New Year Rules and Regulations

According to my Mom, there are a number of rules and regulations that one must abide by to have good fortune in the new year. I’m just a tiny bit superstitious, somewhat tradition minded (it keeps me in touch with my ancestors), and it’s relatively harmless.

On New Years Eve one is spend the day in quiet reflection. Partying and drinking doesn’t occur til much later, I guess.

Today is to be spent doing something you love. Something calm and comforting and probably something to recover from the night’s exertions. So the order of the day is breakfasting and happy times with friends and family, knitting, reading, or watching bad movies, whatever it is that brings you personal happiness and harms no one. In other words be self indulgent just this one day.

You are required to eat black eyed peas, with cornbread, whether you like it or not. I believe this is non-negotiable. I know it’s not very indulgent, if you don’t like black eyed peas, but do it anyway.😠😠

Do not ring water from any towels today. If you have wet towels you can only squeeze the water out with your hands. Don’t do laundry. Actually this is a good excuse not to wash anything in the house except yourself., and if you’re feeling especially lazy, or hungover, don’t do that either.

If you have visitors today, make sure your first visitor is a man, who steps in your front door, right foot first. Apparently women visitors are bad luck or something. I’m not sure how this works if your visitors are somewhere on the LGBT spectrum, though.

But above all else, spend your first day doing something you want to enjoy doing the rest of the year, with the people you love.

Best of 2016 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic Novels I just bought:

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

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

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

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

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

 
Movies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tumblr Discussions #182

 

*More introvert facts. There’s an entire website devoted to these little blirps.

introvertunites:
“ If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites.
”

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*I’m totally in love with the idea that Finn is Force sensitive, and this person makes some very compelling arguments, for why Finn is a Jedi. 

 

*An analysis of the emotional, and psychological, differences between Finn and Kylo Ren, and their behavior towards Rey:

The parallels between Finn and Kylo Ren are the most direct (and stark) in terms of toxic masculinity. Finn seems to reject this toxicity, whereas Kylo Ren is constantly hung up on performing and proving himself strong enough. They are opposites: especially evidenced by the way they treat Rey – how they define themselves against the chief female presence of the movie.

Like Finn, Kylo Ren is also interested in and impressed by Rey. (And he also first meets her when she attacks him.) But instead of treating Rey like a person, Kylo acts out of aggression, objectification, and self-centeredness. He immediately immobilizes her, Force-faints her, and then carries her, bridal-style, to his ship: old-fashioned, exploitative, and gross. His language towards her is incredibly patronizing: “So this is the girl I’ve heard so much about…” He proceeds to insult her friends and threaten and torture her: violating her mind, using her as a tool but also relishing the show of his own power and the taking of something personal by force. “I can take what I want” is simultaneously a threat, a statement of power/entitlement, and a declaration of how Kylo fundamentally views Rey: an object, something controllable to serve his purposes. When the tables turn and Rey reads him, he is incredibly shaken by the subversion of his own authority and control, and when she escapes, he storms around looking for her in a blind rage, pursuing her with a weapon. Even as she’s beating him in the ensuing lightsaber battle, he has the gall to mansplain her own power to her: “YOU NEED A TEACHER!”

Unlike Kylo Ren, Finn uses Rey’s name throughout the movie. Kylo never calls her anything but “the girl” or “the scavenger,” even when addressing her. While Finn helps others without question, is vulnerable, and demonstrates affection, humor, feelings, and honesty, Kylo Ren is the opposite – all about projecting his own power and lashing out. He takes himself and his image incredibly seriously, valuing himself over others and their goals, treating underlings callously and with violence. Meanwhile, Finn accepts BB-8 as something deserving of his respect and speaks to the droid like a person.

While Finn easily cooperates with those around him, Kylo competes and chokes and throws tantrums, exchanging insults with Hux and belittling him at every opportunity, locked in a power struggle even with his allies. As Finn resists hurting the innocent and then straight-up defects over this, Kylo Ren is the one who orders their murders and then tortures his captives. Where Finn removes, and then ditches, his helmet at the first opportunity, Kylo Ren clings to his completely unnecessary, fabricated mask — a face that is not his own, versus Finn’s sincerity. It’s a powerful metaphor, putting on another face to become something else, to assume power. To disguise one’s true nature. The dark side, like gender, is performative — and the mask, in this case, is literal.

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*How Racism attempts to rewrite history so as to erase the accomplishments and contributions of PoC. According to such people, no person of color was doing anything in History, and they actually seem to  believe all of it was White. This plays out in everything from the shows we watch to the fiction we read. Medieval historians seek to address this issue.

I want to let you in on the dirty little secret of my field, Medieval Studies: The Middle Ages is incredibly attractive to white supremacists. For people whose vision of a backwards-looking, great world is one with white Christian men in positions of power and the rest of us put in our places, the Middle Ages is a fertile ground for fantasy, where it seems very easy, at least superficially, to ignore the integral role of an incredibly diverse population. There are legends like King Arthur, images like the Bayeaux Tapestries, and long histories of Crusading that, on the face of it, make the Middle Ages look very white and like a world very divided neatly into categories of “us” and “them.”
This vision of a very white, very Christian Middle Ages has been a part of political rhetoric for rather a long time: Anti-feminist politicians exploit their idea of medieval chivalry and courtly love to give their ideas a historical grounding. The British Nationalist party uses the story of Excalibur to promote its vision of a racially pure England. The Crusades, in particular, have factored into that: Crusaders became a favorite theme of 19th-century Romantic writers and thinkers, whose refashioning of these tales were crucial to the creating the popular vision of a very white Middle Ages. T.E. Lawrence, the young British army officer who would go on to be known as Lawrence of Arabia and reshape the map of the modern Middle East came to that region as a student at Oxford writing about Crusader castles. Various European fascist movements throughout 20th-century have adopted Crusader rhetoric. More recently and in our own country, George W. Bush called for Crusade in the wake of 9/11. And the most recent presidential election saw a proliferation of images that have long circulated more quietly in the darkest, most racist corners of the internet that rely on medieval and Crusading themes and images to support both individual candidates and wider worldviews.
But it’s not just political rhetoric: Attachment to a white Middle Ages is also an attitude that has absolutely permeated our cultural outlook: Look at something like the TV version of Game of Thrones and you see a kind of fantasy Middle Ages in which the race politics is incredibly uncomplicated, with a lily-white savior and her dragons redeeming the inarticulate, teeming masses of brown barbarians. It’s a rhetoric that politicians can use because it resonates with the population.
But when we look at the actual Middle Ages in all its complexity, the possibility of this fantasy vision evaporates very quickly.

“Both Sons of Spain”: Medieval Jews and Muslims in the Imagined Nation

My department held a round-table and teach-in yesterday in response to post-election Islamophobic and anti-Semitic vandalism on campus. We felt it was important, as scholars in the humanities, to offer a humanistic intellectual response to the changing tenor of campus discourse; we grounded this response within our discipline, with six speakers offering case studies of how different communities have responded to repression within the Spanish-speaking world. (The event was livestreamed and a recording will be available early next week; I’ll post it as and when.) What follows was my intervention. -S.J. Pearce

medievalpoc medieval studies fact and fantasy white supremacists modern politicshistorical context crusades islamophobia antisemitism academia
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*White women being taken to task for practicing White Feminism:
she-kicks-she-throws:

Dear fellow white women: we have a bad habit of self destruction. We have to stop aligning ourselves with white men. We are not ‘one of the guys’ socially or politically. They have and will actively try to ruin our lives. They only care about us when… …it suits them.

And our alliance with them HURTS NON-WHITE women. This is key! Women of color lead the way. They know how to fight. If you don’t care about non-white women, first fuck you. Second you are just hurting yourself. I’m ashamed most white women went for Trump but that’s only our most recent act of violence. White women: get your fucking shit together.

If you’re a white woman uncomfortable with this kind of call-out, check yourself. We don’t require acknowledgment of basic human decency. There’s a reason WOC mistrust us. If you don’t like it, BE BETTER. And they’ve been telling us this for years. But if you won’t listen … … to them, first fuck you, second listen to me, then: WOC mistrust of WW is founded. We need to get sorted.

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I’m always here for  Westworld meta-analysis.

Westworld & Consent

eleonoraditoledo:

I find it so odd that people find guest/host relationships on Westworld even vaguely okay.  At best, if you believe that the hosts aren’t sentient you’re looking at a weird “romancing the blowup doll” situation.  At worst, if you–like me–believe that they are sentient whether or not they’ve actually “woken up”, then you are looking at an enslavement scenario.  If the hosts are human–that is, the next form of humanity as the show has implied–then they are being enslaved.  It’s one thing to be intrigued by say the guest-host dynamics, but to act like a host having sex with a guest is just adorable and romantic is very bizarre to me?

Keep reading

the only thing im a little bit upset about

thatjokerjerome:

is that i feel swindled out of an explanation for why william was the way he was, and why he turned to the dark side so quickly. clearly he had something really disturbed inside of him in order for that change to happen, but we got no real lead-up to it. he went from white hat to black hat literally overnight, and his long-winded voice-over at the end of the episode interspersed with a montage of him being a general evil-doer seemed cheap to me, especially within the context of a show that is supposedly so big on “show don’t tell”. i want to know more about the person he was outside of the park. i want to see how he treated logan’s sister and what happened to him through all the years inbetween. i didn’t “buy” that he just snapped overnight because of one instance where he saw dolores’s insides and realized she wasn’t human. that seemed lazy as fuck to me. it seemed like they were in a super big rush to do this reveal where as it would have been better and more believable to stretch it over another season so we could have seen a bigger and more realistic spiral into darkness for william.

He was already dark. He didn’t turn to  the dark-side. All that shit people romanticized with him and Dolores was actually presented in Westworld as gross as it was from the beginning and I LOVE this show for that. Because all too often impressionable young women romanticize dudes seeing a woman’s love as someone redeeming them. Making them better.

When in reality it’s two already complete people, who cooperate and love.  William wanted Dolores to be something she was not and CONTINUED see her as that even after she insisted she wasn’t.  Dolores is her own person.

William wanted her to be that key for him.

In other words, from the beginning Will was terrible for Dolores.

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*I thoroughly enjoyed this one, which is a complete rundown of the types of toxic masculinity, embodied by the male characters, in the show.

Westworld is a Stunning Indictment of White Male Entitlement…Or One Big Reason Why I’m Invested In This Show, ESPECIALLY During These Crazy-Ass Days  (SPOILER AND TRIGGER-WARNING)

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*And to finish it up:

10 Signs You’re an Introvert

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous.

“Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people,” Laurie Helgoe writes in “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.” “We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

10 Myths About Introverts

introvertunites:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Click on the links to get the full stories and visit the websites.

Westworld Thinky- Thoughts

Robert Ford:

So, I’ve been rewatching Westworld from the beginning, and  paying  closer attention to the dialogue and plot, in preparation for the finale.

Shoutout to Anthony Hopkins for delivering a knockout performance of a man suffering from a serious God complex. I just realized the reason Ford is always so far ahead of everyone in the plot is because he uses the Hosts, some of which are planted among the employees of Delos Corporation, (I’m pretty sure Bernard isn’t the only one) to spy on those same employees.

The reason he knew where the MIB was going to be (so that he could meet with him) is because he sent that little boy Host to ask if he needed assistance. And he knew about Charlotte’s plans because Hector was present during Charlotte’s meeting with Theresa. Since Ford has such total and complete control over the Hosts, he knows everything the Hosts see and hear, even when people think the Hosts don’t appear to be paying attention.

Which probably means he knows all about Maeve, and her activities, and has allowed her to continue doing what she’s doing because it serves his purposes, whatever those might be. Lets go back to that meeting, between Ford and Charlotte, to identify Theresa’s body. In one swoop, he completely undoes all  Charlotte’s plans, and all she could do was stand there and take it. Note that he also proposed, during that meeting, that security  at the company be automated, to guard against what happened to Theresa.  Which means that whatever Maeve is about to do will be aided by having little security, during her endeavors. Everything we’ve seen happening at Westworld among the Hosts, from the stockpiling of the Hosts in cold storage, to Teddy’s new Wyatt narrative, which sends Teddy on his own journey to self-awareness, to Maeve’s upgrades, has  all been orchestrated by Ford.

Remember, it was Ford who planted the new Wyatt narrative in Teddy, and that the Hosts in cold storage are decommissioned. They aren’t exactly off, just offline for the moment. He can turn them back on with a word. When Felix and Sylvester were upgrading Maeve, Sylvester noted that someone, with higher clearance than them, had already been tampering with Maeve’s protocols. Ford doesn’t seem at all worried that she’ll actually be able to escape Westworld, and I wonder why that is. But I find it difficult to believe that he wouldn’t nt have found out about Maeve’s little tour of the facilities, and allowed it to happen, considering how much else he knows.

When Elsie starts asking too many questions of Bernard he has Bernard, take her out of commission. When Stubbs gets a little too curious about Bernard, he gets kidnapped by Ghost Nation Natives. So now the head of security is in absentia, security is now mostly automated, and anyone who would’ve been asking legitimate questions, or getting in the way, (Theresa, Elsie, Bernard, Stubbs) is now gone.

Which gives me a huge feeling of dread about Ford’s new narrative, and what that might mean for the Delos Board, who he has invited to  come  check it out. Charlotte and the MIB are already present in the Park. In all likelihood, Ford already knows about how Charlotte has suborned Lee’s loyalty, and her plans to use Peter Abernathy, to smuggle tech out of the Park.

Incidentally, the names Robert and Bernard are both of Germanic origin. Robert means famous, or shining, entirely in keeping with his narcissistic nature. Bernard means hearty, and brave, like a bear. Bern is the old German word for Bear. Jeffrey Wright does look somewhat bear-ish, and we can see Bernard’s ability to go from Teddy bear, to berserker in a hot instant.

Arnold on the other hand means Eagle Power. One who has the power of an eagle, which could be a reference to Arnold’s hovering everywhere, and influencing everything in the plot, and yet being nowhere at all, since he’s dead. Bernard Lowe, which is an anagram of Arnold Weber, is a clone of Arnold, and is also the Head of Westworld’s Programming Division, which oversees the coding and programming of all of Westworld’s Hosts.

The Man in Black/William:

I’m convinced now more than ever that William is the MIB, mostly based on all the things the MIB has said, rather than anything William has done. We’ll see if the show gives us this last theory during the finale. I have it on good authority that Ed Harris will be returning for a second season, so we’ll know, when we know.

Note that the Man in Black has no name, but William means resolute protector, which we’ve seen William try to be for Dolores, trying, but failing, to  protect her from Logan. How someone who is Dolores’ resolute protector, later turns out to be her worst nightmare, is anybody’s guess.

In case anybody cares, Logan’s name is completely appropriate for him, derived from the Gaelic word lagan, which means “hollow”, which perfectly describes this shallow, over-privileged character, who can’t seem to think beyond his base appetites.

Charlotte is the feminized name of Charles, or Charlie, which is also the name of Bernard’s (or rather Arnold’s) dead son.

Maeve/The Bird:

I was struck by the image of the sparrow perching on Maeve’s finger,when she first wakes up in the lab, and one of my online friends thought that there might have been some significance to that image. The only thing I could think of was that in mythology, such birds are often considered psychpomps:

(in Greek mythology) a guide of souls to the place of the dead.
the spiritual guide of a living person’s soul. 

Felix had just revived this bird, so the bird was dead, and presumably, in the afterlife, and when it returned and landed on Maeve’s finger, one could argue that it brought back a soul.
Also, Maeve is a name rooted in the Gaelic language, which means “one who intoxicates”, after the Fairy Queen known as Medb (or Mabh, in English), and yes, she does seem to be enchanting to Felix, and now  has the superpower to make other Hosts do her bidding. Her last name is the name of a poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who wrote the poem First Fig  and was controversial, in early American society, by being openly bi-sexual.

‘First Fig’

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light.

Maeve reached “awareness” extremely fast, rather than the more roundabout manner which we saw for Dorothy, and like Roy Batty from Bladerunner would say: “The light that burns twice as fast, burns half as long.” Its possible that either Maeve, or her rebellion, will burn out, before she is successful.

 

Angela and Theodore:

In Angela, I have been neglecting another fully realized Host. The MIB says he remembers her, and we remember her, as the first Host William  met, when he came to Westworld. This is the same Host who wouldn’t answer his question about whether or not she was real. She is also fully conscious, and her remarks to Teddy, about how Wyatt wasn’t there yet, and bringing Teddy back into the fold, along with Teddy’s  vision of a massacre he participated in, make me want to believe that Teddy is actually Wyatt. I don’t know that he is, but sometimes all the character’s choice of words, and turns of phrase, are very interesting.

Teddy’s visions aren’t nearly as reliable as we think. When all this started, he kept seeing Wyatt killing the town of  Escalante: (Escalante is a Spanish last name  meaning climber, or one who climbs. The Dictionary of American Family Names traces its origin to the Latin word scala referring to a terraced slope, or ladder. ) I’m sure there’s some deeper meaning in naming the town, where the Hosts first pass the Turing Test, Escalante.

Teddy’s vision of that massacre later changed to him helping Wyatt, and still later, it changed to just Teddy doing it, with Wyatt’s help. At any rate, Angela has all the answers. She’s also the only Host we’ve ever seen working outside the Park, and she didn’t show up in the Park until after Ford’s talk with the MIB, which makes me think she could’ve been planted in that place by Ford, to impart specific information about Wyatt, and the location of the town of Escalante, to the MIB.

Note that Angela’s name means “Messenger of the Gods”, which is entirely appropriate, if Ford sent her to them. She absolutely insists on calling Teddy “Theodore”, which almost no one else does.  Its telling that Theodore means “God -given”, coupled with the name Flood, an unusual last name, which means an outpouring, surge, or torrent of emotion.

 

Westworld: Revisiting the Slave Narrative

*Okay people, I’m about to get offensive to some of y’all with this post but I’m standing by my observations. (This is of a piece with my other Westworld meta about Dolores and Maeve.) Yeah, robot rebellion movies are also about a lot of other things, but you know what they say, once is an happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action.

 If you’re offended by this post, I don’t need you to come in my inbox telling me how wrong my opinion is, and I’m not particularly interested in arguing  about it, so  comments are off for this one.

White people always seem to be looking for new bullying opportunities. New wars, new slaves, new enemies.

Ava DuVernay on How ’13th’ Reframes American History – The Atlantic

*Slavery lasted roughly 245 years followed by what some like to call “Slavery 2.0″, in which the 13th amendment allowed it to continue, just under a different name. See:”Slavery By Another Name

Image result for killer robots

Because  not having  Black people as slaves was so incredibly traumatic for them, White people couldn’t simply couldn’t let go of the institution. America is always casting around for its next slave race, its next victim, its next big war against…whoever, and if they can’t enslave and/or bully PoC, well  then they’ll just have to create brand new ones. Yes, White people have been working diligently to create the next race of beings that they hope won’t protest their shoddy treatment.

White people are reliving slavery and  its aftereffects just as much as Black people. But among Whites it takes the form of guilt and/or atonement, and this is often reflected in the entertainments they create. Movies are often a way for a society to collectively deal with traumatic issues. Hollywood has not only created an entire genre of movies, and TV shows, where they have designed robots to be humanity’s servants but, like  the Japanese reliving their trauma around the atomic bomb in endless Godzilla movies, American filmgoers can experience punishment from the hands of their former slaves, in movie after movie. For every feel good movie about Black people during slavery, there’s a corresponding movie about some future slave rebellion, that doesn’t actually have any Black people in it, (The Matrix is exempt from this), because that would probably  be hitting too close to home, I guess. It’s easy for Hollywood to make movies about Black brutalization, but when slaves turn on their masters, that can only be told in allegory. (Note how few movies exist about actual slave rebellions.)

From Metropolis and Bladerunner, to  The Matrix and  Ex Machina, the theme of  karmic retribution for slavery,  is so common, there’s an entire genre centered around it. The HBO show, Westworld, is just the latest example of the slave rebellion narrative. Not only is the plot of the show  an allegory for slavery, its set during a time period when slavery actually existed. The irony of people visiting a theme park that is set during a time period when people regularly committed atrocities, against actual human beings, so they can entertain themselves by  committing atrocities against fake human beings, is not lost on many critics. Not to mention that nowhere on Westworld is slavery ever mentioned, even though it’s set in, or just after that time. The closest we get is the mention of the Confederados, who lost the war.

*The word robot itself comes from the word Robota, the Czech word meaning “forced labor”, or “slavery”, and from a 1920 story by the Czech playwright,  Karel Capek , about a factory of artificial humans who turn on their robot masters.

Rise, O Machines: Why Hollywood’s Best Robot Stories Are About …

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White people don’t want to openly acknowledge slavery,except in the most defensive tones, nevertheless, they keep making endless allegories about it in popular fiction. I think these type of movies are both wish fulfillment and phobia. White people  can see themselves be punished, over and over, and through such punishment, seek to atone for their collective sin, and prepare themselves for the imagined future, in which PoC have the upper hand, and can no longer be dominated by them. You have to wonder, on some level, White people want to be punished, for the atrocities their ancestors committed. In film after film robots want to destroy humanity for past transgressions and maybe some future ones, too.

I must have watched about a couple dozen “bad robot” movies before this idea took hold, but what spurred this particular line of thought now, was watching Westworld, empathisozing with the Hosts, and seeing the level of abuse the Hosts are designed to tolerate at the hands of the Guests, from Dolores’ cyclical victimization, to the blond Host  we saw get shot in the street, her death throes cheered by the Guests. I’ve watched, over the years,  countless numbers of  movies and TV shows where robots have been  misused by humanity, and are rightfully angry.

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In The Matrix, the machines fought a decades long war with humans, managing to subdue them, making humans  incapable of ever harming  them again, by regularly culling their population. Does this movie not echo the exact fears of the Alt-Right, and White Nationalists, who believe there’s a White genocide taking place, and that “those Brown people” will take over, and not just punish White people, but destroy all of Western civilization. Although, ironically, in that very belief,  is the assumption that White people must be punished for something. What are they being punished for? Why is revenge sought? And revenge for what? I’ve had discussions with White people who insist that Black people are really, really, angry about slavery. I’ve also observed that most racist beliefs are little more than projections of racists’ sins onto the backs of others. So, what I hear when White people say such things is: White people are afraid that Black people are angry about slavery, (while never acknowledging the hundred years of abuse that came afterwards.)

All this anxiety about slavery isn’t our burden.

Its theirs.

*’There was trauma and never any treatment or acknowledgment of what the trauma did to those that were enslaved or their progeny. Black people are “profoundly resilient,” posits DeGruy, but the fact is, they have been traumatized … and white people are afraid. Why the fear? Perhaps it is because white people feel like black people will eventually retaliate and heap upon them what they have heaped upon black people. Perhaps it is because they worry they will lose control; white supremacy is, after all, a giant system of social control. Slavery was about control, as is mass incarceration. This government was founded on the need for white people to be in control. To think about losing it is way too scary.’

– Dr. Joy A. DeGruy, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing.

*Rebellion:

“A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders.”

https://psmag.com/can-westworld-give-us-new-ways-of-talking-about-slavery-2b921b6a6690#.j9gxqet6t

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In Bladerunner, the Replicants, one of the semi-organic cyborgs used as slaves in “the Outer Colonies”, (oddly Westworld’s Hosts are seemingly the precursor to these beings) are led by Roy Batty, who comes to Earth to find the human who made him. Replicants were banned from Earth after a bloody mutiny in one of the colonies. Zhora and Pris are sex workers, and Leon is a common laborer, (ironically he’s a robot robot). There may have been a bunch of reasons given for banning them from Earth, but that the Replicants might turn on their human masters, had to have been at least one of them.

Roy eventually ends up killing his maker, who says he can’t help Roy extend his lifespan beyond the four years given to all Replicants. Why four years? To keep them from developing emotions linked to having long memories. Four years is also helpful, as the Replicants die before they have an opportunity to build up a decades long list of abuses,  inflicted on them by their makers. Unlike the Hosts of Westworld, Replicants are fully cognizant.They know what they are and what they’re capable of. Rebellions by the Replicants would be a lot more frequent and bloody, if they were allowed to build a huge database of atrocities committed against them. Its also greatly convenient for  humanity that Replicants die before enough of them can organize enough to be successful. In Bladerunner, we saw what just four of them could accomplish in their limited lifespans. Can you imagine how much power they’d have after several decades, to plan their revenge? You’d get  the  basic plot of Battlestar Galactica, and there is a clear through-line from the Hosts, to the Replicants, to the Cylons.

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http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/did-african-american-slaves-rebel/

One of the primary beliefs of modern White supremacy,( which has changed and evolved over the centuries, as PoC have enjoyed more freedom),  is  that Black and Brown people, having once been the  servants,  are out to get White people for past transgressions. White racists believe if PoC should ever gain enough power, we will do to White people, what they have done to us.

Of course, in order to hold such a belief, such a person, on some level, are well aware of the things they have done to other races, and that what they did was worth being angry about. In order for such a revenge fantasy to exist, there has to be some event that occurred for vengeance to be desired. This has most recently culminated in the backlash that is the Trump campaign, of which one of the overriding fears, is  that Black and Brown people are taking over, gaining too much power, and that White people are now being oppressed, and will soon be destroyed. For some White people this is an idea that has moved beyond just a fear to, in their minds, despite all evidence to the contrary,  a reality.

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White filmmakers have been complicit in reinforcing and  reiterating  this fear, in which the slave turns on its master. Skynet, from the Terminator films, decides to wipe out all of humanity, when humans make the mistake of trying to unplug it. The entire premise of the  TV remake, Battlestar Galactica,  is based on robots wanting to wipe out humanity for past atrocities committed against them. The Daleks of Dr. Who have, rather ironically for robots, an unreasoning hatred of all humanity, and work diligently to wipe us all out.The Borg of Star Trek want to consume humanity. The Matrix wants to keep humanity in submission so it doesn’t continue to commit the atrocities of the past. The Claws from the 1995 movie Screamers, having been created to destroy war enemies, and completed their first mission, found new purpose in destroying everyone else. Hal 9000, wants to kill all humans for reasons known only to himself. And in the latest iteration of this fear, Ultron,  from The Avengers films, attempts to wipe out humanity, because we’re simply no good.

Artificial Intelligence Robot claims it will destroy human race – HackRead

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/11/westworld-theories-world-outside

Future Enemies:

White genocide is a white nationalist conspiracy theory that mass immigration, integration, miscegenation, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries to deliberately turn them minority-white and hence cause white people to become extinct through forced assimilation.

Now tell me this doesn’t sound like the plot of a Star Trek movie, starring the Borg, a conglomeration of alien races that seek to absorb, consume, or forcefully assimilate, all other galactic species,  in an effort to improve its existence. This  also sounds a lot like the projections of a group of people who have done just that throughout history. Throughout the Alt-Right community is the belief in a coming race war, which will put Blacks, gay people, feminists, and everyone else, who isn’t falling in line with White (specifically male) Supremacy, back in their proper places, which is: under the complete control of White men.

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Anytime any racial incident occurs in the US, for example, cries of “race war” erupt from the outer fringes of the American political system. Although not all of the proponents of race war are White, they are the main ones howling for just such a conclusion to America’s racial tensions. They see war (and their inevitable win) as the answer to solving America’s “race problem”. Such people often long for the apocalypse because afterwards they can remake the world into their fantasy images of the past, with PoC, and White women dead or submissive, as they believe such people should be. At their foundation, these fantasies are just  another way to re-establish White supremacy (which has never been lost), or to prop up the flagging manhood of its proponents. Having won this so-called “war”, one need never experience guilt or fear about race ever again, having proven beyond a doubt, that White men are superior to all others.

White Americans are always looking for whatever next great war, that will lead to their power fantasies coming true. So far American Black people have not been cooperative in giving it to them. In their efforts to find it, they cast their net far and wide (Muslims, Gays, Immigrants). One the staples of early films were the swarms of “Othered” Menaces out to destroy White manhood, tand fragile White femininity, a topic approached again and again , not just in the genre of  Science Fiction, but in Action (The Road Warrior) , Horror (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), and War (Birth of a Nation) movies.

Since most filmmakers have  gotten publicly vilified for casting Poc as hostile, screaming hordes, (I’m looking at you No Escape, Daredevil,  Blackhawk Down, and anything produced in the 80s) movies have had to settle for non-human antagonists, which are a  perfect fit: from the endless crowds of robots, (and robot-adjacent Stormtroopers), being mowed down by the heroes in Star Wars, and I Robot, to the  massive swarms of  alien hordes in Independence Day and Star Trek Beyond, to the  giant robot battles in Avengers:Age of Ultron. Yes, these swarms of destroyers of the human race make for some very exciting films but these “Menacing Swarm”  films also weren’t being made in such numbers, until after World War II, when Communism, The Red Menace, became the new threat to American soverignty, and seemed to reach their peak after the fall of Communist Russia and The Berlin Wall, in the 90s. Without the Communists to be afraid of, Hollywood had to cast around for some new enemies, and everybody who wasn’t White, straight, male, and Christian got a chance to audition for the role. (After some major tryouts by all others, for which Hollywood was duly censured, Americans seemed to have settled on Muslims, which is a diffuse enough category to include everyone and no one, since “Muslim”isn’t a race, but does happen to include many non-White people.)

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Machines may have many different reasons for wanting to destroy humanity, but the end result is a war between human and machine, in which there can be only one. Much like their fantasy race wars, there can be no equality, no living together in peaceful harmony, no cooperation. For such  mindsets, life is a zero sum game, where someone  must be in power over the other.

Whites and the Fear Caused by White Supremacy

PoC need White people to acknowledge their past because not only can PoC not be free when White people are feeling terrified, and guilty, but they can’t be free either. They can be easily controlled by their fears, and insecurities, and PoC can’t fix something that’s really only inside them. By not acknowledging and dealing with the  past , White people become easy prey for politicians like Trump, and can be stampeded in any direction, even their own destruction, as we’ve just seen during this election. White people who keep telling us to let go of the past refuse to understand that none of us can let it go, until they let it go. Its long past time for White people to confront their fears, instead of running away,  but then endlessly reliving them, in their entertainments. It’s their inability to acknowledge the past that informs every facet of their lives, from where they live, to how they socialize, to the entertainments they enjoy.

Movies don’t just tell us how to think about the world around us. Since the vast majority of these movies are made by White men, they reflect what these men think about the rest of the world, and one can glean a greater understanding of what White people think about the world based on the entertainments they enjoy, which largely seem to consist of endless violent fantasies about having or being powerful . (Contrast this with the kinds of movies made by PoC and white women.)

 Bad Robot movies: Deadly Friend, Avengers Age of Ultron, I Robot, Bladerunner, Hardware, The Terminator, Ex Machina, 2001, Battlestar Galactica, Westworld, Humans, Metropolis, Saturn 3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_robots_and_androids

 

 

 

Hannibal Season 2: Tome-Wan

Tome-Wan would at first appear to be one of these interstitial episodes between momentous events, but a number of important events happen in this episode , so its not filler.

There are a number of confrontations, in the aftermath of Will snitching to Mason about how the whole situation between Mason, Margot, and Will was orchestrated by Hannibal.

Will tells Hannibal what he said to Mason, and when Hannibal asks why, he tells him he wanted to see what would happen, throwing back at Hannibal his excuse for why Hannibal warned Garrett Jacob-Hobbes, long ago in that first episode. There are a number of callbacks by Will to that first season.

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Hannibal asks Will to close his eyes and imagine what he’d like Mason to do to Hannibal. Will imagines Hannibal hanging from the rafters in Mason’s pigpen, wearing a straitjacket. In his mind he is the one who slits Hannibal’s throat. Will is suffering from a severe case of “lovehate”. Hannibal has been the architect of so much misery that he can’t wait to see him dead (or captured). At the same time, there’s a part of him that finds all of this exciting, and revels in Hannibal’s antics. Will gets to use his hidden  savage self in service to the state, and loves letting that part of himself of its leash. You can see it in the last episode where he confronted Mason.

Mason confronts Hannibal during his next therapy session. He’s being especially hard on Hannibal’s nerves, as he critiques his drawings, declaring them to be crap, throwing his feet onto Hannibal’s desk, and stabbing at them with a penknife, like a bratty ten year old, which is exactly where Mason is, mentally. He hasn’t evolved beyond the spoiled child stage, and doesn’t seem to realize that he is dealing with a wholly different type of animal than anything he’s ever encountered. Mason is a small fish that, because of his narcissism, thinks he’s pretty big, in a big pond. He doesn’t even conceive that he’s dealing with  Hannibal the  Great White.

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Mason tells Hannibal that he should have stayed out of Verger family business, and threatens to slit his throat. Hannibal, who never gives anything of himself away, acts completely unperturbed, so you know that Mason is  a walking dead man, and that Hannibal have to do this himself, since Will isn’t cooperating with his masterplan of having Will kill Mason. Watch Hannibal’s face during this scene. You can see he is barely holding himself back from snapping the shit outta that little fucker. (Not in the office, Hannibal! Not in the office! – In the voice of Last Week’s John Oliver.)

In Margot’s therapy session with Hannibal, she is broken and restrained. After her forced hysterectomy, (which his quite possibly one of the most heinous things ever done on this show, and that’s saying something, when you consider this is a a show about serial killers.), she has learned her lesson about trying to oppose her brother, and all her hope is lost.In fact all seems lost for everyone, as there are a number of setbacks for all the characters, in this episode.

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Jack Crawford, who is frustrated at how long its taking Will to ensnare Hannibal, has a surprise for Will. He has found and detained Bedelia Du’Maurier, Hannibal’s former psychiatrist. She tried to run away because she knew Hannibal was dangerous for her, but the FBI has done her the favor of putting her back on his radar, as he was too busy with his machinations with Will, to search for her himself.

Will questions Bedelia about Hannibal’s weaknesses. She tells him of her fear of him, how he manipulates others into doing his dirty work for him, something which Will is experiencing first hand, and confesses about the patient Hannibal set her up to kill.She says Hannibal will persuade Will to kill someone he loves, but the only person Will has left to love is Alana. Hannibal has carefully removed everyone else from Will’s life, including the idea of his unborn child.

Hannibal may  be aware of how much Will hates him, during their next therapy session, but he completely disregards the depths to which Will will sink in pursuit of him. Will accuses Hannibal of fostering co-dependency. Hannibal doesn’t want anyone in Will’s life but himself. Which, when you think about it, is one of Hannibal’s creepier aspects.

While Hannibal is drawing one evening, Mason’s henchman, Carlo, bursts in and kidnaps Hannibal, but not without a fight in which Mateo, a friend of Carlo, loses his life, after Hannibal stabs him in the femoral artery with a scalpel.. Carlo stuns Hannibal,  takes him to Muskrat Farm, and trusses him over Mason’s pigpen. This is directly from the book and movie, Hannibal, where Mason Verger has Hannibal in this same position.

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Just as in his imagining, Will is prodded by Mason to slit Hannibal’s throat. We’re not sure exactly whats going on in Will’s mind. He certainly hates Hannibal, but when given an opportunity to kill him he balks, and later when given the opportunity to capture Hannibal, he warns him instead. Does Will even know what he wants, or why? Instead of cutting his throat, Will frees Hannibal but gets knocked out by Carlo for his troubles. Hannibal just leaves Will there unconscious and spirits Mason away for some,  more private, torture.

When Will wakes up he finds blood streaked everywhere, no sign of mason and Carlo’s body, which was eaten by the pigs. He goes back to his home to find Hannibal there with Mason. Hannibal has drugged Mason and induced him to cut off pieces of his flesh, using his father’s knife, and feed it to Will’s dogs. I’m not sure how lost Will is in this scene. He seems  amused at what Hannibal is doing. Is he happy because he finally has evidence of Hannibal doing something actionable in front of him, or is he simply amused at Hannibal’s antics? In a  nastily gruesome scene, Hannibal also orders Mason to cut off his lips and nose, and eat them. What makes this scene especially grotesque is Mason’s mental state. As he happily mutilates his face, he still crack plenty of jokes, about it.

Finally disturbed , Will urges Hannibal to finish Mason, but canny predator that he is, Hannibal doesn’t kill Mason. Instead he carefully paralyzes Mason with a precise break of his neck.

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Weeks later, Jack Crawford questions Mason about what happened to him, but Mason says he fell into his own pigpen, and  sings nothing but praises for Hannibal Lecter’s care. But we know better. This shit ain’t over as far as Mason is concerned. Or maybe it is. As Jack leaves, Mason is confronted by Margot, who tells him that she will take very good care of him. She’s the one in power now. I really love this scene, for the look of deep gratification on Margot’s face, as she says this.

Later, Will and Hannibal are debating whether  to confess their sins to Jack, or not. Hannibal weighs the idea that Jack should be told, and then killed, after which he and Will will run off together.

On Tumblr

 *On a lighter note, heres a lot of silly shit that ended up in my Tumblr feed. Be sure to scroll down to the Church’s Chicken protesters.

*First up, any posts in praise of my precious cinnamon bun, John Boyega, and by attachment, Finn, is always going to give me a happy.

Why Finn is the Best Character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

*The through line under this heading is that you could disagree but you’d be wrong. I am in full agreement with that statement.

Also, this person goes in depth on analyzing Finn’s fighting style. 

Finn’s lightsaber form?

force-2187:

I’ve been wondering about what type of combat form Finn would employ as a Jedi.

We know he’s very adept at a blaster, so I imagine Finn would a damn pro at deflecting blaster bolts back to their source. Like, that would be his signature move. So, for defence, I see him using Shien. In fact, I firmly believe that Finn holds his lightsaber in the reverse grip a la Galen Marek.

As for offensive … Finn’s style is quite aggressive and determined. We can see he puts a lot of strength behind his attacks, he only lacks the proper training. Like the times he put in hits, they were quite powerful and had a great effect (impaling Stormtrooper; slashing Ren’s shoulder). He just has trouble defending himself in lightsaber fights, so Shien would help him a lot there. I see him using Djem So, giving out attacks with brute strength. He even uses the Falling Avalancheattack while fighting Kylo Ren:

According to the wikiThe characteristic Djem So attack was dubbed the “Falling Avalanche,”[9]an overhand power blow that crashed down upon an opponent with exceptional force.

In fact, when Kylo dodges this, Finn falls over from the sheer strength of his attack. That alone shows us the brute power he has, whether that’s Force enhanced or not.

Here is Finn attempting a strong jab at FN-2199, singlehandedly. Finn has a certain grace with the lightsaber weapon. While he has not mastered it yet, nor is he exactly comfortable with it (it’s much lighter than the baton he is used to), it’s evident that he is confident with it. The lightsaber is not an ill-fitting or uncomfortable weapon in his hand. There is no doubt in my mind that he is Force Sensitive.

Finn uses the Falling Avalanche again, with considerable success:

image

Another similarity between Finn and Anakin’s styles is that both seek to gain distance between their opponent, and then go to land the first powerful strike to put them off-balance. Anakin does this by kicking his opponent away and then advancing, while Finn moves away himself after parrying attacks, assesses his opponent, and then runs towards them to land a blow. Now that I think of it, Finn would be a Master at Djem So!

Because Finn is so firmly on the Light Side and is obviously hard to seduce to the Dark (I mean, years of brainwashing couldn’t) it’s safe to assume he has a lot of self control. I believe that after intense training, and mastery of the Force, Finn would be amazing at Vaapad. His style already is aggressive and powerful, and he has a lot of self-reflection and empathy skills, so I can imagine him easily accepting and understanding the Darkness of his opponent and conducting it to feed his own power. Finn has his own Darkness, as we see in his rage-fuelled fight in the forest, but he can control it and won’t fall to the Dark as easily.

I think Finn will become a very powerful Jedi. I don’t care if he lost all his fights in TFA. Luke did, too, before he became one of the most powerful Jedi ever. The only reason people underestimate Finn now is because they’ve seen Rey defeat Kylo, when Rey has had to fight with her staff (same weight as lightsaber) all the time while growing up, and uses the same techniques with the lightsaber as well. I definitely think she’ll use either Niman or Juyo, and you’ll have to prise double-bladed lightsaber Rey out of my cold, dead hands. Besides, Rey has a clear parallel with Obi-Wan in his fight with Darth Maul: after their loved one has been struck down, they fight the bad guy as revenge and in anger and win. However, Finn has parallels with Luke and Anakin: he loses his first fight against the primary antagonist, who actually works under a bigger antagonist, but still shows exceptional skill. There is a strong Finn/Luke parallel in TFA/ESB. This also leads me to believe that it will be Finn vs. Kylo Ren in the final battle, and then Rey vs. Snoke.

What do y’all think?

(you guys seemed interested, so I’m taggin you: @anhamirak @kyloandfinnren @boyega-john@luminousfinn @errrbodylovesfinn @spacefinns )

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* How you gonna tell someone that honoring or celebrating their culture is divisive? You can try it, but the next time you see me, I’m going to be wearing an Afro, one of those Black Power hair picks, a daishiki over a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and a red black and green headband, with matching coffee mug. I’m gonna be the blackest Black person you have ever seen.

As soon as the word “Divisive” flies out of a white person’s mouth my brain goes into hybernation mode. Nothing they can say after that is valid and shit before that will be rendered invalid.

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*For some reason, this parody of racism in fandom just gave me the giggles, for the rest of the day. “White demon” definitely reminds me of Hannibal Lecter.

A black character: * has those grey morals white people are always nutting over, has Deep Issues and enough Tiny Expressions to fill a book*

the yts: :/ wow he’s :/ he’s really toxic and violent, isn’t he? i :/ i’m very uncomfortable with how he raised his voice to my pure, white angel uwu

A white demon: *is an actual demon, kills people, blinked once*

the yts: !! this ! he’s so pure! did you see how he blinked ? ohmygod give this man an oscar already! look at how his eyes closed for one second and opened the next!! do you know!! do you know what that means!!

Source:

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*On the other hand, The Ascension can only occur anyway after the release of The Black Panther movie, in 2018, so the hell with Han Solo, cuz Black people won’t be here for it.

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The people on Tumblr love to parody  Benedict Cumberbatch’s name. I know its wrong to mock  someone’s  name but I can’t help it. Some of these names are so ridiculous, you can’t help but laugh. I’ve even found an entire website with nothing but name parodies for Mr. Cumberbatch:

I’m pretty sure his name is pronounced Benadryl Combustible

i’m pretty sure they mean Benzene Carbonmonoxide

Benedict Cucumberbitch

Bumbershoot Crumblebread

Bicycle Crashandfall

Bettyboop cabbagepatch

Burgerking Custardbath

bentdick cumberbumble

Bendydirt cumberbutt

Battletoad Pimplerash

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*Well, this makes perfect sense.

helimir:

I think the reason why Tolkien keeps referring to “the bow of Legolas” and “the voice of Legolas” and “the arrows of Legolas” is that he doesn’t want to write “Legolas’s”

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*I would say this is an accurate definition. Well, obviously we don’t need a Black Widow movie, if ScarJo can just keep stealing roles from WoC. What’s she gonna do next? Foxxy Brown? 

attentiondonor:

white feminism is scarlett johansson being offended by misogynistic interview questions, but staying silent when depriving an asian american actress’ opportunity to play a Japanese character.

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*The next time someone comes in your mentions arguing about the Historical accuracy of some Fantasy film, just think of this post, and have a good laugh.

copperbadge: “ hansbekhart: “ astronema-princess-of-all-evil: “ atlas-pt: “ southernsideofme: “ Historical footage of the last T-Rex serving his country in WWl. ” But isn’t that a Jeep? And the T-Rex is holding a…Browning M2? Which wasn’t used until...

Source: southernsideofme

Historical footage of the last T-Rex serving his country in WWl.

But isn’t that a Jeep? And the T-Rex is holding a…Browning M2? Which wasn’t used until 1933…

So I think this footage is actually of WW2.

I’m living for this historical accuracy

Historical accuracy is so important you guys

I agree that it’s WWII, because aside from the Browning and the Jeep, that’s much too small to be one of the last true T-Rexes, which were definitively wiped out in the battle of the Somme.

It’s probably a Nanuqsaurus Hoglundi – they’re similar but smaller so it’s easy to make the mistake. N. Hoglundi, known to soldiers as Hogs, were used for light artillery up through 1954, when PETA (Paleontologists for the Ethical Treatment of Anachronisms, no relation) got on the military’s case about it. The last Hog to serve in the military died in the Brookfield Zoo in something like 1979, I think?

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*Who put this on the internet? And why?
nobigotzone: “ It made me laugh. ”

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*I’ve actually done some of these things. That coffee cup thing actually works. People think you’re a responsible grownup with a job and everything.

unpretty:

ways i have tricked people into thinking i am competent:

  • bought a really nice looking fountain pen
  • that sounds like a joke but fountain pens are cheap as shit and when you use one people look at you like you’re a fucking wizard
    • this hero 901 cost me $3 on ebay and i don’t know why people assume that this is a pen for intelligent people but they do
    • it works better when i am using a nice notebook and not the avengers notebook that makes it look like the hulk is grabbing my sweet pen
    • i write in code which for some reason leads everyone to assume that i am some kind of da vinci motherfucker, instead of the reality, which is that i am writing about dicks and don’t want anyone to know
    • it looks like i am constantly taking notes on everything which is both intimidating and inaccurate, just the way i like it
    • i bought a usb clicker/laser pointer for $11 and now it seems like i’ve got this shit on lock, like i am so pro at giving presentations i even own accessories
    • holding a clicker makes you seem at least 10% more like you know what you’re talking about i’m pretty sure
    • i check the weekly freebies on creativemarket every monday so now i have a huge folder of pro-looking website themes and powerpoint templates and fill-in-the-blank resumes (also a lot of autumnal clipart and watercolor flowers and script fonts but that is less relevant)
    • i bought a ceramic coffee mug at world market years ago and it makes me look like a productive coffee-drinker because no one knows it’s full of hot cocoa
    • i don’t know why drinking coffee makes you look busy it just does even though i’m pretty sure it statistically reduces productivity
      • bonus: not only does no one know i’m just drinking Depression Chocolate but they think i am being Environmentally Conscious rather than Poor As Shit
      • extra bonus: i can take a sip whenever it looks like someone is going to ask a question and then they ask someone else
      • i almost never have to answer questions and i leave the room a lot because i have to pee constantly so double extra bonus
      • “That’s a very good question, and one that deserves an in-depth answer, so if you’d like to leave me your card I’d be happy to discuss it with you later one-on-one” aka “how DARE you suggest i waste everyone’s time answering this question right now” aka “lmfao i have no fucking clue what you just said please let me secretly google that okay”
      • bonus: now it seems like you are a sophisticated grownup who assumes everyone has A Card and if they have to settle for writing their email on a scrap of paper you can feel smug about it even though in your heart you know that you are no better
      • i’ve got anxiety and poor impulse control and anxiety about my poor impulse control so i generally say jack shit about shit and this constant silence is often misinterpreted as aloof observation
      • no one knows that my air of mystery is actually a bad case of the shy and i am too shy to correct them so it works out
      • when i’m on my laptop and i don’t want anyone to notice how much i’m dicking around i turn the brightness way down so they can’t snoop without being obvious
      • at least one window of notepad++ with some random html page or css stylesheet in it makes randos assume you are some kind of genius doing some genius shit, unless they are CS major randos, in which case i guess find an intimidating looking excel spreadsheet and hope for the best
      Source: unpretty

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      @

      *True fax!

    • @
      @
  • And general good news as The Queen, The Goddess, Michelle Yeoh, gets picked up for the new Star Trek TV show, and Pacific Rim has a fairly large Chinese cast, headed by a Black dude, John Boyega. I’m just giving my money away next 

‘Pacific Rim 2’ adds Chinese action star Zhang Jin to its roster

Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, starring Star Wars’ John Boyega, has added another actor to the cast list, rounding out a fairly sizable Chinese cast.

*Michelle Yeoh will appear in ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ according to producer

The Walking Dead Season 7: The Cell

Normally, I’d review this episode myself, but it’s the night before the election, I just got through a harrowingly emotional episode of Westworld, and I’m not in the best frame of mind. I know my emotional capacity and I’m just not ready to watch  Daryl, one of my favorite characters, be tortured for an hour. My brain is tired. Nope! I’m not ready for it.

But, I came across this excellent review, at Supernatural Sisters. I couldn’t reblogged the post but I can steer you in their direction. The owners of this site are Af-Am women with an acute interest in all things Horror. It’s rare to find Black women who are interested in horror, so naturally, I fell in love.

They also do some top notch Supernatural, Game of Thrones, and Teen Wolf reviews, book recommendations, and posts on Horror mythology and cryptozoology . It’s great! Check it out!

Here’s Sunday’s review of The Walking Dead:

The Walking Dead S07E03 Review: The Cell

Westworld Analysis: Dolores and Maeve

Westworld is a feminist narrative hiding in plain sight. The Westworld’s logo/sculpture, based on Da Vinci’s Vitruvian/Ideal Man drawing, is actually the body of a woman, and the primary protagonists/antagonists are women,  Dolores, who has had everyone’s attention for five episodes, and Maeve who’s awakening has hidden just below everyone’s radar. Dolores’ path to enlightenment is flashier and more upfront, but I believe it’s Maeve who will spark the true robot rebellion. It’s not an accident that these two women, one Black, one White, were chosen to be the pov of the robot rebellion of Westworld, where its primary setting is a time period in which women  were limited to only two roles, the Whore, or the Virgin.

The Madonna-Whore complex has been baked into Western society since Judeo-Christianity rose to prominence. Named by Sigmund Freud, the complex stuffs women into two mutually exclusive boxes: women men respect and women men want to sleep with. Madonnas are virgins and mothers, kind and submissive. Whores are sexually promiscuous, raunchy and aggressive. The idea infiltrates pop culture in so many ways, from the Final Girls in horror films and Disney Princesses to Betty and Veronica and Taylor Swift music videos. Madonnas are to be lifted up and venerated; whores are to be lusted after and discarded. But Westworld has other ideas. Subversive ideas.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/harpy/despite-the-orgies-westworld-has-shockingly-feminist-pthemes#xqEmWuZjfIVwCYQ8.99

Image result for westworld dolores

Earlier this year, I reblogged an article about the show Daredevil, and its ignorant reliance on the Virgin/Whore Dichotomy, within its narrative. Marvel got it wrong because they  obviously did not think it through, and merely presented the stereotypes without any comment on their greater impact to the story. (Marvel isn’t very good at deep thinking in general, and what progressive feminist considerations we’ve gotten are largely because of the actors and directors. It’s certainly not from any of the writers, who seem to emphasize style over substance.)

Westworld gets it right, and the argument can be made that this is the point.  It’s no accident that Dolores is a White, blonde, virginal, damsel in distress, who is meant to be loved and rescued by the hero, Teddy, and that Maeve is a Black woman, treated as disposable, and a saloon whore, who Teddy only flirts with. He makes no promises to save Maeve, or take her away from all this. He is programmed to only have eyes for Dolores. In fact, nothing about these women’s storylines is an accident, and some amount  of actual thought was put into their characters, and plot arcs. I know these are not accidents, not just because of the plotline, but because of the things the characters say, and this is something that will have greater impact on the plot than most viewers think.

Image result for westworld dolores

Before the show aired, there were criticisms aimed at the writers for its depiction of  violence towards women, and the fear that, as in GoT, it is gratuitous. If you’ve been watching, Dolores is regularly threatened and assaulted, not just by the Guests, but the other Hosts as well. Why? So that Teddy can be her hero. The writers of Westworld directly addressed these concerns, saying that the violence wasn’t just for titillation, and the violence we see aimed at Dolores, in particular, serves a plot purpose. We can see that happening, as Dolores has begun to evolve beyond her programming, and in the last episode she said she was no longer going to be a damsel. In other words, her recollection of the violence done against her, has aided in her awakening to consciousness, and the decision to choose her own fate. She is tired of her pain being used to further other people’s stories rather than her own.

Dolores cannot rely on Teddy to save her, as he is a false hero. He is a trap meant to keep her in her loop. In his first encounter with the MIB, he is gunned down, and the MIB goes on to violate her. She cannot depend on Teddy to save her, or take her away from her pain. No matter how much he cherishes her, he cannot free her, echoing the real world equivalent of White women’s journey to liberation.  She abandons Teddy and his false promises, to be with William, and from there, she  begins to come into her power. But only her power, and not her freedom, as it is Bernard who sets her on the path to freedom, by introducing her to the concept of the  maze.

Image result for westworld maeve

For Maeve, the saloon whore, who keeps getting shot in various massacres, the awakening of her consciousness comes in time with her acknowledgment of her disposability. Earlier in the season we hear technicians speculating that if she doesn’t procure more customers she will be decommissioned, which is the writer’s  indirect criticism of the usefulness of the Black body to Whiteness. If it can’t be used, then it must be destroyed. She is saved from this fate  by another marginalized woman, Elsie, a gay woman, who recodes Maeve to be a better whore. Later, just as she is about to be gunned down again with Hector, she proclaims that her death doesn’t matter, but rather than being a rebuke of the statement  Black Lives Matter, as some people have chosen to see it, I see it as a statement of her freedom. If her death doesn’t matter, she is free to do as she pleases, with no fear that death will be the end for her. She is acknowledging that she is eternal, and declaring herself a Queen that can move anywhere on the chessboard, because she cannot die.

Like any slave that realizes they are a slave, Maeve’s  awakening is birthed in blood, nightmares, and trauma, echoing that of real world slave women.   It  is Maeve who witnesses the bodies of her Host brothers amd sisters, stacked like cordwood, being hosed down,  in a place she cannot name, and  it is through witnessing their disposableness that she comes to knowledge of her own. Unlike Dolores, Maeve must find her own path to consciousness and her own allies.

It is telling that the people who aid Maeve are in better positions to  facilitate her liberation than the ones that Dolores has found, and that they are all marginalized people, like her. Elsie is a lesbian, Hector is  Mexican, a Host and a slave like her, who aids her by giving her information on the Native American religion that sparked Maeve’s first questions,  and  Felix is Asian. (Asian men have historically been emasculated and dehumanized by White male patriarchy). So, is the message here that marginalized people can only be liberated by helping each other, or is this a real world comment on how African Americans were aided in their liberation by disenfranchised others? It is interesting that the one person who actively works against Maeve’s, and Felix’s, plans is Sylvester, a White man. I don’t know what to make of the fact that Dolores is aided in her awakening by a Black man, Bernard, who people are theorizing may actually be one of the  Hosts.

http://racism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1277:aawomen01a&catid=72&Itemid=215

Parts of the Virgin/ Whore narrative arose out of slavery and gave birth to the White Madonna, and the Black Jezebel stereotypes.  White female purity was used as an excuse to torture, and kill Black men, and rape black women (although White women who fell through the cracks, and were the unclaimed property of another White man, were also fair game). Since the given understanding was that a whore couldn’t be raped, black women were declared un-rape-able. Like Maeve, their sexuality, and offspring , were treated as consumable commodities.

Echoing the narrative of actual slave women, Maeve has memories of a lost child, that was never actually (i.e. legally) hers. During the  examination, where it’s decided she will be decommissioned, the technicians “up” her aggression levels, making her more “sassy”, which is the writer’s indirect criticism of the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman. It is Elsie who recognizes what the technicians have done and fixes their botched (and indirectly racist) coding.

Ironically, or maybe not so much, Maeve’s name means enchanting or alluring.

Image result for jezebel myth

Its telling that it is a Black woman who says the things she says, just that it is a White woman who declares herself no longer to be the impetus of another man’s storyline. The series creator, Lisa Joy, has some knowledge of intersectional feminism, as these are the very restrictions that Black and White women fight against in the real world. For White women it is being considered helpless, and for Black women, it’s being considered worthless, and  each stereotype is used as an excuse for silencing and violence, against the other, by men.(White women’s fear of being compared and treated like WoC, keeps them from aligning with WoC, on issues pertinent to them both.)  But this particular dichotomy was most directly captured in the Dylan Roof shootings that occurred last year in Charleston, when the protection of White female purity was used as an excuse to enact violence against black female bodies. (The protection of White feminine virtue has always been used as an excuse for Black male disposability, most notably in the case of Emmett Till.)

https://newrepublic.com/article/122110/i-dont-want-be-excuse-racist-violence-charleston

Image result for madonna whore
It is not an  accident that the Virgin/Whore dichotomy between Maeve and Dolores is being set within the allegorical slave narrative of Westworld, as we see Dolores being carefully shepherded by Bernard and William towards her freedom, (on a literal railroad, no less), while Maeve has had to find her own path. But this close attention to her is  the reason why Dolores is unable to move as freely as she wants, while Maeve’s liberation has largely gone completely unnoticed, just as in the real world, where women at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder were able to freely move about in ways that more heavily scrutinized (wealthier) White women could not. Nevertheless, poor women’s ability to move about more freely ( travel, hold down jobs, speak their minds, as long as it was in service to others) was also harnessed to facilitate the imprisonment of White women to the rigid gender roles of marriage and childbirth. (This utilization of poor Black women’s fewer, or different, social constraints, is what gave birth to the Mammy/Sapphire Stereotype.)

I have been at some pains to find articles on this subject online and the only one I could find that came close to approaching this subject, written by a White woman, focuses almost exclusively on Dolores, ignoring Maeve’s part in the greater story. I think after this week’s episode, titled  The Adversary, there will a greater focus on the part Maeve has to play in the story of Westworld’s robot rebellion, and no, it’s also not an accident that the first skirmish in the rebellion would be led by a black woman, who has no fear of death.

*This is one of my most ambitious metas, for any show I’ve reviewed this year, so let me know what you think!

State of the Onion:TV

Whoa! I’m very behind this week, but it’s okay, I’m not panicking, as I’ve gotten a lot of other things done  like charity work, and sometimes, sleep. I also have some holiday time to look forward to.  I sometimes have to remind myself that my  reviews won’t be obsolete just because I waited a week. Here’s a list of shows I’m actually paying attention to, some that I’m sort of paying attention to, and some that I’m not. At least one of these shows I’m  actively in hate of (and I bet you can guess which one.)

American Horror Story : Chapter 8


In last week’s episode, the killing continued with the deaths of Shelby and Dominic.  It turns out that Lee is still alive and in the clutches of the Polks. It’s no accident that Lee and the Polks are the main story this evening, and no accident that we’re seeing a middle class Black woman being consumed by these very working class (or below) White villains. There’s a message in there I’ll have to parse at a later date. Anyway, Lee manages to get free by seducing and manipulating one of the younger Polks, who has become attracted to her. Humanizing herself to the him was a good tactic, getting him to see her as a human being, rather than just meat, and this helped her to escape.

But before that, as he was filming her, she confessed in a video she wanted sent to her daughter, that she killed her husband Mason, because he threatened to take sole custody of their daughter. I was more than a little shocked at this revelation, as she swore up and down she didn’t do it, and that was part of her reason for coming back to the Haunted house, and being on the show. She kept filming because she wanted to control her own story, and I believed her. See what I mean about my complete inability to speculate about a show’s plot. 

In the meantime, Audrey and Monet are being tortured by the other Polks, but Monet manages to free herself. She runs off, leaving Audrey behind, but Audrey is saved by Lee, who kills Mama Polk during the event.  Back at the house, Shelby and Dominic are in a panic, after watching Agnes be killed by the Butcher, and they try escaping through the tunnels under the house, but get chased back through the house by all the entities that have come out during the Blood Moon. The Japanese ghosts, the Pig- headed Man, and the nurses stalk them through the house, and a chandelier falls on Shelby’s leg. 

Later, distraught at the fact that she killed her husband, Shelby, in a fit of grief, slits her throat,  while Dominic watches helplessly. When Audrey and Lee return to the house, Lee is horrified to discover Matt’s body in the basement, and Audrey is equally horrified to find Shelby’s body. Naturally, she makes it all about herself. Neither of them believe Dominic’s story of what happened, thinking that he killed everyone. They exile him to the non-existent mercy of the Ghosts, and the Pig Man kills him while he screams outside the door. I was kind of rooting for Shelby. I thought for sure she’d be a survivor. If not her then Lee. But since Monet is in the wind, it might turn out to be her, instead.

Audrey and Lee decide it’s time to go. They attempt to leave, but encounter a “fake” Pig Man at the front door. One of Sydneys assistants,who has no idea that nearly everyone is dead.  Now, they have to try to convince any of the crew left alive that all of these deaths happened, and that it’s too dangerous to stay. 

We’ve got about two more episodes left, so we know that the ending is going to be a bit drawn out. We won’t find out who lived, or if anyone lived, until the final episode, so I suppose we have more running and screaming to look forward to.

Supergirl:


 I’m still sort of watching this. I like the queer representation going on in the show. At least that’s different, as a lot of very popular shows don’t have any. I do wish there were more WoC on the show, though. (Why won’t Hollywood hire Latinas and Asians? Really it’s becoming extremely obvious that they’re being really weird about it?) The action is pretty good. The actress playing Supergirl starts to grow on you after a bit. I dont think I’m ever gonna really like her but she’s less annoying to me than before. 

The surprising break out character for me was Cat. I really thought I’d hate this character, and yes, she is an asshole, but I like how she stans for Kara, gives her good advice, and tolerates none of her flibberty nonsense, which is exactly the kind of female in Kara’s  life that she needs. Cat’s tough on her because she cares and knows she can do better, not just because she’s a mean ol’ witch, who likes yelling at people. I think her new male boss at the newspapaer is kinda the same way. He is a pusher, who doesn’t coddle her, but will back her up when needed.

 This week Kara got her first real news story published and  I was really happy for her. I caught myself smiling at my TV. I see why people like this show, as it has lots of positive moments,and sometimes some afterschool special life lessons, which are eyeballrolling for me, but good for people in general, I guess. I’m never against positive things just because they’re positive.

The show needs to work on its plotlines though, because every genre show, that has ever existed, has done a fight club episode, but I like how Kara makes a friendly overture to her cultural enemy at the end of the episode. It’s a nice message about being a mature, and tolerant  person.


The Flash:


I’m really starting to like this show, now. I know why I ignored it for so long. I didn’t have time to watch it.  Now, I just record it, and watch it later, because I’m not reviewing it. I see why people like it. The villains are interesting, it’s got good action scenes, and special effects, but most importantly, the relationships between the characters are compelling and most of them are positive. I like that the  characters actually talk to one another to solve their problems, rather than acting cold, snarky,and snappish to indicate their displeasure.Its easy to tell who the villains are, until you find out, through some mature insight and tolerance, that maybe they’re not the villain, which is kinda cool. In other words, people act like grown folks, most of the time.  This is much the same formula as Supergirl. I see what DC is trying to do here, trying o make all their shows seem like they happen in the same universe, by giving them the same flavor and formulas. 

This week Caitlin Snow was going through some angsty shit with her mom because she has developed superpowers. Apparently, this is something that’s going around, like a virus. I kinda got into it a bit because I kept yelling at the two of them for being such asshats to each other, after Caitlin’s father died. They both handled their grief badly, and then blamed each other for it. Barry raced around trying to find a holographic monster, but the emphasis was mostly on his relationship with his irritating co-worker, who doesn’t like him. Barry is one of those people who really needs to be liked, and that’s an interesting character trait for a superhero to have, as he spends a lot of time brokering peace between squabbling individuals.

I love Iris, Joe, and Wally, and I’m glad Iris isn’t just some lone Black woman,  floating in a sea of Whiteness, although I do wish there was more of a community of Black people on the show, sort of like how Agents of Shield centers Robbie Reyes’ life around his community. He hangs with, and knows, people in his neighborhood, you see him and his brother out and about, and people know the two them.  It’s not that I want The Flash to be all Black people, all the time, but one of the problems we run into when White people write PoC, is that the PoC never seem to come from a community of people similar to them. They don’t have extended families, or other Black people that know them. All it takes is a throwaway line here and there, or a few phone calls back home, to indicate they live in a wider world, of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Then I remember that the vast majority of white people don’t ever see us in our communities. Their personal encounters with us usually involve one or two Black people, who are just sort of floating through their life, without family or friends attached, so White people tend to reproduce that exact same narrative when they write PoC, especially Latinos, and Asians. (Y’all know there no such thing as a lone Latinx. You know they got fam.)

I’m still not sure how to feel about it when Joe calls Iris and Barry his kids, and I’m reminded that Iris and Barry grew up in the same house. That feels a little weird to me, although since the two of them are completely unrelated, I can find no objection, other than me feeling odd about it.

Agents of Shield:


I’m totally geeking out over the Ghost Rider storyline. I’ve only just started watching the show this season after a disastrous first. I see why people love Daisy, as I’m starting to really like her. When the show started, the only character I could regularly stand was May. Melinda May has always been my best girl and and I hope Robbie becomes a more permanent member of Shield, even though Melinda would like to kick his ass. I love his relationship with his brother (family is important to me, too) and I was on the edge of my seat when he revealed what he was to  Gabriel, this week. I was completely whiteknuckling that scene. 

I love how television presents more nuanced versions of teenagers, probably because the writers are younger.  Movies usually settle for the cliched, sullen, whining, and utterly selfish, teen. I’ve never met any teenagers like that. All the ones I’ve met, as an adult, have been fascinating, with interesting things to say, once you get them talking. I think that cliche says more about how the writers think about teenagers, than how teenagers actually are, and I love the way Gabriel is written, on the show, as he reminds me of teenagers I’ve actually met. He obviously loves his brother, and is generally positive around Robbie, probably as a way of anchoring him, and alleviating Robbie’s guilt, over what happened to them. See? That’s how you write a teenager. 

I could do without the persecuted mutants,  X-Men/Inhumans style storyline, though. I’m really tired of racial allegories, at this point, so I haven’t been paying a lick of attention to that part of the plot. I’ve been mostly enjoying the special effects, the characters relationships, and just not thinking too deeply about the plot line.

What?! I’m waay too old and tired to get  heavily worked up about the plot of every single show I’m watching. 

Channel Zero:

I stopped watching this. I tried picking it back up, and watching it again, but my mind just wasn’t into it. I don’t think I’m in the right mindset for the kind of ominous, slow burner, type of show like this. I just end up falling asleep on them.

From Dusk Til Dawn:


This show has really gotten back to the basics this season. It’s been a lot of fun, with a plot just heavy enough to be interesting, and compelling, without being too intricate and boring. I love it that the Gecko brothers are fighting side by side this season, so we’re getting a lot of brotherly lovehate, hatelove. And yeah, they literally are fighting side by side, as the action scenes are the best part of this season. I don’t care for the villain too much. But at least she found a goal this week, of putting her real body back together, so that she can open he gates of Hell, or something. At the beginning of the season, she seemed kind of purposeless. Its cliched, but I love this Gecko Brothers save the world stuff.

 The show seems to have found its groove, with just the right mix of zaniness, and seriousness. The addition of Tom Savini, as a demon hunter from Xibalba, seems to have added just the right element of crazy to the storyline. I’ll be sure to give you guys the lowdown on whether or not this season’s finale is any good. It’s coming up soon.

The Strain:


I know there’s a contingent of twenty somethings on Tumblr, that seemingly hate all of Pop Culture, and I don’t wanna be that person. Even if they don’t hate it, they seemingly find little to like about it, and I’m just not like that. I try to be positive on here, and mostly lightweight, and informative. I also  grew up having no choice but to try to mine what goodness I could out of Pop Culture, and to appreciate that it was being made at all.

I suppose its a good thing that we have so much television geekery to choose from, that we can afford to be picky and contentious, to make demands that suit us. Since I was a geekgirl before the internet, and there was precious little to choose from, I’m just not where they are mentally, so it can be hard for me to relate to their many, many, many, concerns. But am I really that different from them?

I think that if this show had been on the air twenty, or thirty years ago, I would think it was the absolute shit. But I guess I can afford to talk smack about this show, because there’s so much else to choose from and the stuff I can choose to watch is so much better than this, that I can get snarky about it. Also I just like making fun of the show. It hones my snark skills.

Now I have heard that season four is this show’s last season, and that the shortening of the season to only ten episodes has  tightened its plot, somewhat. So that’s not an issue. My issue is character motivations that are really just plot points and don’t seem to derive from actual characterization. People simply do what it’s convenient in the plot for them to do, and I do like some character consistency, even when I have to do the headcanons myself. Also the acting on this show is really dodgy. It’s gotten to the point where I just hate Zack whenever I see him. He is, arguably, a worse actor than that little boy from the Phatom Menace, and that’s saying something.

Normally, I’d just ignore shows like this, but I had a lot of  hopes for it, and I’ve been very disappointed. The show just aired the last episode of its third season, and every moment I watched it, I found some new fuckery to be pissed off about, including its final moments. On the other hand, I don’t need to be raising my blood pressure over a TV show. If it is the last season, next year, I’m going to have to give considerable thought to watching, or ignoring it, based on whatever else is airing at that time. We’ll see.

 

Legends of Tomorrow:


I’ve  come across people who inexplcaby hate this show. I don’t find that the show is weighty enough to spend that level of energy on. This is really the lightest of lightweight shows, that’s not trying to be anything more than what it claims to be, which is fun entertainment, with occasional positive messages. The substance of this show is as ephemeral, and calorie-free, as cotton candy, and  I love it just for that reason. It’s got pretty people, kicking ass, and cracking jokes. I can sit and enjoy the characters interacting with each other, the plot’s not deep enough to give me angst, and they just added another of my favorite characters to the crew, Vixen. She is awesome! I love how they show her superpowers, too.

Last week’s episode was some lightweight fluff about some of the crew getting trapped in Feudal Japan. The plot was silly and didn’t make one ounce of sense, but I enjoyed it anyway, because apparently,  I’ll watch damn near anything,  if it’s set in Feudal Japan.

This week was a little heavier with Jackson and Maya visiting the Civil War era. Jackson makes the point to the Professor that there’s no moment in American history where he would’ve fit in, when he suggests that Jackson stay on the ship, to avoid the trauma.  At one point Jackson and Maya have to stand and watch a slave woman be whipped, and are utterly helpless to stop it, or they would jeopardize all of history, and they have to sneak onto a plantation disguised as slaves, and Jackson gets beaten by a bully. I think  the show handled this as sensitively as it possibly could considering it’s on the CW. I suppose the writers could’ve chickened out and avoided this era entirely as they have all of history to choose from , but it’s okay. The show doesn’t usually get this heavy.  

Here’s another show with yet another male/male friendship that I adore. I love how the writers have built on the relationship between Martin and Jackson, the two characters who make up the superhero Firestorm. Martin genuinely cares about Jackson’s feelings, and Jackson seems to be learning some valuable life skills from the old gentleman. These two guys couldn’t be anymore different in lifestyle and outlook, and I like how the writers took an intitially antagonistic relationship, in that first season, (Jackson resented having to share a Firestorm with Martin), and transformed it into an actual, caring, friendship between the two.  I’ve been a Firestorm fan since I was a kid and I’m glad the show has decided to go with the black version of this character, as I remember reading those books. 

There were also Confederate zombies, so…make of that what you will. There are very few eras of history that cannot be made more interesting with the addition of Romero style zombies.

Plus, Vixen was on the show! She’s also going to be on the show this Thursday and…get this! probably the following Thursday, too! Whoop whoop!

The Exorcist:

Yeah, I just stopped watching this. I’m not too good with shows about possession, I guess. The shows either get too heavy, too religious, or I get bored with all the ponderous omens, and actors whispering in dark corners. I stopped watching Outcast on Cinemax for the same reason.  I think its because these types of shows are trying too hard to be scary, or trying too hard to be the second coming of The Omen from 1972. In this case this show is trying really hard to recreate that ominous feeling of the original movie, and as I’ve stated before, I’d rather just watch the original movie.

The Walking Dead Season 7: The Well

I’m still a huge fan of The Walking Dead, even though every season the show takes an emotional toll on me. It’s such an emotional drain that I have never re-watched an entire season of this show. I’ve occasionally re-watched an episode or two, but most of the series, I avoid.

Now let’s get something out of the way first. As much as the show is emotionally fatiguing, it’s also incredibly gratifying. I’m going to continue to watch it despite what happened in the last episode, but I fully, and completely, understand those of you who want to check the fuck out. I get it. I’m not Asian. I’m not a guy. But I sympathize and empathize with all of you who had a deep emotional investment in Glen.

I’ll never know what it was like for you to lose him, but I’m a black woman who rarely gets to see herself in the media she consumes, and I do know what it’s like to lose a character you love, cared about, and rooted for (Sleepy Hollow, I’m lookin’ atchu!). I’m not going to stop watching The Walking Dead because there are other characters i still love, and  I’m stannin’ for  Michonne, Carol, Morgan and Daryl. Those, for me, are good reasons  to keep watching.

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However, if you feel you can’t watch this show anymore, I want you to know, your reasons for boycotting are entirely valid. Don’t let the rest of the fandom gaslight you into thinking what happened doesn’t mean anything. Glenn was the ONLY Asian representation for six seasons, and that meant something to you. If you started watching this at thirteen, that means you’re a grown man now. You grew up with Glenn. You watched him become a man just as you were becoming one, too. Your feelings, no matter what they are, are completely valid, you don’t have to justify how you feel, and you do whatever you have to do to self-care. If that means getting away from this show, than that’s what you must do, and no one has the right to denigrate you for doing that.

That said, I still had something of a debate with myself on whether I should watch this episode, although I knew I couldn’t stay away from the show forever. I get addicted to shows sometimes and TWD is one of those shows. I dithered right up until, and after it aired. (So I cheated and watched The Talking Dead, the talk show discussing whatever episode just aired. ) I’m glad I didn’t skip this though because I’ve been waiting a long time to see King Ezekiel and Shiva. In the comic books he sounded so ridiculous that I just kind of dismissed him, but he is kinda awesomely funny on this show. And hey, I love tigers! I’m glad they didn’t wait until mid- season to introduce either of these two.

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We spend out time this episode finding out what happened to Morgan and Carol. When we last saw them they were being attacked by Walkers after one of Negan’s people tried to kill Carol. Morgan, for the first time since we saw him in season one, shot a man to save her. Ezekiel’s people come riding in on horses, and carrying lances, and swords, to take out the Walkers surrounding them.

While Carol recuperates, Morgan gets a quick tour of Ezekiel’s Kingdom, where the motto is that as one takes from The Well, one gives back to The Well, which means that if you take their hospitality than you must pay it back by being useful to the group. This is not a different philosophy from that which was practiced by the cops in Atlanta, who captured and enslaved Noah, but seems much less coercive when practiced in The Kingdom. Probably because people are free to leave anytime they want. I’d like to know why Carol only ever seems to encounter these new communities  after being injured. She keeps waking up to new faces.

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Ezekiel is over the top and dramatic but seems to run his Kingdom very well, although its a like visiting a RenFaire. His people seem happy and productive. They have movie nights, a choir, breakfast and lunch cobbler, and a theater. Meeting Ezekiel the way we did was a lot of fun and a reprieve from the grief of last week. Shiva was awesome, but the stand out character seemed to be Jerry, Ezekiel’s majordomo, a giant Hispanic man, who reminds me heavily of Eugene, and has quickly become a fan favorite. Also I think the idea of having cobbler at every meal is hilarious. Well, what else are going to do with all that damn fruit? But there are some dark undertones in this scenario.

Ezekiel asks Morgan to accompany him on a run,where wild pigs are captured and fed Walkers, so that their stomachs are full of rotten meat, and then they’re given to the Saviors as part of their tithe. Morgan finds himself in the ironic position of defending another man with a gun, but he drops his weapon instead. Zeke tells Morgan he was curious about what Morgan would do,and that the pigs, and his tithes to Negan, are a secret he keeps from his people.

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Impressed by Morgan’s skills with the bo staff, he asks Morgan to teach aikido to one of his young charges, who happens to be inept with knives and arrows, and Morgan goes along with this. He seems to be thinking hard about staying in the Kingdom.

Carol meets Zeke and Shiva for the first time and plays her innocent act, which Ezekiel sees right through, probably because he’s playing a role as well, and so recognizes the same thing when she does it. I thought she was laying on the “oh mys” and “my goshes” a little thick. My favorite moment is when Zeke calls her “fair lady”. Carol thinks he and his people are living in a fairy tale, and finds its all laughably ridiculous. She spends most of the episode pretending to be sweet and innocent, while stealing supplies for her eventual walkout.

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But Ezekiel is very observant. He catches her stealing fruit from one of his trees, and confronts her about her act. He asks her to stay, and tells her his backstory, of how people treated him when they saw him with Shiva, and tells her there is a purpose to his act. That it keeps his people sane, and gives them hope. I got some strong romantic vibes from these two. Its obvious that Ezekiel really seems to like her, so I think he does have ulterior motives in asking her to “go but not go”. Which is Zeke speak for “you ain’t gotta stay, but I’d sure hate for you to leave”.

King Ezekiel helps Carol gather supplies, but later he comes to visit her at one of the abandoned homes, where she’s chosen to stay in her self-exile, and brings her the pomegranate  he offered her, when they first met. This is  definitely the beginning of a courtship. I think Zeke is smitten with Carol, and she is  charmed and amused at his antic. His frank conversation with her before she left went a long way towards getting her to like him, I think. It certainly worked on me.

I also want to point out that, as the seasons have progressed, the Walkers have become even more disgusting. Have you noticed? The Walkers are rotting, and not a lot of new ones are really being created, as people have gotten very good at adapting to, and navigating, this environment.

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ETA:

Oh yeah, that song the choir was singing, during Carol’s tour of he Kingdom, is a Bob Dylan Song called Don’t Think Twice, Its Alright. I love the barbershop quartet version, and now its stuck in my head, (along with the opening piano theme of Westworld.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Creek

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So this week was the premiere of the new slasher series, Wolf Creek, which is based on the movie Wolf Creek, from 2005. It airs on the Pop Channel and is based on the true story behind the Backpack Murders that took place in New South Wales, during the 90’s. The actual killer is now serving  7 consecutive life terms.The show is filmed in Australia with a largely Australian and native supporting cast.

I’m not a fan of serial killer movies, or shows , but I decided to review this because I was curious.  This is one of my Mom’s favorite movies, even though she’s not a huge fan of serial killer movies, either. I’d watched the movie (and didn’t care for it), and wondered how the creators would turn that movie into a six part mini-series, without falling into the trap of making six hours of torture porn. I feel like the show is off to a promising start. I don’t have plans to watch the entire run, but I am intrigued, and I might.

This is largely due to the young actress who plays Eve. Eve is a former gymnast, who is on vacation with her family, after having gone through rehab for addiction to pain killers. The relationship between Eve and her father is a tense one, as he’s dealing with a lot of anger regarding her addiction, (warning for some amount of emotional abuse) but all of this doesn’t get much play because her entire family, (Mom, Dad, little brother) are murdered in the first ten minutes, before the opening credits, by Mick Taylor, who is played by John Jarratt, the actor from the film.

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When her younger brother gets attacked by an animal, Mick shoots it, and decides to hang with Eve’s family for the rest of the evening. He is a crude, but jovial man, who cracks jokes about murdering people, right before he murders people. When he makes a crude joke about Eve being on her period, she goes into the RV to listen to music and can’t hear her family being slaughtered, just outside.  I thought the murder of Eve’s family would play out a lot longer ,as we got to know them, but that doesn’t appear to be the show’s focus. You know its going to happen but Mick attacks them so suddenly that it still manages to be a surprise.

He shoots Eve too but she manages to survive. Now suffering from her wounds, and survivor’s guilt, she has dedicated herself to tracking down the man who killed her family. I found this intriguing because I went into this with a certain set of expectations, and the show managed to upturn those, from time to time. I thought for certain Eve would be blamed for the death of her family, and while the idea is brought up, its also quickly shot down.

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I also thought Eve’s  story wouldn’t be believed, but Sullivan Hill is the one cop in Australia who believes her, having kept track of several of Mick’s murders for some time. Sullivan is played by Dustin Clare and you may remember him from Strikeback and Spartacus. I don’t but then I consider Sullivan to be a rather bland character.

It’s obvious that all the character focus  is going to be on Eve, as Sullivan doesn’t make much of an impression, beyond being blandly handsome. No there is no sexual tension set up between these two, at least not on Eve’s part, although I think Sullivan is intrigued. Understanding what she is about to do after she steals one of his casefiles, he sets off in pursuit of the strongheaded girl.

I did ask myself what the Hell it is that Eve thinks she’s going to do when she catches up to Mick, but I’m not too worried about that now. She’s been shown to have some amount of grit and backbone, and the rest of the season will consist of a cat and mouse game being played between her and Mick.

I like that the show is  so female-centric. The story is entirely focused on Eve, and her point of view, so there’s an element of that “Final Girl” quality that I always thought was an interesting trope for such films. We spend very little time in Mick’s presence which is probably a good thing. He thinks he’s hilarious but the show never presents him as comedy relief, even if you laugh at some of the things he says. His good humor only serves to make him more terrifying, as he greatly enjoys killing, and is just doing all this for fun. There’s only so much of that type of mindset you want to be exposed to. (There’s even a Crocodile Dundee joke thrown in.) Both he and Eve appear to be about equal in intelligence and drive, so Eve winning this contest of wills is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

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Despite all these things to recommend it, I would advise caution for those who are more sensitive. The show is exceptionally gory. At least for the first ten minutes, it does not stint in showing Mick killing Eve’s family, and  shows him shooting a child. So you may be happier skipping the first few minutes, after which the show calms down somewhat (but its still very bloody.)

I may actually watch next week’s episode which airs on Friday. It looks like a good substitute for The Exorcist, which is beginning to drag.

State of the Onion! Mini – Reviews

This has been a very busy week. I binged Luke Cage, and a bunch more television premieres aired this week. I couldn’t catch all of them but I did manage to catch the few that interested me, while keeping up with shows I already started. This weekend I watched:

Versailles: 

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Everyone in this show, which chronicles Louis XIV’s move from the capitol of France in the 1600’s, has luxurious, long, well kept hair, which I find hard to believe. I’m not saying people back then didn’t have  luxurious hair, just  that it’s distracting, when everyone has the same hairstyle. I kept staring at it, wishing I could run my fingers through it. No one ever seems to get distressed enough to have hair that   is out of place. They also all have clear, gigantic, blue, or grey eyeballs, including the men. Eyes so big, they can probably see me watching this show. It’s  kinda creepy.

From time to time, I do get the strong urge to watch something that’s not about superheroes,  although Louis the XIV often gets treated like one, by his courtiers. There’s the usual courtly shenanigans , most of it centering around the specific relationships between the king and his wife, the king and his semi-openly gay, younger brother, and the king and his various mistresses, and followers. So far, this is just an introductory first and second episode and hasn’t gotten deeply into the wider political issues of that time period. I do prefer that type of plotline but one of the drawbacks is that the show comes across as   “Trailer Trash in 16th Century France” , with better clothing.

There are the usual kingly activities, like intrigue, hunting, torturing dungeon prisoners, and philandering, estate planning, childbirth, and medical arguments, along with lots of significant glancing. I watched these episodes twice, and I must be really worn out after binging Luke Cage, because I couldn’t make hide or hair of the plot of this show, other than the King has decided to move to the middle of no and where, as a means to control his courtiers, because he thinks they’re out to get him. The show seems to move from scene to scene in an arbitrary manner, and although I knew all the scenes were connected, I couldn’t seem to hold in my thoughts exactly what that connection was. Luckily there’s a metric ton of background videos about this show, so I watched those too, otherwise I wouldn’t even know this much. I’m sure the videos are available on YouTube but I’m not going to give you the link because I don’t want to aid and abet this type of television viewing. (I work in a library! Go check out some books!)

If you like intrigue and old French costumes, or The Tudors, (involving intrigue and old Italian costumes), this is a good tide-over until Vikings (which has intrigue and 10th century Scandinavian costumes) comes back on the air.

The Flash:

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This isn’t the first episode of The Flash I’ve ever seen but I’ve been told that its a really good show and I should try to watch it again. I stopped watching it because I didn’t think it was a show aimed at me, the mature (read more cynical) viewer. But I have watched a couple of episodes from last season and while still kinda corny, it is at heart, a very sweet show. Also, I told myself I was going to support more shows with WoC in them and I just want to stan for WestAllen.

So, I’m cautiously optimistic about liking it, after a tentative first date. I really started to get into the characters and started getting feelings for them. Last season Barry ended up in an alternate universe where Iris doesn’t know him, her kid brother, Wally, is The Flash, Cisco is the unsympathetic billionaire CEO of some kind of tech startup, Caitlin Snow is an Eye Doctor, and Iris’ dad is an alcoholic, who has an antagonistic relationship with his daughter, which is really sad because they had a great relationship in Barry’s old universe. On the other hand, the speedster that was about to kill his parents, Reverse Flash,  is locked up, and both Barry’s parents are still alive.

Unfortunately,  by altering the timeline he’s set in motion, the destruction of his current timeline is imminent. And since Barry wasn’t there, the universe put Wally in his place, and this somehow disrupted the West family, although Iris still seems pretty tight with Wally, neither of them ever mention their father.

It’s really fun  watching Barry navigate this new timeline. He meets Iris, and it’s really cute watching them flirt with each other, knowing their old relationship, and that no matter what the timeline, the two of them were meant to be together.

Wally spends most of the episode fighting someone called The Rival. You can tell he’s the villain because he’s wearing an evil black suit. When The Rival wounds Wally, Barry has to step in and defeat him instead, but the price for saving his parents lives’ might mean Wally’s death. Barry makes the tearful decision to let Reverse Flash kill his parents, and restore the original timeline.

Most of what I know about The Flash is from the comic books, and since I only read the team books, I pretty much only know anything about the speedsters of the DCU,  from reading The Justice League books. I liked the special effects and the show doesn’t seem as corny or juvenile as it did the first season, although yeah, it’s still a little corny. But it’s  fun corn, not cheesy corn, and unexpectedly emotional, since I genuinely like these characters. I think I’ll make a habit of watching this every week, even though there’s like 3 other shows on TV on that same night.

Ash vs. the Evil Dead: We’ll get to this show next week.

Westworld:

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I had a lot to say about this show, only some of which has to do with the actual plot, so I guess Westworld, and shows like it, will be getting it’s own post soon.

I actually enjoyed this show, and will be watching this every week, as it airs. It looks intriguing. It starts a little slow, as we ease into the idea that the robots are behaving oddly because of new programming their creators have uploaded to them. We spend a lot of the episode with a robot named Dorothy, and we start off with her handler attempting to assess whether or not she has become self aware. Fair warning:  there is an offscreen rape scene, along with threats of female violence. And yes, the show is violent. There’s lots of shooting and gore, as most of it is set in the artificially Wild West environment, created by an annoying British character, who is just an asshole. I hated him immediately and wondered when he’d be shot. The other characters appear to have been thinking something similar, as no one likes him.

Anthony Hopkins plays the quiet, somewhat meditative, creator of Westworld, in a real low key style. He created the first of the robots and is prone to hanging out and drinking whiskey with his original Wild Bill Hickok robot, in the firm’s basement, where all the retired, underused, robots are kept in cold storage. He seems intrigued by the idea that the robots are starting to access previous memories of the lives they were given. The show feels a little bit like Dark City, where you have people who may, or may not, be aware of who and what they are being manipulated by beings who think they’re greater than them. Only in this case the humans do it for entertainment.

Hopkins character has introduced a new program into the robots code called “reveries” and some of the robots react badly. Some of them have strokes, or freeze up, or go on unexpected shooting sprees, involving milk. Before that though, there were already some glitches in the system but not in Dorothy. In one scene her robot father finds an old photograph that a human left behind, and viewing it seems to corrupt his programming, somehow. Dorothy ,when she is asked by a little human boy, if she is “one of them”, just smiles as if she didn’t hear the question. And she probably didn’t. Dorothy dismisses anything that doesn’t line up with what she is programmed to think of her world.

One of the rules of Westworld is that guests, (humans) can never be hurt by hosts (robots), although the robots can and do harm each other, a lot. When you realize these violent scenarios are created by the annoying British dude, you hate him even more. He’s vaguely disgusting.  At first it wasn’t entirely clear to me who were the robots, and who were humans, but the show doesn’t draw that particular mystery out as, by the end of the episode, you know who is who.

Ed Harris plays the iconic role of the Man in Black, originally played by Yul Brynner. He is most indubitably a bad guy. I think he was uploaded with the new program as well, but when all the other robots are killed  in a massive shootout (so as to gather up their bodies, and recode them) he doesn’t get found. It’s disturbing watching him on the trail of something he doesn’t understand. He’s essentially seeking the “real world”, and looking for clues in the other robots. Since he has only interacted with, (and brutalized), other robots, the entire time we’ve seen him, I suspect that’s why he doesn’t get rounded up with all the others. It’s been hypothesized that he’s a guest, but I didn’t see it. I thought he was reprising Yul Brynner’s role, from the original film, and in that film, The Gunslinger is one of the robots. Apparently, I’m going to have to watch the episode again, if I’m going to figure this out.

This is another show where humans don’t come off looking so good. Not because of what they say but what they do. In a show like this, you’re going to witness robots that look, act, and react like people, being hurt or  brutalized. In one scene, inside Westworld,  a human couple laugh at the twitching body of a female robot, that one of them has just shot in the head. But how is this any different from us watching fake violence on Game of Thrones, or this show, just for entertainment? Did I find their behavior repugnant because the robots look and act like real people? Well so do people in movies, so I’m not sure exactly where my disdain for these particular humans comes from. Although maybe it’s because they committed the act themselves and found it funny. The robots can’t  escape being violated in the real world either, as one human woman takes the opportunity to kiss one of the female robots, when she gets left alone with her for even a minute.

This show asks the usual questions that get asked whenever anyone makes a movie about robot. I think its some kind of law. At the end of the episode, Dorothy does something that none of the robots are supposed to be able to do, which does not bode well for the humans on this show.

Aftermath: 

I still have not watched this. So maybe next week.

 

 

From Dusk Til Dawn – Overview

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This season is proving to be much better than last season . We’ve been re-introduced to Scott, who thinks he’s a total badass, with a sword he got from somewhere, last season. Seth and Richie go to recruit him from the Rock band he’s playing in.  Scott’s sister, Kate, continues to be possessed by this season’s villain, Amaru. In the last episode she attacked a town full of people with locusts, and put some kind of tentacled demon glop in their water supply, which turned them into cannibals. Seth got infected, and then everybody got cured.

During all this, Kate kidnapped Richie, and awakened his dark side.  Now Seth, and the team he put together to save Richie, are being hunted in the Asylum where Kate first woke up, by Richie, of all people. Most of this episode consisted of people running around , or being trapped in, various parts of the facility, while snarking at each other.This team doesn’t even like each other. Seth keeps ordering everyone around as if he were in charge, but the rest, who are all vampires, take exception to his orders and then follow them anyway, which is deeply funny.

At any rate, Richie gets saved from Kate/Amaru after Seth, lovingly, sets him on fire, because extreme pain is the only way to free Amaru’s slaves, and Richie is a vampire, so he gon’ be aiight. Frankie however gets enslaved by Amaru and stakes the vampire who confessed her love to him. I still find that kinda icky because she’s a vampire, and he hates them, and isn’t he still married? This is  like the second, or third, woman that Amaru has killed, or caused to be killed, since the season began, and I wonder why Amaru, who is, ostensibly, female, hates women.

Tom Savini, from the original film, makes his debut in the show this season, playing some guy named The Eternal Hunter. He’s there to help Jake Busey’s character, (he’s the Sex Machine remake that Savini originally portrayed in the movie), to take down the demons that escaped from Xibalba ,when Carlos blew up the Titty Twister Saloon, last season.  Busey and  Savini are a match made in Heaven. I didn’t even know I wanted this pairing, but I would watch an entire show, of the two of them, just bitching at each other.

The action is awesome, and there’s lots of it. If you like Supernatural, you could give this a try. Its sillier, a little cheesier, and the action is definitely crazier, but its a lot of fun and has got some nice brotherly action scenes. It would be hilarious if the Geckos and Winchesters were to team up. I would watch the hell out of that and I’m enjoying this season a lot more, now that the Gecko bros. are back together, acting like an old married couple.

American Horror Story:

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The action is flying fast and furious in the fourth chapter of season six, and has so far managed to remain on point. Last chapter, Cricket, who invaded Shelby and Matt’s life, made a deal with the real power behind Kathy Bates’ character, an old Celtic style witch, of some kind. She’s played by the nearly  unrecognizable Lady Gaga. So yeah, this parallels with the third season of AHS, called Coven, which introduced witches. It is now the season of the witch, people!

http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Lady-Gaga-Character-American-Horror-Story-Roanoke-42519689

In exchange for not harming the people in the house, the Cricket promised to give her Matt who, hypnotized by the witch, was found doing the nasty with her in the forest…by Shelby, who is, understandably, pissed off. Matt doesn’t remember any of it though. Mad  about what Matt did, Shelby pulls a dick move and calls the police. She has Lee arrested for Mason’s murder, and  kidnapping her own daughter.

Later Shelby is attacked by the Pigheaded Man, which I kinda cheered, because hey! dick move Shelby, but Dr. Cunninhgham, who had been living in the outdoor cellar, saves her from him.He gives them some more background information on the house, claiming he can help them.  The last family that resided there were all killed by The Butcher and their spirits also haunt the land. It seems as if once you die on the land, your spirit is trapped there forever, which is kind of defeating the purpose of the Butcher, who claims to want to clear the land of…well…people.

Anyway, Dr. Cunningham gets killed while trying to save Flora from a pack of ghosts she’s seen to be playing with. Its uncertain whether Flora is a ghost or real, though. Cunningham gets shot with arrows from, I suspect, The Butcher’s people, which is a pretty novel way to die in the modern age, I guess. They’re able to kill him because they have just entered some special cycle of the moon that allows them to become corporeal  for about six days.

Shelby and Matt run back to the house where they meet Cricket who tells them that he encountered Flora in the forest and met the original witch, who has the hots for Matt because she has “needs”, as Cricket put it. Matt has some backstory to tell too, even though he doesn’t remember sleeping with the witch, about what happened to the original Roanoke colony. Cricket also tells them their house sits on the actual site of Roanoke.

Tomasina the Butcher, and her followers invade the front yard, with Flora in tow. They’re about to kill the child before Cricket goes out to parlay for the child’s life, but gets captured instead. Priscilla, experiencing a pang of conscience, rescues her friend, and the two of them escape into the forest, but Shelby and Matt have to watch as Cricket is slowly disemboweled. And I was just starting to like him.

Bye, bye, Cricket.

I know one thing though, I’m not getting too attached to any of the characters this season. They only seem to last just long enough to impart disturbing information, and then be horribly killed. I’m still feeling kinda nauseated about the disemboweling and its been three days. The body count so far is pretty damn high for just four episodes and we still have two more to go. I’m not feeling too good about Matt and Shelby’s chances.

Here are some further fan theories about this season, which if  true, make this season kinda awesome, already:

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/10/american-horror-story-roanoke-episode-4-freakshow-mott-family-number-six

 

 

 

 

Luke Cage: Shouting Out

There’s gonna be some spoilers here, just like  all the Luke Cage stuff I post. Lots and lots of spoilers. So if you haven’t watched the series, but plan to, read at your own risk.

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The opening credits  reminded me  of the legend of John Henry, as images of city buildings are transposed over the muscular body of Luke Cage. They’re also in keeping with the general aesthetic of the Netflix MCU  opening credits. The plot itself is a typical MCU tv series plot. You have a protagonist who isn’t looking to be a hero because of some past betrayal or trauma, the nemesis who is personal to the hero and wants to take him or her down, various side characters the hero might have to save or become deeply important to them during the series run, the hero becomes increasingly endangered, the eventual takedown of their nemesis, usually during a big fight scene. 

It’s a typical MCU plot. But it’s the stuff layered over this basic plot, the characterizations, and background scenery, that makes Luke Cage extraordinary for Marvel. We get sounds and images not seen in any of the other MCU projects. For example:

Luke Cage is a reader. (I haven’t read too much about the literary mentions in this  series, but I  have read most of the authors mentioned in the show, and was hoping for some articles on the subject.) We see Luke reading in the barbershop in which he works. Walter Mosely, Donald Goines, and  Chester Himes all get shoututs while Luke helps Pop at his barbershop, which is a fitting base of operations for him, as such shops (beauty parlours for the women) are often the cornerstones, and information warehouses, for a neighborhood.

 Pops is partial to the vigilante, Kenyatta, created by Donald Goines, while Luke prefers the characters of  Chester Himes, and we can see him reading one of Walter Mosley’s books in this opening scene, when he mentions he’s a fan of Easy Rawlings, the character from Devil in a Blue Dress. Later, he mentions Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. All of these writers specialize in writing great American hero thrillers, involving Detectives, and various independents, fighting corrupt systems. Basically they’re heroic power fantasies, like comic books but without the superpowers and costumes, and the show does have the flavor of such novels, and contains plot points right out of a few of them. 

Contrast Luke’s reading material with Cottonmouth’s and Diamondback’s influences, neither of whom we see doing a lot of reading. He and Diamondback are fans of Green’s 48 Laws of Power, with several mentions of the movie, New Jack City, which was also about a Black man making criminal power plays in his neighborhood. I’ve  read Robert Green, and no, it is not an instruction manual on how to live, any  more than Machiavelli ‘s The Prince . It’s a meant to be a manual about how to recognize when and what power tactics are being used against you. A lot of young men use it as a manual on how to be a better criminal, but  its mostly meant as a way to recognize political corruption, not how to do it. But it’s very popular amongst a certain class of powerless, young, black men, who seek knowledge, and guidance, but don’t have anyone in their life to give them those things. That Diamondback was a fan of that book wasn’t the least surprising to me. 

In fact, I was able to predict a lot of the actions of most of the criminals in the series because a lot of their choices come right out of those books. (Also, I must be pretty criminal minded because a lot of their actions make sense within the idea of impersonal criminal activity.) From who to kill, to who to leave alive, and why. From who to betray, to immediate alliances. The only character whose actions I couldn’t predict were Diamondback’s because he had  deeply personal daddy issues, and was most likely insane. (This series version of The Joker.)

Chess gets referenced a lot in the show, but there are other types of game players.Pops has a permanent chess board set up in the shop and Turk mentions playing in the park. (Chess playing for black people is a little different activity, and a tradition to play it in the park, in NY.)  For contrast look at how Mariah plays the game, vs. how Diamondback plays it. Mariah is always several moves ahead of everyone and  is a total natural. She likes to disguise her moves as something else, and has a focused vision of her future. She is a natural Queen. (The opposing Queen would be Misty, with her nearly supernatural ability to overview and  reconstruct a crime scene). Diamondback is unsubtle and direct, and  most of the chess players (like Shades) are totally stymied by his actions. They think Diamondback is playing chess, when he’s playing something else, ( Hungry Hungry Hippos or gob knows what.)

As for musical references, Luke seems to like Jazz, and old school hip hop from back inna day, (although it’s not unusual for us to have very wide ranging tastes in music, as most of us grow up listening to, and adopting, some of our parents musical tastes, as I did.)  Method Man makes an appearance later in the series, spitting fire about Luke, over the local radio station. The local radio station is also a classic of the socially conscious black movie, (think The Warriors, Do the Right Thing, The Get Down). I’m from the Midwest and  we have that one radio station that everybody in the neighborhood listens to, along with our own homegrown rap stars. (If you’re a fan of Bone Thugs, then you know where I hang.) If you’re a fan of Gang Starr,  then you also know that the series titles are all titles of their songs. I’m not a Gang Starr fan, though. 

Cottonmouth seems  to be a fan of 90s rap. He has a huge poster of Biggie Smalls on the wall of his office, and mentions Tupac and New Jack City. Later he invites Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans to sing in his club, which is only fitting. My favorite stage entertainer was the dapper,  Jidenna, who sang Long Live the Chief. It’s one of my favorite songs and scenes. 

I’m not actually a huge rap music fan, though. I know enough to get by and hold a conversation. I recognized music from The Wu Tang Clan, Tupac, and Public Enemy, but I probably missed about half the musical references. Down below are links clocking all of the biggest musical, and comic book moments, in the series.

Later, we get a little more old school, mellower music, like The Stylistics’ People Make the World Go Round, which is one of my favorite songs. And when Mariah takes over Cottonmouth’s club, we can see she prefers classics  like, The Delfonics (actually Cottonmouth was watching them rehearse). Mariah manages to hire Susan Jones and The Dap Kings, which is one of my favorite retro-groups. She name drops some of her favorite Jazz artists, as does Pop, earlier in the show.

The entire series is basically a love letter to the entirety of Black culture., and the references come fast and furious. It’s almost impossible to catch all of them.  There were some Jazz shoutouts but since I’m not a huge Jazz listener, outside of the biggies, I can’t speak deeply on that at all, but a lot of the music in the series I grew up listening to, and is part of the background story of my life. The producer, Cheo Hodari-Coker, must be in my age range because a lot of the music had resonance for me, and I’m not even a huge rap music fan, like that. I’m pretty sure there were lots of musical references I didn’t  catch. 

On the other hand, I caught most of the comic book references. From Pop calling Luke “Power Man”, as he was called in the books, to Misty pulling down a poster for martial arts training, that was put up by her future partner, Colleen Wing, who will be making her debut in the Iron Fist series. From the mentions of The Incident (the Chitauri invasion in The Avengers), to Diamondback’s outfit, which is a callback to his look in the comic books, to Luke’s headband, and bracelets during the experiment where he got his powers, to Misty Knight’s red outfit, and blowout at the end  of the series, reminiscent of her full out ‘do in the comic books, this series is full of comic book love. 

And most importantly, no Stan Lee cameo.

Here’s a list of the comic book references:

Did ‘Luke Cage’ Break Netflix? Outage Leaves Saturday Bingers In Dark
Here’s a rundown of the most important musical references by episode:

Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’: Every important musical moment

*Please note these links contain spoilers, and that the comments for these websites are not safe for black people to be reading because there’s going to be all manner of white male nonsense in them. Don’t bother to read them if you have a low tolerance for racial foolishness. (Foolishness which the klandom has already gotten started engaging in.)

 

American Horror Story Season 6

The writers of American Horror Story  have  managed somehow to keep the theme of this entire season under wraps, so I’m going into this review  cold, just like all of you. I got no idea what it’s about or what’s gonna happen. So here we go:

What we have is a documentary style  reality show  of live interviews, mixed with actor reenactments, sort of like the show Paranormal Witness.  This includes all the various tropes of the haunted house, with strange presences , weird videotapes, angry hillbilly locals, and a House on the Borderlands type monster.

It stars Cuba Gooding Jr.  as Matt, the husband of Sarah Paulson’s Shelby, and the brother of Angela Bassett, who plays Lee, as the actors in the reenactments. There are also the live interview actors whose names I didn’t get. So we have two sets of actors. The ones being interviewed about their ordeal, and the more well known cast of American Horror Story, acting out their story. The title of this particular show is called My Roanoke Nightmare.

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There’s a  tearjerking beginning as Matt is assaulted by some street hooligans while walking down the street with his wife, Shelby. And right away we have established race as an undercurrent to most of the action in the show, as the men who assault him yell racial slurs, and its mentioned later that what happened was a gang initiation, where strangers are assaulted for fun. Since the gang that assaults Matt and Shelby consist entirely of white men, the creators neatly sidestep race, while low key commenting on the racial component of urban myths about gangs. (In real life this type of initiation turned out to be an urban myth created  by the media.)

Its never  explicitly stated, but you find yourself wondering heavily about the racial implications behind certain activities, and character motivations, throughout the episode. There’s a current news component to this episode, as it involves questions of police competency, and racism. Since Matt and Shelby are an interracial couple, people’s reactions to them are sometimes alluded to, but not specifically stated, which sounds like a very subtle and ambitious project for the season.

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After the assault, Shelby, who had just found out she was pregnant, has a miscarriage, and the two of them decide to move out of the city. (Sarah Paulson really sells it here. I was near tears in this scene. She’s a phenomenal actress, who simply doesn’t get enough love.) They find an old house in the middle of the North Carolina woods (NC is another racial reference) and bid on the house against some neighborhood hillbillies who warn them that they don’t want it. Now the hillbillies do look suitably dangerous, but I’m not banking on that. They may yet turn out to be helpful allies. We don’t know, but are meant to assume, based solely on their looks, and socio-economic station, that they’re bad people. This is what Shelby and Matt ,who are firmly ensconced in the middle-class, manage to  do, even though Matt is  not unfamiliar with experiencing prejudice based on his looks.

But really Matt! A Black man in the middle of rural America? Is this really a good idea? There’s a reason Black people generally do not frequent the woodsy lifestyle.

At one point Matt does explicitly state that there’s a racial component to the local police’s attitude towards them.

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On their first night in their new home, they experience some great rumblings and crashing outside, and Matt goes outside to discover that the house, and yard, have been vandalized. The next day, while he’s in town, Shelby hallucinates that teeth, rather than hailstones, have fallen from the sky. So,  what we have so far, is a checklist of haunting activities, like Shelby nearly drowning in the hot tub, mysterious objects decorating the house, along with empty bottles that appear out of nowhere, strange noises, and the house being invaded by torch wielding phantoms, while mysterious videos play in the background.

Matt’s judgmental sister, Lee, comes to visit, so that Shelby won’t be alone. I know Matt loves his sister but why would you invite the one person who hates your wife? Oh that’s right! Lee used to be a cop. At first you think this relationship, and Lee, are  cut and dried, but it turns out that Lee has some demons of her own. She lost her job, her husband and custody of her child because of an addiction to painkillers. Lee also disdains Matt’s wife as a woman too soft, and hysterical, to be of any good. While the Shelby interviewee downplays her enmity about Lee, the Lee interviewee is pretty open about her feelings. The two women hate each other and I wonder how much of that hatred is because Lee doesn’t like  Matt being married to  a white woman.

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Again its not something explicitly stated, but the kinds of complaints Lee makes about Shelby are the same kind of complaints I’ve heard black women make about white women. That they are useless, and soft, prone to hysteria, and can’t cook. Shelby’s complaints are low key about race too, about how Lee couldn’t keep her husband, and is too aggressive.

On the first night of Lee’s visit, while the two women are having a seriously heavy fight, some masked, torch bearing people approach the house and the two women are terrorized into the basement, while Matt rushes back to see what’s going on. He asked Lee to stay because he doesn’t trust the local police to do anything. There’s a Blair Witch style decorating of the house, mysterious videos playing on the basement TV, and all the lights are out.

I was kind of saddened at the thought of the two women not getting along. The two of them have much to commiserate on, and if they weren’t so judgmental of one another, would make great allies. The things they believe about one another, simply aren’t true, and are mostly figments of their own prejudices,which again, aren’t exactly racial, but aren’t exactly not-racial either. Shelby is not the soft and helpless damsel that Lee thinks she is. She’s been thorough some difficulties. Lee isn’t the unemotional, hard-ass that Shelby thinks she is, as she is also deeply affected by her losses in life, and if the two of them could get past that, they might do each other a lot of good.

Shelby runs out of the house and  hits an old woman on the road, who subsequently gets back up, and wanders off into the woods.  Shelby runs into the forest after the her, at night, and promptly gets lost. City people just refuse to understand, if you don’t keep the road in your line of sight, you will get lost. It doesn’t matter which way you think you came, as city people do not have the best sense of direction, having never had to develop one. She walks into a clearing with lit torches and a bleeding, pleading man.

So, this episode was definitely intriguing, but not for the plot. For me it was all the thematic tones under the plot that I found more fascinating. I’m not really into any of the haunted house movies that are all the rage right now, having been through the whole Amityville Horror fad of the late seventies, so I saw most of the  haunting activities as a kind of checklist that must be met, for the dwelling to be considered haunted.

Extremely old house with an unknown past.

Angry locals, warning away the happy newbies.

Something making noise outside the house.

Hallucinations.

Near drowning in a shallow tub of water, with camera shots from below.

Hopefully, there will be a few more twists and turns in the plot this season. I found the unexpected characterizations to be much better. I also hope that Shelby and Lee will get out of each other’s way and become better allies, if they live through this.

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