The Mist Vs. Nightworld: Writing the Supernatural Apocalypse II

I just recently listened to the audiobook versions of these two stories, and was as  struck by the similarities,  as much as the dissimilarities. Suffice to say, if you’re going to write a Kaiju Style Apocalypse, for maximum terror, these are the things you’re gonna need to include: monsters, death, intrepid survivors, and some human villains.

Nightworld, written by F. Paul Wilson, waaay back in 1992, (it was heavily revised in 2001) ,  was the conclusion to a seven book series that started with The Keep, and starred Wilson’s original character, Repairman Jack, (who is sort of like Jack Reacher, only he fights the supernatural.)

In Nightworld, the entire world is beset by  monsters who have emerged from sinkholes that circle the globe. This invasion is the precursor to the rise of an of Anti-God, named Rasolom, and Hell on Earth, as the sun begins rising later every day, and setting earlier every evening. Worldwide. (To someone with even the most basic understanding of Astronomy, that’s already pretty terrifying.) The endgame is an endless nighttime, where the various monsters, that are  allergic to sunlight, can roam, and eat, freely.

In The Mist, a novella written by Stephen King, and first published in 1980, in the anthology titled Dark Forces, the world is overcome by a dense fog, in which all manner of different  monsters live. It is theorized, by the characters, that scientists accidentally opened a portal to another universe, that flooded into Earth.

First, something naturally unnatural has to occur, in the sky or in the earth, like the sun setting at the wrong time everyday, fogs, mists,  tsunamis, or giant holes opening up in the ground. The precursor to all hell breaking loose (literally), for these characters, is if the natural environment has suddenly gone horribly awry.

Second, you are going to  need monsters, and not just Leviathans. You’re gonna need a variety of sizes to induce maximum terror. After all, you might be able to fight off,  or avoid, the big ones, (I say “might”) but smaller monsters can creep into human hiding places, and cause general havoc, as well as sleeplessness.

You’re going to need, not just one big monster, but a variety of different  sized monsters, from the small to the gargantuan.This is what makes these books different from a Kaiju story. They’re more like Kaiju-Adjacent.

You must have gruesome deaths. Some of these gruesome deaths must involve the use of some kind of acid that dissolves its victims alive. In Nightworld, there is a thoroughly disgusting collection of acidic  critters that fly around eating people’s faces. In The Mist there are giant spiders with acidic webbing, as if the idea of giant spiders isn’t  quite terrifying enough,I guess.

Some of your monsters must have wings. It doesn’t particularly matter what type of wings, as long as the creatures can fly. In Nightworld they have insect wings. In The Mist bat wings seem to be the preferred method of flight.

At least some of your monsters must have tentacles. Nightworld fulfills this requirement admirably, by having lots (and lots) of creatures with tentacles, grabbing people and pulling them into small apertures. The Mist has giant tentacles just sitting outside a grocery story, not even attached to anything, apparently. They’re certainly not attached to anything aquatic as grocery stores are normally on land. The Mist pours some extra gravy on its tentacular horrors by giving them tiny mouths.

At least one of the monsters encountered has to be so fantastical, that it defies belief , like The Mist’s Leviathan, or the creature that decides to take up most of the Atlantic Ocean in Nightworld.

Speaking of giant monsters, they have to come from somewhere, and out of giant holes, whether under the ocean,  or out of the ground, as in Nightworld, are the perfect portals for entry. You must have portals. What?! Them monsters gotta get here somehow.

Okay, once you’ve got your monsters sorted into their various sizes, along with where they’re visiting  from, and their transportation, you then have to lay out who it is they’ll be eating. You must have an intrepid group of people, whose job it is to be eaten, trapped, survive, or defeat the monsters.

Intrepid – fearless, unafraid, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, bold, daring, gallant, audacious, adventurous, heroic, dynamic, spirited, indomitable;

I’m not sure if The Mist qualifies in that department, as the people in that story seem scared shitless, throughout the entire ordeal. Nevertheless, since all the other criteria are met, we’ll refer to them as intrepid anyway. After all, they do some brave things,  like fighting the giant spiders, and arguing with the crazy religious lady. The characters from Nightworld are actually described as brave and fearless in the book. In fact, one of the characters has a speech about it, and they all engage in some boldness, some daring, and  even some indomitable behavior.

Your intrepid group of people must consist of, at least one straight, honest, stand-up, White guy. It is a requirement that he be both honest, and White, and no substitutes will be made. He must be the kind of White guy who is strong and bold, but also compassionate, idealistic, and willing to protect the little guy. He must be able to clearly articulate why things need doing, and convey those beliefs to the other characters.

In other words, you need Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Nightworld fulfills this quota with two…count’em!, two stand-up White guys. Although,  I feel the writer is clearly overdoing it, by having one of them be a former priest, and the other an ancient swordsman.

In accordance with the James Kirk Axiom, you will them need a pretty  blond  White woman. A redhead or possibly auburn haired woman can be used in a pinch, but she must be heterosexual, and conventionally pretty. No arm fat, tattoos, arthritis, or nervous diseases need apply. Not even allergies. She must be in perfect physical health and form, and above all else, she must remain un-traumatized by any of the preceding events attending the end of the world, like watching her family and friends be eaten.

And for Gob’s sake, no women of color! Apparently women of color, (and any women with tattoos) all get eaten first…or something. Whatever is happening though,  they never seem to make it to the being intrepid  part of the story.

There must be at least one child, preferably a boy, but a young girl will suffice. They can be White, but it is not a hard and fast rule, as it is not  required that they be genetically related to either the White man, or White woman. Sometimes it can just be some kid one of them picked up somewhere. Extra points if the child is an orphan who  just witnessed their family be eaten by the monsters, for maximum trauma. How else are you going to convey to the reader how dangerous the world  is, without the help of crying, screaming children. Also, you can always fill up some time by having the child be in extra special danger, by having them wander off alone, or be autistic, or something.

Nightworld is interesting in that there is a perfectly healthy and un-traumatized child in the story, which is turned on its head, by having the child become autistic, when he helps save the world.

Surrounding this trio are what I like to call the intrepid, but disposable people. They are the  literary equivalent of non-playable characters. Don’t get too attached to them, these characters could be eaten at any second. They should consist of at least one (if not more) men of color, preferably Black or Latino.  You can break the rules and have there be at least one  woman of color in the story, but they can’t have any lines of dialogue, unless its exclamations like “Look out!”, or “Aaaaaahhhh!” Any exposition should be left to any extra White men, that you have added,  preferably a teacher, or a scientist. Nightworld has a priest, who knows what’s happening, and can explain it to those characters who are out of the loop. David Drayton, from The Mist, is an illustrator, which kind of changes things up a bit, but he is still the narrator.

Nightworld is not a good template for casting your characters because all of its major characters are White. (People of color probably didn’t exist when it was written. I have it on good authority, that we weren’t invented, in Horror literature, until about 1999. Well, Stephen King had discovered us, but we had to be magical to get in his stories.) There should be no more than ten of these non-essential characters. More than ten and the reader will  lose track of who they should be terrified is going to die next.

And last, but not least, you must have at least one asshole. No story about the end of the world is complete without at least one human being, who is trying to kill off the other human beings, and  that you wish would hurry up and be eaten by something. By anything.

The Mist is exemplary in that it has two…Count ’em! Two assholes. Norton, the asshole neighbor of David Drayton, and Ms. Carmody, the asshole religious townie. Norton fulfills the role of the asshole who wants desperately to be in charge, but no one will listen to him, who becomes increasingly unhinged. He eventually dies by skipping out into the mist to feed himself to the monsters.

Ms Carmody fulfills the role of the asshole, who is already thoroughly unhinged, before the story even begins, and the intrepid people are now trapped with her crazy ass, and the other scared  people start thinking that human sacrifice makes sense.

Nightworld  fulfills this requirement, in exemplary fashion, by also having multiple assholes in the script. In the unrevised edition of the story, (from before 2001), it was the husband of one of the intrepid people. In the newly improved book, its some random bad guys from  previous books, who mostly don’t come into contact with our intrepid gang.

And finally, the ending can’t be all wishy-washy. (We’re looking at you Steve!) In The Mist, there really isn’t much of an end to the story. We don’t know if David Drayton and his friends ever get out of it, or how long it lasts. (Thankfully the movie corrects this problem, which is all I have to say, in that the movie definitely has an end.) Nightworld correctly follows the rules, by having the good guys win, at the last possible second. You know the rules. Disaster is only averted when the countdown reaches one.

Now my people, go forth, and kill your darlings.

Gruesomely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost in the Shell/Iron Fist Backfire

Fed-up fans turn ‘Ghost in the Shell’ meme generator against itself

The Major may be a cutting-edge cyborg capable of taking down even the most dangerous criminals, but even she’s no match for the withering disdain of the internet.

Ever since Paramount shared the first image of Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell, the film’s been under fire for its decision to whitewash the lead role, who is Japanese in the source material. So when the studio launched a viral campaign encouraging people to upload their own images and captions into a meme generator, some fed-up fans seized the opportunity to make their displeasure known.

And not only did Ghost in the Shell get a thorough roast, a few people made sure that Hollywood didn’t forget about Emma Stone and Iron Fist.

View image on Twitter

And then there’s the recent media implosion over Iron Fist, which got totally trashed by critics who were allowed to watch the first six episodes of the series.The actor Finn Jones, who plays Danny Rand, put his foot in his mouth both before and after the show’s debut and has now left Twitter after being dragged by the public.

‘Iron Fist’s Finn Jones Says He Left Twitter After Diversity Dust-Up To “Stay Focused” On Filming ‘The Defenders’

 

The Implosion of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and Finn Jones Continues

Marvel’s Iron Fist Cultural Appropriation Casting Crisis Drives Finn Jones Off Twitter — What’s Going On?

Iron Fist actor leaves Twitter after confronting racial issues in series (update)

Yeah, I think someone needs to close their Twitter account and shut the Hell up before they dig a deeper hole.

Here’s the thing, if the public can’t get Hollywood casting agents, or moviemakers, to understand that we want more and better diversity and inclusion, then I guess the public is just going to shame the actors who contribute to the problem. Especially when those clueless actors go on social media to make excuses for what they just did.

Both Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansen have both made remarks about supporting diversity, and both of them were subsequently  roasted on Twitter, and Facebook. The bottom line is that actors are no longer getting a pass about their ignorance of these issues.

In the past, Hollywood actors have managed to get by by just speaking on some issue, without actually doing any of the real work, or being informed, and sometimes actually contributing to the perpetuation of said issue. Well, not anymore. From now on if an actor is going to talk about a social issue, they had better know what they’re talking about, and have put in the work on that issue. Its  simply not enough now to simply appear progressive and get points.

Unfortunately, the irony is that Hollywood is a conservative industry, and actors who speak out too much, or are too bold with their actions regarding social issues, can sometimes find themselves with the reputation for being troublemakers, and damaging their careers. I’m not saying they can’t have opinions, but they’re caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of the film industry and public opinion, and if they’re not A listers, they can’t serve both. They work in an industry that will allow them to be bold enough to speak out on things, if they have some amount of cache, but they can’t be too bold in their actions, or their careers will suffer.

This is the hole that people like ScarJo , and Finn Jones have fallen into. They’ve done something that genre fans do not approve of and have let them know it. At the same time, the actors can’t be too bold in their support of the issue by doing things like, trashing their own productions, or turning down roles.

As for Finn Jones, I don’t know what’s going to happen here. People are strongly objecting to his presence in this role, yet he is what we have. He’s what we’re going to be looking at in The Defenders, too, as don’t think he is going to be replaced.

As for one of the major arguments against casting an AA as Danny Rand:

Marvel did not seem to have any problem finding plenty of Asian Martial Artists to play villains in its productions. Casting Asians as Martial Artists because it might be stereotypical isn’t the problem. The problem is Marvel not wanting any of those Asian Martial Artists to be  heroic.

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LOL please skip that ‘Marvel just didn’t want to do the stereotypical Asian martial artist’ argument in regards to casting Danny Rand as white.

Like, if that were true….why would the rest of the cast be full of characters who are….Asian….martial artists???

Also, member that time Daredevil was filled with evil Asian ninjas?? Cuz I member.

And you’ll notice nobody was remotely concerned about casting a Cambodian actress to play Elektra, who has always been Greek in the comics. If not stereotyping Asians was such a concern for Marvel, why’d they go out of their way to make one of their only non-Asian ninja characters Asian? LOL.

And Elodie was AMAZING as Elektra, and there was nothing remotely stereotypical about her character at all, because shocking – that’s what happens when you don’t reduce or limit a character to one specific character trait. THAT’S the danger of stereotyping, and you don’t address that by denying characters access to something that’s actually legitimately a part of their cultural heritage and something they’d have every reason to pursue should they so desire. You just make sure they’re nuanced, three dimensional characters who have a lot more elements to them besides just the one stereotypical element. And Elektra was so much more than just her martial arts skills in Daredevil.

Like, Daredevil the show is heavily racist in a lot of ways, and a lot of that is tied up in their use of the Hand, Madame Gao and Nobu…..and that’s not because they’re mystical Asian ninjas. It’s because that’s ALL they are in Daredevil, that everything we know about those characters revolves around stereotypical characteristics with not much else besides that. And before people go ‘oh well they’re the villains, what do you expect’…..lmao pleeeeeeeeeeeeease. Compare what Marvel did with the Kingpin’s character in Season One to how they used Nobu in Season Two, not to mention Killgrave over in Jessica Jones. Marvel LOVES their nuanced, complicated villains, and yet for some reason, Nobu and Madame Gao remain just secretive Asian martial artists with vaguely defined mystical connections and whose motivations seem confined to uttering cryptic pronouncements but also drugs and taking over the world, we guess.

With Elektra, they actually bothered to breathe some life into her character and flesh her out beyond a two dimensional secretive ninja, and voila….suddenly, shockingly….she’s a full fledged character instead of a stereotype. Imagine that!

Asian American Danny Rand would only have been a stereotype if his characterization began and ended with ‘zen martial artist who barely talks because did we mention how zen he is’.

Of course, its not like this particular bullshit argument is new for Marvel. Remember how when Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One instead of a Tibetan man, Marvel and the director both claimed it was because they were trying to stay away from Asian stereotypes?

And yet, in every still I ever saw from the movie, Tilda Swinton’s character (despite supposedly being Celtic, I heard?) has her head shaved and is wearing brightly colored garments traditionally associated with Tibetan monks in Western perceptions.

Like….umm….again….if you’re worried enough about stereotypes that you cast a white woman instead of the elder Tibetan monk seen in the comics….THEN WHY DID YOU GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO EVOKE EVERY SINGLE STEREOTYPE ABOUT ASIAN MONKS WITH THE VISUALS YOU CHOSE FOR HER?

 

Hannibal Season Two Finale: Mizumono

And so we end with a perfect cap on this season. We began in episode one, with a forecast of how the season would end, with a massive knockdown fight, between Jack Crawford and Hannibal. How did we get from them being friends to that point? The rest of the season is really just a flashback, to how we reach that moment, and its aftermath.

All season long ,we’ve watched Will Graham, thoroughly unburdened by the illness he was suffering  in that first season, at the top of his game. Most of this season chronicles Will’s  fall from grace. In his efforts to capture the Chesapeake Ripper, he finds himself in spiritual, and emotional, alignment with Hannibal. After failing to get any traction on his accusation that Hannibal is the Ripper, Will, in collusion with a newly believing Jack, after  Beverly’s death, embarked on a campaign to take down Hannibal, by cozying up to him, winning his trust, and gathering  evidence of wrongdoing. Hannibal being too canny for that plan to work, didn’t enter into their equations, and Will found himself being drawn  further down the rabbit hole of Hannibal’s machinations. Hannibal’s goal is  to make Will realize that he is just as much a killer as Hannibal, and make him his partner in death.This culminates in the death of Randall Tier at Will’s hands, in self-defense, and the seeming death of Freddie Lounds.

In this episode everything comes to a head. Jack’s predicament in allowing Will’s plan, Will’s predicament in lying to Hannibal, and the actual fate of Abigail Hobbes is revealed.

Hannibal sends Jack a letter, inviting him to dine with him and Will, and he accepts. Will and Jack discuss this Last Supper, while finalizing their plan to catch The Chesapeake Ripper. Alana is filled with doom and gloom and nightmares, as she begins to realize exactly what’s been happening, and what Hannibal is. She hasn’t been sleeping and is filled with dread that Hannibal has laid a trap for all of them.

Jack is finally successful in finding Hannibal’s therapist Bedelia Du’Maurier, who had gone into hiding, after she felt threatened by Hannibal. In his interview with her, Bedelia warns Will that Hannibal will find a way to prevail. She explains what hold Hannibal has over her. Will and Jack offer her immunity from prosecution for her testimony against Hannibal. An astute observer, she can somehow tell that Will’s loyalties have been severely compromised, and that it is Will’s weakness that will hand Hannibal his victory over their plans.

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Bella Crawford is dying in the hospital of lung cancer. Hannibal visits her and they discuss forgiveness. She says she forgives him for saving her life, and letting her die in this manner, but in return, Hannibal has to save Jack, the way Hannibal saved her. She has no idea that Hannibal didn’t save her out of caring or friendship, but as an exercise to see  what would happen, and to distract Jack from his hunt for The Ripper. She never discovers that Hannibal not only doesn’t keep his promise to save Jack but makes plans with Will Graham to kill him.

Nevertheless, Bella’s words about forgiveness come back to haunt Hannibal in season three. Unbeknownst to her she (and everyone he has met) does have an effect on him. In fact, even though Hannibal later claims that Will and the others had effected no change in him, that is a lie. Since becoming involved with the FBI, and knowing Will, Hannibal has developed close relationships with many people he would otherwise have never met. Remember  season one, when  Hannibal was a profoundly lonely man, who didn’t realize just how alone he was. After involving himself with Will, he became surrounded by people who cared about and trusted him, and although that did not prevent him from killing any of them, it has affected his attitudes and behaviors in small ways that will  play out in season three.

Will is clearly conflicted about Hannibal. As he makes plans with Jack, he also helps Hannibal destroy evidence in his office. While the two of them burn Hannibal’s files,  they make plans to run away together. Will is cagey about the commitment but it all becomes moot anyway, when Hannibal, with his keen sense of smell, scents Freddie Lound’s hair shampoo on Will’s clothes. Will had just had a meeting with her to ask her not to write any more stories involving Abigail, and to let her rest in peace, as he makes plans for Hannibal’s imminent capture.

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Will and Hannibal discuss what would happen to Hannibal if he were ever captured and Hannibal says he would live inside his Memory Palace, (something peripherally mentioned in the Silence of the Lambs), which is a place deep inside his mind, which resembles the foyer of the Norman Chapel in Palermo. Foreshadowing: This is information that Will uses to find Hannibal in season three.

Just as Hannibal has his Memory Palace, Will also has one. Fishing in the river.We saw Will visiting this place when he was in prison. At the time, Hannibal as the RavenStag, or the ManStag, was often shown infiltrating Will’s private mental space, illustrating that Hannibal (and Abigail) were never far from Will’s thoughts. Later, in season three, Will easily visits Hannibal’s Memory Palace. As an example of how intertwined their thoughts are, by that point, its not immediately clear to the viewer, whose mind we’re visiting, Will’s or Hannibal’s.

While having dinner, Hannibal asks Will to just leave with him, and not inform Jack, but Will lies to Hannibal, saying that Jack deserves to know, and puts forth the idea that Jack be killed. Hannibal doesn’t require that Jack die but he allows Will to keep lying to him. He was hoping that Will would come clean but he didn’t. Hannibal makes other plans at this point.

Kade Prunell, the Special Investigator, has caught wind of Jack’s plan. She aims to put a stop to it because its a complete violation of the law, and a private citizen’s rights. Claiming that the imminent death of his wife has compromised his logic, she suspends Jack from his position as Director. Jack, now free of any legal obligations to capture Hannibal alive, surrenders his gun and badge. Alana comes to his defense, arguing that the only way that Hannibal can be captured is in the act, , but Kade won’t hear of it. She tells Alana that Jack and Will are to be arrested for what happened to Randall Tier. Alana calls Will, to warn him about the warrants put out for his and Jack’s arrests, while Jack visits Bella in the hospital one last time.

Will calls Hannibal. Just as this whole thing began, that first season, with Hannibal’s phone call to Garrett Jacob Hobbes, (just because he was curious what would happen), Will’s phone call to Hannibal sets in motion a series of events that will end in tragedy for everyone in Hannibal’s orbit, and have repercussions far into their futures, as it sets off what fans  know as The Diner Rouge, The Red Dinner, where everyone’s  paths cross.

Jack arrives early for dinner at Hannibal’s home. They exchange pleasantries, but they both understand each other very well, in this instance. They begin to fight.

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Hannibal bests Jack and Jack locks himself in the walk-in cupboard, with a near mortal wound to the throat. Alana arrives to find Hannibal trying to batter his way in to finish off Jack. When she attracts his attention, he tells her that he tried, very hard, to keep her ignorant of what he is, expresses regret that he has to say goodbye to her, and as a courtesy, tells her she should flee. She fires at Hannibal but Hannibal had earlier removed the bullets from her gun.

Now she flees. She runs upstairs with Hannibal in pursuit, although he leaves the  kitchen knives behind. Alana is shocked to encounter Abigail Hobbes in an upstairs bedroom. Abigail pushes her out the window, and heads downstairs.

Will is just arriving. He finds Alana broken on the front steps, but alive. She warns him about Jack, while he calls for Emergency Services, then he goes inside where he finally sees that Abigail is actually alive. Shocked by this turn of events he doesn’t try to defend himself as Hannibal approaches. Hannibal says it was meant to be a surprise, the three of them going away together, as one big happy family. But that will never happen now. Just as Hannibal had his moment of complete understanding with Jack, Hannibal and Will have their moment. Hannibal is full of righteous fury about Will’s betrayal and deception.Will knows Hannibal is going to kill him and he accepts that he deserves it. What he didn’t count on was Hannibal taking Abigail away from him, again.

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To show Will his power, and to punish Will for his betrayal, (even if Will did renege at the last minute and warn him) Hannibal stabs Will in the stomach, but doesn’t kill him, although he easily could have, and as Will lays dying, Hannibal cuts Abigail’s throat in front of him. We end as we began, in season one, with Will clutching Abigail’s throat trying to save her life. Killing Abigail is also a moment of defiance because Will said he  affected Hannibal’s life for the good. Killing Abigail is Hannibal’s way of showing Will how little he changed him. After all, if he had changed him, would he be able to do this? But Will, in complete understanding, knows that the very act of killing Abigail, in defiance of Will’s assertions, is in itself, evidence of how much Hannibal has changed.

It’s also Hannibal just being petty and angry. He claims Will didn’t affect who he is, but he allowed Will to get close to him, and trusted him. Will did to Hannibal what Hannibal was doing to Alana, and that betrayal hurts. Its one of the reasons Hannibal kept himself aloof from other people all those years. Not just to protect his secret life, but the understanding that emotional connections would compromise his survival instincts. This is him showing Will that he is not compromised.

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But of course Will affected him, or he wouldn’t feel so much pain.

And this is not something out of character for Hannibal. The entire time that we’ve known Hannibal, he has tried to maintain a facade of equanimity, and dispassion, most of the time (I imagine for most of his life). He’s not emotionless. He has a deep well of emotion, but he maintains a rather impassive veneer. When he does get caught up in his emotions, and allow them to take rein, usually people die, and the Diner Rouge is no different event.

Most of the time we see Hannibal killing others from a place of clinical detachment. Killing is just something he thinks needs doing. This season we’ve seen him kill from emotion, at least once , when he killed the Judge who threw out his testimony during Will’s trial. He was insulted and outraged at his treatment, feeling lonely because of Will’s absence, and killing the Judge fell in line with removing an obstacle to his happiness. (Remember, before he decides to kill the Judge, there’s a scene of him sitting alone in his office, realizing exactly how much he played himself, when he had Will arrested, and how much he misses Will.)

At the end of season one Hannibal frames Will for survival reasons. At the end of season two, he is still in a mental  place, where he thinks more of himself, than he does the people in his orbit. He is still very much a selfish creature at the end of season one. But all during season two he has allowed himself to  care about Will, the only person he has ever allowed himself to have emotions for, since the death of his sister Misha, and he gets betrayed for his trouble. He’s not just mad at Will. He’s angry that he got suckered. Not ever having built up any kind of immunity against even the most the casual pains that human beings can inflict on each other, Hannibal is like a dangerous child, lashing out at anyone who hurts him.

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Having officially burned all his bridges, he steps out into the cleansing rain, believing that this part of his life is over, and that he can begin anew, casually stepping over Alana’s prone body, without even checking to see if she’s still alive. She meant nothing to him except as a means to control Will. He only made overtures to her when it looked like she might fall for Will, and only kept up a relationship with her so that Will couldn’t.

The final coda to this episode is Hannibal on a plane bound for Europe in the company of his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du’Maurier.

 

I started writing these reviews because I couldn’t find any good meta for this show that had been written after season two. I just decided, rather than scouring the internet for it, I should just write something myself.

Next up: The entirety of season three in my Hannibal re-watch.

 

 

 

 

 

Random Tumblr Shenanigans #15

This video made me laugh so hard. If you’re unfamiliar with the philosophy of White Fragility, then here’s a link to the White woman who coined the term: Robin D’angelo.

http://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116

And here’s a video lampooning White Fragility:

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Okay, this video is just begging for a caption:

Uhmhmmm, yeah, that’s it! The red tulle with the…Oh, uh hello “hooman”. I didn’t see you there. I was just putting this back…you left it on the floor..I’ll uh…just be over here then…

Please feel free to add your own captions!

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#11 is definitely not the typse of White person you  wanna be friends with, tho’, even if that is your current aesthetic.

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*This is a long one and is going to take a minute or two.

Now, normally, I would never have printed this entire review here, but the person who wrote this, has a deactivated account, and someone else published this on Tumblr. If anyone knows the original poster, and wants me to remove this from this particular site, I will.  In the meantime, this will stand as one of the most intelligent, and astute, meta of a Science fiction movie, I’ve ever read. Whats really impressive is that there’s no fan-wanking. They didn’t pull this review completely out of their  backside:

Meta: Snowpiercer

My [scattered] thoughts on Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. This was originally just a defence of the film’s ending—which I’ve seen widely criticised—because I think it’s brilliant and necessary and worth defending. But… then there’s everything else.

THIS IS AN ALLEGORY

A lot of discussions of Snowpiercer I’ve seen have been very literal, which I think is a terrible way to read this film when so much of it is densely allegorical. The train at its centre is a clear allegory for capitalism [I’ve seen this rejected so here’s the director saying it himself this is a film about capitalism]. It’s capitalism: what was promised as an ark of salvation but became a barbaric prison for all but the very privileged.

And it’s a capitalism so advanced that the illusory crutch of money has disappeared—this system deals directly in human flesh. The “alienated labour” of Tail Section is a constant supply of children fed to the machine. At the same time, the system tames the body politic by literally marking and mutilating the underclass: the flesh of almost every soul in Tail Section bears the scars of being “consumed” by each other and the regime.

That anti-capitalist sentiment concentrates around Tilda Swinton’s Mason, a character that without doubt invokes Margaret Thatcher, the widely abhorred UK prime minister who ushered in neoliberal capitalism in the 1980s. Thatcher was born to a northern British lower-middle-class family, and was mocked for her jutting teeth and large nose; she spoke with a broad loamy Lincolnshire accent until elocution lessons got rid of it [x]. Thatcher’s policies crippled British industries [including, yes, the railways] and caused incredible suffering to working-class people.

In the film Mason originally boarded the train as a lower-class citizen and over the years was groomed by Wilford to become minister [x]—she’s also a class traitor. Mason presides over the the violence & suffering inflicted on Tail Section inmates, as Snowpiercer accelerates the system so that capitalism’s slow violence becomes bloodsoaked brutality in real time.

Within capitalism crisis isn’t an accident; it’s endemic. Capitalism is untenable and inevitably manifests cycles of boom and bust; the illusion of harmony followed by violent rupture. It’s almost like clockwork—and the train itself is a clock, circumnavigating the earth once every year, ticking down to the next scheduled uprising.

Capitalism’s genius is its ability to co-opt every attempt at resistance; every revolution is engineered within the system, with the permission of the system, according to terms defined by the system. Which is why the exploitative conditions of capitalism—its visceral and mundane horrors—have persisted for so very long: they seem to be driven by a “sacred engine” which will run perfectly forever.

“We control the engine, we control the world.”

But revolution’s not impossible. Curtis is an honest Marxist revolutionary who believes in the righteousness of his cause, setting out to seize “the means of production”—the engine itself. And as a creature of the train he knows how to topple from the inside, how to turn the system’s material reality against itself.

Snowpiercer lets you see only what Curtis sees as he moves forward and forward. Maintaining an artificial hierarchy relies on an artificial reality—“false consciousness”—in which none of the classes perceive the material reality of other classes. The lower classes are socialised to keep their place, to “be a shoe”. The upper classes are socialised to believe in their natural superiority to the underclasses. By breaking down divisions & doors, remaking the train into one long continuous system, Curtis—for a moment—collapses the artificial hierarchy. He’s the first person to walk the full length of the train.

HE’S NOT THE MESSIAH…

— “My friend, you suffer from the misplaced optimism of the doomed.”

Curtis is essential to the revolution: he plots with Gilliam, he drives it forward, he realises that the guards have no bullets, it’s his strategy that gets the rebels to Prison Section; he’s on the frontline of the Battle, and he temporarily halts the bloodshed by capturing Mason. He makes the ugly decisions: he’s willing to keep others ignorant about the reality of the system, to censor what the Artist draws [i.e. what’s really in the protein bars], to seize political gains at the cost of lives [sacrificing Edgar to capture Mason; one life for many], to make brutal choices in service to The Idea.

At first Curtis is sold to the audience as an American hero, the noble but reluctant leader of the rebellion [the casting of “Captain America” in this role is slyly ingenious]. But Curtis is a creature of the train: he remembers nothing before it; he came into being as the man with the knife, the man who killed Edgar’s mother and was ready to butcher a baby, to extract use-value from something sacrosanct.

Consciously or not, he absorbed & replicated the system’s brutal exploitative logic. And even as he moves forward he’s looking back; he’s never moved beyond that horror seventeen years ago [x]. He’s still “the man with the knife”. He’s still the train.

Snowpiercer quickly collapses the idea of Curtis as a messianic figure. When he’s called upon to lead—in the Battle of Yekaterina Bridge, by Wilford at the Engine—his face & image blur, or he’s reduced to a faceless silhouette shot from behind. Curtis isn’t marked for greatness or “chosen” in any sense; he’s thrust into that role by a system which demands white male figureheads to elevate as false prophets. He’s not special; he’s just next in line.

Curtis isn’t the hero. Curtis is the inevitable crisis within the system. His chaos is as essential to the order of things as the brutalised lower classes and the debauched upper classes, and all the bureaucrats and apparatchiks and military thugs in between.

“Yes, Wilford knows you well, Mr Curtiss Everett. He’s been watching you.”

It’s hard to know if Gilliam did conspire with Wilford to bring about Curtis’s revolution; if Gilliam intended the revolution to fail but changed his mind after the Water Section, if he always intended Curtis to take Wilford’s place; or if all that was Wilford’s lie—Gilliam warned Curtis,don’t let Wilford talkcut out his tongue. Wilford’s knowledge of their conversation about having two arms strongly suggests that Gilliam conspired with Wilford.

But the ambiguity is the point: within capitalism you’re never certain that any “resistance” hasn’t already been co-opted and repurposed and undermined by the system you’re trying to escape.

When Curtis reaches the Front Section he falls to his knees before the Engine, overwhelmed and awed and horrified—the same quasi-religious fervour shown by Wilford and Mason. It’s reminiscent of Coppola’sApocalypse Now and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, when the journey up river culminates in a view of the unseen tyrannical figurehead, an awesome and shameful creature. Curtis is the train; is the system; is Wilford’s natural & inevitable successor, the white-man heir to his throne. The man who can ensure the system’s survival and oversee the next generation of subjugated souls. Edgar inadvertently predicts this at the very beginning:

“What I mean is he’s gonna die someday. And when that happens you’re gonna have to take over. You’re going to have to run the train […] I think you’d be pretty good, if you ask me.”

Curtis’s revolution serves the system it threatens—helps to fulfil the killing quotas to keep the population down. Keeps the fishtank in equilibrium.

By sacrificing his arm to stop the train and free Timmy, Curtis begins to make amends for his crimes seventeen years ago. But he’s only ever half-redeemed. He can’t ever escape, and his violence will always be reabsorbed back into the social order, drained of all its subversive power.

Most crucially, Curtis doesn’t believe in life outside the train; that survival is possible, that the result would be anything but death and annihilation. He can only imagine the train. The irony of the word “revolution” is that it describes a circle, like the endless turning of the Sacred Engine—round and round and round, forever. That would be the legacy of Curtis’s revolution—if it weren’t for Nam.

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION

Fundamentally, Snowpiercer is a film about parents and children, the legacies of generations. Parents should strive to leave their children the best possible world; but today’s children inherit the ideologies and inequalities and injustices of morally bankrupt predecessors. They inherit a world threatened by global warming and environmental collapse, thanks to the rapacious plunderings of capitalism.

Worse, children are taught to adore that monstrous world. Perhaps the most disturbing sequence in Snowpiercer takes place in the school car, a grotesque hypersaturated parody of a classroom environment.

You see the next generation of Front Section children taught to worship the Engine and its messianic Conductor, immunised to the violence and horror that system wreaks [in the first shot of the classroom all the children are faceless; dehumanised, as though not real children at all].

And the hand gestures they make in reverence to the Engine are the same gestures made by Tail Section children who become dehumanised organic-mechanical parts of the Engine. This is how propaganda works: it condenses an entire ideology into a few visual or verbal signs that can be replicated ad infinitum. And these privileged children are unwittingly complicit in the subjugation of Tail Section children. The system dehumanises everyone, front to tail.

The teacher responsible for “breeding” this ideology is pregnant, a symbol of perverted maternalism—a next generation already corrupted. She parallels Wilford, who sought to make Curtis the son and heir to the corrupt system. Curtis, too, is a failed father: he sacrifices his symbolic “son” Edgar in order to capture Mason; and the “new world” he intends to create for the next generation will look identical to the last. [Had Curtis died at Yekaterina, it seems clear that Edgar would’ve been groomed by Gilliam to lead the next revolution.]

On the other hand, Tanya is a brave and brilliant mother who fights and dies for the cause.

But she’s never reduced to a maternal figure: she’s a fierce revolutionary who fights and survives the Battle of Yekaterina Bridge [where dozens die], and who drives Curtis onward. Her beating by the soldiers is meant to invoke the beating by police of Rodney King which sparked the LA riots of 1992, another citizen uprising against oppressive violence [x]. In Tanya the personal and political are wound together: in her mind, political resistance and freeing her son are one and the same goal—she wants his liberation, in every sense.

And Namgoong is the real father of the revolution, Snowpiercer’s radical imagination. Before Curtis finds them, he and his daughter Yona exist in a liminal countercultural space within the train, taking hallucinogenic drugs rather than experience its horrific reality.

Namgoong is not interested in the Sacred Engine—his ideas are “above Curtis’s” [x]. Nam cares to see the world beyond the train; he knows that the conditions which “required” the train’s creation have begun to recede. Nam protects Yona at all costs; and once they pass the Water Section he begins to plan their escape. He demands more for his daughter than the same system in new [white] hands.

[This was the moment I knew that Yona was going to escape the train.]

The Front Section children, brainwashed and monstrous and overwhelmingly white, contrast with the young people and the “train babies” of Tail Section, who are brave and brilliant and largely not-white. These children of the underclass have also been lied to: they believe the world outside can’t be survived; that the mutilated world of the train is all there is. Edgar even hero-worships Curtis, the man who murdered his mother and tried to take a knife to him.

Most importantly, they’ve been lied to about the Engine. It’s not perfect and divine and eternal; it’s a broken defective thing that survives only by the subjugation of train-babies. The Front Section children are bred to prop up the system, the train-babies—bred to be actual cogs in its diabolical machinery—are its downfall. They are the heart & life of the revolution: when Grey is murdered, it’s with the knife that’s stabbed through his hand—he dies with his hand over his heart.

At Yekaterina Bridge, where the revolution was supposed to die, the spark of resistance comes from Chan’s little hands striking a match in the deep dark at the very back of the train.

He passes the torch to Andrew, but it’s Grey who multiplies the burning torches until the fire’s hurtling along borne by many hands of many rebels.

The desperate cage of the downtrodden written in Grey’s tattoos—surrender or die—becomes the choice he presents to his oppressors when he rises up against them.

YONA

And most important of all is Yona [“Yona” is a form of the name “Jonah”, the biblical prophet]. That revolutionary fire begun in Tail Section becomes explosive in Yona’s hands when she blows up the gate to the outside world. It’s Yona, not Curtis, that the brutal implacable killer Franco the Elder tries to shoot through two windows when the train curves.

Yona is Nam’s revolutionary legacy. Her clairvoyant eyes see through the barriers he’s made, see through the bars of the cage, see the coming violence. Psychologically, she is already “outside” the system. And with the Kronol Nam & Yona create the means to physically escape the train.

That escape means blowing up the door, the event which triggers an avalanche and destroys the train. The new world comes at terrible cost—and Snowpiercer doesn’t flinch from that. This is the radical message of the film: ideology is never just abstract—its injustices & brutalities are decreed by human mouths and wrought by human hands—and the adult revolutionaries who can bring down the system are too compromised to do anything but replicate the very thing they destroyed.

Curtis can’t be part of the new world. He has to die with the train. So does Nam: he created the protective inter-carriage doors which allowed class segregation to last for so long. Snowpiercer is determined to show the kind of sacrifices that might be demanded to bring down a system as resilient and as monstrous as this. This film is not remotely fucking around.

The only survivors of this collapse are the train-babies Yona & Timmy, who emerge from the burning wreckage of the train like phoenix-children. A clean break from the dominance of the old order and its white patriarchs. They’ve never touched the earth; and when they step outside the train it’s as though they’re the very first humans alive. This is the real “sacred engine” of Snowpiercer: nature itself. A beautiful brutal state of chaos and freedom and life and death. Cold and cleansed.

The end of Snowpiercer seems like a desolate vision: in literal terms, the children’s chances of survival are almost zero. But the film is an allegory, and in those terms the escape from the train is hopeful: these two children, a new Adam & Eve setting foot on frozen pristine ground, can repopulate the earth [x].

The polar bear which stares them down is a threat; but it’s also proof of life outside the prison of the system. [Bong originally intended the animal to be a deer, but the polar bear is a contemporary symbol of global warming and its consequences, making its survival a happy irony.]

This last scene suggests that white Westerners are too compromised and complicit with the capitalist system to bring about its downfall—inevitably, they will shore it up as “the lesser evil”. True revolution against capitalism must come from elsewhere. [Yona’s words to Curtis could be the film’s words to America and the West at large: “you’re fucked.”]

Snowpiercer is one of the very few films willing to imagine what might be necessary to bring down capitalism—if not literal fire and blood, then real destruction and suffering—and to ask, honestly, if it’s a price the generations currently in power are willing to pay for the sake of a planet staring down ecological catastrophe; and for their children, the real-world “train babies” who will inherit the earth.

This is a lot of what I saw in the film too.

 *This is a lot of what I saw in this movie too. I saw more of the racial angles, than the realtion to capitalism, but the review comes by its ideas ogically, and there are clear parallels to the real world in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geeking Out About: Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99

Today I am  singing the praises of one of my favorite sit-coms, Brooklyn 99. I don’t often watch comedies, because most of them  aren’t particularly funny to me, try too hard, or I just don’t have time for them, and I was not going to watch this one, because I have trouble watching cop shows, (Apparently I can watch cop comedies, I guess.  I loved Reno 911, and thought this might be similar to it. It both is and isn’t.)

Brooklyn 99 is just as ridiculously over the top as Reno 911, but the characters are much more likable, and competent. They’re certainly less raunchy, as this is a Primetime show. The 99’s characters are the kind of people you want to meet and make friends with. The characters from Reno 911 are  much more like  your annoying co-workers, that you’d  like to punch in the  neck. The 99 characters are the kind of people you laugh with and cheer for. The Reno characters are the kind you laugh at, while hoping they don’t  blow anything up. What’s refreshing about Brooklyn 99 is, you start the series with what you think are just a bunch of standard tropes, and gradually, these characters become fleshed out, and more complicated, but not in the usual ways.

This show is also an example of getting diversity right. (Except for the lack of Asians, which it really needs at least one. ) I love the attitudes of the characters. They really do act as if they are a family.

There’s none of the passive-aggressive hostility that passes for humor in other ensemble shows. The characters acknowledge that they are very different from one another, there’s occasional teasing about that, but no one is ever made to feel ashamed of, or less than, for who they are. The only time characters are ever made to feel ashamed, is when they behave badly, and their friends call them on their shit. There’s a general acceptance by the other characters when someone is just a certain way, even if that way is mildly annoying, like Charles Boyle, or in Rosa’s case , occasionally terrifying. The closest you get to meanness in the show is Rosa, but she makes up for it by only kicking the asses of people who mess with her friends, (or inanimate objects that ain’t actin’ right.)

One of the things  I really like about this show is when characters make mistakes, they’re willing to acknowledge they made the mistake, and either apologise, or atone for it. They’re willing to not only  admit when they’ve been foolish, but when they’ve been doubling down on their foolishness too, which is a refreshing change from the real life model of people who actively work at being their worst possible selves. Brooklyn 99 makes me like people, and is a perfect example of how to Grownup.

Here, in some kind of order, are:

Det. Rosa Diaz  (Stephanie Beatriz)

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Rosa is the kind of girl you want to have your back in a fight. If I was arranging a team of people to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, Rosa would be Michonne. She has an appetite for destruction that is awesome. In fact, one of the best birthday presents Gina ever gave her, was a hammer, and some time alone in a soon to be demolished house. According to Rosa it was: The Best Birthday Ever!

Strangers see me like  Rosa, or Captain Holt, depending on their personal anxiety levels. Rosa began the series as a typical anger management case, which is funny when you contrast that with how model pretty she is, and this is part of the show’s charm.The humor comes from the character traits and how various teammates respond to the events in the show. They’re usually involved in some situation that requires them to react, and because their personalities are all so different, you get some spectacularly funny moments. Occasionally the show likes to give us a real treat and put certain personalities together to solve some issue. Hilarity often ensues.

Over the years we find out many surprising things about Rosa, like she’s occasionally intimidated by people too, she used to be a ballet dancer, and  that she was raised by nuns, but when we first meet Rosa she’s beating up a copy machine, with a battering ram, and at first you think she’s just a stereotypical “Spicy Latina”. Thankfully, anger isn’t all there is to her. She’s also honest, forthright, insightful, supportive, loyal, and encouraging to her teammates. Rosa is the shows truth-teller. She specializes in stating uncomfortable truths, and doesn’t shirk from that, even when those truths are about herself.

 

 

Gina Linetti  (Chelsea Perretti)

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If I had to choose someone to be friends with, it would be Gina. She’s that best girlfriend, who always knows where the latest get-togethers are, and how to finagle her way into them. She’s carefree and deeply self involved, but not in a neurotic way, because this is a woman who has realized her fabulousness and is very comfortable with her greatness. The funny thing is, she is pretty fabulous, mostly because she acts like it, and truly believes it. She has a deep and abiding love affair with her phone, through which she receives copious amounts of gossip. She’s also totally  unwilling to let others forget how wonderful she is. Gina is also one of the laziest assistants to ever be in an office. She’s so fabulous however that not only does she not make any secret of this, she is hilariously quite proud of that, (and her interpretive dance skills).

One of the most surprising things,on the show,  is her relationship with Jake, which I truly enjoy. They’ve know each other since they were little children, having grown up in the same neighborhood, and they have one of the best platonic friendships I’ve ever seen on TV. One of my favorite moments is when Jake gives Gina the forehead kiss, as if she were his little sister, and she lets him do it, although she really isn’t affectionate, like that,with anyone else on the show, and I think she’s older than him.

 

Det. Jake Peralta  (Adam Samberg)

Jake Peralta is everybody’s cool best friend (and Charles Boyle would be more than happy to tell you this).

Jake begins the show as an irresponsible, sloppy, childlike character, but you can see his growth over the course of three seasons, as he learns to be honest with himself and others, and even manages to win Amy’s affections, after being so annoying to her at the beginning of the show. Heck he was annoying to me, and definitely to Captain Holt, but I’ve actually grown to like, and even admire  him.He has matured throughout the seasons but not so much that he doesn’t still think that frosting his hair blonde looks really cool.

When I first started watching this show, I was watching it for Andre Braugher, and I initially dismissed Jake as someone I would have to simply tolerate. I thought he’d be the typical White male protagonist who is the center of all the stories, and  everything he did and said, would be treated as gold. But that’s not what happened. Adam Samberg is willing to step aside from time to time, and let the other characters shine, and  teach his character how to grow up. Samberg understands he doesn’t need to be the center of every episode. He’s no William Shatner and that’s refreshing.

Jake always had trouble showing affection, not because he didn’t want people to think he was gay, but because he had father issues, and is still immature enough not to know how to handle affection from others. But he has grown, over the course of the show.

Witness his gradual change of character, as he attempts to become the kind of man who deserves to have someone like Amy, in his life. Jake is still immature, but he genuinely loves Amy, and tries to be the kind of man who can make her happy. Amy’s  love encourages him to want to be a better man. The distinction is subtle but there.  Amy is  the polar opposite of him, and he acknowledges that keeping her with him might require him to act more mature. Jake is also willing to acknowledge his mistakes,  apologize for them, and attempts to do better, not just for Amy, but for all those he considers his friends.

 

 

 

Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)

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Captain Holt is the father figure of The 99. He’s the no-nonsense, emotionally restrained, backbone to the department. Or at least that’s  how it starts. I love the way this character has grown since the beginning of the series. He started out as real hard-case, coming down  hard on Jake, to get him to be more responsible and adult. He has since come to  understand Jake a lot more, understanding that Jake is at his best when he’s allowed to just be himself, realizing his influence over Jake, and he’s even begun to loosen up  just a bit, under Jake’s influence.

Throughout the seasons, we’ve witnessed Holt loosen up a more, finally becoming comfortable with his detectives, and allowing them to see just a little of his silly side, although he would probably be insulted at that description, not having ever believed in, or condoned, silliness or frivolousness, of any kind. At first, I just saw Holt as The Inscrutable Negro, mysterious, and unflappable. Now I really enjoy this character and I’m always eager to see how he’ll surprise me, during an episode by, for example, having an impromptu dance-off with some street thugs.

Over time, Holt has come to admire Jake, and think of him as a son, which is a total turnaround from when they first met. After all, Jake possessed every quality that Holt disdained, and he didn’t believe Jake took his job seriously, but now he’s very proud of Jake and encourages him to do his best. Jake, who spent the earliest part of his life trying to please his absentee father, and never measuring up, has found the perfect father-figure in Holt.

Holt’s team  admires him, and  strive to make him proud of them.  Captain Holt is an out, gay, Black man. His job might care about him being gay, but his team doesn’t, and they are always respectful of his relationship with his husband Kevin, treating the two just  like every other couple on the show.  For example, when Holt wanted to visit Kevin, who was on Sabbatical in France, Amy, Charles, and Jake, volunteer to dogsit the couple’s Corgi,  Cheddar. The humor doesn’t come from “Oh, these gay men have a cute dog.” No, the humor comes from the usual wackiness that ensues because Amy, Charles, and Jake are such different personalities which clash over babysitting Cheddar.

The show doesn’t browbeat you over the head with After School Special moments, though. How Holt handles his sexuality, in an environment where it is much more likely to meet with resistance, is done with grace and dignity. His gayness isn’t the joke. In fact, no one’s race is ever a joke, and no one’s gender is ever used as a joke.

I admire the hell out of this character. Hilariously he’s the character that most people who don’t know me well, see me as. My close friends find that hilarious, btw.

 

Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews)

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Terry is like everybody’s fit  uncle. He looks intimidating, but after a while, you find out that Terry is merely extremely health conscious and an actual Teddy Bear. Terry is such a gentle soul, that he has to be carefully talked into using his tremendous strength ,and has deep anxieties about firing a weapon. I love how the show bucks stereotypes of Black men, by having two very intense looking black men, who  are nothing like they first seem.

Terry is a devoted family man who truly, madly, deeply, loves his two twin baby daughters, even though he thinks they are possibly trying to kill him. Known for speaking of himself in the first person, Terry  also loves yogurt, exercise, and his job, which mostly involves wrangling all these different personality types, to focus them on one thing together.Terry is the Peacekeeper. His job is to make sure everybody is getting along and ready to work. He’s strong, encouraging, and always speaks up,and goes to bat, for his people. Captain Holt depends on Terry to run the day to day operations, and considering the types of personalities he has to work with, Terry is doing an excellent job.

 

Det. Amy Santiago

Amy is the girl I was in High School, except I was a lot more snooty. Amy is that best friend , that you hated just a tiny bit, because not only is she smart, organized, and ready, she’s a classic goody-two-shoes, (with just a tiny competitive streak). In fact, I think when that description was created, Amy was who they had in mind.

Amy is an extremely moral and ethical person, who believes in strictly following the rules, and lots and lots of planning. She dislikes how Jake likes to cut corners, or sometimes just wing it. Amy doesn’t wing anything if she can help it. She loves to please people she admires, and will go out of her way to get Captain Holt’s approval, going so far as to cook him a large and tasteless Thanksgiving dinner, or agreeing to babysit his Corgi, Cheddar.  I love Amy because she really is a girl after my own heart. Like me, she is a stickler for prudent planning,  and  loves a nice sized binder of information.

But Amy’s life is so rigidly defined that she needs a little chaos, and that’s where jake comes in. Initially, I think she hated him because Jake is everything she isn’t, but as Jake began to prove his love for her, presenting her with options of when and where to be with him, and then waiting for her to decide, she began to see Jake’s true colors. As I said,

 

Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)

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Charles is everybody’s favorite grandma and/or best friend. Hes loving , admiring, supportive, encouraging, and Jake’s right hand man, even though Jake didn’t choose him for it. He’s the kind of guy who always has a bowl of candy on his desk to offer to co-workers who are feeling a bit down.

I love Charles because, well…he’s just lovable. Joe Lo Truglio, formerly from Reno 911, is the complete opposite of his character, on that show. On 911 he was a venal, angry drug user, but  Charles is a warm, gracious, polite, foodie, and that you believe this, is a testament to Joe Lo Truglio’s acting skills. Charles is always upbeat and optimistic. He always looks on the bright side of a situation, no matter how horrible that situation may seem to others, like when his best friend, Jake accidentally shot him in the butt, or when his dog died. Charles was the only one capable of seeing the silver lining. He has a tendency to be a floor mat because he always puts others needs before his own. Now that he has a young son, whom he adopted, he has someone at which to throw all his tremendous caring.

He’s very devoted to Jake and I love the show has this depiction of a close m/m friendship without screaming no homo, everytime he and Jake show affection.

 

Det. Adrien Pimento

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Adrien is the newest recurring character at Brooklyn 99. Having suffered an emotional breakdown, after going undercover with some mobsters, Adrien is in a very  fragile emotional state, when he returns to his job as a detective. He’s paranoid and full of anxiety, and definitely suffering from some form of PTSD, but his mental state is never made the butt of the joke, and is not actually connected to his zany behavior. He acts wild, not because of his emotional fragility, but because he is thoroughly lacking in any boundaries, like breaking into Jake’s apartment to do Tai Chi, in his underwear. The humor comes from the reactions of his co-workers, who never have any idea what Adrien might  do next, not from making fun of his emotional state. The show skirts a fine line between acknowledging his emotional disability, and  understanding that it doesn’t necessarily inform  his behavior.

Adrien is definitely what’s known as  Chaotic Good.

Adrien is a good man, which is why the rest of the team accepts him. Also,  he and Rosa develop an intense, frantic, (and inexplicable) attraction to each other, although Adrien  explains, at first, that he’s not capable of having a relationship with her, they do eventually decide to get married.  Rosa seems   okay with Adrien’s unpredictability, and takes most of his decisions  in stride. She never tries to change Adrien, or make him behave, (although when she first met him she called him a freak, that she will only fall in love with). After a while, she just accepts him for the wild card that he is.

Actually, once everyone has gotten used to Adrien, they  just try to work  with him, or around him, for example, Gina is one of the few people Adrien will actually obey, when she tells him to do something, and Charles pretty much loves everyone, when he’s not terrified of them. Over time, the team’s acceptance  and trust starts to heal Adrien’s emotional wounds, and he starts to feel confident enough to form healthier relationships with others.
I’m geeking out about Brooklyn 99 because it’s an example of a show thats getting its humor and diversity right, with smart, funny, well rounded characters. It resumes its fourth season on April 11th, on the Fox network. Go figure!

Tumblr Politics: Laugh-In Edition

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Yeah, there’s not much to laugh about these days politically, but what we can do is mock politicians and here’s a list of public mockings that occurred in the last few weeks.

*Yep, Tumblr and Twitter still can’t stand this woman, and we refuse to call her by her real name. Thanks Wale! You’ve given America no end of amusement.

Here Are (Most of) the Names Tomi Lahren Has Been ‘Mistakenly’ Called on Twitter

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*The Twitter responses to 45’s response to his court decision. I could make this up but then y’all would be mad at me.

Update: Trump, Clinton and more respond to decision 

  • Since Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton has mostly kept her opinions private. But after tonight’s decision she tweeted the following:
  • “3-0″ marks the ruling of the three federal judges that made the decision.
  • Clinton’s simple message of support for the court’s decision stood in stark contrast to Trump’s own reaction to the news.
  • Twitter users didn’t hesitate to point out the irony of Trump’s message: After all, he had, in essence, just been in court. And lost.

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*I’m pretty sure Netflix doesn’t give a flying shit about butt-hurt racists boycotting their streaming network because they don’t like some of their programming. I don’t know why they think this would even work. When there’s shit on Netflix that I don’t like, you know what I do? I don’t watch it. Why? Because there’s about a bajillion other things on Netflix to look at.

At any rate I’m always up for trolls getting trolled on Twitter.

delamind:

bellygangstaboo:

bellygangstaboo:

I am deceased

minor update:

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*Okay, this one made me laugh and cry. It really does feel like a break-up, doesn’t it?

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*When I first heard about this, I was just Wow! She just straight the fuck lying to our faces at this point. I have no more evens left. I just can’t. Twitter needs to drag this woman more often than it does. Well, in this political climate, people are definitely honing their Twitter skills.

 

Black History on Tumblr

 

Some of the most interesting posts about Black History month I found on Tumblr.

lagonegirl:

This, also keep in mind that the “American cowboy” has been exaggerated greatly by Hollywood and popular myth – it was really only a twenty/thirty year period in the mid-19th century that essentially ended around the American civil war when barbed wire was introduced and eliminated the need for them.

If you’re ever in Denver, check out the Black American West Museum. Lots of photos, artifacts, etc.

John Wayne’s character in The Searchers was based on a black man named Britt Johnson.

#BlackHistory 

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*This puts Tammy Lawrenz’ bullshit, about equating The Black Panthers to the KKK, straight to bed. And no we’re still not calling her by her name:  

xabiiba:

The Nixon Administration admits its policies were meant to attack Blacks and anti-war people, so they did what was necessary including arresting their leaders, raiding their homes and more. [From the film “13th”]

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Let’s all celebrate Sister Rosetta Tharpe – The Black Queer Woman who invented Rock N Roll. If you look closely you can clearly see her influence on Chuck Berry, Elvis Presly, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

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Frederick Douglass Was the Most Photographed American of the 19th Century

medievalpoc

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20 Things The World Wouldn’t Have If Black People Didn’t Exist

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He cared about people, not money.

Throughout his life, Carver’s actions demonstrated how little he cared for money. For example, he turned down a six-figure job offer from Thomas Edison. Carver also didn’t spend much on clothes (and consequently was always shabbily dressed).

In 1917, Carver revealed what motivated him: “Well, some day I will have to leave this world. And when that day comes, I want to feel that my life has been of some service to my fellow man.” When he passed away in 1943, it would seem he had lived just such a life.

Happy Black History Month!

Source:

Coded Blackness

 

Happy Black History Month, dear readers! This month has always meant a lot to me on a personal level. Being a Black person, I’ve witnessed erasure of our achievements, dismissal of our problems, and omissions of us from opportunities. These types of slights often expand into nerd media, where representation is already sort of scant. […]

via Black Features Shouldn’t Mean “Other” — Lady Geek Girl and Friends

The Demonization of Welfare

 

*I just want to introduce my followers to Tim Wise. He has a website at Timwise.org where all of his interviews and videos are archived. If you have seen the movie 13th, by Ava Duvernay, and thought it made valid points, then you would perhaps benefit from understanding of how the welfare system works in this country.

 

 

*And here I’d like to introduce you to Serenn, who lays out exactly what false equivalency actually means, how its used in arguments to discredit people, and how to counter it. I see this all over Tumbr, all the time. Now part of this is becasue the membership of Tumblr skews very young, and they spend a lot of time arguing the ethics of things, among themselves. Many of them can be dazzled by such logical fallacies, if they haven’t had a lot of experience with them.

Sensei Aishitemasu is very passionate about it, but that does not make what she says wrong.

 

Women of Color in Videogames

Here, Anita Sarkeesian touches on some of the worst stereotypes of women of color in videogames.

And I thought the women’s tropes videos were vile. I had a hard time stomaching some of the images in those, but these… I don’t play any of the games listed in her video essay, so I had no idea  the racism in these games was so horrible, and that’s just in the first three minutes.

There are always a certain number of people who want to try to defend these games, but no intelligent excuses can possibly be made for some of these images. The creators of these games are grown ass men, who should damn well know better than to have ever created  any of  them.

 

As an addendum:

The Curse of the Scruffy White Male: Why Representation Matters in …

Brown hair and stubble: The new face of modern videogames

Same Face Syndrome or Why Scruffy-White-Dude Protagonists Don’t …

Why Are Game Developers Obsessed With ‘Average’ Heroes?

Misc. Tumblr Shenanigans

Just a general list of hooliganism that Tumblr is getting up to lately.

Beyonce’s Pregnancy!

Beyoncé just kicked off Black History Month right with that announcement, Black joy in full effect

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y’all are saying that beyonce’s twins are gonna be geminis or leos I hope they spite y’all and they’re cancers

ME TOO

WE’RE GONNA KEEP SPEAKING IT INTO EXISTENCE IT’S GONNA HAPPEN

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wattstheproblem replied to your posty’all are saying that beyonce’s twins are gonna be…

   i rebuke this in the name of the lord, theyre gonna be virgos

I CAST YOU OUT IN JESUS’ NAME

 

Happy Black History Month

How is this a positive way to celebrate your heritage? Sad.

But did you die?

blunttholder Deactivated

WE CELEBRATE HOW WE WANT BITCH. DONT WORRY BOUT US

jailasoul Deactivated

^^^^ Oop

sexysmirkemoji Deactivated

This just made my day 36874x better

tshawnraw Deactivated

It keeps getting better

nigeah Deactivated

I would like to thank god for black people

cause we don’t give a fuck!

hersheywrites Deactivated

This post has gotten 8043220x better since last night. I love us. Someone said but “did you die?” I’m crying.

That Michelle Obama gif is so important to me

HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2017!!!!

I know I shouldn’t have found this hella funny but I just couldn’t help it. Those gifs are everything. Especially that first one.

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Black Superpowers! Don’t tell anybody. We don’t want this getting out.

If you’re black you’re in tune with the lord of the universe and can warp reality at your command. Little known secret.

Some blacks don’t know they have telepathy until another black uses their telepathy near them.

It’s called the Nigga Neural Network

Most Black People usually discover they have Nigga Neural Network, or NNN, when a white person does something foolish in public and you somehow manage to find and make eye contact with the nearest Black Person available whether you knew they were in the vicinity or not

This is usually indicated by either an eyeroll or an up-nod of recognition.

Source:

The Oscars and the Face-Off between Moonlight and La La land

http://mikeymagee.tumblr.com/post/156417844628/can-i-ask-you-why-do-you-hate-la-la-land-i-mean

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Moonlight and the Limitation of Masculinity

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Going over Moonlight (2016) again, I’ve noticed Barry Jenkins recurring theme of showcasing Chiron’s (and Kevin’s) backs. In each act (from Lil, to Chiron, to Black) the has a long shot of the subject’s back. (Long Post under the cut)

Keep reading

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https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375816-lala-trump-great-america-hollywood/

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Tumblr Headcanaons about Folklore

*I loved this particular take on the story of The Swan Maiden.

the-last-hair-bender:

roachpatrol:

charminglyantiquated:

so if there’s one single trope i’m always down to fight it’s the animal bride (folklore motif 402??) which a lot of you are probably familiar with as the selkie – the fisherman either falls in love, steals her skin to trap her on land/gain power over her, or they fall in love and THEN he steals her skin to keep her from leaving, and either way she spends a lot of time gazing sadly out to sea and then she or her child finds the skin and never returns again.
and that’s awful on a whole lot of levels – it’s not love, it’s control.

BUT. but the thing is. you how selkies/seal women was a pretty common variation of this? another really popular one was swans.

i just want you to think about that for a moment. swans. like…I get it, they’re pretty, graceful birds, certainly it’s easy to imagine them magically becoming pretty graceful ladies? but have you ever fought a swan. swans are awful. swans are the devil’s geese. imagine seeing a pretty magic lady and being absolutely enchanted by her, and stealing her magic feather cloak, and then you go up and say ‘hey i’m in love with you, let me make you my queen, it will be great, we’ll be so happy’ and she just looks at you for a moment and…

you know i was going to say maybe she just shouts for her sisters and suddenly you’rerealizing you’ve made a terrible terrible mistake bc you’re surrounded by big fucking birds who are all hissing. but honestly if this swan lady is as aggressively down to brawl as any other generally unhappy swan, then she’d straight up fuck you up on her own. she’d just deck you roundhouse, honestly. you don’t fuck with swans. why does this trope exist

okay but consider this: a woman walks to the park every day and feeds the swans and watches them paddle gracefully around the lake, sighing to see how beautifully they swim.

finally one day, a swan comes up to her and says ‘why don’t you come and swim with us? you always sigh so wistfully to see us on the water, and you would be most welcome to join our company, for you have always been a true friend to our kind’

and the woman says, ‘i can’t swim’

and the swan says, ‘we’ll teach you’

and the woman says, ‘literally i can’t swim, my husband stole my sealskin and should i venture into deep water i would surely drown’

and the swan says ‘your husband fucking WHAT’

the next morning the woman’s front yard looks like this.

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and neither the woman nor her husband are ever heard from again, though for very different reasons.

OH MY GOD.

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On Introverts

If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites.introverts

And my personal favorite, as it happens to echo my exact thoughts sometimes:introverts

*Is it just me or does anybody else just get tired of hearing their friends talking to you sometimes? Like “Would u please shut up!” Only you actually like them, and don’t want to hurt their feelings, so you just grit your teeth and smile.

Learning About Introversion

I think I speak for all of us when I say that it can be VERY annoying to be called names and have people assume things about us that just isn’t true. That being said, books and articles are a great way for non-introverted people to learn more about what introversion is and how to best interact with introverts. Do you guys know of any good books, articles, or other sources about introversion?

Note: This is also a chance for introverts to seek out sources for themselves as well. Learning about oneself is a great way to spend your alone time. 🙂

If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites

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Characters that need to just die, cuz yeah I hate this character, too.

Dear Sleepy Hollow (and Hollywood in general) RETIRE THIS RACIST STOCK CHARACTER.

sleepynegress:

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We’ve all seen her. The black lady behind the counter. She’s dead-eyed, mono-toned, usually larger than average, and middle-aged.

She doesn’t give a shit about what you need.

She is the personification of red tape.  She is always a hindrance, merely there for the white hero and the audience watching to be annoyed at.

The audience rolls their eyes and thinks “Ugh, fuck this lady.” and take that shitty media programmed baggage out into the world when they deal with actual real life black women who work these positions and are often the most patient, helpful, “get you through this system despite it holding me down too” people.

It’s shitty and tired and disgusting and it programs people to see black women as annoying attitude-having hindrances by default.

STOP IT.

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Mocking  Stupidity. I reblogged this one for the insult, also I hate coleslaw. Where’s the lie?

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*And finally new nicknames for 45. There’s a whole website devoted to miscalling this  “Gibbering Mango”

The Orange Fire Monkey,

The Orange Fire Chicken

Hair Hitler

Top Ten Donald Trump Nicknames

The Donald — Ivana Trump (she first used the term in a 1989 Spy Magazine cover story)
Lord Voldemort — Rosie O’Donnell
Golden Wrecking Ball — Sarah Palin (who was NOT trying to be funny!)
Short-Fingered Vulgarian — Graydon Carter (a nickname Trump hates because he seems to think it implies that he is under-endowed “down there”)
Tiny Hands Trump, Babyfingers Trump and Pixie Fingers Trump — Michael R. Burch (nicknames based on Graydon Carter’s nickname above)
The Most Fabulous Whiner — after Donald Trump described himself to CNN’s Chris Cuomo as the “most fabulous whiner” who keeps “winning by whining”
Fuckface von Clownstick, Man-Baby, Comedy Entrapment and Unrepentant Narcissistic Asshole — Jon Stewart
The White Kanye ― Bill Maher
Trump of Doom — Michael R. Burch (first used in a possibly prophetic Facebook post on September 11, 2015)
Agent Orange — Anonymous

Sam Wilson: To Be Rescued

This is my love letter to the MCU Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon:

One of my all-time favorite Sam Wilson moments is in The Winter Soldier, when Sam experiences the love of flying again, in his fight with the Helicarrier, and he lets out a huge war whoop:

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This makes what he said earlier to Steve, about being glad to be out of the military, a complete lie. He may be glad no one is giving him orders but he’s glad to be back in the air doing what he does best.

First introduced in Captain America: The  Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson has been in three MCU films (The Winter Soldier, Antman,  and Captain America: Civil War) and  he just doesn’t get enough love. He’s one of my favorite characters. He’s also the most underrated, and one of the most consistently written, characters across the MCU. I think that has more to do with Anthony Mackie’s portrayal than it does the writers. Its obvious that Mackie loves this character, and he has the freedom to make this character what he wants him to be, because unlike Evans, he doesn’t have the weight of the entire plot hanging on him.

The Falcon, as he’s called in the comic books , was the first African American superhero to debut in Marvel Comics (in 1969) so its entirely correct that he should appear in the MCU. Not just because of that, but also  because he’s one of the contenders for Captain America’s mantle, now that Chris Evans has dropped the shield. (In the books, Sam  has taken up the title of Captain America.) He has been changed from his original comic book character though. In the books, Sam had limited telepathic/empathic control over birds, and is accompanied by an actual falcon named Redwing. The only nod we get to this, in the movies, is Sam being teased about his “bird costume”, and his little personal drone, named Redwing, in Civil War.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/inside-combat-rescue/

In the movies Sam is a former Pararescue officer, and like Tony Stark’s friend, Iron Patriot, (Rhodey), he’s a member of the US Air Force.

*Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operators tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments.

– United States Air Force Pararescue – Wikipedia

We’re first introduced to Sam in The Winter Soldier, where he’s still rescuing his fellow soldiers, only instead of going into hostile environments, he’s rescuing them from their own inner demons, as a VA Counselor. At first he tries to do the same for Steve ,sensing that the Icon of American Patriotism may require some emotional assistance, after being displaced in time. In fact that’s Sam’s first question to Steve. Not can he have his autograph, or a  confirmation  of some rumor he read in a history book. Sam’s very first statement to Steve is an offer of assistance, if  Steve would like to talk, because that’s what he does, its what he is, and has spent his entire career doing.

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There is criticism of Sam online, about his role as Steve’s  Black sidekick, but I choose not to see it that way, because of  Sam’s character, and how its established and presented within the narrative, and because I myself choose to live a life of service to others and find  a degree of satisfaction in doing so. Sam isn’t presented as some sort of Angel who can do no wrong, though.  He’s snarky and doesn’t easily forgive transgressions against himself, or those he’s adopted as his friends. He’s competent, pragmatic, and probably not quite as idealistic as Steve, as he occasionally plays Devil’s Advocate to some of Steve’s decisions. He is nuanced enough within the story for me to identify with his motivations, so no I don’t consider Sam to be a stereotype, although as I said, I think much of his character comes from Mackie’s depiction, rather than the writers.

One of the reasons I don’t see Sam as being Steve’s flunky is he’s not the only Black man in the movie. The other Black man is Nick Fury, whose relationship to Steve is much grayer than Sam’s. Nick Fury, because of the nature of his position in Shield, cannot commit to being Steve’s friend, but Sam can, and Steve does need a friend. Sam also serves the purpose in the narrative of anchoring Steve in the modern world to which he must adapt.Sam is also more of a civilian than Natasha, who like Fury, is too much a part of the lifestyle of espionage, to be trusted in the same manner.

Also, it is Sam who makes the first overture of friendship to Steve, not the other way around. He makes the offer, and then leaves it up to Steve whether or not he will respond to the overture, leaving an open space for Steve to step into, and trust him. I think this tactic works because Steve really is looking for someone to talk to. He’s looking for something, or someone, to tie him to a world he barely recognizes. He’s looking for someone to trust, and Natasha is just not a good candidate at the time, no matter how well meaning she is. He chooses to take Sam up on his offer.

I believe that Steve and Sam  bond because Sam has a tragic backstory too, that closely mirrors Steve’s, in that he lost a  brother in a very similar manner to how Steve lost Bucky, helplessly watching his friend fall to his death, during combat. I think that’s something that resonates with Steve. Although we never see Sam and Steve discuss it, there’s an understanding between them of each other’s pain and grief, and within much the same time period. For Sam its only been a year since he lost Riley. For Steve it feels like only a couple of years.

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Since he lost Riley, Sam’s been out running in the early hours of the morning, like Steve, he’s probably trying to cope with sleeplessness. We don’t know much about his day to day life but we do know he lives alone. And although we’ve seen how easily he makes friends with Steve, we get the distinct impression, that just like Steve, he doesn’t have many close friends.

I like to think that Steve rescued Sam, too.

When the call to adventure comes, in the form of Steve and Natasha showing up on his doorstep because he’s the only person they’re willing to trust, he doesn’t hesitate to answer it. Despite his grief, he hasn’t lost some of his childlike playfulness. He knows that if Captain America comes calling, its going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and he’d be crazy to turn it down, despite his earlier statements that he was glad to be out of the military. Nowhere is this attitude more evident than when he’s flying against the Shield Helicarrier, in full battle gear.

Sam is our Everyman character. He’s the regular human being through whose eyes we’re meant to see the plot. This is important because normally this type of character is often played by a scruffy White dude, with whom the audience is supposed to identify, here played by a handsome Black man.Sam is a bit of a Captain America fanboy, and we’re meant to put ourselves in Sam’s shoes, and imagine ourselves racing Steve around the reflecting pond, or fixing breakfast, or going on a mission with him. He says the things we want to say and expresses the excitement we have at that moment. And he looks cool doing all of this.

Image result for sam wilson gifs

Another of my favorite moments in Winter Soldier is the lowkey way Sam goes about taking care of business during the bridge scene. He’s not as flashy as Steve and Natasha, but watching Sam quietly kick ass during the scene on the bridge is a quiet joy as we can imagine ourselves doing that. He walks into that situation armed with nothing but a K-Bar knife, and smoothly, competently, with very little effort,  walks out of it with a machine gun. Sam makes the movie fun, but he is not the comic relief. He takes what he does very seriously and brings all his skills to the game without the toxic masculinity we see in Rumlow, for example. It is a testament to the Russo Brothers directing skills, and Mackie’s acting, that we manage to maintain our  identification with him,  as Sam’s abilities are gradually depicted as more, and more superheroic, in  subsequent movies.

Sam is competitive, but in a good way. His ego doesn’t seem to hinge on being the better man, but on just  being the best Sam Wilson. He initially races Steve when they first meet, but he knows who he’s up against, and he’s not there to try to prove his manhood. He’ knows who he is, and what his talents are, and he’s not threatened by Steve, being sensitive enough to see that Steve is in pain, comfortable enough  with himself to acknowledge that they both are, and willing to share his confidences with him.

Sam is thoughtful to his friends and  I like the movie’s honest depiction of  male friendship, with Sam waiting for  Steve to wake up in the hospital, playing the Marvin Gaye they’d discussed earlier, because that’s what friends do, and Sam remembered that. I liked that Steve was just a tiny bit surprised to see Sam  there because I think Steve was expecting to be alone. In a nice callback to Steve’s past, it may have reminded him of how many times Bucky sat by his side, when he was sick as a child. And who knows, he’s 90 years old, but he still might have missed being cared for like that.

In Antman, Sam goes up against Scott, who manages to best him. While he’s initially frustrated (and mildly embarrassed) he doesn’t hold a grudge about it, and in Civil War,  he good-naturedly seeks out Scott’s help,  while genially reminding him, that it’ll never happen again.

The nature of his job as a Pararescue, and as a counselor, sort of preclude  him being overly aggressive, yet he’s not passive. Like any good soldier, he  knows when to take the initiative, whether on the bridge, or in his fight with Rumlow.  He also has no patience for grandstanding,  so when Rumlow wants to talk smack during their fight,  Sam  tells him to  shut the hell up. He’s got no time for nonsense.

And then there’s his relationship to Bucky, which is complicated.

This is perfect:

If you’ve ever see the movie The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg depicts the kind of  relationship in the movie between Celie and Shugg, (two women who are both sleeping with the same man, who are meant to be rivals, but eventually become lovers), that’s depicted between Sam and Bucky. When they first met ,Shugg referred to Celie as ugly, and when Celie asks why, she tells her, “Its just Salt n’ the Sugah”.

That’s basically Sam and Bucky.

Salt n’ the Sugah.

I don’t think Sam actually hates Bucky, but Bucky did try to kill him several times, after which the two of them were forced to work together because they’re both Steve’s friends. Sam doesn’t hate him, but he doesn’t like Bucky either, seeing Bucky as someone that Steve keeps getting into trouble for, like that ex-girlfriend who keeps calling your buddy up every time her car needs a jump. Yet, he’s willing to work with Bucky and save his life because he loves Steve, Steve loves Bucky, and Sam is loyal to his friends. Bucky for his part barely knows Sam. I think, for him, Sam is just some guy hanging out with Steve, but he’s willing to like him if Sam will let him. Sam is willing to put aside his grudges, but not let go of them altogether, because he likes Steve.

In Civil War, we get another glimpse of Sam’s trauma. Just as Steve gets to relive that moment of terror when he lost Bucky (in The Winter Soldier), Sam gets the unpleasant experience of watching another friend get shot out of the sky, while he helplessly watches (and the added indignation of Tony’s overreaction in shooting him.) Sam, who really does rise to sainthood after that, as far as I’m concerned, manages to refrain from force choking the shit out of Tony when he comes begging for help, later in the movie. In fact Sam’s first words to Tony are to ask after Rhodey’s health and (having probably worked through most of his issues about Riley, and put in place coping mechanisms) that’s the only indication we get of how shaken he must have been at reliving that trauma.

And finally , I just love this scene. You can see how Sam never had any doubt that Steve would come for him, just as Steve came for Bucky.

After all Steve is loyal to his friends, and in many ways just like Steve, just like Bucky, Sam needed saving, too.

 

Favorited:

Sam and Natasha – Each movie gives Sam and a Natasha a couple of moments to banter with each other which basically ends up fueling lots of shipping meta between these two. In The Winter Soldier, Sam’s slightly suggestive “How  you doin?”, just tickled the heck out of  me.

Sam’s signature move is what I like to call the Kick Out. He usually does this  mid-flight, where he likes to kick people and things into another time zone. He did it to Bucky in Winter Soldier, and a helicopter in Civil War.

Sam Wilson’s Greatest Hits:

 

 

Victor Salva: “Problematic” Filmmaker

*I’m always writing these huge ambitious metas about stuff, but this is the kind of stuff that sits in my brain until I can get it out. So here goes:

I  don’t really like the word “problematic”, as I feel its overused, but its entirely accurate when it comes to this particular director. In 1988, Victor Salva was convicted of sexual misconduct, with the  then 12 year old star of his movie, Clownhouse. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct and spent 3 years in prison. He was registered as a sex offender and is no longer allowed to be alone with children on his film sets.

Victor Salva, more than any other director, is the one of the poster children, not just for White male privilege, but the issue of separating the artist from their art. One of the things that makes it so difficult to to do this with Salva, is that his sordid past keeps intruding into his art, which once you know about it, is impossible to unknow.

*(This Vice article, written back in 2012, lets me know I’m not the only person who has noticed this about Salva’s films.)

Victor Salva Loves Terrorizing Semi-Naked Youths

CHARLIE GRAHAM-DIXON

After Salva was released from prison, he was offered a movie to direct by Disney, in 1995, called Powder, starring Jeff Goldblum, Sean Patrick Flannery,  Lance Henriksen, and Mary Steenbergen, about a young albino genius, named Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has electrical powers. At the movie’s release, Salva’s former victim came forward to protest the release of the film. Salva has not worked with Disney since that time.

All this would just be a footnote, and Powder would be just another of those movies lost to history, except Salva went on to make several more films, and is now, with the help of Francis Ford Coppola, about to direct another Jeepers Creepers sequel. And when watching any of Salva’s movies r you  start to notice a disturbing tendency to focus on his young male stars in ways that remind the viewer of his past transgressions.

Salva’s films, The Nature of the Beast (1995), starring Lance Henriksen again, Powder (1996), Jeepers Creepers (2001), and its sequel (2003), contain scenes that, while we might find them not  worth remarking about any other time, in light of Salva’s history, these moments are…disturbing. Now, he’s set to produce and direct Jeepers Creepers 3, and I’m debating whether or not I should see this movie. I watched these movies, the first time,  wholly unaware of Salva’s background.

For example, in one of the more controversial scenes in Powder, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Donald Ripley, finds Jeremy alone in a room, and tries to form an emotional connection to him. In any other movie, this would be a beautiful moment, and an example of non-toxic masculinity, between an empathetic older man, and a young man who is starved for affection. At least that’s how I watched it the first time, but with knowledge of Salva’s background, the scene becomes distinctly creepy.  Ripley  slowly caresses Jeremy’s face and head. Jeremy, who has never been shown any form of physical affection, nearly breaks down in tears.

“You touched me and I’ve had better sex than I’ve had in ten years… I want to be a friend.”- Jeff Goldblum’s character actually says this in the movie.

There’s another scene where Jeremy, unable to participate himself, (he doesn’t know how), watches a group of teenage boys play touch football. This entire scene is shot in the most romanticized, slow motion manner, very obviously making these teenage boys the subject of the viewer’s gaze, in a style that’s usually reserve for nubile young women (think the opening scene of the 1977 movie, Carrie). One of the young men is filmed in loving slow motion, taking off his shirt, as Jeremy surreptitiously peers at him through a doorway. His manner is curious and secretive. When the young man catches Jeremy watching, he attacks him with homophobic slurs, and beats him up.

There’s something about this scene that’s less disturbing than the previous one. This scene at least serves the purpose of allegory, as Jeremy has already been positioned, within the narrative, as a hated outsider, who must be destroyed. The idea that he might  be gay (or Bi) is set up in advance. The indictment of this scene is not in Jeremy’s actions, but in the reactions of the other characters. It also feels somewhat autobiographical on Salva’s part as something very like this scene makes its way into all of Salva’s movies.

Actually, the plot of Powder features repeated attempts by Jeremy to reach out and form emotional connections with the other teenagers around him, and he is violently rebuffed every time. Earlier, he tried to form an attachment with one of the young local ladies, but is physically threatened and assaulted by the girl’s father. Jeremy, who is telepathic, desperately craves emotional connection, having lived in isolation his whole life, but finds it impossible throughout the course of the film. On the other hand, you are constantly distracted from the plot by seeing Jeremy’s naked chest filmed in loving closeup for much of the movie.

This is something that also plays out in some of Salva’s other films, with at least one  character trying to form a connection to another, and getting violently  rejected, which makes me wonder if this is some personal incident that Salva relates to. Is the reliving of this,  over and over, in his movies, the fallout of his stint in prison? Are these bullying scenes Salva’s   manner of saying that he was bullied by the state for his predilections?

In The Nature of The Beast (1995)  Lance Hendrickson (Jack) and Eric Roberts (Adrian) play two men of the road. One claims to be a salesman, the other is a no account drifter who decides, for his own amusement, and to his misfortune, to play a Cat and Mouse game with Lance’s character. Adrian tries to form a connection to Jack, but Jack has nothing but disdain for him, and will have nothing to do with the shiftless fellow because Adrian is nothing but trouble. Adrian teases Jack about knowing  his deep dark secret, and it is implied that Jack’s secret is that he is gay, though he says he’s not. Actually, his deep dark secret is that he is a serial killer. (And no, I don’t care for the conflation between serial killing and homosexuality, either.)

 

In 1999 Salva directed a movie titled Rites of Passage, which I’d never heard of until this post, so I had to Google it. I came across this trailer:

I’m actually intrigued by the subject of this movie, and plan to watch this, if I can find a free copy somewhere. This movie seems like a psycho-sexual thriller,  in the vein of Basic Instinct, with more than a hint of The Nature of the Beast. (The term Rites of Passage means an event marking a change in status, most specifically it’s a ceremony or event applied to young boys  to mark their transition to manhood.) The entire cast is male and, once again, has a scene where a closeted character is challenged by a straight character about his sexuality, according to the trailer.There is always a no-homo scene in Salva’s movies. Someone is suspected, or accused,  of being gay and they have to assert that they’re not.

Rites of Passage seems to be a little more straightforward in its depiction of homosexuality, (even though it’s love scenes are filmed in the Calgon Bubble Bath style of filmmaking.) The interesting thing about Salva’s films is its depictions of toxic masculinity in the form of identity shaming. The actual homoerotic moments are filmed in a frank and open manner, with no shame attached to them, and the characters who are accused of being gay are often not ashamed of their behavior, until made to feel that way by some other character.

Its difficult to separate the art from the artist, or know how much of the plot can even be attributed to Salva. Divorced from any background knowledge of the director, the movies actually send a lowkey positive message about homosexuality, and being different.

The very first time I paid any attention to this director, was after I saw Jeepers Creepers in 2001. I took my youngest sister to see it at the theater, and the homoerotic nudging and winking went entirely over both our heads, at the time. Although in this film, the nudging and winking is less blatant, so its easier to miss. It is only upon repeated viewing that I came to understand that the lead character, Darry,played by Justin Long, is heavily coded as  a gay man.

While traveling home for the holidays, Darry and Trish run afoul of The Creeper, who sets his sights on acquiring Darry. I remember being surprised at the ending of the movie when Trish, realizing her brother is the monster’s target, offers herself in exchange, but The Creeper rejects her, and takes Darry. I missed a lot of things about Darry because the movie does have another issue that bothered me more  and that was the addition of a “Magical Negro”, played by Patricia Belcher.

The Magical Negro in Jeepers Creepers was like, Hmmm some total white strangers need my help? To the Blackmobile! Brilz

Jezelle swans into the narrative to provide what some needed exposition. Every 23 years, for 23 days, The Creeper, is released from his stasis, so that he can eat people. The people he eats seem to consist entirely of  pretty, young, White boys, and his modus operandi is to get the scent of some boy he fancies, and pursue them until he can devour what parts of them he needs to reconstitute his decaying body. Since The Creeper is  identified as a male, it’s understandable he’d just chase after other males, but nevertheless, we have yet another plot where you have an older male, pursuing young men, which is another staple of Salva’s movies.

I have no idea if Salva is doing this on purpose, or if he’s even aware  what he’s doing. Is he teasing the audience with his backstory? Is he trying to work out his personal dilemmas in his movies? Has he changed as a person at all, or is he just trying to normalize pedophilia? I don’t know the man, so I can’t say what’s going on in his head, but it’s clear he’s obsessed with the idea of pretty, young, White men, being chased by  older men.

At one point in the movie, The Creeper is caught sniffing Darry’s laundry, after he’s broken into his car. Darry holds up a pair of pink jockey shorts and says that now the monster knows his name. Why his shorts are pink is explained in the movie, but not why his name is on them. This  scene is somewhat gratuitous because there’s no payoff for it. The monster never speaks, and we’re  certain he doesn’t care what Darry’s name is, since he already has his scent, so why are we informed that Darry’s name is on his shorts?

At the time I saw this movie, I was unaware that “sniffing” was even a sexual activity. Like I said, most of the sexual coding went  over our heads, but not all of it. Even I thought that scene was odd when I first saw the movie. Part of the reason why this is, is the reaction of the other characters. A waitress witnesses the laundry sniffing and is outraged, but one gets the sense that she’s not upset about the activity, so much as the monster did it in a public place.  Earlier, Trish teased Darry about his pink Jockey shorts, but she doesn’t say anything about the sniffing, other than to say she’s surprised the smell didn’t knock him out. She does not react to the idea of a stranger sniffing someone’s laundry. No one in the story finds the idea of laundry sniffing  odd or repugnant. ( Not to kinkshame, but if you mentioned such a thing to the real life versions of the small town people in this movie, you’d get that reaction.)

When Trish gently implies that he may be gay, Darry just shrugs, and when he finds out the monster has been sniffing his laundry, he seems more upset that The Creeper knows his name, than at the idea that this strange man (at this point they don’t know it’s a monster) has been sniffing his shorts.
Then finally there’s Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

If you didn’t think anything untoward about all of the scenes I just listed and don’t think they  mean anything, than how about the sequel to Jeepers Creepers.  All of the most questionable  moments of Salva’s movies, are amplified in this movie. In fact his movie continues to make the lists of most unintentionally gay horror movies, but its not  at all unintentional if it’s a pattern in all his movies.

It’s been three days since Darry’s kidnapping and The Creeper, disguised as a scarecrow, snatches a young pre-teen boy right from under his father’s ,and older brother’s noses. Later that day, The Creeper attacks a bus load of  boys returning from a basketball game.  He kills the coaches, and the heavily coded as lesbian bus driver, before spending most of that day and night, terrorizing the stranded teens.

Most of the plot takes place aboard the bus, giving the teenage boys lots of opportunity to engage in:  racist discussions, gay rumormongering, kinkshaming, sunbathing together on the roof of the bus, ignoring the cheerleaders, and strangest of all, peeing in groups. In the first movie, there is a scene of Darry peeing, and another one in Powder.

At one point, The Creeper terrorizes the teenagers by singling out which ones he’s interested in by licking the windows, so some of his behavior is blatantly sexually predatory, and the teammates argue about his interest in them for some time after this.  The issue with these movies is that many of the things,the viewer notices, can be explained away in the moment, and look unintentional. Its only after repeated viewing of all Salva’s movies, and knowledge of Salva’s sordid history,  that one realizes that young men, as a rule,  do not engage in group sunbathing and peeing sessions, and none of these things are unintended.

Scott, one of the team leaders is basically the poster child for entitled, angry White boys.  He’s racist, homophobic, sullen, and petty, and spends most of his time attacking the Black players, and the one team member suspected of being gay, named Izzy. At no point in the narrative is Scott set up as a sympathetic character, though, which is also in line with Salva’s other movies. Like all the other bullies in Salva’s movies, he is a cartoon villain, entitled, opinionated, and a massive coward. The hero turns out to be Izzy and his Black teammate, named Double D. They both work  hard to save their team mates, and live to the end of the movie. Complicating matters is the arrival of the father of the little boy who was kidnapped at the beginning of the movie.

Salva isn’t a bad filmmaker. He manages to pack some subtle messages about social justice into some effective, action packed movies,  and the movies are well directed, and written. But that sordid past, though…

Are we meant to forgive Salva? After all, he’s paid his dues, spent his jail time. He has, as far as the public knows, engaged in no recidivism. Can’t we all forget about it, and move on, as long as he’s following the rules? Is he just working through his issues in his films? Normally we would give the benefit of the doubt, but Salva’s focus on the young male body,  and the attendant homo-eroticism in his movies, makes that difficult.

*To read what Salva himself has to say about his past:

http://welcome-to-monster-land.blogspot.com/2009/07/directors-dungeon-victor-salva.html

Critique Roundup

Here’s a selection of Pop Culture readings for the week of January 9th. Not all of these were written this month, or even this year. They’re just a selection of posts I’ve come across while researching my favorite topics.

*Tarantino Speaks Out: Police Brutality vs. Cinematic Violence

POSTED ON JAN 5 BY

 

*Horror Movies, Why We Love [Some of] Them

POSTED ON JAN 2 BY

 

*Here are some ads that make me irrationally angry

Amanda Rosenberg

*White Feminist Critiques of Rogue One and the Erasure of Race

*Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Where Are The Women Of Color?: On Marvel’s Problems With Race

Melanin Monroe

*The Dragnet Effect: How TV Has Obscured Police Brutality

In the most influential police procedural ever, even Joe Friday, America’s archetypal “good cop,” was blind to the problem.

CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

*What to do when you’re not the hero any more

BYLAURIE PENNY

“Identity Politics” is the New Insult

From the website This Is Everyday Racism: 

Published From: The Establishment on Medium.com

By Ijeoma Oluo

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

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

Hell yeah it does.

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

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

Thank god for Identity Politics.

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

We had White Dudes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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