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. 
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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.

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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

 

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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)

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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.

Image result for american gods shadow

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

Image result for sleight movie gifs

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

Image result for syfy happy tv show gif

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

Image result for autopsy of jane doe gif

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

Image result for strange empire series gif

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.

Coming Soon To A TV Near You

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Here’s a list of various upcoming TV programs and series, that I might watch, or am excited about, this month. Some of these will available for streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

For the rest of December:

 

Happy:

Starring Christopher Meloni, and Patton Oswalt, this has already aired, and I haven’t yet watched the episode. As soon as I do I’ll let you know what I think. I was kind of excited about this mostly because I’m a Christopher Meloni fan, who will watch him in just about anything, and Patton Oswalt’s not a bad comedian. This looks almost as zany as Legion, but probably less confusing, and maybe it will be funny. It’s definitely very graphic, so if you have trouble watching lots of gore, maybe take a rain-check on this one. Believe it or not, its actually based on a comic book, and does not star a superhero, so it will be interesting to see other things besides superhero shows from comics in the next couple of years.

Meloni’s character is some kind of cop, or hitman, I’m not sure which, who starts to hallucinate a tiny blue horse that is the polar opposite of his demeanor, in that its named Happy, and tries to get him to see the bright side of living.

 

Knightrfall

This has also just aired after the new episodes of Vikings. I wasn’t impressed, not because its a bad show, but because I’m not interested in this particular era of history, or this area of the world. I checked out after the anti-semitic sentiment (which was common for the time period) started to work on my nerves, a bit. So if you’re Jewish, and were planning to watch it, maybe you can skip it, and that’s okay. I can say it’s an extremely pretty show, but the dialogue needs some help. I don’t think this show is going to blow up the same way Vikings did, though.

 

7th: Psych :The Movie

I was an on again off again fan of the series, so I’m mildly excited about this, even though Tim Omundsen isn’t making an appearance, (or so I’ve been lead to believe). Tonight, we get to find out what Gus and Shawn have gotten up to since the series ended. One of the biggest draws of the show was their friendship, and I’d like to immerse myself in their silliness for a while, and I’ll let you know what happened.

 

13th: The Librarians

I’m not a fan of this show, and have never seen a single episode, which is really weird, because I’m a librarian and, I believe I’m required, by some law, to watch it. Maybe I will.

 

15th: Jean Claude Van Johnson

I saw the first episode of this and was shocked to see Phylicia Rashad in it, as Jean Claude Van Damme and Phylicia Rashad are not two names I ever associated with one another. Here, he plays a government agent whose secret identity is being the famous Jean Claude. I sort of liked it. I thought his self-deprecation was pretty funny, but the humor is uneven and  doesn’t fit well with some of the violence in the show, even if some of that violence is played for laughs. It’s worth a watch if you like Kung Fu, and comedy.The show airs on Amazon Prime.

 

18th: Gunpowder

I’m  looking forward to this, even though it airs on HBO, and I don’t have that network anymore. It’s  about the events leading up to Guy Fawkes Day in England and star Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones..

 

19th: The Indian Detective

I like the idea of this. I enjoy watching detectives of other cultures, as they attempt to solve crimes within their respective cultures, or attempt to navigate someone else’s. Also, Russell Peters is the star, and I think he’s pretty funny. This airs on Netflix, too.

 

21st: Peaky Blinders

This also airs on Netflix. I only partially watched the first couple of  seasons of this show, which stars Cillian Murphy, about a criminal gang from Birmingham England called, what else, Peaky Blinders. I’m excited for this new season which also stars Tom Hardy.

 

22nd: Bright

This is being touted as one of the most expensive original  shows on Netflix, and we know why. Will Smith costs money! I’m very excited about this because I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Will Smith smartin’ off at strange creatures any time soon, and who can resist the mashup of Elves, Orcs, and the gangbangers of LA. This is the very definition of “Urban” Fantasy, and I’m here for it. It also has music videos.

 

25th: Dr. Who Xmas Special: Twice Upon A Time

As usual, every year there’s a Xmas special that introduces the old Doctor Who to the new Doctor Who, or to the viewers. Since the new Doctor is now a woman, I might actually watch it this year. It’s also my last chance to see Pearl Mackie and Peter Capaldi together, again. What happens is, rather than recording the show like a normal human being, I usually end up skipping it, going to bed, and then forgetting that it ever aired.Well, maybe this year I may remain awake (if the day hasn’t been too strenuous), and get to watch it this time.

 

29th: Black Mirror

I’m not a huge Black Mirror fan. I watched bits and pieces of the last season, and my attitude was “It’s okay.”, but I like the new trailer for this season, which looks fun rather than gloomy, or tragic, so I guess I’m going to be watching a lot, (and I mean, a lot), of Netflix this December.

 

31st: Dave Chappelle 

I didn’t care for Chappelle’s last show on \Netflix. I just didn’t think it was as funny as I expected it to be, but I’m glad to see he’s working again, and I’ve always been a huge fan, so I’ll check this out, instead of partying on New Year’s Eve.

 

Next Up: What’s coming in January

We have a lot to look forward to next month, not just on TV but in theaters.

Also: a list of forthcoming TV shows for the next year, and which movie remakes are in the works, or being discussed for 2018

 

Thangs I Been Looking At (Mini – Reviews)

Ghost Wars

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I’m  impressed with this show, ,not just for its good production, but because it’s actually scary. I don’t normally pay much attention to literary ghost stories, but movies and TV shows seem to work for me a bit, although I still prefer monster movies, where normalcy has been upheaved by something that’s blatantly malicious, and then order is restored after the creature is defeated. Ghost stories are too open ended for me to really get into them, and sometimes they’re just not very scary to me.

The ghost stories that actually scared me were The Sixth Sense, Ju-On, and, The Ring. In my mind, everything made since those movies have been nothing but ripoffs of the originals. But I actually like this show. There’s just enough uncanny shit happening to keep me off balance. I like the characters and their issues. The acting is better than I expected (because Vincent D’onofrio is present as a town preacher.) and there’s also just enough social subtext to make it compelling.

 

 

Roman Mercer is the town outcast because he can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of regular townspeople, so he has a reputation. In the pilot, he was attempting to leave town, but there was some type of explosive paranormal event that prevented that, and killed the bus full of people he’d been on. (His best friend is a young lady who is also a ghost, and she warned him about the bus crash in advance.)

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So now this remote Alaskan town is being overrun by ghosts, who are definitely malevolent. What event awakened them all, and what the ghosts want, is still a delicious mystery, that I’m here for. The ghosts can possess people, cause nasty hallucinations, like when the town preacher, while giving a wake in the town bar, sees blood pouring from his drinking glass, and they cause people to believe the town bridge  is still intact, when its been destroyed. The only thing that saves everyone is that Roman can see through the hallucination, and prevent people from trying to drive across.

There have also been some interesting character changes as the townsfolk who didn’t believe in Roman’s abilities, now have no choice but to believe, as they are being attacked by ghosts, and those who did believe in Roman’s powers, and hated him for it, have since realized his usefulness, and stopped bullying him.

 

Kim Coates and Meatloaf also star in the show. I’ve liked Coates ever since I first saw him in Waterworld, although he’s been around since the late 80s. In the show he plays either a lovable rogue, who is responsible for his little brother’s death, or the town ne’er do well. I wasn’t sure of Meatloaf’s acting abilities until I saw him in Fight Club, although I’d also seen him in other projects. He plays one of the town bullies.

I think I’m going to stick with this show for a while. The Syfy Channel is slowly starting to build back its reputation for interesting shows, and I’m glad. The Expanse, Dark Matters, Killjoys, Z Nation, Superstition, Ghost Wars. By focusing on character, paying close attention to diversity, (lots of women in these shows, lots of PoC, and most importantly lots of different WoC), and coupling these things with interesting  concepts, Syfy is slowly getting back its street cred as a network that geeks are not ashamed to admit to watching.

 

Superstition

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I really like the idea of this Black family that fights supernatural creatures in this small town, and I have tremendous respect for Van Peebles for breaking new ground, just by adding racial diversity to genre shows. He’s done Westerns (Posse), and werewolves, (Full Eclipse), and now he’s taking a crack at the Supernatural/Buffy style show, involving family dynamics with monster killing.  I don’t know how long this show is going to last because I haven’t seen many people talking about it anywhere, but I hope it at least finishes out one season.

The problem I have is with the execution of the ideas on the show. The acting could be better, (its a little dodgy) and the plot needs to be beefier. I feel like it should’ve lead with the demons/monster plot, and then worked in the soap opera aspects, once we got to really know the characters. I  think the plot leans a little too heavy on the drama, and we just met all these characters, so we have no incentive to care about their emotional issues.

The Hastings are basically a bunch of badasses who use deadly weapons and magic to battle the forces of evil. The eldest son was estranged from the family, but has come back home, and been welcomed back into the family business of monster killing, so we learn about what’s going on just as he does, as he needs to be taught the ropes.

Sadly, not much was known about this show before it aired and the only place I saw any promos was on the Syfy network itself. The network does not appear to be as invested in this show as it seems to be in other shows, like The Expanse, and Z Nation, and that’s why I don’t think this show is going to last very long. But I’m here for it while it airs.

 

Stranger Things Season Two

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I get why people like this show. There’s a definite nostalgia factor, and those kids are cute as all heck, but My feeling about the show was kinda meh. its not a bad show, and it has excellent production values, but I just wasn’t deeply invested. I wasn’t carried away, I guess.

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t find this especially compelling is because I didn’t watch the entire first season. I saw bits and pieces of it. Enough to get a general idea of what was happening, but not all the tiny details, like names. I liked all the little 80s callbacks, and I liked quite a few of the characters. Wynona Ryder plays Michael’s Mom, and she was her usual excellent self. Sean Astin plays her love interest, and he is a goofily cheerful character that I sort of liked. The most interesting two characters were Lucas, and his seeming love interest, a ginger haired skater- girl ,who just moved into town. Lucas’ friendship with her causes a minor riff between the four friends.

Eleven escapes from her overprotective adoptive father, but after the two of them have a falling out,  she finds herself having adventures in the city, where she falls in with a group of thieves led by another girl with tattoos, and the ability to cause illusions. She eventually leaves them when she receives a premonition that Mike is in danger. Eleven’s activities are the most interesting part of the show.

Michael, the boy who befriended Eleven in the first season keeps having visions of a massive creature that has infested (infected) the entire town. He develops a connection to it, and eventually becomes possessed by the creature. When the rest of his family and friends realize what’s happening they spring into action to prevent the creature’s release, into the town, from the local  medical facility, but its already too late, as one of Michael’s friends has befriended a small  frog-like creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of the monster.

I didn’t dislike the show, and I bingewatched all ten episodes, but I wasn’t wildly enthused either. I can recommend it if you don’t have anything more pressing to watch, or if you just really love 80s nostalgia. Really, the most compelling thing in the entire show was the monster, and I want to see season three because I’d like to know what’s going to happen to it, and Eleven.

 

Jeepers Creepers 3

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Don’t worry. I didn’t pay money to see this movie. At any rate I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. Sensing that people wouldn’t want to associate too much with the cinematic output of a convicted pedophile, the movie’s creators sought only a limited, one day, release, before sending it directly to video, or rather the Syfy Channel where I saw it the weekend before Halloween.

I did not care for this movie because it’s a confusing mess. It takes place between the first and second films, but that isn’t immediately apparent, as only two of the characters from the first film appear in it, and only one of the characters from the second. Ridiculous things happen in the movie that I couldn’t make sense of, and even though there’s a lot of exposition, (I mean a LOT! People talk and talk and talk.) all the talking didn’t make anything about this movie any clearer.

Most of that talking is is from a brand new character, a cop named Tashtego, who is constantly stressing to the other characters how evil The Creeper is and that he must be killed. There’s lots of shots of he Creeper being his usual weird and nasty self, terrorizing teenagers, eating people, etc. For some reason, someone thought it would be a grand idea to prominently feature the creature’s truck, which is tricked out with various booby traps, which is what the police find out when they try to investigate the dead bodies lying in it, and a pack of obnoxious teenagers find this out too before they’re promptly caught and killed by The Creeper. He still likes to hunt  pretty young men, but occasionally takes time out of his busy schedule to terrify a woman or two.

One ofthe most baffling scenes is the discovery of a disembodied hand of The Creeper that gives people visions when they touch it. This isn’t something that was even hinted at in the first movie, although in every film, there’s the one character who seems to mystically know shit about The Creeper, so as to give more exposition on him. Exposition that illuminates not at all.

Since The Creeper can’t actually be killed, and we saw him in the second movie that was released we pretty much know how this one ends. He doesn’t get caught. At any rate, it matters not one bit, because I don’t believe Salva will be making any more of these. I sense that the makers of this movie just wanted to release it quietly, and get it off their books, and get Salva out of their hair, so I don’t think he’ll be making another Creeper movie any time soon. It’s very possible that he won’t ever be making any more movies again, since no one wants to be associated with him, especially in this new climate of awareness involving past sex scandals.

 

Seoul Station

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I was really excited to get to see this, the moment I heard of it, especially after watching Train to Busan. Seoul Station is an animated pre-quel to the live action Train to Busan, and its every bit as harrowing, nerve wracking, and action packed as the movie, despite the medium. It takes its time getting started but like the live action movie, once it gets going it doesn’t let up, doesn’t let you have a rest, and you get attached to the primary character just as in the other film.

In Seoul Sta. we see the beginning of the zombie infestation, and how it managed to escape notice until it got out of hand. This happens the way it always does by affecting the poor and underclass first. We meet a young woman who just escaped prostitution with  an abusive pimp, but the man she’s currently  living with isn’t much better. He’s having money issues and keeps trying to convince her to sell herself so they can pay the rent. At one point he hits her, and she;s so used to being treated that way she doesn’t even fight back.. (I wasn’t expecting that scene and it kind of threw me for a bit, so here’s my warning in advance. If you have trouble watching such things,s know the movie contains scenes of stalking and domestic abuse.)

We follow this young woman for the rest of the movie, after she breaks up with her current boyfriend. She barely manages to stay one step ahead of the zombie infestation, running from one seemingly safe place to another, only for those places to be overrun by the dead. From a police station, to the subway, to an alley that’s been cordoned off by the police (who think its all some type of insurrection), she has to use all her strength, and wits to stay ahead of the zombies, while wearing nothing more than a little pink dress and bare feet. She’s not an entirely sympathetic character either, as one of her most annoying traits is a complete inability to close doors behind her, thereby exacerbating her zombie issues.

In the meantime she’s also being pursued by her current boyfriend and her former pimp, both of whom have try to make their way through the zombie infested streets of Seoul. I was a little confused at first, because I thought her former pimp was her father, but it turns out he’s just lying to enlist her boyfriend’s aid in finding her.

A funny observation  about this movie (and I don’t know if this is just something that’s done in the movie, or if people in Seoul actually behave this way) are the many people who are  willing to verbally harangue strangers in public. From her landlady screaming at her about her late rent, to when she screams at her boyfriend at a cyber cafe, to random disturbed people on the street, characters are forever running up to others and screaming at them. Needless to say you cannot do that shit in America, where you just run up on somebody and start yelling, especially during a Zombie apocalypse. (You will get your ass beat for that just on a regular Tuesday.) Sometimes they just scream gibberish, but sometimes the rants are very specific. At any rate, some of this behavior serves too illustrate the lives of the rather downtrodden, and in some cases, criminal individuals.

Unlike the live action film, none of the characters are your typical salaried workers, which is a refreshing change from American made films, in which we watch your standard  American family endure some kind of crisis. Some of them are not the least bit nice, or innocent, either. There are homeless people bullying each other, and salaried workers, who treat the homeless characters with disdain and contempt. I don’t know if the creator is trying to make some kind of social argument about life in Seoul, or not, though.

Seoul Station is available right now for free on Amazon Prime, (or for rent). This is an absolutely excellent double bill, with its sequel, but you’re going to have to rest between films, because neither will give you a moment.

The Mummy

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I was not impressed by this movie. In fact, I think I hated it. Tom Cruise looks worn and tired, the plot is rather lackluster, and I was not expecting Russell Crowe to be shamelessly overacting in this movie. Its not a bad film, in the sense that the people who cared about it, tried their best, to make it look good, but the movie is simply uninspired. The first Mummy movie in the last trilogy at least had a feeling of freshness in its lead female character, Evie. Here the only female character we are meant to pay attention to is boring and flat, and the other one is the villain.

Essentially, The Mummy tells the origin story of how a modern man gets chosen by an ancient priestess, Ahmanet, to be the avatar of the Egyptian god, Set. It would’ve been a much more interesting movie, if they had just stuck to the portion dealing with Ahmanet, but you know Hollywood hates WoC, because its unthinkable to them that one of them (namely Sofia Boutella, who is actually Egyptian) would ever be the head of her own franchise. Franchises must be led by your standard white guy named Chris, or Tom in this case. One of these days Miss Boutella will be treated with respect and won’t have to kiss tired looking men, twice her age, to be in a movie.

Tom should  stick with those Mission Impossible, and Jack Reacher movies, which I actually like. He looks as if he’s enjoying himself in those, and I like a Tom Cruise film in which he appears to at least be having some fun. Here, he  looks like he can’t wait for the movie to be over, and seems like he’s just going through the motions until it ends.

I was only mildly excited to see this in the theater, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. My advice is to skip this and watch the 1999 version again.

Alien Vs. Predator & Demon Knight

Who Saves the World

(We do!)

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Here’s the second set of reviews for 31 Days of Black Women in Horror Movies for the website Graveyard Shift Sisters.

You may not think these two movies have much in common, but you’d be wrong. They have at least two things in common, Black female heroes, and Black female heroes who live to the end of the movie.

 

http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/scary-sistas-a-brief-history-of-black-women-in-horror-films/

 

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If you’re not aware of the old movie trope, “The Black Guy Dies First”, then you don’t know how groundbreaking it is for a movie to not only have a Black hero, but for that Black hero to live all the way to the end of the movie ,while saving the world. This was famously spoofed by the Black slayer named Rona, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with her snide remark to Buffy, “The Black girl gets it…”

Thanks to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, horror movies have always tried to have progressive representation. This certainly isn’t true of all such movies, but Horror and Scifi movies are at least willing to break with the tradition of a White male hero and cast women, and PoC, as the stars of the movies. From The Afflicted with its Asian male lead, to Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sigourney Weaver in Alien,  from Danny Glover in Predator II, and Wesley Snipes in Blade, many of these movies have become iconic films by overturning the tradition of having a White guy be the hero.

Predator, the franchise ,was itself willing to break with tradition, after casting Arnold Schwarzeneggar as the hero of the first movie, by casting Danny Glover as the hero of the second. That movie is also unique in casting a Latina, Maria Conchita Alonso, as one of that movie’s good guys, who also gets to live to the end.

 

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Alien Vs Predator is just continuing this habit by casting Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods,  the guide for a team of archaeologists, who are exploring the Antarctic for alien artifacts, along with Charles Bishop Weyland, the CEO of Weyland Industries, and the prototype for Bishop, the android from Aliens. Suffice to say,, she is the only  survivor, after the team gets caught in the crossfire between the Aliens, and the Predators who came to Earth to hunt them.

Alexa is as tough as they come. She’s brave and determined, and finally rewarded for her fortitude with the proper facial scars of a successful Predator, by the other Predators, who have been watching the events from on-high. I haven’t watched this movie in a few years. I have to admit, I failed to appreciate its novelty when it was released. It’s only on later viewings that I realized the film’s uniqueness. It, and the fearless Alexa Woods, have since become a favorite. (I find it especially interesting that most of the reviews of this movie seem to ignore her presence in it, although fans of the movie seem to really like her, and Danny Glover.)

This movie is also notable because Alexa is also a scientist, an environmental technician. As depictions of Black women in science are really hard to come by at the movies, its important to take note, its the Blerdgirl who saves the world.

http://www.btchflcks.com/2016/07/when-will-black-women-play-leading-scientists-more-often.html#.WfDwM1tSxD4

 

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Irene goes out like a Boss!

Demon Knight is notable not just for Jada Pinkett as Jeryline, the hero of the movie, but for also starring CCH Pounder as Irene, her bullying work release employer, who is every bit as badass as she thinks she is. I did not fail to appreciate the release of this movie. Mom and I were already Jada Pinkett fans after her work in A Lowdown Dirty Shame and we were looking forward to seeing her work it in our favorite genre, Horror. We were not disappointed. Jeryline is smart as fuck, and fearless too. From the moment you meet her character, she is sympathetic, and you start to root for her to survive this movie, because you just know, somebody’s gonna die!

William Sadler (another favorite of mine) plays Frank Brayker, as a Knight of the Cross, attempting to keep a Holy artifact out of the hands of Billy Zane’s Collector, to keep the world safe from demons. The artifact is meant to hold the blood of Christ, but over the centuries, the Keepers of the “The Key” began to fill it with their own blood. The blood in The Key is sanctified  to create protective barriers, or to kill demons directly, and when the last of the blood is used, the Keeper, who is immortal as long as he/she carries it,  dies.

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When Brayker finally sacrifices his life, he passes The Key to Jeryline. The person who carries The Key must be a thief,  in homage to the first carrier of The Key, a thief who stole Christ’s blood at God’s command. Jeryline fits the bill because it was the reason for her prison conviction. In the end, Jeryline defeats The Collector, in a novel way that would never have occurred to Frank, and sets herself on the road, followed by a new Collector, a Black man carrying a suspicious looking guitar case. (My mom and I applauded.)

I was disappointed to learn there would be no sequel to this movie. I would’ve loved to have  seen this take place in Georgia or Louisiana, with an all Black cast.

Hollywood is still somewhat stuck in the rut of pandering to the White male demographic, but that is slowly beginning to change, especially after the success of Get Out, and the forthcoming release of Proud Mary in January, and Black Panther during Black History Month, next year. Hollywood could use Indie and genre films as an example of how to craft movies that appeal to other than White men.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT, Jada Pinkett, 1995. (c) MCA/Universal Pictures
Jeryline – Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight 
In this cult classic, Jerlyline is the definition of survivor. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind nor kick a serious amount of ass, both of which she did!

 

 

http://wickedhorror.com/top-horror-lists/7-fierce-black-women-in-horror/

Yes, Black women want to have onscreen adventures. We like to see representations of us in movies, and TV shows, being heroes, being brave, and fearless, and saving the world, just like White women, (and I’ll wager that Asian women, and Latinas want to see this too.) There have been so many demographics Hollywood has been ignoring for decades. Horror movies, by their nature, seem willing to be different, to overturn tropes, and even mock its own stereotypes.

These aren’t the only Horror movies featuring Women of Color, they just happen to be two of my favorites. Its about time for me to watch them again.

*     *     *   *   *     *       *      *    *       *

https://blackgirlnerds.com/black-women-and-feminism-in-horror-films/

In all these films, these women used their brains, brawn, and instincts to survive amidst a mostly white, male cast. They weren’t treated as servants or sex slaves except for that cringe worthy scene in 28 Days Later.

All three women fought just as hard or harder than their white, male counterparts; proving that they could and did survive regardless of their gender or race.

Weekend Link Roundup

Here’s some interesting reading from around the web, for the weekend. Some of the articles are older, but no less relevant:

 

Asian Erasure

*From Firefly and Star Wars, and from Bladerunner to The Matrix. What do these movies have in common? They’re all about the future, and they all have a certain Asian aesthetic. Unfortunately they also have no Asians in them. Hollywood loves seeing an Asian future, as long as there are no actual Asian people in that future. The Chinese population is some 1.3 billion people.  People classifying themselves as White make up only 11% of the world’s population and are set to be even less than that in the future as their population continues to decline, yet, there’s no evidence of that in any of the most popular movies about the future.

https://boingboing.net/2017/10/11/cyberpunks-asian-representat.html

https://moviepilot.com/p/what-is-cyberpunks-obsession-asian-imagery/4379249

https://www.avclub.com/read-this-why-does-cyberpunk-keep-making-asian-cities-1819366143

http://www.slashfilm.com/blade-runner-2049-asian-culture/

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mb7yqx/cyberpunk-cities-fetishize-asian-culture-but-have-no-asians-blade-runner

 

Hollywood’s “Little” Problem

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https://www.thedailybeast.com/hollywoods-other-open-secret-besides-harvey-weinstein-preying-on-young-boys?via=newsletter&source=Entertainment

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/corey-feldman-elijah-wood-hollywood-897403

https://www.thedailybeast.com/elijah-wood-calls-out-hollywoods-pedophile-problem

 

Toxic Masculinity in Pop Culture

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http://www.vulture.com/2017/04/nice-guys-in-movies-arent-nice-anymore.html

https://www.themarysue.com/toxic-masculinity-in-jessica-jones-kilgrave-as-a-nice-guy-and-will-simpson-as-misogynistic-hero/

https://www.themarysue.com/wolverine-toxic-masculinity/

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/how-fargo-captures-sad-realities-toxic-masculinity

http://www.ebony.com/news-views/toxic-masculinity#axzz4w4vfOIGI

https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/this-isnt-toxic-masculinity-its-sociopathic-baby-men.html

 

Neo Yokio Review

 

  1. Lord help the poor souls for whom Neo Yokio is their first introduction to anime — and let that same Lord (whatever benevolent nerd deity presides over these sorts of things) bless the brave souls who watched this inane attempt at entertainment knowing that so much greater anime exists in the world.

    Neo Yokio, a Netflix original series created by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and starring the vocal talents of Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Jason Schwartzman, and Steve Buscemi, among many others, takes place in a futuristic New York City that’s underwater south of 14th Street. In this version of New York, which is randomly and inexplicably peppered with elements of Japanese culture, one’s social standing — showcased on the all-knowing “Bachelor Board” in Times Square — is of the utmost importance, and those with old money look down upon the “magistocrats,” demon-slaying members of the elite who have worked their way up, through exorcisms and social engagements, into the class of nouveau riche (aka “Neo Riche” ::queue eyeroll::).

    Our hero (a term I’ll use with the same degree of irony that Neo Yokio overuses to no end) is Kaz Kaan, a young magistocrat who spends his time exorcising some demons but even more time complaining about his social status, shopping, and bemoaning his relationship status to his friends and mecha British butler, Charles. And what’s the plot, you may ask — a fitting question, but one for which Neo Yokio has no answer. The show literally follows Kaz as he mopes around, goes on errands, and tries to figure out how to become the most eligible bachelor in Neo Yokio. If there’s a reason why we should care about Kaz’s problems, it’s unclear. After all, with its fixation on brand names, fashion, and the superficial minutiae of Kaz’s upper-class life, Neo Yokio presents itself solely as a satire of classism and commercialism in our culture, right? Maybe.

    That’s just the problem — it’s unclear. For all its posturing about class, Neo Yokio never actually commits itself to saying anything about it. We see the characters bask in their privilege and throw around their money carelessly but the only instance of real contrast is when we see how Kaz treats Charles and the few characters he briefly encounters in the service industry (including the sales clerk at Bergdorf’s, whom he only refers to as “sales clerk”) with utter disregard. The characters — and the show in general — exist in a kind of vacuum, making it impossible to determine whether the show is taking itself seriously or not at all — and if it’s satirizing a group of people or an idea, who or what exactly that is. None of the characters are written with any depth and none of them reveal the show’s true aim. Sure, fashion blogger Helena St. Tessero awakens to the superficiality of Neo Yokio and initially seems like she’ll be the lens through which we may see the satirized world (think the smart, incisive gaze of Daria, who reveals the stupidity of those around her), but she too is exaggerated to the point of no return (read: is turned into a terrorist-recluse), leaving us with equally fatuous celebrations and dismissals of this upper-class life.

     

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Writing With Color

 

*Here’s some basic writing advice, for writing just about any marginalized group, (and eve nsome very common, not so marginalized groups) so you don’t come off looking like a racist twat! Now this is not to say you can do none of these things. Some of them can be done without offense, if you have a damn good reason for doing it. Some of the others…not so much.

 

Common Micro-aggressions: African Americans and/or
Black People

Anonymous said: What are some common micro-aggressions that a black american will regularly have to deal with?

Behold this masterpost of common micro-aggressions towards African Americans and/or people in the African Diaspora, several of which may be applicable to other PoC. Micro-aggressions can be perpetuated by White people as well as fellow Black people and People of Color.

This is just to give a thorough understanding of some of the things a Black person (often in America) deals with. Don’t run forward and jam-pack your Black character with every one of these experiences, though I can say I’ve personally experienced every one of these or know someone who has.

General Micro-aggressions

  • People excusing blackface.
  • Having our grammar and annunciation corrected.
  • “I don’t see you as a Black person/ I don’t see colour.”
  • Calling Black people ghetto, thugs, rachet, sassy, urban…
  • People debating why they should be allowed to say the n-word.
  • Then saying the n-word anyway.
  • Whispering, spitting, or stumbling over the word “Black” as if it’s a curse.
  • Refusing to pronounce your name right, or just calling you by a different name that’s easier.
  • Alternatively, “jokingly” calling you a “ghetto” name.
  • Constantly mixing up unrelated and not even resembling Black people, because you know.. ‘Black people all look the same’.
  • Dismissing our experiences as “just overreacting,” defending the wronging party, or using our plight to talk about one’s own experience (e.g. “well as a gay man i’ve got it rough…”).
  • Telling racist jokes and calling you sensitive when you don’t find it funny.
  • “______  is the new civil rights movement!” Black folks are still fighting for their rights so…

Media

  • Fox news (xD)
  • Caricatured depictions of Black people on TV.
  • Casting calls for Black people only tailored for “race roles.”
  • Media treating white criminals and killers better than Black victims (see these headlines).

Stereotypes

  • Assuming you only listen to rap/hip-hop/r&b.
  • Assuming you love chicken, Kool-aid, and/or smoke weed.
  • Assuming you’re good at sports.
  • Assuming there’s no father in the picture in Black families.
  • Assuming all Black people (see: young girls) have children.
  • Calling Black people who don’t conform to one’s image of Blackness, “less black,” acting white or “oreo.”

AAVE

  • Non-Black People mimicking/imitating AAVE.
  • People falling into AAVE when talking to Black People.
  • “Why don’t Black people speak real English instead of ‘ebonics’?”

Insults/doubting intelligence:

  • You’re so articulate!”
  • You take advanced classes?!”
  • “How did she get into that [prestigious school and/or program]?”
  • “They only got x because they’re Black/Affirmative action.”
  • Assuming a Black person (usually male) attends college because of a sports scholarship.
  • Counselors discouraging Black students to take prestigious coursework, assuming it’s too difficult for them.

 Respectability politics:

  • “You’re a credit to your race.”
  • “I’m glad you’re not like those other Black people. You’re not ghetto or listen to that rap stuff..”
  • Tone policing: dismissing someone’s reaction/argument/etc. because they are too “emotional.” Thinking that we need to be calm in order to be taken seriously.
  • Pitting African immigrants against African Americans, especially those coming to America for education, aka “Good Blacks.”

Beauty Standards and Dating

Fetishization/Othering

  • People asking you what you are or where you’re really from.
  • Referring to Black people or our features as “exotic.”
  • Referring to Black people’s skin as chocolate or other foods.

Black Women/Misogynoir

  • Saying Black women are ”strong, independent and don’t need no man.“
  • Calling Black women ”sassy“ or angry if she shows passion/emotion.
  • Referring to white and non-black women as “girls” and “women” while calling Black women “Females.”
  • [White] males who apply courtesy to white women (holding doors, giving up seat) but don’t apply the same to Black women.
  • Referring to Black women on government assistance as “welfare queens” (While ignoring that white people get more government assistance than Black people in the USA).
  • “Black women All woman are beautiful.” (StopThatPlease.)

Hair.

  • People touching/petting your hair without consent.
  • “So is that your real hair? Are those extensions?”
  • Calling natural black hair unprofessional.
  • White people appropriating Black hair styles (dreads, twists, etc) and being praised as edgy, while it’s “ghetto, unprofessional, and unclean” on our own heads.

Poverty Assumptions:

  • “Do you live in the ghetto?”
  • “Can you afford that?”
  • “Here are the value prices of this product…”

Racial Profiling + Criminalization:

  • Crossing the street to avoid passing Black men/people.
  • Following in stores, assuming Black people are stealing.
  • Moving aside when we pass, clutching purse, locking doors.
  • Asking Black people for I.D. when paying with card (while white people are not asked).
  • Being pulled over + arrested at astonishingly higher rates than white people.

For a fuller understanding of micro aggressions and the effects it has on individuals overtime, please see this: “These incidents may appear small…”

~Mods: Colette and Alice

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Stereotyping Tropes List (TVTropes)

A masterpost of the Stereotyping Tropes from TVtropes.org. This list is identical to the one linked above, save the addition of Indigenous peoples, which was added. Check for the titles with links, as it leads to more pages of tropes. 
For an assortment of other related tropes, some not mentioned here, see “Race Tropes” as well as “Prejudice Tropes.” Advice on handling characters that lean towards harmful portrayals can be found in the tropes & stereotypes tags at writingwithcolor.


General

Africans

African Americans/Black

Americans

Arabs

Asians

Australians

Brits

Canadians

Chinese

Dutch

Eastern Europeans

Europeans

French

Germans

Indians

Indigenous

Irish

Israel

Italians

Japanese

Jewish

Latin Americans

Nordic Countries

Russians

Scots

Spaniards

 

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*Okay, I had to put this up. This is, hands down, the funniest story I read on the internet all week, and this is next to The 15 Blackest Things About The New Black Panther Trailer , that I posted earlier.

Now while you’re reading this, continue to picture giant koi bloop blooping in a pond. They have no idea they’re the partial cause of all the chaos. They just wanna get fed.

I’m like,”Guys, ain’t nobody thinkin’ about y’all right now!”

The Great Flamingo Uprising

(Edited after additional information was obtained from zookeeping cousin)

I told this story to a few guildies a while back and decided to archive it in a longer format; so here is the story of The Great Flamingo Uprising of 2010 as told to me by my favorite cousin who was a keeper at the time.

In addition to the aviary/jungle exhibit, our zoo has several species of birds that pretty much have the run of the place.  They started with a small flock of flamingos and some free-range peacocks that I’m almost certain came from my old piano teacher’s farm.  She preferred them to chickens.  At some point in time they also acquired a pair of white swans (“hellbirds”) and some ornamental asian duckies to decorate the pond next to the picnic area.  Pigeons, crows, assorted ducks and a large number of opportunistic Canada geese moved in on their own.

Now; the ponds that dot the zoo property (I don’t remember how many there are but the one by the picnic area is the only one with swans) were also full of ginormous koi fish, some of whom by now are at least three feet long.  Sensing an opportunity to cash in on the koi, the zoo put up little vending machines all over the place that dispense handfuls of food pellets.  I swear to god the fish can hear the crank turning, and will show up at the nearest railing, blooping expectantly at whoever happens to be standing there and doing their best to appear starving and desperate.

Like this.^  And they weren’t the only ones who learned to associate the sound with the imminent arrival of food.  The Canada geese knew a good deal when they saw one, and had long since ceased to migrate anyway.  They formed roving gangs of thug-geese and staked out their turf around the vending machines, ready to mug anyone with pocket change.  Picture yourself as a small child squaring off with a bird as big as you are fully prepared to strip search you while standing on your feet and yelling “HWAAAAAKK!!” in your face.  It’s deeply traumatizing to you and incredibly hilarious to your parents.

Anyway.

The flamingos had their spot near the zoo entrance and never seemed to mind the presence of the other birds, as they kept themselves to themselves and didn’t really like the taste of fish pellets.  The problem lay in that their shrimp pond was close to a vending machine.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t have been an issue at all, but eventually the goose population grew large enough that one of the gangs decided to annex it.  Being territorial little shits, they would harass the poor flamingos any time they strayed within ten feet of it.  The flamingos tolerated this for years until one day they snapped collectively.  Here’s a summary of the incident in chronological order.

1.) It was a hot day, so everyone in question both human and avian, were cranky by the time the zoo even opened.
2.) A few flamingos (let’s call them The Jets) strayed into the radius of the vending machine and were immediately confronted by the indignant hissing geese (The Sharks)
3.) Possibly due to heat and the simple fact that the geese had been giant douchebags for far too long, the flamingos decided fuck it, this time they were going to FIGHT BACK DAMMIT, and swarmed the geese en masse.
4.) Chaos ensued.  The geese were outnumbered 4 to 1 but had the advantage of being able to scream for back-up.
5.) Hearing the shrieking Canada geese and the bellowing of the enraged flamingos, the peacocks came to the conclusion that the apocalypse had come upon them and began to gather in the surrounding trees in droves and wail in despair.  Or cheer them on, whichever.
6.) NOISE
7.) Apparently one of the siege tactics employed by geese is to shit explosively all over everything.
8.) The geese, having secured reinforcements from all over the zoo, went berserk and proceeded to attack EVERYBODY who had come to watch be they human or otherwise.
9.) The flamingos were chasing/being chased by the geese through the crowd accompanied by cheers/wails from the peacocks in the box seats.
10.) Complete pandemonium when the zoo tram became stalled by the flamingo pond due to battling birds.  The Jets, sensing these were somehow reinforcements on the side of the Sharks, charged the tram.  Adults were doing the duck and cover.  Small children were screaming, adding to the noise.  People were slipping on goose shit and hitting the ground in the fetal position, only to be stampeded by the rampaging flamingos.
11.) The koi continued to bloop hopefully for food.
12.) Two of the geese were cornered by a rival gang of their own and were chased into the swan pond.  Cue slow-motion.
13.) The swans detected an enemy presence in their territory and by god, SOMEBODY was going to PAY.
14.) The staff were having no luck in breaking up the fight and on the verge of giving up and just building another zoo elsewhere when the hellbirds stormed the battlefield, trumpeting battle-cries, to dispense feathered justice.  The staff promptly dropped their brooms and fled.
15.) Birds scattered in all directions.  Up, down, sideways.  Some people not present in the park circle swear a couple of geese flat out teleported into the petting zoo. A few ducks vanished in the chaos, presumably eaten by the swans.
16.) Two of the zookeepers barricaded themselves in the snack bar and refused to come out.
17.) The uprising was squashed in less than two minutes.  Number of casualties was unknown, feathers were flying everywhere and there was enough goose shit to build another bird.  One staff member had been knocked to the ground and was left with a melon sized bruise courtesy of one of the hellbirds.  Several children were traumatized, probably for life.  The zoo eventually removed the vending machine by the flamingos.

The geese went back to being giant douchebags. Because geese*.

Addendum:  Somehow, my aunt D got hold of this story and posted a link along with the comment: “This sounds exactly like our zoo!”
Zookeeping cousin replied: “This was exactly our zoo.”

*I’m really not kidding.  This is a photo, taken at our zoo, of a gorilla being chased by one of the thug geese.

 

*Yeah, the hellbirds came in and broke that whole shit up in two minutes!

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*I’m in agreement with this, really. It would make for some very intersting names:

I think we should make Puritan naming customs cool again, but like, updated to reflect Millenial values. So we can have names like Resistance Jones, Self-Care Williams, and I-Am-Not-Throwing-Away-My-Shot Anderson.

  • I-Will-Face-God-and-Walk-Backwards-Into-Hell Watson
  • Hydrate Mather
  • Healthcare-Is-A-Right-Not-A-Privilege Bradford
  • Body Positivity Watts
  • WTF-the-Fuck Preston
  • Cinnamon Roll Milton
  • Y’all-Need-Jesus Henderson
  • Snape-Was-Not-a-Hero Whitaker
  • Battery Life Wiggins
  • Reblog-If-You-Agree Bolton
  • @Horse_ebooks Humphrey
  • Renewable Moore
  • I-Came-Out-to-Have-a-Good-Time-and-I’m-Honestly-Feeling-So-Attacked-Right-Now Rutherford
  • Representation Hopkins
  • Organic Hurst
  • Money Cat Wallington
  • Fuck-It Wentworth
  • Impeachment Shepard
  • Don’t-Forget-To-Like-And-Subscribe Simpson
  • Consent Pimple
  • I-Bless-the-Rains-Down-in-Africa Woodford
  • Green Hoyle
  • Social Anxiety Travers
  • Kinkshame-Not Bailey

 

Tomorrow: A rare weekend posting. I finished the first part of my Bladerunner review.

Star Trek Discovery

Image result for star trek discovery

So I did watch the first and second episodes of this show, but I won’t be watching any more of them, I guess, because the show sits behind a paywall. In order to watch Discovery in the US you have to subscribe to a streaming channel called CBS All Access, the first week of which is free. Also, I can’t watch this on my TV, because I can’t add any channels to it.  The streaming channels are preset on my DVD player too, so I can only watch it on my Ipad, or at my computer, which is inconvenient for me.

Now, I generally don’t watch network television anyway, that is the top four networks of  Fox, CBS, ABC, and NBC. I don’t watch them because their programming isn’t particularly interesting to me, and I’m extremely wary of liking a show, only to see it get canceled after one season. I’ve been burned waay too many times by  network TV.

I subscribed to CBS All Access, but after scrolling through the shows available on the streaming network, I figured out that I was really just paying for each episode of Star Trek, (like about 2 or 3 bucks an episode, which isn’t bad, but still) and decided to unsubscribe. It’s not a bad price per episode, as the six dollar fee is only once a month, and there are three or four episodes per month, but there is literally nothing else I watch on that network. Maybe later I’ll change my mind, so I can binge watch all eight of them during the hiatus in December.

Star Trek Discovery is a very different show for CBS. They have no track record for diversity, either. In fact most of their lineup seems to consist of  mediocre detective style shows, of which the only interesting one is Elementary (Lucy Liu is a goddess!), which I can watch reruns of anywhere else, including at my library. So basically, Discovery is like nothing else on that network.

After watching the first two episodes, I decided that I did indeed like the show, but I’m going to have to forgo this  pleasure until later. I’m also to understand that the rest of the season will be a whole new animal from the pilot, although from the trailers it still looks  pretty good.

 

 

Image result for star trek discovery ship

 

What I Liked:

Soniqua Martin-Green (Michael Rainsford) naturally  gets a lot of screen time, as the show’s lead. A lot of the episode rests on her shoulders and I feel confident that she is  up to the job. She turned in a very strong performance. I had a few quibbles about some of her character’s decisions during the episode, but the show was suspenseful and compelling, only requiring a little tweaking, for consistency.

I loved everything about Michael and it was a real joy watching her and the captain banter with each other. We don’t get to meet any of the rest of the crew really, and there’s a reason for that. We won’t be seeing any more of them beyond Saru (the alien scientist played by Doug Jones.) Another thing I like is that there is quite a contingent of White women who seem to really like Michael too, and are coming to bat for her.

The only people who seemingly hate the show, and nitpick every single tiny detail, so as to do so, appear to be White men, and I expected as much from the ones online, because they stay disappointing me on the regular. (Its funny! The real life White guys are know are some of the nicest, most considerate people. Are they even the same species  as the ones online?)

The plot of the first two episodes is basically background stuff for Michael’s character for the rest of the season. We’re introduced to the person she was so we can get to know and understand the person she will be. Michael is orphaned during a Klingon attack on an outpost and is adopted by James Frain’s Sarek. (You may remember Frain as the vampire who was obsessed Tara Thornton in the show True Blood.) I like Frain’s version of Sarek. I liked the other versions too, but Frain’s version seems less stiff and formal. He seems like the type of man who is just very used to being comfortable around humans, while still remaining uncompromisingly Vulcan. My favorite moment is him whispering “Behave!” to his young charge just before he leaves her alone with Gheorghiu, because that’s such a ‘parent- type’ thing to do, (This is the kind of behavior he might well have learned from raising his spirited, half human son.)

I liked that the show isn’t filmed in quite the same way as other Trek shows. For one thing, we get flashbacks to Michael’s upbringing on Vulcan, and I wish we’d had more of those, rather than showcasing the Klingons. In one of the first flashbacks we see her as a child having a moment of PTSD in one of the learning pods, and witness Sarek’s reaction to her.

Image result for star trek discovery

I have to admit I have never been a fan of the Klingons. I’m simply not now, nor ever have been, impressed by their existence, language, culture, any of it. So I didn’t particularly enjoy having to look at the Klingons for half the episode. What made them even more annoying was that their makeup was hard to look at, and they were difficult to understand, and not just because they were speaking their native tongue. They sounded like  people speaking through masks, and quite frankly,  a Klingon with a lisp is not scary. (Plus, they all spoke very slowly, as if they had all suffered  recent head injuries.)

Klingons have always been “coded”as Black people and I don’t really have a problem with that. My problem is with their depiction as one of the more violent races on Star Trek. On the other hand, the show does have a very good track record for giving them depth and making them likable, and sympathetic characters, the most notable one being Worf from STNG. Now there is an element of colorism involved in their depiction, as there is a Klingon with albinism, who seems to have to prove himself to be more Klingon then all the others, after being kicked out of his family. I’m reminded of the discrimination of albinos in certain parts of Africa, but I don’t know that this calls back to that or not.

I liked the Klingon  costumes, though. The costumes had this beautiful Elizabethan look that just kinda suited them. I liked all the costumes in the show really, and I liked all the tech stuff that Trek is famous for. This is an extremely pretty show, that’s just nice to look at. The color scheme and design reminds me of DS9, and the Federation outfits seem almost Bajoran. Well, Bajoran with lots of bling, and I like bling, so that didn’t bother me. That’s probably  due to Fuller’s influence since DS9 was the last Trek show he worked on.

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Michael joins the crew of the Shenzhou with Michelle Yeoh’s  Captain Phillipa Gheorghiu. I loved the relationship between these two women and hope to see that replicated in later episodes, because showing that type of rapport and mentorship between women is important. After Michael encounters and kills a Klingon (a race of people that the federation had not had contact with in some 100 years), on Sarek’s advice, she argues that the Shenzhou should fire on the Klingon ship, to show greater strength, hence the name of the episode, The Vulcan Hello. Gheorghiu disagrees with her and Michael gives her the Vulcan Sleeper Pinch, and takes over the bridge.

When Gheorghiu gets back on the bridge, her Federation backup has arrived, but because she still refuses to fire on the Klingons, even though their backup arrived first, this starts a skirmish in which the Federation loses. Michael, who has been stashed in the brig during this fight, manages to escape just before her imminent death, by logicking at the computer. She goes back to the bridge and proposes the idea of capturing the Klingon leader, so as not to make him a martyr. Michael and Gheorghiu board the Klingon ship,  but their attempt to capture the Klingon leader (T’Kuvma) is unsuccessful, and Gheorghiu is killed.

At the end of episode two, Michael is convicted of assaulting her captain, mutiny,  (and exacerbating an already tense  situation). The rest of the season is her (and Jason Isaac’s Captain Lorca) dealing with the aftermath of her conviction.

During the standoff between the two women, Michael makes a bunch of emotional decisions, but she’s been raised on Vulcan and has never dealt with the PTSD of what happened to her as a child, so she has not learned how to handle her emotions in an environment with a lot of other emotional issues. Well, she doesnt seem to have learned, and this incident is a direct callback to a highly personal event that she’s never had to think about while safe on Vulcan.

She seems to be having difficulty telling the difference between decisions she makes through logic, and ones made through emotions, which makes her a wonderfully complex character. I’m interested to see how she grows and changes throughout the season, and I hope the writers don’t pull a Sleepy Hollow, and sideline her in favor of Captain Lorca. This first season should be all about Michael and her journey. Later, we can get more  into the stories of the other characters.

I loved the special effects, even if I didn’t like the makeup on the Klingons. The transporter effect looks a little different and Gheorghiu explains that it’s because the Shenzhou is using older technology.

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Doug Jones (you may remember him as Hellboy’s Abe Sapien) has great makeup, but those stilt things he has to walk around on look deeply uncomfortable, and I worried that his feet hurt, even though surely, he must be used to that sort of thing. I liked the character too and enjoyed the rapport between him and Michael. It reminded me of the threesome from the original show.

 

Things I Could’ve Done Without

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As I said, I hated the Klingon makeup, not because I thought it was especially bad, but because they all look like they’re trying to talk through Kabuki masks. I’m used to Klingons looking expressive, and their faces (the makeup) makes that impossible. Another thing I don’t particularly care for with Klingons is all the group yelling. I’ve always found that annoying.

I wish they would’ve shown more of Michael’s background, as I could’ve used a lot less of the Klingons, and I also get the impression that the people who wrote this show don’t understand Klingons very well. I understood their reasons for attacking the federation but those reasons still were not well articulated for me.

I think they could have ditched the ten minute prologue  of Michael and Gheorghiu on the desert planet. It was a cute scene, that introduces the two characters and the nature of their relationship, but ultimately it was unnecessary. That was made clear when the two of them first met, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of that first meeting. Or they could have done away with the first two episodes altogether and just jumped right into Michael’s new life, and new captain, for the rest of the season. The plot feels like a bait and switch and I didn’t like that, although I understand that Gheorghiu will be making plenty of cameos in the form of flashbacks, so the show began as it means to go on. Its flashbacks all the way in.

There wasn’t a lot I disliked  about the show itself, and I think the show is really worth watching. Part of me hopes it succeeds but as I said i’m probably not going to be watching it because I don’t want to pay for it. Apparently a lot of other people feel the same way because I heard it’s one of the most pirated shows online. I’m not going to pirate the show, but maybe I’ll sign up later.

You’re probably going to see a lot of comparisons between this show, and another one called The Orville, led by Seth MCFarlane from Family Guy. If you’re lookng for something like Star Trek, but a little lighter, than the Orville is your show. In the last episode I saw, things got just a bit heavy, dealing with the issue of gender change, in an interesting way, and I think it was handled well, (but it would be up to transgender people to say whether or not it was actually handled well).

The first couple of episodes are an odd blend of seriousness and humor. Now, I don’t watch Family Guy, because I don’t find the  show not particularly funny. McFarlane’s dudebro humor doesn’t mesh well with mine, but The Orville is a different side of McFarlane. He wants to be taken seriously as both a comedian and a showrunner and it shows. The show still doesn’t know whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama, but once it figures that out, it can be a really good show, and I actually enjoyed watching it. The humor is scattered all over the place, but its not raunchy or especially offensive, if that’s your worry.

The closest comparison would be Galaxy Quest, (although it’s less funny), as the show is very obviously a love letter to Star Trek, if a somewhat irreverant one. The show still needs some  degree of tweaking, but it’s not a bad show. And I hate to say it, but it’s a lot more fun than Discovery. Discovery is a heavy show with very little humor, and although I enjoyed it, it’s a very different type of show than The Orville. The two don’t really compare, inasmuch as they are both offshoots of Star Trek.

So for those of you who can’t get your Trek fix, I think The Orville is a good enough substitute, and this is coming from an OG Trekkie, who also loves Galaxy Quest.

Bladerunner Blackout 2022

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The third prequel  short based on the movie Bladerunner 2049 has just been released. It’s my understanding that it’s not necessary to have watched these shorts to understand the movie. They’re more along the lines of extras on a DVD, but just like with The Animatrix, I hope they make more of them and collect them all into an anthology.

Here, in chronological order, are :

Bladerunner 2022: Blackout

 

Bladerunner 2036: Nexus Dawn

 

 

Bladerunner 2048: Nowhere to Run

 

And for those of your still interested in the world of Bladerunner, the writer K.W.Jeter, wrote a trilogy based on the original film back in the  nineties, which I enjoyed.

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Blade Runner Sequels

 

 

And finally the Philip K Dick book at the foundation of all this wonderful eye candy:

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Things We’re talking About This Week

Oh, hello there! Hi! Have some movie trailers and other assorted goodness. This first one is an awesome mashup of all the best fight scenes from the MCU, titled Battle Royale, and I just geeked out when I saw it. It’s almost as good as the Black Panther trailer:

 

*And here are some new martial arts movies to look forward to. I don’t usually rec such movies, I just like what I like, but I’m going to start, because I get really excited to hear about them, and the point of this blog is to share that kind of excitement with you.

I am really excited about this movie because I used to read the manga. I never entirely understood it, because the character relationships were often convoluted (at least to me) but I loved the premise, and the lead character, who was a total badass, and this movie seems to have captured at least a little of that here. Also, I’m a huge Takashi Miike fan. He’s very gory, but I will pretty much watch anything he makes:

 

Jackie Chan has a new movie coming out that looks like a mashup of  Mission Impossible and what Ghost in the Shell should have been. I really want to see this one because it makes Jackie look totally badass. I don’t think this movie is meant to be funny, and not just because it has the word Steel in the title:

 

I love Wushu fantasy movies and this one looks like fun. (If you like this one then you also need to check out the Detective Dee movies on Netflix, and Amazon. I used to read the Detective Dee books when I was a teen, and I like the movies.)  This movie reminds me of the Chinese action movies of the 80s, like Ghost Story:

 

 

*So, this thing happened, where an anonymous casting director made a comment about the reason Asians don’t get cast in movies. Apparently, they’re not expressive enough!

After Someone Said Asians Weren’t Expressive, People Created The Hashtag #ExpressiveAsians To Prove Them Wrong

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/09/bias-does-not-come-out-with-the-whitewash.html

*I don’t know. Asian people do appear to have faces. I’ve seen them. I’ve been looking at them in  real life and in movies for a few decades now, and I’ve always been able to discern what emotions were being expressed, just by looking at them, but apparently this person has a problem doing that, to which I can only say:

Image result for fuck off meme

Now I’ve been saying that Hollywood’s antipathy against hiring Asian Americans, to actually play Asian characters, was becoming creepily apparent to even the most oblivious people, and here’s my receipt. Naturally, Asian Americans had something to say about this level of wtf*ery:

Hollywood Won’t Adapt Bestselling Novel Because They Refuse to Cast an Asian Lead

https://nextshark.com/michael-lewis-flash-boys-hollywood-refises-to-cast-asian-lead/

 

the issue isn’t Asians looking inscrutable and mysterious. it’s the laziness of white people.

  pic.twitter.com/Ju6fbwV1JH

 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/krishrach/someone-said-asians-werent-expressive-so-people-showed-of?utm_term=.naX3QlDW0#.hpnxd6zAJ

*C’mon!You knew somebody was gonna throw some Iron Fist shade:

Never forget Iron Fist….

‘Asians are not very expressive, lol let’s make Steven Seagal an martial arts action hero.’ 

Some used the opportunity to highlight actors who may have been overlooked by Western audiences.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Tony Leung can express more complex emotions with just his eyes than many Western actors can with their whole bodies. 

 *And Scarlett Johansson got some shade thrown her way, too:

*Okay, is it petty for me to be enjoying all this sass, from Asian Americans on social media, who have been emboldened to speak out on their oppression and erasure? I suspect Black Twitter has been a bad influence on a lot of people.

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*I like how this person brings it full circle, on how racist stereotypes play out in fandoms, not just towards Black characters but towards all characters of color. It’s important to be aware of the existence of various tropes and stereotypes, so that you can recognize when they’re being employed against various characters. Its been said, over, and over again, that fandom does not exist in a vacuum. When you consume entertainment media of any kind, you’re also consuming racial narratives as well, which are going to play out in whatever you produce in how you think of the characters of color and whatever you produce about them.

How “Malec” (the canon couple of Alec, a White character, and Magnus, an Asian character, from the show Shadowhunters) is being portrayed in the fandom, bears a number of racist markers that people have been consuming for decades. One of these is the Madame Butterfly trope.

I think one of  the most obvious recent examples of the Madame Butterfly trope,  is a scene from the movie Watchmen, where the Comedian is confronted by a pregnant Vietnamese woman, who charges him to take care of his child. He murders her instead, because she refused to be quietly submissive, and languish for his attention.

So, there are some hardcore anti-Malec people out there that keep clogging the tags with their “deep activist” meta where they basically invent fake!SJ reasons why Malec is “problematic” and why their white ship with Alec (for example J@lec) is a lot more “wholesome”, a lot more “passionate” and “believable” ship.

The funniest thing about them is that while they smugly juggle with the SJ arguments [pretending to fight racism and homophobia] they use the grossest Anti-Asian stereotypes against Magnus while trying to prove their point.

On one hand, there those, who villainize Magnus at every turn, and claim that Alec is “suffering” in a “problematic” relationship because Magnus is a “manipulative predator”, a “bad Bi rep”, who basically “preys” on Alec’s whiteinnocence and “abuses” Alec at every turn. And, yeah, these people don’t see Magnus, when they watch the show, they see a Fu Manchu, “the Yellow Peril incarnate”.

On the other hand there are anti-Malec people, who want to “free” Magnus from his “toxic” relationship. It’s a fascinating sight, really, because there are tons of meta, headcanons and fics where people  envision Alec as being constantly cruel and selfish; this version of Alec is a cynical emotional sadist, who tortures Magnus by being with him, by using him, but never truly reciprocating Magnus’ feelings in return. These people see Alec as being “cold” and “uncaring” even in his most intimate scenes with Magnus. They don’t believe Alec’s own words when he constantly confesses his love to Magnus.

There’s a series of meta posts and gifsets “proving” how “detached” Alec is with Magnus, claiming that Alec is in a relationship with Magnus only because Jace is unavailable, but Alec would’ve thrown Magnus under the bus the first minute Jace showed any romantic interest in him. These J@lec / anti-Malec people see Magnus as nothing more than a “prop” to Alec – an endlessly suffering victim with zero agency. The poor soul that deserves pity… but never love.

That is not canon Alec of course. And neither that is Magnus portrayed by Harry. If one sees Magnus as nothing more than a “prop” to Alec, then they’ve clearly been zoning off on all of Magnus’ scenes in s2. The thing is that this fanon vision of “toxic”, “one-sided” Malec is basically a summary for the Madama Butterfly opera.

This perception of Magnus being the “silent infantile victim” stems from a very popular anti-Asian stereotype – “China Doll”. Along with the “Dragon Lady” (a female version of “Fu Manchu”) this is a racist stereotype of East and Southeast Asian women that had been perpetuated by Western media and fiction for ages, for years this trope had been exploited in Hollywood movies. And considering that emasculation and feminization of Asian men is still a big thing in Western society and media, it’s not surprising that the fandom is also constantly emasculating and feminizing Magnus.

You infantilize a woman, and she becomes eroticized. You infantilize a man, and he becomes emasculated. You infantilize a baby – and it’s possible, it appears that you can infantilize a baby even more. The [Asian] babies need to be cuter than white babies. And it’s just a weird thing that I felt like said something about mainstream America’s relationship to Asians in general.
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John Cho (c)

Madama Butterfly” is one of the versions of China Doll stereotype. It’s an opera in three acts (first premiere in 1904) by Giacomo Puccini. It is the story of a Japanese maiden (Cio-Cio San), who falls in love with and marries a white American navy lieutenant named Pinkerton. Pinkerton is marrying for convenience, since he intends to leave Cio-Cio San once he finds a proper American wife. After the officer leaves her to continue his naval service away from Japan, Cio-Cio San gives birth to their child. Cio-Cio San blissfully awaits Pinkerton’s return, unaware that he had not considered himself bound by his Japanese marriage to a Japanese woman. When Pinkerton arrives back in Japan with an American wife in tow and discovered that he has a child by Cio-Cio San, he proposes to take the child to be raised in America by himself and his American wife. The heartbroken Japanese girl bids farewell to her callous lover, then kills herself.

It is the most-performed opera in the United States, and it’s been hugely popular all over the world. It has numerous incarnations in Western media, pop culture, literature. The one of the modern versions of the opera is the musical “Miss Saigon”. This popularity of the trope only helps to perpetuate the notion of the dominant white male over the subjugated East Asian [female] who can be cast aside and treated as easily dispensable. (x)

So, yes, when hardcore anti-Malec people are interpreting Malec as loveless / passionless relationship, with Magnus being an endlessly suffering victim and Alec as a cold and heartless abuser, just waiting for a chance to discard Magnus aside [for a white guy Jace], they are seeing a Madama Butterfly scenario. A dated racist anti-Asian stereotype.

Madama Butterfly was first staged in 1904. It was a story showing that races can’t mix. A story saying that interracial relationships are “dirty”, and are always doomed because a white person (man) cannot really love a person of color (in this case an Asian person/ woman) because a white person (man) is superior and needs to find an “equal” (i.e. another white person). It’s a story telling that a white hero will always choose his own kind, and that a non-white person is only good for “fun” but doesn’t deserve to be loved in return. The love of a white hero is only reserved for another white person.

If that’s how people see and interpret Malec it speaks volumes. And not about the canon narrative, but about these people and their worldview.

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With all that said, Daniel Dae Kim (my future ex-husband) has been cast in the role of Ben Daimio in the new Hellboy movie, in the role vacated by the actor Ed Skrein, in protest of whitewashing. This is a movie I have no intention of seeing, (despite that fact that my bae is in it), because Guillermo Del Toro’s version of Hellboy was absolute perfection, and you simply cannot improve on perfection.

But this casting of Daniel is still not without some controversy.  It’s definitely better than casting a White guy, and people like Kim, but the argument now is that Asian Americans are not interchangeable. The term Asian encompasses many different cultures. Daniel Dae Kim is Korean, and the character he’ll be playing is Japanese. If the character calls for Japanese, then a Japanese (American) person should have been cast, but I guess we’ll settle for this because when it comes to Hollywood, “baby steps”.

Daniel Dae Kim to Replace Ed Skrein in ‘Hellboy’ Reboot

Daniel Dae Kim Hellboy
Daniel Dae Kim is in talks to replace Ed Skrein in Lionsgate’s “Hellboy” reboot starring David Harbour.

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Various observances from Tumblr that I feel deserve closer attention, like this very important Chris vs. Tom discussion:

think it’s about time we stop making jokes about the amount of famous white boys named Chris, and about time we started focusing on Tom. Am I talking about Cruise? Hiddleston? Hardy? Holland? Hanks? Felton? Fletcher? Selleck? Welling? Ford? Hooper? Brady? It’s impossible to tell because apparently half the male population are called Tom.

kinghardy nicetrytopredictme

This post implies any Tom besides Tom Hardy matters and that is simply untrue.

 

scallywagsandseamonsters iamnotsebastianstan

Can I add Tom Burke, Tom Hollander, Tom Ellis? And what about Dave?! Dave Grohl, David Beckham, David Boreanaz, David Schwimmer, David Duchovny.

3fluffies raina16

Marvel does seem to be gathering all Toms to them, maybe because they’ve hit critical mass of Chrises.

azrieldoestheater

the toms simply haven’t amassed the same kind of raw power as the chrises. it’s just not the same

blunderpuff

you can tell any two Toms apart tho– put 2 Chrises next to each other, and it’s like… is that the same guy in two different outfits?????

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*And this discussion about environmental conditions in the US right now:

what the fuck is going on between poseidon and zeus right now

 

“Eyes the half of the continent that’s on fire”

Hephaestus can chill too TBH.

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Oh, and this newest edition of the Target Chronicles. Now, if only someone would start one for Walmart because I just know that’s gonna be crazy. I’ve only ever been in a Target store maybe three times in my life, because its just not my go-to store, but I imagine the stories from there can’t be any worse than stories from any other department store.
Image result for target worker
Day One Hundred And Forty-Two

-Tonight, I was asked to work guest services. Upon reaching the desk, I was handed a large tub containing boxes of “Farewell Dandelion” crayons to hand out to the children. My powers grow stronger still.

-I overheard a woman remark, “As a nurse, it is my opinion that being in a car crash would be both scary and somewhat painful.” As a human who experiences emotions somewhat normally, I concur.

-A mysterious woman with a mysterious purpose entered the store. She told me that she wished to give my manager of letter, content and reason unknown. She insisted upon delivering it herself to avoid the attention of unwanted eyes. I can only hope to one day be a part of such ominous goings-on as have gone on before me tonight.

-Halloween merchandise has arrived, and with it, the canned screams of skeletons and witches echoing down the aisles. I could not be more elated.

-A young boy, perhaps six or seven years of age, excitedly ran through the dollar section, digging around and eventually adorning himself with a pointed black witch’s cap and a tutu as pink and frilly as could be. He was delighted by his outfit, but his delight was nothing compared to his mother’s delight, and his mother’s delight was nothing compared to mine.

-A woman approached the service desk to tell me in a hushed voice that there was a dog outside. She then raised her eyebrows, gave me a knowing look, and walked away. This is precisely the kind of informant I need in my life.

-I processed a return for an elderly woman who was distressed that her new digital thermometer would only display the same numbers with no change. Unsure of how to tell her that she had yet to remove the sticker on the screen, I gladly gave her a refund and sent her on her way.

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*Here are a couple of articles from Black Nerd Problems addressing the idea of the CW show Arrow, making plans to do a BLM oriented episode, (NOPE!) when they don’t have a great track record of dealing with serious subjects, and about how the show The Defenders just wasn’t all that.

Image result for defenders

http://blacknerdproblems.com/arrow-black-lives-matter-episode-can-keep/

http://blacknerdproblems.com/3-reasons-the-defenders-isnt-must-binge-tv/