Mini Reviews From Firestick TV

I got an Amazon FireStick for Christmas, and so far, I’m having good fun with it. I’ve been doing this thing, where I go to random apps, and try them, or just watch whatever movies or shows get recommended to me on Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu. I’ve watched movies on Terrarium TV, and and an app called Showbox, but I’m not gonna talk about those today. I’m sticking with Netflix, and Hulu, for now.

 

Kill Order

One of the  fun things to watching movies on the Firestick, is you get to watch low budget, never heard of, movies, and this is the case with Kill Order. I knew absolutely nothing about this movie before watching it. Had never even heard of it. Although some elements of the plot are somewhat confusing (requiring you to pay close attention to some horrible acting), the plot is fairly straightforward.

The plot involves a superhuman teenager, David Lee, played by Chris  Mark, on the run from the shadowy scientific Organization that  experimented on him. David is prone to nightmares and anxiety attacks. When he’s attacked in his classroom and his home by assassins, and his adopted parent is killed, he has to outrun more of them,  sent after him by The Organization.

There’s shades of Logan in the plot, because David is an experiment, who was freed by one of the doctors working on the program. He’s been infused with some type of elemental energy from another  world, and when he becomes stressed, or concentrates hard enough, he can access this energy to be faster and stronger than human. Unfortunately, many of the assassins out to kill him are also successful experiments and can access this energy too.

I thought the acting was atrocious, but I loved the kinetic energy in this movie. I think it was worth watching, for the action scenes, although a couple of them lasted just a tad longer than they should have. The action is really fast, brutal, and bloody. My major complaint about that, was that so many of the fights took place in public spaces, well within view of spectators, who did not seem at all puzzled to see black garbed killers flailing swords around, at the park. I mean it is a fairly unusual sight in this world but I guess maybe not so much in David’s.

Kill Order is available on Hulu, and is not related to the Maze Runner series, by James Dashner, as far as I know.

 

Pose

I heard about this show on The Root, and thought I’d give it a try. It’s a new show, from the creator of American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy, and is loosely based on the 1990 movie, Paris is Burning, about the gay Ballroom scene in 1980s New York. I enjoyed that movie, and have been fascinated with Ballroom culture ever since, and this show is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle, that comes from a place of authenticity, as many of the actors are actually transgender.

I was a little put out by the opening of the movie, as I don’t particularly enjoy watching characters be mean and bitchy to one another, but apparently that was just  setting up the (loosely named) villains of the show, House Abundance, which is the rival to House Evangelista. There’s also a B plot involving the economic boom issues going on in NY at the time, involving the rise of  Donald Trump, (although he is not featured in the series).

House Abundance is run by Dominique, who was once the House mother for Blanca, who left her (becasue she wasn’t getting any respect), to start her own House, and we get to watch as the two Houses compete in various shows, how Blanca builds her own house, and the contrast between how the two houses are run. The show also tackles issues of teen/LGBTQ homelessness, as Blanca adopts a young man from the street, whose family abandoned him.

For those of you unfamiliar with all this, here’s are some  brief primers on  Ballroom culture and voguing. You’ll hear about the two Houses, La Beija, Xtravaganza, and Ninja, which were the focus of the movie, Paris is Burning, and some of the dance moves, like The Duck Walk, and the Death Drop. The New York Black and Latinx LGBTQ Ballroom culture is where the original meaning of “Shade” and “Reading” people came from. (None of this has anything to do with the dance form which was co-opted by Madonna in the 90s.)

I’ve only spent some time watching the various clips from this move, because it just hurts too much, to watch it, in its entirety, multiple times. The stories really move you. You start to root for certain characters, only to find out they were murdered in a hate crime, a few months later, or died of Aids. it can be hard to watch, but its worth it to glimpse a culture you may have never seen before. I try to be respectful, and keep in mind, that I’m not a part of this culture, and  a spectator to all it. I just admire it from afar.

 

Here is one of my favorite moments in Paris is Burning, about the philosophy behind voguing, realness, and authenticity:

 

I enjoyed the first episode a lot, and I made a promise to myself to catch some  more episodes, although I’m not yet devoted to it. But I do love the idea that this even managed to make its way to Primetime TV. I can actually see something like this being made in the 80s for  television, but not in the 90s, which was a lot more conservative. If you have been wishing for more LGBTQ content on TV then this is your show, this is your hour, this is you! The show discusses a lot of transgender issues, which makes this show absolutely groundbreaking!

This show wasn’t recommended to me from my Firestick, although I think you can watch it on Hulu, if you don’t have cable, or satellite TV.

 

The Outsider

I was prepared not to like this movie, which is newly available on Netflix. Netflix recommended I watch this, because I’d watched several Chinese Action movies (?), and put several more on my watchlist. So, even though I was dubious, because it starred Jared Leto, I took a chance, and gave it a try.

For the record,  I am, apparently,  one of the five people on the entire planet, who does not hate Jared Leto. I’m just occasionally wary of his presence in something, mostly  based on the stories I’ve heard about him, that I should, but I’ve always been contrary. I think he’s a perfectly okay actor, and I’ve liked him ever since he got his ass beat by Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I even liked him in this movie, although he turns in, what is for him, a rather subdued performance, which is also completely unnecessary to the plot of this movie.

I have a confession to make. I am a fan of historical movies, and books, about Westerners travelling, and living, in Japan. I will watch, or read, just about anything on that subject. That said, though, I have never understood Hollywood’s need to add White men to stories that do not actually require their presence. I don’t  object to  such things per se, but sometimes, I don’t feel like looking at White guys in Asian media. I’m told this is an economic choice, because White Americans are too stupid to watch movies without any White men in them. Personally, I think that’s a grave insult to the reasonably smart White people who actually watch foreign films, with nary a White guy in sight, (and if the American school system hadn’t spent so many decades turning its citizens brains into ignorant mush about the rest of the world, this would never have created a problem, that needed to be pandered to.)

This is an acceptable movie, and Jared Leto is fine in it, as an American criminal, imprisoned in Japan, just after WW2. While there, he meets, and saves the life of, a Yakuza member. When the two of them break out of prison, he goes to work for the man whose life he saved, the son of a Yakuza leader, and gets accepted as a low ranking member of the clan, despite the protestations of his friend’s brother, who is set to inherit the title of clan leader. He meets a girl, and gets involved in some drama, that results in the entire clan being killed, after which he’s exiled.

This story could just as easily have been told without him, because the politics and infighting of Yakuza clans is fascinating, all on its own. I don’t know if the director is Japanese, but I didn’t get much of a sense of Japan in this movie, beyond the usual surface signifiers, like Sumo scenes, neon city streets, and  dancing geisha. If you’re looking for some depth of setting, like a travelogue, this is not that movie. Leto looks distinctly out of place, but I guess that’s the point of putting him in this movie.

The setting felt more like the industrial wasteland of 80s Chicago, than 50s Japan, so there could’ve definitely been some more work done on the time setting. The trailer looks more Japanese than the actual movie, and I have no idea how a director manages to accomplish such a thing.  It’s a very dark film. It’s very gloomy. There’s a lot of sitting around in bars, gambling, and drinking, while giving people shifty looks, talking smack about the American, some macho grandstanding, and some short, brutal, fight scenes, which Leto performs satisfactorily, without ever seeming as if he is a dangerous person. I think it’s because he has this wide eyed innocent look, (he is exceptionally pretty), that works against what he’s trying to portray. He really needs to work on looking more shifty eyed, unless of course,  that was the point of his character.

It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a spectacular one either. I liked the visuals, but I like the visuals of any movie set in Japan, so that’s a very low bar. There’s nothing in it that stands out in particular, beyond the mood, and setting, and this one White guy, that the other characters keep saying doesn’t belong where he is. If you’ve got some time to spend on a Saturday evening, with nothing much to do, and you don’t mind watching Jared Leto, and some Japanese imagery, for 90 minutes or so, then it’s an engaging enough film, but if you choose not to watch it, don’t beat yourself up over that decision, too much.

 

 

Travels With My Dad

I have a pretty close relationship to my Mom, so I’m always fascinated by other peoples real life, adult, relationships with their parents. I actually really liked this show. It wasn’t recommended to me by Netflix, but eventually it would have, because I like travel shows, and I enjoyed watching the show, An Idiot Abroad.

Jack Whitehall is a British comedian that I know nothing about. I’ve never seen any of his performances, so I came into this completely clear of any expectations beyond the show’s premise. The show is about him taking his dad,Michael, along with him on a world tour. The two of them do some father/son bonding, and have some mildly amusing adventures, as Jack attempts to connect with his dad. I would say his objective is successful, and occasionally deeply amusing, as his dad is not the kind of man who minces words, makes it clear the things he will, and will not do, while still having a sense of whimsy, and being game enough to try new things.

In fact, I really loved the show, and I’m not sure what this says about me other than I’m older than Jack or American or a woman or something, but I kinda identified with Michael for most of the show. Like his dad, I was often exasperated at Jack’s attitudes about things. When they first get to somewhere in SE Asia, Jack wants to stay at a hostel, but Michael is having none of that shit, and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t either. I would not travel halfway around the world, to live in a small room,with a bunch of strange White people, who look none too clean, or trustworthy. (Also, I have a phobia about falling asleep in the presence of White people, because apparently,  I’ve watched far too many bad comedies.) Like Jack’s dad, I’m gonna stay at a nice hotel, like a civilized human being. If I’m gonna be robbed, I want that shit done James Bond style, with class.

Michael and Jack visit a temple, and a house of dolls. Or is it the same thing? The idea behind the dollhouse is that people have these very realistic dolls made, that are supposed to House the souls of actual children. Well, they get a doll, and Michael carries this little doll around, for the rest of the show. The point is that you’re supposed to treat the doll like an actual child. I thought this was both creepy and cute. Jack just thought it was creepy. Michael named the doll, carried him openly everywhere, and doted on it, just like he was supposed to, but eventually lost the doll, when he gave it to another little boy to hold,when he went on a sort of train ride. That’s something you really have to see because it’s not actually a train, and is a deeply inefficient form of travel, that Michael absolutely hated.

But it was a very  fun show. I adored Jack’s parents. His mom has got a bit of salt in her too, which I liked. Michael would call her every evening, and they’d talk about what he’d done that day, and she would give him no nonsense advice on things to say and do with Jack. If you’ve got parents, (especially if you’re their primary caregiver), you should probably watch this show with them. I didn’t watch this with my mom, but I’m thinking about it.

 

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Black Mirror Review

The topic for this season of Black Mirror seems to be White Supremacy, and I guess somebody, (I won’t name names, but I will point in the general direction of my co-worker, Chad) feels some type of way about that.

“Racial issues” was the general theme of three key episodes of this season. The plot usually  involved some form of technology that had  gone horribly wrong, or gets badly misused because of the philosophy of a Toxic White person, and then some marginalized person catches some shit for it.

Yeah, I can see people feeling salty enough to give bad reviews, especially if the theme for this season seems to be  “White people fucking up, y’all!” If things were reversed, and the theme was “Them Colored folk is fucking up the future!”, I’d be inclined to dislike it, too.

I watched all of the episodes, except Hang the DJ, because I’m not particularly interested in shows about young people falling in love.

 

USS Callister

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My favorite episode was USS Callister. The story is blatantly feminist but that’s okay, because it was very entertaining, as a Star Trek parody that takes place entirely in one man’s head. At first I thought this was a straight up parody about the original Star Trek, and a critique of how the original got feminism wrong, but it turned out to be something very different.

An entitled and awkward game maker, who doesn’t feel appreciated enough in the real world, creates simulated versions of his co-workers in a virtual game, and I just thought it would be a comedy, but  what elevates this above a parody is that he is White,  he treats the other characters appallingly, and most of his simulated co-workers are women, and people of color, whose job it is to worship and praise him as the Captain of the USS Callister. Those who are not sufficiently worshipful are punished.

One of the few White male characters (his company partner in the real world) is punished, over and over again, is by having a simulation of his son murdered in front of him, and the lone Black woman gets transformed into an alien monster as punishment for the activities of the white female lead , trying  to free them. The lone black male character is forced to speak in vernacular and wear an Afro. The point of all of this is that all of these characters must live in stereotyped versions of themselves, and kowtow to the captain, while he uses the game to take out his real life racial and sexual resentments on these self aware, virtual, clones, who are  powerless. When you couple all that with the sexlessness of the clones (none of them possess genitalia), it all adds up to some very deeply unhealthy ideas about sex.

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The simulations are not real people, but they are aware that they are trapped in a game called Infinity. They spend most of the episode trying to escape the simulation. The Captain also has access to their real world DNA, so they can never really die, as he can resurrect them anytime.

This particular episode is an indictment of  toxic White masculinity in the gaming industry. Its also a commentary on Incels, the Alt-right, and gamergate.

http://collider.com/black-mirror-uss-callister-explained/

What’s brilliant about “USS Callister” is how it serves up its headfake in the first act. We think we’re about to see a story of a mild mannered genius who gets no respect, and the episode uses our assumptions against us. We’ve seen that story time and again, where the quiet nice guy is the hero, but the story this episode tells is one that rings true to the world we live in today. 

 

Crocodile

Of all the episodes of Black Mirror, I think this one was the most hated, and I think it’s because a lot of critics didn’t understand what it was actually about. (Or maybe they did understand and it offended them.) There was also a certain contingent of people who simply couldn’t get past the deaths of the Muslim family in the episode, not quite understanding, that was the point, and  could not have been made otherwise.

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I’ve read several reviews of this episode, and when I speak on  ‘critical diversity’ issues, the fact that none of the reviews I’ve read mention race as a factor to the narrative, is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about.

Most of the episode takes place in an Icelandic landscape, and is about a White woman, who goes on a killing spree, based on a killing she committed many years ago. Now she does kill another person in the narrative, but what many reviewers refuse to mention is that she also, coldbloodedly, murders a Muslim couple, and their baby.

Several years ago, Mia was present at the killing of a homeless man, via hit and run. Her boyfriend was the one who committed the deed, and years later, wracked with guilt,  he comes back to tell her he’s going to confess. She kills him. During this meeting another man is hit by a car outside the hotel where Mia and her old boyfriend have met, and Mia is called in as  witness by a young Muslim woman named Shazia. Shazia has a device that can probe a person’s recent memories ,and uses it on Mia, who cannot disguise the reason she was at the hotel, and that she killed her old boyfriend, at that time.

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Mia ties Shazia up, and using the memory device on Shazia, finds out that Shazia’s husband knew where she was going. She kills Shazia, and then goes to her home, and kills her husband, and their baby, just in case the device can be used on him. There is a guinea pig in the room, but Mia doesn’t kill it, and the device apparently works on animals, because Mia gets arrested while at her son’s recital that evening.

croc·o·dile tears
noun
 tears or expressions of sorrow that are insincere.
 
 https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/vbyp3b/in-black-mirror-white-mothers-are-the-coldest-villains

The title is a reference to the Crocodile Tears that Mia cries throughout the entire episode. Mia is always crying. She cries after she kills the homeless man. She cries after she kills her old boyfriend. She cries after killing Shazia, and her family. But all these tears do not stop her from being cold-bloooded (ie. reptilian) enough to kill a mother, her husband, and her baby to serve her own needs. Mia’s tears are meaningless, and are ultimately only about her own discomfort, and the possible loss of her lifestyle, with a new husband and career, and have nothing to do with the horrors she’s enacting. It is telling that Mia is cold enough to kill a baby, but cares enough not to kill the guinea pigs sitting on the table in the baby’s room.

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To me, a lot of these episodes are an indictment of White women who devalue the lives of women of color, and prioritize Whiteness. What Mia is doing, willingly taking the lives of marginalized others to save her own, while supposedly feeling sorry about it, is a definite reference to White feminism, the kind of feminism that is willing to throw other women (and even their children) under the bus to preserve itself, and can be directly attributed to the 53% of White female voters who put Donald Trump in the White House. I think this episode speaks directly to the hypocrisy of such women, as Mia considered the life of the family guinea pigs to be worth more than the life of the human baby she murders, and next to The Black Museum, this is the second most powerful episode in the season.

Throughout the entire episode, Mia keeps telling herself she has no choice but to do these things, and what’s worst , she tries to convince Shazia of this as well. Of all the choices she doesn’t consider, giving up her privileged, upper class lifestyle, is never one of them. At every step along the way, Mia could have stopped, but she is too cowardly, and self involved, to consider doing that, and cries because SHE is the one in pain.  Mia is a monster in every sense of the term.

Its interesting to me that reviewers can easily see that the USS Callister episode was about male entitlement, and sexism, but when it comes to the events of Crocodile, reviewers conveniently fail to “get it”, never mentioning that three of the people Mia kills are a dark skinned Muslim family. In some cases, the critics walk right up to the issue, and then neatly sidestep as if the  subject of  White racism is the least important (or most banal) part of the episode ,and they simply cannot be bothered with such a topic.

Crocodile Tears: The Violence of White Womanhood in Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ Episode “Crocodile”

by Talynn Kel (On Medium. Com/ for Members Only)

 

Black Museum

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I spoke about this particular episode in an earlier post on why we need more Black critics. of the three episodes i talk about here, this one was the stand out.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/black-mirror-and-critical-diversity/

 

*On the subject of the critical reception of this season, I want to list The Verge, for getting every single one of its hot takes of this season wrong. In every episode that approaches race, the critics of The Verge manage to totally not “get it”. (In one case, a critic ignores the message of Black Museum entirely, to focus their attention on the White male villain of the episode.) Now there isn’t anything wrong, in particular, with the individual critiques but when coupled with the all the others that never mention any of the blatantly racial aspects of  the episodes, I’m inclined to give the critics of this website (and The Vulture) a confirmed side eye.

 

That said:

http://feministing.com/2016/09/21/film-critics-talk-racism-in-the-movie-industry/

 

Crocodile Tears: The Violence of White Womanhood in Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ Episode “Crocodile” — Part One (SPOILERS AHEAD FOLKS SO STRAP IN)

                                                                                    —– Medium.com

Forthcoming Geekery

Bohemian Rhapsody

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

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

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

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

The movie will be released in November.

 

 

BlackkKlansman

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Predator

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Westworld and Into The Badlands – Season Two Premieres

I watched the season premieres of both shows live, thankfully, as they don’t actually air at the same time. They air back to back, and are immediately followed by Last Week With John Oliver, another news show I have an addiction for. The overriding theme of Into the Badlands wont become explicitly clear until some time mid-season but the overarching plot of Westworld was stated by the characters.

 

Into the Badlands

In the opening sequence The Widow fights Nathaniel Moon to a draw, in order to make him her new Regent, after Waldo and Tilda left her last season. It’s very nice to see Moon actually survived his encounter with Sunny and that he’s back. He was one of my favorite characters from last season, and I hope he gets better treatment this season. He does at least get a new hand, having had the original chopped off by Sunny. He might also  be feeling some type of way about that during the season. To their credit, the writers have acknowledged the mistakes they made with the Black characters last season, and have said they will try to do better. I hope so, as that was one of my main criticisms . (Also, I like that they didn’t give some bullshit excuse for their mistakes.)

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I have a much more solid idea of what The Widow is trying to do this season,  Remember how we said that the basic storyline of the story Jounrey to the West from Chinese lore. Well The Widow’s storyline is also based on Chinese lore, as she is attempting to unify the Badlands all under one rule. We see her standing in front of  the map we saw last season. She and Baron Chau are the only two Baronys left, and her task this season is to bring that Barony under her rule, unify the Badlands and institute social reforms. This is a reference to the Qin Wars that unified China.
I loved the scene where she first meets Moon at a lighthouse. (And can I just point out that it’s still  kinda awesome watching  The Widow kicking ass in her three inch heels. I never get tired of that.) Now Silver Moon has been taking down any headhunters who come after him, and planting their swords in the soil near the lighthouse. At first he thinks The Widow is just another bounty hunter, and the two of them fight all the way up the stairs of the lighthouse. There’s a lot of flight in these scenes, and the Western mind is prone to think of the ability to fly as a sign of the goodness of the person doing it. Since both the Widow and Moon are very gray characters, their ability to fly is not an indication of their morality, but of the purity of their resolve, and the conviction of their beliefs. Sometimes the ability to fly  indicates that a person strongly believes whatever they believe.

This is not a fight to determine the rightness of a certain point of view, as the two of them have just met and have no past history to fight about. The two of them also fight to a draw, with Moon proving that he would make an excellent Regent for The Widow. We start to get a better idea of her ambitions for the future of the Badlands, and although I’m still mad at her for her shitty behavior last season, I’m actually agreeable with her ultimate goal. With the Badlands unified, they can much better fend off any rivals for power from outside the Badlands, like Pilgrim, (although we’re not certain how good or bad that character is yet.)

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Qin’s wars of unification were a series of military campaigns launched in the late 3rd century BC by the Qin state against the other six major states — HanZhaoYanWeiChuand Qi — within the territories that formed modern China. By the end of the wars in 221 BC, Qin had unified most of the states and occupied some lands south of the Yangtze River. The territories conquered by Qin served as the foundation of the Qin dynasty.

So while  I don’t know how to feel about The Widow, right now, I find that I do still believe in her goals, but find  her methods  deeply questionable. She is still holding MK prisoner in her mansion, as the two of them try to find a way to re-introduce him to his superpowers. MK has become a  suicidal  opium addict, and this is probably going to have some type of effect on his abilities. I still like him though, as he’s full of piss and vinegar towards her, giving zero fucks about her feelings. This is a gorgeously shot scene,  as slow motion  clouds of smoke pour out of MK’s nose, giving it a very forties film noir feel, picture Rachel’s Voight-Kampff interview in Bladerunner.

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There are a lot more blues and purples this season, (along with more jewel tones in general). I love the color compositions in this show. The creators put some real thought into it.

Bajie has also returned, having not actually died last season in the tower. Unfortunately, his rogue-like manner has not changed, and he continues to get himself in trouble, becoming prisoner to yet another group of people. Tilda first saves him by accident, and later in the episode, he is saved from execution by Sunny. I’d say Bajie is more trouble than he’s worth, but I like him, and he’s  a font of useful information on the goings on outside the Badlands, and one of this show’s few sources of humor. Oh, yeah, he’s also possibly responsible for bringing Pilgrim and Cressida to the Badlands, as the signal he sent  out into the world in the last episode has now, seemingly been answered.

Tilda has adopted a kind of Robin Hood persona, that she uses to procure goods, and people, for Lydia, who runs a refugee camp for people displaced by the war, and this is where Bajie, Lydia, and Sunny meet. According to Bajie, its been six months since Quinn’s death.

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Pilgrim and Cressida arrive through the massive gate that we saw separating the Badlands from the rest of the country. They approach one of the forts manned by Baron Chau’s people ,who are easily defeated by the two black eyed ,super powered teenagers who work for him.Pilgrim’s intent is to rule the Badlands, as he believes himself to be a kind of prophet. Cressida seems to perform much the same function for Pilgrim that a Regent does for a Baron. She offers him advice and support in his endeavors. This is an intriguing role for one of the few Black women in the show.  (I hope to see the Abbess from last season, played by Chipo Chung.)

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As for Sunny, all of his concentration is on Henry. He has gone into hiding to raise his son, and there’s a very Lone Wolf and Cub vibe\ there There are still people looking for Sunny, and he finds that it will be impossible for him to stop killing, because now he has to protect Henry from harm. When Henry develops a fever one morning, he takes him to see a healer who discovers that the child is one of the black-eyed super powered people randomly populating the Badlands.

One of the major themes this season may be people finding out about Henry, and trying to kidnap him, along with The Widow and Baron Chau’s war. Last season we saw Sunny coming to terms with his former life as a Clipper, but as Moon told him in the second episode. there’s always going to be people who want to challenge him, and make a name for them self, by killing the most legendary Clipper in the Badlands.

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Westworld

Here’s the very funny Vulture review of this episode:

http://www.vulture.com/2018/04/westworld-season-2-premiere-questions.html

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We pick up the show two weeks after Ford’s murder by Dolores, and  the massacre of the Delos Board in the park. We get introduced to new people, re-introduced to all the major characters again, and we get to see what they’ve been doing since the event. Apparently Ashley Stubbs was not killed by the Natives, which is what we all thought happened, although frankly I would not be shocked to discover that Ford took Ashley’s competence into account, and had him duplicated as a Host. What better person to have in charge of security than someone you can totally control, just like Bernard.

The episode moves aback and forth in time from the immediate aftermath ’til two weeks out. Two weeks later Bernard is found lying on a beach in the park by soldiers, who have been called in to investigate what happened, and subdue the Hosts. The rest of the episode is about events leading up to when Bernard was found on the beach.

Directly after the massacre Dolores and the other Hosts are hunting down any and all humans in the park and taking great satisfaction in executing them. I found myself unable to feel an ounce of sympathy for the humans they shot and in some cases lynched. Dolores wants revenge for all the atrocities committed against the Hosts by the Guests, and the slave/revenge allegory is made explicitly clear, when she references human slavery. It is an all out war between the humans and the Hosts.

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I can’t help but feel some type of way considering that the Hosts were treated by human beings in the same manner that Black Americans were treated by White people for some three hundred years (and seem reluctant to give up.) Dolores words are an echo of a post I wrote, about how the first season of the show specifically references real world slavery. (For the record, the show is written by an Asian American woman, Lisa Joy, and Jonathan Nolan, the brother of Christopher Nolan. Previously, Joy worked on the shows Burn Notice and Pushing Daisies.)

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/westworld-revisiting-the-slave-narrative/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/why-sci-fi-keeps-imagining-the-enslavement-of-white-people/361173/

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When we last saw Maeve she made the decision to go back for her daughter. To that end, she teams up with Lee, the hack writer for Westworld, and he immediately tries to betray her to the security team, stalking the halls of the Delos Corporation, hunting down stray Hosts.I’m all for her killing him, and I guess the show must have some purpose for him, as he’s still around. Maeve gets reunited with Hector who forgives her for leaving him. He vows to follow her no matter where she goes. Remember Maeve’s name means “to enchant”, and she seems to have definitely had that effect on Hector.

Bernard in the aftermath of the massacre, is in the company of Charlotte Hale. He’s suffering from some type of corruption of his system programming, and is desperately trying to keep that a  secret from Charlotte. Charlotte must find the Host in which she secreted a special code last season, if she expects to be rescued from the park.

When Bernard is found on the beach, he isn’t very forthcoming about what has happened in the park. Later he and the military come across the bodies of dozens of  Hosts who have drowned in a previously unknown lake in the park. Bernard admits he may be responsible for what happened to them, and his time with Charlotte may be the key, because by the time he’s been found on the beach, Charlotte is nowhere to be found, but since the military is there to rescue what guests are left alive, we can assume her mission was successful.

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Dolores ambitions involve more than simply freeing the Hosts from one park, she intends to free all the Hosts from all the parks. To that end we may get to visit the other four parks, which consist of Samurai World, Future World, Medieval World, and possibly Roman World.

The Man in Black is in heaven as he has finally gotten exactly what he wanted from the park. he wanted the stakes to be higher, to actually have some skin in the game. he is enjoined by Robert Ford’s little boy avatar to a new mission. To try to make it to the other end of the park alive.

So not a whole lot happened beyond introducing the two major character arcs for the season: Dolores ambition to free all the Hosts, and Maeve’s search for her daughter. The two of them have not yet met, and I’m looking forward to that. I will be disappointed if they are written in a stereotypical female manner of rivals and enemies, but there is a woman helping to write these characters, and she has shown so ability to think from an inter-sectional standpoint, so I feel hopeful she may get that right.

I love stories of Westerners  in Japan, so I’m really looking forward to when Maeve gets to visit Samurai World.

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Why Star Wars Fans Are The Worse Fans Ever…

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

“Do they even know how to Fan?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meta

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

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

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

JUST OWN IT!!!

 

A List of Things Reylos Have Done

rootbeergoddess

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

This list will surely get longer.

 

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

xprincessrey

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

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

 

hanorganaas

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

 

nutheadgee

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

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

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

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

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

heartlessbrujx

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

-Weaponized cope shipping reylos against anti survivors

-Made a sexual assault reylo video

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

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

-suicide baiting antis for calling Adam Driver ugly

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

-Drawn Finn with wide lips and black skin

-Take FinnRey lines to promo their mayo pairing

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

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

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

 

angelsaxis

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

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

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

 

inkstorrn

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

badships

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

 

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

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

As far as what Tumblr thinks:

 On White Prioritization

 

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

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

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

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

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 The Becky Sue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

submitted by  anon on FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

 

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Image result for white feminism

On White Feminism in Fandom Spaces

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

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

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

RANT: Video Game Fandoms and White Women

FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLK Jr.

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

Malcolm X

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

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

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From: FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

(*Boldened by me.)

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

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

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

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

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On Finn And Sacrifice

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

stitchmediamix

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

A) You’re wrong. So wrong.

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

 

adeptarcanist

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

 

stitchmediamix

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

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

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

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

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

 

mikeymagee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On Iris West and Fandom

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

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

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And finally:

On The Fandom Community

lj-writes

Carrying the fandom load

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…TV

Ooh! There’s some great stuff coming to television this spring. Also, some not so great stuff, but we won’t know that until we look at it, soo…

Now:

Altered Carbon (Netflix): I have not yet watched this. I will get around to it and let you know what I think at some point.

 

 

Ash Vs The Evil Dead Season 3 (Starz): I’ve watched a couple of episodes of this season. Lucy Lawless has returned, and Ash finds out he has a daughter. I don’t think I’ll watch the entire season, but as far as I can tell, the show is even gorier, and zanier, than that first season. Next to Happy, and Legion, its one of the most batshit shows on TV.

 

 

Mute (Netflix): I started watching this but checkedout because I got bored. Since then I’ve read a number of great reviews comparing it to Balderunner and Altered Carbon. I also happen to like the lead actor who  played Eric from the show True Blood. There’s lot so secretive conversations, half naked dancing, and neon, so my tolerance may be a bit low, but I’ll try to watch it again.

March:

(1) Atlanta:Robbin Season (FX): I missed a lot of episodes of the first season, so I had to go back and catch up. I’ve watched the first episode of this new season, and really enjoyed it. You have to see it to believe it. The special guest star for this episode is Katt Williams, playing a man who owns an alligator, and has kidnapped his girlfriend until she pays him back the money she stole.

 

(2) Ravenous (Netflix): I think this show is Swedish, or Danish, or French or something. Its not in English anyway. It’s about a small town beset by zombies, and looks intriguing. I’m taking some vacation next week, so I’ll check it out then, and let you know if the subtitles are worth it.

 

(7) Hard Sun (Hulu): I have no idea what this is aobut, but the description sounded kinda like a British version of The X-Files. I like the X-Files, and I like British shows, but I don’t know that I’ll like this. It just sounds interesting.

 

(7) Hap and Leonard Season 2 (Sundance): I’ve read a couple of the books, and the show looks like fun. The books are definitely an acquired taste, and have a kind Pulp Fiction meets Justified feel to them. I’m interested to see if the show captures the same flavor. I’m not going to bingewatch it though, just check out a couple of episodes. The trailers look like fun, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy a steady diet of this.

 

(8) Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix): I couldn’t make it through the first season of the show for…reasons. Maybe I’ll have better luck this weekend. I want to like Jessica, but she is such a downer type person, that its hard to watch her series. She was cool in The Defenders, and the trailers look a bit more appetizing though, so I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll see more WoC in this season, yeah?

 

(9) The Outsider (Netflix): Despite my judgmental nature, I’m not actually  willing to completely condemn a show before I watch it. I’m also one of five people who does not simply hate Jared Leto, although I probably should. I’m not a fan, but I’m not averse to watching (or liking) any vehicle he happens to be in.I also happen to like movies about The Yakuza and will pretty much watch anything with them in it, probably because I get a kick out of watching Japanese men behaving badly.

 

(9) A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Netflix): I rarely watch anime series, but this looks interesting and scary, so I’m going to try it.

 

(11) Timeless Season 2 (NBC): I have never watched this, but I’m sure some of you may be interested in it. Its my understanding that the show did some interesting things with the Black character last season, and have not neglected to take into account that he is a Black man, who travels into time periods that are probably not too good for his health.

 

 

(21) Krypton (Syfy): I would not normally have included this, because I have no interest in watching a show that doesn’t actually feature Superman, and the trailers look a little too soap opera-adjacent for my tastes. But hey! I’m sure someone, somewhere is very excited about this, and it might turn out to be a good show.

 

(26) The Terror (AMC): You already heard me gushing about this one. Still gushing!

 

(29) Siren (Freeform): This is like a horror movie version of The Little Mermaid. The acting looks really dodgy, but I’m going to try it, because i’m always here for evil sea-creatures, pretending to be beautiful, but talent-less actresses.

 

(30) The Titan (Netflix): I’m not a huge fan of the lead actor here, but I like the idea of hideous transformations and planetary travel.

 

(30) A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix): I missed the entire first season, but hey! it’s still on Netflix, so theoretically I can catch up anytime, right? Well, maybe someone besides me can catch up. I liked the movie okay, but I got bored in the first episode. Not that its a bad, or even a boring show. I’m just much more likely to fall asleep while lying in bed with the Netflix on.

 

 

April:

(2) The Crossing (ABC): I like the premise of this show which reminds me of The 4400, which was canceled right when I was starting to get into it. Hopefully this has shown up at a good time, and will do well. Sometimes half the success of a show is the timing of its release.

 

(3) Legion (FX): I think the first season hurt my brain.This is unlike any other superhero show on television. If you like wild situations, that may or may not be tangentially related to the plot, or even real, occasionally linear dialogue, and zany imagery, then go for it.  I think this show broke my head, but I’m gonna watch it again anyway.

 

 

(8) Killing Eve (BBC): People are always clamoring for female lead shows that are dark and thrilling. Well here you go! I hate the lead character, just from the trailer alone, but I know there’s an audience out there for a female psychopath. I do happen to like and respect Sandra Oh, and she looks wonderful in this.

 

 

(13) Lost in Space (netflix): I don’t know why they’re making a remake of this, but I’ll watch it, since I watched and sorta liked the original. Of course I was a kid when I saw the original so that may have been a factor in my enjoyment, and also I wanted a Robbie the Robot just like in the show.

 

(13) The Expanse Season 3 (Syfy): One of these days I’m going to watch one of the seasons The Expanse, all the way through to the end, after which there shall  commence a day of celebration. There shall be much rejoicing, (and possibly some wailing and gnashing of teeth, too.)

 

(22) Westworld (HBO): AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Allow me to repeat that, in case you didn’t get that…uh’hem! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

 

(22) Into the Badlands Season 3 (AMC):  Well naturally, to punish me for my enthusiasm, my two favorite shows will air on the same night. Fortunately HBO likes to show multiple repeats all week long, so I can watch this, and record the other. And of course you know, this means reviews, reviews, and more reviews.

 

 

 

May:

Apparently, there’s nothing coming on TV in May. All the stations will just be blank, which will be the signal for the Apocalypse to begin, because What the Fuck!!!

Oh yeah right!  Bear Grylls is gonna be doing some shit, on the last day of the month, if you’re into that sort of thing!

SAVED!!!!

 

June

(7) Cloak and Dagger (Freeform): I read this comic book as a teen, but I don’t think this show is gonna be a whole lot like the comic, which is a really good thing, because that book was hella racist. I mean half the stuff they did with those two characters, would not fly on TV today, without a major backlash. Cloak’s superpower is that he absorbs light, and Dagger’s power is that she emits it.

 

(22) Luke Cage Season 2:

Write your own, highly  enthusiastic, response here!

TBD:

Castle Rock (Hulu): We still have received no date for this show. All I know is that its coming to Hulu this year, but I can wait. It looks interesting.

 

Why I’m Not Watching The Movie Annihilation

 

I’m a big Jeff Vandermeer fan. I’ve read most of his books, all of which are pretty trippy. (The man has a serious fascination with mushrooms.) So I was  excited to hear they’d be filming his three part Southern Reach series, and while I had no particular objection to Alex Garland as the filmmaker, I had to stop and and ask myself, Is the book unfilmable?

If you haven’t read the book, the best description of it is that it’s an intellectual exercise in horror. Events happen in the book, but the book is not linear, in the sense that the actions you’re reading about have immediate consequences, or lead to other events. This is not helped by the unreliable narrator. Events occur, are occurring, but you have no idea what they mean, or if they did, in fact, actually occur.

In the first book of the Area X trilogy, called Annihilation, an all female team of researchers go on an expedition into what’s called Area X, an area of weird life forms, and bizarre transformations of the natural world, that may or may not be hostile, which grows larger every year. In the movie, this place is called The Shimmer, and it’s probably worth looking at just to see the alien life forms.

These women are the 12th such expedition into the area. Most of the other expeditions didn’t come back, and the individuals who have made it out, either die soon afterwards, or are less than helpful as to what happened.. The narrator is a woman who lost her husband in the previous expedition. He came back but lapsed into a coma.The first book chronicles her journey  into Area X, while still in mourning for her husband. Just to complicate issues, some of the members of the expedition have been tasked with observing the others, and some of them have been given hypnotic code words, to make them do, and say  things.

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I read the first book, and skipped the second and third, because those seemed less about Area X, than about the government organization that studies it, called The Southern Reach. A lot of the second book consists of the backbiting and infighting between the members of this organization.

I don’t know how well this movie is going to do at the box office. I don’t think its going to do exceptionally well, but I could be wrong. Like Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman has never been a huge draw for filmgoers, although she’s a perfectly acceptable actress. There’s also the matter of this movie coming out on the tail end of the release of Black Panther. But then, I think any movie released in the wake of Black Panther is taking a rather bold stance. The creators of this movie must have realized this because they will be releasing the movie to Netflix UK sometime in March, from what I understand.

What I know of the plot of the movie doesn’t sound a whole lot like the book either. There’s a bunch of mutated animals, including a mutated bear, hunting the members of the expedition. This bear isn’t in the book, although a host of other odd creatures are, the most frightening of which is The Crawler.

Image result for movie annihilation the crawler

And then there is the matter of the whitewashing. Natalie Portman’s character is described as being Asian in the book, and a lot of people feel some type of way about that, to the point where Garland has had to makes some excuses for why he chose her. He claims he had not read the book before she was cast. What Portman’s excuse is, I have no idea. It was someone’s responsibility to let people know that the lead character was Asian. He also cast Jenifer Jason Leigh in another role supposedly meant for  a half Indian woman. As usual Hollywood continues to fuck up, when it comes to Asian representation.

Myriad reasons have been cited as to how this happened: The characters’ ethnicities are not explicitly stated until the second book; Garland began working on the adaptation before he was officially attached to the project and therefore before the second book was published. Etcetera. The bottom line seems to be ignorance, as Garland, Portman, and Leigh have all stated that they simply didn’t know. It’s not difficult to believe there was no malicious intent in the casting. But the statements still read like apologies that somehow lack the word “sorry,” and shuck responsibility for what happened onto a nonexistent second part

https://www.thedailybeast.com/annihilation-and-hollywoods-erasure-of-asians

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In the meantime, Non-Asian American fans are getting really, really, tired of only seeing the same 25 white actresses in everything. I have nothing against ScarJo, she’s an adequate actress, and she’s very pretty, (JLaw, on the other hand, can go kick rocks) but I really don’t want to see her ass in one more damn movie. I’m just  “tahd” of looking at her, and I’m about to feel the same way about Portman. I understand why Hollywood keeps casting the same people over and over, but still. Enough is enough.

In the book everyone dies, and this is an issue for me, because all the other women in the expedition are women of color. I love that they hired Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez for these roles, but I just don’t feel like sitting in the movie theater watching the only WoC in the entire movie get brutally mauled by a giant demon-bear. I feel tired just thinking about it. Apparently Hollywood’s idea of diversity now is to put WoC in a movie, and then brutally kill them (yeah, we’re looking at you Atomic Blonde!) I’d tell Hollywood to just cast some White women next time, but I’m pretty sure that they are also pretty tired of seeing themselves be brutally fridged,

 

I feel like making the movie about the women being hunted by a mutated animal is kind of dumbing it down, although a lot of critics claim its a very smart film. I just expected more than that because its not just the plot of the book that’s strange. The mood, the dialogue, all of feels uncanny. The book is full of long, quiet, contemplative moments, where the reader is basically sitting with the protagonists and hearing her thoughts. There’s also the added weirdness that she might very well be going insane, and doesn’t know it. It’s because of that, that her descriptions of what the other characters are doing, is suspect. (Perhaps if Terence Malick had been chosen as the director, I’d be more impressed. He seems to specialize in thoughtful voice-over  films.)

Despite my misgivings, I’m still intrigued though, but not intrigued enough to go to the movies and spend money on it. I think I’ll wait for this to come to cable.

 

Do You Remember The Sentinel TV Series

This series aired from 1996 through 1999. I remember watching the hell outta this show. It was through this show that I rediscovered slash fan fiction, having gotten away from it, from when I’d discovered Kirk/Spock.

This was very possibly one of the slashiest shows on TV next to Star Trek. Ao3 didn’t exist back then, (although yes, the internet existed) and there was so much fanfiction written about the two male leads of this show, that there were several whole archives devoted to it. (Like 852 Prospect). You can probably still find them. I feel that in some ways this show contributed to  many of the tropes of slash fan fiction, that we find so annoying today.

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The show featured a Ranger named James Ellison, played by Richard Burgi, who lost his Special Ops team in the Amazon jungle. The sole survivor, he discovered he was a member of a mystic warrior race with heightened senses, called Sentinels, whose job it was to watch over their specific tribes. After his rescue, he goes back to Cascade Washington (really just someplace in Canada), becomes a cop, and years later, has forgotten all about his time in the Amazon, until his senses get accidentally re-awakened, when solving one of his cases. At this point he gets discovered by an anthropology researcher named Blair.To help control his superpowers, Jim adopts Blair as a  spiritual focus, whose job is to bring Jim back to reality, when he gets too caught up in whatever he’s sensing.

Now, is that, or is that not, the kinda stuff slash fiction is made of. You’ve got superpowers, spiritual bonds, mystic shenanigans, cops, a handsome and gruff older man, and a cute  and excitable younger partner. It’s like the plot of every yaoi anime ever, and I was totally here for it. This show took me to church!

The popularity of this show was not at all harmed by shirtless images of Richard Burgi in his prime, and that the show’s actors were well aware they were being ‘shipped, and were all for it. Possibly they were even playing it up, since, because of censorship, the show’s creators would have been largely prevented from showing an openly gay relationship, between the two male leads. The study of slash fanfiction was also in its infancy then, and most people wouldn’t have known anything about it, as that was very much under  everyone’s radar. To give you some idea of the timelines involved, Buffy began the year this show ended, and ran until 2003. The show Supernatural began in 2005.

Image result for sentinel tv show

Richard Burgi was the new hawtness at the time, and Garrett Maggart, who played Blair, wasn’t too shabby looking either, and a lot of the show was really suggestive. The two of them lived together as roommates, they also worked together, because Blair said he wanted  to monitor Ellison’s superpowers, they were very touchy-feely and dramatic, everyone in their lives knew they were living together, including Jim’s ex-wife (Jim simply referred to Blair as his partner, with no other explanation to the rest of the staff of the police dept.) and the two hung out together ALL the time, and everyone seemed perfectly okay with it. This show set the grand standard for queerbaiting .

But I don’t think of this show as queer baiting because that wasn’t really much of a thing back then,  and because of the time period of the show, an open homosexual relationship couldn’t be shown. (Well, rather say that it is, in fact, queer baiting, but its the same kind of queer baiting that exists in old movies, where nothing could be explicitly stated.) Neither character had any long term love interests that the viewer knew they’d eventually end up with, and both of them spent entirely too much time standing uncomfortably close to one another, and looking into each other’s eyes. Queer baiting wasn’t a term that was used yet, but people did spend a lot of time discussing whether or not the characters were gay.

I really think this was a way for the show’s creators to get around  gay relationships not being  shown (or allowed to be shown) on prime time TV. In other words, they had to be sneaky. If you were gay, or gay adjacent, you would see it, and if you weren’t, then you didn’t, (because plausible excuses had been given for why they were not), which is entirely in keeping with the way homosexuality had always been dealt with in popular culture, with innuendo, hints, and allegations, and the show made absolutely no effort to go the “no homo” route by playing up the character’s  relationship with each other, while putting them in  endgame heterosexual relationships.

https://www.amazon.com/Celluloid-Closet-Armistead-Maupin/dp/B001NI5C6U/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1519758939&sr=1-1&keywords=celluloid+closet

It helps that there  was nothing about this show that was even remotely realistic, although if you’re not gonna quibble about the mystical aspects of the show, you shouldn’t have too many problems with other stuff on the show, such as the relationships, or how the “detectiving” was done.

Has anyone else noticed how the detectives on these shows don’t seem to specialize in any one type of detection, even though you can see that wherever they work is fully staffed? Ellison shouldn’t be working a murder case, a drug deal,  and a counterfeit jewelry op, all while trying to catch a terrorist bomber, at the same time.  Most 80’s cop shows just call for the detectives to work on whatever crime pops up that day, instead of specializing in a particular type of crime like homicide, or drugs, or something, which is not how that actually works, in big cities.

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At least several times a season Jim’s senses would go haywire, and Blair would have to talk him out of it, all while trying to keep this a secret from his commanding officer, Captain Simon Banks, played by Bruce Young, because, according to Ellison, if people found out he had superpowers, all his old cases would come up for review, and all the criminals he captured would have to be released. After all, superpowers are not sanctioned by the court system. I think this was a thinly veiled metaphor for being closeted. Jim and Blair often lived in fear that the people around them would find out about Jim’s superpowers, but neither of them cared that they looked like they were in a romantic relationship.

Simon wasn’t clueless the whole time. He eventually finds out, and keeps Jim’s secret, although I do like to wonder what he was thinking about this supposed academic following Jim around, and living with him. And Jim wasn’t actually wrong either. At the end of the series, there’s a riff between him and Blair, when Blair’s dissertation on Jim is accidentally leaked to the public, Jim is outed as a superbeing, and all hell breaks loose. Jim gets suspended. His cases all come up for review. He blames Blair for the potential  loss of his career, and civilians (and the media) are harassing him in the streets. But it all gets resolved, and the series ends on a positive note.

Since there was a mystical component to Jim’s superpowers as a Sentinel, there was a lot of references to his time in the Amazon, and a black jaguar, which appeared to be Jim’s totem animal. My biggest issue was that Jim had regular sightings of this jaguar, and I feel some type of of way about a cop who regularly hallucinates about his spirit animal. That just really bothered me. I’m dubious about the motivations of most cops when they’re completely sober, so a cop who has  visions, yeah…no! But I admit,  I really enjoyed that one episode that involved Jim’s Amazonian shaman visiting Cascade. That was kinda cool.

Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg in "The Sentinel"

 

The Powers

Jim’s hyperacute senses allow him to perceive things undetectable by normal humans. He can see perfectly in low light situations and with superb acuity at long distances, hear sounds at extremely low volume or beyond the normal range of human hearing, and sense what others cannot via taste, touch and smell; he declares himself “a walking forensic lab”. Jim’s powers have a drawback: if he concentrates too strongly on one sense, he may become oblivious to his immediate surroundings. Part of Blair’s job is preventing this, and protecting Jim when he is focusing. As a Sentinel Jim has several powers:

  • All 5 senses are strongly enhanced
  • Able to communicate with ghosts
  • Has a spirit animal, a black jaguar
  • Receives visions that guide him in the choices he makes and sometimes predict the future (Jim had a vision that showed Blair’s death before Alex killed him)
  • Used the power of his animal spirit to bring Blair back from the dead

—  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentinel_(TV_series)#Powers

Despite my misgivings though, I genuinely loved the show, and not just because I thought Richard Burgi was the second coming of hawt and bothered, which…yeah!.  I  actually liked the premise of the show. It was inspired,  and I think it would be great for a remake.

 

Note:

Some of the best fanfiction I ever read came out of this ‘ship, and I’m sad that I never let those writers know just how appreciative I was of their skills, at that time. Most especially, Saraid, and Brenda Antrim who now goes by the name Glacis,  and has her own Wikipedia page. (She is so good that she’s won awards just for being a fan.)   Saraid’s  Panther Tales series can be found on Ao3.

 

Oh yeah, here is one of the funniest reviews I ever read about this show:

http://www.somethingawful.com/news/sentinel-show-senses/

 

The Sentinel is not currently available for streaming . All four seasons can  only be found on DVD.

 

 

The Terror TV Series

I’ve been fascinated by Arctic environments since I first watched the 1956 verson of The Thing (with James Arness) when I was a kid. And it wasn’t just The Thing, there was another movie called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, that combined Arctic environments with dinosaurs rampaging through a city, that I got a real kick out of, too.

A few years ago, I’d never read any of Dan Simmons books, although he was on my radar because he is one of the top horror writers in the industry. I hadn’t read them, not because he’s a bad writer,he’s a most excellent writer, I just never had the time, and he writes some real doorstoppers. But I couldn’t resist the plot of The Terror, about an old school Arctic expedition that goes horribly wrong. It features a mysterious monster, some serious levels of  hardship, starvation, and  possibly some cannibalism.

I love the book.  It’s one of my top favorites of the past 20 years, so imagine my joy when I found out they were making a TV show about it, and it’s on AMC, which means the creators can remain faithful  to the plot of the book, which also involves an element of the supernatural, and some graphic deaths. It definitely classifies as horror. I hope it blows up as much as The Walking Dead did, too.

This week, the first trailer was released. The show airs right at the end of TWD’s season in March, which will be here in no time, so I’m very excited. I just want to hype this up a bit, in case you guys hadn’t heard of it yet.

 

 

It also looks very faithful to the plot of the book, and seems to have captured that feeling of dread, that seems to be a requirement of y movie set in a cold climate.It’s based on a true story in the sense that it has many events from that have actually happened in such expeditions.

For those of you worried about problematic issues, I can’t recall any from the book There is a young Indigenous woman, but in the book she comes to no harm, and if the creators keep that truthfulness to the book, she won’t on the show.

I’ll review the pilot episode when it airs.

Things I Watched – More Mini Reviews

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Legends of Tomorrow Mid-season Finale

I’ve not been paying really close attention to this show. Just sort of watching it off and on, and enough to know who the main characters are, and the general plot-line. The show just came off of a four-way combination plot, involving Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Nazi versions of the main characters, the death of one of my favorite characters, and the cameo of another.

I didn’t care too much for all the Nazi shit, though. For some reason, now that there are real, actual, Nazis having parades in the streets, media content providers (who are primarily White and male) have decided that now is the proper time to tell alternative timeline stories about them. I can’t help but feel that treating Nazis as little more than action movie villains helped fuel Americans laissez-faire attitude towards seeing real life ones, in that nobody takes them seriously. The refusal to take 45 seriously is part of what lead to him winning the last election, so I don’t want to think about what the refusal to take these pseudo Nazis seriously will cause to happen here. (Treating Nazis as little more than story prompts also serves to humanize and normalize them as well.)

I am going to miss Jax and Stein as Firestorm. I read the Firestorm comic books when I was a teenager, and I’ve always liked him, so I was heartsick to see half that team get killed in the last episode, and to see Jax’s heartbroken demeanor for much of this one. Although the plot was fairly ridiculous, involving a time-misplaced, plush toy, that causes the Vikings to invade America. There was a more serious parallel story of Jax dealing with his grief at Stein’s loss. I was also happy to see Snart again, although this is not the same version who starred at the beginning of the series, but a softer, more emotional Snart,, who spend his time trying to get his old partner to stop drinking, and open up his feelings.

On an up note,  the end of the season saw the introduction of Constantine to the ship’s roster. I don’t now how long he’s going to hang around, but even though I hated the series about Constantine, (and the movie wasn’t all that great either), I still loved the actor who played him in the series, and I’m glad to see him.

 

Sleight

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I watched this movie this weekend, and found myself enjoying this a lot. Now, if only it were made into a TV series. It certainly presents an uncommon superhero origin story in Bo, a former engineering student who implants an anti-gravity device, he invented, into his bicep. This device allows him to levitate objects and do magic tricks, which helps him make money to raise his little sister.

Bo also has a job as a low-level drug dealer, working for Angelo, played by one of  my favorite cinnamon rolls, Dule Hill from Psych. Angelo wants Bo to move up in his operation by moving more product, but Bo makes a critical mistake when he tries to shortchange Angelo, who goes ballistic, demands an exorbitant amount of money as payback, and  kidnaps Bo’s  sister, when he can’t make the deadline. If he wants to rescue her, Bo is going to have to up his game.

This was a much quieter movie than I expected. There are long character moments where Bo is just talking to his girlfriend, or his sister, and a scene where he meets with his former engineering teacher, who helps him make a stronger device. (Bo’s little sister is being played by the upcoming star, Storm Reid, who will be starring in Ava Duverney’s A Wrinkle in Time. ) These scenes serve to make the action scenes a lot more suspenseful, especially at the end, in the final confrontation between Angelo and Bo, that you know has to happen, sooner or later.

There’s some child endangerment issues, but it all ends okay, with stability restored, and Bo, his sister, and his girlfriend, Holly, starting their family life together in a new city. I could’ve done without the drug dealing angle, because I really wish that writers could do some other type of story, based on current Black lives, that didn’t involve crime. When writers do this it just serves to, once again, associate Black people and crime together. Luke Cage and Black Lightning are both guilty of this, (despite that I like them.)

It’s a predictable film, which is saved by the performances of  Jacob Latimore who plays Bo, and Dule Hill. It’s also really weird seeing Dule play a bad guy, especially when his most famous role is Shawn Spencer’s best friend Gus, on the show Psych, which just released its new movie. So I had the pleasure of watching his two performances side by side. Dule needs more work.

This is a good comedown from the bombast of the  Justice League  and Thor movies. Bo isn’t trying to save the world. He just wants to save his sister, and movie on with his life, and that’s okay. The action scenes are still pretty thrilling, too. The movie was directed by J.D. Dillard, who is also the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

The Problem with Apu

I watched this one idle Sunday evening. It’s a documentary hosted by Hari Kondabolu, an Asian American comedian. His argument is that the character of Apu should be done away with on the Simpsons show because its nothing more than a collection of the worst Indian stereotypes, which is offensive.

Now, I had stopped watching The Simpsons years ago, and I didn’t know this was even happening, but apparently there has been a big push by Indian Americans to have Hank Azaria answer for this offensive character he created in the show. And rightfully so.

Not being Asian, I didn’t really get it at first. I didn’t like Apu all that much, but also didn’t see anything wrong with his depiction. Once again, it’s not for me to say what’s offensive to other people. If Asian Americans find it offensive, then that’s all that needs to be said. It should e fairly easy to get rid of the character, as he isn’t one of the primary characters on the show. The documentary appears to have been effective because the show runners have given this some amount of thought and addressed its issues.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/simpsons-hank-azaria-addresses-the-problem-with-apu-documentary_us_5a26f57fe4b0ee6f9637dbee

 

Happy

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This show is every bit as batshit as I thought it was going to be. Normally I don’t watch so much gore, since so much of it it’s just gore for the sake of having it, but I actually enjoyed this show, and it turned out to actually be funny. It’s so over the top, I couldn’t possibly take any of it seriously. Not to say it doesn’t have some truly dark aspects.There’s a child endangerment angle some people might not be too comfortable with.

Christopher Meloni is absolutely perfect as a down on his luck detective named Nick Sax, who used to be famous, but now works as  an addled and drunken hit man. He has a heart attack in the middle of one of his hits and loses consciousness right next to the dead body of his last victim. When he wakes up in the ambulance he coerces the paramedics into giving him lots of nitroglycerin, but he is also being harassed by a blue, cartoon, flying horse, named Happy.

Apparently, Happy is real, I guess. He’s the imaginary playmate of the endangered little girl I mentioned earlier, and since Nick is the only other human being who can see him (Why? Is it a near death thing? A genetic thing?), Happy needs his help to rescue her. This is complicated by Nick being pursued by cops who want some information they think he has, and some mobsters.

This is very much a niche type of show and is not for everyone, says the woman who is too delicate to watch cop shows. I suppose technically this is a cop show, but apparently, I like cop shows that have a great deal of humor in them, like Reno 911, and Brooklyn 99 (I know you’re noticing a theme here. The show must have a location or number in its title, and be a batshit comedy).

The humor is very adult, involving shootings, hookers, and corrupt cops, and I found it all to be deeply funny, but can’t explain why. I think this is meant to take the place of the pulp show, Blood Drive, which I didn’t particularly care for, even though it was just as insane. (Maybe I didn’t like it because there were no cops in it.) It’s also a very energetic and loud show. I will probably keep watching it, but for jeebus’ sake, despite the presence of Happy, do not let your kids watch this show.

It is totally not for kids!!!!

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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Like The Void, this is one of those horror movies that flew just underneath everyone’s radar. It’s genuinely spooky, mostly because you have no idea what the Hell is going on, or why things are happening for most of the movie. The plot sounds pretty simple on the surface but becomes increasingly complex until finally you’re left with the final idea that none of it is accidental and that everything that happens is, very malevolently, on purpose.

A father and son coroner team receive a female body in their morgue, that presents some bizarre mysteries, most notably that they can’t tell what killed her. After they start her autopsy, a number of strange events occur, like the death of their cat, sounds, footsteps, and voices, are heard in empty rooms of the facility, a strange fire, and a mysterious fog, all of which culminate in the deaths of both of them, leading to an even further mystery for the emergency workers who find them.

The body of the Jane Doe they had been examining is moved on to another morgue, and I had the distinct impression that it had been moved on  from several other morgues, after the deaths of the examiners, and after the ambulances that transported it,  met with accidents themselves. This same body (which is probably possessed by a demon or a witch) just moves from morgue to morgue, with no name, and no identity beyond looking female and dead. You think at first that this is a simple ghost story, but I suspect this is something much more subtle, and sinister, than a ghost story, in that this body had probably never been alive.

If you liked the movie The Witch, this movie has the same deeply creepy feel. I was most appreciative of the minimal jump scares, and the absence of any scenes where people get dragged along floors by mysterious entities, cuz I’m getting especially tired of that one.

 

Strange Empire

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I saw the trailer for Strange Empire a few weeks before the release of Godless, so when I saw the trailer for Godless, I was reminded of the first. Strange Empire has much the same plot as Godless, and it has more prominent WoC in it, so I decided to skip Godless, which didnt appear to have any WoC at all, watch this instead.

I’m about halfway through the season, and I like it, but its tough watching because most of it consists of the women trying to avoid prostitution. Unlike Godless which boasted of its all female cast, Strange Empire actually bothers to have the women front and center, and its a really interesting group of women. The show takes place in Alberta Canada, during the same time frame, so I don’t know if that has much parallel to Godless.

In both shows a group of women have been left to fend for themselves against some ruthless male foe. In Godless, all the men have died in a mining incident, but in Empire, the men are massacred by a local brothel owner, named Aaron Slotter, whose wife just lost a child.. There  are two  feral young women who are to be sold to a brothel, and a half Indigenous woman named Kat, who adopts them, to save them from that life. When she hides the girls, the caravan of men they were traveling with are massacred by the brothel owner, and he tries to coerce the women into working for him.

In the meantime, Aaron’s wife, a bi-racial Black woman, named Isabelle, schemes to get money from  father, by substituting the child of one of their whores , for their dead son, and she works with Kat to rescue the two young girls her husband wants to sell to the highest bidder.

There’s also a neurodivergent female doctor, named Rebecca, who forms a friendship and alliance with Kat, even though her husband was one of the few men that survived the massacre. It took me a moment to figure out that this young lady had autism, but she also happens to be a surgical genius being held back by her husband’s fears of her being insane, which is the only understanding anyone had of autism back then.

Outside of the main plot involving the women trying not to be sold into prostitution, it’s not a bad show. Unlike with Godless, the women (mostly Kat) get most of the screen-time and dialogue. There are men in the cast, but it most definitely isn’t about any of them, although they are important to keeping the plot moving, most of their time is spent fighting with Kat, or killing each other.

So if you’re looking for a good Western, but checked out of Godless because of its overwhelming whiteness,  and its prioritization of men or some other reason, than check out Strange Empire.

 

Most shows are heading into the winter hiatus right now, which should give me time to post some mid-season reviews of Supernatural and  The Walking Dead and a couple more movie reviews, along with that character review of Star Trek Discovery that I promised.

Superstition & Stuff I’m Not Doing

Well apparently, I’m not reviewing any TV shows, which I probably should be doing. Actually, all it is is that I’ve been busy and tired to review the shows, and movies, I’ve been watching, and I’ve been watching a lot of stuff.

What have I been watching?  I have been watching The Walking Dead. So far I’m really liking this season. It’s very action packed, and full of feels, and I like that. All of my favorite characters are doing some next level shit as  the war between The Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, The  Kingdom, and The Saviors  heats up. I haven’t been feeling any urges to write about any of these episodes though, although I find  Morgan’s storyline the most compelling. I just learned that my precious tigress is dead. Shiva got taken out by a pack of zombies, while defending the life of her king. (RIP Shiva! You badass!)

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I’m so tired!

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Part of the reason I’m not reviewing so much is that I’m tired, but part of it is that I don’t actually know what to say about it yet.. There’s not a lot to be said about the plot, other than to recap it, and if you’re watching the show, you already know what happened. Morgan and Jesus came to “fisticuffs’ over the treatment of prisoners of war, and Carol got her kill on for a while, and Gregory kept it real by being an asshole. I do have thoughts about the characters, and major themes, but I think I’ll wait until after the first part of the season is done to comment on those. We’ve got three episodes left, so I think I’ll just do a summation of my thoughts at the end.

I always get fatigued in November and December, and not because I’m celebrating the  holidays. I’m not celebrating, or hosting or anything. It’s a combination of insomnia, sleep apnea, and finding human beings exhausting, even when they’re not jitterbugging with overexcitement  about the  holidays. (Also, some of it is just a change in the weather and age. Feeling cold all the time is just tiring. Y’all yunguns just don’t know!)

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And I don’t get any respite from the weather while at work. The PTB keep it freezing here, so all the women are wearing sweaters, and carrying around tiny electric heaters, while many of the  men walk around in shirtsleeves, and poke fun at us for being cold all the time. I can’t stand them!

 

Supernatural

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Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve been watching episodes of Supernatural, but not reviewing those either. I have liked the episodes I’ve seen, but that one particular standout episode, that occurs every season, hasn’t happened yet. I’m waiting for that one. There’s only so many times I can say this episode deserves a B-. So far the show appears to be in a kind of holding pattern except for the return of Castiel from The Empty, but it’s still early in the season, so we have plenty of time to establish where the plot is going, but our theme is, as always, is family.

 

Ghost Wars

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I’ve been watching Ghost Wars, which is still chugging along on the Syfy channel. I’m liking this show, with one of my favorite characters being played by Meatloaf. He is doing an exemplary job on this show. I hadn’t paid too much attention to his acting before, but I love him in this show. He is tearing it up! The show is actually proving to be kinda scary. I’m not normally into ghosts. I don’t usually find them particularly scary, but the show is pretty good at establishing mood, and I find most of the characters likable. There’s a token Black woman,  a scientist from the local research center. No, I would not be surprised to find that some physics experiments were behind the influx and hostility of the ghosts.

 

The Exorcist

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The Exorcist has kicked it into high gear. The first few episodes were spent establishing the information about where, and who, the characters are going to be, and then trying to figure out who is possessed. So we’ve figured out  its John Cho’s character, who is possessed by a demon that’s masquerading as his late-wife, and this is really groundbreaking for American television because Asians don’t often get to be possessed by demons, and the show is actually proving to be compelling. There also an added gay subplot, as one of the priests is engaged in some flirtation with a local silver-fox, who looks like Anderson Cooper, (if he was a fisherman). There’s also a secondary plot about some type of holy order of assassins hunting down a cabal of demons, which is only of mild interest to me. I’ll have more to say about the treatment of the show’s traumatized children, and their disabilities, later.

I am working on some long form essays. I can still knock those out, it seems. And I have a bunch of ideas, that I’m not gonna tell you about, because I wanna surprise you. I’m going to  concentrate on those for a while, along with a few long form movie reviews, and eventually I’ll have something to say about The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

 

Superstition

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What I have been enjoying is the show Superstition. I mentioned it before, and said I wasn’t greatly impressed with the acting,in the pilot,  and I thought the drama was a bit much, considering I didn’t know any of the characters, but I’ve kept up watching it, and it’s maturing into a compelling show.

Superstition has an all Black cast, about a family, The Hastings, who have a history of fighting monsters. It’s their calling, and their base of operations is a small-town funeral home in Georgia. It stars Mario Van Peebles, and while I was a bit dubious about the quality at first, I’m  glad  the show is here. Even if it doesn’t become a breakout hit, it’s still a good foot in the door, paving the way for other genre vehicles starring PoC casts, (so is The Exorcist).

That said, this show has greatly improved since the pilot. The acting has gotten much better, too. I’ve got a good bead on people’s relationships to each other, and the show can, and does sometimes surprise me, by overturning certain tropes, or not going in an expected direction, and it keeps me asking questions, on the basis of those relationships, which is proving to be the show’s strong point.

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Isaac Hastings & May, Chief of Police

The show stars Mario Van Peebles as Isaac Hastings, who taught his son Calvin the ins and outs of monster killing, and his wife Bea, who runs the day to day operations of the funeral home and, I think, is one of the keepers of the family lore, along with a woman of mixed parentage named Tilley. I’m not certain if Tilly is a member of the family or not, but she’s very smart and nerdy, and I like her. The local police chief is May (above), and she has a daughter by Calvin, named Garvey. Garvey is the least likable character on the show but only because, as is  typically written, she’s an obnoxious teenager. There’s nothing wrong with her acting. The character is just annoying.

The show has a lot of Black women, and all of them have complicated, and occasionally mysterious, relationships with each other, which Calvin has to try to navigate, along with getting to know the daughter he never knew he had, reacquainting himself with her mother, and his childhood sweetheart, May, who is now the Chief of Police. He has already been through a bout of people fighting, as he has returned from the Iraq war, after having left town many years ago, and not had any contact with his family, after a falling out with his father.

The show is notable for its depiction of a stable Black family, depictions of Black love and loyalty and Black women actually holding conversations with each other, instead of screaming at each other. Its also important for PoC to be shown being heroes, saving themselves and each other, and being total badasses, in general. Calvin is obviously meant to be the everyman hero of the show. I like how the writers allow him to be human, complex, tragic, and also have a sense of humor. I love the female friendships (and mild enmities) on the show. I like what I see between Garvey and her Mom, Bea and May, and them and Tilly, who seems to be some kind of archivist or researcher. She’s the one who most often explains whats going on to everyone else.

What’s interesting  for me is Calvin’s flirtation with his old girlfriend, May. He was taken aback at the idea of having a daughter he didn’t know about but he’s taken it in stride and wants to get to know her better (though Garvey is having none of it. She’s used to not having a Dad.) I like that May and Calvin are trying to get back together, and making some effort at getting to know each other again. The show could’ve taken the easy way out, and had the two of them hating on each other, and I’m glad it didn’t go in that direction.

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I made the mistake of reading the reviews on IMDb, which truly indeed was a mistake, because some of the reviews seriously pissed me off. The show is being roundly hated on , while being compared to Supernatural. Superstition is everything that Supernatural isn’t, and it really isn’t fair to compare the two. For one thing, Superstition has a cast of WoC, who are well written and treated better by the script. None of the Black characters are there to make White characters lives better or happy, or sacrifice themselves for them. (And I am unlikely to be subjected to the image of an innocent Black woman being held at gunpoint, by a deranged stalker, because the Black writers  have at least some sensitivity to their audience.)

Other than a family fighting monsters, I don’t see  much resemblance. Half the shows on TV have the same premise as Supernatural, so I don’t understand exactly why that’s the comparison being made, unless of course the reviewers are Supernatural stans who just hate any shows about the supernatural, or are too young to remember that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a thing. There’s also a third reason, but I don’t wanna get my blood pressure up by talking about the Klandom today.

 

The Hastings aren’t travelling the country, evading demons, fighting angels, and developing superpowers. Their base of operations is a funeral parlour,  which they’ve been at for a long time, and everybody in the family knows what it is they do, and appear to be on board with it, including Garvey. They also have a society or person (I’m not sure which) which rivals them, called The Drudge. There are other mythologies and belief systems being represented besides European ones. For example, one of my favorite actors, Jasmine Guy, is doing a great cameo as a representative of  Anansi, named, of course, Aunt Nancy, and I love her already, and all she had to do was show up, and be intriguing.

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Isaac and Calvin Hastings

 

For the Hastings this is all just a job. The show tries to make what they do seem as normal as possible, as just a family profession. This show doesn’t talk down to its audience, or browbeat a point, because that’s not Peebles style.  Superstition doesn’t give you a whole lot of setup, which I had a moment getting used to. It throws you right in the deep end with Calvin. You learn what he learns as he learns it. You get one explanation and then it’s  on you to keep up. If you don’t pay attention to the dialogue and you miss something, you betta rewind, because it probably won’t be mentioned again, but still may be an important plot point later.

The atmosphere is one of normalcy, with routine answers to supernatural  puzzles, like trying to retrieve May when she gets trapped in a “mirror world” by an evil witch. There’s no oohing and ahhing about the paranormal in this show. It’s the bizarreness of the situations people  are put in, and the relationships between the characters, that is the source of most of the drama. Supernatural started as a show for teenagers, and still has much of that flavor. This is a show about grownups for grownups. The audience is expected to pay attention and keep up. I reminded more of the show Leverage, crossed with the X-Files, more than anything else.

Not that the there aren’t legitimate criticisms of the show. The pacing needs some smoothing, some of the acting is  still a little dodgy, but not enough to make me stop watching. It could use some memorable music. I don’t care so much about the special effects, as I don’t think that’s what makes a good show, and some of the acting could be tightened up a bit, but its far from being the worst show on TV, and shows real promise of future greatness, and I’m here for it.

 

So, I’m off for the next couple of days, and will get back to you, for some weekend reading, later this week.

TTFN

Things I’ve Been Watching (October 2017)

Here are some of the shows I’ve been looking at this month. There’s a lot of releases, and I can’t keep up with a lot of them, but I’ll watch what I can and get back to you on what I thought about them.

The Gifted Season Premiere

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I’m simply not in the mood for this show, and I’m fed up with this type of plot, now. It’s loosely based on some of the X-Men and New Mutants comic books, in that it has some Sentinel plotline, and some of the characters from those groups. Stephen Moyer stars as a lawyer who used to prosecute mutant criminals, and  the father of two young mutants, now on the run from the government, which is rounding up mutants and imprisoning them in scientific camps.

I tried watching the first episodes, and while I like a couple of the characters, the show is simply not compelling enough to keep me watching it every week. The characters have the usual teenage angst, with superpowers, that made me dislike the First X-Men movie. Blink is a teenager who can teleport by creating portals, and Thunderbird, who is Native American, is a kind of tracker of people and things. I’m dismayed that the show used the Native American tracker stereotype, as that’s nothing like Thunderbird’s actual powers in the books, which consists of speed and strength.

And I’m just not here for yet another plotline of people with superpowers being rounded up and used by the government. This seems to be the only plotline they can come up with for superpowered characters, especially on TV, and once again, there is only the focus on how this affects White, suburban, middle-class families.

Just like with the show Heroes, there is no focus on how the discovery of superpowers would affect any marginalized communities, something I would consider much more entertaining, and which the show Cleverman handled with a certain amount of depth. As I complained about before, we keep getting stories about middle-class White characters being subjected to the same oppressions that have been visited on marginalized communities. This show would have had far more depth and been much more interesting if it had been set in the G/L community,  or the Black and Latinx communities, in which this type of interment is already occurring.

In the forties, the Japanese were rounded up in internment camps because they were considered a danger to the US, and later, authorities used to raid the gay and lesbian communities and lock them in jails with the full force of legal authority behind them. Today, its immigration officials grabbing random Brown people out of their homes, and locking them up on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. What do you want to bet that none of these things will be addressed in yet another show where we see average White people being treated in the same manner?

 

Legends of Tomorrow

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I’m looking forward to this new season. I really enjoyed the season premiere, which was a lot of fun and addressed a couple of cliffhangers from last season. This season will also introduce one of my favorite characters. Constantine.

Constantine’s show was something of a bust, but I think he’ll fit right in on this ensemble show, because he just works better when interacting with other super powered, snarky,  characters, and yes, the writers have promised to keep his canonical bi-sexuality intact, something which was never addressed in his own show.

Also, returning this season is Captain Cold, played by the very candilicious, Wentworth Miller.I always loved his dynamic with Heatwave (yeah, I totally ship those two) and I’m looking forward to the two of them meeting again, especially after Cold sacrificed his life to save the team, in a previous season.

I generally like all the characters on this show. My top favorite is Firestorm. I remember reading those comics as a kid, and briefly again in the 90s. He’s an interesting binary character of an older White man named Stein, and a Black teenager named Jackson, and I love the friendship that has developed between the two of them. The show has managed to carefully avoid the stereotype of the Black brute, who is nothing but the muscle in their relationship, by making Jackson an engineering genius, with Stein as his mentor. so naturally, Stein will be leaving the show later this season. I wonder who Jackson’s new partner will be.

I least like Black Canary, but I think that has more to do with the actress, because I like the version from the comic books just fine.

In the last season, the Legends broke the world by causing a set of time anomalies, which caused them to get kicked out of their spaceship. We open the episode with them leading normal lives on Earth. Black Canary is working, unhappily, in a department store, and Jackson is attending college. Stein appears to be the only happy one, spending time with the daughter he never knew he had, from another timeline. Heatwave, played by Dominic Purcell, is also having the time of his life, vacationing on the beaches of Aruba, before he is attacked by Julius Caesar, another time anomaly.

The team gets called back together to fix the problems they caused with all their time travelling last season. This show airs after The Flash, which is absolutely perfect, since I’m really starting to like The Flash a lot more, and have started regularly watching that.

 

 

Brooklyn 99

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When we last left The 99 last season, Jake and Rosa were sent to prison, for a crime they didn’t commit, by a corrupt cop. When we meet up with them at the beginning of the new season, the two of them are not adjusting well to their situation. Jake’s roommate is a cannibal, played by Tim Meadows, (he is extremely funny), but we don’t get much insight into Rosa’s situation. We spend most of our time with Jake, as he tries not to get outed as a cop by the Warden, who is trying to capture a drug smuggling ring, run by Lou Diamond-Phillips. I liked the guest stars more than I liked Jake in these episodes, and I hope to see more of Lou Diamond’s character in the future. He so rarely gets to do comedies, and I think he’s hilarious here.

Amy and Charles are working hard to find proof that Jake and Rosa were set up and come up with zany schemes to do this, even though Charles thinks his podcast about Jake should be enough to free him. One of the funnier running gags is that he invited Terry on the podcast, but the interview wasn’t successful, and Terry is confused about why.

By the end of the second episode, all is well in the Kingdom of 99, Jake and Amy have been reunited, Charles can give up his podcast, and well, Rosa remains very much Rosa. I normally do not watch shows about cops, (as I consider all of them to be thinly veiled propaganda about the inherent goodness of law enforcement), but I will make an exception for a really great, or funny show, and Brooklyn 99, along with the very politically incorrect Reno 911, are worth the watch.

 

The Exorcist Season Two

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Well, I think its too much to say this is an enjoyable show, because its supposed to be scary, but it does star John Cho as one of the shows leads. The show does have some issues though. I’m not at all interested in the storyline of the two priests who have made off with the possession victim from last season, and the gruff speaking victim gets on my nerves after about thirty seconds, but fortunately her onscreen time can be easily ignored. I just pretend I’m really engrossed in my knitting when she’s on the screen.

John Cho’s storyline is far more interesting, as he stars as the father figure for a home of orphans with severe trauma issues. The home is being visited and assessed for its level of care by an old flame of John’s, so the show is killing it in the Asian representation column, as this role is being played by an actress named Li Jun Li, and I’ve become very invested in their relationship, although I do fear for the life of the young lady, because TV loves to kill off  Asian characters, and that actress isn’t especially well known. The last time we saw Jun Li, she was the coroner from the show Minority Report, and was dressed like a Rave victim.

Well, inconveniently there’s some spooky happenings at the house and the kids are acting up and misbehaving in ways they didn’t before she came there, which increases the tension between her and John’s character as he wonders if she can be fair to him, especially taking into account their dramatic past together.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this season because its so rare to see Asian Americans as stars in a horror show. Actually, this show is pretty good about diversity, and a sensitive portrayal of children with various disabilities. The disabilities are not the source of any of the horror (some outside force is) so that’s another stereotype that’s been upended.  Its not as hysterically over the top as American Horror Story, so I’m able to get caught up in the mystery without getting a headache, and the characters are all mostly likable.

 

The Flash

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I’m just really starting to get into this show. I watched most of last season and understood maybe half of what was happening, but I did like the characters, which is what mostly draws me into a show. My favorite characters are Iris, and Cisco, and I got to see a lot of both of them in the season premiere, although I like all of the characters on the show except Caitlin Snow. That actress acts like she’s in a different show altogether, but she has good chemistry with the other characters, so I can tolerate her.

Can I just say how much I genuinely love Iris. She is by every definition of the term, a  rare flower. She’s gorgeous, graceful, intelligent, and heavily reminds me of Nichelle Nichols version of Uhura, an example of the kind of woman I wanted to be as a child. I hate to say this, because I really like Barry, but she is waaaay too good for him. I also love that Iris is a Black woman, because it’s so rare that Black women get to be loved, sacrificed for, or  damseled in mainstream media, and I am here for it. She also gets some really nice speeches during the episode.

Last season, Barry sacrificed himself to save the love of his every existence, and entered what is known as The Speed Force. I think its the source of his powers or something. I’m not too clear on that. Anyway Cisco comes up with a way to save him, but the Barry that comes back to Earth is deeply confused and unintelligible. The entire situation is complicated by a supposed new enemy, come to challenge Barry, a Samurai with a sword that causes earthquakes. The entire crew needs to save Barry, so he can save the city.

I’m looking forward to this new season as I’ve heard that Ralph Dibney’s Elongated Man will be featured on the show. I used to read  his comics as a kid.  Harrison Wells will be making another appearance, too, along with a character played by Danny Trejo. Katee Sackoff is also supposed to show up as a supervillain, I think. Killer Frost has already put in an appearance in this first episode, and this season is supposed to have a lighter tone than the last, which I think all superhero shows could use a dose of.

So, I’m in, I guess.

 

The Orville

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I’ve been watching this off and on.. Its still rather uneven n tone, but hopefully it will settle down into what it wants to be by the end of the season. Its not a bad show but it wavers between wanting to be a comedy, with some rather juvenile humor, a drama relationship, and a space opera, and these three things while done effectively, are not meshing well with each other. The switches between styles can be jarring and obvious.

Seth McFarlane’s presence does bring in the guest stars, though. We got a Charlize Theron guest shot, and a cameo from Liam Neeson, which was pretty cool. I kinda like most of the characters, but the surprise for me was the ex-wife and  First Officer, played by Adrianne Palicki. Her, and most of the other women, are the  smartest people on the show. Most of the guys are well… kinda weird, and not too bright, but I like them anyway. There’s a metal robot, and an alien with a same sex husband, and so far the show has been very respectful of the two of them, treating them just like any other couple on the ship. I’m not sure this counts as gay representation though, since they’re both aliens from a mono-gendered  planet.

Its not a bad show. Or rather, not as bad as I thought it was going to be because I was a little dubious about McFarlane being on the show and he and I don’t share the same humor. We still don’t, but so far he hasn’t done anything to actually upset me, so I’m inclined to keep watching.

 

American Horror Story

I’ve pretty much stopped watching this. I’m just not in the frame of mind to consider it entertaining right now, even though it may well be for some people.

 

Outlander

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I’m a lot less interested in Claire’s life in the fifties and sixties then I am in her life in the past, which is how this season has begun. In order to raise their chid in safety Claire has gone back to her own time period to raise her little girl. Her current husband has issues with this of course but is willing to wrap his head around the fact that his wife has two very different lives, and that her child is not his. That’s a lot to ask of a man, but he seems to be down for all this.

There’s slightly less Jaime in the opening episodes of this season, so I’m not really as invested as I normally would be. I generally do not like romances, and I haven’t read any of the books this show is based on, but I actually like the show for the romance between Claire and Jaime. Go figure! I guess I’m just a sucker for a period romance, I guess.

 

Forthcoming

This weekend is the debut of the show Mindhunter by David Fincher on Netflix. I’ll definitely be watching it, as its based on one of John Douglas’ non-fiction books on serial killer profiling. I’ve read all of his books as he makes the topic very accessible. Also I like David Fincher. The Atlantic review is here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/mindhunter-review-netflix/542781/

 

My review for the first few episodes will be next week along with my long form review of Bladerunner 2049.

I was supposed to see The Mountain Between Us with Mum, but she changed her mind, the night before, and kicked me out of the house to go see what I wanted, all by myself. I really enjoyed Bladerunner, and have a lot of feelings, and thinky-thoughts about it. My review is in two parts, covering the plot and characters, in comparison to the first film and the book, and then, in part two, some of the technical stuff, like the cinematography, music, and themes.

 

Amended to add: The Supernatural Fox Sisters have a thread up on Twitter listing 31 Horror movies that feature Black women, and rather than review The Thing vs The Thing, I think I’m going to review a few of these movies instead, as some of them are my favorites exactly because there are Black women in them as the main characters.

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2017/09/watch-31-horror-movies-starring-black.html

I chose five of these movies from the list to review. I’ll surprise you with which ones.

American Horror Story: Cult Election Night

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I didn’t like this episode.

Not because it was a bad episode, but because it was really, really hard to sit through.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with clowns. Clowns don’t particularly bother me, but I do have a problem with the rhetoric spouted by Evan Peter’s character (Kai) during this episode, and Sarah Paulson’s character’s panic attacks.

It’s extremely difficult to watch someone have a massive panic attack, when you suffer from anxiety yourself, and I had no idea in advance of those scenes, that they were going to happen. Ally (Paulson) didn’t  have just one attack either, she had at least three of them, and seemed at least mildly  hysterical the rest of the time.

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The episode is named after last year’s election night. On that night, we see Ally have her first attack, which I, at first, thought was a bit over the top (only because that wasn’t my reaction to the election), while acknowledging that she had some good points. Her reaction after the election was bad enough, but Ally is a person without any down points in her emotional makeup. She seems to be upset all the time, if only by a matter of degree. She is beset by a host of various anxieties, phobias, and panics, and the rest of the time she seems barely holding on by her fingernails.

Now couple that character with Evan Peter’s Kai, who saw the election as an opportunity to engage in unrestrained assholery, (just like plenty of White men did in the real world), and a speech he later gives at a local government meeting on the nature of fear, and you can see why I found this episode less than entertaining. I get the writers rather heavy handed point, but I still didn’t like hearing it, as it ‘s not too different from the kind of shit actually being said by the president right now.

This wasn’t helped by the show’s usual overwrought style of writing, and the general plot. The whole thing, when it wasn’t triggering my own issues, was also  unbelievably over the top.

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After the election, Kai goes upstairs in his house, and smears his face with what appears to be Cheeto dust, Ally’s neighbors are murdered in a parody of the movie The Strangers, or The Purge, I’m not sure which, and Ally gets menaced/chased by clowns at the local store, while two of the clowns have sex in the produce section. (I had the distinct impression that that may have not been a consensual act, which upsets me even further. I will not watch rape scenes!) On top of all that, the young lady, who is hired to babysit her and her wife’s son, has all of the acting range of a lobotomy patient, and happens to be an associate of Kai. I guess her job is recruit Ally’s kid, or something.

When Ally’s neighbors are murdered by clowns, she later finds out that the babysitter had taken her son to watch the event through the window. This is really the point where I gave just up and just checked the fuck out. I don’t know, and don’t wanna know, what happened between any of these characters. At that point, I decided I really needed to watch something else, or just turn off my TV.

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Lets face it. This show has finally defeated me.

It upset even my less than delicate sensibilities, and that’s saying something, since I’ve been a fan of this show for the past three years, and sat through some of the most  blatantly outrageous bullshit that the writers could possibly dream up. And that may very well have been the writer’s point. If so, then they won! I give up! They’ve finally gone so far that even I can’t watch this show without laughing, scoffing at it,  or crying, and sometimes all three at once.

Either that, or this show just struck too damn close to home for me to be able to comfortably watch it. I watch some shows to get away from reality, which is bad enough in Trump’s America, with its daily list of atrocities committed against PoC. On the weekends, I usually turn off all social media, just as a matter of self care. The last thing I ‘m going to find entertaining, right now, is a parody of my own  terrifying reality, (although I realize that this may be a form of coping for other people.)

I don’t know that I’ll watch this for the rest of the season. I’m loathe to stop, but I don’t know if I can sit through any more of this. Ally is a really hard person to get past, although her wife has the patience of Job. I like her. (As someone who not only deals with her own issues, I also happen to be the caregiver for someone who is not unlike Ally, so I could identify with her behavior.)

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I love that the show depicts a loving and supportive relationship between these two women, where they talk it over,  and work at trying to do and be better, instead of simply fighting, for extra drama. They show love and affection for each other without it turning into titillation for the male gaze. It’s just another relationship, like hundreds/thousands, of other relationships. Their son is adorable too, but I’m also not here to watch their child be corrupted into whatever Kai is, which seems to be the babysitter’s plan.

Plus, there’s all the damn clowns. I get that clourophobia is a thing, but it isn’t my thing. I just don’t find clowns to be all that scary. They’re  less scary than all the other shit happening in the world of the show. And oh yeah, that skin crawling feeling you get at looking at images of human flesh dotted with holes, that’s called Tripofobia. I know you’re just going to ignore my advice, but nevertheless, I feel I absolutely must caution you DO NOT GOOGLE THAT WORD!!!!!

I probably won’t be reviewing any more episodes unless there’s a huge event of some kind.

How can a show be both terrifying, and absolutely ridiculous?

Watchin’ Movies: I’ve Got Mini Reviews

Now see, if I was as mean as everyone says, I would insist that you watch these movies because my eyeballs looked at them, but I’m not like that. I’m doin’ this for y’all, so you can go about your lives unhindered by whether or not you’re missing out on greater things.

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Actually these movies weren’t really  bad. A couple of them had pretty good reviews, and I actually liked  all them just okay.  I had the opportunity to watch Ghost in the Shell, but the reviews for it were so awful, and the premise left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I know I can’t watch it with any degree of “fairness”. So, I opted out. I know my limitations and sitting through that movie is one of them.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage:

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I watched this movie one idle weekend, and yeah, its ridiculous. The stunts are so over the top they’re laughable, and the dialogue isn’t worth remembering, but nevertheless I kinda enjoyed it. It stars one of my favorite action stars, Donnie Yen, who you might remember from Star Wars Rogue One ,as Chirrut Imwe.

Normally, I like Vin Diesel, but I feel like he was just phoning most of this in, except for the stunt scenes, in which he seemed to be having too much fun. I didn’t care too much for the ass shots of various women, at least not without some compensating shots of Vin Diesels’ or Donnie Yen’s asses,  and the plot made no sense at all, but who the hell is paying attention to the plot in a movie like this. B

Basically, Xander Cage is after some type of McGuffin,that was stolen by Yen’s team of rogue operatives, or something, and he has to infiltrate their little gang, learn the objects whereabouts, and retrieve it. There’s some double crossing that requires that he come clean to the rogue team, and then they all have to work together to save the world, or maybe just America, since that’s who they all nominally work for. I was mostly here to watch Donnie kick some ass though.

There’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo from Samuel L. Jackson, yelling at some guy in a diner, before he is unceremoniously blown up by a rogue satellite. There’s also a cameo from Ice Cube, which I didn’t pay much attention to because it was also  so short. This really should’ve been a team-up movie between the two triple Xs, or Hell, three triple Xs, Vin, Ice Cube, and Donnie Yen. That nobody in Hollywood put this idea into the atmosphere speaks to the thorough lack of imagination going on there.

Life:

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I saw nothing but bad reviews of this movie, but I didn’t  dislike it. It’s been unfairly compared to Alien, and that’s just not right, as this movie, while suffering from much the same Ten Little Indians plot, is a different animal. I actually thought the monster was kind of laughable at first, because at first it looks like one of those giant underwater ribbon snakes, and then later like animated white plastic sheeting, but the movie actually turned out to be pretty suspenseful. I mean I knew everybody was gonna die and I stil l was on the edge of my seat wondering how, so that’s something I guess.

While conducting some experiments in space, a crew of scientists discover an alien lifeform, which gets loose in their ship, and proceeds to eat/kill them. Their job is to keep it from reaching Earth. The creature is sort of like The Blob, as it grows exponentially as it eats, which makes more sense than the creatures from Alien, which gain their size and weight from nothing but air.

I can’t remember any of the actors from this movie beyond Ryan Reynolds ,and I think I saw Morgan from, The Walking Dead. I don’t think it’s spoilery to say that everybody dies! Is it worth viewing? Its okay, but if you don’t see it, your LIFE will not have been upheaved.

Saban’s Power Rangers

I heard so much on Tumblr about how great this movie was, and how it was a big win for diversity, that I had to check it out. It does in fact do diversity very well, but I wouldn’t say it was a great movie. Its too frenetic for that.It stars a poor Asian kid who is not great at school. His mother is dying in their trailer home and he’s worried aobut his future, and what wlll happen when she’s gone. There’s a couple of young WoC, who form a romantic relationship, I think, and a young Black man who has one of the Spectrum disorders. He was my favorite character. Naturally, the fine, upstanding, White boy is the leader, and of course his name is Zach. Why White boys in movies can’t have regular names, like William or Thomas, I don’t know.

I did watch the original television shows with my sisters as they were growing up. They were terribly addicted to the show, and because they loved it I ended up watching a lot of it too, even though I mostly found the show deeply funny. So, I’m familiar enough with the original to be able to understand what’s going on in this one, which feels like it was written for fans, rather than to bring in new viewers.

There’s a lot of exposition that if you don’t pay close attention, you will not understand, (and probably wont understand if you do). The names and some of the action is just as ridiculously over the top and laughable as the original show, too. So if you can get past names like  Goldar, or Rita Repulsa, you’re all set.

Lights Out

I love a good horror movie, but I was too scared to finish watching this beyond the short film it was based on, and its first twenty minutes. I told myself if I just watched it during the daytime, I’d be okay, but that didn’t work, because I went to bed with the lights on,  and then I was afraid because the lights were on, and they might go out, and IT might get me, whatever IT might be. This movie  creeped me out, in a skin crawling type of way, that’s usually only reserved for sentient slime creatures.

The people who made this movie also made another short, called Closet Space, that was both scary and funny.

Don’t Breathe

Apparently, I didn’t learn my lesson from trying to watch Lights Out, because I watched this one sunny Saturday afternoon, when there was nothing else on the TV. I think I liked it, although calling it a good movie would be excessive. Its a complicated movie because the good guys aren’t particularity good, and the bad guys are the ones in danger, so its hard to know who to root for, or even how to feel about what you’re looking at.

A group of desperate teens break into the house of a man they think is totally helpless, because he’s blind, but the tables are turned on them when they have to try to escape, because he turns out to be a serial killer, or something. They discover a young lady being held prisoner in the house, and attempt to rescue her, but she gets killed, after which he decides to kill the guys, and imprison the female member of the group, and forcibly impregnate her, as revenge for the loss of the other woman and her baby. So really, everyone in the movie is kind of repulsive.

I do remember thinking the movie went on for far too long after it should’ve ended. Its not a bad movie but it is one of those movies where the message is so muddled you have no idea what the filmmakers are trying to say, if anything, and you don’t know what to feel about it. If you haven’t seen this movie, and you’re a fan of ambiguity, then give it a try. If you like your movies with a more concrete moral code, then I suggest you give this one a pass.

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lemuel

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

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Olivia

 

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

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

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

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

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Fiji

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

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

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

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

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

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

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

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

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

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