Hannibal Kills

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I was asked recently, by one of my readers, (The Laughable Cheese) to elaborate on my thoughts  about the whys and wherefores of Hannibal’s murderous motivations on the show. Now, I’m no psychologist, so what I’m about to write is sheer speculation on my part, based mainly on my thoughts about the series version of Hannibal.

Throughout the series we’ve seen him kill to aid Will Graham, out of spite and anger, to satisfy his curiosity, out of a sense of whimsy, to protect himself from being captured, or manipulate others, but it is not until season two that we get any deeper reason for his murders.

Acc­ording to Holmes typology, serial killers can be act-focused (who kill quickly), or process-focused (who kill slowly). For act-focused killers, killing is simply about the act itself. Within this group, there are two different types: the visionary and the missionary. The visionary murders because he hears voices or has visions that direct him to do so. The missionary murders because he believes that he is meant to get rid of a particular group of people.

Process-focused serial killers get enjoyment from torture and the slow death of their victims. These include three different types of hedonists — lust, thrill and gain — and power-seeking killers. Lust killers derive sexual pleasure from killing. Thrill killers get a “kick” from it. Gain killers murder because they believe they will profit in some way. Power killers wish to “play God” or be in charge of life and death.

— http://people.howstuffworks.com/serial-killer1.htm

I think Hannibal kills for a multitude of reasons, but seems to fit the model of being a process killer. The act is drawn often a long drawn out event, which has a lot of meaning for him. We can see that in his killing and eating of Abel Gideon, in season two and three.

A lot of fans speculate that Hannibal kills because he can, and that’s as good a reason as any other, but I don’t feel that goes deep enough. Hannibal’s reasons are complex. Why does he feel he can? Because Hannibal likens himself to God. Why does he want to assert himself as God’s equal? For the same reason that many others seek to assert their power. Because, on some level,  he knows how it feels to be powerless.

In season one, Hannibal mostly kills the rude (for food), or to protect his identity. He kills Georgia Madchen because he believes she saw him killing Will’s doctor. He killed Will’s doctor because that man knew too much about his unethical manipulations of Will Graham, and could blackmail him for it.

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The first time we encounter one of Hannibal’s kills,  is when the body of Cassie Boyle is found in an open field. Hannibal has impaled her on a rack of antlers, (and removed her lungs, so that he can eat them.) Crawford and his forensic team discover her body after Will is confounded  about  the murder  of another young woman, named Elise.

Hannibal kills Cassie to provide what Will calls “a negative” to the body of Elise. Will thinks Cassie Boyle was killed to aid him in his search for Elise’s killer, and he’s not wrong. That is one of Hannibal’s motivations for killing the young woman, but another motivation, and this is just my speculation, is that he was also inspired by Elise’s killer, to create a more elaborate death. The way Cassie Boyle was killed was simply a way he hadn’t tried before.

In fact, no mention is made of how the Chesapeake Ripper (also Hannibal) killed or displayed his victims prior to the show’s opening, although the Chesapeake Ripper is mentioned as someone Jack has been hunting for many years. His killing and display of Cassie Boyle is the first mention of what Will calls “Field Kabuki”, which stands in direct contrast to how Elise was killed by Garret Jacob Hobbes. That contrast is what helps Will develop a picture of Hobbes, but also has the side effect of  bringing Hannibal to Will’s attention.

Now remember at this point, Hannibal has only  just met Will, after being given the task by Jack Crawford, of being the caretaker of Will’s sanity, while Will helps the FBI catch serial killers. Already we can see that he is fascinated by Will, and wants to get closer to him. He wants to be friends. So he was willing to take that risk to aid Will. He would get to see how Will’s mind works and better understand him. So one could argue that Cassie’s death was an overture of friendship to Will (although Will does not know that.).

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The very first meal that Will and Hannibal eat together is Cassie’s breakfast scramble. Prior to that we are shown Hannibal eating this alone in his house. He doesn’t appear to have any friends until he meets Will. After feeding Cassie to Will, he seems to have developed a sense of satisfaction from feeding the remains of his victims to his acquaintances, because he continues to do this throughout the entire series run, feeding his victims to Jack, Will, Alana Bloom, and various dinner guests. In the movies, Hannibal is shown feeding his victims to dinner guests, so there is precedent for it, but that’s  only shown in the TV show once, and only after he meets Will Graham. After that he mostly feeds his victims to his “friends”.

Hannibal kills for multiple reasons in season two. He also manipulates people into attempting to kill others. He manipulates Abel Gideon into  killing Alana Bloom, so that Will Graham will be forced to kill Abel to protect her. He does the same to Miriam Lass, using her PTSD against her, to get her to kill Frederick Chilton, who he has framed as the Chesapeake Ripper. He and Will attempt to orchestrate the killing of Mason Verger, and Lecter  successfully manipulates Will Graham into killing Randall Tier, by sending Tier after him at his home.

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Hannibal kills others for  a dinner party. One is a doctor who was rude to him, and Sheldon Isley, a land dealer who opposed the salvage of some wetlands. Lecter kills him out of spite and plants his body within a tree. It is the clues from Sheldon’s body that lead to the discovery that Miriam Lass, (a detective whose disappearance had been attributed to The Chesapeake Ripper), is actually alive.

However, his most notable and memorable killing, in season two, is the judge in Will’s case. Having framed Will as The Chesapeake Ripper in season one, Lecter now regrets his actions, and misses Will. The judge dismissed the testimony he gave in his attempt to free Will. In a fit of spite, Lecter simply removes the judge, which has the added side benefit of freeing Will, as his case gets thrown out.

Most of his reasons for killing in season three are pragmatic.  In season three he kills to protect his identity, as when he kills Reynaldo Pazzi, a detective who recognizes him from a previous case, and Anthony Dimmond, a man who tried to blackmail him. He kills to establish a new identity when he kills and eats Roman Fell and his wife.

But the most notable killing in season three are the flashbacks to the  killing and eating of Abel Gideon, the man who tried to steal his name and reputation as the Chespaeake Ripper, and knew too much about his manipulations of Will Graham. It’s especially horrifying as he spends most of that time talking with Gideon about what he’s doing to him, and forcing Gideon to partake of his own flesh.

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Note that what Hannibal does with his victims bodies afterwards is not the reason he kills them. He is not necessarily killing them to help Will, or send messages, or be artistic. He is making art out of something he already feels compelled to do. For example, he didn’t kill Dimmond to make the origami heart for Will. He just took advantage of a death he caused to leave Will a message. He killed Dimmond to protect his identity as Norman Fell.

Lecter has also talked, at length, about ethical killing, claiming to Bella Crawford that he employs an ethical butcher, who doesn’t make the food suffer before killing and eating it, and in season two he chides Will for terrifying Freddie Lounds too much before killing her, saying that it makes her flesh taste acidic. What he is saying is that the method (the process) by which he kills is important to him.

Miriam Lass, in her testimony to the FBI, also claimed that the Ripper never tried to cause unnecessary pain, informed her of his actions beforehand, and taking care to see that she didn’t experience undo anguish. So one could make the argument that Hannibal is definitely a “Process” type killer.

One of the theories for why Hannibal kills goes back to his childhood and the loss of his little sister Mischa. In the book version of his back story, (Hannibal Rising) he lost his sister during the war, when a group of enemy soldiers took his family prisoner, killed his family, and ate his sister, which he witnessed. Subsequently he hunted, killed,  and ate each of  them in turn, and this is a habit he simply developed and continued. Killing and eating people he thinks were rude to him.

In the show, this has been changed to;  witnessing his sister’s death, and then eating her himself, after he had pledged to always protect her. But Hannibal’s motivations on the show parallels his motivations from the books. He says to both Will Graham, and Margot Verger, that killing bad people feels good. Of course Hannibal’s criteria for “bad” is fairly loose, in that almost everyone can meet it. Hannibal likens their behavior to disrespecting God (himself).

Of course Will is allowed to be as rude to Hannibal as he likes. His motivation for trying to kill and eat Will, in season three, is not because Will is rude, but because Bedelia suggested it to him, as the only way to relieve his heartache over Will.

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Because Hannibal doesn’t see his victims as people, he sees them as creatures far beneath him (a theme that will more heavily come into play late in the second season, after Mason Verger is introduced). A much truer version of his thoughts is heard in season two when he says that God kills with impunity, and so should he. When killing the “Eye of God” killer, he explains that he is God’s equal and uses that argument to persuade the Eye of God killer to sacrifice himself for his art.

This thirst for power over people, to be godlike in his killing of them, may have derived from the vigilante killing of his sister’s killers. Having helplessly stood by and watched her be killed would be excellent motivation for taking back his power by killing her killers. In a sense, Hannibal is a kind of vigilante killer, only killing and eating those people who his cellkeeper Barney, in the movie Hannibal, referred to as  “Free Range Rude”. And what may have started as a form of vigilantism, to avenge his sister’s death, or to right the wrongs of the world, has simply evolved into a lust for power. Put all these reasons together and Hannibal definitely comes across as a Power type of Killer.

 

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The Problem with White Critics

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I think I began several different iterations of this post, but finally settled on making this as positive as possible, rather than making it just a rant, because what I want to do is encourage people to do something that’s helpful to everyone, including themselves.

We don’t have enough critics of popular media who are people of color ,and we desperately need more.

http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/does-racism-impact-the-way-reviewers-rate-tv-shows/

The  problem I have with so many white critics is that they don’t see color. No really, they just don’t see it. We’re experiencing a time where PoC are being increasingly cast in roles, or sometimes have their own vehicles, and most white critics either don’t know enough about other cultures to adequately critique that media, or who have such a deep seated discomfort with acknowledging other cultures, that they simply ignore characters of color in the media. They really just don’t see them, they erase them, forget they’re there, diminish their importance in the narrative, and there are some cases where I would consider certain reviews to be overt micro-aggressions, themselves, like the review of Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, by the racially tone-deaf, British critic, Camilla Long.

“The received wisdom on Moonlight, a film about gay love in the black ghetto, is that it is ‘necessary’ and ‘important’. It is an ‘urgent’ and ‘relevant’ examination of forbidden attraction in a world, ‘the streets’, that is largely hostile to gay men.

Only, relevant to whom? Certainly not the audience. Most will be straight, white, middle class. Nor is it particularly ‘urgent’: the story has been told countless times, against countless backdrops.”

https://www.themarysue.com/tone-deaf-moonlight-hidden-figures-reviews/

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In Westworld, there are two major threads of robot cognition occurring on the show, between Dolores, a White coded woman , and Maeve, a Black coded character. I found it impossible to find critiques of Maeve’s storyline, especially from an intersectional feminist perspective. Most White critics ignored her entirely, focusing all of their attention on the character they felt was the show’s star, Dolores.

Critics  of color, have long pointed out White Prioritization in media narratives, but this prioritization also extends to fandom and critics as well, where, if there is a single White person in narratives that involve PoC, fans and critics will focus entirely on that character, neglecting, erasing, and sometimes  even re-writing the contributions of the characters of color in the story.

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We’ve directly witnessed fandom engaging in this with Finn from Star Wars, and  Nick Fury from the MCU, with fans often re-writing the narrative to villainize or  erase their contribution to the story. But this was notably illustrated on the show Sleepy Hollow, when, during the second and third seasons, the show’s Black female lead, Abbie Mills, was often sidelined in favor of the more marginal, White character’s storylines.

Maeve had nearly the same character arc as  Dolores, but no one was writing about her, and the people who did write about her didn’t take her race into consideration for how she was treated as a character, or how her race impacted her storyline vs. Dolores. Either White critics just didn’t see it, or they just didn’t care. Pick one!

I couldn’t find any posts on the topic of White female stereotypes vs Black female stereotypes in media, so I had to research it, and make my own. Ten minutes after that post was published, I was contacted by a young woman who said she’d just been searching the Internet, looking for exactly that type of post for her intersectional feminism paper, and citing that post  on a similar topic. Since then, that post has become one of my most popular, getting at least a couple of hits every day. (For the record, I’m not an  academic. I work in the Social Science and Research Dept. of a major library.)

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When Luke Cage, and Beyonce’s Lemonade were released, I stated that I was specifically seeking critiques from Black critic perspectives, because no white critique would have been able to capture the nuances of either. Not being a part of Black American  culture, White critics would be unlikely to catch all of the Easter eggs, and details that made this media so important to us. Some things you just have to be a part of the culture to understand.

I’ve watched many, many, movies from other cultures and critiqued many of them, but have always kept in the back of my thoughts, that I’m not a member of that culture, and I’m unlikely to understand many details, so am able only to speak to a certain depth on films with primarily Latinx, or Asian casts. I would entirely understand if people from any of those cultures dismissed my reviews.

http://splinternews.com/theres-a-huge-divide-between-how-black-and-white-critic-1797478105

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This is the same problem that’s found in the movies of White directors of Black culture. Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit suffers from a lack of nuance. It’s two hours of Black pain, with no  depiction of the regular everyday life of the Black people in the city of Detroit. Their personal lives are lacking or given short shrift, and it lacks any depictions of the roles Black women played in the resistance to their oppression. I’m not arguing that Bigelow is a racist, but she is recreating a Black story through a White woman’s lens, so no matter how awake she may be as a person, her perspective on the issue is going to be limited, as she does not come from the environment she is portraying. I don’t object to Bigelow directing the film as she’s an excellent filmmaker. I’m just wondering if the film would’ve been better served by having a director from the same culture as depicted in the film.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/detroit-and-the-problem-with-watching-black-pain-through-a-white-lens_us_597f8907e4b08e143004bbf1

One of my favorite genres is the martial arts film. Jet Li is one of my favorite actors, and one of his early movies is Once Upon a Time in China. I watched this film in the nineties when my brother gifted me with the entire boxed set for Christmas. I really enjoyed them. They also came with a commentary from famed martial arts writer Bey Logan, who taught me exactly what I was missing when I was watching those films, many of which also have Easter eggs, like the names of streets signs, character names, and character fighting styles. Bey Logan is not Asian, but he does know more about the topic than I ever will, so I defer to him. (Ideally, I would read Asian writers writing about movies depicting them, which is what I did for Ghost in the Shell.)

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Logan gave backstory on  characters that it didn’t occur  to me to ask, and answered a few questions that had been bubbling in the back of my mind regarding cultural issues, such as why you almost never see Chinese couples kissing in movies. These are all things I would never have known (or sometimes noticed) because I’m not Chinese, or a member of that diaspora.  I can enjoy the films only to a certain depth, but Bey Logan did teach me a lot about what to look for, and what to critique in such films.

I’m not saying White people can’t critique movies and TV shows that are primarily about people of color, just that their perspective isn’t going to carry the same weight as that of a person who is from the culture being depicted, and there are some critics, like Ms. Long mentioned above, who seem actively hostile.

My aim is to follow in Bey Logan’s footsteps, and  deepen understanding of characters and culture, by critiquing the media from my perspective, through my own lens, as a Black woman. I don’t just want to point out what White owned media, and fandom gets wrong about their depictions of characters of color, but to point out how, and why, it’s wrong, and teach viewers what to look for when watching events like Luke Cage, Lemonade, and Jessica Jones,  and movies like Detroit, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures. So from now on, when I write reviews on these types of productions, I intend to add more cultural and historical information, as I did when reviewing American Gods.

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I’m standing in a very different spot than White men (and women) when viewing pop culture, and when it comes to media involving Black American culture specifically, my perspective is that of someone fully immersed in that culture. White male is certainly one perspective, and it has its merits but, once again, a lot of  nuance and history will probably be missed.

Right now, I’m following a White critic who regularly dismisses or erases Black characters, (he simply doesn’t mention them, and when he does, is often clueless as to their impact and importance in the narrative) although he is otherwise a perfectly decent reviewer. I don’t think he knows he’s doing it, but the cumulative effect of forgetting to mention certain characters, or not remembering their names, is one of dismissal of characters of color. He is a perfectly acceptable reviewer though, and we agree on a great many issues, but he is simply unwilling (or what is much more likely), incapable of seeing what I see in even the shows and movies we both like.

He’s standing where he’s standing, and I’m standing where I’m standing, and he can’t imagine what I’m seeing from over here. I don’t really expect of him, to be honest.

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Before Iron Fist, and Ghost in the Shell were  released, I deferred to the opinions of Asian Americans, and boosted their voices on topics of concern, as much as possible. I can’t speak for them, although I do try to notice if they’re being treated fairly in a narrative. They are the only ones who really KNOW the issues that are of paramount concern to them, as part of the culture being shown onscreen, and whenever possible I prefer to let people of their own culture speak for themselves.

So here’s my encouragement and a challenge: If you’re a person of color, who is interested in TV and film, and you know anything about history, or social justice,  or just care about those issues, you can be a reviewer. It’s easiest to start with television shows since those are much more accessible, but there’s no academic credentials, or specialized knowledge required to blog about it. All you have to do is be a person of color, who loves movies and TV, and have something to say about it.

Pick one show you especially enjoy, and write an essay on how it makes you feel (this is an example of Meta). Pick a movie you liked and talk about its themes or ideas that captured you. Pick a character that speaks to you, with whom you identify and talk about that. It doesn’t have to be like the newspaper reviews. It doesn’t have to be an academic treatise. It also doesn’t have to be negative. Saying how much you love something, and why, is still a review.

Is it a rant? Is it something you hate that movies keep doing? Is it something you love and want to encourage? Go for it! Do you actually have some specialized knowledge on a topic movies keep getting wrong? Let us know!

Trust me, you will find an audience. Its slow going, at first, but I promise to signal boost you. I will give you a platform. If you are a person of color with a movie and TV review blog, let me know, and I’ll reblog your stuff.  Got some meta on Tumblr? Just send me a link and I’ll post it.

We need more critics of color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://howlround.com/the-need-for-cultivating-theatre-critics-of-color

 

 

 

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 5 (2011 – 2017)

Here it is! This is the final part of the movies of my life series, where I list my favorite movies for each year I’ve been on Earth. This has been an eye opener for me too, as some of these I hadn’t really thought of in quite this way before, and the realization that so much of my earliest movie watching experiences are the product of Mom, and nostalgia.

My tastes really started to branch away from hers in my teens, which I suppose is normal. I’m still a lot more adventurous than her, when it comes to choosing movies. I’ll go anywhere I think is interesting, while she likes to stay in her comfort zone, although I can occasionally talk her into watching new things.

 

2011: Attack The Block 

I did a review of this movie here:

 https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/why-we-love-attack-the-block-2011/

This movie is mostly notable for starring my precious cinnamon bun, John Boyega, in one of his first movie roles.

I had two other movies to choose from,The Tree of Life, and The Road. I would have chosen one of these but The Tree is such a complicated film to describe, it would take an entire post just to parse its meaning. The movie has no straight plot, and is really nothing more than a series of images and vignettes with voiceovers loosely strung together with a theme. I love it, not  for its philosophy, but for its mood. The imagery, and music are beautiful, and it has a lot of quiet moments where scenes simply play out to their conclusion, with no explanation.

http://www.scholardarity.com/?p=1361

I love The Road but I was never going to chose it as my top film for this year becasue while it has a hopeful ending, it’s really just  too bleak and depressing a movie to ever be considered enjoyable. I really like Viggo Mortensen though, and think this is very possibly one of his best films.

https://reelrundown.com/movies/The-Road-Movie

 

2012: SkyFall

This year saw the release of The Avengers movie, which was a lot of fun for me; the movie Chronicle, with Michael B Jordan, which I’ll be discussing in another post; The Amazing Spiderman, which I absolutely did not hate, but didn’t love enough to make it my choice for my best movie this year, and finally Django Unchained, which I defended in an earlier post.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/in-defense-of-django-unchained/

But my choice for this year is Skyfall. I wasn’t a big fan of the first two Bond movies but I like this one. I think it perfectly captures Bond’s  washed up nature, fighting for a corrupt  political system,  that sees him as expendable. I think David Craig does some of his best acting here. For me, the film was most enjoyable for the introduction of Ms. Moneypenny, played by one of my favorite actresses, Naomie Harris, and its development of M’s character, who does not come off looking too good.

 

 

2013: Snowpiercer/Afflicted

This movie was a tie between SnowPiercer and the movie Afflicted. I reviewed Afflicted here. I think it’s one of the best vampire movies I’d seen in a long time.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/geeking-out-about-afflicted-2013/

As for Snowpiercer, what can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said by better writers than me.:

https://no-award.net/2014/08/01/snowpiercer-the-revolution-cannot-be-trusted-if-its-white/

https://alanw2000.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/snowpiercer-analysis-bong-joon-hos-sci-fi-masterpiece-by-alan/

http://aldianews.com/articles/culture/film-television/snowpiercer-and-one-white-dude-rule-them-all/34908

 

 

2014: Captain America The Winter Soldier

I had a really hard time choosing between Captain America: The Winter Soldier, It Follows, and What We Do in the Shadows. Ultimately, I chose Captain America because  I really enjoyed all three movies in the franchise, and What We Do in the Shadows is such a lightweight, silly thing next to these other two movies. There’s nothing wrong with lightweight, but it just didn’t win out against these two heavyweight message movies.

I’ve done two reviews of It Follows, that’s how intrigued I was by this movie:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/it-follows-2014-more-thoughts/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/the-monster-it-follows-2014/

I’ve also done a review of What We Do in the Shadows, which cemented Taika Waititi as one of my favorite film directors, forever, and one of the main reasons why Thor: Ragnarok might make my favorites list for this year:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/geeking-out-about-what-we-do-in-the-shadows-2014/

I am working on yet another post about Captain America right now, but I have done an entire series of posts on its characters, Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers, and Black Widow. i love it for its message,its characters,  the action scenes are top of the line, and its sentimental moments, which callback to the first movie.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/on-the-right-captain-america-and-iron-man/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/black-widow-lying-liar-who-lies/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/sam-wilson-to-be-rescued/

 

 

2015: Mad Max Fury Road

Most people think I would have chosen Star Wars Force Awakens because of my love for John Boyega/Finn, but really the characters were my only real reason to love it, and I’m also mad because Han Solo was killed, and I haven’t gotten over that yet.

No, the movie that did it for me, this year, was Mad Max Fury Road. I’m a total George Miller stan. His Mad Max movies were so influential,during the 80s, that every post-apocalypse movie since, has tried to ape his style…and failed! They simply could not capture the essential something in his movies, which were  combinations of intelligent writing and ferocious action, and Fury Road is no different. An action movie with a message that every post-apoc movie will try to ape in the future…and fail! For me, Fury Road was my Wonder Woman, (which is another reason why I wasn’t too impressed with that film.) One of the few woman-led actioners against which all others will be compared.

 

2016: Train to Busan

This was one of the best zombie movies in the past few years in my opinion. This is me, squeeing about this movie:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/train-to-busan-2016-2/

I have another post on its comparison to World War Z later this year.

 

 

2017: Logan, Get Out, Spiderman Homecoming, and ?

I haven’t yet chosen a film for this year yet, but the three films in the running for my favorite so far, are: Logan, Spiderman Homecoming, and Get Out. I’m also greatly looking forward to the yet to be released films, Thor Ragnarok,  Justice League, and Bladerunner 2049. I might choose one of them. We don’t know! What do you think, I’ll choose?

 

Unbreakable, Sleight, Spiderman, Chronicle: Shout Out to the Lowkey Superhero

 

In 1981, I watched the pilot for a show, starring William Katt (from  the 1976 movie, Carrie). In it, a Special Education teacher receives a Supersuit from some aliens and decides he wants to fight crime, even though he hates wearing the suit, and has lost the instruction manual. (Why won’t someone remake this show?) Aided by Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell, played by Robert Culp, he spends most of his time trying to figure out what his superpowers are, and how to use them, with comical results.

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In 1976, Carrie White discovers she had the power to move objects with her mind. Bullied and humiliated at her high school, she unleashes all of her rage on her classmates at the Senior Prom.

In 2000, Bruce Willis portrays David Dunn, a man who discovers that his body is essentially unbreakable, (just like Luke Cage), and has to figure out who and what he is, and what he wants to do with this power, aided by Samuel L Jackson, who also plays the movie’s  archvillain, Mr. Glass.

In 2012’s  Chronicle, Dane DeHaan plays Andrew Detmar who, along with his cousin Matt, and his friend Steve,  stumble across a strange rock in a cave, and receive the power to move objects with their thoughts. After bearing the brunt of schoolyard bullying, physical and emotional abuse from his father, and the death of his mother, Andrew nearly kills his father, and destroys a good portion of Seattle, before being killed by Matt.

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In 2017’s Sleight, a young Black genius named Bo, creates the the ability to move metallic objects with his mind, while he clashes with the local drug dealer, Angelo.

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In Spiderman Homecoming, Peter Parker is a newbie Super, dealing with such mundane things as schoolwork, bicycle thieves, and helping out the local Churro  Lady. He longs to save the world, while using nothing more than some superstrength, a fast wit, and some silkwebbing. He doesn’t have the social cache of Captain America, nor does he have Batman’s budget.

Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist. They’ve got one major power each, the ability to punch things really hard, lift a car, skin that won’t break, and the ability to see sounds. These are not gods. They can’t destroy a city block with the touch of a finger. They don’t own supersuits. They can’t even fly.  Even all-together they ain’t ever gonna be on the level of the Justice League.

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http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/superhero-movies/39560/real-life-superhero-movies-a-closer-look

None of these characters are villains, but many of them are too beset by the weaknesses of their character, or the challenges of their environment, to ever do the world any  real good. They live in the real world of car payments, drug dealers, homework, high school bullies, and 9 to 5 jobs they don’t like, dealing with people who seriously test their ability not to abuse whatever powers they possess, and sometimes that can’t even avoid doing that.

They’re not goddesses created by Zeus. They’re not millionaires who never have to worry about paying for anything. They’re not exiled  aliens. These are not the types of heroes you call to go into outer space to destroy the intergalactic menace. They’re just trying to survive their tiny part of the universe.

And sometimes they don’t manage to do that either.

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In Chronicle, Andrew wants to be special and important to the rest of the world, but that’s not gonna happen. Andrew could have been a true benefit to the world,  but he is bullied at school, abused by his father at home, his mother is dying, and they’re running out of money to pay for her medicine.  Andrew uses his abilities to rob a local drug dealer for the money, but how are his powers going to save his mother? How are those powers going to stop making him the brunt of his father’s anger at his wife’s death? Or make him charming, witty, or popular at school?

Sadly, Andrew gets a brief taste of these things, fending off his father’s abuse in one scene, participating in a talent show where he can secretly show off his abilities (and getting the accolades that he not only feels he richly deserves, but desperately needs), and losing it all when one of his friends, Steve, (who shared the same abilities as he did), dies , possibly as a result of Andrew’s actions.

Eventually, Andrew loses everything, including his mother,  and then eventually his life, at the hands of his cousin, Matt,  (who also shared the same superpowers), as he spirals down into a vortex of shame, hatred, grief, and anger. His powers couldn’t save him from himself.

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None of these superpowers help Matt save his best friend Steve, or solve his cousin’s extreme trauma, or even alleviate his own  emotional trauma, at having to take his cousin’s life, when Andrew goes on an anger fueled rampage. We witness how useless Matt’s abilities are, during his fight with his cousin, when he can’t talk him down, can’t convince him that he is loved, and can only mitigate the damage he causes, with his only option being to kill him.

This is the horrific outcome of actual superpowers in a real world setting that is full of horribly damaged people, and people happy to inflict pain on others for fun. This is something not shown in the Avengers, and Iron Man movies. The villains in those always have lofty goals, and self-serving excuses for why they’re bad. They hate the hero, or want to control the world, or both. Andrew, and his counterpart, Carrie, (whose narrative closely parallels this one), sometimes don’t know what they are, are sometimes just  in pain, and cause an incalculable amount of damage and death, all because they  weren’t loved enough.

This is the opposite story of Unbreakable, where David Dunn, a depressed stadium security guard, begins to realize his true potential, while mentored by a  man who thinks he knows who and what David is capable of. When he and his  wife, Audrey, were involved in a car crash, David used that as an excuse to quit football, because Audrey was opposed to the sport. He spent the next ten years of his life wondering what could have been, and the life they could have had.

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Not realizing that he is an  Unbreakable man, he  is approached by  Elijah Price, who tells him that he is special, that he can regain the glory he knew as high school football star. By using his strength to save lives, David discovers a new sense of purpose. Taking on the name Savior, his activities regain the  respect of his son, the love of the wife, who was planning to divorce him, and lifts his spirits, as he realizes what kind of man he is. David wasn’t trying to save the world. He was just trying to save himself.

http://reallifesuperheroes.com/

In Sleight,  Bo has the ability to move metal, due to a magnetic device he’s implanted in his arm. He gets involved with the local drug dealer, while trying to make a better life for him and his little sister, after their mother dies. Bo isn’t the next Tony Stark, but he would’ve been, were it not for the circumstances of his birth.

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Here’s what the director had to say about the stereotypical setting of the movie, which also tackles issues of race and class, which most superhero movies don’t mention:

<Making Bo a role model and a drug-dealer seems potentially controversial, but it also speaks to his lack of options as a teenager trying to support his sister, and living without a safety net. But you don’t foreground the social issues of his choices. You don’t make it political. Was it important to you to not spell anything out too much?

Obviously, it’s a trope that’s unfortunately very recognizable for black characters in movies, in having something to do with street-level drugs and committing crimes. Part of the goal in centering ourselves in that world was to find a different, empathetic way into a trope that’s maybe a little too familiar. By centering it on this kid who is brilliant and artistic and has a scholarship going for him, we’re showing that a fall into this world really could happen to anyone. If everything you hold dear slowly started unraveling and you had massive responsibility, and part of that responsibility is shielding someone you care about from even knowing that this is going on… There are certain sacrifices we make to take care of the people around us. We don’t just want to paint that familiar iconography. We wanted to find a different way into it, then [go] past it.

And if you read between the lines in Sleight, there’s enough evidence that we’re not fully falling into the trope, I would hope. Bo’s neighborhood is actually not bad. He’s not in a crime-infested, impoverished area. He’s trying to keep his sister in the environment she’s comfortable in. But also, what he does is a very different brand of drug-dealing, one less associated with the urban crime story. When you look at a show like High Maintenance — if we had another act to talk about Bo’s clientele, these are the kinds of stories we would see. Which hints why Bo would consider selling drugs in the first place. He’s savvy enough to not end up on the corner selling dope. And his boss, Angelo, at first glance, isn’t a gun-toting gang-banger. Bo is making an educated compromise, something he thinks he can keep at arm’s distance.>

 

Bo isn’t  heroic because he’s trying to save the entire world. Bo is a hero because he’s working against long odds to save just one small world, his little sister’s.

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Contrast Spiderman Homecoming with The Avengers. The Avengers are so far removed from everyday life that they seem almost like myths to the working man. Nowhere is this contrast more obvious than in the movie Spiderman Homecoming, about the activities of a low-level superhero who wants to make it to the big time. Peter Parker comes from a world of school, homework, and junior proms. His mentor is a multi-billionaire, whose every minor decision can affect entire lives, as Tony Stark’s decision to take over the salvage operations in New York, creates The Vulture, the villain who eventually becomes one of Spiderman’s Rogue’s Gallery.

Spiderman’s inability to run with the Big Boys, like Thor and The Hulk,  is the subject of a  great deal of humor, as seen in Captain America: Civil War, but it can also result in great tragedy, as his lack of discipline nearly causes a massive loss of  life, when he accidentally breaks the Staten Island Ferry.

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In The Incredibles, the superheroes of yesteryear get a taste of what the mundane life is like when superheroing is outlawed by a fed up public. Now all they have are their real jobs, house payments, and watching their weight.  Mr Incredible chafes at these restrictions, living vicariously through his son’s grade school exploits, secretly crime fighting behind his wife’s back, and yearning for the days when he could channel all his restless ingenuity into bringing down super criminals. Like Peter Parker, the mundane life just isn’t challenging enough for him, or his little boy, Dash, There’s also the not so lowkey message in the film that when everyone is considered special, its really just another version of mundanity.

I suppose this essay would not be complete without mentioning the  ultimate street level superhero, Kick Ass, who is the very definition of a superhero nobody. David is a superhero only because he believes it. He has no superpowers to speak of, no martial skills, not even a sharp tongue. Armed with nothing more than a green bodysuit, and some Escrima sticks, he takes out muggers and drug dealers on the streets of New York City, in the hopes of  impressing that one girl in school he has a crush on. He inadvertently falls into deeper water than he can handle, when he encounters a vigilante father/ daughter duo, who are fighting an organized crime family.

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There have been a spate of these movies in the past ten years, (Super, Defendor, Special) about the the low level exploits of gifted, and non-gifted heroes, yearning for the  Big Time, something to give their life meaning, a way to work out their psychological trauma, or just wanting to be special and/or loved. For some of them, these are weaknesses of character that will never allow them to rise to the level of an Avenger, or an X-Man, and other s are so grounded, they will never  get to be heroic, no matter how much they want it.

Even the move Suicide Squad dabbles in these ideas, with characters like Captain Boomerang, and Slipknot, or a character with no superpowers at all, beyond a taste for chaos, and an ability to wield a baseball bat. The’yre little more than small-time villains who get called on to save the world.

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On the other hand, it makes them more relatable, and sympathetic,than the Tony Starks, and Supermen, of the world. Watching them rise to new levels of superheroics, as when Spiderman has no one to save him but himself in Spiderman: Homecoming, or when Bo defeats the neighborhood villains to successfully raise his little sister, gives us the  confidence to survive, especially when we’re beset by our own physical, and mental issues. When they overcome, they are the best of ourselves. And when they fall to the depths of despair, like Andrew and Carrie, they are reflections of our worst, and can spur us to examine and conquer our own weaknesses.

My Favorite Michael Jackson Videos

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

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

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

 

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And all this was before cosplay was really a thing.

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

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

 

Billie Jean

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

 

 

Thriller

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

https://youtu.be/sOnqjkJTMaA

Stranger in Moscow

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

https://youtu.be/pEEMi2j6lYE

Smooth Criminal

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

https://youtu.be/h_D3VFfhvs4

Earth Song

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

https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU

Who Is It

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

 

Remember the Time

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

https://youtu.be/LeiFF0gvqcc

Scream

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

 

 

The Defenders Season Review

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

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

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

 

Luke Cage:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Matt Murdock:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jessica Jones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Danny Rand:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alexandria:

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

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

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

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

 

Elektra:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Colleen Wing:

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

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

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

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

 

Misty Knight:

 

Image result for defenders gifs misty

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Hand:

Image result for defenders gifs the hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forthcoming Fall Books 2017

Well, I made a list of TV shows, so here’s a list of books I’m looking forward to attempting to read this Fall, or maybe they just look interesting right now. I pretty much have to wait for some of these to be in my hand, before I decide if I’m going to finish, or not.

August

Hex Rated – Jason Ridler

Image result for hex-rated book

From the description this seems like a retro 70s X-Files type of plot. I keep picturing an  Asian cop from Starsky & Hutch, wearing a giant mustache. I still don’t know why I find various combinations of paranormal activity and the Federal government fascinating. probably because government organizations represent Order on a large scale, while  anything having to do with the paranormal represents the complete opposite.

 

Son of the Night – Mark Alder

I got halfway through the first book, Son of the Morning, before having to cart it back to the library, from whence I had procured it! And I do mean cart, because it was a massive book. It was also pretty good, up until I had to put it down. Its an Historical Paranormal Thriller, where actual Angels have gotten involved in Europe’s various wars.

 

Resurrection Game – Michelle Bellanger

Apparently, this is  the third book in a series. I haven’t read any of the others but this one sounds intriguing, and I’ve read Ms. Bellanger’s work before, The Dictionary of Demons, and The Vampire Codex.

 

September

1 – Sea of Rust – Robert Cargill

Image result for sea of rust

This one is about sentient robots, wandering an apocalyptic landscape, while trying to find their own humanity.

 

Iron Angels – Eric Flint

Eric Flint has written lots of Historical Urban Fantasy/SciFi, but this one is  interesting to me. It seems  a little more traditional, with a primary protagonist fighting against some paranormal creatures, in  Chi-Town. It too, has an X-Files type of vibe, with government agents getting involved with the Occult.

 

The Salt Line – Holly Goddard Jones

Image result for salt lines book

This is set in an apocalyptic landscape, where half the US is cut off from the other half, because one side has been invaded by disease carrying ticks, and involves a group of action junkies, who like to play with fate, by jumping The Salt Line.

 

7 – I Am Behind You – Lindqvist

I don’t have a date for this book, but it sounds creepy enough. About a boy and his Mom, who wake up in some kind of twilight zone, with lots of other strange people, and something terrible is coming to get them.

 

14 – Peace Talks – Jim Butcher

I loved the ending of the last book, so I’m eagerly looking forward to this. There’s still no listing on Amazon for this, or I’d have pre-ordered it already.

 

26 – Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard

Image result for unkindness of magicians

This sounds not unlike a book I’m reading now about magic in New York City,  called The Last Magician, only this one sounds a lot grittier, and a little less traditional.

 

Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King

Related image

I’m looking forward to King’s collaboration with his son Owen King. I’ve not been much of a fan of Owen’s work, but the plot sounds intriguing. The women of the world fall into a deep sleep inside cocoons, and it’s dangerous to wake them up. Now you know men can be fairly bull-headed creatures, who would of course wake all of them up,  thereby destroying the human race, so I’m interested to see how these two will write around that.

 

October

3 – Scandal in Battersea – Mercedes Lackey

Image result for scandal in battersea

I’m enjoying these Sherlockian Magic mashups by Lackey.

 

Akata Witch/Warrior – Nnedi Okorafor

Image result for akata Warrior

I’m only just now getting into this author through her SciFi book, the Binti series. This sounds like a neat Urban Fantasy set in Nigeria. It’s being billed as an African version of the Harry Potter-verse.

 

What the Hell did I Just Read – David Wong

I’ve liked every one of Wong’s books, so far. They’re terrifying and hilarious, so I don’t want to miss this one, featuring the three main characters from the previous two books, Dave, John (who isn’t actually dead), and Amy, trying to stop some kind of biblical cataclysm.

 

Anno Dracula: 1000 Monsters – Kim Newman

Image result for anno dracula japan

This is set in the Anno Dracula Universe, starring The Diogenes Club, and the Vampiress Genevieve. I’ve tried to read all of the series, and this one is set in japan, which doesn’t have vampires, but has an entire menagerie of its own monsters to deal with. If you like Japanese folklore and mythology then check it out.

 

10 – Stone in the Skull – Elizabeth Bear

I wasn’t going to read this one, but I know some of you guys must like this series, and I’m a fan of Bear’s other work. This is set in the Eternal Sky series, and is about The Lotus Kingdom. I couldn’t get into the other series, but I’ll try this one.

 

17 – Under the Pendulum Sun

Image result for under the pendulum sun

I’ve already borrowed my copy of this from Netgalley and am working on it now. It’s about a Victorian expedition to the lands of the Fae. A Missionary goes missing and his sister arrives to search for him. I like it so far, but I’m still chafing at all the religious stuff.

 

24 – Strange Weather – Joe Hill

Image result for strange weather book

This is another Joe Hill anthology. I’m looking forward to this book, which features four stories featuring horror, and the paranormal, and sometimes, just the normal made horrible.

 

 

November

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault –  James Alan Gardner

This sounds like a parody of the superhero genre, with vampires, capes, ghosts and various weirdnesses. I’ve like Gardner’s books in the past and I like the plot of this one.

 

14th – Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant

Image result for into the drowning deep

I read this first novella about an attack by carnivorous mermaids, on the crew of a Reality TV series, and loved it. This is the sequel.

Tumblr Weekend Reading #210

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

And let’s not forget:

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

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

 

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

**

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

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

Adding to canon is not the same thing as

destroying canon

From the mind of : tomfooleryprime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like to know more?

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

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

 

And from  alightinside

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

 

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

 

**

 

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

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

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

From the mind of  abigailmills: 

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

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

 

And my response: lkeke35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And from diversehighfantasy

Nicely said.

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

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

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

 

**

Interlude:

Image result for furious knitting gif

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

**

 

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

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

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

 

From Tumblr User Questingqueer:

questingqueer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

 

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

TARGET STORE GOTHIC:

strongermonster

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Black and White Symbolism: A Look into the Trope

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

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

On the other hand…

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

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

If you flip further back you find entries like these:

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

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

The Trope Incorporated into our Media

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

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

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

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image

Angels and Demons

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

The Harms of the Trope

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

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

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

Read about it here.

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

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

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

Check out the clip from this speechhere.

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

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

image

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

What to do with the trope

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

Black & White in our Writing

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

Pay attention to your writing and the color symbolism there.

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

Now even these aren’t inherent pitfalls.

The following are some ways to make sure of that:

Defy the Trope

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

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

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

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

Subvert the Trope

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

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

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

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

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

Not All Evil

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

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

New B&W Meanings

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

Black Associated Meanings:

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

*Additional Notes:

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

White Associated Meanings:

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

Additional Notes:

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

Construct New Images

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

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

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

–Mods Colette and Alice

Summer of 2017 TBR Pile

Currently Reading

This basically means I am well into the book (at least 20%) and dedicated to finishing it. I often have multiple books going at once, and switch out according to mood and whether or not the book needs to be returned to the library soon.

Kill Society – Richard Kadrey

Image result for kill society

I love this entire series, which really needs to be made into a movie starring Vin Diesel, because that’s who I picture, and whose voice I hear, as Sandman Slim. The plot, for this newest book, is a total ripoff of Fury Road, but I’m here for it.

 

Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef – Kassandra Khaw

Image result for rupert wongcannibal chef

 

These books are really gory, but also unexpectedly funny. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I picked these up, but the title is basically what the book is about. Rupert Wong is paying off some kind of debt  by acting as a chef in demonic restaurants. Yes, they eat people. This is a distinctly Asian setting, and it’s also funny as, well..Hell. It’s on sale at Amazon for less than four bucks.

 

Phantom Pains – Mishell Baker

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The first book in this series titled Borderline, is very probably the best fantasy novel written last year. That book made my top ten list, and this sequel is looking to make it on there for this year. Its also on sale at Amazon for 2 bucks. Grab it!

 

Aliens: Bug Hunt Anthology

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I haven’t got very far into this book beyond the first story, which was all kinds of fun, so  I’m looking forward to reading the other stories. This book is on sale at Amazon for 2 dollars, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, so  grab it up,now.

 

To Be Read

Which basically means I’ve gotten about 10% of the way into these books before continuing with the books I’m already in the middle of reading. I often read multiple books at once, switching to a different book according to my mood, or  whatever is near to hand. This means that finishing a book can take a while, as I make incremental progress across several books.

The Change (1-3) Guy Adams

Image result for the change guy adams

I’ve read the first book in this short series, and its genuinely scary. Its about an alien invasion of Earth that killed off most of the human race outright when it occurred, but for the survivors, the world has gone hideously, horribly, wrong. I think these are based on his first book, The Change Orbital, which is also pretty terrifying.

 

The Witch Who Came in From the Cold – Malcolm Gladstone

Image result for witch came in from cold

 

I like the ideas of spies who do magic, and I like some of Gladstone’s writing, so I wanted to try this one. The opening chapter is very exciting. The book consists of a bunch of nested, shared-world stories, by different authors, sort of like G.R.R.M.’s Wild Cards Series.

 

Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw

Image result for strange practice

I haven’t read much of this one but the description is adorable. A woman physician in Victorian London, who is related to Van Helsing,  gets caught up in taking care of the illnesses of various supernatural creatures like werewolves, vampires, and mummies, and has to save their existences from some murderous monks.

 

Urban Enemies Anthology

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Famous Urban Fantasy authors put the spotlight on some of their more villainous characters from their popular series.

 

Magicians Impossible – Brad Abraham

Image result for magicians impossible brad abraham

I have no idea what this is about as I’ve only read the first chapter. What I did read was very exciting , and I’m eager to keep going.

 

Graveyard Shift – Michael Haspil

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I was really looking forward to this book, the moment I read the first blurb. This is an interesting story, that’s not unlike the Rivers of London series by Aaronovitch. The lead character is an ancient Egyptian demi-god, working as a kind of supernatural cop, in a world of vampires, and werewolves, who have just come out of the closet. I’m working on it.

 

Books To Recommend 

I have so many recommendations to give you, but I’m going to stop at these few.Most of these are Dark Fantasy and Horror. There are no monster romances in any of these books, nobody talking about their favorite pair of boots, or what clothes the hot guy is wearing, because that kind of stuff just puts me right to sleep. The darker and more unusual the Fantasy, the more I’ll like it, especially if it takes place in the modern world.

The  Barker & Lewelyn Series by Will Thomas

Image result for will thomas books

This is the only mystery on the list. I’ve become obsessed with Hard Victorian mysteries, and Will Thomas has one of the best. The lead character is totally a Sherlock Holmes clone, but I don’t care. I will read about Holme’s clones, all day, every day. There’s a difference between a hard mystery, vs a soft mystery. A hard mystery is more a police procedural. Its darker and grittier,  and I especially like mysteries that take place before modern forensics.

 

The Rivers of London Series

Image result for rivers of london

 

I’ve written about this series before. Its hella fun. I like to think of it as a calmer, British version of the Harry Dresden series. Peter grant is a Black cop who gets involved in magical events in London.

 

King Rat – China Mieville

Image result for king rat mieville

 

This was the very first book I ever read by this author. I didn’t know what to expect but the description sounded vaguely intriguing. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was unlike any Fantasy I’d eve read. I’ve read nearly every one of Mieville’s books since then, and have never been disappointed.

 

The Iskryne Series – Elizabeth Bear

Image result for iskryne series

 

I love it when writers take fantasy tropes and  turn them upside down. Bear takes the concept of bonded animal companions all the way to its limit, and that includes how sexuality is handled. Bear’s writing partner for the series is Sarah Monette. There’s not a lot of human women in the books but it more than makes up for that with the ideas that are introduced, and the setting.

 

Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse Series – Ben Templesmith

Image result for gentleman corpse

 

This is the funniest comic book zombie series ever written. At least part of the reason for that are Ben Templesmith’s ridiculous illustrations. Wormwood is not the name of the zombie, mind you, but the name of the tiny, snarky, worm that’s possessing the corpse, who fights various lovecraftian horrors from outer space.

 

The Works of Brom

Image result for brom books

Just about any one of Brom’s books is a gem. They’re not comic books but they do contain some beautifully dark illustrations, and cover such topics as: damnation, Peter Pan, toys, and a motorcycling demon. His latest book is called Lost Gods and is about a young man trying to find his way through Hell, to save his endangered wife back on Earth. If you have a taste for weird, then Brom is the writer for you.

 

God’s Demon – Wayne Barlowe

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This is the only prose book written by Barlowe although he has written/illustrated other boos about fantasy figures, science fiction, and aliens. In this story, the war in Heaven continues into Hell, as one of the Fallen, Sargatanas, tries to redeem himself, and win back God’s favor. The novel is based on a series of illustrations Barlowe did for his book, Barlowe’s Inferno, which is a guided tour through Hell.

 

The Skyscraper Throne Series – Tom Pollock

Image result for skyscraper throne series

I love fantasies based on cities, especially when the city is a real character in the book. Such s the case with The City’s Son series. If you liked China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, then you’ll love this YA series.

 

The Matthew Swift Series – Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb

Image result for matthew swift series

Once again you have a fantasy series where the city is a separate character in the book. The city of London  holds all the magic, and people who are attuned  can access it. This series has a number of Asian and Black characters that I thought were interesting, including a Black female sorceress, who is an apprentice to the lead character, who isn’t, quite, human.

 

Bone Street Rumba Series – Daniel Jose Older

Image result for bone street rumba

Daniel Older does for diversity in New York what Ben Aaronovitch does for the city of London. The main character is Carlos Delacruz, a half-ghost,dealing with supernatural events in his working class, Latinx/Hispanic, neighborhood. If you’re looking for diversity, and strong women characters, check it out.

The Eric Carter Series – Stephen Blackmoore

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Much of this series is based on South American mythology. Eric Carter is a modern day necromancer, who gets involved with an Aztec goddess, after the death of his sister. Lots of action, but still less bombast, and more diversity than the Harry Dresden books.

 

The SNAFU Series

Image result for snafu book series

This is an entire series of military horror books, where human beings fight aliens, werewolves, vampires, and various monsters that defy description. If you like military horror then check these out, along with books like:

World War Cthulhu

 

Operation Arcana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Summer of 2017 Playlist

These are the songs that are blowing up on my MP3 player, usually while driving anywhere.  I’m there for anything with a good beat, but sometimes you need some calm go-to-sleep type stuff, too. I think you’ll begin to notice a theme in my choices. Truthfully, I get a lot of my musical obsessions from TV, movies, and Youtube, as I dont listen to the radio. Almost none of these songs are on the radio.

 

Legend Has It – Run the Jewels 

This is the theme from the Black Panther trailer. I immediately fell in love with it. So did a lot of other people, I guess, because Run The Jewels is, as Marilyn Manson would sing,  “the new shit”.

 

Papillion/ The Other Woman/Get Up – Mounika

The French Mounika, (and I don’t know if this is a group or just a person), crafts some of the most relaxing, and hippest, music for reading, knitting, or studying. I say craft because it mostly consists of some remixed sample beats.  Mounika is for when I’m reading or knitting.

 

Hurt – Johnny Cash

Very few of Johnny Cash songs don’t make me cry. I just love how it starts off soft but then becomes a song  of strength and defiance while keeping the same mood. This is the theme song from Logan, which is quite possibly one of the saddest superhero movies, ever. You’re gonna need to pull out some tissues for this song, too.

 

Sledgehammer – Rihanna

I’ve developed a new appreciation for Rihanna. I love the passion in this song. Its like a 21st century version of “I Will Survive”. This is the theme from the last Star Trek movie, which I really enjoyed. I like how she tried to capture the mood of the movie in both the song and the accompanying video. It turns out that Rihanna is a SciFi geek, too. That’s my girl!

 

Only Human – Rag & Bone Man

I’d never heard of this singer before this song was used in the opening credits of Into the Badland’s second season. It reminds me of the main character, Sunny. If you haven’t watched this show, I’ve done full reviews of both seasons, and its available on Netflix.

 

Morning Noon and Night – Ryan Shaw

I love old school R&B, and Ryan Shaw totally captures the feel of  70s Soul music, with just enough touch of a modern edge. This is also one of my Mom’s favorite singers right now, along with, oddly enough, Childish Gambino’s Redbone.

 

Redbone – Childish Gambino

I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to this singer, until his show, Atlanta, blew up, and then I had to go back and take a listen. You might know Childish better as Donald Glover, who also plays Aaron Davis in Spiderman Homecoming. This song was featured in the end titles of the movie Get Out. My Mom loves it because it sounds like Prince, and she misses him.

 

Way Down We Go – Kaleo

I just love this song. I know nothing about the singer, but ihe successfully captures the mood of the movie, Logan.

 

Better Love – Hozier

This song is from that deeply stupid Tarzan movie but I don’t care. Sometimes you just love cheesy love songs, and Hozier writes some of the best.

 

Thunder – Imagine Dragons

Aaaaahhhhhh! Yes, I am an Imagine dragons fan. I can’t explain it. Their music just works for me. I have crafted some great images in my head to this song, which really needs to be used in a movie.

 

Gangsta – Kehlani

This song is from Suicide Squad. I don’t normally listen to this type of music, but the scene where it was used in the movie, just sticks with me, and I liked the melody. The dub remix sounds even better.

 

Ghost in the Shell (Steve Aoki Remix)

I didn’t see the live action movie, and aint lookin’ to do that anytime soon, but I loved the original movie and have an entire playlist of remixes of the title theme. This one just joined the list.

 

Because I’m Me – The Avalanches

I cam across this video while looking through some other Avalanches videos and its sooo cute! I just love the lovelorn little boy in the video, Wallace, who is trying so hard to give his heart to this thoroughly unimpressed woman, who is just trying to get through her day.

But I also love it for sampling that 7o’s song by The Honey Cone, called Want Ads

 

Are You Down Remix – Marian Hill

The Potato loves to listen to this in the car. Marian Hill is another very soothing and relaxing singer. This is great for when you need soft sounds for concentrating on some other activity, like driving.

 

 

 

INTJ: The Mastermind!

ARCHITECT PERSONALITY (INTJ, -A/-T)

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It’s lonely at the top, and being one of the rarest and most strategically capable personality types, Architects know this all too well. Architects form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population – it is often a challenge for them to find like-minded individuals who are able to keep up with their relentless intellectualism and chess-like maneuvering. People with the Architect personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.

Nothing Can Stop the Right Attitude From Achieving Its Goal

With a natural thirst for knowledge that shows itself early in life, Architects are often given the title of “bookworm” as children. While this may be intended as an insult by their peers, they more than likely identify with it and are even proud of it, greatly enjoying their broad and deep body of knowledge. Architects enjoy sharing what they know as well, confident in their mastery of their chosen subjects, but they prefer to design and execute a brilliant plan within their field rather than share opinions on “uninteresting” distractions like gossip.

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

Harlan Ellison

A paradox to most observers, Architects are able to live by glaring contradictions that nonetheless make perfect sense – at least from a purely rational perspective. For example, Architects are simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics, a seemingly impossible conflict. But this is because Architect personalities tend to believe that with effort, intelligence and consideration, nothing is impossible, while at the same time they believe that people are too lazy, short-sighted or self-serving to actually achieve those fantastic results. Yet that cynical view of reality is unlikely to stop an interested Architect from achieving a result they believe to be relevant.

Read More:

https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality

 

Every time I take this test, no matter where online I take it, I always  get a hard INTJ result. Here are my results for this one, and you can also take the test yourself. When you guys are ready I would be willing to form our new team of Supervillains:

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American Gods: Of Gods and Shadow Moon

 

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                   SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now for some speculation.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Black Cowboys/Girls & Black Westerns

 

I recently had a discussion with one of my regular readers (Hi!) about Westerns starring PoC, some of which they hadn’t seen, which inspired me to make a list of some of my favorites.

I love Westerns. If you’ve been reading the Favorite Movies of My Life posts then you know I have a lot of nostalgia for TV Westerns. I used to watch Big Valley, with my Mom, because she loved Barbara Stanwyck, and Bonanza because she liked Lorne Green. Later, we discussed, and watched, shows like Rawhide, which starred Clint Eastwood, and The Rifleman because she was a big Clint Walker fan. From there, she introduced me to Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, and inspired by her, I went on to watch movies like The Magnificent Seven, because I fell in love with Yul Brynner.

But my biggest joy was watching Black people in Westerns. The existence of Black people in the West has been all but erased by Hollywood, like so much of History has been erased, and supplanted, with images of only White people getting to have adventures, or make History.

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*The cowboy is an iconic American figure and in popular mythology almost always a white one. For every Django or Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman’s character in Unforgiven) there are hundreds of white gunslingers. But of the “estimated thirty-five thousand cowboys that worked the ranches and rode the trails between 1866 and 1895, researchers have calculated that the number of black cowboys ranged from five thousand to nine thousand, with the high number representing 25 percent,” wrote Tricia Martineau Wagner, an author of several books about the West, in Black Cowboys of the Old West.

https://theundefeated.com/features/fred-whitfield-and-the-black-cowboys-of-rodeo/

 

 

*How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West

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

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*The Other Pioneers: African-Americans on the Frontier

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4807

 

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*Black Outlaws, Cowboys, and Lawmen of the Old Wild West

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Black-Outlaws-Cowboys-And-Lawmen-Of-The-Old-West

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*AFRICAN AMERICAN COWBOYS

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.afam.002

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*10 African-American Cowboys Who Shaped The Old West

http://listverse.com/2016/04/04/10-african-american-cowboys-who-shaped-the-old-west/

Even modern day cowboys are simply not being acknowledged. Lets face it, if you’re a Black person, who lives anywhere in the Southern United States, you know there are Black cowboys. Its unfortunate that Hollywood and television don’t ever seem to remember that. My family is from deep Mississippi, so I know about this, but hardly anyone outside of the Southern states seems to know.

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Image result for modern black cowboysOnly one member of the Cowgirls of Color competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says. Photograph: M Holden WarrenKB works to control Yankee Girl during the barrel relay Photograph: M Holden Warren

*They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

 

 

And Philly:

 

Whitewashing of the term Cowboy:

They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/30/403353200/comptons-cowboys-keep-the-old-west-alive-and-kids-off-the-streets

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As for Westerns featuring Black actors, here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

Gang of Roses (2003)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/gang-of-roses/

Posse (1993)

I remember this movie was a huge deal in the Black community when it was released. A lot of my friends were crowing about how good it was. While it’s not my absolute favorite Black cowboy movie, its in the top ten, because at the time, it was kind of mind-blowing, since the last movie, that was anything like, it had been released in the seventies. And I got mad respect for Mario Van Peebles, who was  trying hard to make Black genre films a thing.

 

Blazing Saddles (1974)

I saw this one when I was in college, as a double bill with Raising Arizona, and laughed my ass off the entire evening. Two of the funniest Westerns ever. This movie was not afraid to go there. My favorite scene is when some racist cowboys bully the the Black railworkers into singing for them, and they burst into a piano-lounge tune called,  “I Get No Kick from Champagne”. The White cowboy’s reactons are  priceless. That scene never gets old!

 

Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven has some deep themes. While I’m not a fan of Clint Eastwood, the person,  his films have always been first-rate. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are awesome in this movie.

 

Silverado (1985)

I saw this around the time of its release. Starring Danny Glover, and Kevin Costner, it was the  first time I’d ever seen either of these two actors, and the first time I’d ever seen a Black cowboy in a movie.

 

Buffalo Soldiers (1997)

I don’t remember a whole lot about this one. I watched it on cable late one night and remember enjoying it somewhat, so I’m not sure if this classes as a favorite, but I did watch it in its entirety, so felt I should put it here. It stars Danny Glover again, so that may have been my initial impetus for watching it in the first place, since I enjoyed Silverado.

 

Wild Wild West (1999)

I will watch Will Smith in anything, so I was overjoyed to see him in a Western, even if the movie royally sucked. The music video, on the other hand, was the shit. Yes! I know ALL the lyrics!

 

Django Unchained (2012)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/in-defense-of-django-unchained/

 

The Hateful 8 (2015)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/geeking-out-about-the-hateful-eight/

 

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Yeah, I liked this movie!

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/stuff-im-watching/

So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

If you were on these rough Internet streets a week-and-a-half ago, you probably caught wind of the Joss Whedon’s age-old Wonder Woman script. You know, that thing that bounced around in production hell briefly, nearly attached to the likes of Charisma Carpenter and Lucy Lawless. It had been rumored for years. Over a decade. And […]

via So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 4 (2001-2010)

Here we go with part four of the most influential movies of my life, according to the year they were released. I thought about adding more of a prologue here but I’ll save it for the last and final chapter of this essay, covering 2011 through 2016.

2001: Spirited Away

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For this year there was simply no contest. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away wins this one hands down. This is not just The Potato’s favorite movie, but her Mom’s and her Aunt’s, when they were her age. I have shown this movie to two generations of little girls and there’s just something about this movie that just resonates with them. This movie was voted the 4th best movie of the 20th century, and that is just too accurate.

This is the coming of age story of a bored little girl named Chihiro, whose parent’s gluttony traps her in the spirit world, where she has to navigate this liminal space in a  bathhouse for spirits, dragons, soot sprites, hungry ghosts without faces, and a witch named Yubaba. It’s an Alice in Wonderland story nestled firmly in Japanese traditions. A story about a little girl re-engaging with the world, becoming self-sufficient, gaining confidence, saving her parents, mending relationships and making new friends; most specifically with  a little boy named Haku, who has a  special secret of his own, a tiny bird, and a little guinea pig, that used to be a giant baby.

Every little girl I’ve shared this movie with became completely obsessed with it and wanted to watch it again and again. And no, I was not immune to it either,as I’ve watched this a countless number of times with them.

This year also saw the release of the final chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gets an honorable mention and was one the most entertaining movies of the year.

 

2002: Blade 2

The movies 28 Days Later, Dog Soldiers, and Eight Legged Freaks were  all released this year, and I initially chose Dog Soldiers as my favorite, but on second thought, I think I prefer Blade 2, because I love Guillermo Del Toro’s vampires, and it’s one of the  first films in what would later become the MCU juggernaut. The next time I think on this topic, my favorite could be Dog Soldiers, though.

Del Toro also introduced a different iteration of the vampire here, which became the foundation of the vampires used in the TV series, the Strain, although I think the book versions were more disgusting. Blade 2 isn’t a meaningful film. It’s just a helluva lot of fun, with Ron Perlman, a giant Jewish guy, playing a  Nazi vampire, and some great Martial Arts, choreographed by Donnie Yen and Wesley Snipes. This is one of the most diverse group of vampire villains I’ve ever seen in a  movie. And you have to watch the DVD, because  Gillermo always gives hilarious commentary. He is quite possibly the most cheerful, profanity spewing, director in Hollywood.

I enjoyed 28 Days Later for showcasing Naomie Harris, in one of her first starring roles as an absolute badass, who gets to kiss pretty boy, Ciilian Murphy. Eight Legged Freaks is one of the funniest movies I saw for this year, and I did a reviews of both it and Dog Soldiers.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/eight-legged-freaks-2002/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/geeking-out-about-dog-soldiers-2002/

 

2003: Kill Bill Pt. 1

I love Kung Fu movies, and so does Quentin Tarantino, and in the making of this movie, he managed to introduce me to a few I’d not heard of.  This movie is one long beautiful love letter to the Kung Fu movies from his youth. From his casting of Gordon Liu as the leader of the Crazy 88s, Johnny Mo, to Daryl Hannah as an assassin named California Whitesnake, from Viveca Fox as Vernita Green (codename Copperhead), to that final big boss fight, that takes up nearly the last full hour, this movie is totally awesome-sauce.

My favorite scene has to be the final fight between Beatrix and O-ren Ishii. It’s a masterclass in how to craft a minimalist fight sequence. The lighting, and sound effects, (which is something I almost never pay close attention to in a movie), the stop and start of the action, the minimal dialogue, and the costumes (O-ren is dressed as the character Lady Snowblood from the movie of the same name), all of it is simply gorgeous. And its such an emotional scene. We’ve been building to the moment these two characters finally crossed swords, since the beginning of the film, when we noticed that O-ren’s name had already been crossed off of Beatrix’s list. Why this film wasn’t lauded by White women as the second coming of Feminism is anybody’s guess., and it’s another reason I find WW unimpressive.  Because I’ve seen better.

There wasn’t anything else of note released this year, in my opinion.

 

2004: Shaun of the Dead/Man on Fire

I’m going with Shawn of the Dead as my favorite this year, even though the Dawn of the Dead remake was also released. I liked Dawn but I always prefer funny over angsty, so Shaun gets my vote, and Dawn of the Dead was mostly pretty grim. Likable but grim. I’m going to review both of these in October. (Yeah, I’m already making a list of horror movies I want to review for Halloween month!)

This year was a really tough call, because Denzel Washington’s remake of Man on Fire, from the book of the same name, was also released this year. I will always stan for Denzel, no matter what movies he makes, but this is one of my top favorites from him, and Tony Scott, who passed on in 2012. It also stars Chrisotpher Walken. Just about anything with a Walken speech in it is going to get my attention.

The Incredibles is the only cartoon about superheroes that I love, love, love, and watch, every time it airs on TV. It was a serious contender for the title of best film of this year for me,  (and I feel kinda guilty for not choosing it, so let’s call it a Runner-Up), but I’m going stick  with Shaun of the Dead because I wouldn’t mind living in Shaun’s world for a few days.

 

2005: A History of Violence 

David Cronenberg has always been a filmmaker of depth and intelligence, qualities which are well showcased in this movie, based on the comic book of the same name. I do have in my post queue, an outline for a review of this movie, and its companion film, Eastern Promises, because I have a lot to say about both these movies. They have so much in common, even though they look almost nothing alike. The movie has the added benefit of starring two of my personal favorites, Ed Harris, and William Hurt, who I’ve had crushes on since I was a teenager.

In hindsight, I would like to have chosen the Joss Whedon Joint, Serenity, as a fave, but one can only watch this movie so many times. I love it, but Whedon is just not in Cronenberg’s league, and this is one of the few SciFi movies that had my angry-crying at a crucial moment.

Cronenberg  is just on a “ho ‘notha level!” It’s just gotten to the point where everything he creates is a gem.

 

2006: The Host/Slither

I did a review of Slither here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/geeking-out-about-slither/

 The Host appears in my list of ten favorite monsters here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/my-ten-favorite-monsters/

Now three other worthy films were released this year, but I couldn’t pick Apocalypto because I have an intense dislike of Mel Gibson. I love his films,  (his version of Hamlet is totally the shit), and Apocalypto is simply one of the most gorgeous films he’s ever made. The man is a phenomenal director, and actor, but also a really shitty human being, so no. I couldnt pick this one.

Paprika is an anime movie from  Satoshi Kon, the director most famous for Tokyo Godfathers, and Millenium Actress, and this is one of the most beautiful animes ever made, but unfortunately, it’s confusing as hell. I know that’s on purpose, but still, I’ve watched this movie at least half a dozen times and I’m still confused, which makes this movie little more than a pretty distraction for me. It’s a great movie that has remained opaque to my sensibilities. I’m just going to accept that Satoshi Kon is just waaay smarter than me.

300 is yet another pretty distraction, because I already knew about the Battle of Thermopylae from paying attention in school. There’s nothing particularly deep about this movie, and the plot is fairly simple, but I actually do like Zack Snyder, and this is a gorgeous movie. It doesn’t hurt that it has lots of pretty, half-naked men, running around with spears and shields. I make ‘nan apology for enjoying the sight of Michael Fassbender, jumping around like a giant spider, in a red loincloth.  I mean c’mon! Its Michael Fassbender!!!…Naked!!! I will watch Michael Fassbender do just about anything, really. I have watched movies that I have zero interest in, just because they starred Fassbender, and I make ‘nan apology for that!

 

2007: Hot Fuzz

I had to pick Hot Fuzz, even though I chose Shaun of the Dead, earlier. This movie is just one of the funniest cop movies I’ve ever seen. Okay, I don’t actually watch cop movies all that much, which make Hot Fuzz pretty remarkable Every scene in this movie is a gem, from the opening scenes establishing Nicholas Angel’s total badassery, to establishing Constable Butterman’s total incompetence. Even their names are perfect reflections of their characters, as Nick can do nothing wrong, and Butterman is one of the laziest cops I’ve ever seen in a movie, which is also kinda refreshing.

I loved seeing Billie Whitelaw again, this time being hilarious with a machine gun, and this is the funniest  I’ve ever seen  Timothy Dalton. I didn’t know he was even capable of that level of smarm. The plot, characters, and every tiny detail, is hilarious, from the police interpreter who needs an interpreter, to Constable  Doris Thatcher’s off-color double entendres, to the fact that the village’s security watch group is named after the rap group N.W.A., to the final, ridiculously over the top shootout, which is a requirement in every cop movie. If you have not seen, this check it out. It was last available on Netflix.

I suppose I could have easily chosen Frank Darabont’s The Mist. It’s a good movie, but I wouldn’t call it enjoyable, exactly. That’s a strong word. The end is waaay too depressing for that. I normally shy away from reviewing horror movies that are too famous, preferring to review indies, or little known films, but this is on my list for October, and is mentioned in my top ten monsters list.

There were a lot of really, really excellent movies to choose from this year:  No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood,  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Sunshine, The Bourne Ultimatum, and finally, Eastern Promises, another Cronenberg Joint, that I’ll be doing a review for, later this Summer.

Wow! This was a great year! But I could only choose one, so Hot Fuzz is it.

 

2008: The Dark Knight

C’mon! Was there really going to be any other choice.?

The Dark Knight absolutely ruled this entire year, both the anticipation, and the aftermath. I have no more to say about this movie, than the few hundred other people who wrote about it, so I’ll just leave it alone, and let these guys speak:

A Scene-By-Scene Analysis of THE DARK KNIGHT (2008, dir. Christopher Nolan)

http://www.slashfilm.com/assessing-the-themes-of-the-dark-knight/

 

2009:  Star Trek

I chose Star Trek because I’m one of the few lovers of the OG series who actually likes this movie. I don’t think people hated it exactly, but people had a lot of complaints about it. I didn’t have very many outside of plot and pacing. It wasnt a deep movie, but I had a lot of feels and sometimes that’s good enough to make something a favorite. I mean these actors did a great job of capturing the spirit of the original actors without mimicry, and I just found that all kinds of ticklish!

I was going to choose Watchmen for this year, but that movie is a lot more depressing that my usual fare, and contains a nuclear holocaust, which makes it even less fun, and I think The Watchmen is a superhero movie for people who hate superheroes, because it’s a cynic’s wet dream. But I like the ideas being presented, and I liked the visuals so it makes my top five of the year, along with Sherlock Holmes.

Like Zack Snyder, Guy Ritchie is one of those directors people seem to have no middle ground for. You love them or hate them. I really enjoyed this remake of Sherlock. I enjoy all of the Sherlock’s really, and never seem to get tired of new versions of this character. Plus,  I will watch Robert Downey Jr. do absolutely anything in a movie.

 

2010: Inception

Christopher Nolan just makes movies after my own heart. He is not the kind of director that ever speaks down to his audience. If you are watching a Nolan film you are expected to pay attention, and be on your toes. And he doesn’t stint on the action scenes either. Like Hitchcock, he makes Thrillers for thinkers, and I appreciate that. He just crafts some wonderfully satisfying movies.

http://narrativefirst.com/articles/meaningful-storytelling-an-analysis-of-inception

Movie Review: “Inception”

Let Me In is complicated. I enjoyed the book the original movie was based on, but didn’t care too much for the  original movie. I think it was the acting that threw me off. I think the creators of the American version did a really good job adapting it for American sensibilities while keeping the spirit and theme of the  original film intact, but I couldnt choose it as a favorite, as it has too many scenes of the primary actor being tortured by bullies, for it to be enjoyable, and its kind of depressing.

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