The Mis-Evolution of James T. Kirk

In an awesome, long, and rather intense essay, Erin Horáková deconstructs Star Trek to expose Kirk Drift, a phenomenon in which the character in the original stories is shifted in our memory and perception towards a more stereotyped masculinity — and the change says some things about cultural biases. There’s a cartoon version of Kirk…

via Captain Kirk is not Zapp Brannigan! — Pharyngula

Badly Behaving Airlines

I just thought this would be a nice companion piece to this morning’s post:

It’s not just United — 8 times airlines notoriously violated people of color

  • David Dao is not the first to be dragged off an airplane. He’s also certainly not the first to have been allegedly racially discriminated against by an airline company.
  • In fact, airlines companies have discriminated against people of color so many times, Mic published an article listing 26 everyday things that can get you kicked off a plane — and that’s just if you’re Muslim or look like a Muslim.
  • But viral footage of Dao, a 69-year-old Asian doctor, being forcefully removed by security guards from an overbooked United Airlines flight, sparked a new conversation about racial profiling and discrimination among airline carriers. Mic curated a list of eight other times when these companies discriminated against people of color. Read more. (4/12/2017 11:20 AM)

Fargo (1996): Speaking of Crime

Fargo is a depiction of what are, very possibly, some of the most incompetent, and inarticulate, criminals to ever appear in a movie. Often called Minnesota Noir, some people also like to refer to the movie as Neo Blanc, because of its overwhelming whiteness, which is not necessarily a reference to it’s cast, but the snowy environment in which it’s set.

But this description, might indeed, refer to its primary characters.  Jerry Lundegaard’s motivations aren’t from  some dark cynicism of the soul, or  sexual misbehavior. The motivation behind his crimes, and what sets the entire plot in motion, is simple human greed. In fact, his crime is so blandly unexciting, it’s barely alluded to in the script. All we know is that it has something to do with money he borrowed on non-existent cars at the dealership where he works. Why he felt the need, to borrow the money in the first place, is never said. Its probably borrowing all the way down.

Jerry Lundegaard is by all senses of the word a “milktoast”. This is a man who has never  committed to a life of criminal activity, and has simply gotten in over his head. He’s  never studied crime beyond watching  television dramas. Having committed no more than the most petty of deceptions, he decides, at some point, to become more ambitious and engage in embezzlement, extortion, and  kidnapping. Which is a mistake, because planning a kidnapping, to steal the ransom money, requires a level of skill that Jerry is entirely lacking. The man isn’t even a  good liar, which one has to admit, is one of the hallmark qualities of a professional shyster.

In one of the earliest scenes, we see Jerry  being shamed for lying about the cost of one of his vehicles.  If he were any good, the lie would never have been caught. He seems to lie and deceive just as a matter of course, even when there’s no need for it. Jerry fits an almost classic narcissistic profile. He thinks far too highly of his own abilities, has grandiose plans for the future, that he can’t live up to, and thinks pretty much only about himself. For example, he has given not a single thought to how his plans will affect his son Scotty, or how terrified his wife might be, at being kidnapped. Given the chance to comfort his son, he gives the boy lame assurances, that his mother will be alright, and not to tell anyone about it.

There’s a feminist saying:  “Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre White man.” And Jerry is about as mediocre as a man can get, fitting the very definition of nondescript. He has accomplished so little in life that few people respect him.  His son, and clients, disregard his opinions, his father-in-law expresses nothing but disdain for him, and bullies him, and he works at the dealership that his father-in- law owns. In fact, its implied that since his wife comes from money, nothing in Jerry’s universe might really belong to him, and that everything he owns, is due to his father-in-law’s aid,  or permission.

Jerry isn’t smooth, slick, or even especially bright. He is by any measure of manhood, mostly forgettable, and paradoxically, as played by William H. Macy, unforgettable, with his odd verbal ticks, and air of silent desperation.  What’s troubling is that this wild eyed desperation doesn’t seem like it can be attributable to his immediate situation. This is a man who looks as if he has always been cringing, in anticipation of a blow that never comes, his entire life.

On the surface, his plan seems simple enough. Have his wife kidnapped, ask his father in law for the money, split the take with his associates, and make off with the dough. But Jerry is entirely unreliable. He lies to his partners in crime, he lies to his father in law about everything, he lies to his son, and forces his son to lie to their relatives. He naturally lies to the poilice, but Jerry isn’t even skilled enough to choose competent partners to carry out his task.

People pay much attention, to the accents of the characters, here.  Yes, the accents do sound pretty funny, but the Coen Brothers are also doing something else with  speech in this film, and the accents are distracting.

The  key  theme throughout the movie is the idea that lying and deception, either renders people less articulate, or is a marker of criminal aspirations, and social status, and that honest forthrightness makes one especially gullible.  One of the more overlooked aspects of the dialogue is those who are more honest, or certain of their positions (whether  in society, or ethically) are the ones most able to clearly express themselves, but they also tend to think of everyone else as being as honest as them. They take what others say at face value.

Marge Gunderson, is  the most intelligent person in the movie,  and is  honest and forthright. She is also,as a representative of law and order, the most socio-economically secure, deeply ensconced in the middle class. She also happens to be the most well-spoken, never experiencing an inability to say what she means, and seemingly very sure of herself. On the other hand, this honesty means she can also be easily lied to, as Jerry, who is not innately skilled at lying, manages to  get the drop on her, twice.

Jerry is also capable of successfully lying to his father in law, another righteous, and honest fellow, who speaks from his deep well of financial security.  Jerry isn’t particularly skilled at lying. It’s just  the people he’s lying to, never suspect it, because he appears to be a member of their socio-economic status, and, like Marge, appears to be firmly enmeshed in the status quo.

Note that Jerry is not successful at lying to people on society’s fringes, like Carl,  Gaear and Shep. Although, they don’t call him out on it, they know when he’s doing it.

Marge, unlike Jerry, is actually considerate and charming. She thinks as much of others feelings, as Jerry only pretends to do. After she chides her deputy for getting his police work wrong, she is careful to assuage his embarrassment, by telling him  jokes. When she meets an old friend for lunch, Mike Yamagita,  he makes an attempt to invade her personal space, and she rebuffs him, but also remembers to let him “save face”, by asserting that its easier to talk to him, if he sits across from her, rather than next to her. This is a minor dishonesty, but Mike, a magnificent liar himself, knows she is doing so. He tells her various stories about his own life, which Marge just accepts. After all, he appears to be a member of her law abiding social circle.

Mike Yamagita is inarticulate in a different way then the other unethical people in the movie, probably because he is a member of her social class, and is college educated. He’s trying to impress Marge, and win her sympathy, as he has a crush on her. He is nervous and  painfully  awkward, often talking too fast, or too loud. He’s not a criminal, but he is unreliable, which is slightly further up the spectrum of unethical behavior than Carl, or Jerry.  Mike doesn’t live in the world of crime, like Carl and Jerry. Like Wade, he lives  in a comfortable middle class, but skirts carefully close to its edges, and his manner of speaking illustrates this.

Contrast Marge with Jerry, when he’s lying to his father-in-law, about his wife’s kidnapping. He has to rehearse what he’s going to say, to find the right tone. Later, at the diner, when he’s arguing with Wade, about whether the police should be called, he stutters, pauses, and  searches for what words to use, all while trying to sound as if he knows what he’s doing.  Wade Gustafson has all of the confidence that Jerry  lacks, until  after he bullies  Jerry into delivering  the ransom demand himself. Then he has to rehearse how tough he wants to sound to the kidnapper, echoing Jerry’s rehearsal scene earlier in the film.

The closer Wade gets to the outer fringes of “normal” society, with all its smiles and courtesy, the less articulate he becomes. (He has already lost his  courtesy in the diner.) When he finally confronts Carl with the ransom money, he speaks in flat declarative, non- sentences. “No Jean. No money!” Apparently, he sounds just a bit too tough, because he receives several bullets for his trouble. In his death throes, he loses his words altogether, and can do nothing but groan in pain. Wade, who is generally  forthright and confident of his position in the world,  is also easily deceived by Jerry.

All of the criminals in this movie are distinctly and  individually inarticulate. Carl Showalter, as played by Steve Buscemi, like Jerry, often loses  track of what he means to say, or searches for the right word. Unique to his character is his inability to pronounce words he thinks he knows, as when he tries to use the word carcinogen, to chide his partner, for smoking in the car. Carl often tries to sound more erudite than he is,  attempting to  get Jerry to accept him as part of a social stratus to which he doesn’t belong. Like Jerry, Carl pretends  at being more socially acceptable than he is, but unlike Jerry, he possesses not an ounce of skill at this, as we witness on his date with an escort, telling her lame double entendres, and asking her if she likes her kind of work. His inability to pronounce certain words is a sign of this lack of breeding.

Carl’s partner, Gaear Grimsrud, played by Peter Stormare, rarely speaks, and when he does, it’s almost entirely in  sentences that can hardly be classified as sentences. He possesses all of the eloquence of a human pitbull. As two men whose position in society is well off the fringe, they are entirely lacking the niceties of behavior, that Jerry pretends to.

    Where is Pancakes Hause?

                           CARL
               What?

                           GRIMSRUD
               We stop at Pancakes Hause.

                           CARL
               What're you, nuts?  We had pancakes 
               for breakfast.  I gotta go somewhere 
               I can get a shot and a beer - and a 
               steak maybe.  Not more fuckin' 
               pancakes.  Come on.

     Grimsrud gives him a sour look.

                           CARL (CONT'D)
               ...  Come on, man.  Okay, here's an 
               idea.  We'll stop outside of Brainerd.  
               I know a place there we can get laid.  
               Wuddya think?

                           GRIMSRUD
               I'm fuckin' hungry now, you know.

There’s also Shep Proudfoot, played by Steve Reevis, who is every bit as inarticulate as Gaear. When Marge goes to interview him for his part in the kidnapping, like Gaear, he barely even uses words, just grunts answers. Later, when beating up Carl in a rage, he just yells in flat declarative sentences. He also has the dubious status of being double marginalized, first  by his race, and then his long criminal background. Both he and Gaear have much in common, as they only seem to have two settings, barely  present mentally, or hideous levels of violence.

The  two young ladies, that Gaear and Carl hook up with at a truckstop, aren’t inarticulate, but  they are distinctly unclear. They are unable to describe what Carl, or Gaear, look like, though presumably, they saw them up close when they were having sex with them. (Its a running joke in the movie that Carl is described as  “funny looking” by all who see him.) As truck-stop prostitutes, they live on the fringes of society,  but they are college educated, which shows in their vocabulary, but their  marginalized social  status is illustrated by the lack of clarity in their speech.

The one exception to this is Marge’s husband Norm. He isn’t very articulate either, but the nature of his silence is very different from Gaear’s and Shep’s. He too, is honest,  forthright, loving, and thoughtful to Marge, remembering to bring her lunch, and making sure she has a hot meal, before going out on a call. But the sense from that is, Norm doesn’t talk because he doesn’t  need to. He’s perfectly capable of expressing his love for Marge in other ways, and as he needs no one but her,  there’s no need to for him to speak to anyone else.

The in-eloquence with which a character speaks, often serves to illustrate where they are on the criminal  and social spectrum, and gives some indication of how competent a criminal they are. Gaear, for example,  is such a vile person, that he  speaks with all the eloquence of a  three year old. Shep Proudfoot, has a long criminal history, and grunts most of his dialogue. This is a deliberate choice by the Coen Brothers,  as we’ve seen that they are capable of creating very erudite, and articulate criminals, in their other films. Hi, from Raising Arizona, for example, whose eloquence is used to humorously offset his criminal background, and Goldthwaite Higgenbottom, the conman from The Ladykillers, who successfully masquerades as a person of higher social status than he actually is.

All that aside, these aren’t very good criminals either, which is a common trope in the Coen Brothers more comedic films. The criminals are often waylaid by events that are  out of their control,  or that they didn’t think all the way through, and their charmlessness also causes some real problems for them.  When Carl and Gaear are stopped by the police, Carl ineptly attempts to bribe the officer. (Marge would probably have charmed the man right out of his uniform.) When Jean Lundegaard, who  is in the trunk, makes noise, Gaear elects to shoot the cop, right there, on the spot. So lacking is he, in the subtleties of human behavior, that he elects, at every opportunity, to go straight to violence, (which is how Carl ends up in the wood chipper at the end of the movie). While moving the cop’s body, two pedestrians spot this from their vehicle, and Gaear decides he has to kill them too. When Carl returns to their cabin to find that Gaear has killed Jean, he says he did it because she was making noise. This is a character who hates the very idea of speech.

Jerry is so inept at his role, that he loses control of his own criminal enterprise to Wade,  who decides he doesn’t want Jerry mucking things up. Wade decides he’s going to deliver the ransom money himself. When he tries to bully Carl, the way he often blusters his way with Jerry, Carl shoots him because, as he’s said previously to Jerry, he’s not gonna debate. This is because, as seen on a couple of occasions, Carl lacks the skill to do that, anyway.

Jerry is so incompetent he can’t even flee the police properly. The first time, Marge accidentally catches him fleeing her interview, when his words fail to convince her to go away. His folksy middle class persona is starting to show cracks. The further out onto the fringes of genteel society Jerry slides, the less convincing his words become, until finally, even his brittle, superficial charm begins to work against him. He fails to convince the police that he’s being cooperative, when they capture him trying to flee through his motel room window, so far has he fallen. At this point, Jerry just gives in to desperate yelling, his  speech having deserted him entirely. This is as low as he can possibly go, and so becomes as incoherent, and inarticulate, as Gaear, and Shep.

And then there’s Marge’s little speech at the end of the movie, her charm still in place, as she naively chides Gaear, for his criminal acts. Her speech doesn’t  actually make any sense, but we are clear on  how she feels about the sordid events, speaking, as she does, from the lofty heights of her social privilege.

At the end of the movie, the status quo has been restored, the bad guys have been captured, and Marge is  the only person involved, who still has words.

 

Oh, and for a great, astute analysis of Jerry Lundegaard,  see:

https://thisruthlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/what-does-this-movie-mean-the-coen-brothers-fargo-1996/

 

 

The Walking Dead: Season 7 Review

I was waiting for the season finale to write a review for this season, as I wasn’t here for every episode. There were a few I  liked but I didn’t want to give my opinions about them until I saw how things would play out. I normally enjoy writing episode reviews but TWD, is just really not the kind of show I want to relive twice, once when I view it, and again when I write the review.  And sometimes it can take a few days to digest what was seen.

A lot has happened since the beginning of the season. I think I was still depressed and reeling after Glenn’s death because my enthusiasm for the show took a real turndown. I just wasn’t feeling it and started skipping episodes. But the interesting thing was how those earlier episodes got to play out in the finale.

From the tail end of the season, you can see how the writers maneuvered people and events, to get them into their proper places, for the finale. While this seemed pretty slow for us (we’re used to a much faster place, as regards the plots on this show), you can see how each episode set the stage for decisions that people make later in the season.

For example, although I skipped it, it turned out that we needed to visit the Saviors Sanctuary, not just to get more of Negan, but to help us understand how he  maintains control, and how that later backfires on him. It helps  us understand the drawbacks of maintaining one’s leadership skills through pain, and intimidation. These episodes help us to understand the fundamental (and subtle) differences between Rick and Negan.

Image result for twd season 7 finale

For example, having Eugene be taken into the Saviors, puts him in the  position of being able to help Sasha in a manner that only he can, in a way that having Daryl there, wouldn’t. Its only at the end of the season that we can see how these individual pieces fit together. I sort of knew this is what the writers were doing but just didn’t have the heart to watch certain episodes because I was in no mood to listen to Negan’s self aggrandizing bullshit for entire episodes.

My favorite episode for the entire season is The Cell, because we get to be introduced to King Ezekiel, Jerry, and  Shiva. The King is a ridiculously over the top character, but he did bring some much needed levity to the season. Tara visiting Oceanside, Rick’s supply run, and his meeting with  the Scavengers, Carol’s relationship with King Ezekiel, and Dwight’s punishment, all figured in the finale, as far as plot and character motivations. Not everything fits, though. There were some plot points that have yet to play out and haven’t gone anywhere yet, like Gregory’s departure.

Now that I look back on it, I have to say this season was well done, despite my upset and  misgivings during the first half, in the wake of Glenn’s death, but I understand if Glenn fans want nothing else to do with this show ever again. I was  dissatisfied with how that was handled, and then we spent the first half of the season watching Rick be bullied by Negan, and that shit was just demoralizing. On the other hand, that makes Rick’s partial victory over the Saviors, during the finale, feel that much sweeter. (Yes, I’m still upset about Glenn and wish he could’ve been there to see it. I think I’m always gonna be pissed about Glenn and Abraham.)

Rick

For the first half of the season we watched Rick lose, and lose again, and be completely beaten down by Negan’s reign of terror. He simply couldn’t catch a break. So it was especially nice when we came back after the hiatus,  to see Rick getting his mojo back. It was actually enjoyable to watch Rick swaggering into other people’s territories and negotiating with such confidence. I thought the episode with the Scavengers was especially fun, and the one where he and Michonne have a kind of honeymoon, was really sweet.

Its about time we saw Rick (and crew) get a win. For a brief moment during the finale, Negan had him down, but the moment got saved by an unexpected source. The look on Rick’s face as Negan rides up to Alexandria, with Eugene on the bullhorn, is priceless.

Another hilarious moment, is the look on Rick’s face when the Scavenger leader  asks Michonne if she minds if she sleeps with Rick when its all over. You can tell that sleeping with her never crossed Rick’s mind, and he had no idea how to think about that.

I also enjoyed the moment when, even under threat of the deaths of his entire family, he refuses to kowtow to Negan’s authority.  Good for him!

Image result for TWD season 7 finale

Michonne

I think this was Michonne’s season, as she was really the heart, and soul, of the show. I credit her with being, at least, partially responsible for most of Rick’s turnaround, in the second half of the  season. At least part of that was because they kept their relationship so low key, that she was able to escape Negan’s notice.

The Scavenger leader, asking Michonne if she minded if she slept with Rick was apparently a deal she made with Negan, as a  ruse to confirm exactly what the nature of Michonne’s relationship to Rick was, as Negan wasn’t sure, and then, once confirmed, to kill her.

I feel certain that if Negan had noticed Michonne earlier, he would have killed her (which would have been the end of Rick), or taken her from him to the Sanctuary. She was able to hold onto the fire, after everyone else’s had been extinguished because, at no point, did Negan focus his attention on her.

I fully support their relationship. They’re so much better together than they are separate. They hold each other up, and anchor each other in a good way.  She lifts him up, and he anchors her in place, and I like that. Rick is the first man she has opened her heart to, after her profound depression when  the group first met her, and its been fascinating watching their relationship develop. (Rick is just about the only person she gives that smile to). I didn’t actually think it would happen, really. I thought the writers would just keep teasing us  about a relationship that would never happen, because television is notoriously chickenshit about showing interracial relationships.

Morgan

Image result for TWD season 7 finale/morgan

I know a lot of the fans were disappointed in Morgan when he was re-introduced. Once again, we get yet another Black man who has decided to be peaceful and make boneheaded decisions about not killing. First there was Tyrese, who decided he couldn’t kill, then Bob, who everyone thought was a coward, and  Father Gabriel, another coward, that no one respected, and now we get Morgan, who also doesn’t want to fight.

I wasn’t happy with Morgan’s new philosophy either, although I understood why. I still found myself yelling at my TV a lot, but what made Morgan different, is that he is actually very lethal, and he will fuck a person up. He just won’t kill them.

We saw Morgan adopt and mentor another young man while he was at the Kingdom, and then lose him to the Savior’s whimsy, and I think that just broke Morgan. I feel like maybe his philosophy of not killing was him trying to hold on to the last shreds of his sanity. Remember where he was last season before he hooked back up with Rick. He was killing anyone and everything that crossed his path, and he was pretty far gone, until he was given this philosophy to cling to, in the episode Here’s Not Here, in season six.

After the last couple of episodes, Morgan is, emotionally, right back where he was after the loss of his son, and on another killing spree. Only this time its  aimed at the Saviors. For the second time, since he rejoined Rick’s group, we watch him pick up a gun and kill. The Saviors have a knack for bringing that out in people.

Carol

Carol, like Morgan,  was also going through a crisis of conscience, after she met the Saviors. She’d removed herself from any human contact, but the Saviors bullying (the killing of Abraham and Glenn) brought her back into the fray. I think, on some level, she felt responsible for the death of Glenn. Not only did she kill a lot of the Saviors, she probably felt like she could have saved the two men, if she’d been there, rather than in hiding.

We have the coming out episode of SlayerCarol. After Daryl’s and Morgan’s visit with her, the wily and lethal version of Carol is definitely born again. I can appreciate her wanting to get away from killing people for a while, considering what it was doing to her. But, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, killing is her main superpower, and she mostly uses it for the good of others. Unfortunately, this is the kind of world where someone like Carol finds a purpose or gets dead.

One of my favorite things this season, is watching the slow burn, between her and King Ezekiel. She told him she didn’t want any contact, with him or his people, but he kept cleverly finding ways around this rule, without being intrusive, or breaking her boundaries. He is very obviously smitten with her, but I like that he respects her right to make up her mind, about whether or not she wants a relationship with him, and seems prepared to wait as long as it takes, while occasionally reminding her  that he hasn’t lost interest. Carol has been closed off since Tobin. She and Daryl are too damaged to give each other what they need.

So, Ezekiel would be good for her.

Negan

Image result for twd season 7 finale

Negan began this season all confidence and smiles, and ended the season surprised and humbled. In this episode, he swaggered up to Alexandria, secure in the knowledge that he had the upper hand because of his deal with the Scavengers. He had Eugene’s loyalty, and thought he ‘d gotten Sasha’s too. After Sasha’s surprise, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Things went so wrong that even he had to  express some surprise. Michonne wasn’t killed, there was a fucking tiger eating his men, Morgan and Carol were set loose, and the Scavengers turned tail. What seemed like a sure win,  bringing  Rick to heel, turned into a  total route. Negan got his ass handed to him, probably for the first time in a very long while.

I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but I still think Negan talks entirely too damn much. I’m cautiously enthusiastic about his return next season.

 

Sasha:

Image result for twd season 7 finale

What can I say about Sasha? Well, she has completed the long character arc that brought her from being so closed off, when we first met her, to sacrificing herself for her family.

I’m not surprised at her death, and I’m not angry about her death, the way I was at Glenn’s. I kind of figured  she might be killed off the show because she is starring as the lead  in another show, which I consider much more important than TWD, and that’s Star Trek Discovery. I also strongly suspected she was going to die, after she explicitly told Negan that only one person needed to die, after he tried to get her to agree to killing three. I’m okay because I knew she wouldn’t be able to do both shows, her death wasn’t pointless, or even especially brutal, and actually turned the tide in Rick’s fight against Negan.

We get to see her have some lovely memories (and imaginings) of what she could have had with Abraham, as Michael Cudlitz makes a cameo. It was nice seeing him again. I consider this whole scene to be about Sasha coming to terms with her death, and mourning what could have been, vs how things turned out.

After breaking into the Sanctuary, Sasha is held prisoner. When one of the Saviors threatens to rape her, Negan kills him, and leaves his body in her cell to turn, but also leaves a weapon for her to defend herself. When Negan returns, she has dispatched the zombie, something Negan admires the Hell out of and tries to make a deal with her. Its clear he’s very taken with her, and some of my favorite moments are their scenes together. Soniqua brings her A game, and it was a delight watching her square off against him, plus she looks gorgeous in those scenes, with those large, expressive, eyes.

Knowing that he’s going to use her to harm her family, she persuades Eugene to bring her something to kill herself with. Eugene is against this, but uses his considerable skills to make a  homemade cyanide capsule for her. Negan, suspecting that Rick is up to no good, takes Sasha to Alexandria in a coffin, to tease Rick about her death. But Sasha takes her suicide pill before they reach Alexandria, and when Negan opens the casket, Sasha’s zombie attacks him at a crucial moment.

I don’t care how outraged the kids on Tumbr are, (they’re always very angry about a lot of TV shows, it seems), as far as I’m concerned, Sasha went out like a boss! I absolutely refuse to be upset about it.

 

Eugene

I know everybody was mad at Eugene for switching sides, but I’m not. I can get where he’s coming from, although he hasn’t articulated his motivations very well. I’m not even sure why people were surprised. He lied to Abraham,  Rick, and the others, when he first met them, because he desired safety. That’s always been Eugene’s primary concern from day one. I guess he figured he couldn’t be any  safer from the devil, than in the devil’s arms.

At the end of the episode, Negan has some deep suspicions about what happened to Sasha, and Eugene’s part in that. So now I’m worried for him again. Maybe being so close to the devil isn’t as safe as it seems, huh Eugene?

 

King Ezekiel and Jeffrey:

Image result for twd season 7 finale

These are two of my favorite characters. I’m surprise at how easy it was to get attached to Jerry, and really, considering the death rate on this show, I shouldn’t do that. Jerry is just a lovely, light note, in such a grim show, and and I kept muttering to myself during the entire firefight, “Please don’t kill Jerry! Please don’t kill Jerry!”

Also, I like King Ezekiel because  he’s so overdone! Who talks like that, naturally? And everyone just sort of takes it in stride when he talks like that. And c’mon! The man owns a fucking tiger! These are two of the most fun characters in the show. I would totally watch a spin-off of him, Shiva ,and Jerry, and their adventures before the founding of The Kingdom.

 

Shiva

Yeah, my girl gets in on the action during the firefight with Negan, literally jumping in, during a crucial moment. Even Negan had to stop, and marvel, for a quick second, that there’s a tiger! I know a lot of people loved that moment. Go to the 10:30 mark:

 

Well, this is my idea of a review of season seven. Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.

 

New Movie Trailers 

Well, we’ve got a new batch of trailers, for movies some of us have already decided we will, or won’t see. As per usual, the  more trailers I watch, for some movie I was highly enthusiastic about six months ago, the less I want to see it. I think trailers are specifically designed to make you hate a movie before you see it, and you should probably just keep your trailer watching to a minimum. Well, probably I should.

Except, from time to time, there is that rare trailer that makes you more excited to see the movie.

 
The Mummy:

I’m still not sure how I feel about this movie, except to say Tom is starting to look a bit worn. Apparently, this isn’t just a remake but, like the Ghostbusters, a re-imagining. Well, the special effects indeed look special, and there’s Russell Exposition, to give us the lowdown.

 
War for the Planet of the Apes:

I had no intention of seeing this movie, after all, I haven’t seen any of the previous ones. I have a friend who is really enthusiastic about this series, but I was put off by the animal abuse, in the first film. I get the point of these movies (slavery allegories don’t excite me) but I couldn’t get past the animal abuse. It bothered me for several days afterward, and I decided I wouldn’t watch any of the movies, not having finished the first one.

 
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Well, it’s still really really pretty. I love movies, but it’s both a blessing, and a curse. Sometimes, I just get tired of looking at white ppl have incredible adventures in movies.  (At such moments you gotta break out the Japanese anime, or Chinese action movies.)

 
Alien: Covenant

The more I see of this movie, the less I want the to see it. I love the Alien movies, but I have no intention of  seeing this.

 
Spiderman Homecoming

Well, this is the rare movie, that I still want to see, after having watched several trailers. I still love little Tom Holland, no matter how mad the children on Tumblr might be about him.



Deadpool 2

I may or may not see this movie. I’m a little dubious about  the humor in this scene, but the first movie had some nice, funny, surprises, so I’m still game.

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 1 (1969-1980)

This was inspired by a Twitter challenge to name the favorite films for each year of your life, starting from birth. You under thirty film folks have this pretty easy, but I’m an oldy (but goody), so its going to take me  time to lay all this out, and I’m obviously going to have do this in installments! This doesn’t mean I saw these movies in that year. It’s just the year of the release.

I thought you guys might find it interesting to know what films I consider the most influential in my life. I know compiling this list surprised me a little bit. I’d never given this a whole lot of deep thought, and I was pretty certain of what movies I knew I liked, but this was pleasantly eye opening. Also, I’m definitely giving away my actual age, but I’m not ashamed of my age, so here goes:

1969 – The Valley of Gwangi

Well, I had to pick one film a year and this was it. In fact, its appropriate, becasue this is really the first dinosaur/kaiju movie I’d ever seen, and influenced my fascination with Godzilla, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the Ymir, and those Sinbad movies. It also introduced me to the work of Ray Harryhausen, who I have a soft spot for.

Anyway, this is a ridiculous Western/Fantasy movie, about some cowboys who encounter a valley full of  giant beasts. A tyrannosaur gets captured and brought back to the city where it, naturally, escapes, because that’s what such creatures do, thereby ensuring my lifelong love of giant monsters destroying cities.

Ray Harryhausen is also the man responsible for this. These skeletons scared the shit out of me when I was eight, and I’ve loved him ever since:

Related image

 

1970 – A Man Called Horse

I first watched this movie with my Mom, because it contained some graphic scenes, and I was a kid who needed adult supervision, or so she said, so there’s definitely a nostalgia factor involved in me liking this movie, which is basically, Tarzan in the Old West. A White Englishman gets captured by some Native Americans, they torture him for a while, but eventually he wins their respect, by going through various manhood trials, which look little different than the torture he’d undrgone earlier in the movie, which had been to less purpose. At any rate, I liked the lead actor, Richard Harris, and was a fan of his ever after.

It was while watching Westerns, that I really began to question the  tropes presented about Native Americans, like why they all wore headbands, and spoke broken English.

I watched a lot of these Westerns with my Mom. She was a fan of Richard Harris, too. She heavily influenced a lot of my early movie watching experiences, by just sharing her love of various movies (and actors) with me, until I started developing my own tastes. She introduced me to The Big Valley because she was a huge Barbara Stanwyck fan, so I liked Barbara, too. She loved Bonanza because she was a fan of Lorne Greene, so I was a Lorne Greene fan, and started watching Battlestar Galactica.  I became a fan of a lot of old actors just because my Mom liked those movies and invited me to watch them with her.

Our movie tastes have  diverged over the years, as I tend  to be more adventurous in my movie watching, (as you will see), and will watch quieter, more intellectual films, while she prefers a lot more drama and bombast.

My mom is of the generation that considers movies to be nothing more than entertaining, or melodramatic, spectacle. I’m of the generation that enjoys  movies that have some level of philosophical insight, or intellectual depth, to go along with all the spectacle, which is basically anything released after 1965. Not that movies didn’t have that before 1965, but moviemakers started making more of these types of movies.

1971 – A Clockwork Orange

There were a lot of great movies made in 1971, and I had a really hard time choosing one. I had a choice between Spielberg’s Duel, George Lucas’ THX-1138, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (a big contender in this category), Shaft, Willard, but I chose Clockwork because its one of the first SciFi films I watched without my Mom’s supervision. I don’t think she knew about it, or she would have had something to say. This wasn’t my first Kubrick film. That was The Shining, which I did watch with her. But I was hooked. I made a point to watch as many Kubrick movies as I could after that.

It may sound as if I watched these movies at a very young age but I was in my teens when I saw  most of these  films, and a lot of the movies I watched, when I was very young, were edited for television.

1972 – Aguirre: The Wrath of God

I know a lot of people choose The Godfather, or  Lady Sings the Blues, but I didn’t watch those movies until I was an adult, and I wasn’t impressed by them, by the time I saw them. I think you have to be of a certain age for a movie to have a great influence over you. I didn’t see this until I was in my twenties, long after I’d watched Salem’s Lot.

This is Werner Herzog’s movie about the conquistador, Lope De Aguirre, heading down the Amazon River to find the city of El Dorado, and starring  Klaus Kinski, who is not a pretty man. The grotesque is what occasionally fascinated me about foreign films.  Now here’s how my thought processes work: I first saw Klaus Kinski in Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu, when I was maybe fifteen. My interest, in that particular version of Nosferatu, was prompted by learning that the vampire from the TV movie, Salem’s Lot, was based on him. which I saw Salem’s Lot the  year it was released, and of course, I watched with it my Mom!

Image result for salem's lot vampire/gif

Watching this movie, I think,  informed my love of documentaries, and books, about exploring the Amazon. Up til then, I’d pretty much been consumed with books about exploring Arctic landscapes, or climbing Mt Everest. (I think at one point I aspired to be a Sherpa, but I was  later disappointed to find you have to be born a Sherpa, I guess. )

1973 – The Exorcist

A lot of good movies were released this year: Mean Streets, Don’t Look Now, Enter the Dragon. I like all those movies but The Exorcist is the movie I keep coming back to over and over. I will watch this whenever it comes on TV. I’ve watched it with all the commentaries. I never get tired of it, but I have seen it so many times that I can get a bit snarky on the parts I find exasperating.

Here’s a funny story:  I remember lobbying my Mom to watch this movie. She was a bit dubious about that, because I was all of maybe twelve, the same age as Regan in the movie,  but I convinced her that I was mature enough to handle it. So, I watched the TV edited version, with her supervision, late one weekend. I know it was aired past my bedtime, and I needed her permission to be up, anyway.  I watched it, and she saw that I didn’t seem unduly affected by it, and didn’t give it any more thought.

Now, I live in the Midwest,  an area of the country that is not known for having earthquakes, but guess what? We had an earthquake a couple of nights later.  A pretty strong one, at about a 6.0, and you don’t want to know how quickly I sprang out of that bed and ran screaming to my Mom’s room. It took her a while to calm me down, and make me understand that my bed was shaking because there was  an earthquake. She’d been watching the news when it happened, so she was perfectly calm.(It did not help matters that I was going through my existential crisis period, where I was questioning God, religion, and my existence in general.)

Yeah,  she was kind enough to indulge me sleeping  in her bed, for a couple of nights.

1974 – Deathdream

Image result for deathdream gif

I know everyone always picks Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, and I love both those movies, but this one had a much bigger influence on me. I saw this movie as a teen, and it was the first modern era  vampire movie I’d seen, outside of Salem’s Lot. It’s set in the modern era of 1970 something, when a young man comes home from Vietnam.

Unbeknownst to his family, he died in that war, and what came home was a revenant, responding to his mother’s fervent wishes that he return.  You can tell something is seriously wrong  with him, from the moment you first see him, but his family is so happy he’s home, that they don’t want to  see it. He needs blood to live, but the blood becomes increasingly less potent, and he starts to break down,  becoming more ghoulish as the movie progresses, attacking his family and neighbors, and behaving very badly. 

The movie is notable  because its narrative is an indictment of the Vietnam War, and what happened to the young men who fought in it, who came home haunted,  broken, and forever changed. This movie had a  greater  influence over how I think about movies than Night of the Living Dead, which also had a socially conscious message. It’s also a great illustration of family dynamics, as the drama is every bit as compelling as the vampire part of the story. The mother, who was hanging on to her last threads of sanity before her son came home, and the father who realizes that something’s horribly wrong with his son, but can’t speak to his wife about any of it, because she is delusional.

1975 – Trilogy of Terror

I would have chosen Jaws, but I chose this movie instead, because although I love Jaws, and watch it every time it comes on TV, this movie had a much bigger influence over me as , once again, I watched it with my Mom, and she was a Karen Black fan. I’m only a middling Karen Black fan, so I didn’t get that out of this movie. What I got out of this movie, was a love of Richard Matheson, as his short story, Prey, makes up the third part of this movie, and I thought that part of the movie was awesome. In it, an African doll, He Who Hunts, comes to life and chases a woman all over her apartment. But its harrowing, intense, and  hilarious as this tiny, screaming, doll gets the better of this huge woman, as Karen Black is no delicate two Oz. damsel.

This movie might have something to do with my inarticulate fear of inanimate objects, that come to life,  and move around. I was about ten years old when I saw this movie, and was quite reasonably, terrified. The new Ghostbusters has a scene in it, where a mannequin chases Leslie Jones’ character, and I nearly shit myself.

And you’re probably also seeing a theme developing here, with  people with fangs and appetites, who aren’t what they seem, preying on other people.

 

1976 – Taxi Driver

I had a hard time choosing which movie was my favorite, for this year, because its the same year Carrie was released. Ultimately, I settled on this one because I think Taxi Driver is a much deeper film.

I didn’t see this until I was an adult. It’s the first Martin Scorsese movie I ever watched, (I backtracked later, and  watched Mean Streets) and only because I’d heard of its reputation from critics like Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael. Travis Bickle is a painfully awkward character to watch. I’m still unable to articulate how I feel about this movie. I go through periods where I’m loathe to watch it, yet compelled to sit through it. Watching a baby Jodi Foster might have something to do with my feelings about this movie but I’m not sure what.

 

1977- The Last Dinosaur

This movie is almost comically bad but I still love it. The special effects are awful, and the characters are ridiculous, but the movie makes up for that with its subtext and theme song. It’s by the same people that created some of the Godzilla films, and it shows in the awful acting and the rubbery monsters, which all move in slow motion, to illustrate how powerful they are.

Maston Thrust (yes, that is the character’s actual name), is a big game hunter who is tired, old, and jaded. He has hunted all of the creatures of Earth and is looking for new challenges. It’s the 70s, and Maston, a virile he-man, is a blatant sexist, and the world has changed around him so much, that he no longer recognizes it, and can find no place in it. The world doesn’t need rugged white men, who can kill things. He’s a dinosaur.

Given the opportunity to visit a Lost World and hunt a dinosaur, he jumps at this, and accompanied by his faithful Maasai tracker friend, named Bunta, (yes, I just typed that name), and a blonde female photographer, played by that era’s hottest blond, Joan Van Ark, they all head down. When he gets to this Lost World,  he, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex that killed the last expedition, develop an immediate enmity, as the Rex tries to kill everyone on his team (He enjoys stepping on his prey. He likes his food pureed.) The two of them spend the rest of the movie trying to outsmart each other.

Now, if this sounds like the plot of Kong: Skull Island, you are correct! Kong has better effects,, dialogue, acting, really everything but it doesn’t have a theme song. I first heard this song when I was a child, and have never forgotten it, as its a lovely song. It helps to think of the song as Maston’s theme.

 

1978- Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Wow, I do have a lot of favorites! This is one of the best remakes of a fifties SciFi movie ever made. This movie I think began the trend of eighties remakes that were better than the original movies. If it wasn’t for this movie, there probably wouldn’t be the remake of The Fly, The Thing, or The Blob. I didn’t really want to pick just this one movie because Halloween, The Fury, and Superman were all released in 1978, and those are all favorites, but the rule of the game is to pick only one movie.

 

1979-  Apocalypse Now

The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t get what made it so wonderful. Roger Ebert was a huge fan, and so was Pauline Kael, and I trusted their opinions. I watched it and liked it okay, but didn’t love it. It’s only after successive viewings that I grew to truly appreciate it. To give you some idea of how hard it is to choose just one favorite film from this year: Alien,  and The Warriors was also released, and I chose Apocalypse Now becasue its a deeper film.

You can start to see how my tastes have begun to diverge from my mother’s. She loved The Warriors, but was uninterested in this movie, and she  is mostly indifferent to Alien.

 

1980- Altered States

This was another tough one becasue I have a couple of favorites for this year, but I chose this movie because its such a trippy mess, and at the time I saw this, I had not yet seen 2001. This was the first movie that had ideas and concepts in it that I knew were important, but I was just too young to understand them.

Several viewings (and years) later, I was able to follow most of the arguments made by the characters in this movie, most of which involve a great deal of existential angst. it was also the first time I’d ever seen William Hurt. He’s a complete asshole for most of the movie, but he’s a cute asshole, and he  learns his lesson by the end.

My other favorites for this year are The Elephant Man, The Shining, and Fame, a musical with a diverse cast, which starred Irene Cara.

Next up: 1981 through 1990.

Kong: Skull Island

First of all this review contains lots of spoilers. So if you haven’t seen  the movie, you know the drill.

 I had no plans to go see this movie. Not to say I wasn’t intrigued. I love giant monsters as much as the next person,  but I had a choice between Get Out, Logan, and Kong, and I had chose Logan. I’ve since seen both of those movies, thanks to friends with more money than me, who enjoy my company. I still hadn’t planned to see Kong. 

Well, Mom had other plans. She saw the trailer, and because it hit all the check marks for her entertainment, we were gonna be seeing it. 

Big guns! Check.

 Monsters! Check. 

Samuel L Jackson! Check.

I had read some  reviews, which seemed neither bad nor good, and I had the impression it would be sort of like Apocalypse Now with monsters. I was, and was not wrong.  It was very entertaining, mostly as a war movie with monsters, than a straight up monster movie. I’m a huge fan of Apocalypse Now and it’s got more than a few parallels with that movie.

Me, Mom, and two of the little tikes; my niece, The Potato and her baby sister, who we like to call Lil’ Momma, had a girls day out. I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time between amusing Lil Momma with treats, hugging her when she got scared, and being scared shitless myself. There’s a reason I don’t see too many scary movies in a theatre. I can’t turn them off, and walk out.

But it was still a helluva lot of fun too, and not exactly what I thought it would be. Most of the tropes of King Kong movies were neatly, and deliberately, subverted.There was a lot more talking but that was okay because most of it was setup for the action scenes. It’s not a very deep film. Well, it didn’t have a deep message in it,  but I think y’all should know that King Kong movies (and those Planet of the Ape films) have always had a deep meaning for Black Americans. We always found subtext in them. This movie manages to neatly set aside that subtext, which in itself ends up creating subtext. 

The year is 1974 and the US had just made the decision to pull out of Vietnam. Jacksons character is depressed and enraged by this, which informs his motivation for the rest of the movie. Hiddlestons character is set adrift and looking for adventure. Goodman’s character is considered something of a crackpot conspiracy theorist with his Hollow Earth, and Lost World beliefs. Him and his partner, played by Corey Hawkins, have been petitioning the government to fund an expedition to search for one of these lost worlds. They’re finally granted permission and have to assemble their crew. Tom Hiddleston is a bland, but brave hero, who didn’t really stand out to me, very much. Samuel Jackson plays the Colonel, for whom Kong becomes his white whale, after Kong nearly kills his entire team. Brie Larson is a photographer along for the ride. I barely know who she is, as there ain’t any white actresses, under 45, whose careers I pay any attention to. She wasn’t bad though, and the movie didn’t do with her what I was afraid it would do, which was fetishize the awesome purity of her blonde whiteness to Kong. There’s another woman in the movie. She’s Asian. She and Brie’s character don’t say so much as a hello to each other. It’s almost like they’re in separate movies. 

Kong does form an attachment to Brie’s character, but not because of her looks ,which is how the director sidesteps the subtext black people see in these movies. Kong likes her because of something she does, and he approves of. At no point do the Natives try to sacrifice her to him, and the rest of the crew don’t spend all their time rescuing her. Tom Hiddleston’s character does so, but only because he likes her, and she’s very brave. At one point he asks her to do a very dangerous thing, to save their lives, and she successfully carries it off. He’s not protecting her because he thinks of her as a delicate woman, and the only person who mentions her femininity at all, is Reilly’s character, and he sounds ridiculous, when he does. 

The writers neatly sidestep the native issues by having there be no Natives. The people on the island are the leftover crew members from a Japanese ship that crashed on the island and became trapped there. They’re fierce but not mindlessly hostile, and appear to have developed their own peaceful culture. Storms have caused a lot of crashes there, so there are a lot of shipwrecks lying about.  There’s a giant wall on the island, but it’s not there to keep Kong out, just the hostile wildlife at bay, and  it turns out his job is protecting the people.  Since the rest of Kong’s family were killed by the island wildlife, he’s seemingly adopted these trapped humans as his clan. Make no mistake, Kong is the star of this movie. He is the lead character, and the protagonist, and survives to the end.

 John C. Reilly’s character is the most fun and memorable character in the movie, and I loved him right away. I’ve found that I enjoy movies a lot more if I can attach myself to a particular character and just follow that character through the plot. His character gives a lot of exposition, but it doesn’t feel like speechifying, when he does it, which is a testament to how good Mr. Reilly is, as an actor. We see his plane crash on the island at the beginning of the movie. His Japanese opponent also crashes his plane, and the two immediately commence to fighting, but are interrupted by Kong. After that they stop and become friends. Kong just has that effect on people. Later, Reilly’s character gets a sweet and happy ending when he’s reunited with his family. He’d been trapped on the island since 1944, and acts exactly the way a person would, after having been separated from a life they missed, for nearly thirty years.

Kong’s motivations are also explained in the movie. He’s a guy who likes everything peaceful and quiet, because when the military expedition starts dropping bombs on the landscape, to track the islands depth, he becomes enraged, and makes short work of all of the helicopters. They were disturbing the peace. So what’s funny is that all of the usual Kong tropes are in this movie but under completely different contexts, with Kong fighting helicopters, or wrapped in chains, or rescuing the blonde damsel. You can tell the writers gave it some thought, playing with our expectations, and knowledge of other Kong movies. The end result of all this is you end up rooting for Kong, as the hero of this movie, rather than the human characters.

Kong is set up as the protector of the island (and possibly the world) from some dinosaur-like creatures, that come out of the Hollow Earth, having been awakened by the bombings. There’s some little ones, and one giant one, with skull-like heads, full of teeth, slithering around on two legs. They’re fast, powerful, and will eat anything, even Kong. He spends a not inconsiderable amount of time fighting these nasty fuckers all over the landscape. He spends a lot of the movie fighting something. At one point he fights a giant octopus, and then eats it. 

There are other monstrous creatures on the island. Some pterosaur like creatures, that like to gang up on a person and carry them off, like in the Riddick movie called Pitch Black. There’s a giant spider naturally, and also what we hilariously figured out was a giant walking stick, and just about as bright. The Potato and I guessed this because it looked like a cross between Groot, and a small Ent, from Lord of the Rings. It scared the shit outta my Mom, when she saw it, even though it’s harmless.  My favorites were the house sized Water Buffalo, because I thought they were dumb but  cute, and more importantly, non- hostile. 

Brie’s  character wins Kongs fondness, when he finds her trying to save one of the big dumb brutes, who is  trapped under a helicopter wing, and he helps her out. He likes her because she was trying to save one of the creatures he has decided to protect, and even allows her to get close enough to touch his face. It’s  telling that his closeness to her never directly endangers him. On the other hand, her proximity to Kong, puts her in danger from the skull dinosaurs. Later, she saves his life, by standing between him and a bullet from the colonel’s gun, after Kong has been hobbled, by being set on fire with napalm. The military is the bad guys in this movie, and Kong kills them indiscriminately. So if you feel some kind of way about the military, you might want to  skip this movie. They’re not totally evil, but they’re not the heroes.
During a significant portion of the movie, everyone has to ride upriver in a hastily thrown together plane/boat combo, and that, and the helicopter intro when they arrive at the island, is what lends it that Apocalypse Now feeling. But I liked the movie a lot and didn’t mind the parallels. I was expecting at some point to be insulted or offended by something in the movie, but the writers were careful to sidestep all the major issues that my Mom and I usually have with Kong movies. Unfortunately, that also took away any depth. That’s okay. The movie makes  up for this lack with a great deal of spectacle. 

Now, I have since seen Godzilla Resurgence, and I heard rumors that both of these movies were being setup for a future sequel,  where Kong and Godzilla would be fighting each other. If that’s true you could watch the setup in this movie, where Kong is being put forth as a good guy protector to the Japanese people, or whatever group of people survive to the sequel. The Kong in this movie is said to be an adolescent who hasn’t reached his full height, and like Godzilla, he’s already as tall as an office building. So the reason Kong looks bigger than ever is because of this future plan for a franchise, of some kind. In Godzilla Resurgence, Godzilla is definitely a bad monster who, sort of randomly, destroys parts of Japan, for no fucking reason. I’ll be reviewing that movie later this Summer. But keep in mind, if these two characters meet, there will be blood.

After a certain age, I stopped watching Godzilla movies, but I did enjoy the remakes, and I liked this movie okay. I’m not sure I’ll enjoy a sequel where these two characters fight, although after watching  the fight scenes in Kong, I anticipate that Kong will win.

Ghost in the Shell/Iron Fist Backfire

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

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

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

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

View image on Twitter

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bigskydreaming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hannibal Season Two Finale: Mizumono

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Random Tumblr Shenanigans #15

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

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

And here’s a video lampooning White Fragility:

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Okay, this video is just begging for a caption:

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

Please feel free to add your own captions!

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

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

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

Meta: Snowpiercer

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

THIS IS AN ALLEGORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HE’S NOT THE MESSIAH…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YONA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geeking Out About: Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99

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

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

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

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

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

Here, in some kind of order, are:

Det. Rosa Diaz  (Stephanie Beatriz)

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

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

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

 

 

Gina Linetti  (Chelsea Perretti)

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

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

 

Det. Jake Peralta  (Adam Samberg)

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews)

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

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

 

Det. Amy Santiago

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

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

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

 

Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)

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

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

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

 

Det. Adrien Pimento

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

Adrien is definitely what’s known as  Chaotic Good.

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

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

Tumblr Politics: Laugh-In Edition

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

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

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

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

Update: Trump, Clinton and more respond to decision 

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

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

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

delamind:

bellygangstaboo:

bellygangstaboo:

I am deceased

minor update:

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

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

 

Black History on Tumblr

 

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

lagonegirl:

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

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

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

#BlackHistory 

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

xabiiba:

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

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

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

medievalpoc

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

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He cared about people, not money.

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

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

Happy Black History Month!

Source:

Coded Blackness

 

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

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

The Demonization of Welfare

 

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

 

 

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

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