My Favorite Michael Jackson Videos

The King of Pop’s Birthday is coming on August 29th, and I just wanna celebrate it with a list of my favorite videos. There’s no argument that Michael Jackson revolutionized the music video genre, in a way no one else had before him, when he released Thriller, waaay back in 1982.

In 1982, I was 12 years old. I had been listening to, and watching Michael dancing in videos, since I was a tot. My Mom loved the Jacksons. She named my baby brother after two of them. (I received a more normal sounding name becasue I was born before the Jackson craze.) So yeah, because Mom loved The Jacksons, we grew up loving them too, although I can’t think of anyone in my neighborhood who didn’t.

When Thriller was released, Black people collectively lost the entirety of their shit. The videos released from that album were such major events, that there were specially televised.  There was no thing such as social media at the time. It was all word of mouth, and Michael was all anybody talked about. People dressed like Michael, tried to dance like him, he popularized the Jheri Curl…

 

Image result for the jheri curl

And all this was before cosplay was really a thing.

And when he released the video to Billie Jean… well, lets face it! There was no more cooler person on Earth than the King of Pop. Genius is a word that gets bandied around so much these days, but really it should only be reserved for people who changed the world so much while they lived, that all others will be compared to them long after their deaths. Michael was a dancing, singing genius.

Anyway, all of that is to say I have a long list of favorite Michael Jackson songs, but only a few videos really make the  cut. Here they are in no particular order:

 

Billie Jean

There was nothing cooler at the time then those flooding pants, white socks,  that everybody starting rocking after this video came out. I was more impressed by the light-up sidewalk. There’s a great deal of mystery happening in this one. The beat and dancing are prefect, as always.

 

 

Thriller

I think everybody knows the dance from this video. I remember watching this with my family, as it was a major television event at the time, and all anybody talked about at my school  for about a month.

https://youtu.be/sOnqjkJTMaA

Stranger in Moscow

I think the cinematography is just beautiful here. its one of the few music videos that can bring on tears. Its simply gorgeous.

https://youtu.be/pEEMi2j6lYE

Smooth Criminal

I love the dancing in this video. And of course I love to watch Michael dressed up as a gangster anytime. The spats and the silhouette suit him very well here.

https://youtu.be/h_D3VFfhvs4

Earth Song

This is one of my Mom’s favorite songs, and one of my favorite videos. This is another one of those videos that made me cry when I first saw it. The power of Michael’s voice, his message, and the imagery, are all literally breathtaking.

https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU

Who Is It

There’s so much mystery going on in this video, and the homage to Blue Velvet wasn’t lost on those who watched this.

 

Remember the Time

This is one of my all-time favorite videos ever. This is very possibly one of the Blackest music videos ever made. Of course I wasnt going to miss The Supreme Goddess, Iman. She just looks stunning.

https://youtu.be/LeiFF0gvqcc

Scream

This is the only video, in which both  Janet and Michael starred,  at the height of their careers. I liked the playfulness and pseudo-attitude. Its just fun to watch, even if the plot is  completely baffling.

 

 

Advertisements

Racial Discussion Linkage

Image result for race and Middle ages

 TPM Special Series: Race, Racism and the Middle Ages

https://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-racism-middle-ages-toc/

https://newrepublic.com/article/144320/racism-medievalism-white-supremacists-charlottesville

CHARLOTTESVILLE SYLLABUS: READINGS ON THE HISTORY OF HATE IN AMERICA

https://daily.jstor.org/charlottesville-syllabi-history-hate-america/

 

Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston

http://citizenshipandsocialjustice.com/2015/07/10/curriculum-for-white-americans-to-educate-themselves-on-race-and-racism/

 


 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth-of-american-innocence

http://www.notsorryfeminism.com/2017/08/a-guide-to-different-levels-of-white-supremacist.html

https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/mens-rights-activism-is-the-gateway-drug-for-the-alt-right.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/08/dahlia_lithwick_on_the_nazis_in_charlottesville.html

http://reallifemag.com/the-authoritarian-surround/

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/08/baked-alaska-charlottesville-and-the-end-of-ironic-nazi.html

https://www.gq.com/story/dylann-roof-making-of-an-american-terrorist

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-charlottesville-end-the-denial-about-trump/2017/08/13/05adbc6e-804a-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?utm_term=.7fe1abeca686

http://splinternews.com/charlottesville-was-a-preview-of-the-future-of-the-repu-1797988745

 

The Defenders Season Review

Image result for defenders gifs

 

Instead of reviewing every episode, one by one, like most other reviewers, I’ve decided to just review the entire season.  Rather than 13 episodes, the series has been reduced to eight, which I feel was a really good idea, as this helps the story move along a lot more swiftly, and with less filler, than in the individual shows.  Since the plot is moving faster, and interludes are shortened, it’s not possible to get too irritated by any particular plot point (The Villain), or character (Danny), because you just don’t have much time for it.

Overall, I enjoyed the series. I can definitely say that I like certain characters much better in a team setting, than I did in their individual stories, because a lot of their weaknesses of character aren’t on full display here, and when they are on display, there’s a reason for it. I especially enjoyed all the team action, even just sitting around and talking to each other, because these guys are  a lot of fun together. Their fighting styles and attitudes just mesh really well, and they have great chemistry with each other, which makes for some interesting, and cool fight scenes, and some funny and snarky dialogue.

I think the show played up the reluctant hero angle a bit too much. The characters are always having conversations about how they’re not heroes, and don’t want to be heroes, especially Luke and Jessica. Matt is trying to quit  the superhero game as if he were going cold turkey from some kind of -ism. Danny is the only one who wants to be a hero, and he’s not  remotely equipped to be one.

 

Luke Cage:

 

Image result for defenders gifs matt

We get a slightly deeper understanding of Luke as a person, although there are no huge revelations, or anything. He still doesn’t want to be a hero, he’s still living in Harlem, still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, all of this is just as in his own show.  We see the opening moves of a friendship between him and Danny, and Luke and Claire finally go out for that coffee, before being awkwardly interrupted by Luke’s former one night, Misty.

All of the characters get a chance to interact, one on one, during the series, although there’s not a lot of forward momentum in their characters, or relationships. Just hints of things to come. We get hints of a reconciliation between him and Jessica. In the comic books, the two are married and have a baby, but I don’t know if these shows will move in that direction. I’m opposed to it because of Jessica having killed his wife, (and then lied to him about it), and Jessica is also  not in any kind of emotional shape to have a relationship with anyone. Also, she is, ethically speaking, the complete opposite of  Luke, and I just don’t see those two  styles of personality meshing well.

As I mentioned, the showrunner doesn’t do anything new with the character. Luke remains a deeply principled guy who, while okay with kicking ass, is opposed to killing. He is not afraid to call someone on their shit, the way he does to Danny.

I love that all the characters have their place and purpose  in the team, and how their differing fighting styles are showcased. Luke is like Superman. He’s invulnerable to most harm, and is often a shield for the others, when the guns come out. He’s not completely invulnerable though, as Danny is one of the few people that can knock him off his feet (well…Danny and unexpected trucks). Seriously, the man is like a tank. He’s even immune to fire.

The team needs Danny whenever they need a huge, loud distraction, as in the finale, when they needed to reach a safe place, but The Hand was being an obstruction. Danny is like a large explosive device, delivering concussive sound and force, and I like the way his powers are used here, although yeah, the glowing fist still looks kinda silly. Still, Luke and Danny are definitely the team’s two heavy hitters.

One of the most annoying parts of the show is the Rap music that appears whenever Luke shows up on screen. To the showrunner: Hey! Luke does not  need a soundtrack to announce his presence!

Matt is the resident Ninja, and while Danny isn’t too bad in that department, Danny has a different purpose. Matt is the kind of team member who can move in and out of a situation quickly and quietly, warn the team of any impending danger, (and get them out of trouble with the law,  if necessary, I guess.)

 

 

Matt Murdock:

Image result for defenders gifs matt

 

Matt spends a lot of the first couple of episodes trying not to be heroic, or save people. I think we’re meant to believe that he gave it all up after losing Elektra, but since I wasn’t buying his relationship with her, I didn’t care. The two of them have no chemistry, and the emotional intensity of a pair of titmice, especially when it comes to passionate exchanges.

On the other hand, it was nice seeing him put his lawyer-ly shit down, it was nice to see Foggy and Karen again, and I’m glad the three of them made some effort towards reconciliation, especially after last season’s events, when Karen found out he was Daredevil. The two of them treat, and talk about Matt, as if he were a recovering junkie, so that’s kind of weird, made even weirder by scenes of Matt “staring” longingly at his Daredevil outfit, as if it were an ice cream sundae.

Actually, a lot of Charlie Cox’s acting is off in this series. There’s story movement, but his character remains pretty much the same. His fighting skills are awesome as ever, but Charlie looks like he’s phoning in  his performance. When I called him a Floor Lamp Ninja, I meant that he could pretty much be swapped out by any other martial arts actor, and this would not  greatly affect the plot.

I did enjoy the scene where he tails Jessica on the streets and she susses him out, and when they meet for the first time in their superhero guises. Matt steals that big gray scarf she wears everywhere, to wrap around his face, and Jessica rolls her eyes at him.

 

 

Jessica Jones:

Image result for defenders gifs jessica

This show went a long way towards making me like this character. As much as she hates people, Jessica really does work well in a team setting. She takes nothing seriously, which ends up making her the funniest person in the group. Her one on one interactions with Matt are especially funny, and she gives absolutely no fucks about who  Danny is, and is quick to say so, which I thought was hilarious.

A lot of the weakness of Jessica’s show is that its very White Feminist, and her mistreatment of PoC in the show really started, not just to grate on my nerves, but to make me actively dislike her, no matter how much I sympathized with her issues. I know and understand  that she is dealing with the severe trauma of what Killgrave did to her, but trauma is not an excuse for her abuse and mistreatment of characters of color.

I actually had a problem, not just with her,but with the show’s writers as well. Despite women’s trauma issues being  the center of  the story, they still managed to erase  WoC entirely, which is something White Feminism keeps doing, in stories that are supposed to be empowering to women. (The stories end up being empowering only  to White women.) But I still applaud the show for its messages and the general treatment of its (White) female characters. I see why some people liked it, but ultimately the show wasn’t for me.

That’s just the logical reasoning for why I disliked the show. The other reason is there was a lot of triggering shit in that show. I had to stop watching it, for my own self care, because I was not ready!

I liked Jessica in The Defenders, because the focus wasn’t on Jessica’s pain, so we got to see her reacting to other things. She’s still an unlikable, alcoholic, snarky mess, but that’s okay. Who says heroes have to be likable? Its especially interesting because unlikability is rare in female characters, and Jessica is thoroughly unapologetic about herself. At one point she very openly steals a can of beer, from a passed out homeless man on the subway, (because she’s had a long day,) right in front of Matt and Luke, who handle  the act with no more than raised eyebrows.

Jessica is definitely the team’s Tony Stark to Luke’s Steve Rogers. There’s much of the same personality dynamics present, except some of the motivation for  Jessica’s rather  loose ethics stem partially from her trauma at the hands of Killgrave.

 

Danny Rand:

Image result for defenders danny

Yeah, for someone who talked a lot of shit about the Iron Fist series, I think you guys will be pleasantly surprised that I didn’t actually dislike Danny Rand in this show. As I mentioned, the shorter running time for the series means that Danny’s scenes are kept to a minimum, so he doesn’t have as much time to be irritating. Not that he doesn’t give it a big try.

Finn Jones has also had the benefit of some practice on his fight choreography, and better directors and it shows. His fight scenes aren’t the trash fire that they were in Iron Fist, so he actually ends up looking competent. Plus, he just works better with a team of people, than he does on his own.

The team dynamics go a long way towards making Danny likable here, and really, in the next season of Iron Fist, the show runners really need to lean in to the ridiculousness of his story, rather than playing it straight, because yeah, Danny sounds like he’s insane. None of the other team members take his backstory seriously, rolling their eyes every time he mentions he’s the Immortal Iron Fist, an attitude I thought was incredibly funny. And then there’s the silliness of him walking around with a large dragon tattoo on his test. His powers aren’t funny, and the audience is never given to laugh at those, but his backstory is kinda nuts. Mr. I Punched a Dragon!

Another reason I like Danny here, is because the showrunner makes an effort to make his character understandable, in a way that he wasn’t in his own series. In his own series, his behavior is incredibly rage inducing, and frustrating, (and I can’t help but think that this change has at least a little to do with the showrunner being a man of color, who understands the issue in a way the last showrunner didn’t). But here, Danny’s behavior is in smaller doses, and he has more well developed characters reacting to his wtf*ery, so he’s  a lot easier to understand. Granted, if the character had been cast as Asian to begin with, we wouldn’t need all these careful repairs.

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/08/luke-cage-iron-fist-marvel-defenders-netflix-privilege-1201868048/

For example, at one point, he and Luke square off, with Luke confronting Danny about his privilege as a rich White man, who chooses to come into his part of town and beat up the impoverished Black people, rather than finding some other way to defeat The Hand’s purposes. The Hand is able to operate with impunity in such neighborhoods because all they have to do is offer money. Luke’s statement is a reminder to Danny that there’s a bunch of other things he could’ve done, as a wealthy White man to defeat the purposes of The Hand, besides beating up the citizens. But then you notice that Danny’s go-to, when dealing with The Hand, is only ever violence. He never tries to thwart them any other way, and thinks he can  simply punch his way to the proper outcome.

For example: Danny and Colleen find a warehouse full of bodies. The Hand is hiring young men from Luke’s  neighborhood to  clean up any evidence that might lead to their organization. Danny and Colleen do not know this. They don’t ask questions, have not investigated the situation, and haven’t bothered to understand the why of any of it. The two of them immediately jump to kicking ass. Danny and Luke first meet when  Luke steps in to protect one of the young men, who has lost his family to The Hand, and feels coerced to work for them.

Luke’s statement about his privilege is meant to remind Danny that there are other perspectives  besides his own. It’s made very plain  that when it comes to The Hand, Danny has a huge blind spot.  Danny doesn’t  think, he just reacts, and that was what happened at the warehouse, which  resulted in Danny brutally beating a (Black) teenage boy. He’s  reckless, impulsive, and has anger issues. He and Colleen don’t have any kind of a plan, beyond destroying The Hand. This gets mentioned a couple of times during the show.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/18/16118680/the-defenders-netflix-marvel-iron-fist-sucks

On to the good part: Danny doesn’t get any better at being impulsive, but he does listen to what gets said to him. And the showrunner is a lot better at making clear what Danny’s motivations are, something which is cloudier on his own show. Danny is looking for a purpose. Since he abdicated his responsibilities to K’un L’un (Why?), he’s not only been looking for a way to atone for that, but looking for a new purpose to replace it, and probably looking for a new family too, as he’s one of the few characters that’s at all excited about teaming up. But again he is blind to his rage about The Hand, and as long as he remains blind to his lack of control, as regards them, he can accomplish nothing.

When the rest of the team find out the the The Hand is specifically after Danny, they try to get him to stand down, and stay out of their next fight, rather than just running up on ’em, without a plan. I’m always here for Danny getting his ass handed to him, which the team has to resort to, to keep Danny from fucking up, yet again. There follows a long interlude with him and Luke getting to know each other, and Danny trying to at least understand Luke’s perspective on the world.

So yeah, this show went a little way to making me, if not like Danny, at least understand where he’s coming from in terms I could easily grok.

 

Alexandria:

Image result for defenders gifs alexandra

 

Sigourney Weaver turns in a beautiful performance, as I expected, before being unexpectedly dispatched near the end of the series. My biggest problem is that her motivations as a villain are so vague and ill-defined I was completely unable to care what her goals were. We know what she and the other members of The Hand want to do, but we have no idea why they want to take over the world, other than just wanting to do it.

I didn’t focus on her unfathomable motivations. I just tried to focus on her performance.  She and Elektra have great chemistry, reminiscent of Ellen Ripley and Call, the Android from Alien Resurrection, and I found this dynamic fascinating. On a lighter note, I loved her outfits. Alexandra is always impeccably dressed. She just looks like a woman with a lot of money and extravagant but unshowy tastes.

Another problem that I have is that the women in this show rarely get to interact with each other, (although Claire and Colleen get some nice scenes together, and later, Colleen and Misty get to talk). Alexandra spends a lot of time alone. They couldn’t even bother to write her as being friends to Madame Gao, having her treat Gao like a servant, which I found especially distasteful. Here you have a wealthy White woman treating this older Asian woman as if she were the Help, although there are other factors behind why she does it, it was still ugly and racist, even if that was not what was intended.

I still don’t know why the  showrunners bothered to call Sigourney into this show, which she is simply too good for. I had noticed that her presence sidelines the Asian characters putting, them all in a subordinate position to her, and significantly reducing Madame Gao’s street cred, that she’s built over three other shows. As much as I like Sigourney, I feel like the story would have been better served without Alexandra.

 

Elektra:

Image result for defenders gifs elektra

 

I still do not like this character, because I just feel like she’s evil for no  feckin’ reason. I didn’t like her in Daredevil either, because the writers just made her seem batshit insane for no reason. Elodie Young is gorgeous and all, and can actually act, as I’ve seen her elsewhere acting just fine, but I don’t like the way she approached this character. When we first see her here, she has been brainwashed and controlled by The Hand, most especially Alexandra. She’s pretty much a perfect example of the Born Sexy Yesterday Trope.  Later,  she appears to become evil on purpose,and for the life of me, I simply could not care.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dxgnmgk8728039vcnyat5g65

After Elektra’s resurrection, she is mentored in her evil-ness by Alexandra, and it was really interesting watching the relationship between the two of them, but she does eventually betray Alexandra, and turns against The Hand. Once again, for no reason that I could discern than that the writers needed a new villain in the plot.

The show is somewhat formulaic, with the idea of replacing one Big Bad with another, halfway through the season. This happened with Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Luke Cage, where the viewer starts out with one villain, who gets unceremoniously dispatched by the true villain of the story. Basically, a villain bait and  switch.

I wanted to like Elektra. I just don’t. I couldn’t understand her motivations for anything, and I wasn’t feeling her deep love affair with Matt Murdock. Which is not helped by Matt Murdock acting like  “Floor Lamp Ninja”, throughout most of the series. When she’s not smurking evil-ly, she has a blank, wide-eyed, look on her face, which I found kinda irritating. I got no problem with Elektra’s martial skills. Those were exemplary, as always.

 

Colleen Wing:

Image result for defenders gifs colleen

 

She has even less personality growth here then in Iron Fist. In fact, I found her much more annoying in The Defenders, than I did in that show. She didn’t make much of an impression on me for this show, either. Part of this has to do with the shorter length of the series. There’s just not enough time to develop all the characters, so some of them get short shrift and hers is especially short.

The only thing we get from Colleen’s is more of her being Danny’s support network, (as she is told by Claire) and fighting the same endless fight against Bakuto, that she fought in Iron Fist, with Bakuto making the exact same talking points. Why he wants her is anybody’s guess Is he in love? Wants her as a protege? We don’t know or understand. His motivations are pretty vague. As are most The The Hand’s motivations.

Collen’s motivations are even less discernible to us than they were in Iron Fist. That was a problem that wasn’t even approached here. We don’t know why she loves him, and the two are not especially demonstrative, but nevertheless we are led to believe they are a couple. She may be Danny’s emotional support but she’s doing an awful job at helping him deal with his anger issues ,or his ideas about who and what he is. Case in point, it took a near total stranger, Luke , to point out one of Danny’s biggest flaws. The problem may be that Colleen is unable to point out Danny’s flaws because she’s too much like him. She has a go along to get along attitude with Danny that I found irritating, never questioning what he says or does, and mindlessly following him in his quest. She has no story of her own, seemingly having gave it up to be little more than Danny’s helpmate. The writers need to do better with her. Hopefully, if there is a spinoff show with Misty, she’ll be better written.

As per usual there’s nothing wrong with Colleen’s martial skills. In fact the choreography isn’t bad for the whole series, and at least a few of the directors know how to shoot fight scenes well enough to make them all different, and compelling enough, to keep watching. My favorite fight scenes are the team fights though.

 

Misty Knight:

 

Image result for defenders gifs misty

There’s not much character growth with Misty Knight either, but at least her motivations are clear. We know exactly what she wants in the narrative and why she wants it. She wants to solve her case, and get a promotion, (or not be fired), which is hindered by the fact that the people who could help her solve it, refuse to tell her anything, and the fact that, with The Hand, she is totally out of her league.

Misty is a cop, so she has mostly cop concerns, just as she did in Luke Cage. Shit is happening, her friends are in the middle of it, and they won’t tell her anything, because they realize, but refuse to explain clearly to her, just how far out of her depth she is. I kept admonishing Luke (and Jessica) to make clear to her, that the organization they’re  dealing with  doesn’t give a flying hot damn if she’s a cop, and will happily kill her (and her entire fam), but they kept refusing to tell her this, which was becoming really frustrating.

I’ve also seen some shitty meta about how she’s a bad character because she keeps attacking people she needs help from, and I’m like Bish please! She’s not attacking your White faves! She is being a cop, who knows that the information that will allow her to do her job, is being withheld. She’s got one job in the damn show, which is solving her case, and  she can’t do it, because  the four people who know something about it, won’t tell her anything. So yeah, she gonna be irritated, and not afraid to show that irritation.  This is called DRAMA, people!( I’m trying to  remember that I’m dealing with the hysterical children of Tumblr, who think any time  characters of color show irritation at a White character’s actions,  that it automatically makes them a villain. Yep! This is the level of logic I’m dealing with on Tumblr, guys!)

But she comes through in the end anyway, and lets the team handle their bidness. Although, I suspect she’s mostly there because Luke and Claire were in danger. (Remember, Misty doesn’t know who  any of those White people are. They are just mysterious somebodies who are obstructing her job. Luke and Claire are the ones who are her friends..)

Misty is known in the comic books for having a silver bionic arm, and for teaming up with Colleen to be the Daughters of the Dragon. (On an alternate Earth, she even gets to carry Steve Rogers shield, sorta like a female Bucky.) So,  we may get to see her new prosthetic in season two of Luke Cage, and if we’re lucky we’ll get to see her and Colleen team up. Hey! If side characters like the Punisher can get their own show, they can make a Daughters of the Dragon series, (possibly in the style of the Foxy Brown Blaxploitation movies of my youth.) The series should of course be helmed by a Black or Asian woman, because I absolutely do not  trust a White, male, showrunner to get a Black woman, and an Asian woman correct.

http://mashable.com/2017/08/18/the-defenders-misty-knight-arm-daughters-of-the-dragon-spinoff/#KKkkf8UKpmqx

 

The Hand:

Image result for defenders gifs the hand

https://www.bustle.com/p/who-are-the-five-fingers-of-the-hand-the-defenders-reveals-whos-pulling-the-strings-77358

Unfortunately, the shorter the running time of the series does not seem to allow much clarity on who, or what, The Hand is, or why they want what they want. We have some idea of what they’re doing globally, not just in New York, but that’s pretty much all we get.

New York starts experiencing a spate of seismic disturbances, which are being caused by The Hand digging near some sort of fault line, under a plot of land they built an office on. Why they are digging is slightly unclear. I think some dragon bones are involved becasue its briefly mentioned tat this has something to do with how Iron Fist got his power. For some reason ,they also need to capture Iron Fist and beat him up, or make him angry so he can open some kind of doorway to K’un L’un, so the five leaders of The Hand can go back home.

I did pay attention but really that’s the best I can do regarding the rather lackluster plot. I really didn’t care, although i guess its supposed to be some sort of revelation ,that the five leaders are all incredibly old, exiled citizens of K’un L’un. Even the facts of why they’re exiled in the first place isn’t made abundantly clear. I really hope the showrunner and the writers were making some kind of point about cloudy motivations, or something becasue the villains are a mess.

Alexandra gets unceremoniously dispatched and replaced by Elektra, who gives a self important speech about how she’s now the leader of The Hand. I don’t know if its the actress, or the writing, but I was bored by the whole thing. Why we were introduced to new memebers of The Hand only to have them killed right away is anyone’s guess.

Since The Hand is an egalitarian organization there’s a Japanese guy, whose name I don’t remember, a Brazilian guy named Bakuto, an African (Haitian?) guy named Sowande, and Ms. Gao, who I assume is Chinese. Sowande reminds me of the lead character from the movie Beasts of the Southern Wilds who was a procurer of child soldiers. Sowande is brutally tortured and killed by he Defenders after they capture him in an attempt to find out his people’s plans, something which did not sit well with me. And before you come into my inbox and start mansplaining about how the other members of The Hand also get killed, I have to remind you, that none of the other members of The Hand were brutally tortured first. This happens to the sole Black member of The Hand, by people who are, supposedly, the good guys.

Couple that scene with Iron Fist’s brutal beating of a young Black boy in an earlier episode,Jessica jones treatment of its Black male characters,  Daredevil’s treatment of its Asian characters as some type of Yellow Peril (which even the presence of a White woman leader cannot resolve), and Iron Fists White Savior issues, and it becomes clear that the the MCU has some serious racial issues that need addressing. The only disability on display is Matt Murdock’s blindness. Jessica Jones treament of one of its lesbian characters was, quite simply, abominable, and outside of that there is no LGBT representation in any of it. Marvel comic books are doing much better in regards to these issues than the MCU.

One of the ways they can address some of these issues is by hiring different types of showrunners, and writers and treating the creation of these shows (and the movies which have all the same problems) the same way they approach the comic books. The newest phase of MCU movies have gotten a little bit better as far as racial issues (but not by much) and it’s seriously lacking in LGBT and disability representation, and the creators of these projects need to think more deeply about these issues, most especially in its treatment of Asian characters across all of the MCU, as it’s becoming creepily apparent that maybe don’t like people of the Asian diaspora.

Despite all my criticisms though, I actually enjoyed watching it. I’m still glad I didn’t have to spend 13 hours watching it, instead of the eight. The strongest part of the series are the scenes of The Defenders working together as a team. There’s a lot of room for improvement but also a lot of promise for a season two.

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

Image result for midnight texas

So, I’ve watched maybe two episodes of this show and I’m really liking it so far. I’m willing to date this show for a while, because it’s good fun and makes me laugh. Midnight Texas isn’t a deep show. It’s not a Bryan Fuller Joint, or Westworld, but it’s a fun little interlude before going to bed, since it airs at ten, Monday nights, and I gotta go to work in the morning.

The main character, Manfred Bernardo, can see ghosts. His Auntie comes from the town of Midnight, and after she dies suddenly, leaving him in debt to some type of criminal, her ghost tells him the town can be a safe place for him, where his skills will be appreciated.

Midnight Texas happens to be the home of various supernatural beings, and Manfred fits right in. Upon his  arrival, Manfred meets a local girl named Creek, and while her father is deeply suspicious of him, the young lady is intrigued, and the two of them develop a relationship very quickly. A lot of things happen quickly in the show, and many of the plot points happen in a kind of throwaway manner that takes some getting used to. I understand the idea is to keep it light, and not get too bogged down in philosophy, meta- physics, and whatnot. The show is supposed to just be fun, and I’ll watch it in that spirit.

I have a lot of favorite characters on the show, most of which are supers. There’s some good representation on the show, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various characters. I missed the second episode, but managed to watch the third. The creators are trying to keep things light without being ha-ha funny, which is a fine line. It doesn’t look like they’re trying so much to reproduce True Blood, as reproduce the mood of True Blood. Some of these characters are mentioned in the True Blood books though.

Manfred, for example, is the psychic that Sookie met when she visited Dallas.  Midnight Texas is based on source material from the same writer, Charlaine Harris. I have not read the books. I opted not to, because I didn’t want my brain focusing on the side issues of the books, while watching the show. I may read them at some point in the future, because they seem like fun, but not right now.

Image result for midnight texas/ joe  gifs

We have a full complement of creatures on the show, so you’d think my favorite would be the Reverend Emilio Sheehan, who happens to be a Were-Tiger, which is kinda awesome. He seems rather morose, which is appropriate as I consider actual tigers to be the “crabby old men” of the giant cat world. There are WoC in the cast. One of them owns the local bar/diner, and I don’t think she has any superpowers, but I could be wrong, and it’s something that could be revealed later. The other is the local witch. The town does have some mundane people inhabiting it, and some of them are aware of the supernatural qualities of the others.

You’d think my next favorite would be the Angel, Joe because he’s really, really hot. I’m not into blondes, as a rule, but I’m willing to acknowledge the occasional hotness of some of them. He happens to be living with a Hispanic man named Chuy, who also happens to be an Angel, and I wonder if the two of them being a couple is the reason they’ve been exiled to Earth.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Lemuel

Well, you know who my favorite is. Lemuel, the rather unique vampire who feeds off human energy, and eats other vampires. We get to see his backstory in the third episode. He used to be a slave and there’s a scene of Lemuel being whipped for trying to escape, which I didn’t appreciate having to look at. That scene is pretty graphic and you may want to skip it if watching Black people being tortured is not your thing. The point of all that is to show how far Lemuel will go to be free, I guess.  After a couple of escape attempts, Lem encounters a Native American vampire, who transforms him. Lem’s immediate course of action is to avenge himself on the slave owner, who had him beaten, and that guy’s entire family. That’s pretty graphic too.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Olivia

 

Later, Lem and the other vampires in his clan, have a falling out, because Lem thinks he’s become just another slave to his thirst. In the third episode, Len’s Maker returns looking to take over Midnight for himself. The townspeople rally together to kill the vampires.

This seems to be the main theme this season, as we’ve  had three/four episodes, in which the townspeople need to band together to defeat some outside force. In the middle of all this plot, we learn that Lem started off as an ordinary vampire, but after encountering Manfred’s aunt when she was a child, she transformed him into something else, a vampire that can feed on other vampires.

The characters often have some deep philosophical insights, but like I said, it’s in a blink and you’ll miss it manner. (Joe and the Reverend do this too.) Lem is played by Peter Mensah, who is extremely handsome, in his bold blue contacts. You may remember him as a gladiator from the show Spartacus.

I  like Lem’s girlfriend, Olivia, who is some type of international assassin. She’s a total badass, and she and Lem are the town’s heavy hitters, when it comes to defense. I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to White television actresses, unless they’ve firmly established themselves with a good track record, but I like this actress. She’s blunt spoken, clear-headed, and pragmatic, all qualities I admire, and I see why Lem likes her. She has some secrets from her past, that she’s trying to bury, while dealing with  anger issues.  I could do with a lot fewer scenes of Olivia and Lem gettin’ it on, though. It doesnt need to be shown in every episode.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Fiji

Fiji is another one of my favorites, and I like her, not because she’s the town witch, although that’s kinda cool, but because she has a talking cat. I don’t know much about the cat’s backstory but he’s snarky, and dismissive, just the way you’d think a cat would be. How it happened that her cat talks, we don’t know yet. Fiji is very young, but she’s also extremely powerful, and well-respected in the town. Most of the mundanes know what she is, and rely on her to protect them.

Fiji is also really cute, and kind of adorkably nerdy. She has a mad crush on one of the townies, a guy with the unfortunate name of Bobo, and her feelings seems to be reciprocated. One of the more powerful images I have of her, is from the first episode, where she crushes a police vehicle, with little more than her bare hands, and a strong will. Fiji looks sweet and vulnerable, but she ain’t the one to mess with. She’s  refreshingly different, as Black women rarely get to be emotionally fragile, but powerful love interests, and/or witches either.

I’m going to try to enjoy this show while it lasts. It’s on network television, which has a nasty habit of cancelling the shows I like, so I don’t hold out much hope that Midnight Texas. will be around next year. This is the same station that just canceled Still Star Crossed. But then I was trying really hard not to get attached to that show. (That didn’t work). I’m not gonna try that with this show and it still might get canceled. I might as well get attached. There’s always the books, which I’m told, Charlaine intends to keep writing.

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

Image result for mr mercedes gif

 

I liked this show, too. I was expecting it to be a deeply serious dramatic type  show, but it turned out to have a quirky sense of humor, not because the writing is funny, or people are telling jokes, but because certain characters and situations are just odd. It’s not like the show Psych, which was a deliberate comedy. This is not a comedy. It’s just some of the characters are weird.

The show is based on a trilogy of books by Stephen King, the first title of which is Mr. Mercedes, named after the killer in the book. Brendan Gleason plays Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is trying to figure out what to do with himself, now that he’s no longer working. until he is taunted out of retirement by Mr. Mercedes, so-named after he drove a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers outside a job fair, killing several. I like Gleason’s character. One of the funniest recurring issues is when he can’t believe various women find him attractive. (It’s definitely the beard.)

Image result for mr mercedes tv show gifs

The show begins with  a very graphic scene, and I was heavily reminded of the events in Charlottesville Virginia. There’s no mystery about the killer for the audience, just as in the book. We’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield early in the story. The book remains very faithful to the books, except in tiny details like the wacky neighbor lady who lives next door, and Bill feeding a massive tortoise passing through his yard one morning. I’m not sure if this is a pet or what.

Bill is assisted in his sleuthing, by the kid he hired to mow his lawn, and who happens to be a computer wiz. Jerome is played by Jharrel Jerome, and I like him already. His character is a refreshing change from the Black Male Sportsplayer/Jock, we see so often on TV. Black men are rarely cast as hardware nerds. Brady is also a tech-nerd, and works at one of those big box technical stores, which is something like Best Buy, and I like that Jerome seems to be every bit his equal when it comes to the esoteric workings of computers.

Image result for mr mercedes gifs jerome

I think Bill’s quirky neighbor is meant to represent a woman with which Bill has a brief, but satisfying relationship, in the books. Or at least I hope so. I don’t know if this will happen on the show, but in the book, Janey is murdered by Brady. This is not a catalyst to make Bill chase after him, because Bill was already unofficially working the Mr. Mercedes case. This is Brady’s attmept to make Bill commit suicide. The neighbor, Ida Silver, is played by Holland Taylor, and if she looks familiar, that you may have seen her in every funny show of the 90s.

Image result for mr mercedes cast

The villain is played by one of the alumni of the cable show, Penny Dreadful . Harry Treadaway, who played Victor Frankenstein, is as disgusting character here, as he was on the other show. Apparently, this is how he’s going to make his career, playing unlikable people in perfectly good shows. The show remains very faithful to the books with him too. He has an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom he later poisons, and it looks like the writers are sticking to this plot, although in the book, the mother  initiates sexual activity. In the show, it appears she doesn’t know that her son regularly masturbates with her as his subject. (I know! Ewww!)

Their relationship does have a very Bates Motel feel. Brady works at a Big Box store, with other quirky characters, and a deeply stupid boss, who is constantly shit-talking Brady’s dreams of life beyond the store. This goes a long way towards humanizing this incredibly shitty character, who mowed down dozens of people with his car, just for shits and giggles. This is not something that happens  in the books, so I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m going to keep watching this because the pilot certainly captured me. The show airs on the Audience Network which may be difficult for some of you to access. I have access to it through DirectTV, and its possible you may need that, to watch this show.

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

Related image

I love a good creature feature, and I was attracted to this movie because of its use of tentacles in its promotional material. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I sat down to watch it. I was sort of expecting a little Cthulhu type stuff, and there’s certainly a little of that in it, but there was also a lot of it I couldn’t make hide, nor hair, of.

It seems to be about a group of cultists attempting to call some dark being to Earth, to inhabit the bodies of humans, and the cultists are partially successful. They’re doing this in collusion with a doctor at the local hospital, where they’ve trapped several people.  Daniel Carter, Maggie, James, and inexplicably, an Asian woman, named Kim, who I lost track of by the end of the movie.

These people have to fight off monsters inhabiting the bodies of their friends, and a couple of trigger happy locals, while working their way through the maze of the hospital, to find and stop the doctor from unleashing Hell on Earth, through the body of his pregnant daughter.

Image result for the void movie

I have to give fair warning. The movie is very gory, with lots of blood and other fluids gushing all over the place. People get skewered with knives and/or shot, and sometimes they get torn apart by creatures. The cult members wear white hooded cloaks and look a little like KKK members, but there is no equivocating in this case. They are definitely villains ,whose job it is to keep the hapless victims trapped in the hospital to be fodder for the monsters. There’s also an element of the movie The Thing, as the monster is a conglomeration of various body parts and live people.

The movie doesn’t have the happiest ending either. At the end Daniel, and I guess her name is Maggie, get trapped in an alternate universe featuring a giant black pyramid. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not an A+ movie either. A lot of the plot seems to have been borrowed from  other Lovecraftian pastiche movies, like Hellraiser, and Re-animator ,and the acting is sometimes a bit dodgy. But I think the key words here are “not bad”. It’s a good workmanlike plot where bad things happen to bad, and sometimes not so bad,people, who sometimes act like cowards, and occasionally act like heroes.

Image result for the void movie

Daniel isn’t the most charismatic guy in the film, although he is set up as our hero, who has the most sense,  and who  is gonna save the world. None of the other characters stand out as especially interesting either, really. Basically, if you’re watching this movie, it’s just  for the monsters, and gore.

Charlottesville Links & Discussion

I don’t know what to say about what happened in the US last weekend. My faith in White people to even try to be their better selves is at its absolute lowest point. I’ve gotten to where I don’t want to read anything about racism on the internet, if a White man wrote it. (But I still do.)

I don’t have the words, but plenty of other people do, and I’ve decided to link to them here. Normally, I do not directly discuss politics here, because I want this blog to be a place where people can escape the constant worry about such things, and just decompress. For those of you outside the states, me and mine are fine. The protests and rioting occurred nowhere near us, and I live in a kind of protective bubble of a Midwestern inner city. I just watched it all on TV like everyone else.

It is extremely difficult to be unaware of what’s happening in the US, no matter how much you try to avoid it (for self-care, or anxiety issues, or whatever.) But I thought a linkspam might help people outside the US figure out what the Hell is going on over here.

 

About Charlottesville Virginia:

Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death

<A Timeline of Events in 24 Hours from The Washington Post>

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/local/charlottesville-timeline/?utm_term=.a00b0596960d

@@

Here’s What Really Happened In Charlottesville

https://www.buzzfeed.com/blakemontgomery/heres-what-really-happened-in-charlottesville?utm_term=.sl461znwB#.vwz24J8WO

About White Nationalism and the Alt-Right:

The Right-Wing propaganda machine is working overtime, trying to equate BLM, and the White Nationalist movement, as being flip sides of the same coin. Be very aware that there is a concentrated, and planned effort, to obfuscate, and to derail, any and all discussion on the topic of White racism, onto the topic of Black people’s culpability. (They are, essentially, trying to argue that everything that has happened is the fault of Black Americans, which is yet another attempt to demonize BLM. The exact same tactic that was used to smear MLK during the Civil Rights Era.)

If the person is making claims, without any reputable links to sources for those claims, then beware of their intentions. 

Here’s a link to BLM’s actual website, so you can read about it for yourself, in their own words, rather than toxic people’s interpretations of those words:

http://blacklivesmatter.com/

@@

Most of these links are from Tumblr, Twitter, and various Op-Ed news sources, as people try to explain and understand what happened. As I always warn, do not go into the comment sections of the articles, because the apologists and racists are out in full force, and have infested most of the comments sections on any articles dealing with this subject, mostly offering misinformation, and false equivalencies.  If your tolerance for White Gibberish is at zero, then don’t read them.

THE ALT-RIGHT CAN’T DISOWN CHARLOTTESVILLE

https://www.wired.com/story/alt-right-charlottesville-reddit-4chan/

@@

@@

Yes, there are Medieval Historians who are pushing back against narratives of this kind.

Racism, Medievalism, and the White Supremacists of Charlottesville

https://newrepublic.com/article/144320/racism-medievalism-white-supremacists-charlottesville

@@

The Truth About Women and White Supremacy

https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/charlottesville-attack-women-white-supremacy.html

@@

A Guide to the Different Levels of White Supremacist

http://www.notsorryfeminism.com/2017/08/a-guide-to-different-levels-of-white-supremacist.html

@@

 

View story at Medium.com

To the white male supremacists who feel ‘oppressed’ in America: you’re nothing more than venomous crybabies

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/charlottesville-white-male-supremacist-attack-killing-oppressed-venomous-crybabies-a7893011.html

On What You Can Do

@@

Image result for black power

phoenix-ace

I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again:

You cannot challenge racism, on this level, by being nice to and reaching out to white supremacists.  Their entire ideology revolves around dehumanizing us.  It just does. not. work.

You cannot fight fascism by prioritizing the feelings of fascists and letting them think they’re safe around you.  You don’t “get them on your side”.  Because treating them kindly and respecting them, gives them your silent approval and access to those of you who are way more vulnerable than you are and who cannot afford to feel safe enough to “debate” with these monsters.

Our humanity is not a question or a debate topic, and by giving these people a platform you legitimize their views and help spread them to a larger audience.

@@

We Aren’t At The Healing Stage With Racism

A lot of people want to heal our communities in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville. I am here to counter such narratives. This is not the time for healing. Now is the time to double down on admittedly painful efforts for change instead of feelings.

https://scottwoodsmakeslists.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/we-arent-at-the-healing-stage-with-racism/

@@

 vaspider

Okay, friends, let’s talk about going to protests and weaponizing our whiteness, if in fact we are white.

You know what the protesters who marched with Dr. King wore? Their best. Their clergy stoles, their suits. If you’re a doctor or a nurse? Wear your scrubs. If you’re a parent? Wear your PTA shirt if it’s too hot for a suit. If you’re a student? Dress like you’re going to go volunteer somewhere nice, or wear a t-shirt that proclaims you a member of your high school band, your drama group, your church youth group. Whatever it is, make sure it’s right there with your white face.

This is literally the tactic of the people who marched with King in the 60s, and we need to bring it back, and bring it back HARD.

I do this all the time when I go to marches. I wear my cutest, least-offensive geeky t-shirt, crocs and black pants, or I wear my t-shirt that mentions my kid’s school district, or now I’ll wear the pink t-shirt that says I’m part of the Sisterhood at my shul. If it’s cold enough, I wear a cardigan and jeans and sit my ass in my wheelchair. (I need to anyway.) I put signs on my wheelchair that say things like ‘I love my trans daughter’ and ‘love for all trans children’ or something else that applies to the event. Dress like you are going to an interview if you can, or make yourself look like a parent going to pick up a gallon of milk at the corner store. Make yourself “respectable.” Use respectability politics and whiteness AS A WEAPON.

Fuck yes I will weaponize the fact that I look like a white soccer mom. And you should do this too if you can. Weaponize the fuck out of your whiteness. If you are disabled and comfortable with doing so, turn ableism on its head and weaponize it. Make it so that the cameras that WILL be pointed at you see your whiteness, see your status as a parent, see your status as a community member. See you in your wheelchair or with your cane. If you have privilege or a status that allows you to use it as a weapon or a shield, use it as a shield to defend others or a weapon to break through the bullshit.

@@

DEAR WHITE AMERICA: THIS IS YOUR MESS.

I don’t think you understand how serious I am.

This is your mess.

Every single time you barked about how BLM protested, you supported go fund me campaigns for racists and cops that killed unarmed Black (minority) people.  Every time you shouted freedom of speech when someone called a Black person a nigger you created this mess.

Dear White America: This is Your Mess.

@@

Image result for anti racism

@@

Ju-Hyun Park

llleighsmith: “Ju-Hyun Park ”

Tumblr Discussions on Race

Just putting these numbers out here. Actually, I think this is may be from 2014, but really, it doesn’t make much difference. Hollywood talks a good game but is really, really slow to change. I think it takes so long because Hollywood is this big unwieldy ocean liner, and most of the power players on it consider themselves to be above using social media, and interacting  with the public. I think most of them consider that to be the actor’s job, and disdain listening to the public themselves. I think if the ones calling the shots in Hollywood do hear about social issues regarding their movies, it’s probably  second hand/hearsay. (and the ones who do hear about it, just make excuses for their laziness.)

“You’ve just very bravely cast a white person in a role and people are being very critical of it. Here’s how to handle that backlash as poorly as possible.”

http://www.gq.com/story/the-whitewashing-playbook

I’ve noticed that the television creators are much more likely to interact with audiences at Cons, and on social media, than the film/casting directors, and money lenders of Hollywood. The creators of television are just much more intertwined with their audiences, and can know what their audiences think about their product, almost in real time.

For example, the creators of Arrow were on social media that first season, probably just gauging reactions to the show. But I noticed a marked change in the show from the beginning to the end of that first season. The show improved tremendously, and I think many of those improvements were based on the critiques they saw in social media. That’s how fast the creators were able to react to audience reactions. Unlike with movies, the creators for TV don’t have to wait until a show’s run is over before finding out what an audience thinks about it.

I’m not saying that television content creators don’t fuck up, (HBO we’re looking at you!) or that there isn’t an element of racism involved in Hollywood’s decision making process. Just that, in Hollywood, change takes a hell of a lot longer to be implemented because so many of these factors seem to work well enough together to delay progress. To the rest of us it just looks like a truculent inability to move forward.

From the Tumblr: 

Hollywood sticks to the script: Films aren’t more inclusive, despite a decade of advocacy 

The report “Inequality in 900 Popular Films,” released today, from Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg, reveals how little top movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities.

“The deficits we see on screen are worse behind the camera,” said Smith. Out of the 1,006 directors hired on the 900 films studied, just 4.1% were females. Only 5.6% of the directors were Black or African American and 3% were Asian or Asian American. Three Black or African-American women and two Asian women worked as directors across the 900 movies. “When we look intersectionally at directors, that’s where we see just how exclusionary Hollywood is when it comes to the hiring process,” said Smith. “The image of a female director seems to be that of a White woman.”

 @@ 

 

And riding on the point of that last essay, there’s this one,  in response to  another essay/rant that, basically, blames identity politics, and call-out- culture, for why certain TV shows fail.  Essentially, that person was trying to blame the fans of color for the failure of certain shows. Yeah, that’s not it!

This essay sure sounds like it’s making a lot of sense, but it’s predicated on a bunch of false presumptions.

I agree that hypercritical dogpiling call-out culture is bad. It makes fandom a toxic environment.

Here’s where I find fault in this argument:

Violent fandom backlash/hypercriticism/dogpiling does not actually get shows cancelled, nor does it discourage the creation of future diverse media.

Lord, sometimes I wish it got shows cancelled.

But in reality, when you run the numbers, angry scary fans have a negligible effect on the success or failure of a diverse show.

Shows with a ton of discourse are usually quite successful. Supernatural’s been embroiled in fandom backlash/outcry its entire run and I’ve lost count of how many seasons it has.

Okay but SPN’s not especially diverse, so let’s go to my next example. Speaking of shows I can’t believe are still on the air, Teen Wolf (a show with a non-white lead and numerous LGBT characters) is SIX MOTHERFUCKING SEASONS LONG and fans have been ranting and raving about how shitty and problematic it is since the beginning of season 3 (I myself was one of its loudest and most savage critics back in the day).

Sleepy Hollow was a diverse show that suffered a lot of fandom backlash prior to cancellation. I suppose one might argue that the cancellation was a result of the backlash.

But consider – Sleepy Hollow’s fridged it’s black female lead, Abbie Mills, at the end of its 2nd season, shortly after, The 100 fridged it’s wlw female lead’s primary love interest mid season 3.

There was a shitte tonne of *intense* fandom drama surrounding Lexa’s fridging in season 3 of The 100. Every vaguely liberal entertainment news outlet had something to say about “Hollywood’s dead lesbian problem.” A lot of wlw fans wrote scathing rants and swore off the show.

In comparison, fandom was downright quiet about Abby’s fridging. In fact, the very small handful of posts I read criticizing the writers of Sleepy Hollow made a point of also criticizing fandom’s white feminists for their ‘deafening silence’ with regard to Abbie’s death.

Consequently The 100 just got renewed for season 5. Meanwhile,  Sleepy Hollow is as dead as a doornail.

Seems to me that silence does a better job of killing shows than any amount of screaming and ranting.

.

Here’s what actually causes diverse shows to fail:

1) Old white men in power.

@temporaldecay you want to talk revenue? Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn capitalism is not the be all/end all of a tv show/film’s success as people often assume.

For example, we know that movies with diverse casts are more lucrative, yet the industry continues to churn out all-white media. Why? Nepotism. White execs bring in white producers who find white directors to tell white stories and cast white actors.

They keep doing this, even though financially speaking, it’s self-sabotage.

Teen Titans was the most popular show on Cartoon Network when it was canceled because it appealed to an audience (of girls) that wasn’t the intended target audience (boys) and the marketing team didn’t like how this messed up their gendered merchandising strategy. You can read all the details [here]

Which brings me to the next item on the list:

2) Bad marketing (combined with the aforementioned institutionalized bigotry)

There’s a great essay called Shut The Fuck up Marvel that explains in detail the problematic economics of the comics industry – TL&DR, diverse comics are failing not because of fickle and hypercritical fans, but rather because Marvel’s entire marketing strategy is so flawed that fans don’t even find out about diverse comics until they’ve already been axed.

The same is true of a lot of diverse television.

Wonder Woman got hardly any marketing. I didn’t see trailers for the movie. It managed to go viral anyway through word of mouth, and through the inherent publicity of being the first big blockbuster superhero film revolving around a female lead, but it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Still Star-Crossed, a Shondaland period romance/drama based on pro-fanfiction for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was recently canceled due to low viewership. The show got next to no marketing. The few people who managed to hear about it from tumblr couldn’t even figure out when it was airing due to the network changing the time slot twice within the first 4 episodes.

Similarly, Sense8 season 2 was under-marketed, as was The Get Down. I must have seen about 8 million ads for that garbage suicide apologia show Netflix has been hawking.

Networks don’t want to market diverse shows. They assume diverse shows will magically sell themselves, and then blame fans when they don’t.

3) Appealing to too small of a niche – Novelty vs. Variety

Consider Agent Carter – this show catered to a niche within a niche within a niche – a period noir drama, that was also a science fiction. Lack of POC meant it had trouble attracting POC as audience members. Lack of LGBTQ rep (queerbaiting doesn’t count) meant it had trouble holding on to LGBTQ fans.

The only audience Agent Carter seemed to want to actively market itself to was ‘straight white feminist-identifying women who like retro noir sci-fi’ – that’s so specific. Too niche of an audience to attract the kind of audience a network like ABC expects for its prime time shows.

Compare that to How to Get Away With Murder – which has a little something for everyone. Ensemble cast, multiple sexual orientations, multiple cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – Shonda Rhimes knows how to cast a big net.

Or Brooklyn 99 – similar kinda deal.

Having a one member of a marginalized demographic in a lead role is a novelty. And novelty’s good for getting people to watch your pilot, but it wears off quickly. People come for novelty, but they stay for representation. I don’t mean representation as an abstract concept. I mean people continue watching a show when they find a character that they personally identify with and relate to. The more character variety, the greater the number of audience members who feel consistently well-represented.

.

Discourse is not killing diversity.

This is a lie networks and showrunners tell fans to scare us into silence. They sabotage their own shows and then blame fans for being “too critical” or “too entitled.”

And we buy this bullshit. We buy it and we sell it to other fans. We write big long essays telling fellow fans to count their blessings and stfu.

Fuck that noise.

 

@@

This one is about how Blade began this whole superhero movie nonsense, that we all love so much. Yes, I blame Blade too. Frankly, even though I was a big Marvel Comic book reader, I had never even heard of this character before the movie was released, but I’m always gonna stan for that first movie, which still holds up very well to this day, and despite that Wesley Snipes is something of an asshole.

I personally consider Blade, and The Crow, to be two of the Blackest superhero movies of the 90s. (I will fight ‘chu!)

And that’s the real difference between Blade and the superhero franchises that have followed. Blade was never a big-name character in the first place. So there wasn’t a whole lot of retro-geek enthusiasm associated with the character. But more than that, Blade, the film, simply isn’t backwards-looking.

There’s none of the Greatest Generation boosterism that clings to the Captain America franchise, for example. Nor do we get from Blade the home front 50s stay-at-home mom-with-kids meme that pops up incongruously in Age of Ultron when we get to meet Hawkeye’s secret, perfect family.

Instead, Blade is deliberately, defiantly hip. Motherhood isn’t idealized; on the contrary, one of the queasier moments of the film involves Blade ruthlessly offing his feral, incestuously sexual, evil vampire mom. If there is nostalgia, it’s for blaxploitation’s up-to-the-minute cool.

The movie’s first grinding, sweaty, sex-and-blood drenched night club scene hasn’t dated at all. Nor has the Afrocentric incense store where Blade buys his formula fix, nor the black, brotherhood embrace between that store’s owner and the hero. There’s a notable lack of cell phones, of course, and the computer graphics prophesying the coming of the blood god look rather dated. But there’s little question that, as much as it’s able, the film is looking forward not back.

And part of the reason it’s looking forward, I think, is race. Blade—unlike most superhero films—is set in a meaningfully integrated world. That Afrocentric shop suggests, quietly but definitely, that Blade is part of a black community and that that community matters to him. One of his two crime-fighting companions Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), is also black.

The diverse cast, and the acknowledgement of diverse communities, is part of why the film still feels and looks relevant. Here, after all, is a narrative that was fulfilling the call for more diverse superhero movies before superhero movies were even a thing.

But beyond that, Blade makes clear the extent to which nostalgia and whiteness are inextricably bound together in so much of the superhero genre. Retooling old, old pop-culture heroes[1] means, inevitably, dreaming about white saviors and about a time when white people were the only ones who were allowed to be heroes.

THE WHITE SUPERHERO FAD STARTED, CRAZY ENOUGH, WITH BLADE

[1]

A lot of us have talked a lot about how Blade started the current superhero domination in Hollywood and how current films forget that; and though it’s important to ask what kinds of behind-the-scenes decisions have caused that, I like this analysis about how Blade is fundamentally different from what we’re getting today and how that film is, in many ways, incompatible with today’s Ant-Men and Men of Steel.

 

@@

Another argument for why HBO’s new idea for a show, Confederate, (about an alternative world in which the South won the Civil War), is a truly bad idea:

blackfemalescientist

I’ve been thinking a lot about Confederate, the upcoming project by the creators of game of thrones. I’m not alone in actively hating the idea for this, but it took me a while to figure out why the idea for this show bothers me so much. Part of it is the current political climate, part of it is the idea being not nearly as new or interesting as the creators think it is (sci fi and fantasy is full of stories about chattel slavery in more modern/technologically advanced societies), and part of it is just me not trusting these two guys with this kind of story.

But what it really comes down to for me is this: even if I could buy that the south won the war, I do not buy that black people, in a majority black country, would be content to live in the only slave-holding society in the world for another 150 years. And the fact that the creators of this show can imagine that says a lot about how they feel about black people and their agency.

Like to put that idea in perspective, black people waged a successful national campaign to end jim crow in a majority white country and it didn’t take them 150 years. Haiti rebelled in 1804, and while we can talk current economic conditions (and how frace is primarily to blame for that), what you can’t say is that chattel slavery exists there now. Like what world are you living in where black people aren’t resourceful, smart or motivated enough to end chattel slavery 150 years after the entire world decided that maybe chattel slavery was doing too much.

The entire premise doesn’t work as alternative history because its not an alternate world, its a complete fantasy – a fantasy where black people are not only subjugated but incapable of taking steps to end that subjugation. And that leads to all the “who is this for” and “why would you do this” questions that smarter people than me have talked a lot about.

 

And here’s my man, Ta Nehisi Coates, laying it out, in his own very eloquent way, why the writers of Game of Thrones, and HBO, need to catch some hands:

HBO’s Confederate takes as its premise an ugly truth that black Americans are forced to live every day: What if the Confederacy wasn’t wholly defeated?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/08/no-confederate/535512/

Of course, any time Black people hold discourse on a subject that directly affects our lives, you’ve got those white people crawling out from under the baseboards, to defend this wtf*ery, because for them Black life is  no more than an intellectual exercise, and we should  get over it, because it’s messing up their ability to be entertained by our misery.

 

@@

This is one of the most cogent arguments I’ve ever read against financial inequality. I also had no idea of the history of the game of Monopoly.

We played this game all the time in our house. My Mom was, naturally, the Banker, and we always played it Socialist style,  I guess, with everyone getting the same amount of money, and being treated the same, following the same rules. Of course she always won, up until we were teenagers, and started learning more about how to handle money,  like how to plan ahead, and how to delay gratification. 

Monopoly isn’t maybe the best way to learn about money, but it does teach you something about how financial systems work.

So let me get this straight, in Monopoly if you give one player more money to start out it’s “unfair” but if you do it in real life it’s “capitalism”?

 

You know what, I’m going to tell you guys a story.

In my Sociology class a few semesters ago, our prof had us break off into groups and, much to our naive joy, began distributing Monopoly boards! We had no idea what was going on but yay! Games! Of course, once our group, and a number of others, got the board we began to work at setting up and distributing the money…

until suddenly our prof told us to put the money down and pick up the dice.

“Roll the dice and sort yourselves from highest to lowest,” our teacher commanded.  “Now, the highest number is the upper class. The next one is upper middle class.  The next two or three are middle class. The last person is in poverty.“

Well, as the person who rolled a two this was startling and not wholly welcome news.

From that point the game changed entirely. We had to hand out the money so that the “upper class” had this fucking mountain, and then less for upper middle, even less for middle, and I didn’t get any triple digit bills. We would all collect different amounts from passing go as well.

The biggest change though? Going to jail. Upper class didn’t. Period. Upper middle class could go but they only had to stay for one turn or they could immediately pay their way out. Middle class had some pretty easy guidelines for when they could pay to get out. As lower class, it was really easy for me to wind up in jail and REALLY hard to get out. But since I was working with so little money when everyone else had so much I was in jail all the time because there was no “game over”.  If I couldn’t pay I had to go to jail for a certain period of time. I had to take out loans with interest I could never pay back just to get out only to wind up back in it again, rolling dice turn after turn hoping to be able to get out.

It was simultaneously the most enlightening and most awful game I had ever played. I was bored and frustrated and a little terrified about it all. And it wasn’t only me. I would never win, I sort of accepted this, but it was amazing how the middle classes reacted as well.  They were stressed. Because they were always that close to either being able to one-up the upper class or from crashing into poverty with me. They had to fight constantly just to stay in the middle.

(I should also mention that the upper class player in one group felt so bad for the lower income players that they ended up overhauling their entire game and creating a “socialist” society instead. I’m not sure how our teacher felt about that one.)

 

Worth stressing this is entirely in the spirit of the original designer’s aims for Monopoly.

Monopoly’s  original form of The Landlord Game which was explicitly designed to teach people about the unfairness of rent systems. To quote from the wikipedia entry, just as it’s the easiest source to hand…

Magie designed the game to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”.[2]She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed byHenry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

When the usual suspects start making “don’t bring politics into games” noises, I roll my eyes pretty hard. They have no idea of the history of the form.

 

 

@@

This final topic speaks to the idea of accurate Representation from a Historical perspective. One of my biggest pet peeves is the bigoted argument against diversity and inclusion, in Fantasy media, coupled with the erasure of PoC from  Historical narratives, and not just because such an argument is irrelevant to a discussion of Fantasy based world-building. 

As an amateur Historian, I’m sick and  tired of seeing the argument about Historical accuracy, from the mouths of lazy, sometimes bigoted, individuals, who have done no research, who have only ever gotten their ideas about what History was like, from various movies and TV shows, trying to uphold the pop culture status quo, by saying we don’t belong in Fantasy environments.

I have found that even the  most well intentioned people are deeply, deeply, ignorant of History, having gotten most of their ideas about it, from whitewashed movies, television shows, and History classes, in which the contributions (sometimes even the presence) of PoC  are erased. When you consider that the vast majority of the world is made up of PoC (Chinese, for example) and that those who are most definitely considered to be “White”  Europeans (whatever that may mean) made up only about 11% of the world’s population in 2010, and by 2060 are set to become less than 10% of the world’s population, I find it more than a little hinky that such  people would argue for Historical accuracy. 

And now we have the Alt-Right attempting to lay claim to this same argument  in an attempt to bolster their racist  beliefs that PoC contributed nothing to Historical narratives, and that all of the humanity’s  major contributions to Literature, Science, and Art, were only done by White men.

Part of the problem is that Historians need to make clear that PoC were History. We were everywhere, not just invented in certain eras, and trotted out when White men needed to conquer somebody. History is far more nuanced and complicated than most people know.

Medievalists, Recoiling From White Supremacy, Try to Diversify the Field

By J. Clara Chan

—-The criticisms of the conference’s diversity stems from problems in medieval studies for decades — that it is still too Eurocentric, male-dominated, and resistant to change. But as the medieval era has become increasingly prevalent in rhetoric used by white supremacists to advocate for a return to racial, ethnic, and religious purity, many nonwhite medievalists are feeling a new urgency to combat the stereotypes that accompany the field.

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Medievalists-Recoiling-From/240666/

 

@@

And on Historical Anti-Semitism in Art:

thegetty

Dialogue: Exposing the Rhetoric of Exclusion through Medieval Manuscripts

By Kristen Collins and Bryan Keene, originally published on the Getty Iris

We invite your thoughts on an exhibition-in-progress at the Getty that addresses the persistence of prejudice as seen through lingering stereotypes from the Middle Ages.

As curators in the Getty Museum’s department of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, we are interested in how books, and museum collections more broadly, can spark dialogues about inclusivity and diversity. Our manuscripts collection at the Getty consists primarily of objects from Western Europe, which can present challenges when trying to connect with a multicultural and increasingly international audience.

We are striving to make connections between the Middle Ages and the contemporary world—connections that may not be immediately evident, but are powerful nonetheless. Museums are inherently political organizations, in terms of the ways that collections are assembled, displayed, and interpreted. This year’s meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators addressed how institutional narratives and implicit bias can skew ideas of history and culture in ways that exclude minorities and gloss over the shameful aspects of our past. Groups such as the Medievalists of Color, the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, and the Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, among others, are applying similar lines of inquiry, seeking to decolonize and diversify the field of medieval studies. We stand with these groups.

We were also inspired by Holland Cotter’s call to arms, as he exhorted museums to tell the truth about art, “about who made objects, and how they work in the world, and how they got to the museum, and what they mean, what values they advertise, good and bad. Go for truth (which, like the telling of history, is always changing), and connect art to life.”

Here is our description of the exhibition, still in draft form:

Medieval manuscripts preserve stories of romance, faith, and knowledge, but their luxurious illuminations can reveal more sinister narratives as well. Typically created for the privileged classes, such books nevertheless provide glimpses of the marginalized and powerless and reflect their tenuous places in society. Attitudes toward Jews and Muslims, the poor, those perceived as sexual or gender deviants, and the foreign peoples beyond European borders can be discerned through caricature and polemical imagery, as well as through marks of erasure and censorship.

As repositories of history and memory, museums reveal much about our shared past, but all too often the stories told from luxury art objects focus on the elite. Through case studies of objects in the Getty’s collection, this exhibition examines the “out groups” living within western Europe. Medieval society was far more diverse than is commonly understood, but diversity did not necessarily engender tolerance. Life contained significant obstacles for those who were not fully abled, wealthy, Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual, cisgendered males. For today’s viewer, the vivid images and pervasive narratives in illuminated manuscripts can serve as a stark reminder of the power of rhetoric and the danger of prejudice.

 

“If you don’t know you have a history, it can be hard to believe you have a future.” —-National Museum of Stockholm

James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

 

Tumblr Weekend Reading #210

I spend waaay too much time scrolling through Tumblr, but I just can’t help it. The things that come across my dash are a reflection of America in microcosm. Some of the most virulently anti-logic, and vapidly ignorant human beings, clashing with some of the smartest, articulate, and astute people on the internet. (There are people on the internet who are so dumb, it makes me wonder how they found the internet, and why whoever told them about it, didn’t receive a knock to the head, with a Lego block.)

But I digress. Some of the more recent interesting discussions are from Mikki Kendall, whose rebuke, to the Fireside Fiction Publishers and Readers, is about the lack of PoC being published in the Speculative Fiction Genre. This is her response to their response:

http://firesidefiction.com/a-note-from-the-editor-of-the-blackspecfic-responses

**

Okay, I still don’t think people are realizing just how incredibly groundbreaking this is, not just for television, but for SciFi, in general. You have two…count ’em two, WoC, who are headlining a Science Fiction show, with one of them as the Captain of a Starship (White women had Janeway), and the other is the show’s lead character. The last time a Woc played a prominent character on a Star Trek show, (Voyager), was  B’elanna Torres, played by Roxanne Dawson who is Hispanic. The last time a Black woman played a prominent Star Trek character was Nichelle Nichols. (I don’t count Whoopi Goldberg because she was only a (semi)-recurring character, not a regular.)

This is very possibly one of the most diverse Star Trek casts ever assembled! And we just learned that the Medical Officer, for the ship Discovery, is Wilson Cruz who is from Puerto Rico. (I totally stan for Latinoooos in Spaaaaace!)

I’m also gratified to see Asians included in the cast, because outside of Sulu,  that’s also rare, although DS9 was very inclusive, too. Shazad Latif is from London and is English and Pakistani. Michelle Yeoh is of Malaysian descent. (Wooo! I’m excited for you guys, too!)

And let’s not forget:

Star Trek: Discovery’ Will Actually Have an Openly Gay Character

https://www.inverse.com/article/34758-star-trek-discovery-gay-beyond-anthony-rapp-stamets

 

**

📷: Matthias Clamer for EW📷: Matthias Clamer for EW📷: Matthias Clamer for EW

**

And all these images tie back to the idea of representation, most especially for little girls, as stated by 

You know what? I really wish people were as hyped about Sonequa Martin-Green being the first Black woman to lead in a Star Trek series as they are about the D*ctor Wh* casting. But then again, most feminists don’t care about non-White women so it’s to be expected that most of you guys don’t care about the fact that she’s making history too. And when you factor in Michelle Yeoh, you get it doubly so. Last time I checked, this is a pretty big deal for the sci-fi genre too.

What’s strange, to me, is people thinking that the D*ctor Wh* casting gives hope to all little girls when we know that’s not true. This issue is just so very layered and complex, but there is something particularly troubling about the fact that people think a White woman should be the symbol all little girls should look up to, regardless of their race. It’s so very arrogant to believe that little non-White girls will be represented by this woman that looks nothing like them. It’s very arrogant to think that little non-White girls should look up to the new Doctor as their new hero, especially knowing this casting is only a win for White women and White women only.

*Don’t get me wrong, Woc aren’t unhappy about Wonder Woman, or the new Doctor Who, but White women need to recognize that they are not universal. They don’t represent us or our view of hte world, and need to quit acting like they are. One ofhte biggest divides between White women, and Woc, is their complete disregard for the things that affect WoC.

Little girls of color may like and admire these characters, but they’re not going to look to them as role models. I know I didn’t when I was little. There were White actresses and characters I cared about and admired, like Linda Carter, and Ellen Ripley, but I didnt look to be like them. I did not use them as examples for how to live in the world as a woman, and certainly wasn’t looking to those women to teach me how to be a Black woman, even if I did like them. My role models were the handful of Black women, (and non-Black WoC), who made it into TV shows and movies, like Nichelle Nichols, Diane Carrol, Pam Grier, and yes, even Michelle Yeoh.

I plan on watching the new Doctor because I’m curious, I like the actress, (who  starred in Attack the Block, with John Boyega), and I liked Missy on the show this season. I’m not enthused about  the Wonder Woman movie, but I plan to watch it, at some point, and I’m looking forawrd to watching the Justice League.

Bt I’m a Black woman, and I wish White women would keep in mind that those women are not our idols, nor are they idols for other WoC. Even if we really like, and admire them, they don’t do anything to further our representation, but Sonequa, Michelle, Danai, and others  do. 

 

**

In the new Star trek show we’ve heard that Sonequa’s character, Michael Burnham is Spock’s adopted sister. Now the timeline, assuming she and Spock are near the same age at ten years before the Enterprise, would mean that the two of them grew up together, and she lived with his family. She could also be a relative of Amanda’s as well, which is how she came to live with Sarek’s family.

 Now this has messed with a lot of people’s heads, because they claim that it messes with canon, which I can understand why someone would say that, but there’s a very good rebuttal I’ve seen to that argument, and that rebuttal is Spock himself, who was prone to dropping bombshells about his family’s  status, when given half an opportunity::

Adding to canon is not the same thing as

destroying canon

From the mind of : tomfooleryprime

At San Diego Comic Con, we learned that Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, Michael Burnham, is Sarek’s adoptive daughter. The second I heard the news, all I could think was, “Let the hate begin.” And boy, did it ever.

I understand the disappointment, particularly with fan fic writers who invested a lot of time and effort into crafting stories that fit neatly into canon. Amazing how one sound bite can bulldoze right through decades of widely accepted fanon, huh?

Let’s be real, those little behind the scenes moments are almost the entire point of fan fiction: some of us like something so much, we like to imagine all the things the writers didn’t tell us, but now Michael Burnham has come along like a square peg in a round hole, rendering countless stories AU that previously adhered perfectly to canon. Some of mine included.

But fanon isn’t canon. One might say, “How come we’re just hearing about this now?” Surely Spock would have mentioned having an adoptive sister? But would he? Would he though?

No one had any idea he was engaged to T’Pring until the Enterprise showed up to Vulcan on Spock’s impromptu wedding day in the TOS episode, “Amok Time.” What was it he said when Lieutenant Uhura asked who the lovely woman on the viewscreen was?

If you watch closely enough and get creative with your interpretation, I swear Christine Chapel mouths the word, “bullshit.”

And no one knew that Spock had a strained relationship with his father until that time dear old Sarek hopped on Enterprise for the Coridan admission debate in the TOS episode, “Journey to Babel.” Kirk urged Spock to go down to the planet and visit his family before they left orbit, and what was Spock’s reply?

I can’t think of a better example of where Spock made Kirk look like a total asshole.

And then there’s the fact that Kirk had known Spock for decadesbefore finding out he had a half-brother named Sybok in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

You would think Kirk would be used to Spock family bombshells by now.

So if anything, the idea that Spock had a secret adoptive sister actually feels more in keeping with canon than going against it. Given the weight of the evidence, I wouldn’t be all that shocked to discover he had three step mothers and a whole nest of secret love children drifting around out there.

The other thing is, as viewers, we tend to get into the habit of thinking that if a character doesn’t specifically address something on screen in front of other characters, other characters are in the dark along with the viewers. Like if a character didn’t explicitly announce some detail about their personal life to the world, not only did it never happen, it never could have happened. And that’s just silly. Think about this: Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew spent five years together on that mission, and we only got to view a little less than 66 hours of it. So imagine all the conversations in the mess hall we as viewers missed out on. Not only that, many of those details would be fairly trivial anyway.

Going back and adding to canon is not the same thing as destroying canon. Star Trek, particularly The Original Series, was always more focused on exploring the galaxy and meeting new civilizations – its primary purpose wasn’t to flesh out complicated life stories for each of the main characters. When you think about it, there’s so much we don’t know about Sarek, Amanda, or Spock’s upbringing. Almost everything we do know about this family comes from two episodes – “Journey to Babel” in The Original Series and “Yesteryear” in The Animated Series.

I think because we spent more than five decades without any concrete ideas of how Sarek and Amanda met, what Spock’s formative years were really like, or how their family dynamics worked, we just filled in the blanks for ourselves. But fifty years is a long time for the lines between canon and fanon to start getting blurred.

So I’m actually tickled pink at the thought that Spock had an adoptive sister, not furious that they’re corrupting more than fifty years of canon. It would be tampering with canon to claim that Starship Troopers is actually some kind of prequel to Kirk and the starship EnterpriseThat would be destroying canon, but writing in a sister for Spock where one previously didn’t exist isn’t quite the same thing.

Would you like to know more?

The writers of the show are just doing what we as fan fic writers do all the time – filling in the gaps. You’re definitely allowed to feel however you want to feel about it. And I do understand a lot of the dismay and shock. It really sucks to pour your heart and soul into something, polishing it for months or even years until it’s perfect, and then have Michael Burnham thrown into the mix and it almost feels like a bad Photoshop job over your favorite family portrait, ruining your origins fics for Sarek/Amanda or Spuhura or Spirk or Spones or Spotty? (Is that actually what the Spock/Scotty ship is called?). It’s perfectly acceptable to say that Michael Burnham’s existence has ruined your perception of canon, but I don’t think it should be confused with ruining actual canon.

During the Comic Con panel, producer Alex Kurtzman insisted they have a good canon explanation for why Spock never mentions Michael. He was quoted as saying, “We’re aware [of the situation]. You’ll see where it’s going, but we are staying consistent with canon.” So I’m inclined to keep an open mind and see where they take it before dismissing it outright for being “too ludicrous.” Weirder things have actually happened within the Trek universe, so try not to let this revelation get you down.

 

And from  alightinside

Considering the fact that Spock’s family has to be literally in the same room as him before he even mentions they existent, having adopted sibs he just never talked about is the most canon compliant thing they could have possibly added.

 

*I might also add that Buffy the Vampire Slayer managed to throw in a sister for Buffy, that destroyed four years of watching the show, until it was carefully explained to the viewers why she was there. We haven’t seen Discovery yet, so we don’t have any explanation for why Michael is Spock’s adopted sister, but the creators say there’s a perfectly good explanation for it, and one of those creators is Bryan Fuller, who never puts anything that big into any of his shows by accident. 

 

**

 

And While we’re here,  there’s been some discussion of the marked lack of excitement towards the new Star Trek, from  White feminists, who claim to be progressive, and want diversity. There’s been more excitement from them about the new Dr. Who , then there has been about the groundbreaking diversity on Discovery, with a Black female lead, and an Asian Captain. 

As I said before, I don’t have a problem with White women being excited about stuff that affects them. I’m happy they’re happy. I don’t even have a problem with them being more excited about Dr. Who then about Star Trek, but what  I do object to, is their insistence that white female characters, in leading science fiction roles, are somehow groundbreaking, and role models for little girls all over the world. 

I need them to keep some perspective, in their excitement,  and that perspective is that white women’s stories are not universal, and they are not often role models for little girls of color.

From the mind of  abigailmills: 

You know what? I really wish people were as hyped about Sonequa Martin-Green being the first Black woman to lead in a Star Trek series as they are about the D*ctor Wh* casting. But then again, most feminists don’t care about non-White women so it’s to be expected that most of you guys don’t care about the fact that she’s making history too. And when you factor in Michelle Yeoh, you get it doubly so. Last time I checked, this is a pretty big deal for the sci-fi genre too.

What’s strange, to me, is people thinking that the D*ctor Wh* casting gives hope to all little girls when we know that’s not true. This issue is just so very layered and complex, but there is something particularly troubling about the fact that people think a White woman should be the symbol all little girls should look up to, regardless of their race. It’s so very arrogant to believe that little non-White girls will be represented by this woman that looks nothing like them. It’s very arrogant to think that little non-White girls should look up to the new Doctor as their new hero, especially knowing this casting is only a win for White women and White women only.

 

And my response: lkeke35

I have noticed the chirping silence coming from that particular contingent!

I think that’s one of the biggest divides between White feminists and women of color, is White women’s complete and utter disregard for the fact that WoC  see the world differently than them. They really do think we’re supposed to look up to them as role models. That they are universal.

When I was a little girl, there was precous little diversity on TV, but what diversity there was, I gravitated to. As a young Black woman I never chose White women as my role models, even if I admired a few of them , like Linda Carter as Wonder Woman, or Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley.

I modeled who I wanted to be after women like Eartha Kiit,  Nichelle Nichols, Diane Carroll, and Pam Grier. They were smart, tough, beautiful, graceful women. And yes, I was a Michelle Yeoh fan, and I loved her because she was all those things I just listed (and she still is).

Its not that I didn’t like and admire White actresses. I did. But I also knew, on some level, that no matter how admirably I (or they) behaved,  that as a Black woman, I wasn’t ever going to be accorded the status of a White woman, so I did not use them as  my role models. I didn’t try to be like any of them, and didn’t want to be like them. (This was a lesson I learned very, very early.)

I think its an incredible era we are living in, that my 12 year old niece is growing up with so many role models to choose from, in Pop Culture. I’m going to watch Star Trek Discovery with her and explain the significance to her. I’m going to watch The Walking Dead, and talk about how important Michonne is, and I’m going to take her to see The Black Panther with its gorgeous, and badass women, and yeah, I’m going to go see Proud Mary with her (and my Mom), and we’re all gonna geek out about it afterwards.

I wish White women cared enough to care about, and talk about, WoC in Pop culture, (and think of us as women too) but I don’t need White women’s validation to find and love those characters.

 

And from diversehighfantasy

Nicely said.

I’m also really bothered by the relatively subdued positive reaction to Sonequa leading the new Trek vs Doctor Who. I realized how little it mattered even to white women who are into sci-fi and fantasy when that gifset was going around celebrating all these recent genre leading women (The Doctor, Wonder Woman, Rey etc) all white or perceived as white, and when people started asking where were the Black women/WOC, they added May from Agents of Shield. That’s how off the radar Sonequa leading the new Star Trek (STAR TREK!!) is even for a lot of fandom people.

Now I’m wondering if people on Tumblr even talked about it much outside the Walking Dead fandom. (I know a bunch of people on Twitter acted like ass about “forced diversity,” I mean Tumblr fandom people).

Anyway. Yeah, the difference is very noticeable. I mean, I get the big deal about Jodie, The Doctor has specifically always been a man while Sonequa is playing a new character, and, I guess, to white feminists the barrier was already broken by Janeway. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that if a white woman was leading ST Discovery, we’d be seeing Star Trek/Doctor Who edits everywhere.

 

**

Interlude:

Image result for furious knitting gif

 Just like you shouldn’t drive while angry, you should never knit while you’re mad! That’s just wrong.

**

 

Okay Here’s something I’d never given any thought to, as an able -minded Black woman. I don’t suffer from mental illness (now), although I’ve had bouts of it in the past, and I’ve never been on Schizoid-Spectrum. But what do you do when you are Black and suffer from many of the symptoms of schizophrenia, and some of the things you actually believe are true, but will forever be invalidated by the White people around you. The very White people who refuse to acknowledge the existence of the racism that makes some of your beliefs true.

I’m still going to urge any of my PoC readers to look for therapists who are also PoC, if at all possible,  as there are some  unique issues, when you are a person of color on the spectrum, or suffering from mental illness. This is not because White people are incompetent but because they are not aware of the many issues surrounding your circumstances, if you’re a PoC.

Their reluctance to address the existence of racism, in the day to day lives of their patients, and to accommodate for the stress of that, as well as the stress of mental illness, and the different dynamics that exist in communities of color regarding such illnesses, will end up ultimately being of no help to you.

 

From Tumblr User Questingqueer:

questingqueer

I was sitting in the group room at my intensive outpatient program. I had just finished recounting an incident where I believed a security officer had been following me, but the person with me at the time had disagreed and said we weren’t being followed.

The head psychologist said “Your goal this week should be letting in alternative theories to your paranoia. It isn’t likely anyone is following you.” I said “What do you mean? How can I trust someone else’s perspective over my own, especially when that someone is white?” Another person spoke up, suggested increasing my anti-psychotics.

I looked around the room at the other patients and the professionals in group with me. I was the only Black person there.

I’m mentally ill, and sometimes I’m paranoid, and sometimes I’m delusional.

I’m Black, and I’m more likely to be followed around by security, or have negative interactions with the police. The racism in this world is real, and it can affect me.

I’m mentally ill, and sometimes I have persecutory delusions, and there wasn’t any drugs in my orange juice or bugs living in my arms even though I was convinced there were.

I’m Black, and I’m mentally ill. And that intersection has never been acknowledged online or in therapy. That intersection makes us more vulnerable to abuse, domestic violence, and police brutality. 

Black schizo-spec people face challenges that others don’t. We are more likely to be be labeled as dangerous and violent and be disbelieved when we share about how racism has impacted our lives, among many other things. That makes it harder for me to trust others- not to mention that difficulty trusting others is a symptom.

Was I being followed that day? I wish I had an answer, but I don’t know. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. But that isn’t the point.

A simple search will tell you that schizophrenia is more readily diagnosed in Black patients than in white (source), and some say it is overdiagnosed.

But where are the positivity posts for Black people with stigmatizing disorders?

Where is the positivity for the Black schizo-spec people trying to figure out what level of fear and suspicion towards the police is reasonable and what is a symptom? Where is the positivity for Black schizo-spec people who have everything blamed on their diagnosis while their other mental health problems get ignored? Where’s the positivity for Black schizo-spec people who distrust the medical professionals they deal with, who have ugly symptoms, who are pigeonholed as dangerous?

We have died because we are Black and schizo-spec. Remember those of us who have been murdered or attacked.

And? Don’t forget to include us in your activism while we are living. 

**

 

In Canada, Target seems to have the same rep as Walmart does in America.

TARGET STORE GOTHIC:

strongermonster

it’s so weird hearing americans talk about Target© as some kind of semi-religious holy space of reasonably priced goods and services, bc in it’s short, fever-dream existence up here in the frozen north it was… Not Good.

in my experience with the three (3) i went to in the surrounding area it was. uh. you know when you step into a place and there’s nothing immediately noticeably wrong but you can just Feel that this is a Bad Space? like the kind of space where if you catch a glimpse of your mother walking down an aisle and turning a corner you know it’s a demonic trick and if you follow her it’ll lead you down a path to a dark space you can’t return from?

or you go in with your friend who’s right next to you but you get a text from them saying “hey i’m in the shoe aisle, you should come here” and you know it’s a trap from the devil? like other things:

  • only half of the dim, washed out, often flickering fluorescent lights were lit at any given time, usually only every-other set, leaving these valleys of darkness that made entire aisles inaccessible for fear of shadow people latching on to your soul like a dark passenger.
  • entire sections were just Empty. empty shelves with no product, never any employees filling them up, no boxes waiting to be unpacked, no signs saying what should be there.
  • no employees at all actually? wandering around the store even though the parking lots were full and you walked in with a group of 20 or so felt so lonely. you could walk the whole place and it was dead silent and the only other “people” around always were several aisles away with their back turned, unmoving. there was always only one cashier and there was never anyone in her line.
  • there was never any music on or announcements played? another place that does this are all the dollar trees in my area and it gives me anxiety. i feel like i’m being hunted, like i have to hold my breath and listen for the footsteps of beasts in other aisles.
  • the fitting rooms had a strange, dark energy to them. it felt like if you ever used them, whatever universe you closed the door on would not be the same one you stepped out into when you were done. the washrooms also contained this same dark energy.
  • passing the employees-only doors felt like wandering too close to a bears den. the glass windows never showed anything going on back there, no racks of product, no employees milling around. it was just pitch black, complete darkness. a hungry void.
  • leaving a target was the same disorienting feeling as leaving a dark theatre and exiting into the light. sound and colour and feeling rush back in. you feel like you can breathe again. a weight is lifted from your shoulders. you can’t remember any of the time you spent inside the target.

it is my sincere belief that the targets in canada never existed. the storefronts were put up, yes, but the stores themselves were vast empty caverns filled with dark dreams and sinister interlopers. passing through the automatic doors was meant to teleport us to the nearest american location, but something went wrong and we entered an unnatural zone halfway between the upside down and whatever it was that happened in the langoliers.

i believe the balls outside target are carefully crafted and powerfully attuned magical artifacts that keep up the illusion known as Target©, but were incorrectly spaced in canada due to a mixup between the metric and imperial systems of measurement, and that is why the brief twilight zone episode that was canadian target collapsed virtually overnight.

 

Source: strongermonster
**
From the Tumblr:  writingwithcolor
This is a nice, long essay on the trope of the color black representing evil, and the color white representing goodness:

Black and White Symbolism: A Look into the Trope

We’ve noticed a volume of questions on the topic of Black and White symbolism in works. Light and white symbolizes good and pure. Dark and black is bad and evil. It’s an age-old trope deeply engraved throughout Western society, language, and cultures.

She’s having a “black day.”  He’s the “Black sheep” in the family. The evils of “Black magic.”  They’re “Black as one is painted.”

On the other hand…

They told an innocent “white lie.” He’s “whiter than white.” Good ole “White-collar” jobs.

These were just a few phrases found in the dictionary. The most frequently used dictionaries were written by racist old white men, so most of the language has been shaped by them.

If you flip further back you find entries like these:

imageNow, this guide comes from a western particularly American lens of the view of Black and White and its connotations. We recognize that B&W color symbolism and meaning varies across cultures.

However, western society imports its racist views across the globe, strengthening the Black as Evil and Good as White association within its “conquest” of mass media.

The Trope Incorporated into our Media

This trope is so normalized in Western culture that it is often unconsciously used and incorporated throughout many aspects of culture. It can easily be found in media, such as our TV-series, movies and literature:

  • The black, darkly-dressed or featured characters are often the villains or antagonists,
  • The white or light-featured characters are often the heroes, dispelling the world of the dark Others.

Also note that usually when good guys wear black, they’re more anti-heroes than full-heroes.

image

Tolkien really let himself go with this trope in Lord of the Rings and has the pure white race of elves be ethereal, wise, super good and natural *angelic singing*. Then there’s the orcs on the other side who are barbaric, unintelligent, violent and disgustingly ugly. Their language is black speech by the way.

“The Black Speech, also known as the Dark Tongue of Mordor, was the official language of Mordor. Sauron created the Black Speech to be the unifying language of all the servants of Mordor, used along with different varieties of Orkish and other languages used by his servants.”

“It is notable that the letter “e” is totally absent from the Black Speech. It was omitted on purpose for being a favourite letter of the Elves, and for forming a smile when uttering it.”

“In real life, J. R. R. Tolkien created this language with the intention of making it harsh and ugly…” then later on in the same piece is written: “…the forces of good refuse to utter it.” and “Tolkien designed it to be unpleasant in his own mind…”

With these quotes you can see the link between calling it “Black speech” and the unpleasant, evil and anti-social aspects of the named. Quotes are taken from here.

Many epic fantasy writers mimic Tolkien in his use of fantasy races and themes and such, so they unconsciously also mimic this trope.

Game of Thrones also plays with the good vs evil but switches up the color code with the Kingsguard wearing white and the Night’s Watch wearing black. This posts speaks of the symbolism pertaining to the white cloaks of the Kingsguard.

Attracted to gray characters instead of orcs and angels, Martin regards the hero as the villain on the other side. The Wall’s Night’s Watch, whom Martin described as “criminal scum [who] are also heroes and they wear black”, was a deliberate twist on fantasy stereotypes. Furthermore, the use of black as the identifying colour for the essentially good Night’s Watch and the use of white for the much corrupted Kingsguard is another example of Martin subverting traditional fantasy which tends to link light colours with good and darker ones with evil. From here.

Then there’s Disney that’s notorious for their ingrained racism

This is easily seen in their visuals when portraying villains. When you look at the heroes vs villains, the villains are often portrayed as darker, more “ethnic” (see: Mother Gothel, Jafar) and sometimes queer-coded (like Ratcliff and Dr. Facilier).

Another example: the shadowy,dark huns in Disney’s Mulan. They have greyish, dark skin with strange eye coloring, and they all look the same.

imageOn the left: a hun as portrayed by Disney in Mulan. 

Furthermore, Disney typically depicts baddies as “less beautiful” with some exceptions of very beautiful and vain evil ladies (they have a trope with two types of beauty where one is pure and wholesome while the other is vain and egocentric. The second is also usually an older individual).

The Oz film was pretty visual, colorful, and magical until the evil witch and her black monkey minions come and then everything is dark suddenly. Oh, but there’s the “good” monkey, depicted in bright and lighter coloring.

image

Angels and Demons

There is also the trend where angels are always white and demons black/dark in fantasy. This doesn’t have to be and is a biased way to depict them, at least from a non-religious point of view, and as far as I know I never found a mention of white wings if wings at all when angels were mentioned. Exceptions go to the angels in higher orders, but still no white mentioned. Fallen angels suddenly have black wings, when they still have them.

The Harms of the Trope

Why is the B/W – Good vs Evil- trope harmful? Well, look at how the colors are associated. Dark as bad, evil. White as good, pure. But then you group a whole people as Dark + “Black” and the other as Light and “White” and you’ve set these people in opposition of each other.

There are Black people in the world. There are white people in the world. “Black” as a word is literally viewed as synonymous with darkness and evil. “White” is literally viewed as synonymous with goodness and purity. There’s an intentional pattern here.

Malcolm X’s discussion regarding how Black is used to describe a people adds clarify to this.

Read about it here.

Martin Luther King Jr. also discussed the association of Black to Evil and White to Good.

Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight.

I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!

Check out the clip from this speechhere.

Another notable example of the result of these engraved associations and aversion to Blackness is how racist fans reacted to the Rue character from the Hunger Games being (rightfully) portrayed as a Black girl in the movies.

A lot of these reactions can be found online. Like this one.

image

The trope is deeply ingrained into people’s minds and reinforced by the media that combined with systematic racism Black people and even Black children cannot be seen as pure and innocent. These traits incorporated in the Black and White Symbolism is enforced on Black people (and white people to some extent). The symbolism has been influenced further with racism and that is why it can be harmful.

What to do with the trope

Now, we don’t believe people should stop using Black and white in relation to people; running away from the word, even given its history, would only reinforce Black as a badge of shame when that’s simply a lie. We think the better solution is to built up a new dictionary. To stop using black to mean all things sinister and evil and white as all things blameless and good.

Black & White in our Writing

While it’d be difficult to deconstruct these associations overnight, it’s definitely not impossible to be more conscious of how one might be perpetuating the B&W trope within their works.

Pay attention to your writing and the color symbolism there.

  1. Where do you find Black & White imagery? How is it being used?
  2. Are you using shadows and night skies to foreshadow bad things to come?
  3. Morning light and white gowns to symbolize purity and hopefulness?

Now even these aren’t inherent pitfalls.

The following are some ways to make sure of that:

Defy the Trope

I was watching the first season of Sleepy Hollow, when there was an episode with a playful little girl running in the forest in a white dress. A little Black girl. While I don’t recall if she were meant to symbolize good or evil so neatly, but simply featuring this young child in white, both common emblems of “innocence” felt like a deviation from the typical white or pale girl to play such a part.

Even when using typically good and white symbolism, including Black and brown people to take part in these roles is a better option that shunning them out of such roles and thus the associated symbolism. How many dark-skinned angels do you see in media? How often are characters of color associated with beings that typically represent purity and goodness?

It’s like with heroes and villains. It’s more preferable to have a diverse mix of characters who play positive roles as opposed to making all your Characters of Color villains or antagonists.

Another example of deviating from the trope can be found with George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series as mentioned further up this post.

Subvert the Trope

Suppose Black represented good. Suppose Black represented life, innocence, and good things to come.

Now suppose White symbolized evil. Suppose White represented death, immorality and ominous things on the horizon.

Subverting the B&W trope is another way to handle it in your writing. If your story is one based on a non-western or even fantasy culture, it’d be easier to sell the idea that this is simply a world that doesn’t treat Black as evil but of neutral or good (and here’s how & why). Attempting to pass this off in a more westernized culture might get confusion or skepticism from readers, though.

One idea is to subtly apply the symbolism. Death always or often occurs under bright, white lighting or sky. The dark, black forest protects the character who is being pursued by evil. A Black cat brings hope and good news.

And before you say this is enforcing “reverse racism!” Nah. Just like if you felt like having all white villains, there is no engraved association with whiteness that exists today that could actually reverse society’s overarching association of white to good and black to bad.

Not All Evil

Say you do have some negative imagery in connection to darkness. First, evaluate how heavily you’re enforcing Black as bad and consider if a change would be good.

You could also avoid reinforcing the message of dark as only/always evil if you were to balance out your associations of darkness by also including positive or neutral connections to darkness.

New B&W Meanings

Black & White don’t have to mean good or evil at all, as in not the case in every society anyhow. There are other associations with the colors you could emphasize in your writing. Take some of these examples below:

Black Associated Meanings:

  • Beautiful
  • Bold
  • Calmness/Comfort
  • Elegant
  • Health/Fertility
  • Heat/Warmth
  • Hidden
  • Life
  • Magical*
  • Mysterious
  • Protection
  • Seduction
  • Strength/Power*
  • Wealth
  • Wholeness

*Additional Notes:

  • Avoid strong = Black people tropes
  • The term “Black magic” is rooted in racism. Read about this and for alternatives to “Black magic” here.
  • See here for more associations with Black

White Associated Meanings:

  • Cold
  • Confusion
  • Death
  • Distance/aloofness
  • Emptiness/Absence
  • Fairness/Balance
  • Isolation
  • Opportunity
  • Order
  • Organized
  • Peace/Calm
  • Plain
  • Protection
  • Sterile

Additional Notes:

  • The point with the White list is to provide more symbolism besides the typical good – pure – innocent therefore some of the images are less neutral and positive than that of the Black list.
  • See here for more associations with white.

Construct New Images

  • Black & White aren’t the only colors that can oppose each other.
  • What about contrasting colors? Primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors? Earthy colors/oceanic colors?
  • You could even use bright and dimness as a means of symbolism, as discussed in this post.

There’s so much more you can do with the Black vs. White trope. Getting away from the Black/Evil – White/Good overarching symbolism can add something fresh to your writing.

We hope this inspires you to at least be more conscious of the color symbolism in your writing. More discussion on Black & White can be found in our color symbolism tag!

–Mods Colette and Alice

10 Worst 80’s Videos

There were a lot of really dumb videos in the 80s, and I watched plenty of them. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do on hose long nights of babysitting because there wasn’t any internet. There was however plenty of cable, and MTV

1. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats

Of all the dumb videos released in that era, this is one of the absolute dumbest. Our opinions may vary on which video should be in the number one slot but I think we can all agree, that this particular one is deeply stupid, with images completely unrelated to the song, horrible acting and lip syncing, and even the song sucked. I think Safety Dance qualifies on all criteria  of stupid.

 

2. Rock Me Amadeus – Falco

The song is stupid, but at least kind of fun. The video is equally asinine, but also kind of fun. This makes number two, on the list, because this artist was a total one hit wonder and I kinda like the remixes. I never saw, or heard from this singer again, after this song completely took over the airwaves for one whole-ass Summer.

3. Rock Me Tonight – Billy Squier

Oh, boy! This video is bad, bad, bad. I mean laughably bad. You may not be able to sit through this, because I had to stop and catch my breath, about halfway through it. I’ve never been a Billy Squier fan, but this song isnt really all that bad, nevertheless, I’m glad I didn’t have to subject myself to this video beyond the first time I saw it, and this week. I make these big, mental, sacrifices, so I can bring you the quality entertainment, y’all are asking for…

 

4. 99 Luft Balloons – Nena

I just realized this heading looks like “Luft balloons for 4.99”, which  makes just about as much sense as this song. But at least balloons are in the video, I guess. No, it makes no sense,and is basically a bad concert video. Its also  possible it’s some type of German thing that doesn’t translate well to English, so it kinda gets a pass, but not too much, because I still hate it. I know it must be puzzling to millennials, the types of videos and songs, we were willing to sit through, in the 80s.

 

5. All Cried Out – Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam

I am one of those people who’s a sucker for a sad song, and the reason this is so far down on this list is because I actually like this one. The reason it’s on the list  is because the video is just as trite and maudlin as you could imagine, with all of the emotions carefully displayed for the viewer. I think the only thing the director left out was the singer pointing at the viewer, and then herself.

 

6. Wild Boys – Duran Duran

I am total trash for this Duran Duran, (and The Police), and I liked some of the other videos they made, like Rio, and Hungry Like the Wolf, but this one is both ugly and stupid. The song is alright, but whoever made this video needed to stop watching those Mad Max movies. Now that I think about it, every post-apocalyptic anything after Mad Max, was basically riffing off that movie.

 

7.Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

You may remember this as Dean Winchester’s favorite song, the one we saw him lip syncing to, at the end of the episode Yellow Fever. That particular scene is about a million times better than this video. I actually like this song, and love to sing it in my car especially, but  I just can’t, with this video.

 

 

8. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

I got no problem with the song, but this video is both creepy and stupid, and  is the fulfillment of every 80s music video (and movie) cliche ever invented. Creepy singing kids ? Check! Wind blowing everything? Check! Gauzy nightgowns?Check!  Running through the dark  in a gauzy, windblown, nightgown? Check! Whatever you do, do not listen to this song first thing in the morning, because it’s totally extra.

 

9. Come on Eileen  – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

This song was recently featured in an episode of Preacher, where both Tulip and Cassidy both admitedt that this song is deeply stupid. They are not wrong. I actually like the song, but this makes the list, because yeah, the song is stupid, and I hate the band name, and there is waay too much use of overalls in this video.

 

10. Cherry Pie – Warrant

Oh boy! I hate everything about this song, the video, the band, the lyrics…all of it. It’s a nasty, dumb video, and song, made by nasty, dumb men.

 

Things I’m Looking at # 37

Preacher:

Image result for preacher

Aaaaaah!!!!

The second season of Preacher arrives just in time to take up the slack after the full-course meal that was American Gods. I was really looking forward to this new season. Last season was a bit of surprise hit for some people, and even though I was really enthusiastic about it, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed the characters. I was pretty much just expecting crazy plot, but I fell in love with Cassidy, Tulip, and Jessie, and I’m really looking forward to their interactions this season.

Last season, Jessie was possessed by an escaped Angel, named Genesis, that gave him the power to compel people to do his bidding, got assaulted  by two other Angels, named Fiore, and deBlanc, who were after their lost charge, was invited by Tulip to get back on the road to vengeance against some guy who betrayed them,  and being friended by an Irish vampire, who then fell in love with his best girl. The three of them, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, met a fake God, and the town where all these events,  occurred was blown to smithereens, after things went horribly wrong at the local slaughterhouse. Now the three of them are on the road, looking for the real God, because they got questions they need answered, and I’m certain that yet more batshit adventures will ensue.

Image result for preacher season two gifs

Season two has introduced one of the characters from the books called The Saint of Killers. We get our first glimpse of him when the three buddies are pulled over by some cops, and The Saint guns everybody down. In the first episode alone we’re treated to the sight of one of the cops macing his own balls, Tulip siphoning gas through a piece of intestine (lost by one of the cops during the shooting), while Cassidy tries to get out of the sunlight by hiding under the cars, a man getting his tongue ripped out, a preacher who exorcises his parishioners demons by locking them in cages, and Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy sharing a bed, with Cassidy letting them know that he wouldn’t mind if the two of them had sex in front of him. Sent there by the Jesse’s preacher friend, the three of them visit a Jazz bar/Strip club, where one of the patrons claimed she met God. Cassidy’s shenanigans gets their witness killed.

So the usual, all-around batshittery, really!

Image result for preacher season two gifs

Like I said, when I reviewed the show in the first season, I was not that big a fan of the books because I’m an artistic snob, and hated the artwork. I knew enough about the books to know who some of the characters were, and be excited by Cassidy’s appearance. I have no idea who the Saint of Killers is, or if its an accurate representation on the show. That said, The Saint is really terrifying. As Cassidy would say, “That’s some Terminator-type shite!

Yes, this series can actually be classified as Pulp, and yeah, I do remember from one of my last reviews, that I said I wasn’t a huge fan of Pulp, since I hated Blood Drive, but since I am a fan of Preacher, I guess that means it depends on one’s definition of Pulp. Preacher is everytihng tht Blood Drive isnt. Better acting, writing, cinematograghy, special effects, and characters, go a long way towards a better class of Pulp.

Image result for preacher season two gifs

I mean, Blood Drive and Preacher are basically the same type of show, involving people on the road, doing crazy-ass shit, or having crazy shit happen to them. But Preacher is just much better at it. I guess it’s the difference between an asshole with charm, manners,and a several thousand  dollar suit, compared to an asshole in cheap sneakers and a backwards baseball cap, who keeps spitting on your floor. One of those you date. The other you don’t. Which one you choose is entirely a matter of personal taste.

 

In the second episode we learn that the Saint of Killers was hired by Fiore, who is determined that Jesse not be allowed to keep his superpower, lest he abuse it, which he is already doing. Fiore, in mourning over his dead partner, deBlanc, is working a magician’s show at Mumbai Sky Tower, where he gets killed on stage and keeps coming back, because Angels can’t die. Well, rather they can die, but the only thing that can kill them is The Saint of Killers.

Image result for preacher season two gifs

Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy petition Fiore to call off The Saint, but he refuses. Cassidy asks Jesse for permission to try to persuade him to change Fiore’s mind. There follows one of the funniest, most delightful, interludes I’ve ever seen in a show! Initially you think Cassidy plans on torturing Fiore, but the show uses that as an opportunity to turn a trope on its head, by having him get Fiore high on heroin, and then  romping with him around his hotel room, like two over-sugared toddlers, for three hours. Fiore who was depressed enough to attempt killing himself hundreds of times, since losing hs partner, is having the time of his life. My favorite moment is the two of them building a pillow fort in the middle of the room, and eating ice cream in it.

Jesse asks Tulip to get married and she accepts at first but when an old acquaintance from New Orleans (her old stomping grounds), shows up at the Mumbai, she tells Jesse she has changed her mind, after beating the holy hell out of the man. I love to watch tulip kick ass, with her little tiny self. She must weigh all of a buck’o five. Tulip’s got a lot of secrets, though. Jesse has an epiphany about how to find God, since they learned in the last episode that God loves Jazz. He figures that God might decide to visit New Orleans, someplace Tulip is  reluctant to go. At the end of the show, Fiore’s last request is for The Saint to kill him, since Jesse commanded him to “Find Peace”.

And that’s just the second episode. We got nine more episodes of this crazy shit, people.

 

Cleverman:

Last season we saw the introduction of a new superhero show, set in Australia called Cleverman. All of the primary characters, including the hero are all Native Australians. The show works along the themes of colonization, erasure, and assimilation of Native people into a violent dominant culture.

Image result for cleverman season two gifs

 

*The Cleverman is an important figure in many Australian Aboriginal cultures. Series creator Ryan Griffen describes the Cleverman as “like the Pope of the Dreamtime … the conduit between the present and the Dreaming”.[6] The version in the television series combines many Cleverman traditions from different Aboriginal clans to create a superheroic version, with powers relating to the Dreaming’s connection to past, present and future.[7]    ——–Wikipedia

 

Koen has reluctantly accepted his position as the new Ceverman after the death of his uncle, who was the last one, and has begun to take steps to protect The Hairy People from a culture of exploitation and enslavement by the government. I didn’t review the last season and there’s a lot to explain, since its a very dense show, that requires close attention, especially if you’re not Australian. So here’s the Cleverman page on the Sundance website, which will give you a quick 101 on who the characters are, what’s going on and who’s is doing what to whom. The first episode of this season drops you right into the middle of everything, so if you didn’t watch the last season, you will need a quick catch-up:

http://www.sundance.tv/series/cleverman

 

And an AVClub review:

http://www.avclub.com/review/aboriginal-fantasy-cleverman-too-busy-building-wor-237354

Image result for cleverman season two gifs

 

This season, Cleverman is attempting to foil a plot by the Australian  government, to destroy the Hairy People, by giving them a drug that will assimilate them into human society. So they’ve introduced a sickness they claim to be curing, and giving them this drug. They’ve also been kidnapping them, breaking up their families, and conducting medical experiments  on them. All of this is fairly graphically shown, so  keep that in mind while watching. At last some of this is being facilitated by Cleverman’s cousin, who  last season, used to hold a  Hairy People Fight Club, in the area of town where the Hairy People, and the Indigenous population, had been corralled

I’m having some difficulty watching the show because it just strikes too close to home, on a realistic level, and I can’t make it through a single episode without yelling at the TV, so I had to cut my viewing short. And I was also having trouble watching the fascistic nature of the plot. Its the reason why I’m not really into watching dystopias right now.

Image result for cleverman season two gifs

 

But this is a great show. It’s very deep. It has good representation for my criteria although, if you’re a member of an Indigenous culture of any kind, you may have more stringent criteria than I do. It might also be too upsetting to watch because the plot does not mince around.

 

 

Will/ The Strain

Other shows I’ve checked out, and won’t be watching again, are Will, a show about the life of William Shakespeare which I found too dense to get into, and The Strain, which I continue to hate despite its change of venue, to Philadelphia, after NY blew up.

Image result for the strain season four gifs

Now, If you’re a student of Shakespearean Literature than you will  love this show because it chronicles the writing of his various plays and whatnot. its written by a couple of scholarly type guys and it shows. Its also full of pretty people being loud and boisterous,, and lots of ribaldry. I guess this is the show’s attempt to seem racy. I tried to like it, but I don’t think I was in the mood for it, as all that authenticity was giving me a headache.

I tried to watch the first episode of The Strain’s fourth and final season. I didn’t get past the first twenty minutes. I figured out what it was I hated so much about this show. Its the characters. I just hate them. Outside of Quinlan, and Fet, none of the characters are even trying to be compelling, and the villains are just ridiculous. The show also just isn’t scary. At least not to me, but the one review I read of the show the reviewer loved it. I just can’t agree. If you like the show, there’s nothing wrong with that, but  you have very different criteria, than I, for liking it.

Since NY blew up last season, the apocalypse has started t in earnest, as the resultant ash cloud has blocked out most of the sun’s UV rays, allowing the Strigoi, as the vampires are called, to walk around in daylight, menacing the populace. The setting has moved to Philly, and the first annoying thing I saw was an ad for a vampire/human organization called The Partnership, which is mostly designed to separate humans from their blood.

Image result for the strain season four gifs

Let me get this out of the way first: Many of the people in the ad were Black, although no more Black people were seen in the rest of the episode, even though it takes place in Philly, which has, quite possibly, one of the most recalcitrant Black populations in America. Apparently, rebellion against authority is only for White guys, since the two Black people I saw are shown  just rolling over for it.

This really pissed me off because I know, in the real world, you can’t even get Black people to do things they want to do, if you  give them an order to do it. Black people (and Puerto Ricans) will decide NOT do something, just to spite you. So I found it hard to believe there were no Black or Brown people rebelling, or creating some kind of Human Underground. C’mon! Marginalized communities would be the first ones to act up. And no explanation is given for why they’re all absent. Were they all wiped out? Eaten? Maybe we’ll find out later in the season but I won’t know because I’m not watching.

 

Castlevania: 

Image result for castlevania netflix gifs

I watched the first few episodes of this series, which is based on the arcade game from the 80’s. I do have fond memories of watching my brothers play it,  because I wasn’t particularly interested in playing it myself. I’m not that type of gamer, really. I don’t get attached to characters too much, or follow plots that closely, so I can’t tell you if the anime has anything to do with the plot of the game.

But I enjoyed the cartoon, which is about a guy named Belmont, a monster hunter from a disgraced family, going up against Dracula, and the Church. The Church is responsible for burning Dracula’s wife as a witch, and he’s so pissed off that he didn’t receive an apology, or even a tribute for his dead wife, that he unleashed a horde of batlike demons into the world to destroy humankind.

I spent a not inconsiderable time muttering at my TV about this one too because, as is natural, the villains are villainous, and  annoyingly unreasonable bullies. The Church is trying to use the approach of the demon horde to consolidate their power, and deflect attention away from the fact that the release of the demons is their fault. There’s another group of monks, truth tellers, that the Church is trying to wipe out because church officials don’t want word getting out that the demon apocalypse is their fault.

Image result for castlevania netflix gifs

The animation is very good, with some nice fight scenes. I usually avoid a lot of anime series because they’re too fast paced, and the characters have a tendency to talk too much, in extremely high pitched voices, which just makes my head hurt. But I liked this one. The people have actual motivations for doing stuff, even if I disagree with their actions, and they all talk like regular people.

So, if you’re a fan of the game, you could do worse than spending an evening with Belmont, who is a total bad-ass, and  Dracula. Castlevania is available now on Netflix.

 

Image result for british baking show gifs

I also watched The British Baking Show and Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the Baking Show because British reality shows are wholly unlike American reality shows.  For one thing, there’s less bragging, and competition from the empty headed contestants, and more a feeling of camaraderie. The British shows don’t look as if they’re trying to get rid of the Black people and women as quickly as possible and the hosts are really funny.

I like the process of watching the contestants learn to bake something, I like looking at the inventiveness of the end results, the judges aren’t mean for meanness sake, but seem honest and forthright, about the results, and the way they choose the winners seems fair. If you have a bad episode, as a baker, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. It has to be a consistent thing. By the end of the series some of the baker’s have had several bad events.

 

I have no idea what to think of Game of Thrones. I want to like it. I like parts of it. I’m mostly a casual viewer, who has only watched a few of the more popular episodes. I know who the top five characters are, and the ones I like the most, Jon Snow, Brienne, and Arya and Sansa Stark. I’m much more interested in what’s happening in the north, at The Wall, then I am with what’s going on in the south, even though I realize all of these things are linked.

Image result for game of thrones brienne gifs

 

 I don’t know who that guy is that’s been stalking Brienne.I think his name is Torm, or Torman) but he is hilariously, and very obviously, smitten with her. Brienne mostly looks annoyed and puzzled at his insinuations, and I can explain why that’s funny. I often have that same look on my face when people flirt with me. I can’t imagine why they think such a tactic would work with me, and puzzled about whatever I might have done, to make them think it would.

He longs for eve nthe faintest scrap of attention from her. Last night, after Brienne thoroughly trashed some guy  she was training with the sword, he walked up to the man and happily told him how lucky he was.

And of course, Twitter was right on it!

Tormund be looking at Brienne like

I’m going to keep watching it (not reviewing it) because I’m curious as to where it’s going to end, and how my favorites end up. Notice that there are some popular characters I didn’t mention, and that’s because I don’t care a single bit, about what they get up to, on the show.

 

Spiderman Homecoming

Image result for Spoilers gifs

Image result for Spoilers gifs

Image result for Spoilers gifs

 

 

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, there are going to be lots of spoilers. I’m basically gonna be talking about the plot, in detail. So if you haven’t seen this movie, its time to check out of this post, right now.

I’ll wait for you to come back!

 

Image result for dividing line

 

So yeah! I went to see Spiderman Homecoming this weekend, along with about a million other people, because Spiderman totally blew the fuck up this weekend. There are some movies that I get a good feel for their success, and others not so much, but this one I felt good about.  This is an instinct  that’s based entirely on my own own enthusiasm for a movie, so it’s not some infallible thing, where I’m always right.

And yeah, the movie is every bit as entertaining as everyone says it is. I took The Potato with me, and she seemed to really enjoy herself. It isn’t a very deep movie, but I wasn’t expecting depth from a Spiderman movie, so that’s okay. I don’t require every movie be an intellectual exercise, (just Christopher Nolan’s.) Sometimes you just want a movie to be a lot of fun, or bring the feels, and Spiderman does both of those. I found myself more interested in the relationships and dialogue, than the action scenes, although those were good too. I’m also glad to see that they didn’t do an origin story. We’ve had a bunch of those already.

I don’t normally see movies with teenagers in them, as most of the time they aren’t written very realistically as teens, and they always look like people with mortgages. I’ll tolerate a high school setting for the sake of a good story, but I generally don’t seek out material with that setting, on purpose.That said, I really enjoyed this because these are some of the most realistically written teens I’ve seen in a movie. I especially enjoyed these kid’s relationships with their parents, and the parents relationships to their kids, which is often written as being fraught with emotional drama, with sullen and unlikable teens. I even liked most of the kids. I liked that they looked, dressed, and acted like kids, instead of runway models, or future serial killers.


Most of the drama remains between Peter and  Michael Keaton, as The Vulture, or Peter messing up a situation that was already under control, because he wants so badly to be a superhero. Tony tells him he’s not ready for the big leagues, even though he was the one who picked Peter to go fight Captain America, in Civil War. So Peter gets a taste of the big time, and because he doesn’t believe Tony believes in him, ends up proving Tony’s point, that he’s not ready. When he almost gets all the people on the Staten Island Ferry killed through his interference, Tony takes away the suit he gave him at the end of Civil War, and  Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to prove he’s worthy. There’s a not insignificant portion of the movie spent with Peter trying to figure out how to work the suit. His origin story is glossed over in a few lines. We don’t even get a flashback, for which I remain grateful.

The Vulture is not one of my favorite villains from the comic books. (That would be Dr. Octopus) but I liked him okay, mostly due to Keaton’s ability to sell being warm and friendly, while also being  pantshittingly scary. There’s a scene, just before the Homecoming Dance, when he figures out that Peter is Spiderman, and confronts Peter about his secret identity, that scared the bejeebus out of me. You expect the typical events to occur, where he threatens Pete’s friends and family, or holds Aunt May hostage during the Homecoming Dance, and then Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to rescue somebody. Thankfully the writers skip over all that, and the fight remains between The Vulture and Spiderman to the end.

This  is indeed one of the most diverse MCU movies, I’ve ever seen, though I’m still mad about Miles Morales not being Spiderman. It’s like the MCU is punking us, or something. But there’s hope for a future teamup between the two Spider-men, because Miles’ uncle gets a funny cameo and mentions his nephew. The central characters are still white guys, but the PoC are not ill treated,  and get lots of screen time. None of them are developed characters, because it’s a pretty huge cast, and the movie is already two and a half hours, and the focus is all on Peter’s character. Peter’s teen crush, Liz, gets almost no character beyond being pleasant and pretty, for example. She is bi-racial, and I think it’s intriguing that   this movie shows two white men being  romantically interested in Black women. Peter’s best friend is Ned, who gets a little bit more character work, and is played by Jacob Batalon. He was a lot of fun and gets almost as much screen time as Tom Holland.


There are a number of characters I really enjoyed and I’m going to go through this by the  character names:

Aunt May – Marisa Tomei

I really liked Marisa Tomei’s version of Aunt May, who is supportive and funny. I still have no idea what she does for a living but she is apparently well known in the neighborhood as a hottie. It’s referred to a couple of times but not to the level where it becomes creepy. Also, she’s not prone to the speechifying of the Aunt May from the first  Spiderman movies with Tobey McGuire. I sometimes got tired of hearing her talk, even if what she said was supposed to be inspiring.

At no point, in this narrative, do they  damsel Aunt May, for which I am eternally grateful. At one point Peter,who has been invited to the Homecoming Dance by the girl of his dreams, Liz, enlists Aunt May’s help in getting him ready. She gets him a suit, teaches him to tie his tie,  and even teaches him how to boogie. That poor boy can’t dance a lick, though. aunt May can at least keep a beat.

 

Ned – Jacob Batalon

Image result for spiderman ned

Ned gets almost as much screen time, as he’s Peter’s best friend, and is the first person to find out he’s Spiderman. Jacob is just as charming as Tom Holland and I totally fell in love with his cute, little nerdy self, with his Legos, and his big mouth, although my niece wasn’t too impressed with him, though. He manages to get Peter into trouble with his peers,  because he’s so excited that he’s friends with Spiderman. Earlier in the movie, he asks Peter if he can be Spiderman’s “Man in the Chair”, who gives the hero instructions while in the field, and during the Homecoming scene, he, very happily, gets  his big chance.

Jennifer Connolly is the voice of Karen, The Spidey Suit

She talks to Peter through his Spiderman suit, and even she gets a couple of great lines. The suit’s voice is something that was added just for the film. In most of the comic books, Peter’s suit isn’t made by Tony Stark and doesn’t talk much. (There is an alternate version of Spiderman, in a gold and red suit, that was created by Stark, but he’s not Spiderman Prime, as it were.)

 Adrian Toomes – Michael Keaton

Image result for spiderman homecoming/ toomes

Keaton plays the movie’s least funny character. But he’s also a sympathetic character, having lost his salvage and demolition business to Stark’s politicking. In the aftermath of The Avengers movie, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do, and Toomes set himself, and his crew, to be a salvage team. Unfortunately, a lot of the salvage is alien technology, that really shouldn’t be in the hands of civilians, and during the course of the movie you can see why, as the civilians use this technology to act a fool, lose control of the technology, and occasionally even lose track of it.

Adrian is also Liz’ Dad, which Peter doesn’t find out until half the movie is over, and he’s already asked her to the Homecoming. All three are sitting in the car, on the way to the dance, when it slowly begins to dawn on Adrian that Peter is Spiderman. Talk about tense and Awkward!!!

Toomes is married to Garcelle Beauvais, and he’s a great father, he loves his family, and is dedicated to taking care of them. His argument that he is only making money by selling weapons, the same way Tony’s family made theirs, is justifiable, and I didn’t have a problem with his reasoning, up to a point. My problem is that he and his garage buddies are stealing the technology,  and they aren’t qualified to handle alien tech. At one point he accidentally kills one of his people (Shocker #1) because he grabs the wrong weapon. Can you imagine your dumb-assed  neighbor cobbling together some alien tech in his garage? I think not!

 

Shocker #2 – Bokeem Woodbine

When Shocker #1 gets killed, Bokeem’s character inherits his weapon. I really like this actor, and I’m semi-interested in seeing him become one of Peter’s Rogues Gallery, which is what they call Spiderman’s regular coterie of bad guys, in the comic books. Most of Spiderman’s villains, who insist on jumping in and out of prison, have animal names, but the Shocker is something of a change from Dr. Octopus, The Scorpion, The Vulture, Chameleon, Black Cat, The Goblin, Rhino. That said, I would love it if Kraven the Hunter showed up in one of Spidey’s movies, or the life-eating Morlun, who is a kind of ageless, spiritual vampire. But so far, all we got is  Shocker.

Coach Wilson – Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress gets a funny turn as Peter’s gym coach, who is also the head of detention. What few scenes he gets are hilarious like when he’s required to show Captain America’s stupid PSAs in his class, while he briefly wonders; isn’t the Captain a Federal criminal, now?

 

Michelle – MJ – Zendaya

Image result for spiderman homecoming toomes

I’m surprised to say that this is one of my favorite characters in the entire movie and I wasn’t expecting that. She is funny as hell, and although she’s not in a lot of scenes, she steals almost every one of them, due mostly to Zendaya’s comedic timing and delivery. The Potato loves her Disney show, KC Undercover, and was delighted to see her.

She’s just a  funny weirdo in the movie and I loved her. She shows up to detention, and when Coach Wilson asks why she’s there because she doesn’t even  have detention, she says she likes to come there because she likes drawing people in crisis. She then shows him a picture she drew of him. That just tickles the hell outta me, and makes me wish I had thought of doing that when I was in art school. Later, when Peter is looking depressed in class, she flips over her paper to show him  the drawing she did of him. I think this tickled the rest of the audience.

Oh ,and it actually turns out that the filmmakers lied about Zendaya being Mary Jane. She’s basically a future Mary Jane with a new name, Michelle. I guess they did that to throw off the scent of the idiot fan-guys who protested making Mary Jane a Black girl. Yes, her hair is annoying for the entire movie.

She claims to be unaffected by her high school life but you get the impression she really does have a low-key crush on Peter. She pays a lot of attention to him, even though she claims she doesn’t care,  telling the class she doesn’t have a crush on him, and is just highly observant. What a strange girl.

Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori, and he’s every bit as annoying as you’d expect a bully to be, but is also deeply funny, often referring to Peter as Penis Parker, and gleefully wondering when Peter will be expelled. You get the impression that he’s not bullying Peter because he has some deep dark secret in his home life, because its not really that kind of bullying. This version of Flash isn’t a jock, because its not that type of school, so his teasing of Peter is mostly due to academic rivalry, more than anything else.

Compared to the comic books this is the one most like the 90s comic books, and the Mark Millar version. This is one of the funniest Spiderman movies, too. The MCU understands this character the best, and how they’d like to depict him, and it shows. The original movie, starring Tobey MacGuire, had its moments, and I particularly enjoyed the second movie with Dr. Octopus, but Peter wasn’t funny in any of them. He was hapless, and a loser, but he didn’t make me laugh, even if the supporting cast was hugely funny. This Peter is a loser, but not in a depressing sort of way, like the Raimi version. The movie manages to remain lighthearted, even when Peter is being put into embarrassing ethical positions by his friends. This version of Peter is hapless because of his intensity, not because life seems to have it in for him.

The second iteration of Spiderman, with Andrew Garfield, brought a lot of feels, and I really liked those movies but, once again, they were not very funny, although funnier than McGuire’s version. The humor level drops  a notch  when this Peter  is in costume, but that’s okay, because its hard to  drop quips, when you’re getting your ass kicked. I’m glad the humor isn’t limited to the rest of the cast, though, and that Peter  remembers to be funny when he’s in costume.

But the most charming moments  occur at the beginning of the movie, when we pick up the story, with Tony recruiting him to go fight the other Avengers in Civil War. Normally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to large battle scenes in movies, but that scene in Civil War is, hands down,  one of the funniest fights I’ve ever seen in an American action movie.  Peter’s narration of it just gives it a new dimension of silliness. Peter is such a goofy mess, a hyperactive 10 year-old, as he personally films the event, which he’s not supposed to be doing. Incidentally, Tony’s presence in this movie goes a long way towards making up for recruiting a 14 year-old boy into his Avengers war, but yeah, I’m still mad at Tony for lying to Peter about why. Just add that to the list of things that make you wish Tony would catch these hands.

Oh, and you should stick around long enough to get trolled by, of all people, Captain America, who made me roll my eyes twice while he lectured the audience on the virtues of patience. That’s totally NOT funny guys!😜

Image result for spiderman homecoming/ captain america

So yeah, I really, really liked this movie. It’s better than The Amazing Spiderman 2, and that Raimi production, Spiderman #3, even though I’m one of the five people who seemingly  liked that one. On the other hand it’s just not as good as the Tobey McGuire’s Spiderman 2, because that one starred Otto Octavius and it’s hard to top a good villain. The creators do need to stop making Spiderman films for a little while, though. I don’t want to see any more Spiderman movies until he’s in college. If you haven’t seen Spiderman Homecoming yet, I’d definitely recommend it.

The next movie I’d like to see is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I may not get the chance to see that, however, for budgetary reasons, but Me, Mom, and The Potato, will definitely be sitting in the theater for The Dark Tower on August 4th.

Hannibal Season Three: Antipasto

Hi!

This is me beginning season three of my Hannibal re-watch. For some reason, during the time of its airing, there was a huge drop off in critical analysis for this show, after season two. I was hard pressed to find anything on the third season. (If you got a rec’, holla at me.) For some reason, most reviews stopped at the Season Two finale, and I sort of understand why, but still, there’s a whole ‘nother season after that, that none of the reviewers seemed to care about. I actually liked season three, although I do have to (somewhat shamefully) confess to blowing off the first five, or six episodes, when they aired, and having to go back to watch them later. Where here’s where I make up for that

In season three, we begin the Hannibal and Red Dragon arc of the books. The first two seasons were Bryan Fuller’s version of a pre-quel to The Red dragon, when Will and Hannibal first met. Between the season two finale, and the Red Dragon half of the third season, Fuller managed to squeeze in the primary  plot of the book, Hannibal aka Mason Verger’s Revenge.
Image result for mason verger gif
There will be lots of call backs to specific dialogues in the books, and some Silence of the Lamb references, throughout the entire season. But since the DeLaurentis didn’t have the rights to Silence of the Lambs, (and the show got canceled), we never got a chance to meet Fuller’s version of Clarice Starling, Well the rights to Silence of the Lambs reverts back to the DeLaurentis this August, and Fuller, who is now the showrunner for American Gods, along with the Martha DeLaurentis, has been in talks with  Mads Mikkelson, and Hugh Dancy about returning for a fourth season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this happens.

Hannibal Season 4 Needs to Happen: Here’s Why

At the end of season two, Hannibal took down everyone during what’s now called The Red Dinner, or for the more pretentious among us, Le Diner Rouge. Everyone who knew Hannibal, and converged on his home, left there in an ambulance. Will, Jack, Alana, Abigail… Of the four, its Abigail who dies from her injuries. The others make a comeback this season to try to recapture Hannibal.

Season three picks up with Hannibal, in black leather, riding through the streets of Paris on a motorbike, which is never how I pictured him from the first seasons. He is stalking a new victim, Roman Fell, a Library Curator from Italy, whose identity he plans to adopt as his own. There are flashbacks to the direct aftermath of The Red Dinner, we go with Hannibal to Florence, Italy, we get answers on how Bedelia and Hannibal ended up on that plane together, and about what hold he seemed to have over her.

Image result for hannibal/ bedelia with gun/gif

 

After leaving the House of Blood, Hannibal heads to Bedelia’s  home/office, to shower. Bedelia, who had just been called in by Jack Crawford to testify against Hannibal in preparation for his intended capture, assumes that its safe for her to drop in.  She discovers Hannibal in her shower, and in a classic pulpy, film noir, image, she holds a pistol on him when he steps out. He manages to talk her down, but really, she  could have done what no one else in the show seemed capable of doing, except she’s suffering from the same problem that WIll Graham seems to suffer from. Fascination. 

Every time Will  Graham had an opportunity to pop a cap in Hannibal’s ass, he hesitated, or wasn’t really serious about it, (to be fair, the first time it happened, Jack shot him), because there’s just something about Hannibal that made him not really want to. Bedelia does the same thing here, putting down her weapon and listening to whatever Lecter has to say. I  never completely understood why these people listened to Lecter, because I’m not impressed by the things he says. But then I’m immune to a lot of  things real-life evil people say to me, so I do struggle to understand the motivations behind why people in these narratives always listen to any  villain’s self-serving bullshit.

Bedelia, having gotten the Jedi treatment from Hannibal, flees with him to Europe. Now to be fair, one of the reasons he has such a hold over her, is just plain fear. A year or so ago, he sent a patient to her that she killed. It wasn’t entirely her fault, but Hannibal’s argument to her, was that it looked deliberate. Hannibal sent her a patient who was unstable, paranoid, and violent. When the patient (played by Zachary Quinto aka Spock) loss control, he had a seizure (it’s implied that this was something subliminally implanted in him by Hannibal, and is a direct callback to the scene in Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal makes “Multiple Miggs” eat his own tongue.) Bedelia, thinking she was helping him, tried to grab his tongue with her hand (something you are NOT supposed to do) and she killed him instead. Hannibal has been holding that death over her head for some time now.

Related image

There’s also this: she was granted immunity by Jack Crawford in exchange for any testimony against Hannibal. Perhaps, since she believed since Jack was dead, that the  immunity he had granted wouldn’t be honored, and she’d still be held accountable. So she sort of owes Hannibal a debt for not telling on her. There’s fascination, and her own fear for her future, but there’s also plain ol’ fear of Hannibal. She is terrified of him the entire time she’s with him in Italy, but that terror doesn’t exactly spur her to leave him. (I’ll have more on this in a moment.) Perhaps there’s also the fear that he could easily track her down, and she’d never know when or where he’d be. It may be her idea of keeping her enemy close. And they are close. But I wouldn’t ever call them friends. Or even frenemies.

They are very, very close, though I don’t believe they have slept together. There are scenes of Hannibal helping her out of her clothes, and scenes where they’re half naked together, and even a scene where Hannibal washes her hair, but I never got the sense they were lovers. I think Bedelia is too terrified of Hannibal to be his lover, and Hannibal only really loves Will Graham, for which Bedelia is not a substitute. Although he greatly admires Bedelia, and is charmed by her intelligence and beauty, I believe he merely covets her, and you can see that he lacks the level of respect for her, that he’s displayed towards Will. I think it’s because of her lack of killer instinct.

Will can, and does, kill people, without hesitation when the mood takes him. There’s a deep well of darkness in him, that Hannibal has been trying to access, since he first saw Will in action waaay back in episode one, when Will took down Garrett Jacob Hobbes, without breaking a sweat. He greatly admires Will’s cool ability to kill without remorse, even with his empathy disorder, and Bedelia simply doesn’t have that in her. She lacks both Will’s levels of darkness and his, paradoxical, empathy.

She and Hannibal first travel to Paris where Hannibal stalks,  kills and eats Dr. Roman Fell, a curator for a Museum in Florence, and his wife. While staking out Dr. Fell, he encounters Anthony Dimmond who, I feel, is totally mackin’ on Hannibal, at this point. There’s no other way to see that scene except as a flirtation. I have no idea how Hannibal sees it. Anthony used to be a TA for Dr. Fell, and claims to  dislike him. Bedelia and Hannibal travel  to Florence, as Dr. Roman Fell, and his wife Lydia, where he assumes Dr. Fell’s position, as a guest lecturer on Dante, at the Library.

Dr. Fell’s name might be a reference to Bishop John Fell, who is  mentioned in The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, when one of the characters remarks that he doesn’t like Mr. Hyde. This same man is also the subject of a nursery rhyme of the same name called I Do Not Like Thee Dr. Fell. This is basically the theme of the first third of the episode as at least two people claim to dislike Dr. Roman (an anagram of Norman) Fell. (This is  an example of Fuller’s very dry literary humor.)

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a32-i-do-not-like-thee-doctor-fell.htm

Image result for abel gideon hannibal series gif

Throughout all of this, we are treated to flashbacks of Abel Gideon (The Man Who Would Liked To Have  Been The Chesapeake Ripper) being forced to eat himself, as Hannibal slowly takes him apart, limb from limb. In an especially horrific touch, he feeds Gideon snails, acorns and wine, then feeds parts of Gideon’s body to more  snails, to make the snails  taste like Gideon, and then makes him eat those. How snails take on the flavor of whatever they eat is a recurring theme in the first three episodes. Gideon snarks at Hannibal about his future, and warns that Hannibal will soon become a hunted man. He  refers to Hannibal as  the personification of the Devil, paralleling the discussion about Dante that appears afterward.

At a party in Florence, Hannibal and Bedelia dance, and Hannibal is accosted by one of the one of the library’s professors, Professor Sogliato, who hates Dr. Fell because he is a foreigner, and who questions his knowledge of medieval Italian history. Lecter, who loves to play to a crowd whenever possible, dazzles everyone with his ability to speak fluent Italian,  by quoting Dante’s first sonnet. Dante’s first sonnet by the way is the basis of La Vita Nuova (The New Life), which is also the basis of the operetta by Patrick Cassidy, called Vide Cor Meum, which is the central musical theme in the movie Hannibal. Bedelia tries to distract Sogliato by requesting a dance, but that man has already signed his own death warrant, by questioning  Hannibal’s credentials in a public place. We learned from his reactions to  Alana and Chilton, in season two,  that Hannibal dislikes having his credentials second-guessed.

After the party, Bedelia dreams she is drowning in her bath. People being submerged in water is a recurring theme throughout the entire series. Whenever a character is feeling overwhelmed, or trapped, they often dream of being submerged in water, while unable to move, or help themselves. Both Will and Alana have had this recurring dream. In the first season, Will was struggling to hold on to his sanity, as he also suffered from encephalitis.  In season two, he struggled to hold on to his sense of who he was, as he got closer  to capturing Hannibal. Alana experienced this same sensation when she entered a romantic relationship with Hannibal and began to realize he was not who he seemed. That Bedelia is having this dream now, means  she is losing herself in Hannibal’s world, and is struggling not to be overwhelmed. Hannibal just seems to have this effect on people.

Image result for hannibal series diamond gif

       – Drowning in a dream is  about struggling to survive as a person, so it applies to your identity as it is dealing with relationship with other people, but also with your own internal world of instincts, body activities and needs. This is about being or feeling overwhelmed by something.

Image result for hannibal series/ drowning gif

Image result for hannibal series/ drowning gifImage result for hannibal series/ drowning gif

 

Bedelia is in the habit of shopping at Vera Dal, and making the exact same purchase, once a week. There has been a lot of speculation about her actions in Florence, but I think the consensus that was reached, is that she knows people are looking for Lecter, and maybe her, and is trying to be found. At one point, she goes to a train station, not to escape, but to be seen on the station’s camera, just in case anyone is looking for her. I believe she’s trying, to be rescued. Notice how her Vera Dal bag is carefully turned towards the camera above her, and she makes sure to turn her face up to it. She has to be subtle about this, because she knows Hannibal is planning to eat her and if she is too blatant, in her attempts to leave,  he will kill her that much sooner. She escaped his intentions before by fleeing, but knows he won’t let her get away with that a second time.

I just want to point out that while in Florence, Bedelia’s hair, makeup, and outfits are on point. She was always a well-dressed woman, but in all her scenes, her costuming is absolutely superb.

Image result for hannibal bedelia's costumes

Image result for hannibal/bedelia's outfits

Image result for hannibal/bedelia's outfits

 

Lecter encounters Anthony Dimmond again, and invites him to dinner with him, and his wife. He doesn’t tell Dimmond who he’s impersonating, but invites him to one of Dr. Fell’s lectures, as well. At dinner, we find that Hannibal has been treating Bedelia to some very specific foods, much as he did with Abel Gideon. Lots of Oysters, snails, and other types of invertebrates, as Bedelia sadly jokes, that she’s trying not to eat anything with a central nervous system, because her husband wants her to taste a certain way. So yeah, they both know he was planning to kill and eat her, at some, unspecified,  point. Dimmond mentions that the Romans used to do the same thing to the animals they would eat, but  thinks Bedelia is flirting with him, perhaps suggesting a three-way. Meanwhile, Hannibal watches all this, with a great deal of amusement.

Image result for hannibal/ bedelia kills gif

Image result for anthony dimmond gif

Until this season, we’ve gotten only glimpses of Hannibal’s sense of humor. We know he has a very dry one because of the things he’s said in preceding seasons, but we rarely got a look at him actively making jokes, or reacting with happiness or glee. This season we get to see a Hannibal that is much freer in his display of emotions. He tells Bedelia that he has removed his person suit. Especially after he gets captured midway through the season, when he just has a very  “I Really Don’t Give A Fuck” attitude about the entire situation. This season Mads Mikkelsen appears to be having a great time all season.

After discovering that Hannibal is posing as Dr. Fell, Dimmond tries to blackmail Hannibal. Its an interesting discussion, as Lecter asks if  Dimmond is trying to fold him into some new shape. We never learn what their deal is because Lecter kills him in the apartment, in front of Bedelia. Bedelia was already terrified for Dimmond when he had dinner with them. When Dimmond shows up at Hannibal’s lecture, she runs back to the apartment, packs a suitcase, and attempts to escape, but Lecter and Dimmond show up before she can get out the door. This is the first time we’ve really seen Bedelia lose her carefully designed composure since making the decision to accompany Lecter to Europe. What it shows is a woman in the grip of extreme terror. Earlier, Lecter walked past her and touched her on the shoulder, when Dimmond walked into the lecture hall and that seemed to galvanize her. She is ready to run.

Lecter bashes Dimmond’s over the head as Bedelia watches. Before he breaks Dimmond’s neck,  Lecter asks if she is observing or participating, and reaches the conclusion, based on the fact that she knew what was coming, yet did nothing to prevent it, (including warning Dimmond to stay away) that what she is doing is participation. After this we see Bedelia in tears as she contemplates that this is her possible future. This is why she is not Will Graham’s substitute. She makes no pretense of her ability to handle watching Hannibal do this. In Hannibal’s mind she has no instinct to kill, despite her big talk to Will about it, later in the season. Will would not have tried to run. Will would’ve tried to kill Hannibal, or just taken it in stride, as he did when he watched Hannibal make Mason Verger cut off his own face.

Later, we find that Lecter has folded Dimmond into an interesting new shape, (just as he joked to him earlier) as he travels by train to the  Norman Cathedral in Palermo. During his trip, he folds a paper image of Michaelangelo’s Vitruvian Man into the shape of a heart, while thinking about Will Graham. ( I spoke about this in a previous post on how Will is Hannibal’s perfect man.) Will is very much in Hannibal’s thoughts after Dimmond’s death. He wonders if Will is still alive, and is in a pensive mood while on the train to Palermo.

Related imageImage result for floor of norman chapel

 

 

He places Dimmond’s body on display in the middle of the Norman Chapel over the image of death that is inscribed in the floor. He has folded Dimmond’s body into the shape of a heart, and pierced it with three upraised swords, like the Three of Swords from the tarot.

The Three of Swords represents rejection, sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, betrayal, separation and grief. Such events feel so painful because they are unexpected. However, the Three of Swords often serves as a warning sign to show when one or more of these are possible. By preparing for this difficult event, the emotional blow can be minimised or even prevented entirely.

https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/minor-arcana/suit-of-swords/three-of-swords/

I don’t know if he knows that Will is alive. I think he suspects it, but  Hannibal often does things just to see what will happen, or just to artistically express himself, and this could be one of those times. If the display is meant for Will, then it’s Hannibal’s psychotic version of an apology to him, saying that he forgives Will for hurting him, and misses him.

 

 

So, this episode was entirely from Lecter’s point of view. The next episode will be about what happened  directly after the “Diner Rouge”, from Will Graham’s  point of view.

Note:

Since the airing of American gods, I’m hoping these reviews of Hannibal helps people to look more deeply into the meanings and expressions in that American Gods. As I said, in my reviews of that show, Fuller loves to put meaning into everything you will see on the screen, and that almost  nothing you see is accidental. Every image, name, and line of dialogue is, at the very least, some type of in-joke, if not foreshadowing for some later event, or an illustration of the episode’s theme. So if you are a literary student, or history major, you will find all manner of easter eggs in his work.

What’s the 411? LinkSpam

Hey! I got some great reading material for your weekend. 

History of Dance Music

Image result for history of disco

*Actually pretty much all of the Popular musical styles originated in marginalized communities. I was inspired by someone asking a question on Tumblr on why Disco died. The answer is that Disco didn’t actually die, it simply went back underground, and morphed into something else.

http://gawker.com/frankie-knuckles-discos-revenge-and-gay-black-music-1556413442

https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/aeqxwz/dance-pride-the-gay-origins-of-dance-music

https://djmag.com/content/special-feature-gay-dna-house-music

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/35892/1/chicago-house-lgbtq-history-documentary

View story at Medium.com

https://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/webprojects/LiveMiss/Chicago-House/house-text.htm

Image result for history of disco

 

*This is about the White male backlash against Disco. There are a number of reasons why there was such a backlash, but what I’ve noticed is that its a pattern that keeps repeating itself through US history. A marginalized community creates a musical style that becomes very popular, which is then followed by an urge to contain and control that music, by the preceding generation, when its adopted by their children.

https://aeon.co/ideas/the-night-when-straight-white-males-tried-to-kill-disco

http://www.thedailybeast.com/of-gamers-gates-and-disco-demolition-the-roots-of-reactionary-rage

*This article chronicles how the backlash against Disco was tied into homophobia and racism:

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/224099

*This video by Sut Jhally, which lasts about an hour, discusses the misogyny of  behind so many poplar musical styles, but pays particualr attention to Rock N Roll. Warning this is NSFW:

https://thoughtmaybe.com/dreamworlds-desire-sex-and-power-in-music-videos/

 

At the Movies

Image result for at the movies

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-panther-costume-designer_us_593ff13ee4b02402687cd1d2

<em>The Magnificent Seven</em> vs. The Historical Negationism of Westerns

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/predator-oral-history-arnold-schwarzenegger-film-1014132

http://www.theroot.com/sophia-coppolas-blatant-erasure-of-black-women-in-the-b-1796386121

https://www.villagevoice.com/2016/10/13/the-men-who-were-the-thing-look-back-on-a-modern-horror-classic/

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/alien-xenomorph-actor

 

Sex and Gender

Image result for sex and gender

Articles on Gender and Sexual expression will always get a read from me. I just find the topic fascinating. Apparently, so do a lot of other people.

*An article about the “Berdache” gender among American Plains Natives Cultures:

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.gen.004

*This one is about how  much freer men were in the past, to express affection for one another.  The most distracting thing in these photos for me was the smoking of cigars. I found the cigar smoking to be kinda weird. We hardly ever see that kind of thing now.

https://truewestmagazine.com/homos-on-the-range/

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/29/bosom-buddies-a-photo-history-of-male-affection/

*I found this great article on Gender expression in other cultures throughout history:

Image result for gender variation in native americans

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/gender-variance-around-the-world?mbid=social_facebook

 

And the obligatory Fandom Racism post:

http://beatrice-otter.dreamwidth.org/343325.html

American Gods: Of Gods and Shadow Moon

 

Image result for spoilers gif

                   SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS

 

 

I’m  going to maybe do a little spoiling ,so if you didn’t read the book….best check out now, although just because it’s in the book, doesn’t  mean it will play out on the show. However, the show is following the spirit of the book, and some of the major plot points  of the book have been struck.

At the end of this first season, it’s difficult to say where we are in the book because the series is showing events out of order. A significant middle portion of the book is taken up with Shadow, alone in a small town, waiting for Wednesday to contact him, as he goes about gathering together the various gods.

One of the major changes from the book is Shadow is with Wednesday, as he attempts to round up the various gods for his war. The end result of this decision by the show’s writers,  is that the focus is now on Shadow’s relationship with Wednesday. Their relationship was not something that was elaborated upon in the book, so by focusing on the closeness of Shadow’s friendship with Wednesday, we can better understand  at least one of the key decisions that Shadow will make in the next season.

Image result for american gods gif tumblr

 

In the Bone Orchard, we’re introduced to Shadow while he’s in prison. The way we see him there, is how we’ll see him for most of the season, reacting to something that’s being done to him. He essentially moves from one kind of prison to another, where he is not in control of any of the events that are happening to him, from his wife’s death, to his early release from prison, to his meeting with Wednesday, and he spends almost all of his time being fought over by various gods, and  reacting, or not reacting, to someone, or something. From the disrespectful airport lady, to Audrey’s attempted rape, to Wednesday roping him into his deal as a bodyguard, to fighting with Mad Sweeney., Shadow spends the entire season reacting to things others are doing to him. (The most decisive things he did all season was to accept Wednesday’s job offer, and Believe.)

How Shadow reacts to the world around him in those first 30 minutes is key to realizing how shaken he is by the events of this season, and what a huge turnaround it is for him to say those words to Wednesday in the season finale. From his early reactions, we understand that Shadow is not a stupid man. He thinks about what’s happening to him, and how he should feel, or respond to it.

For example the airport scene where he thinks back on Lowkey’s warning not to piss off airport ladies, despite that woman’s blatant disrespect of him. He understands that the survival behavior he developed in prison is not going to work outside of it, and adapts his behavior accordingly. You can almost see the exact moment when he backs down from going off on the woman, realizing that more than a few ex-cons ended up right back in jail because they were unable to adapt their prison behavior to their new situations. It is his intelligence and adaptability that will stand him in good stead on his journey into the realm of the gods.

When Sweeney tries to provoke him in the bar, Shadow tries to stand down, because he wants to learn Sweeney’s coin trick, but after a moment, he figures out that Wednesday is testing him, and steps up. When Technical Boy threatens him, he remains calm and  unruffled by TB’s threats, mouthing off to TB as he would to any other convict who tried to scare him. Once again reading the situation correctly, and then adapting his behavior to suit it.

Image result for american gods gif tumblr

I said in an earlier post that Shadow Moon is the show’s Everyman. Every fantastic, supernatural show, must have one. They function as a lens through which the fantastic is experienced by the audience. We’re meant to identify, and empathize with this character. Shadow is  remarkable  because the vast majority of such characters are often Average White Guys. It’s  extraordinary for us that a Black man has been cast in such a role because the audience is supposed to project themselves onto his character, and identify with him, and the decisions he makes.

This is only the first season, so much of our time has been spent establishing the world that Shadow has joined. A a result,  Shadow is often a passive, rather than a dynamic character, which I know sometimes frustrated some viewers, but this is quite common.  He’s done very little to move the plot forward, which is in keeping within the tenets of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Think of Luke Skywalker, who starts off Star Wars as a somewhat passive character, who is mostly reacting to things being done to him.

This season has been a journey to get Shadow to do one thing. Make one big decision of his own volition. Believe! After this, much like Luke, in The Empire Strikes Back, Shadow should become a much more active participant in the proceedings, and Bryan Fuller promises that he will.

Like Luke Skywalker, Shadow receives the call to adventure (from Wednesday). As soon as he agrees to it, he’s given supernatural aid, in the form of a magical coin by Sweeney, after his first challenge, which is besting Sweeney in a fight. (Giving the coin away is what actually aids him, at the end of The Bone Orchard. Had that coin never resurrected Laura, Shadow would have died on the tree.)

His second challenge is his checkers game with Czernobog, which he loses. He is then given a second gift in the form of a silver coin, that helps him best Czernobog, when he challenges him to another game. Technical Boy is the Guardian of the first threshold. Shadow has  fully committed to the adventure by the time they meet.  His lynching is his entrance into the Belly of the Whale. He couldn’t back out of the adventure now, even if he wanted to, because the new gods are aware of his presence. Shadow has to keep moving forward now, just like Luke had no choice but to keep moving forward after his first encounter with Darth Vader. Once you become known to the major players, its impossible to back out of  events, as they will keep drawing you back into the game, by coercion, or force, if necessary.

As Shadow moves forward, he is beset by  temptations and challenges, which occur in threes. The first temptation is in the cemetery with Audrey, while one of the challenges is his game of checkers with Czernobog.   Along the way, there are two other temptations: Laura’s return, and Media’s seduction to the dark side, both of which Shadow successfully withstands. Another of his three challenges is the  bank heist, which is successful, and Mr World makes, yet another, offering to him, of flesh and blood,  in the form of Technical Boy’s teeth. So Shadow withstands three temptations, overcomes three challenges, and receives three gifts. Along the way, he is aided by his assistant (Helper), Laura, and mentored by Wednesday.

Image result for american gods  gif/bilquis

 

Shadow is also shown to have gifts of his own, an ability to prophecy, control of the weather, the ability to do coin tricks, to heal quickly, and to See. One of the  first things we know about Shadow is that he has prophetic/mystical dreams. He dreams about Laura’s death, telling her on the phone, and in his dream that he has a feeling of dread, that something bad is about to happen. The Bone Orchard is his dream about impending danger, of being attacked by Technical Boy’s white clad droogs, in a meadow, next to a tree. In the dream, Shadow stands in a blood covered orchard with bones, while he is attacked by white, bone-like hands reaching out of the trees. Shadow doesn’t know it, but the Bone Orchard represents the deaths of TB’s drones, at Laura’s hands. Later, he dreams about the same Buffalo God that denied entry into America to Nunyunnini, the forgotten god of Lemon Scented You. In his dreams this  god tells Shadow to “Believe.”

Image result for american gods gif tumblr

During the scenes where Laura visited her family, Wednesday asks Shadow if he can see her, and Shadow, through glowing  eyelids, perfectly describes Laura, looking through her family’s front window, and deciding that she can’t join them. . So far, he has been shown as having the powers of many of the beings he has seen or met. His ability to prophesy mimics the Zorya Sisters powers. The coin tricks mimic Sweeney’s abilities with coins. Laura’s one heartbeat, when he kisses her, implies he has the powers of Anubis, or Easter, to resurrect the dead. (It is definitely Shadow who resurrects her because the power of  Sweeney’s  coin does not entail resurrection. )The trick with the snow is an echo of the powers of a certain storm god we all know, but who has, conspicuously,  never been mentioned.

We’ve also seen that Shadow is able to heal very quickly. When he was attacked by TB’s henchmen he suffered a stab wound in his side that needed to be stapled shut, but by the time we see Wednesday healing him in Murder of Gods, he only has the tree wound, which is healed by the time of Come to Jesus. Shadow doesn’t act, or move as if he’s in pain, or wounded, shortly after these events.

Not only do we know Shadow through his actions, but we also know him through his emotions. Ricky Whittle gives a beautiful performance  of a man who is hanging on to his sanity by his fingernails. Whittle’s portrayal is remarkable for the depth and breadth of emotions he brings to his character. He’s allowed to be tough and snarky, just like your typical hero character, but he’s also allowed to express vulnerability, without coming across as weak.

Not only is Shadow allowed to be tired, upset, angry, happy, hopeful, and even fearful, he is allowed to express these emotions without censure from the other characters. And even when he’s not openly expressing his emotions, in some of the first episodes we have some idea of what he’s feeling through the weather around him. Whenever we see Shadow trying to keep control of his emotions, the scene transitions indicate his inner turmoil, with shots of heavy clouds and storms. This is also indicated by followup shots that move from Shadows facial expressions to shots of the sky just above him.

Related image

In one of the first scenes in The Bone Orchard, Shadow gives full vent to his emotions on a hilltop, which is followed by a shot of clouds clearing from a blue sky. When he vents, skies tend to be clear. When he tries to suppress or control his emotions, the weather is often an indicator of his inner turmoil. When he first meets Wednesday, their plane is flying through a storm, as he deals with the aftermath of Laura’s death, and this annoying stranger he’s trying not to snap at.

In Secret of the Spoons, we see clouds form, and a storm occurs, just after he is kissed by The Midnight Star, from a sky that was  clear a moment before. He must be feeling a great deal of fear, dread, and grief and guilt, after his wife dies, being threatened by Czernobog and his bleeding hammer, and having some strange girl kiss him. And there are other scenes where we are meant to directly attach the weather conditions to whatever Shadow is feeling at that moment.

In A Murder of Gods,  and The Bone Orchard, we get to see Shadow be scared, and apprehensive. We get to see him react in a realistic manner to the craziness, and potential danger around him. This is a man who, while always acutely aware of his Blackness, doesn’t let that define him, or limit his actions. Shadow is secure in who he is as a Black man, and doesn’t seem to care to engage in fake posturing, or in trying to convince everyone that he’s not weak. This is a man who simply knows he can handle himself. He is not at all intimidated by TB’s bluster, or Sweeney’s rants, and it’s that self-assurance that makes his vulnerable moments all the more touching.

Related image

From  his guarded response to Czernobog’s questioning of his race in Secret of the Spoons, to his naked fear at being in a town with so many White people fondling guns, in A Murder of Gods, he doesn’t hold back from showing what he really feels when in Wednesday’s company. This emotional openness is part of the reason Wednesday likes him. Wednesday is almost never perturbed by Shadow’s feelings about anything. He often steps back and just lets Shadow handle his own business.

One of the highlights, and a subject of some concern to the fans, is Shadow’s relationship to Wednesday. I really want to like it. Actually, I do like it, sort of, but I also  keep in mind the Wednesday is a con man. A user, who is grooming Shadow for some dark purpose. Nevertheless, you can see the genuine affection he has towards Shadow. You know Shadow needs to separate himself from this man who orchestrated, not just his sojourn in a prison cell, but the deaths of his entire family while he was away. It’s easy to forget that when watching the two of them together though. I have to keep in mind that Wednesday thinks like a god,  and is not held to  human morality. He did what gods have always done, which is manipulating humans to suit their needs. I dislike Wednesday because he’s a manipulative narcissist.  He cares about Shadow because it’s in his best interests to care, and yet all of that doesn’t make me actually hate him, probably because there is  a genuine liking for Shadow in his demeanor.

Related image

Shadow’s relationship with Wednesday is complicated. He knows what kind of person he’s with, which is the reason he’s so often angry with him. He knows Wednesday is a con man, a liar, a thief, and a user, but seems unable, or unwilling, to pull himself from Wednesday’s orbit. This isn’t because Shadow is stupid. It’s the opposite. It’s because Shadow is curious about the larger, weirder world, he’s been glimpsing over Wednesday’s shoulder, and he’s drawn to it, even if he resists believing in it. How many of us, if given a glimpse of such a world, could resist becoming a part of it? Of wanting to?

It’s the reason people worship gods in the first place, for a glimpse of something bigger than themselves. Shadow was mostly godless before he met Wednesday. The closest thing to a god he believed in was Laura, and that was smashed by learning of her infidelity. (See how Wednesday needed to squash that belief before recruiting Shadow to his cause? And how Wednesday warns Shadow about getting close too close to Ostara? He is a jealous god, who does not want Shadow setting any other gods before him.)

Related image
Image result for divider line clipart

Now for some speculation.

My speculations are entirely based on the book, and are subject to total reinterpretation next season. So this will contain spoilers from the book, and maybe, or maybe not, spoilers for the future of the show.

@@


One of the reasons Wednesday needs Shadow to believe is Shadow agreed to perform Wednesday’s Vigil should anything happen to him. Its part of the bargain Wednesday quietly slips  in,  at the beginning of Shadow’s employment, in The Bone Orchard. A Vigil, at least in Norse culture, is done over the body of a  dead relative. And yes, Shadow is Wednesday’s son.

I have speculated if the writers will make Bilquis Shadow’s mother, as we keep being given subtle hints that the she may well be. That Disco scene in the finale with Bilquis, with the huge Afro, morphing out of a lunar eclipse (which is another term for a shadow moon) is one such hint, and Wednesday speculating about Shadows mother having an Afro, in The Bone Orchard, is another. And having a son is something that could have happened to Bilquis during her fall from power, in the late eighties/early nineties, which would put Shadow at just the right age to be her son. But this is just me speculating. (If this is so, Shadow would be a true-God, not a Demi-god.)


Fuller has promised that Bilquis has an important part to play in the narrative, so everything we’ve seen of her so far, is all setup for a later reveal. Notice how women are instantly sexually attracted to Shadow (outside of Shadow looking like the extremely hot Ricky Whittle). I think this is  deliberate on the part of the writers. From the waitress at the Crocodile Bar who openly flirts with him,  to Audrey’s attempted rape, to Ostara being instantly smitten with him, and Laura’s new obsession ( Is the reason she sees him as an eclipse a sign of his godhood?) women have had strong sexual reactions to him, which could be a sing of Bilquis’ influence, as she is a Love Goddess.

Let me be more specific here: white women all have strong sexual reactions to him, as he hasn’t had any interactions with WoC, yet. If Bilquis is his mother that would explain much of the behavior we’ve seen, and could also be a deliberate statement on the  white supremacy which sees Black men as hypersexual stereotypes. We’ll see!

In the book, Wednesday is killed by the new gods,  to be used by Loki as a martyr, to help facilitate their war. Shadow is the one who performs this Vigil, by being hung on a tree for nine days, just like in Odin’s mythological backstory. Odin hung on the World Tree, for nine days, to receive wisdom, and the price paid, was the loss of his eye.

Image result for america ngods gif/tree

In the book, Shadow hangs on an Ash tree for nine days. During that time, he receives wisdom about who and what he is, while traveling through the underworld. Shadow dies, but is resurrected by Ostara, and her fondness for Shadow, in Come to Jesus, is a nice setup for why she would decide to do that.

This also ties into the lynching imagery throughout the series, because that is foreshadowing for when Shadow will choose to hang on a tree for Wednesday, despite the naked fear we see in him. This lynching imagery is used throughout the series as a dreadful reminder of Shadows future. It is literally hanging over his head in his scenes in the jail courtyard, and Vulcan’s front yard. You are meant to be afraid for him. He is being manipulated to sacrifice himself for Wednesday, and cannot do so, if he doesn’t fully understand who Wednesday is, which is why Wednesday’s reveal, and Shadows statement are so awful. Wednesday is that much closer to realizing his plans for Shadow.


All season long Shadow has been admonished to Believe. So yes, even though believing is his downfall, it’s also the only way he can be saved. He has to believe in something, not necessarily Wednesday, but something, or he will never get through any of this intact.

Through the efforts of the other gods, Shadow survives the Vigil. Earlier in the series, Wednesday mentioned that there’s no King of America, which is why the philosophical discussions that happen between Wednesday and Shadow need to be attended closely. They offer clues to Shadows future. Shadow ends the book as a kind of Demi-god, a new King of America, who can see lies, and expose the truth. And this  is also the reason Shadow had to be a Black man. It’s a statement on how Black men are one of the few marginalized groups that have most often spoken truth to power. A black man who can see Truth is just keeping it real.

In the next few seasons we may or may not get to see the war, (in the book, there’s no war), but I’m not very concerned about that, because I don’t think that’s really the series end game either. I’m speculating that Shadow’s  birth as a kind of God of all gods, (sort of like Odin) is what’s at stake on the show. At least that’s where I’d like to see the future of this series turn.

Into the Badlands Season Two: Series Review

Plot:


The plot this season was much more intricate, with multiple characters, arcs, intentions, and designs. There was a lot to fit into eight episodes, and that the show managed to keep so many plot lines coherent, while tying up several from last season, is a testament to the skills of the writers. As outlined in the character reviews, everyone got to have a plot. The overriding theme seemed to be everyone seeking power, in the vacuum left behind by Baron Quinn’s rumored death.

The overriding character arcs were the Widow’s corrupt rise to power, Sunny’s search for his wife, MK’s escape, and Baron Quinn’s last hurrah. The writers juggled these four plots with a number of subs, managing to keep most of them untangled, and comprehensible, while still throwing  in a number of unpredictable twists and turns, which I enjoyed. The betrayals were flying fast and furious at one point, and if you blinked you’d miss who was aligning with who.

My biggest complaint is the treatment of the black characters, Edgar, Silver Moon, Veil, an unnamed black teenager at the monastery, and an unnamed butterfly, who were all brutally killed. Of them, only Silver, and Veil, had backstories. The show can do better than that.  I don’t think the show wants to get embroiled in a discussion of anti-blackness, but it will, if it keeps killing off  all its black characters like that.

Plus, it gives us one of the worst types of  character trope, in the show’s finale, with the fridging of Sunny’s love interest, a black woman who sacrifices herself, to save her man. It seems no matter how progressive white male writers believe themselves to be, they simply cannot seem to avoid the trope of the Sacrificial Negro.

Image result for badlands/silver moon

That said, my favorite character this season was Silver Moon. I loved this character but I don’t know why. Probably because he reminds me of the character from the RZA’s Martial Arts movie, The Man with the Iron Fists. I also think it’s very interesting that Sunny, even after he had his own sword returned to him, kept using the one he took from Silver, giving his old sword to Lydia. This character had lines and a backstory. They tried really hard to flesh him out, and that’s to be applauded.

Complaints aside, I am glad that the show remembers there are Black people in the future, and in a fantasy setting, just walking around in the background scenes. The show does need to add more Asian characters though, and Baron Chau is a good start. I loved watching her kick some ass, and liked that she lives to see the next season. She’s played by actress Eleanor Matsuuras, who is from Hertfordshire by way of Tokyo, and has mostly starred in British productions.

 

Worldbuilding:



We didn’t get to see much architecture and landscapes in the last season, and what there was, seemed more of an afterthought, but with the show’s bigger budget this season, we got some very ambitious, sometimes epic, background scenery. From the shot of the huge walls that cut off the badlands from the rest of the world, to the  intricate and lush gardens surrounding the Widow’s home, we got treated to some tremendous worldbuilding. And the details of this world are simply incredible, as seen in the Widow’s study, and the map of the Badlands above, that’s only glimpsed in a brief moment in a single episode, which outlines where this takes place in the US, and marks the different baronies.

I remember that first season, I had some major questions about food and textile production, and we get a partial answer, in learning that not everyone grows poppies. There are oil fields, and if that is the case, then there are also textile mills somewhere as well. These things aren’t knowledge that would be lost, since creating fabrics is one of the most basic human skills. Certainly the working and tooling of leather hasn’t been lost, or car repair either, it seems. We got such a small glimpse of the world in the first season, that we were left with a ton of questions, but the show has really built on that in a way that makes sense for the Badlands. This world is set to become even bigger in the third season after Bajie’s Morse code message is received.

We’re also given some startling glimpses into what type of world we’ve joined. Apparently this world is set about a hundred or so years from now, (how far into the future is unclear, so I could be wrong), but it’s long after some sort of soft apocalypse, that left lots of infrastructure, and fewer people. In one of the episodes, MK and Ava visit a long abandoned mall/dept store, that still has Christmas lights and decorations. It can’t be too far into the future because the lights still work. There’s electricity in some places. There’s little literacy, but some knowledge of medicines and machines ( like X-rays) is still available in the Badlands. And then there’s this unseen city (Astra) that everyone keeps talking about.

And it’s not just the landscapes, but all the tiny details inside the homes of various characters, like Baron Chau’s all white interiors, and grand wall paintings, the dark, old-world, furnishings of the Widows home, the dark majesty of Quinn’s home in exile, in an abandoned metro station. We may have started the show traveling through the classic Mad Max dystopia of the mines, but not all of the Badlands looks that way, and it was very exciting to get these glimpses into a broken past.

Image result for into the badlands season two

 

 

Costumes:

The series had some stunning costume work this season, with rich colors, and beautiful, very sexy, outlines. This is very probably one of the sexiest martial arts shows I’ve ever watched, as usually the costumes for this type of genre can be somewhat pragmatic.You can see there’s real intent  to create a feeling of lost majesty/ bygone luster.

And every  character (even the most minor of them) gets the luxury treatment. From Silver Moon’s  old and tattered Clipper outfit, to Tilda’s pragmatic, newly minted Regent uniform,  from Baron Chau’s sumptuous furs and glittery dresses, to Quinn’s scuffed and grubby finery. These details really bring home the kind of lifestyles of the Baron’s, as the Cogs are dressed in the simplest colors and practical, easily cared for, fabrics.

Everything, and everyone, is given gorgeous detail, from hair, to  shoes, to makeup, furniture, and housing. From Baron Chau’s pearl jewelry and on-point makeup, to the Widow’s more action oriented look, with everyone receiving more elaborate hairstyles, including MK. Even Waldo gets some scrumptious blue velvet to wear.

Each Barony has its own color scheme. Quinn’s was dried blood red, but now that it’s been taken over by Jade and Ryder, it’s a fresher, magenta red color. Baron Chau’s color scheme is white. Another Baron’s color is green. The Widow’s colors are a deep royal blue. The monks and MK are wearing various shades of purples, and oranges. After he escapes the monastery, MK is seeing wearing a gorgeous green surplus, that I wanted for myself, along with some more gentle earthtones.

 

Even the lowest, most minor characters, got the full costume treatment. Look at the detail on this Junkyard King, in his darkened purple, and mother of pearl buttons. Contrast that with the  fresher and more vibrant purple of MKs monk’s robes. I love the matching color schemes in these two photos.

The duplicitous and conniving Jade. Her hair and makeup also reflect her character. Contrast that with her more innocent look in the first season.

Veil is often associated with soft natural colors, and earth tones, in keeping with her honest, down to earth, nature.

The details this season are incredible. Check out Waldo’s pince nez glasses, the little crossed cufflinks, and the chair handle ornaments! I also liked MK’s more elaborate hairstyle, with its tiny twists. Most of these things you’re never going to notice during the series, except for a quick second, but the set designers and prop masters went the full one hundred, anyway. This is the first time I really noticed Waldo’s knuckle tattoos, from his time as a Clipper.


I have since learned that the painting in Baron Chau’s home is called “Leonidas at Thermopylae”, and is a reference to Sunny making a commitment to a fight he knows he won’t survive. It’s by a Neo-Classical French painter of the 19th century, named Jacques Louis-David. Sunny’s and Chau’s postures imitate the formal poses in the painting. This was a hallmark of the Classical style in which grand Mythological and Historical themes were painted in a clean, formal manner.

Image result for badlands/baron chau

Contrast Chau’s white minimalist environment, and  the marble columns, with Minerva’s home which is  very Old- World traditional, with lots of greenery, velvet, and hard-wood.  Chau’s home, and costumes are also a reflection of her character, which is just as cool and calculating, as Minerva’s is cool,yet determined.
Image result for into the badlands season two

I love the details here as one of the girls wears a matching blue ballerina skirt under her coat.Just a touch of whimsy for a little girl Clipper. I also like the natural hairstyles on the black girls. I’m glad this show remembered black women exist, even if they’re not treated especially well.
Image result for into the badlands season two

Baron Quinn is like the Badlands version of Darth Vader. Everyone is afraid of this grim creature, come back from the dead, to destroy all their lives. Check out the tiny details like the little glimpses of red in his new outfit, a callback to when he used to be a Baron, and the tiny rivets on his  belts. The rough, nubby, texture of his coat is in keeping with his new rugged lifestyle, and gives the viewer some idea of his rough character, and disturbed mindset. Except for his voice, he’s just rough all over.

Contrast Quinn’s look with Jade’s smoothly streamlined look,  since moving into a more comfortable position of power with Ryder, below. There’s more than a touch of the Antebellum South in Ryder’s suit coat, which is a deliberate choice on the part of the costume dept.
Image result for into the badlands season two

Ryder Welcomes His Guests - Into the Badlands Season 2 Episode 3

 

Cinematography: 

Everything this season was given an upgrade, including the lighting and  cinematography. No detail has been spared. There’s a rich three dimensional feel to the environment, which allows the viewer to see every detail of a character, or event, and totally immerse themselves in the show. It’s equal parts dream and nightmare.

There’s some gorgeous lighting happening here, in the final scene of the series, as Sunny walks off into this frosty looking sunset with Baby Henry.

The monastery is full of candle light, giving its inhabitants a deceptively soft appearance. The irony is that these are some of the most lethal beings in the Badlands.



Sunny is fighting the monks in an old, worn, Nativity scene, at an abandoned dept. store. No one knows the meaning of any of the decorations, but check out the penguin with the Christmas wreath around his neck! The old religion has been supplanted by an even older one, that involves dark Chi, and superpowers.

 

I think it’s  really cute that they chose a baby that looks Black and Asian.

Image result for badlands/ henry

Related image

Image result for badlands/ veil

Whenever possible, the creators tried to use natural lighting on all the sets, so we get some wonderfully lit scenes, like Veil with Henry, above, and Sunny’s fight with Silver Moon, below. Veil is often given the Madonna treatment with her  lighting.


Action:

The show has also upped the ante on the fight choreography this season, with much more elaborate stuntwork, and ambitious fight scenes involving multiple highly trained characters. The show also added some explosives work, which is something most shows don’t have a good sized budget for, but the larger budget shows how much confidence the network has in the success of this series. Whereas last season I struggled to get the word out about this show, its popularity has really soared this season because of its move to Netflix, and basic word of mouth. There are also more than a few websites dedicated to the show, on Tumblr.



Image result for into the badlands season two

Related image

Image result for badlands season 2/ fight scenesRelated image

 

Bottom line: 

All of this adds up to one of the most visually stunning action series on television, and I’m so happy to be alive during its airing. I cannot wait for whatever new visual treats we’ll get next season.

 

 

 

Things I’ve Been Watching

The Mist (TV Pilot)

Image result for the mist series gif

I’ve only seen the first episode of this, but I’m unimpressed. I think my expectations were a bit high for this show, as it’s nothing like the movie. For one thing, the characters are either bland or unlikable. The characters who come closest to being liked is a young person of indeterminate gender designation, and the tough Mom, of the series.

There’s a mother, dad, and daughter grouping in the movie. The dad is the permissive, easy-going sort, while Mom is a woman of strong opinions and convictions. She gets fired from her job at school for sticking to her principles, and NOT teaching abstinence to her students. I can respect that, even if the local parent’s group can’t. She also forbids her 17-year-old daughter from going to the local  teen party. Dad gives his daughter permission to sneak out to the party, where she gets roofied/raped by the local football star she has a crush on. I saw that coming a mile away, as he just looked untrustworthy to me. He claims he didn’t do it, but her father reports him to the police, and the family gets harassed by the townspeople. The situation is complicated because there is also the possibility that he didn’t.

 

There’s the story line of a young military man, who wakes up in the forest, with no memory of how he got there, just as the mist rolls into town. He heads into town to warn the populace about the mist, only to be arrested by the police. I can definitely say I absolutely DID NOT appreciate watching this Black man get roughed up by the police, just for not answering their questions.  And no, it’s not okay just because that same cop gets eaten by bugs soon afterwards. Just before the dysfunctional nuclear family is about to leave town, the mist shows up, cutting off all escape.

Image result for the mist tv show  gif

There are several stories mixed up in this. Various people get trapped in at least three different locations during the mist’s siege of the town. Mom and daughter are trapped at the local mall; Dad, the sheriff, the military guy, and the non-gender designated young person, get trapped in the jail. There’s also a thoroughly unlikable woman who threatens, and insult the non-gendered teen. This woman, who has no connection to anyone else in the plot, was seemingly added just to make me furious with her, and hope she’d quickly be eaten by something. She is so reprehensible, that I seriously considered turning this shit off, and just going to bed, but I put up with crap like that in order to bring you, my loyal readers, the quality snark I feel you deserve.

Oh yeah, there’s also some  people trapped in a church with Frances Conroy, who you can tell is gonna go batshit, in about two episodes, or less.

So basically, this first episode is all set up for the tensions that will reach a boil during the mist’s invasion of the town, which is not unlike the movie I guess. Mom and daughter are trapped in the mall with the parents who got her fired, and who believe her daughter is lying about being raped. The football hero perpetrator is also trapped there. The a-gendered teen is trapped at the police station with a father who refuses to speak to him because he won’t act like a son, and an abusive inmate. And Frances Conroy’s husband gets killed by something in the mist.

The main difference between the show and the movie is that there aren’t really giant monsters in the mist. I had the impression that people are being killed by either a singular malevolent entity, or their own fears and weaknesses, or possibly both. While that’s an interesting idea that’s much easier to sustain for  an entire season, I was still hoping to see giant monsters. Maybe those show up later.

 

Blood Drive:

SYFY syfy grace blood drive eat a dick GIF

If you like this type of over the top excessiveness, then go for it. I ain’t judging. The plot of this seems to involve people being forced to race each other, by some type of post apocalyptic tyrant, who has nevertheless found a way to wear too much Maybelline. The contestants lives are forfeit if they stop for any reason, up to, and including, running out of gas, which prompts some of them to cannibalize their  opponents, (and partners) and use them for fuel.

I am not a fan of excessive pulp. I was cautiously excited about this show from the trailers, and was willing to give it a try, but some things are just too far over the top even for my tastes, which even some others would consider excessive. I think it’s because so much of this particular genre is spectacle, solely for the sake of spectacle, without rhyme, or reason, to any of it. If it’s a crazy image, the creators will throw it in, no matter if it breaks, or creates  characters, or subverts an already established plot, and Blood Drive appears to be no different.

Somewhere, someone is having a grand old-time watching this show. That person is not me. I don’t think I’m the correct audience for this. At every level of creation, the show looks tasteless, cheap, and ugly. The characters, world-building, costumes, and even the plot, is just ugly. I couldn’t sit through more than half of it. By the time we reached the point where the two main protagonists appear to be having sex in a moving vehicle, I had had enough, and turned it off. I would rather hate-watch The Strain.

Blood Drive gets a resounding NOPE!

 

Dr. Strange: 

Image result for dr Strange gif

Yeah, I know I talked shit about this movie but I didn’t spend money to specifically see this movie, and it was on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a try. It wasn’t a bad film, and I also don’t feel too bad about the whitewashing angle, for reasons having to do with the plot. Let’s just say, I was pissed off that the Ancient One was not Asian, but I would have been equally pissed off if an Asian woman had been cast. So, spoilers ahead.

The movie is the basic origin story type stuff, except now starring an actual asshole, as an asshole who doesn’t actually get to be a better person by the end of the movie, which is rather different. Strange is a first class shit at the beginning of the movie, and although the story, and the actor try really hard to make him a sympathetic character, I didn’t buy it. I liked every character but him. He’s just a full-time douche. I still didn’t like him even after he cleverly saved the world, but I do admit that may have more to do with the actor than the character.

Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One, pretty much the way she plays all of her more soft-spoken characters. I generally dismiss her because, like most white actresses in Hollywood, she is thoroughly clueless on issues race and/or whitewashing. I’m also less than secretly  glad that they didn’t choose an Asian Woman to portray this character because 1.) She dies at the end; 2.)she dies to further another character’s manpain; 3.) she turned out to be a huge hypocrite.

So, there’s this alternate world called The Dark Dimension, which naturally means its evil, but basically, she’s been warning her students against having anything to do with this dimension for centuries. Hannibal…I mean, Kaecilius (which sounds like a nasty bacterial infection) is in contact with the being who rules that dimension and he gets drummed out of the corp. This Dark  Being wants to “try to take over the world” and is just lying in wait for someone to invite him to the cookout, which is what Kaecilius does.

Dr. Strange loses the use of his fine surgical dexterity after a horrible car accident. Do not watch this scene if you have car accident terror, because it’s unnecessarily graphic. He decides to travel the world searching for a cure to his neurological problem, and winds up in Kamar -Taj, where he meets the Ancient One, who teaches him how to be a sorcerer, and her eldest assistant, Baron Mordo. (I do not remember this guy from the comic books, and I should, because he is in them. I’m hoping Baron is his actual name, in the  way that some Black people name their sons Prince, or King.)

For the record, The Ancient One doesn’t actually choose Strange as her successor. See, what happened was…all the other sorcerers of the great houses of the Landsraad…I mean the other sorcery nexi, get murdered by Kaecilius. Strange, Wong, and Mordo are the only ones left alive. So he gets to be a master of Sorcery through a combination of. hubris and default.

Those two, and Strange, spend the bulk of the  movie fighting Kaecilius and his minions. Baron Karl Mordo is played by Chewitel Ejiofor, and Wong is played by a man who is, conveniently, named Benedict Wong.

I liked Wong a lot, although there were some unnecessary scenes of Wong being played for a fool by Strange, that I did not care for. The Ancient One turns out to be, while not exactly a bad guy, her betrayal of the Baron’s trust does lead to him being a villain. So really, the movie isn’t  nice to any of the PoC that star in it.

The break-out character is  Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, a semi-sentient magical object that adopts Strange as a Master. This isn’t like in the books where its the Eye of Agamotto that’s sentient. Why they switched it in the movie is anyone’s guess.

So overall, not a bad movie. It’s got some great eye candy, the magic looks really cool and worldbendy, and except for some serious eyeball rolling moments, I didn’t hate it. If you can get pass watching two hours of Benegeserrit Cucumbersnatch, then the movie isn’t a complete waste. On the other hand, if you had no intention of ever watching this movie, you ain’t missed nothing!

 

The Accountant:

Image result for the accountant gif

I had no intention of seeing this movie. It was on HBO last weekend and I  was not doing anything in particular that needed my eyeballs, so I ended up watching this movie. I’m not a Ben Affleck fan, but I liked him in this movie, and it was surprisingly good.

Here he plays an assassin who has autism. His father began teaching him how to kill people, as a child, in an attempt to make him more independent, and he became exceedingly good at it. He comes across some corruption at a tech company and feels like he has to protect the young woman he was working with on that case, when she’s targeted by another assassin. The other assassin turns out to be his estranged brother, and I found that particular drama  intriguing.

I initially though the movie was a ripoff of the Bourne Trilogy, but it turned out to be nothing like that, with more heart, and more depth than any of the Bourne sequels. I liked the relationship that developed between Affleck and his co-star, which she thinks is supposed to develop into romance, but he is not particularly interested in her interest. It’s a romance that never develops, even though he likes her, and I thought that was a refreshing change.

The movie kept upending my expectations, and Affleck comes across as a smoothly competent killer. The movie also doesn’t end in car chases, explosions, or dramatic surprises, but in a quiet conversation between two brothers, who have some shit to hash out between them, before they could move on, and I  liked that. I would recommend watching this on some quiet Sunday evening.

 

Alien Covenant: 

Image result for alien covenant gif

Oh, my gob! This movie was bleak, bleak, and even more importantly, it was bleak. It was even bleaker than the very first Alien movie, if you can believe that. I mean, basically, everybody dies. Well, rather say, that any humans that  were walking around at any point during this film, ain’t walking around by the end of it. If you liked the first Alien movie, then you will like this one, as it is effective at scaring the shit out of you, even when you sort of know what’s going to happen. I mean, Ive watched the first Alien movie multiple times, and I still get scared.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this movie also stars Michael Fassbender, and get this…another Michael Fassbender. So it’s like getting two Fassbenders, for the admission price of only one of them, (even though I spent no money to watch this movie.) Did I mention that I love Michael Fassbender. I feel like I may have mentioned that in some earlier post, or something. If not, then let me reiterate..I love Michael Fassbender who, I am absolutely certain, is a total dick in real life. (If he is, don’t tell me. )

I would talk about the plot, but really that’s all there is to it. Somebody’s gon’ die! and people do stupid shit, to help facilitate their deaths, just like in the first movie, Prometheus. Things like, taking their helmets off just because they can breathe the atmosphere, running towards danger, or wandering off alone, or trusting strange androids.

Not to go off on a tangent, but why do people on strange new worlds always take off their helmets as soon as they learn the atmosphere is breathable? Have they never heard of airborne pathogens? Which is exactly what happens in the case of one of the characters, when he steps on a plant, that releases spores, that go into his ears. His demise is suitably horrible.

Later, the two Fassbenders, David, from the first movie, and some new guy named Walter,  get into a fight, as Walter tries to protect the remaining humans. I would have preferred some loincloth mud-wrestling, but that probably would not have been in keeping with the mood of the film, which is, well…kinda bleak.

 

Suicide Squad:

Image result for suicide squad  gif

Apparently, I’m one of five people on Earth who enjoyed this movie. Its been airing on HBO recently and I’ve watched it multiple times. I think the main reason I enjoy it is because I’m a Will Smith fan and will watch movies with him that I normally wouldn’t pay attention to. Not that the movie isn’t flawed, annoying, and occasionally stupid,  it’s just those moments were not enough to detract from what I was enjoying about it, which is namely Will Smith, and Viola Davis, in an anti-superhero movie together.

I could go through and list everything wrong with this movie, because it’s got a lot of problems, but IT’S WILL SMITH!!!! I love Will Smith!!! Will Smith makes every movie worth looking at, just by being in it. Plus, he’s with Viola Davis, and they actually get to exchange words in the movie, rather than pretending the other doesn’t exist.

Okay, I did like the other characters, too. In fact, my only reasons for liking the movie, was some of the characters, and the action scenes. I enjoyed seeing Killer Croc, onscreen for the first time, and Diablo turned out to be a huge favorite of mine, but then, I’m a fan of seeing Incan Fire Gods in movies, so yeah, his scenes were both hot, and cool.  Outside of Deadshot, I got really attached to Harley Quinn, who I enjoy in the comic books, and the nascent friendship I saw developing between the two of them. I’m here for a Deadshot/Harley Quinn team-up movie, as long as Amanda Waller can be in it. Viola Davis perfectly captured the idea of the Amanda (The Wall) Waller that I had in my head, as the only human on Earth, who can get away with dressing down the Batman.

The plot was deeply, (and I do mean deeply), fucking stupid though, and I have no idea what the villain’s motivation was, or how she actually hoped to accomplish her goals. Yeah, some of the characters were totally undeveloped, like Katana, or just straight up hateable,  like Captain Boomerang, and The Joker. But the movie was pleasant eye candy for its two-hour running time. It’s not a good movie, but I found it mostly inoffensive, unlike some people who found the movie deeply offensive to their intelligence. I can say that part of the reason I’m okay with the movie is because I went into it expecting nothing more than to be distracted for a while, and the movie accomplished that goal. The trailer looked like fun, and that’s what the movie delivered.

Its okay if you haven’t seen this movie, you can rectify the problem of not having enough Will Smith in your life, by watching…Concussion!

 

Note:

I’m still watching stuff because new shows keep being released. Next week I should have a review of the new season of Cleverman, now airing on the Sundance Channel, and the second season of Preacher, on AMC, which looks like a lot of fun, so far.

Tin Can Knits

modern seamless knits for the whole family

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

hoodfeminism

Life at the Intersection.

Kiai-Kick!

Martial Arts Film Reviews From A Brother Who Loves Kung-Fu!

handmadebykunbi.wordpress.com/

No limits. No boundaries. You are more than capable

The Shameful Sheep

shit storms, shame, and stories that make you cringe

Feminist Frequency

Conversations with pop culture

Mikki Kendall

Proud descendant of Hex Throwing Goons

We Minored in Film

Geeking Out Over Film & TV

Colin Newton's Idols and Realities

Movies, metaphysics and more

The Blerdy Report

Black+Nerdy=Blerdy!!! Black Nerds Unite

Dave Chrisp Comedy

Same Shit, different Dave

The Peanut Gallery

or, a supposedly clever thing I really wish I'd thought of earlier

AfroSapiophile

Intelligent Black Thought.

%d bloggers like this: