all about.

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The Superbowl: Movie Trailers

Here are some of the top movie and series  trailers that were shown throughout the Superbowl. Now, I didn’t watch the Superbowl, (I never do), but I did get on the internet to check for any ads I may have missed. I had it on good authority that there would be a lot of movie and TV show ads shown during.  I know that not all of you watched the Superbowl, but you are interested in movies, so I collected as many as I could.

I was out of it all last week with a nasty cold and couldn’t get any posts done beyond the ones I’d already scheduled, so I’m a little behind in my reviews. (Let’s face it, I’m waaay behind.)But I’m doing fine now, and will catch you guys up on things I’ve been looking at while I was sick, like the new Cloverfield movie that was just released on Netflix, along with Altered Carbon,  Star Trek Discovery, and a handful of food shows.

 

Cloverfield Paradox

I was as surprised as anyone to discover this was being released right after the Superbowl. It’s been said that Netflix had some kind of rule that they wouldn’t release movies or shows that would compete with the Superbowl for attention, but apparently that is no longer true. I have it on good authority that the viewership for the Superbowl was the lowest its ever been, and maybe Netflix wanted to take advantage of that. I don’t know.

Anyway, I was on top of this the moment I found out.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it was pretty damn scary, especially in the first hour when you didn’t quite know what was going on. I thought it was a very effective Scifi horror movie that wasn’t a  total riff off of Alien. The synopsis is that this is some kind of prequel that explains  the how and the why of the first movie in the franchise. I’m satisfied with the explanation and thought this movie was an elegant solution to the questions posited by Cloverfield, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The movie is lead by a Black woman, Gugu Mbatha -Raw, and also stars David Oyowelo, and Zhang Ziyi. I’ll review this later this month, if I can.

 

 

Avengers Infinity War Trailer #2

I’m almost as excited about this movie as I am about Black Panther.

Almost!

All my favorite people, all in one movie…How does anybody hate this? This trailer is kickin’!

I cannot explain, though, why I’m inordinately excited to see Dr. Strange interacting with both Tony Stark, and Spiderman. All of the best Avengers books are deeply funny, because of the interactions between wildly different characters, and their reactions to each other. That was one of the best parts of Civil War, so I hope this movie will be funny.

 

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Okay, that last movie was alright. Not great, but okay and a mostly fun B movie. This trailer is a lot more interesting because, as I’ve said before, I’m a total sucker for “dinosaurs in the city” movies. Cuz yeah, my first question was: Wtf is this dinosaur doing in this child’s bedroom? Yep, something has gone horribly fucking wrong here, and I wanna know what happened!

I’m gonna see if I can talk my Mom into going to see this, and Rampage because as far as I’m concerned ,you can never watch too many movies about giant monsters, rampaging through a city.

 

 

Westworld Season II

Okay, I actually am as excited for this as I am for Black Panther, the movie to which all other movies will be measured this year, apparently, as far as excitement levels. Fortunately for all of you, you can’t see me jitterbugging around in my seat right now, over this trailer.

But in conclusion, I would like to say:

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Mission Impossible: Fallout

I’m a big fan of this franchise, but what’s ironic about that is that I wasn’t planning to be. The movies just kept getting better, and Tom actually looks like he’s having a lot of fun in them. I like Tom Cruise okay, but I wasn’t a fan of the original series, or Tom Cruise, really.When his career first began, in the 80s, I couldn’t stand him, but he kept happening to  be in movies I liked, and I think that’s what happened here,and now I guess I’m a fan, since I’ve watched all his movies.   It didn’t hurt that he kept starring in these movies with some of my other favorite actors, like Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, and Laurence Fishburne. This new movie just looks entirely batshit, and stars Angela Bassett and Simon Pegg.

 

 

Solo

Okay, this is a good trailer, and makes me interested in seeing this movie, now. I was completely indifferent to the idea of a Han Solo movie, wondering why we needed this, and who was asking for it, but this really looks like fun, even if the lead actor looks cheesy. I still don’t know that I’ll go see this in the theater, but  I’m a little less worried about this movie sucking.

 

 

Castle Rock

I’m looking forward to this show, after the success of the movie IT. (Yes, I’ve seen that.) On the other hand, I’m dubious about this show, because The Mist sucked. Well, all I can do is give it a try and let you know what I think. It seems like it’s going to be okay, but then those Mist trailers were misleading, too. (I am glad to see that movies and television shows are remembering that Black people exist on this planet. That’s kinda cool.)

 

 

A Quiet Place

This looks intriguing…

 

 

Black Dynamite II

And now for something completely ridiculous…

I didn’t’ see the first movie until years after it was released, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I did feel an urge to laugh at it, but not quite. Well, I smiled at it, a lot. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. Maybe I’ll know how the heck I feel about after watching this sequel.

 

Black Lightning The Review

So this review is going to be a little unusual because I’m going to talk about my Mom first. If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that she has had a huge influence over my tastes in pop culture and we often enjoy movies and TV shows together.

One of the things we really  didn’t enjoy together, very much, was comic books. I know she has read them, but she pretty much stuck to Archie and Peanuts, and those were the comics I was introduced to as a little girl. I went from there to Marvel, where I read Conan and Red Sonja, and then superheroes in the 80s and 90s. My Mom pretty much stopped reading comics, and moved on to paperbacks.

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So, while my Mom does know something about superheroes like Batman and Superman, whom she disdains for some reason, and I do remember watching Wonder Woman, and The Incredible Hulk with her, when I was a kid, she is not specifically a fan of superheroes, really. I couldn’t get her to watch Captain America, Daredevil, The Defenders or Spiderman, but I did get her to watch Luke Cage, which I consider a success. Apparently, if its a Black superhero, she will watch it, because she also really loved Blade, and seems to be looking forward to Black Panther. She binge-watched (for the first time) Luke Cage, the weekend after it aired.

Basically, I know my the kind of stuff she likes, so I tried to sell her on Black Lightning. I was only slightly nervous, because I wasn’t absolutely sure she would like it. I told her it was like Luke Cage, which I think she maybe watched too fast, because she only has vague memories of really enjoying it. (I did inform her there would be a season two of the show this summer.)

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I don’t know why I was so nervous though, because I should’ve remembered that she loved Blade, and yeah,  she loved Black Lightning. She mostly really got into the action scenes., which I have to admit were very exciting.  Now, anytime I can get my 67 year old Mom to watch a superhero show on the CW, it must be compelling. I have to tell you, my Mom is what you might call, an enthusiastic television viewer. She is very loud and vocal about what she is liking on the screen, and this was the case with Black Lightning. The loud whoops, and cheers I heard coming from her part of the house, was more than enough to vindicate my decision. She was even giddy enough to try to tell me about the episode afterwards, even though I told her I’d already watched it! I was getting a tiny bit worried because she was very worked up about Anissa having superpowers.

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I had already watched the episode the night it aired, and recorded it on the DVR. Wednesday nights are her dialysis evenings, and after her session is over she likes to watch a couple of hours of TV and fall asleep. So now she’s excited to watch 9-1-1 on Wednesday nights, and Black Lightning on Tuesdays.

As for Black Lightning, I did very much enjoy it. Its very possibly one of the most unapologetically Black things on TV, or at least on the CW.  From the dialogue, to the plot, and music, there’s a lot of cultural relevance in it for Black audiences, and this appears to have worked because the show got good reviews. I was not wrong in comparing it to Luke Cage, because the plot is very reminiscent of that show. The show isn’t related to any  of the other superhero shows on the CW. Meaning it doesn’t take place in the same universe as Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow. Nevertheless, I’m really glad a lot of non-Black viewers came out in support of the show, and seemed to enjoy it. too.

Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning, a high school principal, who  has been  retired from the superhero/vigilante lifestyle for some nine years. He is separated from his wife, with whom he has joint custody of their two daughters,. One of his daughters, Anissa, is a part-time  sex education teacher at the school (so viewers will definitely be receiving some sex education this season, along with history lessons), and the other, Jennifer, is one of the top students at the school. When Jennifer falls into the company of a local gangbanger, who threatens her, and her sister’s  life, their father has to come out of retirement to rescue them both.

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As I’ve said before, I’m always here for some Black girl damseling, but that isn’t all we’re in for though, as it turns out that Anissa also has superpowers. She can change her physical density, which gives her speed and strength. In the comic books, her superhero name is Thunder, and her little sister, who has powers much like her father, is known as Lightning. (She has the ability to transform her body into lightning, which is all kinds of awesomeness). I haven’t read much about either of them in the comic books, even though I was a fan of Batman and the Outsiders in the early nineties. I first encountered Thunder in a story where she was fighting with her dad about choosing the superhero lifestyle. She is currently a member of The Outsiders. I suspect that title  is going to become very popular after this show.

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Black Lightning and Luke Cage (Misty Knight) will be only two of three shows, that I know of, which will feature Black female superheroes.  The other show is Legends of Tomorrow with Vixen. It will have the groundbreaking distinction of being the only show on television with a Black lesbian superhero (in the comic books Thunder is the partner of superhero  Grace Choi, who is being played by Chantal Thuy) This is notable for two reasons. Grace Choi will be the only Asian (Vietnamese/Canadian) lesbian superhero on TV, as part of an interracial couple, (where neither partner is White),  which is pretty rare.

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Another thing I liked about this show was the relationships.  We see a positive ex-wife/husband relationship. They act like mature adults who talk to each other about their lives, and raising their daughters. Its evident that Jefferson and his ex-wife still love each other, but for some reason feel they can’t be together.We get to see a positive family dynamic between a father and his two daughters, and we get to see a loving and supportive relationship between two sisters, which is also interesting on TV, as there are rarely more than one or two WoC in any narrative.

My Mom seemed especially interested and excited at the idea that the daughters have superpowers. She was very vocal about it at any rate. Which kind of saddens me, because sometimes a person doesn’t know they need something until they’ve seen it. She’s probably wanted to see Black women with superpowers her whole life. And it was not until we started getting Black directors and content creators, that she got the chance to see it. I read comic books as a kid, so I had Storm, but my Mom had none of this growing up.

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http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-comic-con-2017-black-lightening-won-t-avoid-social-1500782478-htmlstory.html

So I just want to give a shout-out to the Black  men content creators, who have not forgotten that their “sistahs” exist, and want to see representation for themselves. We want to see ourselves kicking  ass and having adventures too. Ryan Coogler, (The Dora Milaje), Cheo Hodari- Coker (Misty Knight), and the husband and wife directing team (Salim and Mara Brock Alil) of Black Lightning, have not forgotten to give Black women strong, positive roles in their new venture, something which White directors (especially White female directors)  always seem to forget, or only remember as an afterthought. Black content creators are doing the Lord’s work and I thank them for it. Plenty of little Black girls, including my niece, will grow up watching versions of themselves saving the world. And my Mom can finally get to see those Black female superheroes she didn’t know she needed.

This is one of my favorite scenes where Jefferson’s daughters surprise their father by joining him on his morning run.

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As for the more questionable stuff: If you’re having anxiety issues surrounding police brutality, or implications of rape, then use caution while watching this show. There are a lot of guns (mostly used by gang members),  but you don’t really see many people get shot, until the end of the show, (and those are all villains). There is a mildly graphic scene where a man gets eaten by piranha. Don’t ask!

I have to admit to feeling a good deal of tension surrounding the opening scene, when Jefferson gets pulled over by  cops for driving while Black, and he and  his daughters are threatened. It’s a very harrowing scene, even when you remember that none of these characters are going to die ,or there’d be no show. This doesn’t seem to be one of those shows where “anybody can die”, but only the marginalized characters ever seem to get killed, so you guys are safe on that front.

There are three primary villains in the show. One of them is a low status employee of the local drug dealer who stalks Jennifer after she goes out to a club with him. One of them is an associate of Jefferson named La La, played by William Catlett,  and the other is Tobias Whale played by the albino actor, Marvin Krondon Jones III. Although ,once again, we really need to examine this thing where people with albinism are cast as villains all the time. I’m pretty sure that such individuals don’t like seeing themselves as the bad guys all the time in popular media.

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The show tackles several topics. like the generation gap in activism, gangs, gun control in schools, and it also presents interesting ideas of how Black men handle oppression. There’s Jefferson’s manner, which is to try to lift up as many people as possible. There’s La La’s way of handling it, which seems to be just giving in, and the Kingpin-like Tobias Whale approach, which is to take advantage of the system to get ahead, and  attempt respectability.

After Jennifer and Anissa are kidnapped,  Black Lightning has to come out of retirement to rescue them. It seems the stress of being kidnapped, and nearly killed has unleashed Anissa’s abilities, so while we come into Black Lightning’s story in the middle, we will get to see the origins of Thunder and Lightning, and how they navigate the world with powers. We’ll also get to see how Jefferson deals with his children having abilities, and his daughter’s coming out,as a lesbian.

The show-runners have said that for the first season their focus is going to be on Black Lightning’s origins, and his beef with Tobias Whale. Most of his adventures will remain at the street/vigilante level, as with the first season of Daredevil ,and they’ll explore how Jennifer and Anissa deal with their new powers.

I also want to give a shout-out to the soundtrack director. Every form of  modern Black music gets represented , and I spent more than a little amount of my time not paying attention to the plot, as I sang along to some oldies, and even got introduced to a few new artists.

As with most pop culture  aimed at Black audiences, I’m mostly reading and signal boosting reviews from PoC , because I feel like these are the reviewers who can best understand  what they’ve just seen, and be able to speak to the authenticity of the show, as regards Black culture, although most reviewers, of all races, seemed to have enjoyed it.

Be here for further updates. I wont be doing a week by week review but I will keep abreast of events,  and come back to discuss some of the highlight episodes.

Weekend Reading From Around The Internetz

 Some people were insulted by the following statement, but I thought it was pretty funny. The writer says that teaching with humor was his intention. 
 Image result for cookout cookout images

Yo! Black people! Listen up!

I already KNOW y’all gonna sneak food into Black Panther. How do I know? Cuz all my friends are. Cuz all my family will. Cuz I’M going to sneak food into Black Panther. I’m going to do that all five times that I see the movie. Cuz theater food is A: not good and B: too damn expensive.

That said, remember, some of us WORK in theaters. Which means that if we all leave our outside food trash in a theater, we’re going to see a lot of our family being fired. Yes, theater employees can get FIRED if they find our people snuck in food.

So first of all, don’t be obvious and don’t get caught. Second of all, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TRASH IN THE THEATER!

This doesn’t mean “don’t just put your empty bag of hot fries under the seat” (though, don’t do that either, act like you have a Mama). This means, do not put your outside food trash in the theater trash receptical. The bosses WILL see that and the employees WILL suffer for it.

Come on y’all, let’s not risk Black people’s jobs while supporting this movie.

Also, just a reminder to not bootleg this movie, and square up with anyone that does.

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Black Panther Toy Ad

This is what’s so great about this ad, and about Black Panther in general. I love that they added a little Black girl to the ad, and let her play just like the boys. (Ftr, I have no objection the White boy in the ad, because Black Panther is for everyone to enjoy, and I sincerely hope everyone does. We like to be inclusive here at Chez Lkeke.)

Because characters of color have historically been relatively marginalized in movies, comics, and television, toys and commercials like this simply haven’t existed before which is a shame in and of itself but has deeper consequences. Oftentimes, the first step towards becoming a fan of something or part of a larger fandom is finding a character that you can relate to when you’re young and then seeing your relationship with them validated by the world around you.

Black Excellence & Woman Power Prevails In New Commercial For Black Panther Toys

 

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This post elaborates on larger piece I wrote, about how White writers  tend to think of race,  and how that plays out in alien invasion movies, which is something I briefly touched on in my Invasion of the Body Snatchers reviews. White people have a tendency to believe they lack pathology, but a closer look reveals that much of their thinking plays out in the pop culture created by White, straight, cis-gender, men.

WHITE FRAGILITY

by Robin DiAngelo

http://w-f.is/uai.html
Whites are taught to see their perspectives as objective and representative of reality15. The belief in objectivity, coupled with positioning white people as outside of culture (and thus the norm for humanity), allows whites to view themselves as universal humans who can represent all of human experience. This is evidenced through an unracialized identity or location, which functions as a kind of blindness; an inability to think about Whiteness as an identity or as a “state” of being that would or could have an impact on one’s life. In this position, Whiteness is not recognized or named by white people, and a universal reference point is assumed. White people are just people. Within this construction, whites can represent humanity, while people of color, who are never just people but always most particularly black people, Asian people, etc., can only represent their own racialized experiences16.

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The above post is also connected to the idea of “Cousin Culture” among PoC, and is related to an article written by Damon Young, for The Root, titled : Do White People Have Cousins?

What is cousin culture, you ask? It’s existing in a family where:

  1. Cousins matter;
  2. There’s no real distinction between first, second and third cousins; and
  3. There are a few people who don’t share any blood with you but are your cousins, too, just because their asses are around all the time and you didn’t even know they weren’t technically related to you until you were, like, 25.

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/do-white-people-have-cousins-1820685828

 

 

Link to Root.com Article:https://t.co/NREeovQyJD?amp=1

via @ BienSur_JeTaime on twitter

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This post was part of a long discussion about racism in Tolkien’s works, whether or not Tolkien himself was a racist, how did this racism play out in his writings, and can Tolkien’s influence be blamed for so much of the racism to be found in fantasy settings. The Hobbit was written in 1937, and since that time, there has been a metric fuckton of  film and literature that was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s books. S

Tolkien may not have been an avowed racist, like H.P. Lovecraft, but like him he had a profound effect on fantasy literature, and he certainly had a blind-spot as regards race, as do most of the people writing in the fantasy genre, and their fans.

Please take the time to visit and follow:   for more on this subject.

Image result for elves and racism

Hey guys my name is SomethingSomething MiddleInitial [Redacted] and today i’m gonna introduce you to the high fantasy world i’ve created! There’s lots of great diversity such as:
-White people that come in flavours of viking, merchant, and magical
-Tall elegant white people with pointy ears
-Short hardy white people with beards and axes

Looking for something other than white people? I’ve got you! On your left you can see:
-Savage, militaristic tribe coded as black or brown
-Honorable asian clan
-A race characterized entirely by negative jewish stereotypes

And don’t you worry: because i’m a coward i’ve also created a variety of non-human races that can be used as allegories for oppression without having to properly represent people of color in my work! You’re welcome!

 

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In a morbid, kind of way it’s interesting to see how the  internalized racism in Tolkien’s time that went unchecked due to the white society he was born in continues to go unchecked and internalized in the Tolkien fandom by white fans today.

The racist tropes that he wrote into his books are quite obviously those cultivated from his time, and because of the time they were written in it was a little more…understandable that readers then  were unable to realize their problematic nature. But still in 2017 white fans are still oblivious (either by ignorance or on purpose) to the deeper racism in his works, and that’s kind of scary.

And a lot of it comes from the fact that the fandom is so “white” dominate, so racism is typically examined from a “white” perspective, where it is whitesplained (Ie: No black people in Middle Earth, which to be fair isn’t quite true).

White fans tend to see racism as “action” as in, you must be doing a racist thing for it to be considered racist, and if you’re not doing a racist thing then you aren’t racist, and fail to realize that in itself racism starts with a mindset rather than an action. So “subtle” hints of racism get ignored.

Instances of racism that would be recognizable by people of color are invisible to white fans only because they haven’t experienced it, and have already solidified a “white” view of racism.

That said, the fact that white fans are more willing to listen to other white fans about racism in Tolkien’s characters and fandoms then they are willing to listen to actual people of color is, I think, is another example of white washed racism in the Tolkien fandom.

Racism is valid when white people are talking about it, but annoying, discourse, or reaching when people of color are talking about it. Why is that so? When did we get to this point?

The fact that I’ve seen white fans talking about racism being more well received than me and other fans of color talking about racism is disturbing, especially for a fandom that’s supposed to be so liberal (but the majority of fans I’ve seen in Tolkien-Tumblr are all white women in their late 20s and above, and thus the award holders for white feminism. And they validate the 16 year old white girls who think a year on tumblr gives them a degree on social justice, so an unhealthy cycle is continued).

If you find yourself drooling over a white girl’s explanation of racism in Tolkien fandom but rolling your eyes when a fan of color talks about it, then you need to reevaluate your life. Because white girls only know surface racism, people of color live it.

And this goes back to my point of “white washed” racism, and even further to our non-liberal fandom. It’s almost disappointing to see that as a fandom, we haven’t really progressed past Tolkien’s traditional, imperialistic views as far as racism goes.

I think a lot of this has to do with white feminism. One of the reasons we consider ourselves a liberal fandom because we can talk about sexism. But that’s slave-time feminism if we’re suddenly unable to listen to fans of color do the same with racism.

And of course I’m not talking about all white people in the Tolkien fandom, but it’s not very many that are not like this.

In my own experience I only know a handful.

 

#Ask me about how literally no one noticed “black men are raping our women” was being perpetrated in the way Tolkien wrote the Eöl story#How the only canonically non-white elf was treated in the narrative.#How the only cases of domestic abuse was – you guessed it! – between a non-white man who “forced” white women to marry them#The Silm is full of that shit#Which is why I like writing fanfiction to turn that all on its head#Wow. Am I *SUPER* salty over Tolkien fandom tonight. Must be the drink. XD#Tolkien fandom

@lunarymagic   I literally wrote an Entire Meta of Eol/Maeglin’s narrative and how it’s basically playing on racist tropes that are used to demonize men of color by making them demonize white women.

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When people are criticizing Lord of the Rings for not having POC in them, it’s more of a criticism on Jackson rather than Tolkien himself, considering Tolkien does have people of color in his works (and elves too).

But  the weird part about this is “die hard “ Tolkien fans are the ones defending Jackson’s whitewashed version of the film, despite the fact that there are canonically poc in Tolkiens works.

So like, that’s how you spot racist fans I guess? They’re die hard until someone asks why poc–which are in canon–are erased from Jackson’s portrayal? Suddenly it’s all “well its based off of norse mythology” or some bs like that despite the fact that a) it’s based off of other cultures and b) canonically Tolkein has POC in it.

So you’re “die hard” for the story, but you conveniently forget that there’s poc in it? In fact you’re so adamant about being anti-poc in his works because you’re such good fans?

I mean do yall Tolkienites defending Jackson’s white washing on the basis of it being “european” forget that some of its based off of ancient egypt? But you’re still the ones losing your shit over black elves and people? And just poc in general? I don’t get it.

Like you’re die hard until it gets a little too colorful for you. Why are you like this?

Not just white men, but white women in the Tolkien fandom as well. White feminism is a huge issue in the Tolkien fandom, and white women are the main culprits.

White men may be some of the more aggressive, as far as saying who and who doesn’t belong in story, and overall are behind the white washing.

But white fans that are women are the silent culprits who often uphold and validate racism behind the guise of feminism, which is often just white feminism.

 

Yeah, never let women off the hook for this shit. Or people who aren’t het, for that matter. Transformative fandom in general, AO3 in particular, is overwhelmingly made up of women, most of whom are white, and a good majority according to their polling do not identify as cishet. And it is a cesspool of white prioritization everywhere you look. Women did that all on their own with little to no male influence.

Anyway. They’re like that because they’re used to media centering on characters who look like them and they’ve been conditioned to believe that the whitewashing of history by.the film industry is accurate.

And really? Middle Earth, especially as portrayed by Jackson, has that “simpler times” brand of nostalgia for a time when white people didn’t have to worry about the rights of Black and brown people, it was out of sight, out of mind. Middle Earth being all white (except for otherized, threatening, rarely seen races) is part of the fantasy for a lot of people.

 

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Representation Matters

 

Image result for lt uhura gifs

 

Image result for ghost/whoopi gifs

So I’ve been overwhelmed by the black panther comicon appearance and I’ve been dwelling on how revolutionary the black panther movie is going to be, what it’s going to mean to countless people when this movie comes out and how long we still have to go, So I decided to put this short photoset together to illustrate exactly how big of a deal it is and how it is bigger than one person.

it’s so bittersweet because when I was younger (especially growing up where I did, a black kid in Finland) I really wished I had more access to imagery and media that reflected who I was because it would have made my life radically different for the better and I wouldn’t be at 26 (STILL) doing damage control but on the flipside, I’m so in awe of all of the beautiful talent in 2016 that younger black kids are able to see and be inspired by.

I think I was like 4 years old when I conciously picked up race and color via watching Disney’s “Aladdin” and I noticed how Jafar, the evil royal guards etc the villains were more ethnic looking or a shade darker than the “good” characters.

it’s insidious because you’re seeing something but at age 4, you don’t have the comprehension skill or knowledge to break it down and see it for what it is (Colorism, Societal bias against black people which is rooted in centuries of white supremacist doctrine, society associates things that are dark/darker colors with evil, danger, ugliness, dirt etc) and reject it.

so you pick it up and see it on a surface level and you think to yourself “well darker must mean ugly, criminal and less human”…then what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and find out that you are black?

  how is that going to impact how you see yourself?

and guess what? if a 4 year old black kid can pick that up and internalize that about him/her/themselves….then a white kid can sponge up the same language and imagery that dehumanizes black people too (subconciously/conciously)…what happens when when these people grow up? become teachers, doctors, law enforcement etc? what kind of impact is that going to have?

I’m going off on a tangent and that’s just one personal example but society does that on a global grand scale and it is largely unchecked.

but honestly though,look at the photoset and think about how many talented people out there that we love and respect….who would NOT have achieved the things they did if it wasn’t for another person before them inspiring them to reach their goals and acting as trail blazers when it seemed as though it was impossible….then think about the flipside and how many people, with all the potential in the world, never lived to become great because they were met with more images dehumanizing them than ones uplifting them…this is why the fight for HONEST representation is important and it continues.

argh, I didn’t plan on typing anything but I got in my feelings after watching this again

…anyway, here are some pictures to make you smile, the next gen gives me hope

 

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Forthcoming Posts (Maybe?):

I’ve decided to wait for the DVD release of Blade Runner 2049 to do the second part of my review.

I’m going to wait for a couple more episodes before I review The X-Files, and 911. Black Lightning, Electric Dreams on Amazon, The Magicians, The Alienist, and something not really on showing up anyone’s radar, unless they have Starz, called Counterpart, which stars J.K Simmons..

A review of first half of season 8 of The Walking Dead.

The use/themes of fashion in movies and TV, the best TV/Movie costumes, and a post on “Movies I loved but y’all hated”.

I hope to get a lot of these done, along with posts about the importance of  the movie Bebe’s Kids, The Thing vs. The Thing, Hannibal the series: Season Three, and more Star Trek Discovery.

I’ve found it’s more helpful for me to watch a batch of episodes of a show, and then review it, rather than trying to catch individual episodes. It’s probably best not to pay too close attention to my promises, anyway  though. I’ve often found my ambitions to be greater than my time.

Coming in 2018

Into The Badlands (Season Three)

Image result for into the badlands

I am totally psyched about this new season coming in 2018. Nick Frost will be returning which I’m happy to report, and the astonishingly lovely Lewis Tan will be making a cameo as well. The character of  Nathaniel Moon, from last season, will be a recurring character this season. I fully intend to review all the episodes of this series, which has now been boosted to fifteen episodes, which is where it should stay. I like that AMC keeps its seasons short, because then there are fewer filler episodes, and the plot moves well.

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/into-the-badlands/264186/into-the-badlands-season-3-first-look-images-drop

Into the Badlands: Season 3 First Look & Photo Gallery
The drama will return to AMC in early 2018 and finds Sunny (Wu) living off the grid, doing his best to provide for his infant son, Henry, in the wake of Veil’s death. It is only when Henry contracts a mysterious illness that Sunny must join forces with Bajie (Nick Frost) and journey back into the Badlands, where The Widow (Beecham) and Baron Chau (Eleanor Matsuura) are entrenched in a drawn-out war that has destabilized the entire region.No longer supported by Tilda (Ioannides) or Waldo (Stephen Lang), The Widow must find new allies in Lydia (Orla Brady) and in Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus) — the former regent who lost his hand to Sunny and Bajie in Season 2.  But when a mysterious nomadic leader called Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay) arrives in the Badlands on a mission to restore Azra and usher in a new era of “peace,” old enemies must band together to defend the Badlands.@@

Mortal Engines

I have only a passing knowledge of this series of books, having partially read the first one. I don’t think I’ll go see this movie, although I did get a thrill from seeing the city of London devour a truck full of people. And I do like the idea of a world full of mobile cities. I have no idea who stars in this and only just heard about its release, but it looks good.

Pacific Rim 2

I never get tired of watching giant robots, and John Boyega is a great substitute for Idris Elba. I’ll probably go see this so I can check out Boyega’s premiere film creation. I like the diversity of this in this film. It’s got a good mix of men and women of different races, and abilities, along with a few faces from the first film.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

This looks like a lot more fun than the first movie which I took my mom to see. This trailer is certainly better, at least. We’re going to see this one because we love dinosaurs. Also, there’s Jeff Goldblum, so seeing this is probably some type of law.

Rampage

C’mon! You know we’re going to see this! Dwayne Johnson!Giant animals tearing up the city! Naomie Harris! Dean Morgan! Mom and I have already set the date aside.

Annihilation

This trailer is much more interesting than the teaser. It does look like a typical monster film though, and maybe not quite as bizarre as the book series, which was pretty damn weird. I mean indescribably weird. It’s possible they can’t fully capture the books, so the trailers just aren’t going to do it justice. I am intrigued though. We’ll see what happens closer to the release date.

I still feel some kind of way about the lead character not being Asian, like she is in the books, and I just have one major question: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD? WHY DO THEY HATE  ASIAN PEOPLE IN MOVIES? WTF?

Oceans 8

I won’t be seeing this in the theater, but I do like it. I watched all the other Ocean movies, including the original Frank Sinatra film, and really enjoyed all of them. Making a female version is a cool idea, and it doesn’t look like a bad movi, but I only have so much money, so unless someone else is gonna pay for me to go, I’m just gonna read the reviews. Hopefully, Rihanna won’t die in this one.

Battle Angel Alita

I’ve got mixed feelings about this. It looks action packed. It certainly looks better than Ghost in the Shell, but once again, WTF IS WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD AND HIRING ASIAN ACTORS? No seriously this shit is starting to feel like we’re all getting punk’d. When given even the slightest opportunity to hire an Asian actor for a primary role, they absolutely insist on skipping right to a white actor. WTF!!!

Okay, I’m probably not gonna see this anyway, because the actresse’s eyes look really creepy, and I don’t think I can sit through two hours of some very distracting eyeballs, although the action scenes look okay. Still, I got a bad feeling aobut this movie. I just dont think its going to blow up like that.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/alita-battle-angel-trailer-dropped-and-will-decide-if-i-can-trust-james-cameron-again/

The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia

You can tell this movie isn’t American because it has Asian people in it. It looks like a Chinese version of The Avengers, but more fun, and with fewer White men. I probably won’t see this in the theater because there’s nowhere in my city that would play it.

Saturday Church

If you liked Moonlight then you should definitley check this out. A young man tries to navigate betwqeen his homelife and his queer identity. I’m always here for any media that celebrates queer PoC in a positive way. There are already a metric ton of positive portrayals of white lgbtq people, (even if most of those are indie films). There aren’t so many movies about young men of color discovering their identities, and we need more. Young Black men need to know there are other ways of being Black men that aren’t just thug life, which is all a lot of movies seem to be interested in. Also movies like this provide a kind of map for navigating real life situations for queer young people.

Tumblr Weekend Discussions

Here are some posts and articles about film and tlevision that I couldn’t fit into the last post. These are just things I found interesting in my internet travels, some old, some new:

On Television

Samurai Jack has long been one of my all-time favorite cartoons. First, its simply a gorgeous looking cartoon, and and much deeper, philosophically, than it ever needed to be to entertain teenagers. This article is almost like an ode to the series:

A lone samurai clad in white stares up in horrified awe at a gargantuan future city, constructed with neon bright colors, clashing machinery, and aliens speaking in a tongue foreign to his ear. This samurai travels through lands of the mythic and mundane, the natural and the supernatural. Here he is again, alone, in a dense forest. The only sounds are chirping crickets and the fire that crackles before him — until a vision of his long-deceased father rips through the tranquility, admonishing him for his failure. These moments aren’t from a prestige TV series with A-list talent or a long-lost Akira Kurosawa film. They’re from Samurai Jack, the animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky that premiered in 2001, ran for four seasons, and was revived for a fifth and final season that ended this past weekend.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/05/samurai-jack-was-tvs-most-poignant-depiction-of-loneliness.html

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Note: This is a 13 page paper studying Whiteness in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer  and race

The Caucasian Persuasion of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ewan Kirkland

This paper explores Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a particularly white
text. By this I mean, the series is both populated by archetypal white characters, and informed by various structures, tropes and perspectives Dyer identifies as characterising
whiteness.

http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/kirkland_slayage_5.1.pdf

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There are simply not enough WoC in genre fiction, certainly not as primary characters. Shows like Superstition, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, and Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper Series, make a specia leffort to be diverse, but we need more, and better depictions of  fantastical WoC on screen, and in genre literature. We need more Black female witches, vampires and werewolves, and stories that are not alwyas about us dealing with the modern world in the same old way. (We need WoC power fantasies, too.)

Laveau encapsulates better than any other historical figure the narrow position black witches hold in the public imagination. (It’s important to note that, to examine this trend, I am using “witches” as a catch-all term for these characters, including rootworkers and voodoo priestesses.) While their practices — whether Haitian voodou or rootwork — are appropriated to add a flash of exoticism, they often remain thinly drawn figures, pushed to the margins of their respective stories. They are used to incite fear or curiosity in the white imagination, which remains deeply suspicious of black ancestral practices that don’t allow for easy translation. In pop culture, the historical underpinnings of these practices — which were brought to America by slaves trying to fiercely hold onto their own belief systems, even as colonialism tried to beat it out of them — are traded for a simpler, highly exoticized portrayal.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/black-witches-why-cant-they-get-respect-in-pop-culture.html

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Image result for lewis tan/iron fist

I’m always up for some Iron Fist bashing. Not exactly because I hate him (although I certianly hate that show) but more because I think I’m really mad about what we culd have had, had we listened to Asian-Americans, and simply cast Lewis Tan, for example.

It’s hard to not imagine what could have been. For years, Asian-Americans had hoped that Marvel would cast an Asian-American actor as the lead of its Netflix series Iron Fist, only for the role to go to Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones. The decision wasn’t exactly surprising — after all, the character Danny Rand is white in the original comics — but a casting reversal would have turned a stereotypical narrative into a fresh story about an Asian-American reclaiming his roots. Now, we know that Marvel had seriously considered the possibility: Actor Lewis Tan was on hold for Danny Rand before he was offered the role of the one-off villain Zhou Cheng, who appears in episode eight of Iron Fist.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/lewis-tan-marvel-iron-fist-interview.html

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Ben Wasserman clarifies exactly why Iron Fist failed as a series. 

 

And finally, this brings us to IRON FIST, Marvel Studio’s first true narrative flop. Even with all the problems regarding the series’ dialogue, editing and stunt choreography, I believe these problems could have been lessened to an extent had the story been worth caring about. Yet throughout his narrative, Danny Rand is presented as an entitled child whose actions never fit his status, constantly failing to prove his fighting abilities during numerous action sequences while simultaneously being praised as K’un Lun’s greatest fighter by one too many characters. Granted, one could equate this factor to poor choreography, but considering the praise given to DAREDEVIL’s hallway fight, there really is no excuse for sloppiness in a show centered on mystical kung-fu. And yet, underneath this convoluted mess of a narrative lies a theme that could very well have tied in with the other DEFENDERS shows: the rejection of one’s identity.

https://comicsverse.com/defenders-and-identity-why-iron-fist-failed-where-other-marvel-netflix-shows-succeeded/

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A discussion of “The New Yellow Peril” plotlines of Marvel TV series , Daredevil and Iron FIst.

THE FISTS OF WHITE MEN

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With a cast of heroes that includes a woman and a Black man, diversity should be The Defenders’s strong suit, but the show positions a nebulous Asian organization as the villain; considers white saviors, including Iron Fist and Daredevil, as the only people capable of keeping New York City from crumbling; and relies on Orientalism as a plot device.

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/yellow-peril-in-the-defenders

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Malec and the Burden of Representation

Too much of this article is written from Alec’s point of view, but this is otherwise a solid examination of why LGBTQ representation matters, especially when it comes to Magnus Bane.

MATTHEW DADDARIO, HARRY SHUM JR.

Alec, one of the series main shadowhunters, is in the closet and the reasons for it are almost too many to count. From his society’s aggressive homophobia and an unquestionable loyalty to his family’s legacy to a fear of rejection and an emotionally confusing parabatai bond with fellow shadowhunter Jace, it’s easy to understand why he’d want to keep his sexuality a secret. Especially when it comes to Jace, with whom he shares an ambiguous bond complicated by the fact that one-half is gay and the other is not, in a culture that prohibits romance between them.

http://www.screenspy.com/articles/tv/shadowhunters-malec-burden-representation/

 

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This article discusses why race was such an important feature in Shadow Moon’s story.

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American Gods and the Realities of Race

…However, Sava’s words only work first to mirror the majority of Americans who are still living in this country with heads in the sand concerning race. They then dismiss a vital component of Shadow’s purpose in the story as both a dark-skinned character in modern America and as a bearer of an important Norse tradition. Sava mostly tries to whitewash the importance of the scene, which is worse than a Texas school board on an American history book.

https://blackgirlnerds.com/american-gods-realities-race/

Things I Watched – More Mini Reviews

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Legends of Tomorrow Mid-season Finale

I’ve not been paying really close attention to this show. Just sort of watching it off and on, and enough to know who the main characters are, and the general plot-line. The show just came off of a four-way combination plot, involving Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Nazi versions of the main characters, the death of one of my favorite characters, and the cameo of another.

I didn’t care too much for all the Nazi shit, though. For some reason, now that there are real, actual, Nazis having parades in the streets, media content providers (who are primarily White and male) have decided that now is the proper time to tell alternative timeline stories about them. I can’t help but feel that treating Nazis as little more than action movie villains helped fuel Americans laissez-faire attitude towards seeing real life ones, in that nobody takes them seriously. The refusal to take 45 seriously is part of what lead to him winning the last election, so I don’t want to think about what the refusal to take these pseudo Nazis seriously will cause to happen here. (Treating Nazis as little more than story prompts also serves to humanize and normalize them as well.)

I am going to miss Jax and Stein as Firestorm. I read the Firestorm comic books when I was a teenager, and I’ve always liked him, so I was heartsick to see half that team get killed in the last episode, and to see Jax’s heartbroken demeanor for much of this one. Although the plot was fairly ridiculous, involving a time-misplaced, plush toy, that causes the Vikings to invade America. There was a more serious parallel story of Jax dealing with his grief at Stein’s loss. I was also happy to see Snart again, although this is not the same version who starred at the beginning of the series, but a softer, more emotional Snart,, who spend his time trying to get his old partner to stop drinking, and open up his feelings.

On an up note,  the end of the season saw the introduction of Constantine to the ship’s roster. I don’t now how long he’s going to hang around, but even though I hated the series about Constantine, (and the movie wasn’t all that great either), I still loved the actor who played him in the series, and I’m glad to see him.

 

Sleight

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I watched this movie this weekend, and found myself enjoying this a lot. Now, if only it were made into a TV series. It certainly presents an uncommon superhero origin story in Bo, a former engineering student who implants an anti-gravity device, he invented, into his bicep. This device allows him to levitate objects and do magic tricks, which helps him make money to raise his little sister.

Bo also has a job as a low-level drug dealer, working for Angelo, played by one of  my favorite cinnamon rolls, Dule Hill from Psych. Angelo wants Bo to move up in his operation by moving more product, but Bo makes a critical mistake when he tries to shortchange Angelo, who goes ballistic, demands an exorbitant amount of money as payback, and  kidnaps Bo’s  sister, when he can’t make the deadline. If he wants to rescue her, Bo is going to have to up his game.

This was a much quieter movie than I expected. There are long character moments where Bo is just talking to his girlfriend, or his sister, and a scene where he meets with his former engineering teacher, who helps him make a stronger device. (Bo’s little sister is being played by the upcoming star, Storm Reid, who will be starring in Ava Duverney’s A Wrinkle in Time. ) These scenes serve to make the action scenes a lot more suspenseful, especially at the end, in the final confrontation between Angelo and Bo, that you know has to happen, sooner or later.

There’s some child endangerment issues, but it all ends okay, with stability restored, and Bo, his sister, and his girlfriend, Holly, starting their family life together in a new city. I could’ve done without the drug dealing angle, because I really wish that writers could do some other type of story, based on current Black lives, that didn’t involve crime. When writers do this it just serves to, once again, associate Black people and crime together. Luke Cage and Black Lightning are both guilty of this, (despite that I like them.)

It’s a predictable film, which is saved by the performances of  Jacob Latimore who plays Bo, and Dule Hill. It’s also really weird seeing Dule play a bad guy, especially when his most famous role is Shawn Spencer’s best friend Gus, on the show Psych, which just released its new movie. So I had the pleasure of watching his two performances side by side. Dule needs more work.

This is a good comedown from the bombast of the  Justice League  and Thor movies. Bo isn’t trying to save the world. He just wants to save his sister, and movie on with his life, and that’s okay. The action scenes are still pretty thrilling, too. The movie was directed by J.D. Dillard, who is also the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

The Problem with Apu

I watched this one idle Sunday evening. It’s a documentary hosted by Hari Kondabolu, an Asian American comedian. His argument is that the character of Apu should be done away with on the Simpsons show because its nothing more than a collection of the worst Indian stereotypes, which is offensive.

Now, I had stopped watching The Simpsons years ago, and I didn’t know this was even happening, but apparently there has been a big push by Indian Americans to have Hank Azaria answer for this offensive character he created in the show. And rightfully so.

Not being Asian, I didn’t really get it at first. I didn’t like Apu all that much, but also didn’t see anything wrong with his depiction. Once again, it’s not for me to say what’s offensive to other people. If Asian Americans find it offensive, then that’s all that needs to be said. It should e fairly easy to get rid of the character, as he isn’t one of the primary characters on the show. The documentary appears to have been effective because the show runners have given this some amount of thought and addressed its issues.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/simpsons-hank-azaria-addresses-the-problem-with-apu-documentary_us_5a26f57fe4b0ee6f9637dbee

 

Happy

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This show is every bit as batshit as I thought it was going to be. Normally I don’t watch so much gore, since so much of it it’s just gore for the sake of having it, but I actually enjoyed this show, and it turned out to actually be funny. It’s so over the top, I couldn’t possibly take any of it seriously. Not to say it doesn’t have some truly dark aspects.There’s a child endangerment angle some people might not be too comfortable with.

Christopher Meloni is absolutely perfect as a down on his luck detective named Nick Sax, who used to be famous, but now works as  an addled and drunken hit man. He has a heart attack in the middle of one of his hits and loses consciousness right next to the dead body of his last victim. When he wakes up in the ambulance he coerces the paramedics into giving him lots of nitroglycerin, but he is also being harassed by a blue, cartoon, flying horse, named Happy.

Apparently, Happy is real, I guess. He’s the imaginary playmate of the endangered little girl I mentioned earlier, and since Nick is the only other human being who can see him (Why? Is it a near death thing? A genetic thing?), Happy needs his help to rescue her. This is complicated by Nick being pursued by cops who want some information they think he has, and some mobsters.

This is very much a niche type of show and is not for everyone, says the woman who is too delicate to watch cop shows. I suppose technically this is a cop show, but apparently, I like cop shows that have a great deal of humor in them, like Reno 911, and Brooklyn 99 (I know you’re noticing a theme here. The show must have a location or number in its title, and be a batshit comedy).

The humor is very adult, involving shootings, hookers, and corrupt cops, and I found it all to be deeply funny, but can’t explain why. I think this is meant to take the place of the pulp show, Blood Drive, which I didn’t particularly care for, even though it was just as insane. (Maybe I didn’t like it because there were no cops in it.) It’s also a very energetic and loud show. I will probably keep watching it, but for jeebus’ sake, despite the presence of Happy, do not let your kids watch this show.

It is totally not for kids!!!!

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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Like The Void, this is one of those horror movies that flew just underneath everyone’s radar. It’s genuinely spooky, mostly because you have no idea what the Hell is going on, or why things are happening for most of the movie. The plot sounds pretty simple on the surface but becomes increasingly complex until finally you’re left with the final idea that none of it is accidental and that everything that happens is, very malevolently, on purpose.

A father and son coroner team receive a female body in their morgue, that presents some bizarre mysteries, most notably that they can’t tell what killed her. After they start her autopsy, a number of strange events occur, like the death of their cat, sounds, footsteps, and voices, are heard in empty rooms of the facility, a strange fire, and a mysterious fog, all of which culminate in the deaths of both of them, leading to an even further mystery for the emergency workers who find them.

The body of the Jane Doe they had been examining is moved on to another morgue, and I had the distinct impression that it had been moved on  from several other morgues, after the deaths of the examiners, and after the ambulances that transported it,  met with accidents themselves. This same body (which is probably possessed by a demon or a witch) just moves from morgue to morgue, with no name, and no identity beyond looking female and dead. You think at first that this is a simple ghost story, but I suspect this is something much more subtle, and sinister, than a ghost story, in that this body had probably never been alive.

If you liked the movie The Witch, this movie has the same deeply creepy feel. I was most appreciative of the minimal jump scares, and the absence of any scenes where people get dragged along floors by mysterious entities, cuz I’m getting especially tired of that one.

 

Strange Empire

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I saw the trailer for Strange Empire a few weeks before the release of Godless, so when I saw the trailer for Godless, I was reminded of the first. Strange Empire has much the same plot as Godless, and it has more prominent WoC in it, so I decided to skip Godless, which didnt appear to have any WoC at all, watch this instead.

I’m about halfway through the season, and I like it, but its tough watching because most of it consists of the women trying to avoid prostitution. Unlike Godless which boasted of its all female cast, Strange Empire actually bothers to have the women front and center, and its a really interesting group of women. The show takes place in Alberta Canada, during the same time frame, so I don’t know if that has much parallel to Godless.

In both shows a group of women have been left to fend for themselves against some ruthless male foe. In Godless, all the men have died in a mining incident, but in Empire, the men are massacred by a local brothel owner, named Aaron Slotter, whose wife just lost a child.. There  are two  feral young women who are to be sold to a brothel, and a half Indigenous woman named Kat, who adopts them, to save them from that life. When she hides the girls, the caravan of men they were traveling with are massacred by the brothel owner, and he tries to coerce the women into working for him.

In the meantime, Aaron’s wife, a bi-racial Black woman, named Isabelle, schemes to get money from  father, by substituting the child of one of their whores , for their dead son, and she works with Kat to rescue the two young girls her husband wants to sell to the highest bidder.

There’s also a neurodivergent female doctor, named Rebecca, who forms a friendship and alliance with Kat, even though her husband was one of the few men that survived the massacre. It took me a moment to figure out that this young lady had autism, but she also happens to be a surgical genius being held back by her husband’s fears of her being insane, which is the only understanding anyone had of autism back then.

Outside of the main plot involving the women trying not to be sold into prostitution, it’s not a bad show. Unlike with Godless, the women (mostly Kat) get most of the screen-time and dialogue. There are men in the cast, but it most definitely isn’t about any of them, although they are important to keeping the plot moving, most of their time is spent fighting with Kat, or killing each other.

So if you’re looking for a good Western, but checked out of Godless because of its overwhelming whiteness,  and its prioritization of men or some other reason, than check out Strange Empire.

 

Most shows are heading into the winter hiatus right now, which should give me time to post some mid-season reviews of Supernatural and  The Walking Dead and a couple more movie reviews, along with that character review of Star Trek Discovery that I promised.

Forthcoming TV In January

3rd

9-1-1 (Fox)

I normally don’t watch these types of shows because they’re too stressful, but the Divine Angela Bassett is starring in this show, and I’ve never seen her play a cop before, so I will watch the premiere episode, and get back to you on what I think. One of the co-runners of the show is Ryan Murphy who does the American Horror Story Series, and I’m curious about what he’s done with this subject.Those of you, who can handle higher levels of stress than me, may enjoy to watch it on the regular. If so, let me know how you like it in the comments. Just because I’m not watching something doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want other people to enjoy it.

 

The X-Files (Fox)

I’m sort of looking forward to the return of this show. I was never a fan of the Mythology stuff, although I followed along so I didn’t get any more lost in the plot than usual. This looks like a continuation of the six episode mini season we got last year, which I sort of enjoyed. I’m not wildly enthusiastic but I’m not un-excited. Imma check it out, see if I like it, and get back to y’all later.

 

7th

Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access)

I’m thoroughly hooked on this show. I’m still not remotely interested in the Klingons, but I’m into the human characters and whats going to happen next. See my upcoming review of the first half of the season before the second half airs.

 

10th

The Magicians – Season Three (Syfy)

I had mixed emotions about the last season. On the one hand I loved the humorous part of the narrative, and Quentin’s mystery solving capabilities. I’m especially enjoying Dean Foggs larger role in the story. On the other hand, I hated Julia’s storyline because it’s so horrifying and tragic. I just don’t like watching this character be abused every season, and it’s a storyline that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the show. There was also the issue of killing off two gay characters last season, one white and male and the other, a disabled black woman, and that really put me off the show. But I will watch the premiere and see if there will be more of the same. If so, then I can’t make this regular viewing, although those who are less delicate than me, about such things, might have a grand ol’ time.

 

12th

Philip K Dick’s Science Fiction Anthology: Electric Dreams (Amazon)

I know nothing about what kind of stories will be on this show, but I think it’s meant to be Amazon’s rival to the critically acclaimed Black Mirror, which airs on Netflix.

 

Taken – Season Two (NBC)

I didn’t watch the first season of this show because I wasn’t interested, but now in the second season the creators have decided to try to save it by giving the plot and cast a complete overhaul. I personally feel that this is the kind of storyline that should ge remade every season with an entirely new cast and details. It also has a new showrunner, the guy who ran the show Person of Interest. POI was another show that I never meant to start watching, but the plot and performances drew me in, and I stayed watching to the end. Maybe the same will happen with this show.

 

Proud Mary (In Theaters)

I’ve been a fan of Taraji P. Hensen since her Person of Interest days, so I’m very excited about this movie., and so is my Mom. I think it reminds her of those Blaxploitation movies starring Pam Grier. (And she just likes Taraji, too.) This is notable becasue it’s a Black woman carrying a major action film. No, Taraji’s not the first, but it is rare enough to take notice. We keep  getting all these female versions of John Wick, and I guess this is the Black version. (We already have some Asian guy versions which are basically any movies by John Woo.)

 

16th

Black Lightning (CW)

I’m looking forward to this. One of Black Lightning’s daughters is a superhero in her own right, and it’ll be nice to see a Black woman hero on TV. Maybe if we’re really lucky, the show won’t suck, and we can get a spin-off.

 

22nd

The Alienist (TNT)

I read the book by Caleb Carr that this show is based on. I’m a sucker for Historical mysteries set at the turn of the century. I have no idea why. And since I liked Ripper Street, I thought maybe this would capture me too. It looks good, but once again you’ve got a really really White NY city. (Why does Hollywood keep forgetting people of color have existed in both London and New York City since their inception?) But it stars Luke Evans, and he has an epic jawline and I need to support that while it’s on TV. Dakota Fanning, I can either take or leave.

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