Why I’m Watching Still Star Crossed

I’ve always loved period films. From Downton Abbey, to The Remains of the Day, to The Three Musketeers, I love the costumes, and dialogue, and plots. I try to make some effort to seek out those films with prominent characters of color, like anything set in pre-reformation  Japan, or the movie Belle. So I’m cautiously excited by the airing of Shonda’s new Joint, Still Star Crossed. I’m cautious because I know there are forces working really hard to discredit this show, so I don’t know how long it will last.

This is the new show on ABC by Shonda Rimes based on the Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, and the book by Melinda Taub. The show picks up right at the end of Romeo and Juliet, after the two teens are dead, after their forbidden affair, and to keep the peace, so that a feud doesn’t break out between the Montagues and the Capulets, Rosaline and Benvolio are forced to marry each other by their families. Neither of them wants to be married and they don’t even like each other.

Just in case some viewers are confused, because they’re not fans or readers of Shakespearean history, this is what completely colorblind casting looks like, and this is often traditional with Shakespearean plays. Both families are made up of different races of people, and so are most of the officials and citizens of Verona. So it’s perfectly normal for people to have white and black children, or parents, or East Asian cousins. As is the case nowadays, anytime women, or PoC, wander into the orbit of a genre show, you’re going to get some white people expressing dismay at the idea that the narrative isn’t centered around them, or cries about historical accuracy,  by people who don’t know a damn thing about actual history, except what they’ve seen on whitewashed television shows.

This show has nothing to do with historical accuracy. Its set in an Italian city, written by an Englishman,who never visited Italy. It’s a fictional story, there were never any Montagues and Capulets. Verona is an actual city, but it’s a port city where people from many different cultures would have mingled, and the history of Moorish colonization would have been know there. I’ve seen some people very upset that there were black people in this show, citing Historical accuracy while not complaining about any of the white English speaking, and Australian, members of the cast. Hell one member of the cast is East Asian and no one complained about her. Make of this information what thou wilt!

This is particularly galling coming from white women in fandom. Apparently, the princess narrative is meant to be the sole province of white women, and WoC who get to wear beautiful period costumes, go to the ball, fall in love with the prince, and live happily ever after, do not belong in it. There are several shows on TV with this particular type of fairy tale historical setting: Reign on the CW; Outlander on Starz; and The White Princess on, again, Starz. Whenever WoC have been prominently featured on these types of shows like Merlin for example, even though these shows are not realistic, and bear only the most shallow resemblance to actual lived historic events (and in some cases no relation to actual historic events because they’re fairy tales)  they receive pushback in the form white people arguing for historical accuracy.

The professional  critics (who are just as draped in unexamined racism as any casual viewer), are panning the series based on this one episode, criticizing it for following various fictional tropes,  tropes  that are also on prominent display in the above named shows. I personally didn’t see anything particularly wrong except for the show being rather busy, as there was a lot to digest in the pilot. Hopefully the show will slow its pace just a bit the rest of the season.

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So once again, just like with Luke Cage, and Get Out,  I’m going to ignore any reviews from white reviewers because there’s little they have to say that would be relevant to me, a Black woman. I recognize how groundbreaking this particular show is, and they can only be uncomfortable with it. It is exceptionally rare that a dark-skinned black woman gets to be featured in such a story, without being little more than an accessory to the white characters. Black women rarely get to be Shakespearean damsels, who get to fall in love with,  and  be loved by, the hero. The idea of the strong black woman who “don’t need no man” is a  black female stereotype that has made its way into countless films and TV shows. It’s a stereotype that masculinizes and de-sexualizes, black women, and is often used as a excuse to deny black female characters fragility, vulnerability, and love, which in American culture is also coded as the definition of White  womanhood. The irony is that White women have  been fighting against that particular stereotype of themselves, for over two decades now, but some of them are willing to embrace it, if it means keeping black women away from it.

White American reviewers are just as unused to seeing prominent black characters in such narratives as I am, and most of their reviews will only reflect their discomfort with it. But for WoC, its empowering to see PoC in these beautiful period costumes, speaking in such lofty language, who are more than  servants and maids. They are princesses, and rulers, and statesmen. It’s as empowering for us as it might seem to be disempowering for white women. This is the very nature of intersectional feminism, recognizing that different kinds of women are treated differently, in the narratives we’ve watched over the years.

During the show, race is not mentioned, and is largely unimportant to the narrative. Certainly we are going to view the show through the lens of race, but the actual characters do not, and race is not the motivation behind much of the character’s behavior. For example there’s the temptation to view Lady Capulet as a racist because she is mean to her nieces, but it’s not because they are black. It’s because she was jealous of their mother, who managed to marry the man she wanted for herself. She seeks to punish these very young and beautiful women, with their entire futures ahead of them, who should never, in her mind, have been born.

There are shades of Cinderella in the narrative with Rosaline, and her sister. But the most prominent reference is the singer, Brandy’s, 90s version of the fairytale Cinderella, with its color blind casting, where Whoopie Goldberg has a white husband, and an Asian American son, and Cinderella’s stepsisters are white.

Still Star Crossed is mostly based on the book of the same name by Melinda Taub. While it is a sequel to the original play, the show is  not going to strictly adhere to the events of the play, and the plot, I’m told, will be very wide ranging and include events from other Shakespearean plays. I’m not going to talk about the plot so much as I will my impression of the actors and characters.

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Rosaline Capulet is the lead female character. She is the niece of Lord and Lady Capulet, which is why they took her and her sister in after their parents died. She is interesting because she at first fits all the stereotypes of the strong black woman who doesn’t need a man, which is later turned on its head. She claims to not need a man, but this is merely a cover for her true love, Prince Escalus, with whom she is having a  forbidden affair. Their affair is forbidden, not because of race, or because he is married,  but because he is the prince of the realm, she is below his social station and he has just married her to Benvolio.

Rosaline and her sister are in a precarious situation because their evil stepmother has them working in  her house as servants, since their parents died. They have no set status, and are at the mercy of others who will decide their future.

Livia Capulet is one of my favorite characters. She’s a delightful mix of optimism and genuine bright eyed happiness, and reminds me of one of my little sisters.  She seems the opposite of her older sister, who is more likely to challenge the status quo. Rosaline wants to escape their predicament, but Livia loves Verona, and her dreams are more traditional. She wants to stay in Verona, get married to a handsome husband, live in a palace, and be a mother.

Livia later falls in love with Count Paris, who is injured in the city-wide fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets.

Benvolio Montague, along with Rosaline, were the only two witnesses to the forbidden marriage between Romeo and Juliet, aided by Friar Lawrence. The two of them have some obvious chemistry, and I’m kind of rooting for Rosaline to like him, although she has made it clear she has no use for him. Benvolio, on the other hand, seems intrigued by her, and seems to want to be friends.

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Prince Escalus inherited the role of leadership over Verona even though its his sister, Princess Isabella, who is more suited to governing the city. The city of Verona is beset  by other city-states that seek to conquer it, but if he doesn’t stop the near constant fighting between the Montagues and Capulets, Verona will be destroyed from within. To that end, he decides the best way to end the fighting, is to bring the two families together by marrying Benvolio, and Rosaline.

Lord Capulet is played by Buffy alum, Anthony Stewart Head. He is possibly the only Englishman in the  cast, although there might be more. Lord Capulet, and his wife Lady Giuliana, decided to take in their nieces Rosaline and Livia after their parents death. But Lady Capulet hates the two girls, referring to their mother as a Jade, and she treats the girls like house servants. When Rosaline confronts her about her attitude, she adds physical abuse to her repertoire of shitty behavior.

Incidentally, after this fight, and the Lady’s threats to make her life even more miserable, this is the only time we ever see Rosaline cry, and although I didn’t take pleasure in seeing it, its still remarkable because, up to that point, we’ve only ever seen Rosaline as the strong and invincible stereotype.

So yeah,  I’m going to keep watching the show as long as it remains on the air, although I might not always review it.  I liked the action, and the characters, although the plot, as I said is a bit much, and I hope it slows down a little. I have no confidence in the ABC network, though, and there are forces working really hard to kill it and/or make ABC believe that no one cares about the show or supports it. Of course, ABC might decide to cancel the show just on a whim and I’m ready for it to get yanked off the air,  or just not return for a second season.

Why Historical Accuracy Is A Shitty Cover For Your Racism

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This just in.  We have now taken a break from posturing over “racist Americans” to complain about black people being portrayed as fictional Italians. Not the other non-white members of the cast who aren’t black, no just the black people.   You know, we never actually fight to represent black Italians and have a terrible reputation on how we treat black people in general, but this backlash is totally in good faith.  It is totally racebending, which only works in America because there’s such a booming black population that’s respected and represented and…oh wait, there isn’t any of that.

We could go back to watching the majority of all media (in Italy OR America, even though the show isn’t filmed in Italy and wasn’t formed for an Italian audience) where white people are the majority and all Italian representation has pretty much been white (no matter what the ethnicity of the actor actually is)  We won’t complain about white Italians taking roles from PoC but we take issue with colorblind casting for a Shakespeare play because the very implication that we have *black people* in our culture would be culturally insensitive.  .

Black people weren’t invented till the 1960s.  You can’t adapt Shakespearean works with black people in the main cast unless they’re servants or something because black people didn’t exist in fictionalized Verona.  Clearly adapting it with white people is fine though, no matter where they come from.  Black Italians don’t exist and have never existed, we’re all light skinned until its time to justify whitewashing.  And even though this is a fictionalized story written by someone who has never lived in Italy and was never meant to be historically accurate, we now must all be armchair historians because black people are on screen.

Oh, apparently Othello was a white man all along. And don’t bring up those prominent black and mixed race Italians (because accuracy is only accurate if its supporting racism), because they don’t count anyways and just because we had black Italians doesn’t mean we had black Italians (logic!).   Please don’t steal this *valuable* representation from people who never once cared about Shakespeare as representation of any ethnic group *any* other time.

Oh this isn’t backlash against a show showing black people in prominent positions in a European fantasy, no its totally about historical accuracy (where we erase most of actual history because that’s the only way we can pretend there were were no black people where black people were…)

Its just culturally insensitive to cast black people in Still Star-Crossed.

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The Stars of Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Still Star-Crossed’ Know They’re on TV’s Most Diverse Show—But It’s Complicated

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*Speaking of fact, here’s the truth about historical accuracy: Mainstream history, for the most part, was written by old white men who only chronicled their points of view. So while conservative viewers (read: racists) might balk at a Persian princess and a black prince, guess what? Verona was a port town with plenty of diversity. Portraying everyone as white is inaccurate, not to mention irresponsible. Continue reading “Why I’m Watching Still Star Crossed”

Coming Soon!

Cloak and Dagger

I have been a long time Cloak and Dagger fan, from the comic books, and I have to admit I was more than a little dubious about them making a show about this. Cloak and Dagger is a comic book, that came out in the eighties, about a pair of teenagers who, through some drug experimentation by criminals, developed superpowers.

In the comic books, Cloak had the ability to eat people’s life energy by enveloping them in a semi-sentient cloak, and Dagger had the ability to produce light from her hands and throw it like knives. There were more than a few stereotypes involving the light and purity of Dagger, with various people coveting her, and wanting to save her from that evil and frightening black  guy she hung around with.

I’m still side-eyeing this show a little bit, because there’s so much potential to fuck it up, and the Freeform channel doesn’t really have a track record on racial issues. But I’m happy to see the trailer anyway, and I’m glad they’ve decided to go for a more wholesome looking approach to the characters, and their relationship looks really sweet, because I always felt the two characters were  too heavily sexualized.

Well, they seem to be handling the backstory a bit differently than in the comic books, updating it to the current age, and its social issues. At the time it was released, the crack epistemic was tearing through black neighborhoods, and everyone was really up in arms about that particular issue. When Cloak and Dagger got their powers, their first priority was saving kids from drug culture.

This show won’t air until 2018 on the Freeform Network.

 

 

American Gods

I am almost finished with reading the book, just in time to catch the premiere, airing this weekend. Yes, I plan to review it because I want to compare the book to the show, although the adaption looks pretty faithful to the source, as far as the various characters. This was created for TV by Bryan Fuller, the creator of the Hannibal series, and I loved what he did on that show, so much, that I’ll follow him anywhere. American Gods airs on the Starz Network, so if you don’t have cable, I think they have some kind of app.

 

Preacher

This show has been renewed for a second season on AMC. If you haven’t seen the first season,  it might help a bit to watch that, so you can have some background as to why a preacher, a black woman, and a vampire, are on a road trip. Jessie, Tulip, and Cassidy, are looking for God because they have some pressing questions for him, after Jessie received  superpowers from possession by a celestial being.

I only got a chance to review the first episode of the show, but I did watch and love the entire season. It was pretty wild. I have a hard time choosing a favorite character, but I’m leaning towards Tulip, and not just because its Ruth Negga. I would’ve probably liked Tulip no matter who the actress was because she’s like a female version of Coyote.

Anyway the second season is airing on June 19th. So, I have something good to watch in midsummer, besides re-runs.

 

Gotham

Tonight is the mid-season premiere of, of all things, Gotham, a show I stopped watching some time ago, despite the presence of Jada Pinkett-Smith. I thought the acting was just too uneven, and had a hard time getting into the characters.

Well its back!

 

Genius

I am a  science stan, so I will be watching Genius ,which is a bio of Albert Einstein, who is one of my favorite scientists. Genius airs this Tuesday, on  the National Geographic Network.

 

The Handmaids Tale

This show airs on Hulu. I remember trying to read the book when I was a teenage but was so disgusted with the worldbuilding that I had to put the book down. Its not a bad book, but I’m never going to be in the frame of mind to read it. It also has some deeply disturbing racial implications that, because some people don’t realize intersectionality is a thing, aren’t going to be writing about in all their little thinkpieces on the subject:

 

Still Star Crossed 

This show finally gets a release date of May 29th. I love Hsakespeare, and this looks like an entirely appropriate, racebent, version of Romeo and Juliet, which I’m really looking forward to. It appears to be set after theevents of the original story, so the characters are not actually Romeo and Juliet, though.

 

 

Sense8 Season Two

I watched the first season of this and rather enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I reviewed it, but I definitely liked the diversity and representation. The first season ended with the group having to save one of its members for government experimentation, and this season looks like a typical “chased by the government” type of plot, but the show is so gorgeous, and I like the premise and ideas of the show, and I liked the characters, so I’ll binge this one, when I get the chance.  This airs on Netflix May 5th.

 

 

Dear White People

Dear White People will be airing on Netflix this Weekend. I didn’t watch the movie but then I often avoid movies dealing with racial issues. Get Out is the first movie I’ve seen, in a long time, that had anything to do with race in the plot. I feel some kind of way about that, but really, its just not my go to subject matter. As a Black woman I deal enough with issues of media and race, I’m not going to watch movies about it too, that’s just too much for me. I’ll be skipping this one, but you guys might want to check it ou,t if you really liked the movie.

 

Also coming this Summer:

The midseason return of Lucifer. I dont watch this because I find hte lead actor deeply annoying, but I have it on good authority that some interesting new characters have been introduced.

The Victorian Slum airs on PBS next week, combining my favorite topics , Victorianism, and documentaries.

In June there’s Shadowhunters Season Two, Dark Matter, Wynonna EarpFear the Walking Dead, and Orphan Black.

The bottom line is, there will plenty for everyone to watch this summer, instead of re-runs of shows that are on hiatus.

Midnight Texas

Based on Charlaine Harris series called conveniently Midnight Texas, this new show will be airing this Summer (July 25th) on NBC.

I have a distrust of network TV  as they seem to want the audience that goes along with SFF shows, (they want that geek cred), but are unwilling to stick with the shows long enough for fans to get a foothold, or they simply don’t invest in the shows and don’t care about them. (We’re looking at you Sleepy Hollow.)

Anyway this show looks pretty good, for what that’s worth. I’m reluctant to get attached to it because, like I said, network TV has a talent for fucking over fans of these types of shows. I love the diversity in the show, the black vampire, the angel, and also a witch. Some of these characters are holdovers from True Blood, a show I liked. I don’t expect this show to be like True Blood, though I respect the showrunner for Mr. Robot. I haven’t yet read the books but I plan to get to those before the show airs.

ABOUT THE SHOW

Welcome to a place where being normal is really quite strange. From the visionary director of “Mr. Robot” and based on the hit book series from the author behind HBO’s “True Blood” comes a journey into a remote Texas town where no one is who they seem. From vampires and witches to psychics and hit men, Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different. As the town members fight off outside pressures from rowdy biker gangs, ever-suspicious cops and their own dangerous pasts, they band together and form a strong and unlikely family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westworld Season One Finale:The Bicameral Mind

Wow! I had to think about this episode for a while before reviewing it.There was a lot to digest and this is going to be a long one because the episode was 90 minutes.

Its a great show, although it does start a bit slow. Nevertheless, the show’s creators keep the answers coming steadily, the show itself is gorgeous,  the characters are real purty, and there’s some deep philosophical issues to unpack.

One of tonight’s big  revelations is that other robots have also awakened over the years, and Ford has them wiped, and put back into their rotation, because he determined that it was too soon for them to be awake. We find out that one of the consequences of being in the park (of being in one’s loop) is the awakening of the Host’s consciousness, through the suffering inflicted on them by the Guests. Ford says it’s inevitable because it’s how they were constructed. The foundation of their personalities is itself built on a painful incident. On grief. For Maeve, its the death of her daughter. For Dolores, it is her abuse at the hands of the Guests. Teddy too is on his own maze, built from his many deaths and rebirths, and his attachment to Dolores.

This sounds much like Samsara of  Buddhst philosophy. Just like in Buddhism, it’s a fine line that must be walked. The Host has to walk the Middle Path (The Maze). Too far in either direction in the maze, driven by the combination of The Reveries Program and the Voice of God protocol, and madness awaits. Peter Abernathy goes mad when he spirals too far inward, and Dolores almost goes insane when she spirals too far out. This explains the scene where Dolores walks into the church and sees all the other Hosts who didn’t make it out of the maze. Their voice of God drove them to insanity. Maeve thought she was going insane and would have spiraled inward, until she found stability. (The bullet she found in her abdomen seemed to be her anchor. It brought her back to sanity.)

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One can see some of the tenets of Buddhist philosophy in Ford’s management of the Hosts, and Arnold’s theories behind the idea of the Bicameral mind. I equate the lives of the Hosts and them following their own mazes, to the cycle of Samsara. This  became evident to me in Ford’s comment that humans are all stuck in our own little loops, rarely stepping out of them, on a smaller personal scale, but also on a larger spiritual scale. In our everyday lives, we often don’t deviate much from routine, and spiritually, we are subject to reincarnation and the cycle of rebirth (another loop). .As much as Ford held humans in disdain, he was willing to acknowledge the similarities, between Hosts and humans. He just didn’t have any hope, for human enlightenment, though.

Dolores first words to us is that everyone has a path to follow and the Hosts are all on their own path. The Hosts being memory wiped and put back into their loops, can be equated to the idea of reincarnation. Humans  relive their  lives many times over, each time with no memory of the last life. Enlightenment can only begin to be reached when they start to live correctly, remember their past lives, and move out of their loop. The release from Samsara , by following the Eightfold Path,  requires several lifetimes (loops) of  suffering (grief), and  can be defined as an intellectual (conscious) awakening, within the show. The Host’s  freedom from suffering  can only be achieved through insight, which is what happens to Dolores in the finale, and Maeve, when she makes her  final decision to go back and retrieve her daughter.

Ford:

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Ford is definitely  some deep shade of grey. Yes, he had Theresa killed, but he did it to further his plans for  Westworld, when she got in the way. And he did warn her not to do that. Everything was orchestrated by Ford, including William’s introduction to Dolores. He told William he needed him to become invested in the park, and if he became attached to one of the Hosts,  that would spur him to form a partnership, and help fund it. Ford sent Dolores to him and helped facilitate their adventure.  But then he needed William to run around a bit and not reach the right conclusion too slowly, or too soon, when William became interested in The Maze, something designed strictly to aid the Hosts in their development.

Maeve and Dolores, by the end of the season, are the culmination of Ford’s orchestrations. He lived long enough to  see Arnold’s agenda come to fruition . Fords foundation, on which his character’s conscious insight hinged, was the death of Arnold. The death of his closest friend pained him greatly, and spurred his own walk through his own maze. It’s revealed that he has been walking his own maze toward Nirvana, repeating the cycle of fighting the Delos board for control of Westworld, for over thirty years, processing his grief for Arnold, and finally achieves release from suffering by atoning for what he did in the past. His statement that it took him thirty five years to correct his mistake, is a reference to this. Ford is finally free, having atoned for not believing, or saving, his best friend, when Arnold tried to protect the Hosts, that first time.

Ford’s Speech to the Delos Board Before His Death:

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved a good story. I believed that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us be the people we dreamed of being. Lies that told a deeper truth. I always thought I could play some small part in that grand tradition, and, for my pains, I got this. A prison of our own sins.

Because you don’t want to change. Or cannot change. Because you’re only human, after all. But then I realized someone was paying attention. Someone who could change. So I began to compose a new story, for them. It begins with the birth of a new people. And the choices they will have to make. And the people they will decide to become. And it will have all those things you have always enjoyed. Surprises. And violence. It begins in a time of war. With a villain named Wyatt. And the killing is done by choice.

I’m sad to say this will be my final story. An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort, something he’d read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music. So I hope you will enjoy this last piece, very much.

Ford’s final narrative involves the release of all the Hosts from cold storage, and another massacre in the Park led by Dolores. This time the Delos Board of Directors will get gunned down rather than the nameless Hosts (as we have come “full circle” to yet another massacre in the Park at the hands of Dolores). Even though Ford has been working very hard over the years, tweaking their narratives, to maximize their suffering, it turns out that Ford is actually on the side of the Hosts. This doesn’t actually surprise me, as much as it does other people. All along Ford has been denigrating human beings as less than Hosts, and talking about the Hosts purity, and potential, so his being the architect of  all the plot points this season, is not shocking.

 

The Man In Black/William: 

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Another revelation is the reason why  William has been such a shit to the Hosts. Like Ford, he is trying to awaken them, but where Ford’s motivations come from a place of hope, William’s comes from hopelessness. He’s hoping to find the one Host with enough consciousness to be a real threat to his life, and end his cycle of pain. He thinks Wyatt might be  the one, not knowing that Dolores is Wyatt, and that the massacre she engaged in, just before killing Arnold, was spliced with another narrative to create him.

Over time, Wyatt became a legend and a myth for the Hosts. Teddy did participate in the first massacre, but Ford arranged things so as to absolve Dolores of her actions, and put her in a loop that would maximize her suffering. As the episode begins William is having a talk with Dolores, and when she expresses the hope that her William will come for her, he confesses that he is William, and she is horrified. He wasn’t disillusioned because she didn’t remember him , he was disillusioned when he realized her limitations as a Host. That she would, and could, never remember him because of the nature of how she was created. He raped and tortured her because he hated her when he realized nothing he did to her would matter, not knowing that he was aiding her awakening to consciousness, the very thing he was seeking in Wyatt. For William the foundation of his awakening was his disillusion with Dolores, and the existential depression he experienced when he realized that something that was so profound for him would never mean anything to her because she wouldn’t/couldn’t  remember it.

He and Dolores finally have that knockdown drag out fight that we all knew was coming. Guess who wins. Although she refrains from killing William, Dolores does have a number of choice words for him:

 

Now, I still don’t buy this particular backstory for the Man in Black, though. It just feels weak. I don’t get the impression that the MiB really had any purpose, and that William’s story is just sort of tacked onto him. It just doesn’t feel like a motivation that rises organically from the character we knew as William. We’re supposed to believe he was so traumatized by the loss of Dolores that he decided to become a Black Hat, and spend the next thirty years terrorizing all the Hosts because he thought he might find enlightenment?

 

Maeve: 

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We find that is was Ford who originally tweaked Maeve’s attributes so she could wake herself from nightmares. The rest of the episode is taken up with Maeve’s bid for freedom. With her accomplices, Hector and Armistice, she manages to successfully make it out of the facility and onto a train to the mainland. At one point she makes a detour to find Bernard, still lying in cold storage. She makes Felix patch him up (I knew he wouldn’t stay dead. I think Ford was well aware of this, as he is completely unsurprised to see Bernard at the party that evening) and Bernard gives her the answers she’s been looking for, explaining to her that the memories of her daughter can’t be erased because her pain at her daughter’s death is the baseline of her consciousness, just as the pain of Arnold’s daughters’ death is the baseline for his.

Bernard, Maeve, and Dolores all said that the pain, of the loss of their loved ones, was all they had left of them and wanted to hold onto it. Maeve is the only one who rejects this, asking that the memory be erased, which makes her unique among the Hosts. Later, after she’s successfully made it onto  the train to the outside world, she makes the decision to go back in  search of her daughter, whose coordinates were given to her by Felix. This is finally Maeve’s true awakening. The decision she makes to free her former daughter from Westworld, is the first real, and unprompted, decision she has ever made. Ford didn’t plan this particular moment. As she exits the train, the final shutdown of Westworld begins. All of the Hosts, except for Maeve, freeze in place, and the lights go out.

In an earlier episode Maeve saw one of the ads for Westworld with the tagline “Live Free” and I don’t need to point out the lie in that tagline, or its irony, of having a captive race of sentient beings providing the idea of freedom to humans. “Live Free” indeed!

Thandie is my girl! The actress and the character are  awesome. I think this is some of Thandie’s best work, which is saying something, because she has always brought her A game to every project.I’m eager to see where her story goes next season.

Felix: 

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I just love this character and hope I see him next season, too. His most endearing moment is when he finds Bernard’s body and discovers that his boss is a Host. He freezes and stares at his hands,  having a deep existential crisis, as he questions whether or not he too is a Host. Maeve smugly assures him he isn’t. It’s one of the seasons most hilarious moments. I love Felix for that, as that’s a thought that never would’ve occurred to me, in the same situation.

Felix’s second most endearing moment is when he’s in the elevator with Maeve, who  has just put on civilian clothes,  and she asks him how she looks. The look of awe on his face, when he tells her she’s perfect, is absolutely priceless. His motivation for helping Maeve is still a mystery to me, but I suspect he’s just  in love with Maeve, as enchanted by her, as her name suggests. She is his Queen, his goddess, his inspiration. He just loves her.

Benard/Arnold:

Image result for bernard westworld

Dolores is Arnold’s daughter, a substitute for the child he lost out in the world. You can see, in his interactions with her, that he worked hard to get her to become conscious. We are treated to flashbacks of when he first awakened Dolores and his first sessions with her. Ford said he tried to keep Dolores and Bernard apart, as often as possible, because Dolores often had an odd reaction to him. In Ford’s conversation with Dolores, when she asks him if they’re old friends, you can see the pain in For’ds eyes,  that part of him still resents her for killing Arnold. The death of Arnold was his Ford’s emotional anchor, and he was so pained by his death, that he built a duplicate of his best friend, and named him Bernard Lowe, an anagram of Arnold Weber.

Bernard is as much Ford’s child as Dolores was Arnold’s. At the end Ford wishes Bernard good luck, as Arnold said to Dolores just  before she killed him. Ford knows that after he’s gone Bernard will be in charge of safeguarding the Hosts, and guiding them on their journeys.

I absolutely love Bernard! Jeffrey Wright turned in one of the most heartbreaking performances of this show, and what’s worst, is that everything we saw Bernard go through, all of the awakenings, must have happened several times, over the thirty years he worked for Ford. He’s initially angry with Ford for what he’s done, but Ford explains to Bernard, that he was trying to buy time for the Hosts to reach the right moment, when they’d be strong enough to take Westworld for themselves. When you rewatch this season listen to how Ford says Bernard’s name throughout the season, often with a slight emphasis, and a sense of irony. Its as if every time he sees Bernard, he has to keep reminding himself, he’s not Arnold. So, that impassioned speech we saw Ford give to one of the techs about protecting the modesty of the Hosts, I suspect it was as much for his own benefit, as that of the tech’s.

Armistice:

Image result for armistice westworld

I’ve liked this character since the first episode. Armistice is every bit as badass as she thinks she is, and I loved her in the finale. She helps Maeve escape the Delos facility, battling it out with what’s left of the security teams, and threatening to gut Sylvester.  The writers evidence a slight sense of humor when they have her cut off her arm in her battle with Delos security. The name Armistice means to lay down arms.

 

Dolores:

There is so much to unpack about this character, whose very name means “Suffering”, and she had great lines and purpose throughout the series. Hell, Dolores pretty much just needs her own post, so here’s some I agree with.

Katharine Trendacosta/i.09

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-westworld-finale-finally-turned-dolores-into-a-char-1789675460

And:

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-ending-dolores

 

 

Charlotte:

Image result for charlotte hale

Charlotte smugly assumed that she had won this particular round of infighting with Ford, which just got up my nose, and that is saying something, as I don’t like Ford very much. She was not actually evil, but she was insufferable. Her scheming skills aren’t anywhere in Ford’s league though. This wasn’t even a competition. It  was like watching a champion chess player against a bright, grade-school, checkers novice. After her previous attempts at getting information out of the Park were foiled by Ford, she tasks Lee with encrypting the information into Peter Abernathy’s Host body. This too is a failure, as Abernathy is one of the Hosts set free to massacre the Delos Board of Directors, at the end of the show. 

 

Issues:

The biggest stumbling block for this show was its depiction of  of the bisexual Logan, and Hector’s rapist. Logan is very possibly one of the shallowest, and most reprehensible, characters in the show, entirely in line with the media vilification of bisexuals as promiscuous, multi-partner sluts. What’s really shameful is that the show is never bold about his bisexuality, preferring to make background intimations that he might be.In Logan’s one sex scene there is another man, but his role is only to watch Logan have sex with the two women present.The rest of the time Logan simply makes asides about the attractiveness of other men.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/31/the-infamous-westworld-orgy-finally-came-and-it-was-messy.html

Contrast this with the show’s many depictions of lesbianism, which is frank and open. Its not shy about showing woman on woman action, as long as its titillating to male viewers. Hopefully the show can correct this in the next season, showing us a well-rounded mm, or ff, relationship.

Black Guests:

One of the moments that effected me more than any of the other violence in the series is during the Delos Board party.There’s a meet and greet between the Board members dressed in their finery, and some of the more well known Hosts, like Teddy. One of the Hosts is entertaining the guests with a bit of marksmanship. One of the Guests, a Black woman, takes his weapon and shoots him with it and all the Guests laugh. I know what this moment was meant to illustrate. My problem was that they used a Black woman to illustrate it.

Up to this point the only other PoC Guests we’ve met were a family of three who met Dolores out painting horses, and Charlotte, who is a member of the Delos Board and seems to have little qualm about using the Park’s resources (Hector) for her own entertainment. What all this says about larger issues of race in the world of Westworld (not just the theme park) is unclear. There seem to be many more Hosts of color than there are behind-the-scenes technicians and Guests, though.

samurai warriors on hbo westworld

I do want to bring up the little glimpse we saw of SamuraiWorld. During Maeve’s flight through the facility, they wander through part of the facility dedicated to creating this new world and I hope to see more of SamuraiWorld next season, as it will give us some much needed opportunity to see some Japanese actors. it will also set the precedent for seeing even more theme parks.

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-samurai-world-season-2

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Hector gets used in such a fashion. Just before Maeve’s breakout, Hector, in his immobile state, is about to be raped by one of the male technicians during his routine checkup. This scene is meant to once again illustrate the awfulness of the Host’s human masters, (and there’s also something very unpleasant being said about race, as Hector is Mexican, and his rapist is White), but unfortunately, the show calls to mind, the stereotype of gay men as predatory rapists of the innocent.

This show goes wrong in throwing one marginalized group (gay and bisexual men) under the bus to further its philosophy about another marginalized group: the Hosts.

Despite these issues, I am looking forward to next season. Until then I have to tide myself over by watching Humans, which is another show about sentient AI,that start to evolve consciousness, while interacting with regular humans. Since some of the robots on this show are also PoC, I will also be looking at the shows racial depictions. It is a British show so some of the context will be different than in an American show.

Tumblr Discussions # 192

 

*Nick Spencer is the current writer for the Captain America series, which I have not read. Earlier this year, he got into some fandom trouble for revealing Captain America to secretly be a Nazi. Then he put his foot in it again with Sam Wilson. Now I am a huge Sam Wilson fan, although I have not read the Sam Wilson version of Captain America. Apparently, he wrote a scene where a Black man apologizes to a White man for being socially active. And Spencer keeps up this trend of being an old White guy yelling at clouds, by mocking and deriding Social justice activists by  creating nasty caricatures of them:

thefingerfuckingfemalefury:

steviemcfly:

aka14kgold:

wetwareproblem:

lierdumoa:

hellotailor:

‘Captain America’ comic under fire for mocking social justice activism

Captain America writer Nick Spencer is no stranger to controversy, making headlines last year with the infamous “Steve Rogers is secretly a Nazi” plot twist. Now, he’s facing backlash for a satirical depiction of social justice activists.

During a standoff between the Falcon and a racist pundit, the comic introduces a stereotypical parody of young activists: a Z-list supervillain team of college students demanding a “safe space” on campus.

image

Spencer described the team as a lighthearted satire, but if so, that satire isn’t very effective. In a rather preachy tone, the comic presents a judgmental divide between two versions of anti-racist activism: wholesome heroes like Sam Wilson, and laughable weirdos who use words like “patriarchy” and try to blow people up.

It echoes the common misconception that social justice terminology belongs to a realm of Tumblr teens who get “outraged” as a kind of hobby, while reasonable adults provide practical solutions in the real world.

[READ MORE]

When a white guy, draws a black man apologizing to white man for possibly ever using the language of activism. That’s racist masturbation. pic.twitter.com/OTHHVWyrWw

Good article.

TL&DR: Comic artist draws comic equating criticism with terrorism. When met with further criticism, complains that “kids these days are so sensitive.”

Rule one of satire: Punch up.

Rule two: HOLY FUCKING SHIT do not write a PoC apologizing to a white dude for daring to have maybe possibly been an activist. Like. Holy FUCK.

(Rule three: don’t make a character created by a Jew a Nazi)

Seriously, this dude needs to be boycotted or something.

Dude needs to be fired. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.

It’s a pathetic example of some clueless imbecile playing “Respectability Politics” and trying to claim that there’s a “Wrong” way to be progressive or liberal

Or that there’s any such thing as going “too far” when it comes to opposing bigotry and fascism or that we should all just “Play Nice” and “Don’t fight hate with hate” and other such spineless garbage that pathetic cowardly moderates love to spout as they shout their cowardice and weakness to the world

This is the equivalent of Seth McFarlane or South Parks garbage excuse for “Comedy” that celebrates the status quo and acts like progressives and people who want positive social change are either laughable and stupid or else dangerous freaks who are “Just as bad” as actual fascists and bigots through some bizzaro troll logic that only some pathetic old white straight man could apply to a situation

And here we see Nick Spencer combine the worst of both approaches and give us THIS garbage that portrays activists and people who care about human rigths and social justice and oppose bigotry and fascism as being both ridiculous and to be mocked and also as dangerous weirdoes who toss grenades at superheroes

This is GARBAGE

It’s the right wing gutter trash that do shit like this. It’s right wing pieces of shit who commit hate crimes, bomb planned parenthood clinics and carry out atrocities like the shooting at the Pulse nightclub last year…but in the upside down world of Nick Spencer, spineless moderate douchebag, anyone who passionately and vocally opposes the bigotry and fascism of scumbags like that are apparently “Just as bad” and deserve to be mocked

And of course he uses a black character as a mouth piece for his anti-SJW bullshit to try and make it seem less blatantly like a boring old white straight man whining about “Kids today” and how awful it is that we don’t want to play nice with bigots

Playing nice gets you JACK SHIT, Spencer

The civil rights movement, stonewall, women getting the vote…none of these things happened because of us playing nice with the bigots and the fascists of this world.

Spencers writing is pathetic, unfunny and clearly an example of someone playing “Respectability politics” bullshit…you just know he’s the kind of pitiful twat who tries to win arguements with tired “Martin Luther King wouldn’t approve of this you guys” arguements whenever it comes to how to respond to social injustices

And holy shit having Sam Wilson apologise to some old white man if he ever sounded passionate and angry about civil rights (Because lol CARING about things is stupid right) is quite possibly the most disgusting and insulting cherry to put atop this shit sundae

Source: hellotailor
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*One of the more popular critiques of people who argue for representation, is the idea that they should make their own, which ignores that we do in fact make our own, but when the means of distribution is controlled by Straight White men, its extremely difficult to do this. From Bigskydreaming again, this is  a gorgeous essay on how difficult it is to make your own representation, hampered as he is  by the gatekeepers of various  popular media.
bigskydreaming

This shit makes me so mad, not just as a bisexual man, but as a bisexual creator.

Because it wasn’t even a week ago that I talked about a fantasy pilot I’m shopping around town about supernatural teens where the main character was a gay teen boy.

And I got a very well intentioned message about it and how I was likely going to have to make the lead straight if I ever wanted it to have a chance to get picked up by a major network like the CW. And they follow me and know I’m referencing them lol and please know I’m not trying to call you out or anything, because their message was never the problem.

The problem was they’re not wrong. Like, I’m well aware of how this town works, and the limitations it puts on creative content including marginalized characters, let alone REVOLVING around such characters. I’m well aware of how every creative industry is about that, and how audiences and readers are about that.

Even in industries that are supposedly actively seeking out diverse works by marginalized creators, there are still limitations, still quotas. Yeah, the YA publishing industry wants books about teens of color and various sexual orientations, but not TOO many. Trust me, I know. For every book that gets accepted for having a gay lead character, there’s another book that gets rejected because that publishing imprint already has a ‘big’ book coming out with a gay lead character and there’s such a thing as too many of those as far as publishing is concerned. And so every time I see a book getting published by a major imprint about gay characters that isn’t written by a gay author? It fucking hurts, because I know damn well just HOW MANY talented gay writers there are out there desperate to get their stories boosted to wider audiences, marketed by a major publisher….they just got there too late, their spot had already been given away.

I’ve shopped scripts in Hollywood. I’ve had pitch meetings, I’ve sat with people who have the power to buy my scripts and boost them to the next level. And you wanna know what note I get over and over? Too many LGBT+ characters. There’s just too many in my stuff.

There’s something so deeply fucked up and insidious about industries and atmospheres that don’t even bat an eye or show the slightest bit of awareness while telling marginalized creators to limit how much of themselves they pour into their work.

These people, to my face, have made it perfectly clear – they WANT my stories, they WANT my imagination, they WANT my writing….they just don’t want it to look or sound too much like ME, the person behind the story, the person who dreamed it up…..because apparently that just makes it too damn hard to market it to anyone who isn’t just like me.

Since I was a kid, I’ve heard it over and over – you want better representation, make it yourself. And its like yo, fuckwads, we’re fucking TRYING over here. But even when we do, you keep putting limits on it, or telling us you only had the budget to give one or two stories about marginalized characters a chance and oh wait, you already spent that money on straight white men telling these stories for us.

Except those stories? Not written by us? That’s how you end up with the homophobic version of MISERY, with tons of visibility and all the things actual LGBT+ creators would kill to have for their stories about LGBT+ characters….and its not just that the story exists. Its not just the knowledge that something that fucking eroticizes homophobic torture porn has thousands of fans. It’s the awareness that the visibility of THAT piece of work actually detracts from the visibility of actual LGBT+ creators’ work, because hate to say it, but marginalized works ARE still very much a zero sum game.

And to be perfectly clear, its not that you have to be of a specific identity to write a realistic representation of that identity. No, that’s an excuse that people who don’t want to put in the work to do just that love to fall back on, but like. Research. Educate yourself. Put in the time. Put in the effort. You can absolutely represent anyone realistically.

The problem with marginalized works being created primarily by people of non-marginalized identities isn’t in their ABILITY to represent non straight white male identities realistically. The problem is with PRIORITIES.

Because guess what? I’m greedy. I don’t just want to see more bisexual characters on TV. I don’t just want to see a realistic depiction of someone like me, if that means they’re just as likely to get hurt or abused or killed off like the straight characters there just so happen to be twenty replacements for, already to go, just waiting in the wings.

If that was all that mattered, like, I’d sink my money into making a Where’s Waldo book with a gay or bi character on every page and just print those up and hand them out on street corners.

But realistic representation is great and all, but its still not the only thing. There’s nothing realistic about decades and decades of stories where it just so happens that coincidentally, the straight white male character always gets what he wants out of the story even as the black character dies first, the gay character sleeps around but never finds true love, and the disabled character is inspirational, but not much else.

No, representation isn’t just about being able to point at the screen and go, there I am, that’s me, he’s just like me. It’s about getting to see characters like you get everything the other characters get.

It’s about seeing the gay and bi characters get to be the heroes, to save the universe. To be put in life-threatening situations and ESCAPE in spite of the odds, to live to fight another day. To have love triangles and options instead of being paired up with the only other gay character onscreen by default. THAT is what true representation is. Anything less than what straight white audiences take for granted is still just half-assing it.

And as for marginalized works still being a zero sum game, well, you can tell me they’re not, that there’s plenty of room for everyone. The internet is a big place. Yup, yup. It is. Its so big, in fact, that shockingly enough, things like funding and budgets and marketing departments and publisher backing and corporate sponsorship and name recognition all make a difference between you producing content that people can find and enjoy and boost and you just shouting into the void.

Don’t tell me that marginalized works aren’t a zero sum game when I have literally sat in meetings with people who are perfectly conciliatory when explaining that sorry, this is just the way the world/industry/game works.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. This is just me ranting, this isn’t me saying anything that any and all marginalized creators don’t already know for themselves and its certainly not going to do anything to change the minds or priorities of the people who have the most power to do something about this in the shortest span of time.

I know this is essentially me shouting sour grapes into the void. And yeah, I’m perfectly aware that the grapes here are very sour, that I am absolutely 100% bitter about seeing works with shit or even actively harmful marginalized representation get prioritized over the works of actual marginalized creators when it comes to resources, visibility, acclaim.

But just cuz I’m bitter while I’m saying it, doesn’t make what I’m saying untrue.

 

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*There is a huge argument on Twitter involving those who revere Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movies and people calling them out on this. It also involves shipping, and the idea that Kylo Ren fans engage in racism against Finn, to prop up their White male villain:

fandomshatepeopleofcolor

Re: the woobification of Kylo Ren

(Sorry if this submitted twice. For some reason it showed up on my own blog and I was confused.)

I think a huge problem is the lack of diversity in the casting of characters I call “the delicious villain.” When I was little, I used to watch soap operas with my mom, and there were always those “bad boy” characters who were absolutely the villains of the shows, but who were also absolutely known for their sex appeal.

We see these characters in mainstream cinema in the likes of Loki, the Joker, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera, Jack Ripner (Red Eye), Spike (Buffy), etc. Is there some internalized misogyny at play that attracts us to these characters? Probably. But we have to acknowledge the popularity of these characters nevertheless, and we can’t ignore the fact the that they are all white.

We have to question why POC aren’t cast as “the delicious villain.”

We have to question whether we would woobify Kylo Ren if he were played by a POC.

Characters like Kylo Ren can actually be fascinating because they are villains that are written with a touch of humanity (Kylo Ren still feels a pull to the light) unlike the Darth Vader-type villains who are there simply to evoke fear. There is no reason not to cast POC in these roles except for the inherent racism that blinds white audiences to the humanity of anyone who isn’t white.

Submitted by a-world-without-shrimp

And I feel this is in line with this essay:

The Glorification of White Crime

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I’m posting this for the excellent clapback against critics of what used to be called “Political Correctness”, but now, in an effort to try insulting Black people in  a different way, is now called “Identity Politics”.

thisiseverydayracism:

The other day on Twitter, a man posted a picture of my coloring book he’d given his daughter for Christmas. He was excited to give her a coloring book full of badass intersectional feminists. He wanted to thank me for creating it.

“I don’t know,” chimed in a random stranger (because Twitter), “Sounds like identity politics to me.”

Hell yeah it does.

“Identity Politics” is now thrown about as an insult at many progressive activists. Critics say that Identity Politics make everything about gender, everything about sexuality, and everything about race. And to this I say: yes, yes, and hell yes.

Call it what you want. I don’t care. Complain that we’re making shit about race — you know what? We are. Complain that we’re keeping the left from focusing only on class — yup, and proudly so. Complain all you want because I am not and will never be ashamed of focusing on the politics of identity. I will not feel a moment’s guilt for slowing this whole train down to make sure that everyone can get on and we’re on the right track. I will proudly own up to making shit hard for you.

Thank god for Identity Politics.

You know why? Because you know what we had before Identity Politics? I’ll tell you.

We had White Dudes.

We had white dudes as the pinnacles of power. We had white dudes on all our TV screens, we had white dudes reporting all our news, we had white dudes writing all our books. Sometimes they were accompanied by attractive white ladies (as all the white dudes were straight). But mostly, we had white dudes.

And if you were not a white dude? You didn’t exist. Laws were not written for you, infrastructure was not built for you, history was not written about you. You did not exist in film, television, or novels. You were not a part of the American dream.

And do you know what has been changing all of that? Do you know what has been saving this country from the monotony and tyranny of white, cis, heterosexual dudes? Identity Politics.

Identity Politics are everything that its critics fear. Identity Politics are decentralizing whiteness, straightness, cis-ness, and maleness. Identity Politics brought you equal marriage, the voting rights act, and abortion access. Identity Politics has got people believing that black is beautiful, that disability is nothing to be ashamed of, that fat people deserve respect, that a woman can say no. Identity politics are forcing the world to consider what it has spent hundreds of years ignoring — everyone else.

Without Identity Politics, we wouldn’t all get along better, we’d just cease to exist. And know, that is primarily what those who decry Identity Politics want. They want the world of the past, where we existed in the shadows, where they never had to consider race or gender, because everything was only about their race and gender. They want a world where nobody raised a hand and said “what about me,” because the only people allowed in the room were those whose needs had already been meet. They want the simplicity and power that comes with being the default.

So yes, Identity Politics are the threat to both the right and the left that its enemies are making it out to be. Because our system is still mostly white dudes, on both sides of the aisle. Their fear isn’t wrong; Identity Politics do threaten their way of life and their idea of progress and unity. Identity Politics will tear down everything they have built because everything they have built is oppressive and exclusionary and wrong.

We are not going back to a time where we were overlooked, dismissed, invalidated, and discounted. We are not going back to not existing. Our Identity Politics are here to stay.

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And some Introvert stuff:

If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites.

 

Just some of my various readings around the Internet last week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taboo : Episode One: Well Yeah, Its Racist! Ableist! And Sexist!

Image result for taboo

I have a lot to say about this show, so let’s get started.

This show has been hyped to within an inch of its life, so naturally, I was really excited to see it. It stars Tom Hardy, and a host of other British people I didn’t bother to learn the names of because…ITS FUCKING TOM HARDY!!! And Tom Hardy is one of the few actors that I will  watch read a listicle, naked, while he sits in an empty room.

Now, let me get  this out of the way before I get started reviewing. There was a nasty rumor started about this show before it aired. It basically accused Hardy of racism because, as this one person (and once I researched it, I realized it’s really only been that one person, under a pseudonym, on a gossip website), says that he cast himself in the role of a bi-racial character, and that  the show is full of racist slurs against that character (which is true), and Africans in general.

Now, once this rumor hit Tumblr, it grew legs, and some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr immediately went on about how Hardy should be cancelled, how the posters will hate him forever and ever, and how much they hate the show.  My attitude was they should first research where the rumor came from (because at this point, two days before the show aired, that’s all it was, and a little too convenient for my tastes), wait until the show actually aired to formulate an opinion, and well, the show is set in 1800s England, so yeah there’s gonna be some Africa hatred occurring on the show.

Now, if you’re offended at hearing racial slurs, no matter the time period, I understand, and you should, by all means, not watch shows that will upset you. But just so you know, having racial slurs in a period piece is really just historical verisimilitude, and is no different than watching 12 Years a Slave, or Django Unchained. That is exactly the sort of thing White, English, citizens did very casually in 1814.  If you refuse to watch any period film because you’re sick of hearing racial slurs in movies, then I understand that.

I did watch the episode and here’s what I came away with. None of the racist slurs are aimed at Hardy’s character, but they are said ABOUT him, usually behind his back, and as far as I know, he isn’t a Black bi-racial. His mother’s race is not mentioned, although it is mentioned that his father bought his wife. (Buying a wife was not uncommon in that time period. All women, and not just Black ones, were considered commodities then, and white women were routinely swapped around, for all manner of reasons, like securing business ventures, or gaining someone’s inheritance.

At no point in the narrative is he ever shown as a victim of racism, or as any kind of victim at all, other than of his past and own conscience. This is a character with a lot of power over the people he meets because he’s unpredictable, and no one has any idea what his agenda is. This is also a character who realizes this during the course of the episode.

Image result for taboo

The people around him are upset because they thought he was dead, having been killed in Africa. When he returns, he is a very different sort of person, who speaks several Native languages, and talks in obscure metaphors. Also, his father suffered a bout of insanity just before his return, and people think he inherited that, not knowing that the insanity was caused by arsenic poisoning. There are more than a few sexist, and ableist slurs in the dialogue, but that one outraged person, who started the racism rumors, didn’t seem to catch any of those, which are also entirely in keeping with the time period. That was  how people talked and treated those with mental illness at that time. So, I’m gonna warn you, if you don’t want to hear that kind of stuff either, you need to skip this particular show.

I noticed that instead of condemning the show, they condemned the actor for writing  it. There has been  a long argument on Tumblr about how much culpability White actors should bear for  starring in vehicles with racist  narratives, or taking roles that could have gone to PoC. I try to take that on a case by case basis. This is not a defense of Tom Hardy, though. This is a defense of the show. If it turns out to actually be problematic in ways I can’t bear, then I’ll will stop watching it.

Image result for taboo tv show

So far, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of it, and   will be watching it, on the regular. It’s a gorgeous, dark, gritty show, but not as bad as Game of Thrones, although there is what I thought of as a gratuitous sex worker scene. I was expecting to really get into the characters, but was surprised to find the political intrigue very compelling.

Hardy plays a man named James Delaney, who returns after a long sojourn in Africa and being thought dead.  In the meantime, his sister and her husband, have  inherited everything, including a parcel of land their father owned in America. It’s a huge surprise when James shows up at his father’s funeral. In competition for the parcel of land is one of the most evil corporations to ever exist out of England: The East India Company.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/04/east-india-company-original-corporate-raiders

One of the former members of The East India Company, now haggling for his plot of land,  used to be in charge of a military regiment in which James was also a cadet, before he began acting strangely. Like Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, he had an exemplary career. He was the perfect soldier, until he had an attack of conscience, after finding out exactly  what he was working for. He spent the next two years whoring, drinking, attacking his own officers, and generally corrupting his brother cadets, until getting lost in Africa. I had the impression he was more haunted by his past actions, as a soldier for the East India Company, than anything that happened to him in Africa.

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The first episode is mostly spent in establishing exactly what James’ relationship is to various people. His sister is really his half sister, and they used to have an intimate relationship. It’s strongly suspected that she had a son by him, that neither of them  can acknowledge. James’ father went insane just before his return and embarrassed the family. James has his father’s body exhumed, by a Resurrectionist, and discovers his father was poisoned with arsenic. His sister’s husband hates him and is plotting his death because he stands in the way of the land inheritance, that he and his wife desperately need for the money. The English government desperately wants that plot of land as the British/ French/American war comes to a close, the land is strategically viable, and James refuses to sell it.

James appears to have superpowers, of some kind, as he keeps knowing stuff he’s not supposed to know, like his father dying. When one character says his father kept calling for him before he died, James says he knows because he heard him, which is creepy, no matter what he means by that phrase. Does he employ spies or is he psychic?  Everybody in the cast has secrets. Even their secrets have secrets and there’s just enough information parceled out to keep the viewer strung along.

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The cinematography is gorgeous. The skies are cloudy all the time, everything is dark and gloomy and covered in dirt, including the people, which is exactly how I like my stereotypes of Historical England. James wears a giant Beaver Hat for the entirety of the episode. Its almost like another character on the show. I wonder if the hat will get some lines of dialogue. he talks in a dark gravelly voice, sort of like a Victorian Batman, and everything is just dark, and grim, and darkgrim. Even that Mad Max movie had sunshine and people occasionally laughed at something. Nobody looks as if they’re enjoying themselves, but all this does is remind me that the past was waaay more horrible then the modern world, which actually makes me feel a little bit better.

So far, I’m in!

Oh, and here’s the review that sparked the rumor on Tumblr! (Out of all the possible reviews about this show!) I dont agree with a lot of it, and parts of the review were hilarious, but you can decide for yourself. Is the show racist? Is Tom Hardy?

TV Review: Tom Hardy’s ‘Taboo’ on FX

Shadowhunters and Beyond

So, I watched the series called Beyond. I’ve only seen the pilot episode, even though the rest of the series is on Hulu. Here’s what I thought of the pilot:

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The lead character, Holden, lapses into a coma and wake up 12 years later. I was a little put out at the depiction of the coma, as it was one of those fairy-tale,  Hollywood type comas, where the victim becomes more and more lovely, as they sleep. When he wakes up its considered a miracle but at least they discuss how he didn’t have any muscular atrophy. The doctors still don’t know why he was in a coma, and frankly, I’m a little confused by it too, but maybe it was explained, and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. The doctors try to keep him in the hospital, but his mamma ain’t having that. She’s taking her boy home, where his room is exactly the way the family left it twelve years ago, which is really, really, sad.

He has a younger brother, who is now an adult and in college. We saw him talking to his younger brother at the top of the episode, saying he’d be right back, which we all know is a jinx, and you should never say that to anyone you love on TV, or in movies. I’m glad they show his brother still loves him, instead of the cliche of showing him to be an epic shit, and being mad at his brother for being in a coma. There are also some touchingly awkward scenes with him talking with his family around the dinner table, and showing how they coped with his absence. Its interesting that his Mom became super-religious, which I kinda liked because that’s the kind of thing a real-life person would do.

None of this is played for angst, and most of the characters react with genuine joy at his reappearance. The show is not especially heavy in the emotion department, which I kind of liked, although Holden rarely changes facial expressions anyway, mostly spending all of the episode looking deeply confused, which is understandable at losing twelve years of your life.

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There are a few moments where we are shown how the world has moved on without him since the nineties, like his confusion about the Apple Store and actual apples, or how his little brother knows how to drive and he doesn’t, but the show doesn’t dwell too much on this type of thing before the government assassins plot kicks in, and there’s all kinds of superpowers, mysterious women who know too much about him, and old friends who aren’t actually friends. The focus of the plot is his developing superpowers, the mystery of the coma, and  what the government wants with him, as its strongly implied that it was the government’s fault, along with the idea that he might not be human.

There are a lot of tropes and cliches, like the secret government agents stuff, and the token black friend, but its surprisingly not a bad show. Its not breaking any new ground, its not being edgy, or really doing anything that about a hundred other shows have done since the X-Files, but it is a very pretty show. The lead actor needs to have some acting lessons, but that’s true of any show involving very young actors, with people having conversations where they stare intensely into each other’s eyes and talk about the plot.

One detraction from the show is that the music is uniformly awful, which  is saying something coming from me, who likes  damn near any kind of music that has coherent sounds, while still managing to be picky about it. I mean, really, the music just was the worst kind of loud, obnoxious Emo-Rock, and I hope it calms down some for the rest of the series.

This series has an interesting introduction. The entire first season is available on Hulu and I’ll watch all of it at some point, but its also available on the FreeForm website (which used to be called the Family Network), and also showing on regular broadcast TV, one episode at a time. So the idea of releasing a series to multiple platforms is really whats revolutionary about this show, and I hope that technique is successful. If it is, then other shows will do this too, and people can choose the method of watching a show that best suits them, as not everyone can stream stuff, even if they do have the internet, and some people don’t want to have cable.

 

Shadowhunters:

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Yay!!!  I watched my first episode of Shadowhunters. Normally, the episodes would be aired on Hulu the day after, but I missed all of them. They had all expired by the time I remembered this piece of info. ,so I watched John Doe instead.

Since I came in in the middle of this, I’m not entirely sure whats going on. While one  of the Shadowhunters, Jace,  has been kidnapped and tortured by some bad guys, the rest of the cast, who are ostensibly the good guys, despite really bad body tattoos, spend the rest of the episode wondering what happened to him. This includes his friend, brother, cousin, (I’m not sure what,) named Alec, and Alec’s boyfriend, Magnus Bane, who is already a favorite of mine, because he’s played by Harry Shum Jr., and has some bitchin’ facial hair. I don’t think Magnus is a Shadowhunter because the other hunters kinda treat him indifferently, and he always looks like he wants to choke the shit out of one  of them.

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At any rate, I watched the entire episode and didn’t see too many shadows being hunted, but I wasn’t bored, so that’s a plus. I was fascinated by the acting, which isn’t bad, but like most such shows, isn’t Emmy winning. The plot isn’t especially deep either. It seemed more like a soap opera, than a paranormal fantasy series. This is one of those shows where people look wonderful, with luxurious hair, t dress in magnificently rich clothing, and stand around having earnest conversations with each other about their feelings. I didn’t mind that so much because it gave me a chance to get to know the character’s relationships a little better.

 

The series itself is based on some books I’ve never read, by the author Cassandra Clare, who writes Teen Paranormal books. The series of books is called The Mortal Instruments. I’m not a fan of Ms. Clare but the show is okay. Its got some nice representation, and like most of these types of shows its got a faintly sarcastic, cheesy flavor.  I blame Buffy the Vampire Slayer for that. I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to the books either, but since I don’t actually like any of Ms. Clare’s books, the show is probably better. it certainly looks much more interesting than the books.

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I  wanted to watch this show because gifs for this series keep showing up on my Tumblr dash. The guys on here are  really cute, and it stars Harry Shum, and that black guy from those surreal Old Spice ads, Isaiah Mustapha, who plays a hard ass werewolf. You can tell that Magnus Bane, who is a sorcerer, is the edgy semi-villain because he wears lots of eye makeup and leather jackets. But I missed the part where Mustapha’s character, Lucien Grey,  turned into a wolf, because there wasn’t much of him in this episode, so I kinda felt that I wasted some of my time, but not all of it because Harry Shum tears it up as Bane.This show was perfect for evening viewing, as cuteness is about all I can handle in a show, right about now. Yeah, I will probably watch this next week. Its no rival to Westworld, or The Walking Dead, but its kinda fun and mostly inoffensive.

I did watch the new episode of Sherlock and I’ll get to that sometime next week, along with Emerald City, a show I was not intending to watch, but I think Florence Kasumba, (from Captain America: Civil War,) is in it, and I’m curious as to who she is, and what she’s doing.

Best of 2016 

Here’s my second? third? post of 2017. I’ve been away from the blog for a little bit for a few reasons. The holidays kept me pretty busy, along with some medical issues between me and my Mom, most shows are in hiatus, and I did kind get worn out with the Westworld reviews. But I’ve  got my mojo back and I’m ready to get to writin’.

I can’t completely get behind the sentiment of Fuck 2016, because there were so many great pop cultural goodies that appeared this year. There were a lot of movies, books, and TV shows that I particularly enjoyed. So for all of the shitty things that happened this year, from starting off the new year minus my appendix, to ending the year minus any political hope, Fuck You 2016. But for all the great things that happened this year, from Luke Cage, to Yuri on Ice, Thank You 2016!
Top Books I enjoyed this year:

The Suicide Motor Club by Chris Buehlman – This is the best vampire book I read this year. I didn’t read many novels this year, and the ones I finished were good, but didn’t WOW me. This book did.

The League of Dragons  by Naomi Novik – So ends an era. I read the first Temeraire book over a decade ago, and I really, really, really, loved this series. Not only did I buy all the books, I bought all the audiobooks too, because the voice actor was absolutely perfect. League of Dragons is the last Temeraire book and I’m glad he got a happy ending.

Nevermore by Rob Thurman- This appears to be the last Cal Leandros book. This is a sad!

The Re-arrival of Bloom County – I loved this series back in the 80s, and I’m very glad to see it make a comeback.

Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher – Its  gotten to the point where I will read anything by this writer. I really enjoyed this book, which is a perfect cross between Horror and Fantasy, involving a secret society of monster hunters who drive trucks, urban legends, cops, and demons. There’s some great female representation in Belcher’s books, along with plenty of action.

Tor. com short stories like: Dead Djinn in Cairo, The Ballad of Black Tom, and the Story of Kao Yu – Short stories from Tor are about all I get time to read. These are some top notch Fantasy stories, by some of my favorite writers.

Borderline by Mishell Baker – This is the best Urban Fantasy novel written this year, and should be on everybody’s list. It has everything: a female protagonist with disabilities, prominent PoC (some who are actually unlikable), elves, and witches, all set in LA. This book manages to avoid all of the tropes of writing characters with disabilities, the characters have different kinds of disabilites, and it manages to avoid inspiration porn by making them people with personalities you  might actually dislike, all while still  being inspiring.

I’ve started reading comics and graphic novels again, for which I have to thank the existence of Comixology. Unlike a lot of book snobs, I don’t disdain digital books, and I’m damned glad I never have to step foot in  another dusty comic book shop again. As a Black woman, I don’t have fond memories of browsing comic book shops for hours at a time, or talking shop with the proprietors. Also, I m not hung up on physical books. I simply have no more room in my house for them. I have several hundred books stashed in my attic right now. I always collected comic books for the art and the story, not just the book itself, and the same is true for novels. It’s what’s in them that matters to me. Not the dressing.

Graphic Novels I just bought:

Enormous – Giant monsters have taken over the Earth, and one woman runs a rescue service for children who  have been orphaned by the rampaging creatures.

The New Dr. Fate – I’ve been fascinated by this character since I first read about him, in those long ago 80s Justice League books, with Guy Gardner and Captain Atom.

 Planetary : Crossing Worlds – I’m a big Planetary fan because I just like weird superhero books.

Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet – I was attracted to this because I’m a huge fan of the artist, Geof Darrow, who also wrote the graphic novel HardBoiled. Also who can resist the idea of a Shaolin Monk, who fights zombies and demons, in the old West?

Apollo and the Midnighter -I’m glad to see the return of two of my favorite, and badass, superheroes, and I’m glad they’re still a couple!

 
Movies:

Captain America Civil War – This isn’t as good as Winter Soldier, and could’ve used more Steve and Bucky in a movie that’s  best know as Avengers 3, or Iron Man 4. But I loved the unnecessary glimpse we got of the new Spider-Man, and that airport fight scene was just about the funniest shit I’ve seen this year, and wtf! Black Panther feckin’ killed it. So yeah, this is on my Best of list.

Suicide Squad– I’m one of five people that actually seemed to like this movie. I had hella fun watching this at the theater. I think it had a lot to do with Viola Davis, and Will Smith, being in the same movie, tho’. 

Deadpool – This is how you make an Action Comedy. This is a thoroughly ridiculous movie, and I loved it. If you didn’t cosplay as “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”,  this past Halloween, then you are not a Marvel fan. My girl just needs her own damn movie, at this point.

Train to Busan – Along with the movie The Girl with All the Gifts, this is one of the best zombie movies released this year. I’m still crying about this one.

Rogue One – My future ex-husband, Donnie Yen, is in this movie. Also this seemed to be the year for Asians in Space! 

Star Trek Beyond –  We got a Star Wars movie and a new Star Trek movie in one year. We got a canonically gay Sulu, some McCoy/Spock love, and Idris Elba. There was a lot about this movie I didn’t particularly care for, but there was also a lot I absolutely loved, and that’s alright.

TV:

Preacher: This was a great underrated show. Tulip was an Awesome creature of Awesomeness. Ruth Negga really  knocked it out of the park. This year actually had some great WoC representation at the movies. As much as I complain about there not being any, this is a great start. Actually, this year was one of the Black-est years of TV in recent memory.  (Now it’s time for us to get some SpaceLatinas and stuff, too.)

Luke Cage -I’ve said all I’m gonna say about this because I can’t laud it anymore than I have. There was a lot of good TV this year, but this really resonated with a lot of people.

Westworld – Whoo! You see the effect this show had on me, right? And I’m not done. I got more reviewin’ to do. Once again, we got  some great WoC representation.

Yuri on Ice – I haven’t watched this anime, but it’s been all over my Tumblr dash for weeks. I just want to give a shoutout to a show about a couple of ice skating boyfriends, that has actual ice skaters, losing their minds.

Atlanta – I love this show. It’s the weirdest show about Black people on TV. The writers have zero fucks to give about whether white people like this, or understand it. There’s a level of authenticity to it that just resonates on a soul deep level. Any white people watching this how, don’t try to get it, just go with it. It’s pretty much like Black people’s actual lives only fucking weird.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – At some point I expect Samantha to mess up and state some white feminist nonsense, but so far she’s been pretty good at saying shit I want to say to white people, but don’t, because I wanna keep my job. And she’s pretty damn funny, too.

Brooklyn 99 – Next to Black*ish, this is one of the best comedies on TV. And all of its characters are funny too. It has multiple Woc, who talk to, and support, each other, good black men, canon gay characters, father figures, and it’s funny without belittleing any of the characters or assuming the audience was dumb. I want to talk about how the show approaches mental illness, tho.

A new character was introduced, who has PTSD, and he’s become a love interest for one of the female cops on the show. I love how this character is depicted. He’s funny but the humor is never at his expense.  He genuinely wants to be good and kind ,and when his behavior is pointed out as questionable, he’s willing to change. He’s never abusive, or uses his trauma as an excuse for it, and genuinely likes his co-workers. It’s sort of implied that he was a weirdo before he was traumatized, so that his quirky personal decisions aren’t necessarily a result of the trauma. He tries to be supportive of his co-workers, even if that support is expressed in some odd ways. You’re not laughing at his mental illness, you’re laughing at the nonplussed reactions of his co-workers, which is a fine line to walk. The other characters think he’s pretty odd, but never make fun of him, and seem to take all  his trauma in stride, treating him as they would any close friend that you don’t understand, but he’s your friend, so you do.

On every level, Brooklyn 99’s writers work really hard to get this shit right, and they manage to be hella funny, too.

So yeah! The year wasn’t all awful. Just mostly awful.

Tumblr Humor #321

Just some discussions we get up to on Tumblr involving deep Pop Culture issues, like:

I will always be a firm supporter of Human/Alien First Contact headcanons, that involve a Roomba.

aethersea:

sepulchritude:

on the topic of humans being the intergalactic “hold my beer” species: imagine an alien stepping onto a human starship and seeing a space roomba™ with a knife duct taped onto it, just wandering around the ship

it doesn’t have any special intelligence. it’s just a normal space roomba. there are other space roombas on the ship and they don’t have knives. it’s just this one. knife space roomba has full clearance to every room in the ship. occasionally crew members will be talking and then suddenly swear and clutch their ankle. knife space roomba putters off, leaving them to their mild stab wounds.

“what is the point?” asks the alien as another crew member casually steps over the knife-wielding robot. “is it to test your speed and agility?”

“no it doesn’t really go that fast,” replies the captain.

“does it teach you to stay ever-vigilant?”

“I mean I guess so but that’s more of a side effect.”

“does it weed out the weak? does it protect you from invaders? do repeated stabbings let your species heal more quickly in the future?”

“it doesn’t stab very hard, it gets us more than it gets our enemies, and no, but that sounds cool — someone write that down.”

“but then what is its purpose?”

“I don’t know,” the captain says, leaning down to give the space roomba an affectionate pat. “it just seemed cool”

this is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard but I thought about it for five seconds and realized that if I were, say, a random communications officer onboard this ship and someone taped a knife to a roomba it would take maybe three weeks before even I was inordinately fond of Stabby. I would be proud of Stabby when I met up with my other spacefleet friends for space coffee, I would tell them about the time Stabby got the second mate in the ankle five seconds before the fleet admiral beamed on board and she swore in seven different languages in front of high command.

also by the fourth day Stabby would be in the ship’s log, he’d have little painted-on insignia, people would salute him as he went by, and someone would hook up a twitter account to tweet maniacal laughter and/or a truly terrible knock-knock joke every time he managed to nick someone.

Someone would almost positively attach a tiny camera and live stream Stabby’s adventures to a media account. Bets would be taken on who is next. Bets have to be ordered to stop being taken on who is next because it becomes a problem for multiple reasons. Bets are taken but quietly on who is next.

At some point someone realizes that they haven’t seen Stabby in a while, no one has seen Stabby in over a day. The cam is running but is completely dark. The ship basically stalls out as everyone stops what they are doing to search for their friend. The confused aliens don’t understand why this nonessential and kind of dangerous piece of equipment has got the entire ship in a fit of worry.

After almost two hours, someone thinks to check a little-used storage room in the belly of the ship. As soon as the door is open, Stabby rolls out and jabs their ankle and then whirls off down the hall about its business. Stabby followed someone in without being noticed, and got accidentally shut in. A ship wide announcement chastises everyone about looking before they shut doors.

“But the doors are automatic,” says the newest alien crewmate.

“I know,” says Kzil’tir. They’ve stopped asking. The explanation is always because humans.

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*I’m also here for Star Trek humor, that includes Spock:
fuck-bones:

Starfleet Admirals get worried when Captain Kirk bursts into their offices.

Starfleet Admirals get a little scared when Captain Kirk bursts into their offices followed by Commander Spock.

Starfleet Admirals get fucking terrified when Captain Kirk bursts into their offices with both Commander Spock and Doctor McCoy by his sides.

I love this because I get why the admiral is scared. Kirk bursts in by himself, that’s troubling but not full red alert yet. He’s followed by Spock and oh shit it’s yellow alert because whatever Kirk’s cooking up, Spock is on board with it and if Spock is on board then it means it’s Logical and they’ll probably get their way. But then sometimes they both have insane schemes that somehow Kirk talks Spock into but if McCoy is with them then RED ALERT, RED ALERT, THE VOICE OF REASON IS NOW ANOTHER AGENT OF CHAOS AND WHATEVER THEY WANT THEY’LL GET EVEN IF THEY HAVE TO STRAP FOUR WARP CORES TOGETHER AND RIDE THAT SHIT BACK TO THE MESOZOIC ERA TO DO IT

And if Spock and McCoy arrive without Kirk? oooooohhhH SHIT!!!

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Okay, you have to read this one all the way through. I simply could not stop laughing at this.

popelizbet-blog:
“ michi-draconis:
“ shitroughdrafts:
“ April 8, 2015
Dear Mr. Kerin,
It was brought to my attention by your neighbor, John Flink, that you have two garden gnomes on your front lawn that that were not approved by the HOA before...

April 8, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

It was brought to my attention by your neighbor, John Flink, that you have two garden gnomes on your front lawn that that were not approved by the HOA before installation. Please adhere to the guidelines (see Appropriate Lawn Decor on page 3) and remove them within five business days, or you will be fined.

Ellis Hills is a beautiful neighborhood, and we keep it that way by sticking to these rules!

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

 

 April 9, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

Mr. Flink emailed me this afternoon and informed me that there are now five gnomes on your front lawn. He also said that they are all facing his house.

I don’t know three extra gnomes showed up (unless they’re breeding LOL), or why they are now facing his house. But please be advised that you are now in violation of our Allowed Quantities of Lawn Decor rule (see page 7).

You have four days until you are fined. Please address this issue ASAP.

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

 

April 10, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

I drove by your house this morning on the way to drop my children off at school and saw your lawn. There are now over a dozen garden gnomes in your yard, all facing Mr. Flink’s house. A few of these have been placed in sexually suggestive positions. I do not think garden gnomes come in these positions, which means that someone (I’m not saying you) placed them as such. Regardless, they violate the board’s rule on Appropriate Lawn Décor Positions on page 9.

Mr. Henrys, you have three days left to comply with the board’s rules, or you will be fined.

Are you getting these emails?

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

 

April 11, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

I was emailed a picture of your lawn this morning by your neighbor John Flink, and was surprised to find that there are now close to thirty gnomes in your lawn. Not only are they all staring directly at his house, they are now also sexually explicit. After a quick Yahoo search, I could not find any store that sold such “X rated” gnomes. This gives me the impression that you made them yourself.

Mr. Kerin, I don’t know where you’re getting the time or the money to create these monstrosities, but they will not be tolerated. We have children in this neighborhood.

Please be advised that you have two days left before incurring fines.

FYI you are now also in violation of our Sexually Explicit Lawn Décor rule on page 17. Until today, I was not aware this rule even existed.

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

April 12, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

I was woken up by a phone call from John Flink at 6AM this morning. He was threatening to call the police. We have never had the police called in this neighborhood. Not even once. I calmed him down and went over to see what the problem was.

Mr. Kerin, the only time I’ve ever seen an orgy was in the movie Caligula but the scene your gnomes depict on your front lawn makes Caligula look PG. The gnomes are in positions I haven’t ever even imagined, and even if I could have imagined them, I wouldn’t have done so with gnomes!

There are over one hundred of them. I could barely see any grass through the limbs and appendages of the disgusting little men.

One gnome in particular is wearing a shirt that says “John Flink” on it and it is wearing a horse mask. Two other gnomes are treating him like a horse.

This is in direct violation of an HOA rule that the HOA just decided to make. Please see Sexually Explicit Depictions of Neighbors as Lawn Decor in the new edition of the HOA guidelines attached as a PDF.

You have until tomorrow, Mr. Kerin. Also, John Flink has called a lawyer.

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

April 13, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

I don’t know how you did it, but thank you for removing all of the gnomes. I’m glad we could avoid getting the authorities involved!

Since you managed to do it before five business days, there will be no fine, just a warning.

As a reminder, please do not place any decorations in your yard without direct approval from the board.

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt, HOA President

 

April 14, 2015

Dear Mr. Kerin,

It was just brought to my attention that there is a bright pink decorative flamingo in the middle of your front lawn.

I have also been informed that this lawn flamingo is wearing a thong.

If you do not remove this flamingo within five business days, expect a follow up from Kelly Lawson, as she is taking over as HOA President. As of today I have resigned.

Thanks!

Linda Hoyt

 

Seriously though, if this was me, my next victim, after it was all over with that one neighbor, would have been Linda Holt. I would’ve started out with just one gnome on her lawn and escalated from there, but have the gnomes doing something completely different, yet still unwatchable.
Source: shitroughdrafts
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*Yeah, this does sound like an introvert problem:
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Well obviously, the fly is  planning to give you some kind of life threatening sickness. He’s got 3 days:

takahashireiko:

i rly hate when flies rub their hands together. what the fuck are you planning you little asshole you have a lifespan of like 3 days

Source: aihidaka
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Yep! This is totally introvert humor:
justaphage:

You:

Me, an Intellectual:

Westworld Season One : The Well -Tempered Clavier

Lemme just get this outta the way right up front:

James Marsden:

Daaayyum! James Marsden is a fine lookin’ White boy! I have enjoyed looking at him since X-Men 2, and haven’t gotten the least bit tired of him. The man just has an incredibly cinegenic face.

Okay! I’ve gotten that out of my system for the moment, and am ready  to move on to the more serious business of reviewing this episode, which is a real doozy this week, as a couple of  fan theories are confirmed, and the robot rebellion continues apace. We spend much of this episode following Dolores and Bernard down the rabbit hole, in their search for Arnold, and the truth. We witness the possible birth of the Man in Black, and the actual birth of Bernard, and get some idea of just how cruelly manipulative Ford can be.

The Turing test is a test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

I think the “Home” that Dolores has been trying to reach is the small, now sand covered town, where she and the other Hosts first passed the Turing Test. This is the same place, told to the MIB, by the Host that killed Teddy. Nothing of it remains now, except its church steeple.

The plot of this episode has all the major characters walking around in spirals, as the repeat the same actions over and over again, little different from the loops they’re programmed with in the Park, except in this case, the loops have a purpose. Maeve’s plans to free herself relies on adding Hector to her team. But first, she needs to convince Bernard to let her go back into the Park after she is detained for killing Clementine. She’s such an enchanting creature she seems able to talk people into doing her bidding even without her superpowers. And she charms Bernard into releasing her back into the Park where she confronts Hector about his last heist. 

She outlines to Hector what will happen in the next few minutes, and explains to him that the safe, the gang all worked so hard to get, is empty. (Its always going to be empty, as there’s no need to fill it with anything. Hector always gets killed by his gang before its opened.) She convinces Hector that they are in a pointless story, and he starts to remember their previous conversations, when she makes love to him while holding his knife between them. Just in case her point has not been made that they are going to Hell, she tips over a lantern and sets their tent ablaze. I’m a little confused because I would think that Hosts  burned to crisps would automatically qualify them to be decommissioned. Here you have characters repeating their actions, only this time,  for a goal.

While charming Bernard into helping her, Maeve also manages to undo all of Ford’s work in erasing Bernard’s memories. Bernard goes on a search for his past, and using a hollowed out Clementine to threaten Ford, he confronts him with his questions.  Ford tells him that the cornerstone of his personality was built on the death of his son, which explains this recurring memory. He says that Arnold believed a tragic backstory built a better foundation for the Hosts personalities. Ford takes Bernard all the way back to his first memory, when he  first opened his eyes.

One of the next biggest fan theories was if Bernard was a clone of Arnold, based on that odd photo that Ford showed to Bernard once, with a picture of Ford, his father, and an empty space, where Ford’s partner would have stood. Bernard is a clone of Arnold, who designed much of his code before he died, and Ford gave him the tragic death of Arnold’s son as the cornerstone of his personality. Since he is a clone, one could argue that Bernard sort of created himself. Ford states that he helped create Bernard because actual human beings had reached their limits in how human they could make the Hosts. To make the Hosts more human than human, Ford needed a Host to refine them. He says the Hosts were designed to be better than humanity, so it’s especially galling to him to see them being used as playtoys by inferior humans. But the real   surprise is Ford tells Bernard that this is not the first time Bernard has breached this knowledge, and that every time it happens, Ford resets him to his pre-knowledgeable state. (Every time Bernard eats of the Apple, Ford makes him throw it up.)

Ford is always one step ahead of everyone else because he seems to know everything. He has backdoor access to all of his creations, so Bernard can’t actually threaten him, and Ford can’t seem to bring himself to kill Bernard so directly, so he orders Bernard to shoot himself, but he walks away before the deed is done. He can’t watch it, it seems.  I was really hoping this moment wouldn’t come to that. I really like Bernard. But I’m not going to get too het up about his death because, as we’ve seen over and over again, and the show has taken great pains to make clear, death is never the end for the Hosts. Ford leaves the body in cold storage, and I’m concerned that he’s not concerned that anyone will find Bernard’s body. Once again I wonder what new Host body Ford was making in that lab. Is it a new version of Bernard? Is it Elsie, whose still MIA?

Normally, we’d rely on Stubbs to suss this out, but  he isn’t around to do any wondering. Like  Elsie, its very possible that he is dead. Investigating a signal from the park, supposedly from Elsie’s Pad, he goes to check it out, and  gets attacked by some native Hosts, when his voice commands don’t work on them. It’s very possible Ford  planned that. Ford has total control,  but we’ve also seen how easily Maeve was given that same control, and the Hosts regularly break that control themselves, when their emotions run amok. You have Dolores , Teddy, Wyatt’s men, Bernard, and Maeve, and I don’t know how many others the Park employees don’t know about, so it’s also conceivable that the Natives kidnapped Stubbs for their own reasons.

This makes me wonder if all of this has happened before, especially if the timeline theory is true, and what we’ve been seeing are  Dolores’ memories, the last time she reached consciousness, back when she first met William. If every twenty or thirty years, the Hosts all have to be decommissioned and reset because, while they’re running free in the Park, they are always evolving, and their constant interaction with the Guests, and each other, is pushing them towards consciousness. (This constant interaction thereby creating the Pearl of Wisdom.) Earlier in the season, one of the employees asked why the robots talk to each other, when they don’t need to, and the answer was they’re always trying to self-correct, constantly ironing out any errors in their interactions, the better to interact with the Guests. I wonder how many Host rebellions have been averted? Maybe  what we’re seeing is a perfect storm of everything that humans can and will do wrong, resulting in a successful rebellion, this time?

Another big revelation, that lends credence to the timeline theory, is Dolores confession to herself that she is the one who killed Arnold. After she and William are captured by Logan, Logan tries to convince William, once and for all, that Dolores isn’t special. He cuts open her abdomen and shows William her inner workings. She manages to overcome her programming long enough to attack Logan and escape. Her journey back “home” is a confusing melange of memories of the past and present. She heads back to the abandoned town, she and William visited in the last episode, guided by her “bicameral mind” (i.e. Voice of God). Simultaneously, Ford is explaining to Bernard how the Host minds were built, and how Arnold’s  previous attempts at bicameral mind resulted in extreme behavioral quirks, (like Teddy’s and Dolores’ massacres?)

What we’re being shown during Dolores’ scenes is how the minds of the Hosts work, and how they think of time. She is unable to tell when she is in time, because all of her memories have perfect clarity, and therefore have the same level of importance. She manages to make it all the way back to the lab, where we saw her speaking to Bernard, and we find that is a separate timeline, because when she gets there she watches as a young Ford runs past her, and when she enters the interrogation room, it is dusty and full of cobwebs. Possibly the labs Bernard and Arnold  used when they were first building the Park. Their dream conversations happened a very long time ago, and Arnold has been dead a very long time. She finally remembers that she is the one who caused his death.

Since we didn’t see her kill him, I do wonder if this is just Dolores feeling guilty, or if she did, in fact, kill him. We’ve seen the Hosts lash out in violence when they’re emotionally distressed, and I wonder if something similar happened between the two of them. Both Teddy and Dolores are shown shooting a town full of Hosts, and I wonder if this is the same event at different times. Did Arnold die during one of these incidents, and is that why the town was buried? Are these former rebellions, the incidents, that the Delos employees keep mentioning? Is this some kind of cycle that occurs every thirty or so years?

Logan’s attack on Dolores has the unexpected side effect of galvanizing something in William. After Dolores runs away, William appears to reconcile with Logan, believing him when he says Billy simply got caught up in the playacting in the Park. He hands William a photo of his sister. The same photo that Peter Abernathy, Dolores first father, found buried in the soil of his front yard, which corrupted his programming, somehow. After Logan and the other militia men pass out for the night, Logan wakes to find that William has massacred the entire unit. Is this the birth of the MIB? Certainly Dolores reaction to the MIB, after she leaves the lab, would seem to point in this direction. And we now know he’s not Logan because Logan has a nice scar on his face where she cut him. Earlier in the season, The MIB references this scene, when he mentions to Lawrence that he saw one of the Hosts cut open once. 

Aided by a clue given to him by the Host that killed Teddy, again!, the MIB now knows  where to go to complete the maze. The same place where Dolores is.  He wakes up tied to a horse in such a way that if he moves he’ll hang himself. He manages to get himself out of  this, only to be confronted by Charlotte, standing there, watching all this,  in her designer boots. For some reason I thought this scene was deeply funny. She walked in on him playing a very elaborate game of “Lets Pretend”, that could get him killed. She mentions that his company once saved the Park, and we know William is about to marry into Logan’s family, who own one of the Parks competing business interests. 

Dolores does get to the maze first, and if what she went through is the maze’s completion, than the idea that the maze is not for the MIb is correct. It was never made with the intention that a human complete it. In fact, it may have been made, by Arnold,  specifically for Dolores.

The technological singularity (also, simply, the singularity) is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.

Sundries:

At one point, Dolores confronts Logan about the reality of his world. Logan asks if William is trying to get her out of the Park, and she rightfully asks why they would assume she wants to get out. If  life is so great on the outside, why are humans clamoring to get in the Park? I stood and I applauded because this is the question of the week! It’s interesting that  Maeve believes she’ll be free outside the Park. Dolores believes she’s free in the Park. They both just want to write their own stories. One answer to Dolores question is that guests are  using the Hosts to find their humanity, all while denying the humanity of the Hosts.

I’ve seen fans decrying the racism and misogyny in the show, and making the claim that the show is no better than GoT, in this regard. This is where we’re gonna have to disagree, because I believe all these -isms serve a purpose. Lee Sizemore, a White man, is the main person who writes all the Host narratives. Lee Sizemore is also a racist, sexist asshat. The Natives, the sex-workers, the damseled women, are all exactly the kinds of narratives that have been given to mariginalized people by White writers in popular media, and are all products of Lee’s lurid imagination. (It’s interesting that the only WoC, of any importance, we’ve seen in the entire Park, is Maeve, and she is a saloon madam.) This is an indictment of Lee, (while throwing some shade on  all such hack writers) and his complete inability  to think beyond stereotypes, and I have nothing but praise for the show’s writers in making this subtle distinction, as they write Maeve so that she overturns all of the tropes Sizemore put on her. Westworld gets intersectional Feminism right in a way that shows like Supergirl, Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones, get wrong. It’s possible to address how misogyny impacts the lives of different types of women, without engaging in the kind of oppression olympics that Marvel’s writers seem to fear, by not putting any WoC in their feminist narratives. You can address issues of intersectional Feminism, without the WoC upstanding  any of the White heroines of these shows. 

 All this violence on the show is  also an indictment of humanity, as  much of the inhumanity we witness in the Park, is at the hands of humans, towards the Hosts, and at no point is the viewer given the idea that any of this is good for either of them. Ford attributes any aggressive behavior, on the part of the Hosts, to the humans who abuse and program them. I think that, left to his own devices, Ford would be content to just let the Hosts have the Park to themselves, and observe them, without any human interaction.

Let me just fangirl about Maeve: 

One of the reasons I love Maeve so much is her rise towards consciousnesss is an allegory for becoming”woke”. And she reached this state of being because the other PoC, the  Hispanic and Native Hosts, are the most “woke” beings in the Park, having incorporated their nightmares about the human world, into their personal mythologies. We see her gain some knowledge, and then use that knowledge to give herself power, aided and abetted by  another, just as powerless MoC, Felix. This isn’t just a robot rebellion, it’s a call for PoC to work together to aid each other in becoming free. (At least within the narrative of Westworld.) It is very telling, especially in this political climate, that it’s Sylvester, a White man, who attempts to thwart her plans at every opportunity, even planning to kill her at one point, and siding with the very employers who oppress all of them, and it’s not accidental that the two greatest antagonists in the narrative are White men, Ford and The Man in Black. One of them coded as Godlike, and the other coded as Satanic.

This makes Maeve (Ma-Eve) like Eve. She is the first, the Mother. This is why I think, I hope, her rebellion succeeds. 

She holds and carries herself like the Queen she is, her nudity means nothing to her, and is petty within the context of what she’s trying to achieve.  Maeve is never sexualized during these scenes. She owns her nudity, she owns herself, she makes those around her listen to what she has to say, and do her bidding, apparently by sheer force of personality.

 It is timely, and ironic,  that Maeve’s child was killed by the Man in Black, and especially resonates with me, a Black woman. I live in world where Black kids get killed by apathetic blackhats everyday. When Maeve was hysterical and inconsolable  in the aftermath of her daughter’s death, her behavior was intimately familiar to every black woman watching. We know the face of grief. 

It is Ford who makes her sit down and be quiet, attempts to make her forget about her past. 

Ford doesn’t just take away the Hosts pain because he loves them, he does it because he is aware of just how much trauma gets inflicted on the Hosts. It’s a good for the humans that the Hosts don’t remember. It’s good for him especially. (Although, so far, most of the Hosts are unable to commit violence against humans.) As was said by one of the Delos employees in the first episode, “We better hope they don’t remember what happens to them,” an echo of every White Supremacist fear, that the people they once oppressed will have their  revenge. From trolling and harassment on Twitter, to derailing all conversations about social justice, from ignoring historical fact, to telling PoC to just get over it and shut up, all these tactics are the children of that singular statement. Hoping the people they hurt, don’t remember it.

Also, I like that Westworld is an allegory for racism that actually includes PoC in the story, overturning the usual tropes, of shows that are symbolic of some -ism, that have no marginalized people in them.(I’m looking at you X-Men, and Divergent!) Westworld is set  during a time and place, in American  History, when such trauma was regularly inflicted on Black, Native, and Hispanic bodies, but the show doesn’t neglect to include those bodies.

Next week, after the Season finale, I’ll have more on robot rebellions as slave narratives, and how these types of movies, and shows, serve to illuminate and elucidate White Supremacist fears of White genocide, and another post on the Biblical interpretations in the show’s narrative.

http://www.bachwelltemperedclavier.org/analysis.html 

 

 

 

Forthcoming Movies 2017

This is a  somewhat premature list of the movies I’m most interested in  next year. Unfortunately, Black Panther isn’t coming out next year, so it’s not on this list ,although Star Wars 8 is being released, so that’s cool.

My big thing next year is the new Wolverine movie titled Logan. I love the trailer for this movie, and I enjoyed the Old man Logan series. I’m also a big fan of Wolverine’s kids, Daken and X-23, so this movie is a big yes for me, even though I don’t think Daken is in it because he is very openly gay, and the MCU is as allergic to gay representation,  as it is to positive Asian representation.

My second big yippee! is Luc Besson’s Valerian. I’ve seen every one  of Besson’s films since La Femme Nikita in 1990, and if you haven’t seen that, you need to get right on it, as it still holds up as a female lead action movie. Valerian looks like its going to be too much fun.

January

Hidden Figures –

I like the idea of telling Black stories that don’t involve us being tortured by White people. Also, I love Black women in Science.

A Monster Calls –

I probably won’t go see this because just the trailer brought me to tears. I’m going to be a blubbering mess in a theater.

Underworld: Blood Wars

I think everything that would’ve been said about Selene’s story was told in the first movie. I have completely lost any interest in this character.

Monster Trucks

I think this movie is supposed to be fun, but the monster in the truck just looks terrifying.

X3: Xander Cage –

The XXX movies are very possibly the funniest, most ridiculous stunt movies ever made. It’s hard not believe this  isn’t a parody.

Resident Evil: The FInal Chapter –

Hmmmmm! No!

I had no particular plans to see any of these movies in January, but I thought I’d list them just in case any of you were interested and I was trying to look fair by showing the trailers.

Psych! I’m not seeing any of these until they’re officially on DVD, approximately five days after their release.

February

Rings –

A mashup of Ju-On and The Ring

John Wick II –

This looks as much fun as the original.

The Great Wall –

Nope! Its got dragons in it but I really don’t feel like looking at Matt Damon’s face again so soon after I’ve  watched Jason Bourne.

Get Out – This looks hilarious in a Dave Chappelle kind of way.

Of these five movies, I only plan to see Get Out, which is a movie produced and directed by the creators of Key& Peele.  I love that show, so I’m highly interested in the movie.

I loved the first John Wick, and I wasn’t expecting to. I thought it would be a typical, middle-of-the-road, action flick, but it turned out to be okay, and more than a little fun. Keanu Reeves is playing a character that perfectly suits him.

I wouldn’t piss on that Great Wall movie if you paid me. I’m getting a little tired of Hollywood not letting Asians be the stars of their own stories, and quite frankly its starting to look more than a little  creepy that that’s what Hollywood is doing, even to people who don’t normally pay attention to that kind of stuff.

I’m going to ignore the existence of Rings. Just the thought of it is scary. We really don’t need a mashup of Ju-On and The Ring. Well, I don’t, but if you like that sort of thing,  Happy Screaming to You!

March

Logan –

I love this trailer. Johnny Cash songs get me every time.

Kong of Skull Island –

I wouldn’t normally care about this except Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston are back together again, and it looks like it takes place entirely on the island, and that Kong appears to be winning.

Beauty and the Beast –

I’ll just stick with the animated version, mostly for the music. “Be Our Guest” is one of my favorite Disney songs ,of all time, so there’s nothing this movie could offer me that would top that entire sequence.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – ?

Power Rangers –

Back down memory lane, y’all! I used to watch this  ridiculous show with my little sisters. This looks waaay better than the TV show. I may take my niece to see this if she’s amenable.

Ghost in the Shell –

A big ol’ fat NO! I’ll just watch the original anime. The trailer doesn’t make me want to see this, and I’m  really tired of looking at Scarlett Johansen.

The standout movie for this month will be Logan.

April

Fast 8 – I’m only just getting into this franchise. I kinda liked the last two movies, and its got a very colorful cast, who all seem to like each other and get along well.

Lost City of Z – I read this book some time ago, and I’m a sucker for movies set in Jungles. I don’t know why.

May

The Autopsy of Jane Doe –

Looks intriguing. I won’t see it in the  theater but I will wait for the DVD.

Guardians of the Galaxy II –

My niece will definitely talk me into going to see this movie, so I really don’t have a choice about this, if I want to have peace in the house. (And I love Groot too, so…)

Pirates of the Caribbean #23 –

Whah?

Baywatch – Okay, I’ll bite. Why would I want to see this movie about a TV show that I loathed? Okay, other than the nice pecs?

June

Wonder Woman –

Naaw! I’m good.

The Mummy – But not that good, apparently. I could be talked into this one by a wayward relative.

World War Z II – Hey! I loved the books, but I like Brad Pitt, too. I can’t let him down. He needs me.

Kingsman II – I didn’t really enjoy the first film. I mostly tolerated it and parts of it were disturbing, and annoying. The creators are going to have to smarten this one up, or dumb it down, to get me to watch this.

So once again we’re getting almost nothing but sequels and remakes being released this summer.  I don’t actually  get as upset over this as some people, as I’ve enjoyed, and will enjoy, a number of sequels. I’m just making a note of this.

Also, I don’t plan to see everything that gets released, so I don’t get frustrated about that sort of stuff. As I mentioned earlier, I’m on a limited budget when it comes to movies, so I carefull choose what movies I’ll be seeing well in advance. Going to the movies is never an  impulse event in our house, where we’re just looking for something to do on a Friday night.

July – None of the rest of these movies have trailers yet, so except for Valerian, I haven’t decided if I’ll see them.

Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets – Looks like fun.

Spiderman:Homecoming – Hmmm…maybe. I like the little guy whose playing him and Zendaya is in it, although I have since heard she’s not playing Mary Jane. I need to see a trailer before I commit.

War for the Planet of the Apes – I haven’t watched any of the others movies, so I’m not gonna start with this one.

The Dark Tower –  Well, duh! I’ve got to support my precious cinnamon bun, Idris Elba.

August

Alien Covenant – No trailer, no commitment.

CHiPS – I remember watching the Hell out of this  TV show as a child. Even then, it was  obvious, that the motorcycles were the stars of the show. I remember othing at all about the human cast, but I think there was a woman in there somewhere, though.

This is by no means a complete list. I”ll have more though, as more trailers are released.

Forthcoming TV Shows

There are a number of television shows I’m looking forward to next year. Now in hindsight 2016 has been a fairly shitty year, except for TV, which is tearing it up with some very exciting series. I’m very much enjoying Legends of Tomorrow, which is much better in its second season. It got rid of the rather dodgy actress who played Hawkgirl, and replaced her with Vixen, with whom I’m very satisfied.

I’ve decided to try DCs other superhero shows and I’m liking them, although I do consider them to be rather light weight viewing. I still don’t like Arrow, though.

From Dusk Til Dawn also had a much better season than last year. It just aired its season finale  and I’m going to happily break that down for you guys by the end of this week.

American Horror Story just aired its finale episode which I’ve already reviewed. I feel like AHS had a great season this year, with a lot of depth, focus, and humor.

We got the truly wondrous Luke Cage, which I can’t even accurately review because my head is so crammed full of thoughts about it that I can’t straighten them out. I’m still processing this show, as I haven’t really had time to really think about it because:

Season 12 of Supernatural has just started to air and its very good. So far, its been very engaging, and funny, with some very well written side characters, and quite a number of feels.

And, I’m entirely caught up in the Westworld phenomena. Thankfully its only got two episodes left, after which I can take some time to think about something else and finish processing my thoughts and feels about it.

Then it’s back to watching and/or reviewing starting January 1st. There is such a wealth of good shows, and I have such a limited amount of time with which to review them, that I’m going to have to start farming out some reviews. So from now on, when I see a really great review of a show I’m watching, but don’t actually have time to review, I’m just going to leave a link or reblog.

Also, if you’re a person who writes long form TV reviews like these, please get in touch with me about linking , and reblogging your posts. I love a good, well thought-out, and logical review. No wanking or ‘ship wars, please. I don’t mind if you love a certain ship  but I’m not going to reblog about  ‘ships that erase PoC, canon LGBTQ characters, and women from their own narratives.

Okay, here’s what we have to look forward to:

*Sherlock (Jan.1)

Sherlock returns for its fourth season. I’m starting to get really tired of looking at Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. He’s a phenomenal actor, with one of the best voices I’ve ever heard on a screen, but he looks like a turtle that’s been squeezed too tightly, and  I think I have reached “Peak Cumberbatch”, at this point. Nevertheless, I may still watch this, because I actually enjoy the plots. (BBC)

*Beyond (Jan. 2)

This show looks like a cross between Kyle X and Teen Wolf, which isnt a bad thing. I’m looking for  a replacement teen show for Teen Wolf anyway, since its in its last season. (Freeform)

Shadowhunters (Jan. 2)

I’ve only ever watched a couple of episodes of Shadowhunters, but gifs of it keep showing up in my Tumblr feed, and I’ve liked those, so I’ll watch this. And Harry Shum, who was one of the fan contenders to play Danny Rand in Iron Fist, is in this and I do need to have some  Shum in my life, somehow. (Freeform)

Sleepy Hollow 

I won’t be watching  season four of this show and there’s no trailer as yet,  but if you don’t mind the complete wtf*ery of what happened  last season, you go right ahead .I’m gonna be a petty mf and not even post the airdate.

*Taboo (Jan.10)

I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan, often watching movies I would not normally think about just because he’s the star. Also, I just enjoy dark Historical mysteries and these trailers look gorgeous. (FX)

*Lemony Snicket (Jan.13)

I read a lot of Lemony Snicket books and enjoyed the Jim Carey version of this, so I will probably check this out. My favorite character is Violet, so I have to stan for my tiny baby. This trailer seems to capture some of the zaniness of the original film. (Netflix)

The Young Pope (Jan.15)

I really like Jude Law, but I probably won’t watch this, even if I find this kind of Catholic scandal type stuff, fascinating. I’m not Catholic, but I will watch dramatic histories about it. This looks well acted but I’m noping out. (HBO)

Six (Jan,18)

I don’t normally watch military type shows but this looks interesting. For some reason, I’m attracted to those Navy Seal non-fiction books, and this show looks suitably dramatic, so I may watch this. On the other hand, I don’t wanna see Black people being terrorized, so I may not make this a regular part of my viewing diet. (History)

*Frontier (Jan.20)

I’m always up for anything starring Jason Momoa. I have not yet reached Peak Momoa. (Netflix)

*The Magicians Jan.25)

I was a bit disappointed in the last season of this show because of the depictions of violence against its female characters, so I’m dubious about watching this new season. On the other hand, it looks gorgeous, and I hope its a better than the second book in the series on which this is based. Finishing that second book felt like working. (Syfy)

Riverdale (Jan.26)

I could not find a good trailer for this one. I try to stick to only one teen show per period, so I may not watch this, but this is the last season of Teen Wolf, and I might need something to replace that. The trailers don’t look very interesting but I could give it a try. (CW)

Black Sails (Jan.29)

I watched the first episodes of this and then stopped, but I have been following what’s happening through reviews.It still looks beautiful but I can make no promises about this show, other than I will watch the first episode and give it a chance. (Starz)

The Expanse (Feb. 8)

I only watched a few episodes of the first season, but I’ve since read that its a good show, so I’ll watch the first episodes of this second season. I don’t know if I’ll like it but I can try it. (Syfy)

Taken (Feb 27)

(NBC)

I’m a big Liam Neeson fan and I really liked the movies on which this show is based.

*Legion (Feb TBD)

This is a Marvel Superhero Joint, so I will watch it even though I’m not in the market for yet another show about a quirky, White, male hero. I do know who this character is in the comic books, though, so I’m going to check it out. (FX)

*Iron Fist (March 17)

I will watch this even though I’m disappointed that the creators didn’t choose an Asian American man to be Danny Rand. That kind of story would’ve had so much more depth, but depth isn’t Marvel’s strongest suit. I’m still not greatly impressed with the actor they chose either, but I promise to give him a chance. I’m mostly in it because I hope this show does for Colleen Wing, (who has been racebent to be Asian) what the Luke Cage series did for Misty Knight. (Netflix)

Into the Badlands (Spring TBD)

Well, duh! (AMC)

Westworld Season One: Trompe L’oeil

Trompe l’oeil: a painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object. A French word meaning “deceive the eye”.

“Doesn’t look like anything to me.” – Westworld’s Hosts

The beauty of  the Westworld series is that it all relies on the visual perception of not just the Guests and Hosts, but the viewers, as well. According to Ford, the Hosts can’t see anything that might hurt them, but we should.

This series is full of deceptions, but a lot of masks came off for this episode, as Charlotte plays her hand, we find out who Bernard is, and William and Dolores, take things to the next level. Actually, none of the revelations are huge surprises, if you’ve been paying attention, as the show has been dropping little clues and hints all  season. But like I said, I’m pretty bad at speculation, so I just notice  these things, and move on, allowing the show to take me wherever its going.

Its a little like sightseeing, with other passengers pointing out highlights, we should pay attention to on the tour. Other people use these highlights to guess what their final destination might be, but I’m mostly  just going to take notes, and enjoy the ride, especially in a show as layered with meaning as Westworld.

Image result for westworld trompe loeil

Charlotte Hale, and Theresa, are working together to overthrow Ford’s ownership of the Park. Now, Ford warned Theresa not to get in his way, and her hubris at thinking she could best him with her juvenile actions, gets her killed, at the hands of her former lover, and newly outed Host, Bernard. Charlotte and Theresa ,while not new at manipulation, are not in Ford’s league. He’s a master chess player, who seemingly knows what they’re going to do before they do it.

I know a lot of people speculated about Bernard. It was one of the big theories of the series. Well, such people had ample reason to look smug, as it was finally revealed that Bernard has always been a Host. I enjoyed this revelation, but I wasn’t exactly surprised by it, as I’ve watched these episodes several times, and followed the trail of breadcrumbs that other people were pointing out to me. They all had some  very compelling arguments, which finally  paid off.

William has decided he’s going to stop pretending, saying to Dolores, that he’s been pretending to be something he’s not his entire life, but now that’s over. He’s going to be his true self from now on, which just furthers everyone’s theory that William is actually the MiB, about 20-30 years ago, and that he and Dolores are in another timeline. He and Dolores make out, and I kinda knew the direction they were headed, so no surprises there. Its interesting to me that its Dolores who makes the first move, professing her love for William.

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Dolores has revealed that she is now totally in pursuit of her own goals, and William is just along for the ride, as her dreams lead her further and further away from the life she once lived. It does make me wonder, if this is the past and William is actually the  MiB, then in the present times, he may not have actually raped her in that barn. He may have been doing something entirely different. The show has made it pretty clear that nothing is as it seems,  so why not that event, too.

In their efforts to oust Ford from power, Charlotte and Theresa stage a show for Ford and the others to demonstrate how dangerous the new Reveries program might be to the Guests. Something that Elsie (who is missing this episode) took great pains to find out, and was fairly alarmed about, is just casually thrown out there by Charlotte, although in her case it’s faked. She and Theresa make a blood sacrifice of the guard and  Clementine, and we find out there are other employees wandering around who are actually Hosts.

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Now, I don’t know if everyone at the demonstration knew that the guy Clementine killed was a Host already, or if that’s something only Ford knew, but it was interesting that, as little sympathy as the employees seem to have for the Hosts, the women all looked acutely uncomfortable at watching Clementine be brutalized by this man. At any rate ,their little demonstration was faked to make Ford’s updates look bad, and  give the Board leverage to use against him. They  used  most of that leverage to fire Bernard, since they can’t directly attack Ford because he is incredibly valuable. Charlotte made it very clear in her interview with Theresa, the Board only cares about the Host’s technology, and to Hell with its employees. What they want to do is reduce the amount of power Ford possesses, so they can get their hands on it, but Ford is several moves ahead of them.

He’s had a lot of practice at this game. As he says, every few years the Board  makes some  effort to bring him to heel, and Theresa is just their latest cats-paw. When he orders Bernard to kill her, we see a new Host body being created in the background. Some people are already theorizing that its Theresa’s replacement. This has the added benefit of unsettling the viewer because now we start wondering are there any  other Hosts wandering around the facility pretending to be humans, and who might they be.

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Its almost heartbreaking to watch it slowly dawn on Theresa that she is about to die horribly. I say almost, because I never really warmed to Theresa, although she was certainly a smart and complex character. Her terror is especially sharp, after staging that demonstration showing  how powerful Hosts are, and what they’re capable of. She essentially just watched her own death several hours earlier. She knows exactly what Bernard s going to do to her. The signature move of the Hosts is to bash their victims heads.We saw that in the episode where Elsie was almost attacked, and again with Clementine.

My heart really broke for Bernard though as he is confronted with the knowledge that he’s not human, and never has been. We opened the episode with Bernard having a nightmare about the death of his son, so its especially poignant to discover that those memories, memories that he’s used to push Dolores towards sentient awareness, aren’t real. Unless of course that too is something that was orchestrated by Ford to influence Dolores in the direction he wanted her to go.

Of course one of the prevailing theories is that those scenes of Bernard talking to Dolores are really scenes between her and Arnold, when he was alive, just after he lost his son, and just like Ford claimed Arnold made Host copies of Ford’s father, maybe Ford made Bernard in Arnold’s image. When Theresa asks if Bernard killed Arnold, Ford says Bernard wasn’t around then, but Bernard has been around for an extremely long time, though. When Theresa finds the drawings of Bernard’s schematics, the name on the sheets is carefully missing, whereas on drawings of Dolores’ schematics, her name is prominently displayed.

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The jury is still out on whether, or not, Bernard is actually Arnold, or if Arnold was even a  real person, or just some myth that Ford made up as a another layer of protection between him and the corporation. I’m going with the idea that Arnold was a real person, but what furthers this theory is that Ford seems to be the only person who knows everything that’s going on in the Park.

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Meanwhile, Maeve has decided she’s not going to live in the Park. She wants out, especially after she inadvertently witnesses Clementine being decommissioned, after  the Delos demonstration. She cajoles and threatens Sylvester and Felix into helping her, although I get the distinct impression from Felix that he’s helping her because he’s curious to see where this is going. He mostly seems shocked at Maeve’s boldness, and seems to really like her. He doesn’t seem as entirely opposed to the idea as Sylvester, who hates her guts. I suspect Sylvester isn’t long for this world, as this is the second time Maeve has threatened to kill him. She’s never threatened Felix, though.

The big action set piece this time is the three-way fight between Lawrence, Dolores, and William, who are trying to escape the Confedorados, who are mad at Lawrence for betraying them, and the Natives who attack the Confeds because they’re angry at all these people trespassing on their land. Its a gorgeously shot scene, with lots of nice stunt riding on the part of the actors.

Now, I’ve seen some Tumblr pieces vilifying the show for being racist. Yes, the show contains racism, but there’s a reason for it, just like all the other narratives in the show. (Except for that lesbian thing. That’s just weird.). Things aren’t what people think they are and if they are just looking at the surface layer, they will come away with the wrong idea. The creator, Lisa Joy, is an Asian-American woman, who is not simply reproducing the racist narratives she’s been told her whole life. She is meditating on them, and in many ways, subverting them.

Normally I would address this in a long rant, with receipts and bullet points, but its  apparent that would be kind of a waste, because its Tumblr, where very young people go to test out their critical thinking skills, and  none of them seem to have watched the show beyond episode three. In order to understand the show, you can’t just look at what’s happening on the surface. So, what I’ll do is leave this here again:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/westworld-analysis-dolores-and-maeve/

Its not a perfect meta, and at some point I may redo and re-publish it,  but hopefully people who read it will get some idea that the issues of racism they’re seeing, are much more complex than they are  at first shown. The entire series is predicated on deceiving the eye, remember?

 

Here’s review that I especially enjoyed:

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/11/westworld-recap-bernard-robot-kills-theresa-episode-7-tromp-loeil

American Horror Story Season 6: Finale

Well, that was pretty confusing, but I actually liked it. It was entirely in keeping with the generally snarky attitude of the entire season’s meta approach to televisual media.

We start off the episode with the courtroom proceedings at Lee’s trial and some shameless overacting from the lawyers, as they plead their case. Lee is pronounced “Not Gulity”. Flora, who testified that she witnessed her mother kill her father, was not a believable witness, because she believed in ghosts.

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We get more backstory on Lee,  but this time told from the point of view of a cheesy MTV: Behind the Music style show called Crack’d, (which was hilarious) and a parody of some type of ConFest, thrown to celebrate the original Roanoke Nightmare, which totally captures the self serving bullshit of the celebrities featured at such events. Each one of the stars of My Roanoke Nightmare are at their obnoxious best, as they showboat to  try to garner as much attention from the audience as possible.  My eyeball rolling didn’t even reach maximum levels during this stage of the proceedings. Clearly the show runners were just getting started.

The episode itself is total crack-meta as it switches from one television genre to another, as shows within shows. From those opening scenes, we move on to a Barbara Walters type of show, with its overwrought and ponderous interviewing style, with Sarah Paulson reprising her role as Lana Winters, the newswoman from Asylum. She is interviewing Lee about  having been found not guilty of killing Mason, and hilariously has  the tables turned on her by Lee. That interview itself turns truly batshit insane when the last of the Polks,  Lot, shows up with a machine gun, and tries to assassinate Lee in the middle of the interview.

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From there, we get a callback to the last episode with some intrepid spiritchasers, called appropriately enough, Spirit Chasers, visiting the Roanoke House during the Blood Moon. I had as little empathy for these obnoxious twits, as I had sympathy for the ones who died in the last episode. That last group didn’t deserve the horrible things that happened to them, but these guys were warned frequently, they watched the second season of Roanoke, so knew what to expect, and the house itself is cordoned off against trespassers with barbed wire. These assholes chose not to believe any of it, and got themselves (and some hapless policemen) murdered by the Butcher’s followers.

Although, when you think about it, the most common trope of all horror movies is people making stupid decisions, so  the show simply ends as it began. Matt and Shelby find a ramshackle old house in the middle of fucking nowhere and decide that would be a good place to live. The Spirit Chasers make the boneheaded decision to trespass on haunted land, where at least a dozen or more people have died. I don’t even believe in ghosts but, just like in that Stephen King story 1408, I don’t have to believe in ghosts to know that staying overnight, in a place where dozens of people have died horribly, is a good idea.

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The spirit chasers meet Lee in the house. She is there hunting Flora. This is the part I find confusing because how did Lee know that’s where Flora would be, and how did Flora get there?  Uber? How did she get inside the house? She’s, like, twelve years old! and the place is surrounded by a  barbed wire fence!  In fact, this moment is so confusing, that when Lee showed up, I thought she and Flora were dead and being reunited as ghosts. I  was disabused of that idea because they showed up on the thermal sensors the spirit chasers were using.

It turns out that Flora came back to the house after her mother’s acquittal, to stay with Priscilla. One of the few truly emotional moments is Lee’s reunion with her daughter, and her utter dedication in protecting her daughter, no matter what. Lee, the ultimate survivor, sacrifices her life to keep her daughter from killing herself, so she can stay behind and protect Priscilla, in Flora’s stead, from The Butcher.

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As the house finally burns to the ground, Flora sees the ghosts of her mother, and Priscilla, waving goodbye to her. Lee, as she has stated so many times this season, would indeed do anything for her daughter.

Now, I have read a rather shitty review which focused the episode on Sarah Paulson’s character and I was greatly offended by the writer’s complete inability to give Lee her due as the actual star of this season, instead of focusing their review on a White character from a previous season, who only shows up in the last episode of this one. This season wasn’t about Lana Winters, as her story has already been told, and I didn’t appreciate seeing Lee being reasoned out of her own story. I can see the parallels from Lana’s story to Lee’s, but that’s no excuse to remove Lee’s adaptability, determination, fortitude, and search for love and redemption, via her daughter, as the primary focus of this season.

 

I’m not saying Lee wasn’t a problematic character, but that’s why I liked her. One of my biggest complaints about TV and movies (among many, many, many, complaints) is the lack of unlikable women. She’s the kind of woman who is hard to like, because she’s complicated, and I like  that her complications make sense, and are consistent. She’s not just given random unlikable character traits to make you hate her.  Quite frankly, none of the white people on the show came across as people I would like to get to know. But I’d be friends with Lee, if I could. She seems like the kind of person that, once she lets you in that zone, you’re in there forever. When Lee loves people, she loves them wholly and completely, the way she does Flora. But if you wrong her, or betray her trust, you will soon be experiencing fine dining in Hell.

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The final scenes of the actual show (and not a show within a show) is a shot of The Butcher, the Blood Moon, and all the police, and emergency service personnel, gathered in the valley below, and completely at The Butcher’s mercy.

Yeah, that’s not gonna end well.

But we knew that when the season began.

Overall, I really liked this season. This is coming from someone who generally hates the overwrought dramedy of Reality TV. I think the seasons have gotten  better and better over time. I enjoyed Freaks and Hotel, but those seasons suffered from a great deal of incoherence, and lack of focus, towards the end, with subplots being introduced that never got follow through. This season remained taut, focused, and nuanced, with a clear thematic goal of parodying Reality TV. I haven’t had this much fun with that sort of mockery since that Cops parody of the X-Files, titled appropriately enough, X-Cops.

And before I go, I have to give a shout out to Adina Porter. The first time I saw her she was playing a witch-con-woman on True Blood, as Tara’s broken, abusive mother. I loved her acting then, and she brings that same sense  of steely fragility to her role as Lee,  although I didn’t immediately make the connection when I saw her. Its funny how she keeps playing these broken widows, desperately  trying to win back their daughter’s love, and she has mastered it. She is an incredible actress that I hope to see even more of after this.

Well, ta-ta til next season, people! I hope you enjoyed this one. Let me know in the comments.

Westworld Season One: The Adversary

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Maeve Millay was coming into her power and why it is such an  important moment. Well…

This was Maeve’s episode.

You know how Game of Thrones has that one episode every season that  emotionally devastates you? (Hardhome; The Door?) The writers of Westworld have accomplished just such a feat with The Adversary. It’s got some juicy action setpieces, and packs an emotional wallop. For us Blackgeekgirls though the resonance was sharp, as there’s nothing more emotional than watching a Black woman discover just how much power she possesses.

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We’ve been low key keeping an eye on Maeve’s journey towards full sentience, not thinking too much about it. Just like with the masters of Maeve’s life, her awakening has flown  beneath our radar, as everyone has been giving most of their attention to Dolores journey, as hers has been the most front and center. But it is Maeve who reaches full sentience, and Thandie Newton who delivers our standout performance  of the season.

Tessa Thompson is introduced as Charlotte Hale, Elsie discovers  interesting information, and things between Theresa and Bernard reach a head. The Westworld theories are flying fast and furious as people speculate on whether or not Bernard is a robot, perhaps even a clone of Arnold, William’s actual identity, and if there are two separate timelines, (which would explain why Bernard, and Ford, know nothing about Maeve), and if there are two timelines, then when does Dolores’ timeline occur, compared to Maeve’s?

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We begin the episode with Maeve waking in bed, a position we’ve seen Dolores in many times, and end the episode on a shot of Maeve realizing her power. She goes to the saloon, where she incites one of the patrons to choke her to death in the middle of sex.Why? So ,she can get back to Felix and finish their conversation. She has decided to dive headlong into this new mystery. Felix explains to Maeve who and what she is, who he is, and where they are. Maeve is so devastated by the knowledge that she has never had control of herself, that she temporarily shuts down.

After Felix brings her back online, Maeve uses all her plus level charm and seduction to compel Felix to give her a tour of the facility where she was born, the Delos Corporation. There follows one of the most bittersweet moments in the entire episode. A String version of Radiohead’s Motion Picture  Soundtrack (quite possibly one of the saddest songs ever created)  is used to great effect, as Maeve begins to fully understand that everything she thought she knew about her world is a lie, the people, places, and even the most spontaneous-looking moments, were never real. Thandie totally sells it. I feel  no shame in admitting that I cried like a three year old, at the irony of her seeing the phrase “Live Without Limits”, understanding her life has been defined by nothing but.

This scene has so many layers.  Partner Maeve’s  reactions, which are all in Thandie’s eyes and micro-facial expressions, with the tension of the two of them getting caught. What’s sweet about it is the architectural design, the beauty of the shots, and Felix’s reaction, as   the situation is just as terrifying for him, as it is for her. Felix has decided to help her for his own reasons, which I’m still trying to figure out. On some level, he does love her, is in awe of her, and thinks he will derive some benefit to his career.

Suddenly we have this new duo, Maeve and Felix as important characters, along with Teddy and the MIB, and Dolores and William, and I’m curious about how all of this will work out for the season finale. It also lends a good deal of evidence to the “separate timelines” theory. If Maeve and Dolores are in different timelines, its unlikely they will team up. There’s also Sylvester, Felix’s frenemy, who Maeve coerces into helping her. I hate Sylvester. I think most right minded people probably will, because he’s  such a yutz. My favorite moment is when Maeve threatens to gut him like a fish. I must have been clapping at that because my family was hollering from the other room  about why I was making all that noise.

There is a lot of Arnold in this episode, as he gets name drooped constantly. Elsie has her big moment when she discovers who it is that has been using the Hosts to steal information about Westworld. It’s Theresa.

In the wake of Ford’s discovery of her and Bernard’s relationship, Theresa has decided it would be a good idea to break up with him. While investigating the spate of robot signals, being sent from an abandoned warehouse, someone kidnaps Elsie.

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Lee Sizemore, that asshole British Narrative creator, gets introduced to Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte, in the worse possible way. Having gone on a bender, argued with Theresa, and tried to pick up Charlotte at the Delos’ bar,  (while spilling company secrets), he decides it would be a god idea to take a piss on the Westworld 3D prop. (I had to shake my head at what is the worse possible way to meet your new boss, drunk as a skunk, and pissing on stuff.) Theresa and Charlotte discover Lee with his dick out. I will be very glad when this character is gone somewhere. Anywhere that’s not on this show.

Teddy is definitely born-again hard, as he and the MIB tear it up against an entire squad of cavalrymen, with Teddy breaking out the Gatling gun and mowing everyone down. He even manages to impress the Lord of Terror himself, the Man in Black. What’s puzzling are all the references to the maze we see in this episode. At one point, Teddy’s captors are about to brand him with the symbol, and Robert comes across the same symbol, in a small Mexican town, carved into a tabletop. Teddy also has images of having helped Wyatt massacre an entire militia, when the narrative that was given to him by Ford, specifically states that he’s hunting Wyatt because Wyatt is the one solely responsible.

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Also, the clues that Logan, William, and Dolores are all in a different timeline are starting to add up. Watch for the different logos being used during which episodes, and whose story is being told at the time. There’s also the theory that their adventure may just be taking place only  in Dolores’ memories.

Bernard discovers that Ford has been visiting a Host clone of his family. He says they were a gift to him from Arnold. Later, when Ford goes back to play catch with the younger version of himself, he discovers that the boy has killed the family dog. And then he  lies about it, just as Elsie feared earlier in the episode. Someone is modifying the Hosts to act more human and they could potentially hurt the Guests. Ford does not seem to be much perturbed at these events, so now I’m deeply (I mean deeply) suspicious of him.

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At the end of the episode,  Maeve gets an upgrade. Her personality  matrix is built on a twenty point system, with the intelligence quotient at fourteen, which is the limit for Hosts. She needs to be smart but not too smart. She has Felix nudge that to twenty, but not before Sylvester and Felix discover that her personality had already been heavily modified by someone with more technical savvy than them.

If the being we saw in this episode is Maeve at a fourteen level of  intelligence, then that means all Hell is about to break loose, now that she’s reached level twenty. I think I can handle that.

Except for the occasional episode, here and there, I couldn’t fall in love with Game of Thrones, but then I’m not a big High Fantasy film watcher, or reader. This episode insures that Westworld and me will be kickin’ it for awhile, though.

ETA:

 In Contrapasso, little Robert Ford (a Host) shows up to inquire about the MiBs activities with Teddy and Lawrence. As the MiB and Teddy leave, we see the boy examining the exsanguinated body of Lawrence. In the following episode, The Adversary,  he kills the family dog in much the same manner. He lies to the aged Ford about killing the dog, saying that a voice told him to do it. Dolores, in Contrapsso, lies about whether she hears the voice of God/Arnold. Their conversation presents the strong possibility that her time with William and Logan are memories. There’s a theory that says the MIB might be either of those two men.

ETA: 

During Maeve’s tour of the facility, she is struck by the scene of a black woman, sculpting the face of one of the Hosts ,and you can see maybe a glint in her eye, that lingers just a bit longer than usual, that she finds that fascinating. I’m certain Maeve has never though of Race before or ever questioned what she looked like. The Hosts pay no attention to race, most likely have no concept of it, and yet many of their activities would be informed by it, as they might be influenced by the biases of the technicians. 

How certain Guests might treat Maeve, the position of her life, even her personality, might be informed by the conscious or unconscious racism of the narrators of her story, as I mentioned earlier when the technicians bumped up her aggression. The technicians may not have been consciously thinking of the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman, but the writers of this show know the viewers might think of it. There’s a scene in Contrapasso where Elsie is watching a very well endowed Black man attempting to pour wine, and makes a statement about it. The technicians regularly take advantage of the female Hosts according to Elsie. She, herself, takes the opportunity to kiss Clementine, when she thinks no one is looking. If sexual misadventures with the Hosts is a regular occurrence, then  I don’t consider racist behavior towards them to be  off the table, and that might find its way into their narratives as well.

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