13 Great Comic Books For Halloween

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

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

 

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

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

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

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

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

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The Nocturnals (The Gunwitch) by Dan Brereton

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

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Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin

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

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

 

Constantine Hellbalzer: All His Engines by Mike Carey

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

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Spiral/Uzumaki by Junji Ito

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

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Enormous by Tim Daniel

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

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

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Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse by Ben Templesmith

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

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The Goon Series by Eric Powell

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

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Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing

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

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Shaolin Cowboy by Geof Darrow

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

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Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Aliens Salvation by Dave Gibbons

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

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann

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

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Gyo by Junji Ito

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

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Hillbilly by Eric Powell

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

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Neonomicon by Alan Moore

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

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Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs

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

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These Shows Look Exciting

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

Wolf Creek Season 2 – Dec. 15th/?

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

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

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

We’ll see.

Good Omens – 2019/ Amazon/BBC

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

The Passage – 2019/Fox

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

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

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

Titans – DCEU Streaming/Today

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

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

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

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

Siren – Jan. 2019/Freeform

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

Daredevil Season 3 – Oct. 19th/Netflix

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

American Gods Season 2 – 2019/Starz

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

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

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

TV

Dr Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supernatural

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

Charmed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Lightning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Mercedes

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

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

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

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

Mr. Inbetween

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

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

The Devil Went Down To The Crossroads

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

 

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

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

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

Image result for black shuck gif

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Angelheart is available on Hulu.

 

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

This is available on Youtube.

 

 

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

(The full movie is available on Youtube.)

 

 

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

Other Faustian Bargain films to Watch for Halloween:

Rosemary’s Baby

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Ghost Rider

Spawn

Devil’s Advocate

The Witches of Eastwick

Constantine

 

Finally here, have some more Robert Johnson:

October Is Here!

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

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

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

 

Tinglewood

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

 

 

 

Mannequin

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

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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

 

 

 

The Monster Under My Bed

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

 

 

 

Battleground

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

 

 

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

 

The Ritual

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

 

Radius

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

 

The Monster

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

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

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

 

Seoul Station

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

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

 

 

 

 

Topics For Discussion (Weekend Edition)

Image result for burning sneakers

I don’t know if I’m a smart person. I’ve been told by various individuals that I am, (my brother would refer to me as a forgetful bobblehead), but I have spent my whole life trying to find out as much about the world as I can. To know as much as I can find out. So, to see the world descending into the real life version of the movie Idiocracy, is incredibly galling. I watched that movie a couple of years ago, thinking it would just be a stupid comedy, but I had a real emotional reaction to watching a movie about the decline of the human mind into… well, whatever that was in the movie, and I had to stop watching it, about halfway through. If you have never seen that movie, and your head contains brain cells that work, BY ALL THAT IS HOLY, DO NOT WATCH IT!!!! That will only end in tears.

Watching that movie will eliminate any and all faith that you had in humanity, and send you into a hell of depression and anger, as you recognize which version of the universe we are all now living in. People destroying property they have already bought, in protest of some corporate disfavor, is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse.

And don’t think this is just a problem of the Right. The Left has engaged in this sort of thing as well. Its the kind of behavior that people engage in when they have perhaps heard of protesting but aren’t quite sure how the process works.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/from-nike-to-keurig-conservatives-keep-blowing-up-things-they-bought-to-own-libs?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

The stunts aren’t really boycotts at all, but attempts to channel political impotence through consumption. One American can’t change much with a vote, but she can easily set fire to her sneakers, in accordance with her political leanings.

 

 

 

Actually this article was both terrifying and hilarious. Also, it really just cements the idea in my head that bigots are people who simply lack any real imagination. Such people cannot imagine the world in any other  way other than one where they aren’t masters of everyone else in it. The only dynamic they seem to be able to  understand is one in which they are dominated by some other group, (which utterly terrifies them), or they dominate everyone else (which largely consists of bullying, terrorizing, and murdering those others.)

Being an effective artist, (especially a writer), capable of expressing nuanced ideas, requires a level of self examination, and people-knowledge that such bigots are wholly ignorant of. It requires an understanding of complexity. Anything that comes out of their imagination can only be simplistic, often appropriated from elsewhere, or pulled from their truncated understanding of  how the world works. They don’t know enough about people to write them well. They don’t know enough about the world to be able to imagine it in any  way  outside of their terror of it. These stories are full of the authors imagining the worst for stand-up, straight, morally righteous, White people, like themselves, or the worst for everyone else.

 

 

If you visit the website, linked in the article, you will have to sit there for quite a while. The author says he managed to sit through 19 minutes of it and couldn’t fastforward, go back, or pause. If you leave the site, you will just have to start  at the beginning, watching you don’t know how many minutes of a montage of videos illustrating the White Savior narrative in movies. There’s a part of me that finds that deeply funny.

Image result for avatar

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/terence-nances-whitepeoplewontsaveyou-org-and-the-never-1828809698

The Blind Side is just one of many white-savior films Terence Nance skewers on his sublime WhitePeopleWontSaveYou.org—a website that just plays scenes from them on an endless loop while a chorus sings “White people won’t save you.” Also, the website doesn’t allow you to pause, rewind or fast forward. You just have to sit and watch and wonder when it ends. (I watched 19 minutes of it last night, so I know it’s at least that long.)

 

 

This article asks the age old question: Why don’t people ride bikes during or after the apocalypse? The answer is that’s something that only works in books, and looks a lot less cool than wearing BDSM gear on a motorcycle. We are so used to the Mad Max version of the the end of the world, I think we would have a hard time grasping the image  of people riding bikes during it.

We Westerners also  seem to think that that would be a global phenomenon, too. It just  occurred to me that huge parts of Asia would not be entirely up-heaved by the end of the world. People in Japan, India, and China already regularly use bicycles right now.

Image result for bicycles

https://www.thedailybeast.com/where-are-the-bicycles-in-post-apocalyptic-fiction

Bicycles don’t break their legs, they don’t need to be fed, and on a modern road, their gait is a lot smoother. The bicycle was a radical transportation breakthrough, especially when combined with the paved road, which is why millions and millions of people in poor countries still use them.

 

 

 

Image result for bright

This article discusses how science fiction gets racial allegories wrong. The writer points  out how the people being feared and despised by the populace  (mutants, aliens,  orcs), are almost always given enough power that  makes the fear of them entirely justified. Racial allegories written by White writers really just end up justifying real world racism. Basically saying, it’s okay to police the bodies of Black and Brown people because they really are dangerous to the dominant group. This was the major problem with the movie Bright.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-cringe-worthy-way-sci-fi-fantasy-deal-with-prejudice/

So, in the least-racist way you can, please imagine black people are hideous violent monsters who are physically stronger than humans and have large protruding fangs. Then understand in your kind human heart that we should accept these hideous monsters as equal to us normal, beautiful humans.

 

 

 

I thought this was especially interesting. One of the reasons I didn’t make any effort to watch Crazy Rich Asians is not just because I’m not a fan of romantic comedies, but because of the presence of Awkwafina, a female Asian rapper, who traffics in the usual tired appropriation of whatever African American tropes are floating around in her head.  She needs to find a way to express herself that does not involve stereotypes of Black culture.

I have met (and befriended) both Asian Americans, and White people, who grew up in Black culture. They lived in the ‘hood, went to school with Black kids, and all their friends were Black. They dressed, spoke, and acted just like the Black Americans around them. I do not think this is what’s happened in the case of Awkwafina. Is this some form of minstrelsy when engaged in by Asian Americans, and what does it say about them, as a group, that they  feel a need to choose between being Black or White?

Image result for awkwafina

 

https://www.colorlines.com/articles/performing-blackness-wont-fill-our-asian-american-culture-deficit-op-ed

“If first-generation White European immigrants…could use minstrelsy…to not only ensure their status as White people, but also to distance themselves from Black people, can Asian Americans use hip hop (the music, clothing, language and gestures, sans charcoal makeup), and everything it signifies to also assert their dominance over Black bodies, rather than their allegiance to Black liberation?”

 

 

 

 

Image result for n k jemisin

The people fighting against diversity in publishing are fighting a lost battle, I think. The Hugo Awards are probably trolling the Alt- Right at this point.

https://www.vox.com/2018/8/21/17763260/n-k-jemisin-hugo-awards-broken-earth-sad-puppies

But as we’ve also seen, these pushes for social change have led to backlash tinged with racism and misogyny — most notably through Gamergate, the unfortunate 2014 movement that essentially underpinned the rise of the alt-right, codified harassment campaigns against women and people of color for years, and helped give rise to the ideological polarization of the internet.

 

 

I’m always fascinated by the ideological differences between Eastern and Western approaches to technology. This article reminds me that I’ve seen very few movies and TV shows out of the East that make robots the bad guys. I’m sure there are some, but none come to mind for me. Asians have a very different approach to thinking about technology, than Westerners do. For Asian people robots and AI are friends, or allies, or happy tools that perform specific purposes. For Westerners (i.e. White people) there’s a tendency to think of robots as rivals, or enemies.

Image result for robots

https://www.wired.com/story/ideas-joi-ito-robot-overlords/

Technology is now at a point where we need to start thinking about what, if any, rights robots deserve and how to codify and enforce those rights. Simply imagining that our relationships with robots will be like those of the human characters in Star Wars with C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 is naive.

 

 

This article is about how music (and musical styles) have degraded over the years. I still say that the 20th century was the time of the Great Vocalists, and although there are people who are good vocalists today, that an unprecedented number of them were born in the last century, and we will probably not see something like that again, (unless its an era that repeats itself later this century).

Article Image

https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/tragic-decline-music-literacy-and-quality

Music electronics are another aspect of musical decline as the many untalented people we hear on the radio can’t live without autotune. Autotune artificially stretches or slurs sounds in order to get it closer to center pitch. Many of today’s pop musicians and rappers could not survive without autotune, which has become a sort of musical training wheels. But unlike a five-year-old riding a bike, they never take the training wheels off to mature into a better musician.

 

 

 

Image result for natural hair

An interesting article about what it’s like to navigate an environment in which your hair is a source of fascination and political rebellion. I started wearing my hair in its natural state about three, maybe four, years ago, not for political reasons, but because I got tired of trying to keep it straight. None of the White people I know has evinced an ounce of interest in my hair. So far they are keeping silent about their thoughts. Black people however are willing to ascribe all manner of political motivations to me wearing my hair the way it just grows out of my head.

Even in Africa, Black people are fighting battles about how and where they can wear their natural hair.

https://qz.com/africa/1215070/black-hair-myths-from-slavery-to-colonialism-school-rules-and-good-hair/

This is one of the first dilemmas that black people face: do I let people touch my hair and under what circumstances? The question, “can I touch it?” becomes one of the most awkward social moments and can break relationships before they even start.

 

 

This was the topic that got to me though. Mostly I was just intensely baffled by it. The very first image that came to my mind was a scene from the book World War Z. There’s a chapter where one of the interviewees describes something called “Quislings”. He says its a French word for turncoat or something like that. Well, anyway he says that certain types of people ,when confronted with some emotionally overwhelming horror, try to appease that horror by becoming it, and that’s what quislings were trying to do, by pretending to be zombies. Of course, the zombies know they’re not zombies and promptly ate them. He describes a scene where zombies ate a quisling, but the person was so wrapped up in the delusion of being a zombie, that they were eaten alive while not making a sound, still pretending to the end.

Make of that description what thou wilt.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-young-men-of-color-are-joining-white-supremacist-groups

Tarrio and other people of color at the far-right rallies claim institutional racism no longer exists in America. In their view, blacks are to blame for any lingering inequality because they are dependent on welfare, lack strong leadership, and believe Democrats who tell them “You’re always going to be broke. You’re not going to make it in society because of institutional racism,” as one mixed-race man put it.

Fall Watch List 2018

There’s not really a lot of network TV that I’m looking forward to this Fall. There are some interesting shows on cable and streaming, though, and there’s some mid season releases I’m looking toward.

Sept. 4th

I have not watched the show that this one is a spinoff for, but I don’t care. I remember saying I couldn’t get into shows about Bikers because I know too much about actual Bikers, and the ones on TV are really just too damned pretty to be believable as a Biker Gang. The same is true here, but I’m gonna watch this anyway, even though I generally avoid watching shows that are about PoC committing crime.

The Mayans (FX)

 

Sept. 7th

I’m gon try this one mo’ agin! The trailer doesn’t look promising. In fact I’m expecting a certain level of racist wtf*ery anyway, but I’m gonna try to like it, if only because Colleen and Misty play such prominent roles. I’m probably never gonna like Danny Rand or the actor that plays him, but I can tolerate him, because I am a strong black woman!

Iron Fist (Netflix)

 

Sept. 12th

I skipped last season of this show because it was hitting too close to home, but I’ll try to watch this season, even though I skipped the very first season of AHS, too, which this is based on. It looks good though.

I’m moving away from in-depth episode reviews, unless it’s a show I’m super enthusiastic about, (like anything by Bryan Fuller). Some shows that are classed as being mildly interesting just won’t get that sort of treatment, but I will review as many season  premieres as I can.

American Horror Story (FX)

Sept. 21st 

I have no idea what this is about, and I am not a fan of either Emma Stone or Jonah Hill, considering them to be the blandest, most colorless actors that anyone could have chosen for these roles, but the premise looks mysterious, and mildly intriguing, in a science-fictiony kinda way, so I’m gonna watch it.

Maniac (Netflix)

Sept. 28th

This stars Jeffrey Wright traipsing through the wilderness, and some wolves, and that’s really all that’s needed to grab my attention, but the creators decided to add Alexander Skarsgard, who I’ve been in love with since True Blood, and now I’m committed. (It is possible after watching this I’ll  be committed, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Hold the Dark

 

 

 

Oct. 5th

I couldn’t find a trailer for this, but I know it’s out there. Somewhere. The synopsis sounded as interesting as the title, so…

Into the Dark (HULU)

 

 

Oct. 7

I’m kinda off zombie shows, but this may be the last season to see Michonne get her kill on, and watch her and Rick canoodling. I plan to skip any and every episode that features Negan. I’ve  had about quite enough of him. I’m not super enthused about this season considering how the last episode ended. I’m not a particularly enthusiastic Maggie fan. She’s okay, but I suspect she’s going to be the next person I get really tired of seeing.

Oh, and I also have to keep watching to determine if Jesus is, in fact, as gay as I suspect he may be!

(Sorry for all the unnecessary bolding  above, but I’m too tired, and lazy, to undo it on this iPad. You’ll just have to turn down the volume on your computer.)

The Walking Dead (FX)

Oct. 9th

I don’t know why people are waiting so long to give us a trailer for this new season. I haven’t seen one yet, but when I find it, I will post it, forthwith!

Black Lightning (CW)

 

 

Oct. 11th

Well yeah….

Supernatural (CW)

 

 

Oct. 14th

I don’t know what to think or feel about this show yet.  I hated the original, but this one doesn’t inspire a great deal of enthusiasm either. I will watch it because I want it to have the support, especially after the fans of the original showed their racist asses about this casting, and hey, Mermaids turned out to be okay, so why not give this a try. Hopefully the magic represented on the show will have some elements of the ethnic backgrounds of the characters, instead of the usual European, colored lights styles, seen all over most of TV.

Charmed (CW)

 

Oct. 22

I’m watching this new season because the trailer is ridiculous, and I think Constantine is still visiting the gang. I do have this vague fear that this trailer I put up may be for last season, though, as my punishment for skimming those episodes.

Legends of Tomorrow (CW)

Oct. 26th

Heres a quick 9 minute rundown of what to expect in Season 2 of  Charlaine Harris’ second show. I thought the first season was completely uneven as far as the plot, but I did manage to get into the characters. This show does not have HBOs budget, or acting chops, but I think the show needs to embrace its cheesiness a bit more, like True Blood.  After all, this takes place in the same universe as that show.

Midnight Texas (NBC)

Nov. 28th

I think this is the last season for this show. I’ve been watching since the beginning, and haven’t always liked it, but it has been interesting.

Vikings (History)

 

Mid-Season Series – TBD

Brooklyn 99

This show,  which had run for a good five years, had been canceled by FOX, but has been picked up by it’s original creators at NBC, and will air for 13 episodes, instead of the usual 22, in January.

 

The Orville

I still don’t know how to feel about this show. It tries really hard, but it’s uneven, and sometimes the characters are hard to like. I watched quite a lot of last season, and it does look promising. If it can figure out what it wants to be it might be a great show one day.

 

 

The Passage

I really loved the books this show is based on, and the trailer looks intriguing with a father/daughter relationship between a rogue FBI agent and the little Black girl who trusts him. I’ve already posted the trailer , so here are some interviews with the actors about what to expect on the show.

 

Roswell New Mexico

Yeah, I’m  not watching this because I’m allergic to schmacting, but you know what, somebody, somewhere, is gonna love the hell out of this show. It’s like a teenage soap opera about pretty aliens.

 

Titans (DC SubScription)

I’m not subscribing to this.

 

Star Trek Discovery/ Season II (CBS All Access – Subscription)

I might subscribe. I’m still thinking about that, or just getting a jailbroken Firestick instead.

 

*I won’t be watching any of the 80s reboot shows that are all the rage this season. I’m not interested. I lived through the 80s already, I don’t wanna relive it through a bunch of shows I wasn’t all that hot about when they first aired. I’ll  try to find a better listing of new Fall shows for cable and streaming networks.

The State of the Union – TV (Pt. 55)

I’m just putting random numbers on these types of posts, at this point, since I can’t remember whatever number I used for my last State of the Union Address. But here’s a list of shows, I’ve been looking at this Summer.

Watching/Have Watched

Castle Rock (Hulu)

Image result for castle rock

I watched the first two episodes of this show. I was really excited about seeing it and the show doesn’t completely disappoint, but that’s mostly because I’m a full-on Stephen King fan who has caught a lot of the Easter eggs in the episodes, and there are quite a few, which is something entirely in keeping with the idea of a Stephen King Universe where all his stories are connected.

We start of with the small town of Castle Rock itself, where more than a few King stories take place. The episode begins with a missing little Black boy named Henry, who is found by Sheriff Pangborn eleven days later. If you remember Pangborn is the sheriff who defeats the demon from the novel Needful Things. Henry’s father went missing as well. his adoptive mother is played by Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in the  1976 movie of the same name.

When Henry is called back to the town of Castle Rock, we discover that his mother is suffering from dementia, and she has a romantic relationship with a much older Pangborn. Henry received a mysterious call from one of the guards at Shawshank prison, after a young man was discovered in the prison’s basement levels, who asked for him by name. The prison is also under the reign of a new female warden after the bizarre suicide of the last one, who garrotted himself in his car.

So two episodes is as far as I’ve gotten, and while I’m not wowed by the mystery I do find the characters interesting, the show looks gorgeous, and atmospheric, and I also liked the understated music in the show.

Pose (FX)

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/05/pose-fx-ryan-murphy-review

Image result for pose series cast

The series just finished up its first season run and is scheduled for a second season next year. I took a brief break from the show but I was there for the season finale. Good gob! but this show brings waaaay too many feels.

One of the things I love most about this show is the shameless use of sentiment, without falling into corniness. You start to seriously care about these characters so much, and get really caught up in their lives. When they’re happy, you’re happy. When they experience disappointment, so do you. It’s a testament to the acting skills of the cast. But their lives are not tragic, and the show is not a sob story. You experience as much laughter and happiness as in any drama. The characters are complicated, messy, and human.

For example, I complained that I might not be able to get into a show where characters spent so much time being nasty to each other, but that turns out not to be the case. Yes, there are some villainous types but the show has a lot of romance and heart. After Blanca’s former mother, Elektra, from House Abundance,  gets ousted from her position, Blanca takes her in, and it is commendable for Blanca, especially when you consider that the two of them parted on such bad terms,  that Blanca treats her no different than she does any of the children of her House, by counseling her, and helping her get a job.

Blanca is rewarded for her compassion by being crowned Mother of the Year, at the local Ball, while the bitchy little characters we met in the first episode get their comeuppance with an epic dress-down from Elektra. The season ends with a dance-off  between the House of Evangelista and the House of Extravaganza, going  head to head on the ballroom floor.

There is also the side story of one her children falling in love with a married businessman, and one of Blanca’s boys falls in love with another dancer after he is accepted into  Dance school, and the two of them compete for a role in a music video. In another side story, the master of Ceremonies at the Balls puts on a performance at the hospice where his lover is dying from Aids, and later goes out on a date. The conversations in the show feel true, adult, and emotional.

I fell in love with these characters so fast, I just don’t know if my heart can take this level of shameless romanticism and drama. I’m definitely going to return for the second season of this show.

 

Preacher: Season Three (AMC)

Image result for preacher season three

Its as zany as the last season, picking up with the death of Tulip. Jessie takes her to his grandmother,a Hoodoo woman, who brings Tulip back from the dead. She says Jessie owes her for this, but I’m unsure exactly what it is she requires in payment.

Cassidy gets kidnapped by a cult run by another vampire and its hilarious because the other vampire has enthralled these goth kids into worshiping him, and he’s like a cheap, backwoods version of Lestat.

I’m not doing any in depth reviews for this show, mostly because its kinda lightweight, and is far too richly zany to put that kind of work into it.

Although its rarely laugh out loud funny, it is definitely entertaining.

Luke Cage: Season 2 (Netflix)

Image result for luke cage season two

I watched the entire season all the way through, and mostly enjoyed it. It really does still have some issues, mostly with pacing and story coherency, and should probably tone down on some of the music, because that was starting to be a bit much. But overall I liked the season.  I wasn’t as awed by this season as I was with the first, and I’m pretty sure it’s because the novelty of it has worn off some.

Frankly,  I was tuning in to see what happened to Misty Knight, after her ordeal in The Defenders, and I , and a lot of other people, have reached the conclusion that we are all ready for a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff , of Misty and Colleen Wing. The scenes between the two of them were a lot of fun, the actresses have good chemistry, and I was glad to see the writers of the show did not neglect the relationships between the women, although I was dismayed to realize that all of the Black women in the show had adversarial relationships with each other. I understood most of the reasons why they would, because they’re mostly well written characters, many of them with clear motivations, but I still think the writers should do better. Women don’t always have to be enemies for  dramatic tension.

Yes, there is a brief cameo, in one or two episodes, with Iron Fist, which happen late in the season, but I don’t feel this was a detraction from the show, and I wasn’t upset at seeing him. Like I said, a little bit of him goes a long way. I’m still not especially enthused about the second season of IF, but I am curious enough, based on how his character is much more positively depicted here. I know there are some people who are going to hate him no matter what the writers  do with him ,but I’m willing to forgive past sins if they fix his character, and this show, and The Defenders, went a long way towards almost making Danny Rand likable. I don’t actually like him. I don’t know that I will ever like him-like him, but at least I don’t dislike him. Let’s just say I’m open to liking him.

There was a new vilain called Bushmaster, who heavily reminded me of Black Panther: if T’Challa had become a junkie for the special herb which gave him his powers, and was a gang leader, rather than a good guy.  I still think the accents of some of these characters could use work, though. There are several moments of extreme horror that I could’ve done without, and we didn’t spend as much time with Luke as you’d think we would in a show that’s about him, but that’s okay because Luke is not an especially compelling personality, and Mariah Dillard is. Luke gets to fight with a lot of different characters, and that is always fun, but he’s not a very interesting person beyond his fight scenes, and the show’s attempts to add character to his character fell flat for me. His relationship with his father, and his fights with Clair didn’t feel true or believable.

Actually, you could just call the show Dillard, or something, because Mariah was one of the most awesome characters all season, and is a truly complicated villain. I’ve long ago given up on white feminist fans paying any attention to Black female characters, and I suppose I should be grateful for that, especially considering how shitty they are regarding all Black characters, in general. I think the last thing any of us want is twenty year old, suburban, white girls trying to write sexy fan fiction about Shades Alvarez. But there’s not a lot there for them anyway because while there are a few canon relationships, none of them involve White people.

Mariah is a very unconventional villain, being an older, educated, Black woman, who is also  an unstable, conniving alcoholic,  in a semi-abusive relationship with her lover, Shades Alvarez, who is many years younger than her, and thoroughly devoted to her. I  can’t even say she loves him, because Mariah is a psychopathic user, who loves no one but herself but the chemistry between them is palpable, and it really is a very sexy relationship. Mariah is also surprisingly vulnerable, and open at odd moments, which makes her deeply compelling. This was really a superior performance from Alfre Woodard, and one of her best roles ever.

There’s also a throwaway relationship between Shades and another man (Comanche) that if you’re anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum,  will thoroughly enrage you, so you might want to skip all that.

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-shades-mariah-shadymariah/

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-season-2-review/?tu=dd

https://screenrant.com/marvel-iron-fist-better-luke-cage-season-2/

Killjoys (Syfy)

Killjoys has added a smidge more humor to the show, but I still have trouble with Hannah John-Kamen’s acting style. Its still annoying. I’m still surprised that people like this show. It looks great but I find the acting and plotting uneven. It’s not a bad show, but it struggles to hold my attention. I like the costumes, though ,and the guys are both reasonably handsome.

Image result for killjoys/wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp (Syfy)

Wynona Earp started its new season. I watched the first episodes of the show and while I was not “not”  entertained, I wasn’t exactly inspired to keep watching them either. WE turned out to be mildly funny as vampires have been added to the show and Waverly’s approach to danger has always been funny. If you’re looking for a cute  litttle White girl lgbtq relationship, then this is the show for you. If you are a fan of mustaches, there’s a Doc Holliday character who is really cute.

 

I’m Not Watching But Probably Should

Killing Eve (BBC America)

I’ve heard so much about this show, and these curious gifs keep popping up on  my dashboard. One day I’m actually going to get around to watching this. and I’m gonna be wowed, because I really do like Sandra Oh, and I heard she got some award noms out of this. From all the meta  and gifs I’ve seen, I got the impression that this show was a female version of the Hannibal series, with its lowkey same sex relationship vibes, between an officer of the law, and a deranged psychopath. Since I’m a big fan of Hannibal , I feel I at least need to give this a looky-loo.

The Bold Type (Freefrom)

I heard there was some great LGBTQ rep in this show, between two young women, that’s being well and fairly treated,  and this is  another show that people insist on making gifs of, and sending them across my Tumblr dashboard. One day I may or may not look at this. It does involve some very young people, and I usually avoid shows that star a bunch of very young, people, so I’m dubious. Not every show is for everyone.

Dear White People (Netflix)

I keep hearing good things about this show, but once again it stars some very young people, and I’m not one of those people who is sentimental about my college years, so imma pass on this one.

Yeah…No!

Snowfall/ Power

I know people are watching these shows, but shows about Black crime are not to my taste, and I already got my quota of that subject from Luke Cage. If Black crime stories (ala New Jack City) are to your tastes,  and you’re not watching these, then you need to hop to it because they look gorgeous.

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I’m working on several of those longform essays you guys seem to like. The use of setting in movies, a trip in the wayback machine to some forgotten  TV series, the personalities of Goodfellas according to MBTI, an examination of the trope of the retired killer, an examination of The Thing, Eastern Promises, and some that are little more than ideas I hope to flesh out at some point.

Straight Out The SDCC 2018

The San Diego Comic-Con started this weekend, and we already got a buttload of movie and TV trailers that I’m very excited about. (Picture me jitterbugging around my living room in my bunny slippers!) The Con lasts all week, so I’m going to publish some more trailers for Wednesday and even Friday if necessary. Later this month, or in August, its time to start my list of TV shows to watch for, and I’ll be working on that soon.

Let’s get started. First up:

Godzilla: King of All Monsters

I am so geeking out about this move, not because of Godzilla, mind you, although there is the iconic roar, but because of the presence of Ghidrah: The Three-Headed Dragon, and Mothra, basically a giant moth. I grew up watching Godzilla movies on those Saturday afternoons when my brothers and I couldn’t go outside. I watched Mothra a bunch of times when I was a kid, so I was excited to see something like it in the last movie, and now the full effect in this one. I’m probably not going to get Mom to see this, because she hates Godzilla, but I can introduce my nieces and nephew to it if nothing else.

 

 

Shazam

I’m not excited about this movie, but I’m not dismayed. I remember watching Shazam on TV as a kid. (I watched all the superhero TV shows.) In the TV series, Shazam was a teenager or probably an adult. I haven’t seen it in so long, I can barely remember it, beyond the iconic yelling of  “Shazam!” I don’t know what to think about this yet, probably because I wasn’t expecting it to be funny. And it did give me a few laughs. This trailer isn’t inspiring me to see it though, so I’ll wait until I see some more. Also, its DC and they’re not really good with funny.

 

Glass

Now this one, I’m really, really, excited about. (See, I used to “reallys”!) I’m a huge fan of Unbreakable. It’s just exciting to see David Dunn again. (I’m a little less a fan of the movie Split, although it has its merits, and The Beast is pants-shittingly frightening.) These are really just down to Earth versions of superhero movies, and I will always grok that.

 

 

Aquaman

This is another one I haven’t formulated an opinion on yet. I love that Momoa is Aquaman though, because it seems fitting that the King of the Oceans would be a Pacific Islander, and I never get tired of looking at him, and going, “It’s Kal Drogo! Under the sea!”. It also helps that he just looks fine as Hell!

 

 

Titans

Woo! The bitching and whining about what’s wrong with this trailer, and the miscasting of Ana Diop as Starfire, has already begun on Tumblr. I’m completely dismissing any criticism from ALL White men about her casting because here’s the thing: Starfire has always been nothing but wank material for them since she first starred in the comic books. Casting her as a Black woman seems to have put a crimp in their masturbatory fantasies for this show, I’m guessing, which is why so many of them are throwing nasty racist hissy fits.

Diop has already disabled the comments on her Instagram because of the vitriol she’s been receiving, and no! I’m not surprised by it. Sending racist messages to actors of color, and then claiming they’re doing it just to protect the show, or movie, or whatever,  is just White, male, fandom’s go-to move at this point. And it’s also all they have. They’re still gonna watch the show, they’re just gonna bitch about it the whole time, and I don’t really care at this point, as long as their eyeballs provide ratings.

What I have decided not to do is read any more whiny bullshit about TV shows before they air. I got my own whiny bullshit in mind, and ain’t adopting other people’s crap. I’ll wait to actually see the show before I form an opinion on whether it’s good or bad. Also, I’m a lot older than most of the complainers on Tumblr and have been reading Teen Titans since I was a child. I can decide for myself whether or not the show is any good.

For the record, I think the trailer looks okay, although most of it is too dark to see anything, and I’m satisfied with the depiction of Starfire, and Raven.

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald

I don’t know that I’ll see this in the theater because I got the same issues with it, that I had with the first. But I really enjoyed the first movie, I really liked all the characters a lot, and this is an incredibly gorgeous film, too. I’m less interested in the worldbuilding than I am with the people.

 

Patient Zero

This looks like an interesting take on vampire mythology and might turn out to be what the show The Strain should have been, so I’m gonna check into it. Plus, I’m always up for some vampire apocalypse stories.

 

 

The Passage

This series is based on one of my favorite books by Justin Cronin, a trilogy called The Passage. I’m very excited about this because they’ve changed the races of the characters, thereby giving the story a deeper subtext, especially when you remember that African Americans have been used before as subjects of medical experimentation.

http://www.history.com/news/the-father-of-modern-gynecology-performed-shocking-experiments-on-slaves

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_syphilis_experiment

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/henriettalacks/index.html

So you have scientists experimenting on Black convicts, and chasing after a little Black girl they want to use to save the human race, from an experiment they created, that went horribly wrong. This also closely parallels the events of the first  200 or so pages of the first book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it was so well written, just without the racial angle. The series offers a changeup to the  “Black man bonding with and protecting,  a little White girl”, which we’ve seen more than enough of in the movies. There’s also Mark-paul Gosselaar , which is kinda neat.

 

Overlord

This looks a lot like Patient Zero, only set during WWI, and with a Black lead character, which is intriguing. It looks like it might be about medically created zombies. I dont have a lot of opinion on it yet.

 

The Walking Dead Season Nine

After the first few episodes, I skipped most of last season. I just lost interest. I still don’t care which is why I haven’t talked much about it. I’m going to watch season nine because I’m nosy, and there will be less of Negan chewing the scenery, which is something I got really, really, tired of. It’s rumored that this will be the last season for Rick. Personally, I would like to see the show headed by Michonne, but I don’t expect we will get that so I’m not getting too hopeful. At any rate, this season doesn’t look too bad, but then I thought that about last season’s trailer, too, and look what happened.

 

Star Trek Discovery Season Two

The second season for this show doesn’t air until January which I think is a horrible tease, but I can wait. It looks just as gorgeous as always. I’ve read that the series will be preceded by a series of character shorts in December, and that Spock will put in an appearance. I have been total trash for Spock since I was twelve years old, and will watch him in anything, so I’m very excited about the new season.

Can I also mention that the guy playing the tragic Captain Pike, is Anson Mount, the same guy who played Black Bolt in that deplorable Inhumans series, that only lasted a few episodes? (If you want to know what eventually happens to Captain Pike, in ten years, you need to watch the first episode of the original Star Trek, called The Menagerie.) He looks much better here than he did in the Inhumans. As a matter of fact, he is cocky, and foine as f***!

The show also looks like its adding a little more humor.  The showrunners say the focus for the new season will be “family”, so there’s going to be more character development of the bridge crew, I’m guessing. At the end of last season, Michael had gotten back her rank, and she looks a lot more comfortable in this trailer, and I’m looking forward to what she does in the role. Her character and storyline carried the entire first season, so I expect the writers to give her a little breathing room, and focus on some of the other characters this season, with Michael as the emotional center again.

 

Doctor Who Season 11

I’m not excited about this new Doctor, so much as deeply curious, about how the show will feel with a female Doctor. It looks intriguing and I’m definitely going to check it out. I have, in the past, claimed to not be a huge Doctor Who fan, but I’m enough of a fan to have favorite Doctors, Companions, villains, etc. I think this new one might become a favorite. We’ll see!

 

“Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning

The CW’s Black Lighting represents the split between Black respectability and radical politics in a singular figure.

via “Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning — The Middle Spaces

 

This is an absolutely gorgeous analysis of Black Lightning. I haven’t written much about the show, not because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, but because  of the density of the text. This series is every bit as rich with meaning as Black Lightning and Luke Cage, and is pertinent to many of the discussions Black Americans are having about social justice, existing, as it does, in a space somewhere between those two sources.

The show isn’t perfect, of course. It certainly has its issues in pacing, dialogue, and occasionally the acting, but these problems are not consistent enough to make me dislike the show, and it gets more right, than it does wrong.  This review, and analysis, contains a lot of what I was thinking about, when it was on the air.

Later, after I’ve re-watched a few episodes i might do a post squeeing about everything I thought the show got right, and the handful of things that annoyed me.

Black Lightning is currently available on Netflix, and has already been renewed, for a second season on the CW, this Fall.

 

Forthcoming Geekery

Bohemian Rhapsody

The very first song, I ever heard by Queen, was Another One Bites the Dust, waaay back in the seventies. I had a kid’s turntable that I played the 45 on, endlessly. I loved the hell out of that song.

I listened to Queens music all through the eighties, and sort of kept track of what they were doing, and even watched a couple of concerts, and music videos on TV. Queen also did a lot of the songs to one of my favorite movies, Highlander.

Freddie Mercury  didn’t prominently feature, in my teenage music fandom,  the same way someone like Michael Jackson, or Boy George did. But I followed his career. I didn’t  realize I was a true fan until college. I picked up a Queen’s Greatest Hits CD, because  I hadn’t heard Another One Bites the Dust in a very long time, and I missed it,  and found that I knew the words to every song on the CD.

I am really, really excited about this movie. I kinda lowkey loved Freddie Mercury, and he is one of the few celebrities (along with Prince, Bowie, and George Michael) I actually shed tears for when he died. I miss him a lot, and Rami Malek’s spot on impersonation of him in this trailer just brought all kinds of feels. Malek looks so much like him, and captures the stage attitude so well, that I’m not sure I want to see this in the theater without a box of tissues. It even looks like the creators aren’t glossing over his bisexuality, either.

The movie will be released in November.

 

 

BlackkKlansman

I think most of us, when we heard the title of Spike Lee’s new joint , immediately flashed back to Dave Chappelle’s skit about Clayton Bigsby, the blind,  Black Klansman.

I thought this movie would be one of those cringe worthy comedies that Lee produces every few years. I like Spike Lee but his idea of humor often clashed with my own.

I’m also not a fan of Adam Driver, because he’s such an unfortunate looking fellow, and I don’t know if I want to look at him for two hours. For the record, Adam Driver isn’t actually Jewish, or so I’ve been told, but for some reason, he plays a lot of Jewish people in movies. John David Washington is actually Black, though,  is a former football player, and also the son of Denzel Washington, so I expect much.

The movie is based on the book by Ron Stallworth, who wrote about his time as the first Black police detective of  Colorado Springs, and how how he went undercover to infiltrate the local Klan.

Fortunately, this is not a comedy. According to the trailer, its more of a drama, with some funny elements. I don’t know if I’ll go to the theater to see this, but I have tremendous respect for Lee as a filmmaker, and I’m always excited whenever he releases a new movie, so I’m putting this here.

 

 

The Predator

I’m cautiously excited for this movie, mostly because Keegan Michael Key is in it, from the show Key and Peele, and I worry that he’ll be killed 30 minutes into the movie, because that’s what happens to Black people, in franchises that go before a mainstream audience. But I think the premise is interesting, and kinda unexpected, and I really liked this trailer.

The Predator movies are one of the few franchises that actually treats the characters of color with a certain amount of respect. Even when they die, they at least get to have heroic deaths (Carl Weathers), and a couple of the Predator films had Black heroes, one man (Danny Glover) and one woman, (Sanaa Lathan), and I can appreciate that.

This version stars Sterling K Brown, and Olivia Munn, who I hope is the star of this one, and gets to fight with or against the Predator of the title. It also, unfortunately, stars Jake Busey, and no Black women, but I’m willing to tolerate all that, in the names of Key, and Brown.

 

I know it looks like I’m being a slacker this week, but I was on a bit of vacation, and I’d just finished that giant post on Bladerunner. I have a lot more posts forthcoming about various movies, but like I said, those take time. Throughout the Summer, especially during the hiatuses of various shows, I’ll be doing movie posts, and re-watching season three of Hannibal.

I went this weekend to see Breaking In, with Mom. This was the movie she chose to see on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a bad film, I had a good time, and she seemed to really enjoy it. The movie was full of cliches, and I think it lasted a little too long, but was otherwise okay. We went to the movies, and had lunch with my little sister, and her three kids.

Monday I goofed off and shopped a bit, and Tuesday I got some household chores out of the way, like putting away the winter clothes and unpacking my Summer wardrobe. Those of you from warmer climates probably think that’s bizarre, but for those of us who live above the snowline, it’s a twice yearly ritual of packing away clothes, according to forthcoming weather trends.

But I did take time out of my busy schedule to watch a couple of movies on Netflix. I’ve decided to do this thing where I watch whatever random movies Netflix recommends to me, and occasionally I come across a real gem. Just lately, I watched a show called Travels with My Father, a movie called The Outsider, and I’ll be watching another movie, called The Survivalist, this week, while knitting my first shawl. I’ll post about these later.

Forthcoming Movies 2018

Hey there! Here’s my list of movie trailers  I found interesting for this Summer (and one in Oct.). I left out some of the biggies, like Jurassic World, and Infinity War, although my Mom and I do have plans to see those. I know for sure I’m going to see Deadpool and The Incredibles. I’m less certain about The Cured, and Upgrade, but I still liked the trailers.

Deadpool 2

I will probably go see this movie alone, becasue I’m not sure its entirely appropriate for a 13 year old niece. or watching it with my Mom. I don’t think she wants to see this anyway. I was a bit dubious, at first, about Zazie Beetz as Domino. I only knew her from the show Atlanta, and Domino is a White woman in the comic books. I didn’t know if her character would be anything like the comic book version, but she looks great here. I’m not a big fan of Cable from the comic books, but Terry Crews is in this and I just can’t resist seeing him on the big screen, and I genuinely like Ryan Reynolds, who seems to have found his perfect role.The movie also just looks like a helluva lot of fun.

 

Incredibles 2

The first movie is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, so yeah, the Potato and I are going to see this. I like that Frozone is playing a slightly larger role in this one, and that it’s  Elastigirl who gets to take center screen. I loved her relationship with Edna in the first movie, and of course I’m glad to see more of Edna, and the Baby.

 

Venom

I do plan to go see this. I don’t know that I will see it, but I plan to. It looks disgusting, btw. I have a thing about sentient snot, so this plays as a horror movie for me. Plus despite some other people’s inexplicable distaste for Tom Hardy, I actually really like the guy and won’t miss a chance to see him onscreen.

I’ve read maybe three or four graphic novels about Venom, and I did read the  origin story,  from the first Secret Wars books, when it attached itself to Spiderman. I’d say this is a pretty faithful rendition of the monster. Although, I suppose now in the comic books Venom is more accurately called an anti-hero.

 

Upgrade

I was deeply confused when I first saw this trailer, becasuse the guy in this movie looks suspiciously like Tom Hardy. In fact, I still want to see Tom hardy when I look at him, even knowing for sure that it’s not him. It turns out he’s the asshole who  gets killed by The Vulture in Spiderman: Homecoming.

I see this as a kind of superhero type movie. The one drawback I have is the vigilante angle, where his wife, or his girlfriend, gets fridged, and he responds by beating up some Black guys, and this is supposed to be funny, I guess. (Not when  I can watch Black guys get beat up by the police, for free, on the internet, without the one liners.)

On the other hand I like movies where people transform into other things, so I’ll check it out at some point, but probably not in the theater though.

 

The Meg

My Mom and I already made plans to see this because Hey! giant shark! I despair of her ever getting out of her Sharknado addiction, and gong to see this with her may be enabling, but I’m gonna do it. I know she’ll love it. I am surprised that she knows who Jason Statham is though, and when I asked her about it, she said she saw him in The Transporter. I find it less disturbing that she knows who he is, than that she sat all the way through The Transporter.

 

Equalizer 2

I have tried to get my Mom to watch the first movie but so far, no luck. I did like the first movie but I could have done without the sex worker angle, which seems to be a staple of these type of vigilante rescue movies. Denzel does a really good job of playing an older, retired man, who is just tired of killing, but keeps having to do it, because people need help.

I feel like not enough people realize that this  movie is based on a TV show. I remember watching a few episodes as a teenager. The main character was played by an older White man, and I feel like the only way they got away with race-bendng this character, is not  many people know about the TV show and, of course, its Denzel.

 

The Cured

I think there was a British TV show loosely based on the concept of zombies who have been reclaimed, or cured, and are being slowly integrated back into society. This looks much more intriguing than that show.

Tumblr Discussions #167

 *Sometimes you get some interesting discussions to eavesdrop on over at Tumblr. This one is about how the western ideas of approaching the rest of the world  always seem to depend on conquering and collecting other countries, and simply stealing the resources, rather than relying on trade.
People often forget that some five hundred years of history, after the fall of Rome, seemed to have consisted of endless warfare between the various city-states, that came into existence afterwards, and when they finished warring among themselves, they began to compete with each other for who could gather up most of the rest of the world and own it.
It almost seems like colonization, genocide, slavery, and conquest were the hideous byproducts of various European nations competing among themselves, to prove who was the  more superior group of White people.
What’s  galling is, while engaging in this behavior ,Europeans managed to displace their barbarity onto the backs of the people they conquered and destroyed, as a reason for conquering and destroying them. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
What’s sad about this is that most White Westerners cannot conceive of any other way of approaching the rest of the world, except through  dominance and submission. It is a philosophy that finds its way into everything from entertainment to politics.
  doublehamburgerjack
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.

 ami-angelwings
This is important for the knowledge/history aspect, but also because of what was said above, that exploration/seafaring/technological advancement does not automatically mean conquest, colonization, and genocide.  It’s one of those myths that an annoyingly large amount of people pass around to justify white supremacy: that everybody wants to conquer and wipe out everybody else, and that white people just got the technology and exploration level up first to do it.  They like this myth for several reasons: 1) it frames genocide, slavery, conquest, etc, as natural results of human development, SOMEBODY would have eventually done it regardless 2) it frames evil acts as “human nature”, it implies that the victims of those acts would have done them if they could, and that the people doing it were only acting on “nature” 3) it implies that because white people did these things therefore white people must have had the highest technological level and 4) because white people had the highest technological level therefore white people deserved their place in the world as conquerers and colonizers and enslavers.

Of course none of this is true, but it’s something our society likes to believe and the narrative is distributed through “common knowledge” and through our media, where non-white cultures in “historical” dramas are framed as “primitive” or warlike or both, and all the various dystopia fiction where “the oppressed become the oppressors” and what not (i.e. everybody wants to conquer everybody else, so SOMEBODY has to be on top).

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*I want to get rid of the argument about “Historical Accuracy” when it comes to defending lack of diversity in fantasy worlds. That concept needs to be taken out back, and killed with fire, because I no longer want to hear that PoC did not contribute  to the European historical record, and that  somehow has relevance for their existence in fantasy worlds, that are based on particular European time periods.

“To put it yet another way, in my country where Dukes are actually a thing, there are a grand total of 30 (6 members of the Royal family, 24 others), and while the amount of Duchies in the Kingdom has varied a bit over the years, this number has remained relatively stable.  By contrast, although I don’t have access to hard census data for the 19thcentury, Google reliably informs me that there were 2,651,939 people in London in 1851. And, if we take the extremely conservative estimate that only 0.1% of them were people of colour, that means that in the mid-19th century there were 2650 POCs in London compared to about 30 Dukes in the whole country.

So, from a certain perspective, a historical romance about a person of colour set in England in the mid-19th century is 88.3 times more plausible than one about a Duke. But because we’re used to seeing stories about Dukes in the 19th century and we aren’t used to seeing stories about people who aren’t white or heterosexual in the 19th century,  stories about the absolutely tiny number of high ranking members of the landed aristocracy seem natural and normal to us while stories about the proportionally much larger number of marginalised people living in England at the time feel implausible or disorientating, even though they’re actually more reflective of the lives of real people.”

-Alexis Hall, Obligatory RITA post (with added mu

 

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*This is about the devaluation of art done by women, and the prioritization of female nude art, created by, and for, a male audience. Bet you never gave this one much thought before, have you? Hell, I studied art for two decades, and it never occurred to me that the value of certain types of art is biased in favor of the male gaze.

http://anewdomain.net/paint-naked-women-male/

Could the reason for 83 percent of the New York Metropolitan Museum’s nudes being female have anything to do with it being run predominately by men? And who collects art?  Rich people, right? And who is rich enough to collect art?

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*This particular discussion highlights how  fashion does not exist in a vacuum. Clothing is just as political as any other part of our culture from hairstyles to music. This also ties into something discussed in an earlier post, about how, before the Civil Rights Movement, juvenile delinquency was coded as being White, (before that it was Italian and Latino) was heavily romanticized, and was almost never associated with Black teenagers. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, juvenile delinquency (and violence) became associated with Black and Brown youth exclusively, (reaching new heights during the nineties, with the invention of the Super-Predator.)

Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the U.S. Southwest in the 19th century. The slur likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans, the greasing of the axles of wagons; they also greased animal hides that were taken to California where Mexicans loaded them onto clipper ships (a greaser). It was in common usage among U.S. troops during the Mexican-American War.

why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.

And the response:

 

it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally  Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians – either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.

Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s.[6] Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.[8]

What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.

Hell, before greaser was ever recognized as a “subculture” it was explicitly used as a derogatory term against mexicans. (That link references The Greaser Act, and lots of Hollywood movies which used the word.)

so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:

The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.

Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!

The flimsy guise fooled scarcely anyone. The Times critic commented: “Taken by and large, Jose is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by the noisy victim of a firing squad.”

(movie image, and its sound remake)

those images don’t look super like what you’d think of as “greaser” subculture, but…when you go forwards a decade or two, and then look at the actual people:

Zoot Suit(er) after arrest during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in LA. The Anglo police officer is inspecting his hair.

Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)

On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”[15][27]

so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:

three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.

but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.

 

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I have been wondering about the depiction of Tony Stark in the MCU vs. the comic books. The comic book version of Tony has at least some redeeming qualities, much like the version in the Iron Man Trilogy. He’s not a great character in the trilogy, but he’s less awful than in  The Avengers movies, for example.

When Tony is depicted in other movies in the MCU, besides his own, he’s often written as a callous, misogynist, asshole, who is thoroughly unlikable. For example, I got the impression that the Russo Brothers deeply dislike Tony Stark, because he doesn’t come off looking good in Civil War, at all, and even manages to look  several degrees worse in Spiderman: Homecoming.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=captain

A lot of what this guy says about Tony’s lack of moral center, I already talked about, in an earlier post, comparing him to Steve Rogers.  In that post I expressed some doubts about my assessment of Tony’s character, and  its nice to know I wasn’t the only person getting that take.

 

This was something I specifically stated in my post:

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*I have always wondered about this narrative, being put forth by the media, that these killers deserve sympathy because they were victims of a society that didn’t understand them. It turns out that they are, just as I suspected, mediocre, entitled ,white boys, who go on killing sprees because the world refuses to worship them for being the special snowflakes they believe themselves to be.

I like how she ties this into the racial aspect, where white men receive sympathy for killing others, (and the benefit of the doubt), but Black men who kill…don’t. 

Also read up on the topic of “Wound Collectors, which is a fascinationg insight into how some mass killer’s minds work. Just about every mass killer, according to many of the writings they have left behind, seem to fit this dynamic.

These individuals use these wrongs, slights, or wounds, to then justify their beliefs or behaviors, or to help them deal with their own psychological or social distress. What is the definition of a wound collector or wound collecting?            
Wound collecting is the conscious and systematic collection and preservation of transgressions, violations, social wrongs, grievances, injustice, unfair treatment, or slights of self and others, for the purpose of  nourishing, fortifying, or justifying a malignant ideology, furthering hatred, satisfying a pathology, or for exacting revenge
Apr 7, 2013

 

More on the point about Columbine: Eric Harris was actually a relatively popular kid.  Not with the “popular kids” but, when it came to the more obscure cliques in the school, Harris was actually relatively well liked even for a kid who was, as was stated, an ACTUAL psychopath.  Dylan Klebold was less popular, but only because he was more of a follower who mostly just wanted to hang around Harris.

Neither one of the Columbine shooters was bullied.  They literally WERE the bullies.

 

Klebold’s own mother has been vocally debunking the narrative that they were bullied and “the real victims” for years. Her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning” is worth reading. It counters everything in the media. Kid was well off, wanted for nothing, wasn’t abused, neglected or bullied. What he was was radicalized by Harris, a neo-Nazi.

And just as “Walk Up” types don’t suggest showing compassion for poor Black or brown kid at risk of joining a gang, they don’t acknowldge that white radicalization is the root of a lot of America’s problems, more so than non-Westen radicalization that is readily accepted as dangerous.

Telling kids they should be kinder to the creepy kid who does Nazi salutes in the hallway is in fact making them more susceptible to radicalization. “Walk Up” is not only misguided, racist, misogynist and ableist, it makes things worse. Painting the Columbine shooters as the real victims set off the era of school shootings, and the more people call for more empathy toward angry white men who fit the profile (and again, in many cases these kids are actual neo-Nazis), the worse it gets.

 

Do your research properly or don’t have an opinion.

“According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge (Lee, 2013). Additionally, of those school shooters who had been prescribed psychiatric medications, 10% displayed medication non-compliance (failed to take drugs prescribed). Many school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs for their disorder experienced side effects of the drugs prior to carrying out a violent act (Lee, 2013). In fact, there have been 22 drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence, and even homicidal ideations (Lee, 2013). There have been at least 27 school Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2015 4 shootings committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, which has resulted in 162 wounded and 72 students and/or faculty killed (Lee, 2013). However, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shooting.“

American Counseling Association

 

That 2013 data completely ignores the rise of white radicalism over the past five years. I read through the link, they didn’t even include rates of known white supremacy or radicalization. 76% of the attackers were white (with a 8% gap where race isn’t specified) according to their data, 99% were male and many left “cryptic messages,” a detail typical of neo Nazi mass killers like Eric Harris and Dylan Roof. That they didn’t analyze possible radicalization was a pretty major oversight.

Angry young white men believe they are the most persecuted, it’s not a surprise that attackers frame themselves as bullying victims. There’s a more a accurate term for it that hadn’t yet been coined in ‘13: wound-collectors.

In essence these are individuals who go out of their way to collect social slights, historical grievances, injustices, unfair or disparate treatment, or wrongs—whether real or imagined (Dangerous Personalities (link is external) 2014 Rodale Publishing)

At some point, we’re gonna have to stop pretending they’re “fighting back.” (X)

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Hellotailor (who I love btw! Please check out their website where they discuss the meaning of clothes and fashion in various movie franchises.), caught a lot of shit for writing this about Ready Player One. I don’t dislike the movie (it looks hella fun, and it is Spielberg!), but that doesn’t  mean they’re wrong.

Ready Player One could be the most hated movie of 2018. Considering the fact that it’s a Spielberg film with relatively respectable reviews, that’s quite an achievement. But like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s based on a bestselling book that lends itself well to embarrassing viral quotes. Ready Player One has come to represent a certain kind of toxic fanboy mentality, and no amount of positive reviews can change that now.

At this point, the film’s quality is almost irrelevant to the backlash. Opponents are going after Ready Player One’s basic concept, because it’s such a perfect illustration of Big Bang Theory-style geek culture and its obsession with masturbatory trivia.

It simultaneously caters to the idea that white male nerds are underdog heroes, while proving that they’re actually a dominant force in Hollywood.

[READ MORE]

On The Table: Items For Discussion

On Race and Gender

Image result for race and gender gif

*One of the things most invisible to us as film goers is, through whose gaze are we viewing the world around us. The statistics are pretty clear, from television, to movies, to books, the point of view is that of cis-gender, straight, white men, who control nearly the entirety of all three industries. They are the ones who determine which stories are important enough to get told,  and how those stories get told. 

One of the more interesting aspects in film and TV, is how none of the  White characters in any of these narratives ever question their race in relation to PoC characters.  Most of the White people in movies do not think about their race, their race is never mentioned, and they never think about the existence of  PoC, just like the creators of these films. Racism doesn’t exist in these all White worlds, and no one ever has to think about it, or deal with it, unless its a story specifically about it. For example, you can have a story with an all White cast that may be specifically about a Native American issue, but White people’s complicity in that issue  is never mentioned in the narrative.

I think I mentioned in another post, how the subject of race is the boogeyman that White creators (and critics) dare not look at directly. Race is the sun around which their entire psyche revolves, but which they refuse to acknowledge exists, as even the stories they tell, that do not explicitly mention race, still say much about how they think (or don’t think) about the subject.

This post discusses the output of three different white male directors who have not included PoC, in any of their films, in prominent roles: Martin Scorcese, Tim Burton, and the Coen Brothers. I have thoroughly enjoyed the collected works of all these directors, but it even took me a moment to realize that this is true. I basically study this subject, but the fact that a number of film directors I truly enjoy, have never employed any PoC in their films, (outside of a couple of villains), was still largely invisible to me, and that’s the point.

https://theestablishment.co/how-to-make-white-movies-5b9b83c61c53

… films with all, or mostly, white casts are not inherently harmful (some are great), but they do create for themselves a unique problem. Because even as the overwhelming whiteness on screen goes unquestioned, unremarked upon, it remains up there for us all to see — and it thus necessarily conveys some meaning.

…Films starring white people, or featuring zero people of color, don’t have the same impact. They must contend with an inherent dilemma, which is that without any commentary, their casting reinforces the status quo. White remains the default, and this itself is a kind of unspoken celebration. Ignoring this reality as a filmmaker is like ignoring a boom mic which falls into the frame. We will see it, even if the director somehow missed it.

Image result for gender bias gif

Why Cinematography May Be the Most Gender-Biased Job in Hollywood

A cinematographer — also known as a DP, for director of photography — dictates the movement and gaze of a camera, hugely influencing a movie’s feel. For years, women have been shut out of having that influence. Men vastly dominate its ranks, meaning that movies have been quite literally subject to the male gaze in a way audience members may not even be aware. (This article may have a paywall.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/06/why-cinematography-may-be-the-most-gender-biased-job-in-hollywood/?utm_term=.0519c70ed87d

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*This interview with the show runner of Jessica Jones is a perfect example of the above topic, and shows that its an attitude not limited to White men. In fact, she is a textbook practioner of “White Feminism” (this is not a reference to the person’s race, but the name of the type of  feminism being espoused by that person, which does not take into account the lives of marginalized women ). It is the type of feminism that considers WoC to be an afterthought, at best, and non-existent, at worst.

You know how I can tell there are no WoC (or marginalized women) in the writer’s room of that show? In season one of Jessica Jones, there is the Angry Black woman stereotype in the first episode, Jheri is The Evil Lesbian who tries to have her ex-GF killed, her ex-GF is The Hysterical Female, loud, and irrational, and then there’s the Black female victim of the show’s lead. Not one of the show’s writers stopped to think how it would look, that Jessica kills Luke Cage’s wife (conveniently getting her out of the way) and then sleeps with him, while never mentioning to him what she did, (after she discovers that was his wife.)

I made a point to skip the new season, but I am not heartened by the news that the situation has not changed for WoC (or queer women) on that show, and I’m not going to give a third season a chance either. I’m done with the show. What I find even more galling, is that the showrunner makes it sound like the choices they made, regarding the roles of marginalized women on the show, were just some sort of “accident”, that no one had any control over.

Image result for white feminism gif

Fumbling to accurately portray both race and gender onscreen is hardly a problem exclusive to Jessica Jones. Shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Law & Order: SVU, among others, center on transforming our ideas of what a “strong female character” looks like, but fail to decentralize whiteness. By refusing to do so, intentionally or not, these shows continue to present race as a hindrance rather than a very real part of their characters’ identities and a factor in their experiences. 

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/reviews/jessica-jones-leaves-black-women-behind

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*The Twitter thread on this topic was brutal and hilarious. Mainstream publishing is another industry where female characters  are seen through a White male gaze, and no one ever seems to question this. When the writer is great, this isn’t quite so much of a problem, but when theyre mediocre though, its absolutely cringeworthy.

https://electricliterature.com/describe-yourself-like-a-male-author-would-is-the-most-savage-twitter-thread-in-ages-60d145d638d6

Whitney Reynolds

@whitneyarner

new twitter challenge: describe yourself like a male author would

Lilly Beth Chung@LillyBethChungx

[insert something about being mixed race and how that makes me petite and inherently submissive but juxtapose it with the idea of me being adorably aggressive and will stand up for myself. But make it sound endearing. ]

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*This post is about how women’s stories, in movies and television, are devalued by men. Essentially the test is, take a man’s story that has gotten widespread approval,  replace all or most of the characters with women, and watch the ratings for that story plummet.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/06/the-male-glance-how-we-fail-to-take-womens-stories-seriously

Male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful. Women’s creations are domestic, emotional and trivial. How did we learn to misread stories so badly?

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Image result for living single gif

*This same dynamic is at work in the idea of White prioritization. A perfect example of that is the TV show Friends, from the 90’s. There was a Black show called Living Single, on which Friends was entirely based. It is Friends that is remembered, and  got  revived for more episodes, after its cancellation. Living Single was simply forgotten. This is a great article on the difference between these two shows, and why those differences mattered in the remembrance of one, but not the other.. 

https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/01/the-gentrification-of-city-based-sitcoms/513302/

Patronizing a Central Perk-style coffee shop in the ‘90s meant you had enough income to spend on a marked-up cup of coffee. It meant that you had the luxury of time to hang out in a cafe for hours with your friends because you weren’t working two or three jobs to get by. When free internet became a basic feature, you went there because you could afford a laptop—which were then well out of the price range for many working-class people. Chances were good that your cafe was mostly populated by a bunch of people who shared your privileges and skin color.

Now, for the record, I was a Living Single fan and I pretty much hated and dismissed Friends. I watched pretty much every Black sitcom that came out in the 80s and early 90s, from Sister, Sister, to Family Matters. But just in case you want to get on me for hating Friends, I watched a lot of sitcoms that had nothing but Whites in them like The Drew Carey Show, Perfect Strangers, and Bosom Buddies, as well.

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Recently  the idea of White prioritization  was turned on its head by the movie Girl’s Trip. It was expected that Rough Night, a similar movie about young White women on a road trip, would have been the movie to capture public interest, while Girl’s Trip was ignored. But that was not what happened:

https://www.thewrap.com/how-did-girls-trip-succeed-where-rough-night-and-other-adult-comedies-failed

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*And when White writers do write about race, they don’t do  their homework. They almost always get the depiction of it wrong. Its as if they know racism is bad, they just don’t seem to have quite processed why that’s so. I think I mentioned this before that most depictions are wrong because the bigots actually have legitimate reasons to be afraid of the beings they’re oppressing. Otherworldly creatures, and superpowered beings, (who are almost always White) are bad stand ins for marginalized people in allegories about bigotry, because real PoC, DO NOT have superspeed, superstrength, or  laser eyebeams.

Its also interesting to me that audiences can empathize with these oppressed characters in movies and TV, but in the real world, oppressed people are often admonished against being angry about their situations. Its not a coincidence that such admonishments often come from the ones engaged in the oppressing, and who are most likely to be on the receiving end of that anger.

https://www.themarysue.com/jessica-jones-race-gender-superpowers/

 And in every one, it ends up being people of color versus white vampires, aliens, or whatever a show would rather have stand in for POC than actual POC. It’s often exhausting, and not just because watching a white actor preach about bigotry and racism to a brown actor is irritating. What I find more upsetting is that the characters who are mutants, aliens, super-powered, or whatever, get to be more militant and angry than characters of color.

 

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On the Female Gaze

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To read more on this topic, and the responses, become a member of Medium.com, where you can also follow me, read my responses to articles, and read posts I’ve recommended.

I posted about this earlier, on the fetishization of White, gay men by White women writers.

Why Are So Many Gay Romance Novels Written By Straight Women?

https://electricliterature.com/why-are-so-many-gay-romance-novels-written-by-straight-women-e1ad2ad2f5c8

And in the responses:

I know the perspective you’re talking about here all too well from my experience in fandom, and it’s disheartening as hell. It’s disheartening as hell to come to queer (and queered) media looking for that kind of representation and complex engagement and see it overrun with the worst kinds of Kinsey 0–2 women fetishizing queer relationships. If I never see another who tops/who bottoms “debate” in my life, it will be too soon. If I never see another piece of fanart reblogged on Tumblr to the tune of hundreds of thousands of notes putting stereotypically slender, able-bodied, attractive young white men in crop tops and flower crowns, it will be too soon. If I never am around another Kinsey 0–2 woman acting like pretty boys are just so much prettier if they’re making out with bruises and bloody patches on their faces after being physically abused/physically abusing each other for reasons related to homophobia, it will be too soon. If I am never exposed to the “woke up magically one morning with breasts because of a supernatural plot ….—Kate (Medium.com)

View story at Medium.com

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On Cultural Appropriation

There’s been some huge discussion of how Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (a play on the words I love dogs) is actually appropriating Asian culture. Is this appropriation?

https://www.themarysue.com/cultural-appropriation-poc-isle/

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-isle-of-dogs-review-20180321-story.html

https://mashable.com/2018/03/23/isle-of-dogs-japanese-culture/#uoZ_BFMcqZqD

*For the record, I had never made plans to see this movie even though I have a dog (Hi Sarge!), and love dogs, because I  thought the dogs looked kind of terrifying, and everyone in the trailer spoke in depressing monotones. (I know I don’t talk about Sarge often, but really he doesn’t do much of note, beyond shedding copiously, and watching me expectantly in case  “walkies”  occur.)

 

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On Harassment Activism

Image result for angry internet typing cartoon  gif

*A warning for reading these articles, some of them contain some really nasty shit against women and PoC, so read with a certain amount of caution, (or just have a few drinks first.) This seems to be the Right’s go to response to everything they dislike: harassing it out of the public sphere. This is about more than just controlling public forums like Twitter, this is about shutting up the people who are no longer listening to, or supporting, the received wisdom of White men. White men are fed up with so many people talking back, and refuting, the things they’ve been told, or espoused themselves. 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/comicsgate-how-an-anti-diversity-harassment-campaign-in-comics-got-uglyand-profitable?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

https://www.inverse.com/article/41132-comicsgate-explained-bigots-milkshake-marvel-dc-gamergate

 

*And even academics aren’t immune from this “activism”, if they start saying things White men don’t like.

https://www.aaup.org/article/new-reality-far-rights-use-cyberharassment-against-academics#.WsejGfnwb0N

—Their plans became darker and more elaborate. One commenter suggested that their remote attacks on me be expanded to include my family. Another suggested that they take images they had found of my wife and Photoshop them in profane ways. They began to draft letters to send to administrators at my university and provided suggestions for editing to incriminate me. One commenter suggested they alter a screenshot they had created to make it appear as though I had used the term n****r. Another suggested that they accuse me of anti-Semitism. Their stated goal was to see that I was fired. This, apparently, was the type of opportunity they relished: find a person to harass, maybe by drawing him or her into a politi­cal argument, locate any information they could find online, and then coordinate attacks in an attempt to damage the person as much as possible.

 

 

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*This was an interesting article about the response of white people to diverse television, and movies, and their nostalgia about, and retreat to,  past eras of pop culture, like the eighties, when there was less diversity in the media.  We’re going to be seeing more reboots and remakes of TV shows that are not being remembered for their diversity, at the time.

This isn’t just the problem of RPO, but just about every show that is an nostalgic homage to that  time period erases the fact that Black people were having a serious impression on American culture at that time.

The problem with RPO is that the only pop culture of the eighties that’s mentioned in the movie, are things White guys would’ve loved. There’s no mention of the burgeoning hip hop scene, no Beastie Boys, or Run DMC, no Black fashions. In show after show, that’s all just conveniently erased from the history of that era.

https://www.theroot.com/ready-player-one-and-the-unbearable-whiteness-of-80-s-n-1824212737

Where is the Ghostbusters’ Winston Zeddmore? Jazz from The Transformers? Panthro from Thundercats (c’mon, we all know he was black), or even prominent women like Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake and She-Ra?

Writ large, Ready Player One, with its frothy retelling of the ’80s, is no different from decades of Western films with no black cowboys, rock ’n’ roll retrospectives that eliminate the black roots of the music, and commercials that appropriate our past while removing us from it. Today’s Gap commercials would lead you to believe that white people invented breakdancing and pop-locking.

 

I usually post in the mornings, but I was a little late with this one today.

The Mist (2007)

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Normally this would be a comparison between The Mist film, and the TV show, but I didn’t watch the TV show beyond the first couple of episodes. I got bored. The TV show ain’t got nothing on the movie, probably because Frank Darabont had nothing to do with it, and the two people who were involved with it had a very different vision of what The Mist was about.

The series was a hot mess, that was slow and mostly incoherent, and was finally canceled.  I was hopeful that it would be good, (I’m always hopeful that a show will be good), but I was a bit dubious when I heard there wouldn’t be any monsters in the show, and I think part of the reason for its failure, is  fans of the movie had one idea of how it should be, and the creators had a completely different, and incompatible, idea

And of course, it’s really hard to top the original movie that it was based on. Frank Darabont has proven to be something of a genius when it comes to adapting Stephen King’s stories, having directed not just The Mist, but The Shawshank Redemption (which I loved), and The Green Mile, (which I hated for  different reasons.)

Except for the controversial ending, The Mist is faithful to the novella after which it’s named, and that’s part of its success, because  the story is a very effective study of human nature under extreme conditions, and you can’t get more extreme than being trapped in an enclosed space, while being menaced by giant hungry monsters.

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The Grey Widower

I wrote an essay on how to write the apocalypse novel, and I used The Mist as the type of  framework that many writers could try to hang such a story on, but really I have to credit Agatha Christie with making the premise famous, (although its much, much older than her) of a small group of people, trapped in a  space they can’t leave, who start mysteriously dying. It’s an idea that seems to work especially well with horror movies, in everything from Alien (outer space), to Friday the 13th (the woods), to Night of the Living Dead (the home). The only thing that you can truly change about such stories is the size, and nature, of the space, (jungles, warehouses, summer camps, spaceships) the type of people dying (usually White, with a token PoC thrown in for variety), and why (probably monsters). Along the way, the survivors have to navigate the human monsters of greed, stupidity, callousness, cowardice, insanity…

In The Mist, David Drayton, his son Billy, and neighbor, Brent Norton get trapped inside a local grocery when a mysterious mist descends, a mist that contains some very hungry creatures. Also trapped with them is a small contingent of local people, along with Mrs. Carmody, a woman with the reputation of being a kind of hedge witch, who is also a  religious fanatic.The two standout performances are from Andre Braugher as Norton , and Marcia Gay Harden, as  Mrs. Carmody, with Melissa Mcbride (aka Carol from The Walking Dead) in her big film debut, making this a grand trifecta of awesome. Bringing up the rear, but never slouching, is Toby Jones, William Sadler, Sam Witwer, and Laurie Holden as Amanda Dunfrey, a woman David has an attraction to.

The Stephen King Multiverse

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The Leviathan

Near the small town of Bridgton Maine is a military facility that’s believed to be responsible for the descent of the Mist, after a huge thunderstorm knocks out  the power in the town. The book suggests it was some experimental physics event created by something called The Arrowhead Project, that triggered the Mist, and Stephen King (and many fans ) have made this story part of the Stephen King Universe by suggesting that the Project opened what’s known in other King books, as a “thinny”, a portal between the worlds.

My personal theory was that the portal opened into what King calls “todash” space, the dark void between the different worlds, which is inhabited by different types of monsters, like Tak , from The Regulators, and the creatures in this story. Todash Space is also something heavily referenced in The Dark Tower books, and at the opening of the movie, we can see David Drayton painting a picture of Roland Deschain, from The Dark Tower.

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David Drayton

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Thomas Jane, as David Drayton, just manages to just hold his own in this movie, which is impressive, as I never credited him as a particularly fine actor, although he has had a long career in film. Here, he’s supposed to be our everyman character, with whom the audience is meant to identify, and through which we’re meant to get into the story. His most direct nemesis’ is not the mist, but Edward Norton, a representative of disbelief, and later, Mrs. Carmody, who represents too much belief.

David tries to navigate these two approaches to their extreme circumstances, without falling into either the camp of delusion and denial, called The Flat Earth Society, in the book, or hysterical religious ideation, like Mrs. Carmody. In the novel, David has an affair with Amanda Dunfrey, as a form of solace over the loss of his wife, but in the film, Darabont stated that the two of them having an affair would make David’s character less sympathetic, so that was removed from the script. It would also have had the unintended side effect of the audience supposing that David was being punished for his adultery with her, especially if that was coupled with Darabont’s ending.

The ending sparked a great deal of controversy, at the time,, because it’s completely different from what happens in the book, and some viewers claim that it defeats the purpose of everything David Drayton survived beforehand. The novella itself is open-ended, David and the others never find their way out of the mist, although it ends on a hopeful note. In the movie, David and his friends elect to kill themselves, rather than be eaten by the monsters,when their car runs out of gas. This made some people angry because they felt David went through so much to survive Mrs. Carmody, only to give up at the end.

But I felt this was an entirely reasonable response, if looked at along a continuum  of the kinds of  behavior we’d seen from everyone caught in the mist. In the book, some of the characters retreat from their circumstances by getting drunk, and a number of people who David says “went over”, simply go insane. People commit suicide, and retreat into religious hysteria, and denial. But the bottom line is that most of these people (except for a handful) do not want to face their situation head on. In the movie, David does, but even he and his friends are eventually defeated by the mist, and take their own lives.

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Eventually, the only survivor is David, and he realizes the futility of what they’ve done after he steps out of his vehicle, intending to just give up and be eaten by whatever monster finds him first, only to encounter the retreat of the mist, and the American military destroying any monsters left over. That was something that infuriated a lot of people. David and the others having given up too soon. Had they waited just another hour or two, they would have all survived. But my theory was that this is all an illustration of how hopelessness works. It’s immediate and intense, and must be taken care of right away. Hopelessness is a liar that has no patience, and believes there is no time.

At any rate, staying in the store wouldn’t have saved them. They would have had to leave because of Mrs. Carmody, as the military would never have arrived before she started killing more people.

 

Edward Norton

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Andre Braugher is absolutely incredible as Edward Norton. He perfectly  captures Norton’s officious resentment, from the book, and even manages to add an uncomfortable racial component, to his discussion with David in the market. Watch that scene again, where he insinuates that people are racist, without actually saying people are racist towards him.. In the book, he becomes the leader of the Flat Earth Society, a faction of people within the store who simply refuse to believe that the mist is  dangerous, or that there are monsters.

It’s never made exactly clear what Norton does for a living, but I suspect he’s a lawyer. He approaches the entire event from an argumentative stance, as if his clinging to a rational approach to their circumstances should be enough to survive it. He and his crew represent just one approach to what has happened, and they (and the bagboy, who also didn’t believe the mist was dangerous.) are the first of the store’s customers to die. After those people are dead, we are left with the  those who believe their circumstances are real, and that the monsters exist.

In the book, David states that there are so many different ways that the mind can approach what’s happened, but really there aren’t that many. People can only respond in about three ways to extreme fear: flight (whether it’s  physical (suicide), mental (insanity) from their circumstances, or flight : confronting the situation head on, in an attempt to get around it, which is what David does, and negotiation, which is what Mrs. Carmody does. Edward Norton, and Norm the bagboy, tried disbelief and confrontation, and that promptly got them killed. In the novel, several people choose flight. They just mentally check out, (they go insane), still others use alcohol, or suicide to escape. This is somewhat less evident in the movie than in the story. We don’t see any of the characters getting drunk as a way of coping with the situation, for example, and only one of the many suicides is seen.

And then  there’s Mrs. Carmody. I think, in the movie, she’s meant to represent insanity, but I don’t believe she is insane, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Mrs. Carmody

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In the book, Mrs. Carmody is  a caricature of religious insanity, screaming about the abominations in the mist, in a bright yellow pantsuit. She starts off the story as a joke, a figure of mockery. Over the years, King has become better at writing radically religious people, but Mrs. Carmody is one of the weakest characters in the novel, as she is very one-note, and over the top. When we first meet her in the novel, she only has one setting and that is “crazy”, and she remains that way for the rest of the story. There’s no background or depth given to her. She’s little better than the monsters in the mist.

This is where Darabont’s talent for adapting King’s films comes into play. Under his creative control, Mrs. Carmody is considerably  deepened as a character. We don’t  learn anything new about her backstory, but we do learn that she is not as sure of herself as she would like everyone to believe. In the movie, she begins as a simple curmudgeon,  complaining about the smallest things. Like Norton, she sees her response to what’s happening as entirely reasonable, calmly and quietly explaining to the imprisoned crowd what will happen to everyone, if they don’t do as she says,  which is one of the best changes from the book. As the movie progresses, you  get a much better grasp of her character, especially in a scene with Amanda.

Amanda Dunfrey comes across Carmody in the lady’s restroom, and finds her in tears, as she prays to God to give her the strength to commit to His will. Amanda offers her comfort, but Mrs. Carmody’s response lets you know that she is  aware of what contempt she is held in the town, and she rejects her. She speaks from  the perspective of someone who sees herself as an underdog, a figure of mockery and disdain. She doesn’t accept Amanda’s overture of friendship because she knows Amanda doesn’t care about her, and that none of the people in the market are worthy. She honestly believes that her mission is to bring them to the glory, and submission, to the will of God.

Her scene with Amanda gives new perspective to her actions in the market. She is not as certain of her strength as she seems, not as sure she’s doing the right thing but she forges ahead anyway, and since you get the subtle impression she has just as much contempt for the townsfolk ( they are all horrible sinners) as they do for her (as the town crazy), we have to question her motivations for calling for more and more extreme ends to deal with the  mist. Her way of dealing with the mist is to try to appease the deity, from whom she believes the mist comes, but she goes about it the wrong way, as she becomes increasingly desperate to bring these folks to heel, and submit them to God’s will.

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Carmody’s belief, that she is doing God’s will, is abetted by surviving an attack by one of the mist creatures. A large dragonfly creature, with a venomous stinger lands on her, while she prays that it won’t kill her. When it doesn’t harm her, I think she sees that as a sign of God’s approval, that she is indeed doing the right thing, (after which she starts to show a certain degree of pride, and hubris, in knowing what God wants). She also shows pride in believing that she can save these people from damnation. I don’t believe she is insane, as that’s too easy. (I think her motivations are a lot darker than insanity, and some of it may be revenge against the townspeople, she feels hate her, although that’s something that’s not immediately clear, and is just my supposition.) I don’t think her motivations are  pure.

If Norton, and David, represent forms of confrontation, then Mrs. Carmody represents negotiation, which also doesn’t work in their circumstances either. Norton tries confrontation and dies, Carmody’s approach is appeasement and negotiation, and she dies, and this is why Darabont’s ending doesn’t upset me overmuch, as its entirely in keeping with the theme of the movie.

There’s only one response that saved anyone from the mist.

Surrender.

For example, Melissa McBride’s character, a nameless store customer, is one of the few people who actually survives walking out onto the mist, and I suspect it’s because she doesn’t  negotiate with it, or try to run from it, or fight it. She surrenders to it with faith, and humility, that she will be safe to save her children. She believes the mist is dangerous, but leaves the market anyway, to save her kids, and hers is one of the few motivations which is pure, and not entirely self serving. At the end of the movie, we see her riding with the soldiers, both her children with her. It is interesting that David survives only after he does what she did, which is knowingly surrender himself to the  the mist, and simply walk out into it.

 

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Ollie Weeks

Ollie Weeks is one of the truest characters from the novel to the movie. He is written as a soft and unimpressive looking store clerk, a little overweight, with hidden skills, which is exactly how Toby Jones portrays him. Ollie is a calm, stable, but melancholy presence, with the skills of a marksman, and David Drayton makes a point of stating how useful he is several times in the narrative. At no point does Ollie give in to hysteria or fear, remaining levelheaded and brave thoughout the entire movie. He seems resigned to the awfulness of the situation in the book, neither fighting ,nor retreating from reality. In the movie he turns out to be an enormous asset for the survival of the group, until he is killed in the parking lot during the groups escape from the store.

It’s interesting to note that Ollie Weeks dies just after he kills Mrs Carmody. He is not a prideful character, and seemed to genuinely regret killing her, and even though he had a very good reason for doing so, it is still murder.

 

Amanda Dunfries

Amanda isn’t that different from the novel version of her character. The movie version is a bit more naive and trusting but its an acceptable difference. In the story the characters spend a not inconsiderable amount of time arguing about the Carmody situation, and whether or not she will resort to human sacrifice. Amanda is one of the few people, along with Ollie Weeks, who elects that she will, but in the movie, Amanda argues against it, insisting that human beings aren’t that crazy.

I remember watching this [particular scene and feeling frustrated because Amanda is speaking from a deep well of white, middle class,  feminine  privilege, believing in the best outcome of the situation. Amanda is a conventionally attractive woman, who has probably known mostly kindness throughout her life, and that  is probably what forms the basis for her opinion. In neither the book or them ovie does she have a great role to play. She mostly follows David and Ollie’s decisions.

The Monsters

But the standout is the movie’s special effects and its realizations of the monsters from the books. The movie actually improves on the ones from the book making them a lot scarier, and the half seen quality of the mist makes then especially frightening.. The scene where Norm the bagboy is eaten by tentacles is an exact duplicate from the book. And the tentacles are filmed exactly as they’re described.

The creatures that were greatly improved upon from the book are the spiders. In the movie they are called Grey Widowers. (The book gives no name for them.) There is the giant lobster clawed creature that has taken up residence in the store’,s parking lot, and kills several people, including Ollie Weeks and one of the soldiers. But the most impressive creature is the realization of The Behemoth, a multistory creature that David and the others encounter after leaving the store, and is one of the highlights of the book.

As good as the book is, Frank Darabont has crafted a gorgeous retelling of it for the movie. And it is well worth the watch, AFTER, you read the story however.

 

This was first published on November 27th. I’ve since re-written it to be a bit more focused.