10 Unexpected Pleasures

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

Curiosity is my middle name, I guess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raising Arizona (1987)

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Samurai (1954)

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

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

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

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

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

Cabin in the Woods (2011)

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

I gave a review of this here:

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

Mystery Men (1999)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paddington (2014)

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

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

Dr. Strange (2017)

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

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

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

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

The Accountant (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troll Hunter (2010)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring It On (2000)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep! Even Mom.

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Why Star Wars Fans Are The Worse Fans Ever…

Its not just Star Wars fandoms, though. We spend a lot of time on Tumblr shaking our damn heads over how shitty some of these fandoms behave towards characters they claim to like, and explaining why its not a good idea for people to do and say racist shit about them.

“Do they even know how to Fan?”

The Star Wars Fandom is, on occasion, a complete shitstorm of every awful racist behavior seen in every fandom ever. This is not to condemn those legitimate fans who genuinely love the franchise, and are not engaging in any of these shenanigans, let me make that clear. Hell, I’m a Star Wars fan! Been one since the first movie. But what I do not want to do, is  have anything do with the Star Wars fandom, in general, whose behavior, from the time of the announcement of Finn as a lead character, has been universally awful, racist, and thoroughly nasty, not just towards other fans, but towards the characters, the actors, and even the show’s creators.

As a general rule I do not engage in shipping of various characters. Not because I don’t think it’s a legitimate activity. It’s just that I almost never think about it, and when I do,  I rarely ever go beyond whatever canon pairing is present. Its simply not my priority when consuming media.  Some of the fans, however,  have taken shipping Rey and Kylo to such a  delusional level of behavior, you wouldn’t believe it.  From death threats to the creators, to cropping characters out of cast photos and posting them online, and harassing the actors on Twitter.

I was in the Supernatural fandom when the Destiel shipping started to ramp up, (it has since died down somewhat, thanks to the show no longer queerbaiting the characters), and saw every one of these behaviors  listed here, , within that fandom.

https://www.thewrap.com/12-times-fandom-has-gone-horribly-wrong-from-one-direction-to-dragon-age-photos/

Star Wars fandom is not the only one engaging in harassment of the actors and other fans. This happens in all the largest fandoms. A lot of the problem seems to be a toxic combination of celebrity worship, racism, and entitlement to the stories being consumed, and people not knowing how to be fans, along with internet anonymity. Somewhere along the way, people forgot that fandom involves loving and respecting the characters, and actors, and that this is supposed to be fun.

http://epicstream.com/features/8-Times-Internet-Fandom-Crossed-The-Line-With-Creators-and-Actors

This behavior tends to have  the worst repercussions for fans of color. Fandom becomes a “safe space” for White fans, at our expense. Part of the problem is the use and writing of meta. You have a lot of people writing so-called, think-pieces about these shows. Unfortunately, a lot  of these are written by people who have seen meta,  think they know what it is, and how to do it, but  have never had an analytical thought in their life.

This is not something exclusive to White male fans either. There are plenty of White women out there writing slavefic about Black Panther, cropping Finn out of photos with Rey, writing racist meta on why Michonne, and Uhura, and Iris West should die, or  remain unloved and alone, and harassing Candice Patton with pornographic, and racist memes on Twitter.

meta

1. Meta means about the thing itself. It’s seeing the thing from a higher perspective instead of from within the thing, like being self-aware.

The Reylo faction of the Star Wars fandom  regularly engages in every single one of the behaviors listed in the above articles. How is this fandom? How does this show a person’s love for a show, or character, or even an actor? Fandom has become so toxic in some places that even the mainstream news media have gotten wind of it, and they’re usually oblivious to such things. (We won’t get into how mainstream media has  aided and abetted the  racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes that make toxic fandom possible.)

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The Reylo fandom are those people whose priority is shipping Rey and Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movies. Although many people are opposed to this relationship because it’s seen as romanticizing abuse, and as an erasure of Finn from his own narrative, its the behavior surrounding the ship, that seems to be causing the most consternation among fans of color. My general attitude is like whatever ships you like, but don’t delude yourself that it’s going to happen. Don’t delude yourself about what type of character you’re stanning for, and for fuck’s sake, stop make up bullshit excuses for what you’re doing because you feel some type of way about liking the villain.

JUST OWN IT!!!

 

A List of Things Reylos Have Done

rootbeergoddess

 Okay, this will be the last Reylo post I make today but since they want to act like they’re innocent, I’m just going to make a short list of the things they have done.
  • Harassed Daisy Ridley for posting a picture of Finn and Rey holding hands
  • Spammed unrelated Star Wars tags with Reylo content
  • Sent racist messages to various Finn fans
  • Erase Poe to make Kylo part of the new trio
  • Cropped Dev Patel and John Boyega out of pictures only to replace them with Adam Driver
  • Made racist Native American AUs and a racist Black Lives Matter story
  • Made a really gross and disturbing mental patient AU
  • Have tried time and time again to erase the relationship Finn has with Rey
  • Have posted Reylo content in the Beauty and the Beast tags as well as the Dark Crystal tags
  • Crosstag on a daily basis
  • Made Rose’s line about the things we love about Rey and Kylo
  • Made a Handmaid’s AU

This list will surely get longer.

 

 reylo-more-like-reyno
 Adding to this:
  • Organized, promoted, and held a “Cousin Ben Week” dedicated to creating content where Rey and Kylo were cousins in a romantic relationship, purely for the fetishization of incestuous relationships.
  • When some Reylos came forward with concerns about “Cousin Ben Week” they were silenced by other Reylos and told to get out of the fandom if they were bothered
  • Harassed antis after antis posted stories about being bullied by shippers before becoming antis, called many antis “victim-blamers” for sharing such stories
  • Bullied antis after antis posted selfies to spread positivity in the anti community
  • Made up a fake Crepe story to shit on antis
  • Harassed Pablo Hidalgo about if Kylo is a virgin or not
  • Have called Finn/John Boyega racial slurs including “coal boy” and said he looks 40.
  • Have sexually harassed a Kylo Ren actor at a Disney theme park.
  • There are scattered incidents of Kylo Ren and Rey cosplayers being harassed bt Reylos as well.

xprincessrey

 Also adding made Orient Express about their ship when it came out with Daisy as one of the leads ( where character was half of a interracial couple )

And recently Made the song “Rewrite The Stars ” a song about interracial couple facing racist miscegenation in the 1800s sing how they can rewrite the stars so they don’t have to deal with the racism

 

hanorganaas

 Posted a story where Leia died and Han married Rey only to have Kylo steal his father’s bride from his own dad.

 

nutheadgee

 Used the Holocaust experience as a sob story to try and mine sympathy and got mad when actual Jewish people told to not do that because anti semetism.

Called myself and other black fans nazis, KKK equivalents and racists because I said they don’t experience racism and should STFU about anti blackness.

Sent some select black finnreys pictures of black people being hanged and/or lynched.

Claim to “call out racism” in their little circlejerk echo chamber and in the same breath turn around and say how us blackies are mean and racist when we tell them how nasty they are.

Shit talk on our posts all day while blocking us because they are too pussy to have us respond to them directly.

heartlessbrujx

-Told other reylos to reblog an anti minors post because they expressed being triggered by reylo blogger interaction

-Weaponized cope shipping reylos against anti survivors

-Made a sexual assault reylo video

-Sent porn to underage antis simply for not liking the pairing

-Compared me, a Mexican, to Trump for not liking their pairing

-suicide baiting antis for calling Adam Driver ugly

-Said islamophobia wasn’t real and Muslims uncomfortable with Adam were the “real racists”

-Drawn Finn with wide lips and black skin

-Take FinnRey lines to promo their mayo pairing

-Called FinnRey shippers the “real racists” for not shipping FinnRose

-Reduce Poe to a sexy player and refuse to admit the racist undertones in that stereotype

-Demonize Finn as a black man for taking Rey’s hand “against her will” yet praise Kylo for kidnapping and torturing her simply because Kylo is white

 

angelsaxis

 -sexually harassed me in the comments of a fic I wrote and then claimed that I was the one doing the harrassing just for responding

-made an entire theory on how every instance of Kylo/the FO being violent and angry was ACTUALLY super romantic and about Rey losing her virginity

-compare Adam being called ugly to anti blackness and other forms of racism

 

inkstorrn

  • Harassed a minor for “””doxxing”” them when said minor hadn’t actually done anything wrong
  • Continuously harassed various antis about their ship being canon starting in January 2016 when there was not even a hint of that being true
  • Constantly call antis “scum” and insinuate that we’re all a hivemind and/or 12 years old and “just don’t know better”
  • Instead of informing antis about a rapist in the community, turned it into an antis vs shippers situation, and spread misinfo about a popular blogger
  • Continuously jump onto properly tagged posts to gang up on the op
  • Insinuate that antis tell people to die and/or harass shippers without providing any proof

badships

 Gonna add to this too
  • Wrote gross incest stories on anti posts
  • Used that stupid “anne” insult and then used the “it’s a meme” line on trans/nb antis who said it made them uncomfortable/dysphoric (im one of those trans people)
  • Compared black people to purple aliens when called out on a whitewashed finnrey edit
  • Compared finnrey/finnrey shippers to hitler
  • White shippers continue to speak over POC about what is and isn’t racist
  • Said I have no right to speak on racism because I’m not fully black
  • Refered to my race as a “half breed”
  • Sent themselves racial slurs on anon and then tried to accuse me and a few other antis, wouldn’t provide proof that it was me or said antis

 

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My question about this one is, what are White women in fandom supposed to do when The Becky Sue is the example they get from the source material? White racial resentment is  a factor in how fans respond to the media they consume. In one episode of The Walking Dead, a White character named Enid dressed down a WoC on the show. (In  a more recent episode, she tried to do this again to Michonne.) Some fans objected to this, seeing  in this scene, the writers taking the opportunity to express their own real life racial resentment through a white character.

I didn’t see that particular scene, so I can’t say, but I have noticed a trend, in genre media, of White writers putting their own racially coded words into the mouths of Black characters, too many PoC characters being abused and/or  mistreated in the narrative by White female characters, or writing Black characters (especially Black women) to be virulent (allegorical) racists, and xenophobes.

As far as what Tumblr thinks:

 On White Prioritization

 

The dominant ideas in any culture will reflect the ideas of the most powerful, those who control the means of disseminating those ideas for if there is to be social order the less powerful must come to accept the ideas of the most powerful as the correct and right ideas. This is effected via a process of ideological indoctrination. The principal institutions responsible for the spread of the dominant ideology are the media, the educational system, the religious institutions and ordinary popular cultural fare such as movies, music, jokes and seemingly innocent play.

The dominant culture of the US was formed to give preference to and propagate the white supremacist cis-heteropatriarchy, a sociopolitical system in which cisgender, heterosexual white men hold social dominance at the expense of subordinating racial minorities, transgender individuals, non-heterosexual sexual orientations, and women.”

Part and parcel to these interconnected systems of oppression are racist cultural messages that present whites as whole human beings while pathologizing blackness and regarding non-whites as inferior. These ideas become entrenched in our subconscious and infiltrate our social attitudes developed through the socialization process.

 White-centeredness is a deeply-rooted aspect of U.S. culture. White-centeredness denotes the centrality of white representation that permeates every facet of our dominant culture. It upholds as “normal” and “expected” the ubiquity of language, ideas, prejudices, preferences, values, social mores, and worldviews established by the white perspective.

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 The Becky Sue

This is a bit of a rant, sorry for any gratuitous swearing.

I know there’s the term ‘Mary Sue’, but I feel like there should be a ‘Becky Sue’, because both in fiction and life, white women are made out to always be the one who is right, the one who needs protecting, etc. There’s white privilege, and I feel that when a white woman against a PoC is involved, the privilege is taken to an even higher level because white women are always seen as the innocent ones.

I feel that the worst kind of Becky Sue in fandom and fiction are the ones that write stories where PoC only exist to fucking bow down to them and be there only to accomplish whatever goal they have. Like a PoC man sees a white woman at the beginning of a fic and is like–

‘Omg, it’s a white woman and she’s the prettiest most precious woman I’ve ever seen and I know absolutely nothing about her, but this is love at first sight and I’m going to marry her as soon as possible. Nothing else matters. Not my family or my identity, nothing. I’m just here to please/worship the ground of Becky Sue.’

It’s fucking nauseating. Then they have the Becky Sue writers who make their Becky Sue characters complete disgusting bitches to PoC, and when they get called out for it, they’ll be like: ‘Oh em gee, you’re misguided, you’re a drama queen. Like, just don’t read my story and let me have my fantasy of shitting all over PoC in peace.’

And then there’s the Becky Sue writers who write kind, intelligent PoC out-of-character (because if there’s a kind PoC character, white people have to knock them down a few pegs though shitty writing, jokes, or white-washing) then when this is pointed out they’ll be like, ‘Omg, not everyone sees everything the way you do. I don’t care about the source material, I just want to treat PoC like trash.’

Then, there’s the Becky Sues that will make up excuses for their racism and microaggressions with fake (or real) excuses like: ‘Oh em gee. I have depression let me write whatever I want.’ Or, ‘Oh em gee. I have Stigmata and a hang nail so you can’t criticize me.’ Or, when all else fails, just resort to name calling and flipping the situation around (white women’s favorite tactic) to where they say the big bad PoC is being a ‘troll’ or ‘mean’, or a dick, asshole, etc. And they’re the victim of harassment.

Or, another Becky Sue will come along and be like, ‘Omg, your Becky Sue character and her shitty treatment of PoC is the best thing I’ve ever read! This is better than any novel I’ve ever read! You’re the greatest writer ever! Like, your Becky Sue is SOOO down to earth!’

Or, they’ll be like: ‘Oh em gee, pointing out my racism is a personal attack. Becky Sues unite! Take down the big bad PoC!’

Just because you have depression or whatever, that doesn’t give you the right to be a fucking racist, and to treat PoC characters like trash. It doesn’t exempt you from being called out or criticized either. If you can’t write (or draw) PoC without being gross, racist garbage. STOP – FUCKING – WRITING – ABOUT THEM, if you’re that fragile to criticism. (I guess white women compare themselves to porcelain because they’re fragile and crack at the tiniest thing–I guess their evil ways is also one thing that makes their looks crack at an earlier age too. *pettyTM*)

I think that white people who are adamant about writing PoC like that are TRYING to antagonize PoC. And may karma just kick them in the fucking ass, please.

Plenty of PoC deal with both depression and OPPRESSION on a daily basis. And do most white people care? Here’s a tiny hint…HELL, FUCKING, NO.

Representation and the things you write do have an effect on others. Don’t try to make excuses or pretend that it doesn’t.

Can PoC writer’s/fanfic writers and artist start tagging their work as ‘PoC writer’, ‘PoC artist’? Or ‘Black writer,’ etc., etc.

I’m so drained of navigating through klandom’s filth, and having to handle white people (many who claim to be “progressive”) with kid gloves for every little thing because they can’t take discussions about anything that isn’t about glorifying everything they do, or anything that takes the focus off their white world.

submitted by  anon on FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

 

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On White Feminism in Fandom Spaces

*(This is what happened in the Agent Carter and Wonder Woman  fandoms.)

http://blackyouthproject.com/feminist-triumph-action-thrillers-always-white-women/

http://time.com/4599585/hollywood-female-action-heroes/

RANT: Video Game Fandoms and White Women

FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

For me, nothing is worse than having to sift through content in video game fandoms and forums that have predominantly white womenEspecially when those fandoms have PoC characters. At least when white men are racist they, most of the time, don’t try to hide it, so you can know what to avoid better.

It’s so easy for white women to get away with microaggressions, colorism, and covert racism because it is extremely rare, that another white woman will care enough to call them out. (Or, the white women that docare, will just get treated like shit by the white women that don’t.)

And it’s pretty pointless for PoC to call them out because on a forum controlled by white women, you’ll just easily get banned, topic will get locked, or they’ll gang up and gaslight the PoC player most likely saying: ‘such-and-such is just a fictional character or pixels’, ‘it’s just a video game’, etc.

They don’t care how PoC are treated in entertainment, or fictional worlds, nor the real world.

Only the comfort of the white woman matters, in fiction, or the real world.

These quotes from MLK Jr. and Malcolm X below could not be more TRUE. (And either though they’re talking about Black Americans, the same can be said of just about any PoC living in the USA):

MLK Jr.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Malcolm X

The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.

The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the “smiling” fox.

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From: FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

I mainly wanted to rant about the white women that swear they love a PoC character, yet they do the following:

  1. They will not shut up about how they don’t think the PoC character is physically attractive. I’ve seen this a lot with dark brown-skinned PoC. Like they could be the most gorgeous PoC character, but because they don’t fit these white women’swhite supremacist beauty standards, they’re not “attractive”. (Definition of white supremacy: ‘the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races…’ that includes beauty standards.) Of course, they’ll hide their covert racism and colorism with vague statements like, ‘Oh, this [PoC] character has ‘less interesting looks’ than everyone else, or ‘isn’t flashy’. I think they’re just mad that brown and black people can still look like this when they are almost 60-years-old.
  2. Because they don’t like how a PoC has dark brown skin, they useany white-washed fan art they can find to use on the forums they frequent. And might make up some completely asinine excuse as to why they use it. Like, ‘I like how this art brings out their personality’. Why don’t you just use the OFFICIAL fucking artwork instead then? The OFFICIAL artwork doesn’t “bring out their personality” enough?
  3. They refuse to acknowledge the character’s existence and identity as a PoC. Because in white people land‘Everybody is treated equal.’
  4. When you call them out–as always…as fucking always–no matter how friendly… no matter how saccharinely kind, no matter how much you fucking bend over in politeness and sensitivity… They play the fucking victim. 9 times out of 10 this shit happens. Call them out even for the SIMPLEST of remedial things like NOT SUPPORTING white-washing, and suddenly they have every fucking physical and mental ailment in the world, and they can’t be held accountable for their words/actions. Then, they’ll virtue signal the fuck out of any PoC character saying ‘Oh, isn’t so-and-so beautiful, I mean, I DON’T LIKE THEM, but man! Isn’t that other PoC character that doesn’t have dark skin beautiful all of a sudden?’

Then, they go back to supporting white-washed art and doing and saying all the fucked up shit they’ve been doing. Because they do not give a single fuck about PoC. PoC are just an entertainment and distraction to them, both in the fictional world and real world.

Virtue-signalling white women that don’t like PoC, especially the dark brown-skinned ones. Just stop. Go find a white character to “obsess” and “fave” over and call it a day. Find a white character that fits your definition of what a ‘total package’ (great looks and personality) should be, and leave PoC characters the fuck alone.

Fuck your feigning innocence and ignorance. And fuck your superiority complex, microaggressions, and your shallow, vapid, privileged white mind. Dark-skinned PoC characters, and people, are out of this fucking universe, ethereal, and beyond gorgeous to the highest degree possible in this existence. Fuck you.

Furthermore, the white women that do the things mentioned above, you don’t “love” any PoC character if you do these things. You wouldn’t know what love, respect, and treating a dark-skinned PoC character with humanity and dignity was if it bit you in the ass. For you, these characters are your flavor of the month/year distraction and entertainment.  *Where you can gleefully unload all your microaggressions and racism onto them that you wish you could do to PoC face-to-face in the real world. 

(*Boldened by me.)

For PoC fans who experience this shit in real life–to have to put up with racism in the realms of books, video games, and other media too, where they’re just trying to get away from the world FOR A SECOND, but they can’t because of white supremacy, it’s PERSONAL.

Fuck you if you do these things. You’re utterly disgusting at how smug you are, knowing you won’t get criticized for your covert racism in your white dominated and controlled forums. And no one is impressed by your virtue-signalling. Doing that, and then continuing to do racist, disrespectful shit, is beyond nauseating. You’re only earning PoC’s contempt, not our respect. (Not that you care, because we’re below you, right?!) We’re not stupid, or less intelligent than white people, like you gaslight yourselves to believe.

White people know EXACTLY what they’re doing. The majority just don’t care. And will NEVER care. All PoC fans can do, I think: is love, support, and respect PoC characters (in anyway you wish through, art, writing, posts, etc.) and hope that in the future, that REAL love is what will override all the hatred, ignorance, and bigotry of a white supremacist society. I hope karma is real.

When it comes to fandom, or anything else, practically the entire world is white people’s ‘safe space’.

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On Finn And Sacrifice

http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/the-last-jedis-message-to-people-of-color-you-dont-have-to-be-the-sacrifice

stitchmediamix

“I really like Finn, but I thought him sacrificing himself would be a really touching end to his character arc.”

A) You’re wrong. So wrong.

B) If you claim to like a character, but then you’re all for him making an absolutely pointless self sacrifice… You don’t like that character nearly as much as you think you do

 

adeptarcanist

Okay hang on, I’m all with you on A, but you *can* like a character and still think that them having a heartbreaking death scene would be awesome.

 

stitchmediamix

Perhaps I should have been clearer about the fact that this is really about how fandom treats Finn BECAUSE he’s a black character in my original post.

Because fandom has, historically, been full of people who swear they love black characters but can only see them getting an honorable death or making a sacrifice (primarily for white characters).

Fandom doesn’t look at white male characters and decide that they should totally have a sweet send off after sacrificing themselves. They don’t.

That dubious honor is largely only bestowed upon characters of color – predominantly Black characters when they’re present.

(I’m on my way out the door and on mobile so I can’t be handy dandy with links, but if you’re not getting where I’m coming from about Finn’s treatment and why wanting him to sacrifice himself is a negative sign, please go through my “fandom racism” and my “the star wars discourse” for how he’s been treated in fandom.)

 

mikeymagee

^This entire phenomenon is examined at length in Toni Morrison’s Playing In the Dark. In which she pretty much states that in the American literary consciousness, Black people are used (while also denied agency) and once their usefulness has ended, they’re discarded with no forethought/consideration for the Black person/character.

According to Morrison, this is basically the building block of the American literary identity (which has strong parallels to slavery, and the modern prison industrial complex).

“These images of impenetrable whiteness need contextualizing to explain their extraordinary power, pattern, and consistency. Because they appear almost always in conjunction with representations of black or Africanist people who are dead, impotent, or under complete control, these images of blinding whiteness seem to function as both antidote for and meditation on the shadow that is companion to this whiteness –a dark and abiding presence that moves the hearts and texts if American literature with fear and longing. This haunting, a darkness from which our early literature seemed unable to extricate itself, suggests the complex and contradictory situation in which American writers found themselves during the formative years of the nation’s literature” (Morrison 33).

Basically Blackness is alright, as long as it serves whiteness. Anything outside of that is pushing the boundaries. Which is why so much of fandom’s treatment of Finn is him either making Rey  and Kyle look better by comparison, or having Finn “die nobly” so Rey/Kyle/everyone else can save the galaxy.

And it doesn’t just stop at Star Wars, it’s pretty much present in all forms of media. I mean, there’s a reason we have a “Black guy dies first”  trope.

Morrison also noted elsewhere in her book that the entire white literary identity (and by extension the cinematic identity) is dependent on Black subjugation. If Black people aren’t subordinate to the White identity, then where does that leave White people? There was a reason people were more pissed about John’s face being in the TFA trailer for five seconds, far more than anyone else’s, including Rey’s.

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On Iris West and Fandom

Candice Patton, who has played the role of Iris West on The Flash for the past four seasons, has had to deal with racist idiots complaining that she has the audacity to not be a white, red-haired woman. Sorry Karen Gillan was busy.

https://www.themarysue.com/candice-patton-racist-trolls/

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And finally:

On The Fandom Community

lj-writes

Carrying the fandom load

It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.

So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!

Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.

Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.

I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”

It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.

It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.

The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.

The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.

No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!

But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.

These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.

A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.

The Mist (2007)

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

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

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

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

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The Grey Widower

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

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

The Stephen King Multiverse

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The Leviathan

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

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

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David Drayton

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Edward Norton

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Carmody

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

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

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

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

Image result for the mist movie gifs/carmody

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

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

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

Surrender.

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

 

Image result for the mist movie gifs/carmody

Ollie Weeks

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

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

 

Amanda Dunfries

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

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

The Monsters

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

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

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

 

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

Ready Player One: The Great White Hope

I’ve been seeing a few articles come across my dash asking the question: Is Ready Player One Black Panther for White Guys?

My firm answer on this one is: Hell to the na!!!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2018/03/23/black-panther-is-about-to-pass-two-huge-box-office-milestones/#23b03e83419f

In all fairness, I did not finish the book, and I am not a hardcore gamer. I play some fighting games from time to time, but I do not classify things I do in my spare time, as an identity. (I like to knit, and consider myself a knitter, but that’s not WHO I am. the difference is subtle.) I can’t say whether or not the film will be successful, if it will hit the number one spot, whether or not gamers will flock to it, whether or not they’ll like the movie if they do. I can say I didn’t care for the book, and I’m unimpressed by Ernest Clines credentials. (I couldn’t finish it because I felt it was very badly written.) On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who identifies as a Gamer, than Ready Player One may be just the book (and movie) for you.

I don’t actually think the movie will be as successful as Black panther, because it simply doesn’t have the numbers to put it in the top spot for more than a week, before its supplanted by something new. I have to admit, the trailers look like fun,  because of the pop culture references , and  it moves fast, and is brightly colored. There is no depth to the  images though. Do you have to be a hard-core nerd to get the movie? Do you have to be fluent in gaming to really enjoy it? Is it too reliant on pop culture Easter eggs for outsiders to enjoy it? I’ve seen some good reviews for it, but I’ve also seen quite a few journalists (all White and male) lauding the movie as the second coming of cinema. I haven’t encountered any women reviewers who claimed to love it.

—-However, as the movie’s gotten closer to release, some fans have taken to claiming that this movie is for nerds and gamers in the same way that Marvel’s Black Panther has been for black people in terms of impact.Ready Player One will not be Black Panther for nerds, because they’re not even operating in the same star system, let alone the same level of ambition and thematic depth. It serves no favors to Player One in particular, given the distaste that appears to have grown around the original book and the film’s marketing. If for no other reason, it’s a good idea to keep Panther out of Player One’s sights, because coming at the King will all but guarantee a miss.

https://www.cbr.com/ready-player-one-not-black-panther-for-nerds/

You guys know about my suspicions on journalistic integrity,especially  when it comes to movie reviews, so let’s just say I’m giving these reviews the side eye. Hell, for all I know its a very fun and diverting movie, but RPO does not possess cultural relevance  for anybody but the White dudes lauding it (and maybe people who read the book). It looks to me like the same old “mediocre White guy saves the world” type of plot, that we’ve always gotten, and  the hype surrounding it seems like more of the backlash against Black Panther, and  claiming this run of the mill movie is going to unseat BP, sounds. to me, like just another way of signalling their resentment of the other one’s success.

Letitia Wright is in the movie. In what role, I’m not certain, but if you’re a fan of the actress, you may want to check it out, and report back to let us know what’s up. I had no plans  to see this movie, because its release is too close to Pacific Rim, and I only have so much money to spend. I ‘ll watch it when it comes to Netflix, or Amazon, and I’ll probably enjoy it, but the reaction from White fans here is  very little different from when White fans lauded Wonder Woman as the second coming of the feminist action film, claiming it to be more than it is, when is really no more than what we always had. (In my opinion, THE feminist action movie was  Mad Max: Fury Road.)

As the above article states, White gaming fans don’t need representation, as the hobby itself has gone fully mainstream, and White males, 18-34, have always been catered to when it comes to pop culture, so there’s no more social relevance to be had from this movie, than Pixels,  and  nostalgia for  when the terms multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity were not topics anyone thought about.

So reviewers…just stop it!

No.

No, this movie isn’t some big win for the culture of gaming. Its not that deep.

People are going to go see it. They may even thoroughly enjoy it, but culturally, the movie means nothing, and will have no more lasting impact, in a culture that regularly serves up a movie just like it, at least once or twice a  month. No one is going to be writing hundreds of think pieces about the meaning behind its images, and ultimately, no matter how much fun it will be, it won’t really mean anything. And that’s okay, too.

 

 

Black Panther On Tumblr

As per usual, the fans on Tumblr got jokes, memes, and asides. There have been surprisingly few meta and  essays though, with most fans settling for oddball humor:

redemption-interlude

“I’m tired of you talking about Black Panther. Shut up about it.”

 

@@

zeusbcrn:
“ kingjaffejoffer:
“ This was the most swagged out nigga in the movie and he only had like two lines.
he always looked annoyed that he had to waste his time attending
”
nakia’s dad did not come out here to play with y’all. he’s serving you...

 kingjaffejoffer

This was the most swagged out nigga in the movie and he only had like two lines.

he always looked annoyed that he had to waste his time attending

zeusbcrn

nakia’s dad did not come out here to play with y’all. he’s serving you tribal elder realness with a dash of high level black fashion. that suit cost more than ya rent. givenchy who? gucci who? he don’t know them, he only wearing top tier wakandan designers. t’challa ain’t even got this shit. you see the way he matched the lip plate and gauges to the suit??? y’all keep thinking it’s a game if you want to.

@@

juniorvarsityjackets

Imagine just being a regular Wakandan during that 2 month period of Civil War and Black Panther

You just reading your Kimoyo bead feed every day like wtf?

Sent aid workers to Nigeria, they get killed in an explosion, your king killed in a terrorist attack, the prince becomes king, like a day or two later, some random outsider comes on, now HE’S king, then a day or two later there’s a big fight in the capital and then the old prince is king again? And then he reveals your nation to the world?

Like that’s not encouraging

 

honeybruh

on the Wakanda Wide Web message boards like “this never happened with T’Chaka, smh”

@@

potofsoup

I’m lying here awake because I’m thinking about Shuri, throwing herself into her inventions and designing 2 new Panther suits in a week because the old one couldn’t be worn under a western-style suit and if her father had been wearing the Black Panther suit underneath he wouldn’t have…  the explosion wouldn’t have…

Shuri makes notes that the suit needs better ways to absorb impact.

@@

vibraniumvibes:
“ theworldaccordingtodee:
“ ashermajestywishes:
“ ashermajestywishes:
“ bury-me-in-the-ocean:
“ violet-ines:
“ bury-me-in-the-ocean:
“ vibraniumvibes:
“The movie is brilliant. They didn’t leave a stone unturned.
”
Ok not only that!...

 bury-me-in-the-ocean

Ok not only that! but! I’m feeling like the reason why N’jobu wasn’t in Wakanda in the ancestral plane is because 1. he wasn’t buried the right way, (if you remember several times throughout the movie, the burial process is mentioned to be extremely sacred and important), and 2. because N’jobu hadn’t died in Wakanda.

This was another reason to point out what Erik and his father were talking about being lost and away from their home. Because N’jobu would never go home, in his former life and the next, he’d always be trapped, forever lost from finding his home

 

violet-ines

^^this gave me chills.

I also thought it could be relationship to how black men in America encouraged to not show emotions, not cry or hug, as they make it seem to show a since of weakness.

When N’jobu asked Erik,” No tears for me?” You could see how Erik was holding back tears and just left it as,” the world is hard, men don’t have the chance to cry” in so many words.

I really almost cried because he could finally see his father and they didn’t share a tender embrace as T’Chaka and T’Challa..

 

ashermajestywishes

They didn’t hug because Killmonger’s father was disappointed, both in himself and in his son. And yes because toxic masculinity defines our society.

T’Chaka was proud of his son because T’Challa was a good man despite T’Chaka’s mistakes. N’jobu failed his son utterly and completely. He was estranged from Wakanda and so, in turn, was his son.

It was a beautiful scene, full of regret and the ways in which the mistakes of the past can be visited on present generations. The scene was supposed to be our clue that Killmonger was not going to be king. He was not a product of Wakanda. He was a product of that sad, angry room with both the guns and the history hidden behind a painting on the wall.

He was a product of a hidden history and a violent society. So that is where he went, and that is where he met his father forever trapped by the mistakes of men who could not see beyond their own needs. T’Chaka, his need to protect his vision of himself and Wakanda and N’jobu, his need to heal the world by defying his King and country.

The thread running through Black Panther is estrangement. It is the stylised story of a people whose history has been hidden for far too long. It is the story of a people estranged from themselves and their history. It is the story of the Diaspora. It is also a story of choice. We, the Diaspora, choose every day and in every minute our response to that estrangement. Are we defined by the wrongs visited upon us as a people? Do we hold the anger in? Do we explode? Do we make people pay for the hurt, the pain, the indignities? Will we be Killmongers?

Will we meet our ancestors in the sad, dark places of our pain?

That was one of the points of that scene. Erik Killmonger met his father in the sad, dark place of his pain.

I hope that the original cut has another scene. One in which Erik Killmonger joins his ancestors in Wakanda, because in the moments before his death he got it. He finally became a child of Wakanda. He would have freed himself and his father from those chains.

 

ashermajestywishes

I mean look at how that scene began. Erik learned his history by finding it in the hidden place. His father wanted him to find it, but that is not how you teach children their history. You hold them in your lap and say this is who we are. You tell them stories. You take them home.

Ryan Coogler is trying to show us in a few scenes what estrangement means. What being cutoff from your history means. You are not supposed to find it in a cutout behind a painting sitting next to the guns. And that wasn’t his fault. Other people made bad choices. A society made bad choices and he paid for their bad choices with his soul.

But then there comes a point when you choose who you will be, despite the bad choices that formed you. Killmonger made the correct choice in the end, or at least the only choice he could have made.

His story is heartbreaking. It is Shakespearean. He is the first beautiful villain in the MCU, and I adore his story.

 

theworldaccordingtodee

Black Panther is such and complex and compelling story with such rich text and undertones and themes that I’m thoroughly convinced that we’ll be discussing its meaning for, possibly years to come.

 

vibraniumvibes

Another thing I love that I’ve probably already mentioned on here is how T’Challa woke up the second time with his back turned on his ancestors symbolizing he was turning his back on their old ways. The symbolism running through the entire movie is intense.

 

@@

myinkandtrees

I loved this scene so much. T’challa is about to tell a black kid from Oakland who he is.

Like..that means a lot. And t’challa knows that. he knows that what he’s about to tell this kid is about to rock his world.

It’s basically representation matters summed up. I think it’s really important to take this scene for what it is. Black youth don’t get this kind of representation, they don’t always get these kind of role models, leasts of all not a king of the most technological advanced, richest nation in the world.

Movie wise, hes telling a kid who’s most likely had oppurtunites denied to him that he can be anything, that black people can be anything.

rl wise, i feel like this part is reaching out to the audience, black youth specifically.

If t’challa can do it, then so can they. ANd t’challa knows this, he knows that he’s about to inspire this kid to do great things, and sorry if i rambled but i just LOVED THIS PART.

No other marvel movie has had this much, real life, relevant social commentary in relation to this day and age.

@@

The Alnur African Drum and Dance Troupe as The Dora Milaje

SOURCE:  wearewakanda

@@

https://www.topteny.com/top-10-biggest-cities-in-africa/

 

@@

This needs to be said…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@@

 theghostwasblue

*no spoilers*

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

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

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

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

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

@@

 

 

 

 

Why I Watched The Movie “Annihilation”…

This review contains spoilers!!!

Apparently, the one thing that can get me to watch something I really had no hard plans for viewing is…CURIOSITY. 

I guess I’m just a big nosy-ass, because when the opportunity came for me to stream this, I simply could not resist, even though it was 2AM, and I knew I had to get my ass up out the bed at 7:30. (Extreme curiosity is pretty much my go-to motivation for watching a lot of stuff.)

So,  I watched this, and I have to admit, despite my trepidation, I actually kinda liked it. For my definition, it is more of a horror movie, than a Scifi movie, not because horrible things happen in it, (they do), but because the haunting feeling of melancholy, and dread, from the book, was perfectly captured, so I can’t actually call the movie enjoyable, in that sense. Its a mood that sticks with you long after the movie is over.The best horror movies present as many questions as answers and that ‘s what the director, Alex Garland, does here.

In my last post, I remember asking if this movie was un-filmable, and yeah, it  is, because this movie is not the book, in the sense of the events happening as they do there. The movie, because of its nature, has to present a sequence of events that lead to other events, in a linear fashion. Garland does make a good effort at this by flipping back and forth in time. Unlike the book, we’re not privy to the narrator’s disturbed, and disturbing thoughts, and the director had to substitute with mood, instead.

On the other hand, the mood of the movie  is perfect. Jeff Vandermeer is one of the primary authors in the New Weird literary genre, along with China Mieville, and M. john Harrison,and it’s especially difficult to film and market such a genre, because so many of the stories are simply unfilmable. The purpose of New Weird is to upend stereotypes, and overturn tropes, and movies are kind of built on that type of shorthand. And even if you could film one of these weird novels, you’d have to change so much of it for the audience to understand it, that it would no longer be the book. I mean how do you film, for a mainstream audience, something like Perdido Street Station by Mieville, which involves love scenes with insect headed women? But Alex Garland seems to have captured the spirit and intent of the book, if not the exact details, because the ending is completely different, and if you’ve read the book, the events that happen at the Lighthouse are interpreted very differently. This movie is not for everyone. If you like understandable ,concrete endings, this is not for you.

The movie begins with Natalie Portman’s character, Lena, being interviewed about her escape from what the  characters call The Shimmer, and what the book calls Area X. In the books, the characters don’t have names. They’re known by their roles within the expedition team. Lena is The Biologist. Tessa Thompson as Josie, and Gina Rodriguez, as Anya, are the anthropologist, and paramedic. Ventress is the team leader and a psychologist. And there’s another scientist named Shepard.

The book’s subplot, of having the psychologist control the others with hypnotic suggestions, has been jettisoned, and Lena’s memories of her husband, who previously ventured into the Shimmer, are told in flashback. In the film, all the women have existential reasons for volunteering to go into The Shimmer, all of them are self destructive, and this motivation plays a large part in the theme of the movie. Lena is self destructive over her marriage, Ventress is suicidal because she has terminal cancer, Anya self harms, Shepard lost her daughter and is depressed, and Josie suffers from depression, as well. They are the kind of people who want to opt out of life, and The Shimmer preys on that to some extent.

No reason is given for what The Shimmer is really, or why it’s there, at least not in concrete, nailed down terms, in the first book, which is more concerned with thoughtful exploration. In the movie, it’s an alien life form, not-conscious, not intelligent, whose purpose is to simply change other life forms, merging, reflecting, and refracting them. The team encounter hybridized creatures, like a mutated bear which screams in the voice of the colleague it killed, (Shepherd), and an alligator with a mouth full of shark’s teeth.They also come across the bodies of hybridized and refracted humans, whose bodies have  merged with nearby buildings, or have become plant like statuary. The imagery is fascinating and terrifying.

The first hour of the movie is mostly spent exploring Area X and establishing Lena’s reasons for volunteering.  Thanks to the trailer, I was worried that the movie would be dumbed down, and be another vehicle to have women be chased and attacked by a monster, but that turned out not to be the case. The movie is smarter, and more emotional than that.

You’ll be happy to know these women are also pro-active, and kick some ass. There are no fainting damsels here. Lena has military experience and all the women are well armed. They end up in vulnerable situations because they have walked into the unknown, and have no idea what to expect, not because they’re waiting around to be attacked. The bear sequence takes up only a small part, in the middle of the film, and then its done. That’s not the movie’s focus. I do wish the director had been a woman though, because the relationships between these characters feel somewhat antiseptic. There’s deep emotion on an individual level, but not as they relate to each other. These are professionals doing a job, and I wanted just a little more emotion between them. (Not drama, which lazy writers often substitute, but emotional connection.)

In the book there’s a creature called The Crawler, which writes strange poetry on the walls of the lighthouse, and  kills one of the team members. I didn’t think it was possible but the end of this movie is stranger than the book, and that’s why I feel that the intent of the book was captured so well. We get a lot of answers during the film, and the conclusion appears satisfying, at first, but we’re also left with a big mystery at the end, too.

There are about fifty different words that mean “weird”, and the movie draws on all of them.The most disturbing part of the  movie wasn’t the mutated bear, although yes, that was terrifying. It was the scene where Anya, in a fit of extreme paranoia, takes the rest of the team hostage, and threatens to kill them, after she finds out Lena’s husband was on the previous expedition. She has very obviously gone insane, and  the  helplessness of the other characters is enough to have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I feel like this scene takes the place of the unreliable narrator scenes from the book.

I think the saddest, most unexpected, scene was Thompson’s anthropologist, who just wanders off to become part of the scenery. Literally! She just gives in to the whole thing, and seems entirely at peace with it. I identified more strongly with Lena, than I did with her, but I found that scene especially horrifying. If that were me, I don’t know that I could just give up like that, which is ironic, considering I suffered from my own bout of suicidal depression in my early twenties, where I would’ve been happy to give up. My reaction to that scene is probably informed by my recollections of that time. I think I identify more with Lena, especially now, because she never stops fighting what’s happening to her, all the way to the end.

A large clue to understanding one of the themes of the movie, and what The Shimmer is, is in Lena’s biology speech at the beginning of the movie, and her basic message is that all life came from one source, one cell, and what would happen if we devolved back to that one source. Early in the movie, one of the books she’s caught reading is The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about a black woman whose immortalized cancer cells are the foundation of cancer research in America. Lena also has conversations, with her husband, about how humans could never achieve immortality because we have a strong self destructive streak.

The return of Lena’s husband is told in flashback. It’s been nearly a year, when he simply walks into the house, and into her bedroom. He has no memories of how he got home, or where he’s been. He has a seizure and falls into a coma, and that’s when Lena discovers he’s not supposed to be back at all. The current expedition comes across videos left by the previous team, and that’s how they begin not only to understand that something is happening to them, but what happened to the last team, including Lena’s husband.

When the last of the team, Ventress and Lena, reach the lighthouse, Ventress gives herself over entirely to the alien Shimmer, and Lena discovers the body of her husband, and video footage of how he actually died. (He committed suicide.) Ventress’ death has the unintended side effect of releasing a kind of genetic doppelgänger of Lena, that tries to become her, and duplicates her every move. Realizing that the double is a version of her, with her genetic code, Lena tricks it into holding a phosphorus grenade, and escapes before it burns up, taking the lighthouse, and alien Shimmer, along with it. There are a lot of theories out there about what this scene means, with people speculating that she passed her suicidal, self destruction to the alien, and that this possibly makes her immortal, now. I don’t know about that, but at least she’s no longer suicidal, at the end.

She somehow manages to find her way back to the Southern Reach, and her husband, although she realizes it isn’t her husband at all, and he can’t seem to answer that question. For Lena, it ultimately doesn’t matter, because she was infected by the alien Shimmer before it destroyed itself, and she may not be as human as everyone thinks she is either. This is indicated by her and her “husband’s” shimmering eyes before the final credits. Is the alien dead? Are they still human, but changed? Not human at all? Is Lena immortal? And what does this mean for her, her “husband”, and the rest of humanity?

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if this movie is for you, if you trust my description of it. It’s definitely an acquired taste,and not for everyone. If you suffer from bouts of depression, this may actually trigger it, as one of the movie’s primary themes is depression and suicide, and it’s a cross between The Thing, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s much more thoughtful, and introspective in mood, because the answers aren’t simply handed to you, or over-explained. You have to pay close attention to what’s being said. The feeling of dread is vague, undefined, and quiet, and sneaks up on you as you begin to realize what it all means, punctuated by moments of terror.

Yeah, it’s definitely weird.

I don’t regret having watched it though.

Black Panther : Selected readings From Medium. com

All of these essays come from Medium.com. I decided to do a separate post for this site because I can’t directly link to all the articles. But I can link to the writers and you can look around, after joining Medium, and check out their other writings, as well. There are a few of these articles that sit behind a paywall, but its only five dollars a month, if you’re willing. Later, I’ll do a separate list of essays for fans on Tumblr.

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Black Panther: The King For Our Time

Lessons for America on the Consequences of Isolationism and Burying your Violent History Jay Kapoor

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Meditations on ‘Black Panther’ and the Future of Black Superhero Movies: Why did it succeed where many other black superhero movies have failed?

Eric Anthony Glover

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Black Panther: Lessons in Hollywood diversity and black pride

By: Nicol Turner-Lee

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‘Black Panther’: When Will African-American Films No Longer be Considered Unicorns?

After a string of seemingly anomalous box-office hits (‘Get Out,’ ‘Girls Trip’ and now Marvel’s latest), THR columnist Marc Bernardin argues that these hits can be repeated if Hollywood pays attention to the real reasons they succeeded in the first place.

The Hollywood Reporter

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I Went to See Black Panther and Found Myself in Erik Killmonger Jonathan Walton

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“Have I Ever Failed You?”

On Black Panther and Battling Our Father’s Demons

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Wakanda Future Do You Imagine? A Critical Examination of the Aesthetics, Culture, Politics, and Symbolism of the Blockbuster Film ‘Black Panther’ Son of Baldwin

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What ‘Black Panther’ Teaches Us About When Fathers Lie to Their Sons Zaron Burnett III

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‘Black Panther’ Inspires More Than African Americans  CNN

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Black Panther Is the Superhero Every Kid Will Want to Be This Halloween

Why that’s a good thing, and a few other observations about the latest Marvel blockbuster  Tim Grierson

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5 Lessons from Black Panther That Can Save Our Lives — and Transform Black Politics  Frank Leon Roberts

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Black Panther is one of the most important cultural moments in American history Shaun King

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How ‘Black Panther’ taps into 500 years of history

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Ryan Coogler’s film draws on centuries of black dreams of independence to create Wakanda

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An American Monster In Wakanda: Why I Would Be Erik Killmonger Talynn Kel

 

 

 

 

Movies I Loved (But Y’all Hated)

You are all wrong, btw!😝

Saying I loved these movies is a strong word.  But I definitely liked them, and watched them multiple times.In some cases I can’t  put my finger on why I liked them, and others, I know exactly why I’m compelled to watch them every time they air on TV. I still do not understand why so many of these films seem to feature Will Smith. Apparently, in my mind, the man can do no wrong, (except I really did hate Bagger Vance and Hitch, so go figure!)

And yeah, some of these reviews did determine this thing, where I’m completely disregarding the reviews of diverse movies by White critics, as being totally justified.

 

Suicide Squad:

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This movie starred two of my favorite actors along with two of my favorite characters. Viola Davis was a totally cold, badass, Amanda Waller. I’ve been a fan of The Wall since her first run in Batman. She’s the only character who has ever told Batman, to his face, where he could step the fuck off, and although Batman sits in my personal pantheon, I totally ugly laughed when she did that. The Wall was a woman who feared no man, not even The Bat, and Viola perfectly captured that. I liked how she wasn’t just a straight up villain either. She was on the side of good most of the time but she’s also utterly ruthless, and smart as fuck. Like Nick Fury, she’s not evil, and I would classify her more as an adversary, or anti-hero.

Then there’s Will Smith. I will watch Will in anything, even if I know I might hate it. He has played far too many magical negroes for my taste, but he seems to have gotten that phase of his career out of his system, and is killing it in some interesting roles now (including a short cameo as Lucifer in A Winters Tale). I didn’t know shit about Deadshot, other than he was an adversary of Batman, but it’s Will Frickin’ Smith, so I don’t care that I don’t care.

I’ve been a Harley Quinn fan since her inception, (mostly the CN version) and I liked how she was portrayed here. The movie didn’t forget to add her tragic backstory, and if you’ve read the comic books, you know she eventually sets Joker aside, and has some healthier relationships. So I watched the movie with that in mind. And I just liked the zaniness of her character. She was fun! I also liked the relationship she was developing with Deadshot.

Then there’s Diablo. I knew nothing about Diablo before this movie, because I’m not a huge DC fan, really. Had never even heard of him. So when he turned into an Ancient Fire God, at the end of the movie, I nearly popped out of my bunny slippers! THAT SHIT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!! (Whew! Let me calm down). I was totally not ready for that shit. Why didn’t anybody tell me? You know what, that’s okay because that would have spoiled the joyfulness of seeing it for myself.

I also liked seeing Killer Croc onscreen. He’s terrifying ,and insane, in the comic books, but he’s almost sympathetic in this movie. Almost. He’s still pretty terrifying, though. My favorite scene in the entire movie is when the meta-villains are sitting in that bar talking about their identities. I felt that scene added a great deal of depth to the characters.

I’m also one of five people who actually think the movie is funny, but that is mostly due to the presence of Will Smith, and Margot Robbie. Like most people I hated the villain. She was ridiculous, but the movie has a lot of great scenes, great music, and interesting characters, and I didn’t feel like my time was at all wasted by watching it. I wish there been more Slipknot, and Katana, though.

So yeah, there’s gonna be a sequel because this movie cleaned up at the box office, because audiences loved it, even though most of the (not so diverse) journalists critiquing it, hated it. I don’t know what movie they were watching, but I know what I’m gonna spend my money on next year.

I also heard Diablo is not dead and will be in the next movie. WHOOOOOOT!!!

 

I Am Legend/After Earth

Here are some more Will Smith movies. I have a longer review in order for After Earth, but I Am Legend is definitely a favorite of mine. I am starting to develop an interesting theory on why these critics hate these films, and it goes a little bit beyond disliking movies not centered around white people, and wanting to see such movies fail by giving them bad reviews.

White Racial Resentment and Implicit Bias are real things that have been studied extensively, that have made their way into every aspect of American life, and its ridiculous to think it wouldn’t have made its way into film journalism, or that journalists would be unaffected. (I consider most of White fandom to be an entire shitshow, and generally limit my fandom activities to Black spaces whenever possible. It’s about the only way I can retain any of the sanity I have left.)

But I consider I Am Legend to be one of Will Smith’s greatest performances, up there with Ali. At least right up until the last thirty minutes. Yes, the ending did indeed suck, but the ending was not enough to keep me from liking the first two thirds of the film. I was totally in my feels watching this movie, and I feel like Will killed it!

I’m going to have to go into greater detail about After Earth in a later post, about that movie is relevant to Black men, and the inadvertent dialogue it appears to be having with other films, like Moonlight.

 

The Village:

One of the reasons people hated After Earth, is the same reason that The Village was panned by critics. They were hating on the director, and not the movie itself. I found nothing in this movie that was worth the bad reviews this movie got. It was beautifully filmed, thoughtful, and melancholy. I liked the actors, and their performances were wonderful. I loved the characters and their relationships to each other, including a beautiful sister/sister relationship, and some beautiful scenes of love, unrequited.

It seemed like, at some point, people decided to turn on the director and hate everything he made, after a couple of his movies failed at the box office. I Iike M. Night, and wasn’t ready to write him off as a good director just for making a couple of awful films, after he made some really good ones, and I think this is one of the good ones. I watch The Village whenever I’m in a certain mood, and it has never failed to move me. Not only that, but I feel like there’s some type of dialogue happening between After Earth, and The Village, with their themes of father/child relationships, emotional suppression, and the philosophy of fear.

 

Alien Resurrection:

 

I’ve been a Winona Ryder fan since her role in Heathers, waaay back in the 80’s, so I’m always gonna fangirl over her, in even some of her worst roles (I’m talking about you, Dracula!) I was delighted to see she’d been cast in the Alien franchise, which has always been heavily woman -centered, from its inception, and I was hoping for some wonderful female to female moments between her and Ripley, and I got this beautiful mother/daughter dynamic, which echoed some of same themes in Aliens, where Ripley bonds with Newt.

There’s also Ron Perlman being an ass, while using grammatically correct English.

Call, the robot Wynnona plays in the movie, is one of my all-time favorite Aliens characters, right up there with Ripley, and Vasquez. I think my love for Call has a lot to do with my age at the time when I saw the movie. I have all kinds of thoughts about this movie, and Call and Ripley in particular, so I should probably review it, huh?

 

Alien Vs Predator:
Yeah, we talked about this in an earlier post, and if you haven’t been paying attention, there is a trend in the kind of movie I enjoy Vs the kind of movie critics hate. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of movies that I can agree are wonderful, but I’m still feeling suspicious about how some movies end up with really awful reviews, when I’ve not noticed a great qualitative difference between it and any other mediocre film it’s type. Sometimes though, the timing of a movie’s release is just bad, and people are rejecting it in the moment, only to embrace the movie many years later, as with Bladerunner.

And sometimes critics hate something, and they’re right about that, but then movies like that tend to be very obviously awful, too.

 

And as a special bonus round, cuz sometimes y’all know some stuff that I don’t:

Movies I Hated (But Y’all Loved!)😐

There are only a couple of these movies that I actively hate, so hate is maybe a stronger word, than I need. I should say I’m mostly indifferent  to them, (but the word “indifferent ” doesn’t look good in the sub-title). Also this list was initially a lot longer. It seems I’m apathetic to a lot of movies that other people really, really love.

 

E.T.:

I think I was one of five people that was unimpressed by this movie. I watched this when I was a teenager, and thought it was really cute, but beyond that my feeling was…meh. I liked Elliot, and the E.T. was kinda adorable, but ultimately this movie didn’t end up on any of  my favorites list. It may also have had something to do with the hyping of the film before and just after it’s release. I do remember feeling sick and damn tired of seeing the ads for it. And once again, it all comes down to timing, too. I probably wasn’t in the right mind frame, or right age to appreciate it. Released a couple of years earlier, I probably would’ve loved it.

 

Wonder Woman:

I don’t actually hate this movie. It’s a perfectly adequate action movie. I think part of the reason I wasn’t too ga-ga over it is probably because I’m a forty something year old Black woman, whose seen this kind of movie before. I saw it the first time when it was called Alien, and again when it was called Aliens, and again, when it was called Ghostbusters, and Mad Max Fury Road. I am well used to the idea of White women being non-sexualized badasses in movies. This ain’t new to me. Hell, Ripley is my patron saint, and sits in the cinematic pantheon. So maybe I’m just really tired, or the timing was off, or I wasn’t the audience for it.

But you know what? I’ve decided this movie just wasn’t for me, I guess. I respect that some people really, really loved it, so I’m not gonna talk too much shit about it, but really, I wasn’t feeling that. The movie was just alright. I was crazier over Mad Max. If I were a twenty year old White woman, I might be insane over this movie, and wtf, twenty year old White women still need representation too.

 

The Deer Hunter:

I just hated this depressing-assed movie,which wasnt as awful as Deliverance, but well within spitting distance. The characters are fine, the premise is great, but this is one of those movies that only ever needs to be watched one time, after which you cleanse yourself, and try to recover from the mood it caused. This movie along with

Casualties of War:

…are two of the most depressing and/or horrifying war movies ever made. I have one word of advice for anyone coming across this film, because it stars Michael J Fox, and they think it might be worth watching…

DON’T!!!

Please save yourself the abject misery of watching this film. Sitting through this movie was an act of sheer fucking endurance,and I will never get the hours of my life back, that I spent watching it. Other than the movie looking beautiful, there is nothing enjoyable about this film. I basically spent two hours watching Fox’s character wish-wash, back and forth, over whether or not to save the life of a young Vietnamese woman, who is never given a name, and had been kidnapped, and repeatedly raped and brutalized by his commanding officer, and the small squad of soldiers he commanded. The movie manages to make it all about his dilemma and guilt over ratting out his commanding officer, for war crimes, rather than the story of the young woman actually undergoing the ordeal over which he feels so conflicted. The most galling moment comes at the end of the movie when he is offered redemption for his difficult decision, by a young Asian American woman he saw on his bus route, whose face reminded him of that long ago victim.
This is exactly what we mean when we say White writers should no longer be allowed to tell other people’s stories. The story is very obviously about her, and her ordeal, but written from the point of view of the lone white man, with a conscience, who is deeply concerned about turning against his squad buddies, and reporting them to upper command.

I hated this movie.

Critics seemed to like it just fine.

Back to the Future:

For the record, I am a fan of Michael J. Fox, and don’t hate all his films, but this movie also misses me. Ive seen it about three times, and watched the two sequels when they came on TV. I thought they were really cute. I do not understand the foaming at the mouth level of glee I’ve seen from movie fans for it, though. It just doesn’t move me that much, even though something about it, I don’t know what, seemed to have thoroughly captured the imaginations of White male nerds. I say that because I’ve never heard, or even read, of a single PoC, woman (or man), who loves this movie like that.

To me, it’s just a fun, not too deep, Scifi movie, aimed at teenagers.

 

Point Break: 

Patrick Swayze was one of the sexiest men in Hollywood when he as at the height of his career. That said, this ain’t one of my favorites by him. (That would be Roadhouse.) I hated the characters in Point Blank, and thought the plot was deeply stupid, and not in a good way. Roadhouse was stupid too, but the plot was audaciously stupid, and everyone just ran with it, and I couldn’t help but give it two thumbs up. Also, I liked the main character, so that helped.

 

Titanic:

I remember the huge hype around this movie, but I didn’t go to see this in the theaters. I watched it on cable a few years later. I wasn’t really trying to see it either. It was just on TV. I watched it with my Mom, and we were both mostly bored, although the romance of Jack and Rose was really cute . I didn’t object to the romance and the prologue and stuff, and the movie was very pretty, but I didn’t find any of it especially compelling either. We were almost clinically fascinated by the disaster scenes, with me discussing the physics of it with her, but apparently the physics is not something you tell people that you enjoyed about this movie.

 

Avatar:

Yeah, this was another movie I absolutely hated. It has the distinction of being the only movie, starring Sigourney Weaver, that I’ve ever intensely disliked. Omg! This motherf… movie is gonna need a whole hate post about it, starting with Sam Worthington, his character, the plot, the aliens. I don’t normally do shitposts about movies. I like to stick with movies I loved, and why I loved them, so don’t hold your breath on that.

Ugh! Lemme stop thinking about it!

 

Speed:

This movie was just alright. I liked the characters okay, and Sandra Bullock was a lot of fun in the role, but I wasn’t very excited by this movie. It did have the affect of making me like Keanu Reeves a little bit more than before,and it was thrilling, I guess, but I wasn’t greatly moved to laud it as the second coming of the action movie.

The Shape of Water (2017]

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I am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro. I’ve seen every one of his films, and loved  all of them, with the exception of Crimson Peak, which wasn’t a bad movie , (merely unequal to his other films.)

Guillermo is the kind of director whose films all have meaning. Every image, every line of dialogue, even the costumes and color choices,  have  a  personal meaning for the director,  or propel  the narrative, or examine a character, and he always has something interesting to say, a point he wishes to make, a message to impart to his audience. He makes fantasies that parallel and contrast the real world.

In many of his films, he chronicles how the world of fantasy impacts the real world. In Hellboy 1 & 2, there’s a discussion of real world reactions to the existence of supernatural creatures, and what place someone like Hellboy can make for himself in it. Blade 2, despite all its fantastical elements, takes place entirely in the real world, with the same technology, music, and culture. The vampires in that world have adapted very well to human ingenuity, and in Pan’s Labyrinth, a young girl’s horrifying  real world life, under fascism, is juxtaposed against a fantasy world, in which she actually holds power, and importance, and agency.

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I’ve read many reviews of this film, and not  one of them has mentioned how the fantasy elements of this movie contrast, and impact, the real world, of the sixties Civil Rights environment, in which it takes place. This movie is rich with social commentary that I’m not seeing reflected in any of its reviews. Most of the reviewers focus on the romance between  Eliza and her Fishman paramour, or the set design, or the special effects,  never bothering to go deeper, into what the film actually means for Eliza’s character, or the villain’s motivations. No one has discussed the time period in which it takes place either, which I find frustrating, because the villain’s motivations arise precisely out of the Jim Crow era in which the movie takes place, and informs how Eliza and the Fishman are treated, and the decisions Eliza makes.

The movie sits smack in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, and  although it isn’t something explicitlyshown,  this is a statement, not just about what’s happening with the characters, but a message to us today. As in all his films, Guillermo is telling us something about ourselves right now.  Guillermo says that he chose that particular time period because it’s a direct reflection of what’s happening in the US today, from the re-emergent Cold War, to the various social rights movements like BLM, and the casual racism, sexism, and homophobia, which has reared its ugly head again.

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Just as in the sixties, there is a clash of ideologies, which is often brought about, and exacerbated by, emergent technologies. The internet has allowed marginalized groups to push-back against, and challenge, the narratives of White supremacy, in ways they couldn’t before. Social Media allows marginalized groups to organize, and protest with an immediacy that was once lacking, and online communities allow them to disseminate news and information in real time, as with NoDAPL. In the sixties, it was the handheld camera, that brought the Civil Rights movement, the Korean War, and  the Vietnam War right into people’s livingrooms. It was the Space Program that heated up the cold war between Russia and the United States.

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Michael Shannon, as Strickland, is the physical embodiment of “White male rage, and entitlement”, existing at a period in time in which his cultural supremacy is being called into question by external forces,  that his oppression helped to create. He doesn’t just take his rage out on the amphibian captive, on whom he liberally uses a cattle prod, (his captive does push back against his rage and violence) but takes his hatred and contempt out on both Eliza, and Octavia Spencer’s character, Zelda, questioning her, in a smugly racist tone, why she doesn’t have any siblings (because that’s not common for HER people), which forces Zelda to reveal the tragic loss of her mother when she was born. At the same meeting he loudly asks if Eliza can hear him.

He has the best kind of life there is, with a  loving wife and children, a brand new model car, and a house in the suburbs, yet seems to resent all of it, showing no affection towards his wife and children, even though they dote on him, and he appears to be in a rage at even his “happiest” moments.  This is a man who can’t even find joy in fucking his beautiful, blonde,  trophy wife. The only time we ever see Strickland smile, in the movie, is when he’s contemplating, or bringing harm,  to someone else. Strickland also  lives in a world that is beginning to change, and he can see a future in which he can no longer express his rage and fear at those he deems as less than himself. Just like today, those “people” are talking back to him, and need to be put back in their place of not questioning his supremacy, and again, like today’s form of bigot,  all he has at his disposal is violence. He leads a miserable and rage fueled life.

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Eliza’s neighbor, Giles, is an older gay man who loves musicals, dancing and key lime pie. One of the first musicals we see in the movie is The Little Colonel, starring Shirley Temple, and Bojangles, and is an example of the time period romanticized by the White people of the sixties, just as the early sixties are heavily romanticized today. At one point, Giles entreats Eliza to turn away from the images of civil rights rioting on his TV, to a happier image of  Bojangles,  smiling, and dancing, and happy. Directly after that scene, Eliza and Giles do a little tap dance, while sitting on the couch, and maybe this is Guillermo’s way of pointing out how oppressed people have always tried to maximize what little joy they can find, in the face of so much misery. Eliza and Giles are both single, they don’t own a fancy home or car. In society, she and Giles have nothing, and are nothing. Now contrast Eliza and Giles simple pleasures of pie, movies, and dancing,  with Strickland’s joyless existence.

Dancing is also Eliza’s escape. There’s a surreal daydream about her and the Amphibian dancing in a musical. Guillermo’s message here is about the power of imagination, and how the oppressed find power and happiness. This is something clearly expressed in his movie Pan’s Labyrinth, where the little girl, Ofelia, dreams of escaping her brutal existence, as a Queen of the Fairies,  through the use of her imagination. This is also a statement about Del Toro’s  personal life. He grew up poor and  escaped poverty  through film, through dreams

 

. Eliza wants to escape the circumstances of her life too, and at the end of the movie, she is more than happy to do so. (Although, I must point out, that though Eliza has managed to escape, and Strickland is gone, Giles, and Zelda are left behind to pick up the pieces.)

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https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/guillermo-del-toro-confronting-childhood-demons-surviving-a-real-life-horror-story-1053205

There are several interactions between marginalized people that speak to the lack of unity of that time period. Giles is white and male, but every bit as powerless as Zelda, and Eliza, especially after people find out about his private life. Earlier, Giles is emphatic about not watching racial unpleasantness on his TV, but later, he attempts to defend a black couple who try to eat in the diner he frequents, but get kicked out by the counterman. Giles cares enough to come to their defense, but not in the moment, and we realize just how powerless he is afterwards, when he makes a pass at the waiter, and is kicked out of the diner was well.  Note that Giles is all alone when he does this. Guillermo quietly  illustrates how all these different  outsiders are trying to make it on their own. The message here is that unless  they all unite to stand against their oppressors they can accomplish nothing.

My biggest issue is the lone Black man in the movie, Zelda’s husband David. He is perhaps the weakest character in the movie. He is of no use to Zelda, (who speaks of him often and seems to love him), and he does not come to Zelda’s aid when Strickland bursts into their home and bullies them for Eliza’s whereabouts. He also does not aid in the Fishman’s escape from the lab, tries to talk Zelda out of getting involved, and is so cowed by his environment, that he rats her out to Strickland.

My overall impression is that David gave up fighting long ago, and  that he doesn’t really love Zelda, since he was not only  completely unwilling to fight for her but gave up Eliza as well. I have mixed feelings about this character, and I don’t think Del Toro thought him through very well, or took into account how this would look to any Black men watching this film, who would be infuriated at the depiction. On the one hand, it wasn’t necessary to have the only Black man, in the entire movie, be an example of  what the system of Jim Crow was meant to do, which is drain all the fighting spirit out of Black men, keeping them terrified, and submissive. On the other hand, if he were not those things, it would’ve become a very different type of movie. I feel he could have been eliminated from the plot altogether and the film would largely be left intact.

Strickland wants to destroy the Amphibian, a creature of the natural world that he often refers to as an abomination. He tortures and abuses the creature, to no purpose, but his own petty enmity. When the Fishman is slated for an autopsy table, Eliza teams up with Zelda, a German researcher, and Giles to thwart Strickland. In the end, they all come together to take down Strickland, and I feel like the message here was that only through the unity of  outsiders, can such an overwhelmingly oppressive force, like him, be overcome.

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In all of Guillermo’s films, you have a villain who attempts to destroy the natural world for vengeance, greed, entitlement, and/or short sightedness. In Blade 2, the natural order of the world is disrupted by a quest for power, and the  destruction of humanity is averted by the hero fighting with the very beings he’d made a profession of killing. In Hellboy, the villain wishes to disrupt the order of the world by calling down The Old Gods of Lovecraftian mythology, and in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, faded fairy nobility wants to avenge the destruction of the natural world by human greed. And in The Shape of Water, Strickland is destroyed by the the very sort of people he most hates and fears.

The message of the outsider being more noble, more self sacrificing, and more compassionate is woven throughout many of Guillermo’s films. Since Del Toro himself is a Mexican immigrant, he has always felt himself to be one of the outsiders, and most of his films are seen through such a lens, recognizing the power of those who stand outside the mainstream. All of Del Toro’s protagonists are pieces of himself. Unlike most fantasy film directors, he is willing to address social issues in his films, and reviewers need to give the man his proper respect for doing that, and acknowledge that in their reviews.

 

 

Quick question:What is Guillermo Del Toro’s fascination with Germans? Every one of his films has a German character in it. Can you spot them?

*Note: My second review of this movie will be a discussion of sex and disability.

 

I Saved It From Tumblr

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

Best Insult on Tumblr:

“You Uncultured Common Fly!”

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*Putting this here:

Image result for killmonger

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

References to Mexican Culture in Coco

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

Image result for coco

Names and pronouns

1. Coco

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

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

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

Traditions and beliefs

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

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

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

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

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

4. Being thrown into a cenote

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

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

5. Alebrijes

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

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

Music

6. Genres of Mexican music

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

– Remember Me / Recuérdame is a bolero ranchero.

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

– Everyone Knows Juanita / Juanita is a corrido.

– Un Poco Loco is a son jarocho.

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

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

6.5 Un Poco Loco

Un Poco Loco starts in English as

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

And in Spanish as

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. La Llorona

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

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

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

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

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

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

Famous people

8. Ernesto de la Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

9. Frida Kahlo (and Diego)

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

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

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

10. Other Mexican celebrities

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

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

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

They kind of looked like this:

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


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

I hope this was of interest to someone!

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

Check him out!

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

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

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

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

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

Do Your research!!!!

Dear White Fandom

Let’s talk for a second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This right here…MOOD!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for black lightning gif/anissa

Image result for black lightning gif/anissa

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

Black Panther Selected Readings 3

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

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

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

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

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

 

Politics:

Black Panther has a lot to say about politics:

Image result for black panther movie politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther

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

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

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

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

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

 

View story at Medium.com

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Psychology:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Tribe: Black Panther’s Altruism

 

The Women:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From Tumblr:

 

The Making of:

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

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

Image result for ruth carter

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

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

 

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 darkdamiaknight

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

 

 

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Oh, yeah. The hair thing:

 

The Fans:

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

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

 

*This is what Tumblr fans are saying about representation:

*Took my african dad to see Black Panther

theghostwasblue

*no spoilers*

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

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

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

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

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

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

*This needs to be said…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Fans

 

In Africa:

I loved the African reaction to this movie:

 

*And the windup:

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

 

 

Do You Remember Earth: The Final Conflict?

 

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This show came across my dash, while I was scrolling through Amazon Prime, and I  had to say something about it. I did watch this show when it aired, and it wasn’t a bad show, but I had some trouble watching it now, as I’m spoiled from having too much of the good shit.

Earth The Final Conflict is a Gene Roddenberry show, (it says so right in its title), even though the show doesn’t seem very Roddenberry-ish in tone, and one of the only other shows he ever created besides Star Trek. I remember deciding to watch it, back in the day, because I thought it would be kinda Trekky, but it wasn’t. Its a very different type of show. than Trek.

It aired from 1997 to 2002 ,and you’d think people would remember this more, because it wasn’t actually awful, but maybe because it was so middle of the road, people don’t care. Hell, even I feel that way about it, and I watched it. I only remembered it because it was suggested to me as part of my viewing history on Amazon.

 

The show kinda reminded me a little bit of V, because aliens called the Jaridians,  visit Earth with the public intention of helping humanity, as they always  say. In this case though, the aliens really are ALIEN, and deeply enigmatic. I watched this show for about three years, and I still don’t know what the fuck the aliens wanted on Earth. But no matter what their intentions, you know there has to be a group of human beings in opposition to them, because they’re suspicious of the aliens, even though the aliens have provided food security, cured various diseases, and stopped war.

ETFC starred Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett, and a handful of bland White people, along with PoC who had too much character, because that’s how TV did things in the 90’s. The show had an Asian actor as one of the leads, Von Flores, but his character was pretty  sketchy, and was in league with the aliens, so I don’t know if he counts as good representation according to today’s standards, and because I still can’t say whether or not the aliens were evil. The aliens are such a gray space that they might have actually been good, but its  the humans around them who were a bunch of duplicitous assholes, and maintaining the drama.

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There was the token white, male, hero of the show, Kevin Kilner, playing a guy named Boone, who gets conscripted into working for the aliens, after his family is fridged. This actor was so lacking in character, and personality, that I don’t even remember his name, nor do I remember seeing him in any other shows after this. Not that he didn’t star in anything else, it’s just that I wouldn’t have noticed if he did.

There was also  the token Black guy named Richard Chevolleau, and he played some type of rebel hacker. I remember him because he had a weird accent.

But the standout characters were actually the aliens themselves. Someone put some real imagination into making them really alien, especially the leader, Da’an, played by a woman named Leni Parker. All the aliens were played by women, but played in such a way that they were meant to be non-binary, so the aliens did not behave as either males of females, in any stereotypical manner. They put some real thought into things like how to dress them, body language, speech and their actual voices. These aliens were so mysterious, that I didn’t even consider them stand-ins for some other race of human beings, which is a trap that shows like this frequently fall into.

I actually liked Da’an, because they seemed okay, and I liked the way they were portrayed. I remember when I watched the first episode, and heard Da’ans voice for the first time, and was deeply puzzled. It took a few episodes to get used to the depiction of the aliens, because there just wasn’t anything on TV like them. My brain kept wanting to read Da’an as female, but the show creators actually took things like that into account, and put some real effort into making sure Da’an didn’t conform to any gender roles.

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I do  remember  mildly disliking most of the humans on the show. Except for the token Black guy, named Auger, and Von Flores, as they were the only two characters with actual personalities. Flores was sneaky and duplicitous, so he was hard to actually like, but at least you remembered him when the episode ended, and Chevolleau’s character had a sense of humor, something which no one else on the show displayed. Everyone on the show was always deeply grim and serious, even though the show didn’t look that way until the later seasons.

 

Later on, there was an alien- human hybrid added to the show because, of course, and some extra, more suspicious, aliens were added to the show, to contrast  Da’an. Basically, because the show was unclear  if Da’an was a villain,  they needed to clear that up by adding an actual villain,  which did not work, because, many years later, I’m still unsure if Da’an was a villain. So  that didn’t work either, and  there were some actual evil aliens added to the show, called the Atavus that the Jaridians were fighting.

I also got tired of the humans fighting colonization by aliens plot that was the primary plot of season one and two. I still hate this plot today. Once again, it’s always White people (the ultimate colonizers of everywhere on Earth) who get to decide, and fight for the future of humanity, and then there was the idea in the back of my mind,  that the aliens weren’t actually bad guys,  just the humans who worked for them were bad, and that these resistance fighters were blowing up buildings, and assassinating people, for nothing.

The rebels seemed to be resisting the idea of aliens making human beings behave better towards each other, and I remember being upset about them making the decision to kill other beings, for all humanity, without asking the rest of humanity if they wanted to be fought for. I remember disliking  the rebels deciding  that humans needed saving, because I’m not entirely sure the aliens were evil. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.

The show is also an interesting depiction of how humans might actually behave, if Earth were colonized by an advanced species, that weren’t obviously hostile. Because of their good behavior towards humans, some people would worship them, and some people  formed churches, in which Da’an is deified. Some other human beings would definitely be upset about the deification of the aliens, and want to break that shit up, I guess.

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I thought the special effects were pretty good, especially the flying ships, the depiction of the aliens, who were these semi-transparent creatures, that seemed to be made out of layers of energy, and the destructive blasters worn by their human assistants, called Skrills, which I think were living creatures of some kind. I remember being more curious about the living writstblasters than any other technology displayed on the show, and wondered what it was like to wear one, and if the aliens were monitoring their human companions through their bioware.

 

Anyway, the show is  worth a re-watch if you can get past the bland acting of the humans. The aliens are definitely worth watching, if only to try to figure out if they are actually evil, or not, and because they are an  interesting interpretation of non-binary, a-gendered beings. I didn’t watch the show through its entire run, so I can’t say what the outcome is, or whether or not the conflict was, indeed, final.

A Fistful of Mini- Reviews

Happy

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

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

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

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

Counterpart

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

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

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

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

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

 

Godzilla : Monster Planet

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

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

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

 

 

The  Cloverfield Paradox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blue Planet II

 

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

The Alienist

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

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

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

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

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

Reading Black Pop Culture

I just wanted to list a few resources for understanding the history of Black representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy film and comic books. I’ve only read a few of these though. The rest are on my TBR pile for the rest of the year.

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Articles:

We’ll start with Samuel R. Delaney’s famous essay. I’ve been offering this essay to everyone on Tumblr as the answer to their questions on why we’ve been seeing so much blatant racism in fandom. It also answers the question on why people like the Sad Puppies exist.

http://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html

—–Delany countered that the current Hugo debacle has nothing to do with science fiction at all. “It’s socio-economic,” he said. In 1967, as the only black writer among the Nebula nominees, he didn’t represent the same kind of threat. But Delany believes that, as women and people of color start to have “economic heft,” there is a fear that what is “normal” will cease to enjoy the same position of power. “There are a lot of black women writers, and some of them are gay, and they are writing about their own historical moment, and the result is that white male writers find themselves wondering if this is a reverse kind of racism. But when it gets to fifty per cent,” he said, then “we can talk about that.” It has nothing to do with science fiction, he reiterated. “It has to do with the rest of society where science fiction exists.”

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/samuel-delany-and-the-past-and-future-of-science-fiction

 

If you enjoy Black Panther this weekend, here are some  interesting sources of entertainment to follow up:

https://www.theroot.com/a-guide-to-fantasy-and-science-fiction-made-for-black-p-1820396166

Books:

All of these are books are available on Amazon:

https://bookriot.com/2017/06/22/for-ob-day-5-science-fiction-and-fantasy-women-of-color-authors-to-read-after-octavia-butler/

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Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction by [Carrington, André M.]
Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes by [Nama, Adilifu]

Star Trek Discovery: Review of Season One

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The Plot:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Themes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michael Burnham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Captain/Emperor:  Philippa Georghiou

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Silvia Tilly

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lt. Commander/First Officer Saru

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lt. Paul Stamets

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Voq/Ash Tyler

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

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

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

 

Captain Gabriel Lorca

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

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

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

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

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

Sarek

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

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

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

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

 

Last Episode

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

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

 

In Conclusion

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

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

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