Tumblr Weekend Discussions

Here are some posts and articles about film and tlevision that I couldn’t fit into the last post. These are just things I found interesting in my internet travels, some old, some new:

On Television

Samurai Jack has long been one of my all-time favorite cartoons. First, its simply a gorgeous looking cartoon, and and much deeper, philosophically, than it ever needed to be to entertain teenagers. This article is almost like an ode to the series:

A lone samurai clad in white stares up in horrified awe at a gargantuan future city, constructed with neon bright colors, clashing machinery, and aliens speaking in a tongue foreign to his ear. This samurai travels through lands of the mythic and mundane, the natural and the supernatural. Here he is again, alone, in a dense forest. The only sounds are chirping crickets and the fire that crackles before him — until a vision of his long-deceased father rips through the tranquility, admonishing him for his failure. These moments aren’t from a prestige TV series with A-list talent or a long-lost Akira Kurosawa film. They’re from Samurai Jack, the animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky that premiered in 2001, ran for four seasons, and was revived for a fifth and final season that ended this past weekend.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/05/samurai-jack-was-tvs-most-poignant-depiction-of-loneliness.html

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Note: This is a 13 page paper studying Whiteness in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer  and race

The Caucasian Persuasion of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ewan Kirkland

This paper explores Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a particularly white
text. By this I mean, the series is both populated by archetypal white characters, and informed by various structures, tropes and perspectives Dyer identifies as characterising
whiteness.

http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/kirkland_slayage_5.1.pdf

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There are simply not enough WoC in genre fiction, certainly not as primary characters. Shows like Superstition, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, and Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper Series, make a specia leffort to be diverse, but we need more, and better depictions of  fantastical WoC on screen, and in genre literature. We need more Black female witches, vampires and werewolves, and stories that are not alwyas about us dealing with the modern world in the same old way. (We need WoC power fantasies, too.)

Laveau encapsulates better than any other historical figure the narrow position black witches hold in the public imagination. (It’s important to note that, to examine this trend, I am using “witches” as a catch-all term for these characters, including rootworkers and voodoo priestesses.) While their practices — whether Haitian voodou or rootwork — are appropriated to add a flash of exoticism, they often remain thinly drawn figures, pushed to the margins of their respective stories. They are used to incite fear or curiosity in the white imagination, which remains deeply suspicious of black ancestral practices that don’t allow for easy translation. In pop culture, the historical underpinnings of these practices — which were brought to America by slaves trying to fiercely hold onto their own belief systems, even as colonialism tried to beat it out of them — are traded for a simpler, highly exoticized portrayal.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/black-witches-why-cant-they-get-respect-in-pop-culture.html

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Image result for lewis tan/iron fist

I’m always up for some Iron Fist bashing. Not exactly because I hate him (although I certianly hate that show) but more because I think I’m really mad about what we culd have had, had we listened to Asian-Americans, and simply cast Lewis Tan, for example.

It’s hard to not imagine what could have been. For years, Asian-Americans had hoped that Marvel would cast an Asian-American actor as the lead of its Netflix series Iron Fist, only for the role to go to Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones. The decision wasn’t exactly surprising — after all, the character Danny Rand is white in the original comics — but a casting reversal would have turned a stereotypical narrative into a fresh story about an Asian-American reclaiming his roots. Now, we know that Marvel had seriously considered the possibility: Actor Lewis Tan was on hold for Danny Rand before he was offered the role of the one-off villain Zhou Cheng, who appears in episode eight of Iron Fist.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/lewis-tan-marvel-iron-fist-interview.html

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Ben Wasserman clarifies exactly why Iron Fist failed as a series. 

 

And finally, this brings us to IRON FIST, Marvel Studio’s first true narrative flop. Even with all the problems regarding the series’ dialogue, editing and stunt choreography, I believe these problems could have been lessened to an extent had the story been worth caring about. Yet throughout his narrative, Danny Rand is presented as an entitled child whose actions never fit his status, constantly failing to prove his fighting abilities during numerous action sequences while simultaneously being praised as K’un Lun’s greatest fighter by one too many characters. Granted, one could equate this factor to poor choreography, but considering the praise given to DAREDEVIL’s hallway fight, there really is no excuse for sloppiness in a show centered on mystical kung-fu. And yet, underneath this convoluted mess of a narrative lies a theme that could very well have tied in with the other DEFENDERS shows: the rejection of one’s identity.

https://comicsverse.com/defenders-and-identity-why-iron-fist-failed-where-other-marvel-netflix-shows-succeeded/

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A discussion of “The New Yellow Peril” plotlines of Marvel TV series , Daredevil and Iron FIst.

THE FISTS OF WHITE MEN

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With a cast of heroes that includes a woman and a Black man, diversity should be The Defenders’s strong suit, but the show positions a nebulous Asian organization as the villain; considers white saviors, including Iron Fist and Daredevil, as the only people capable of keeping New York City from crumbling; and relies on Orientalism as a plot device.

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/yellow-peril-in-the-defenders

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Malec and the Burden of Representation

Too much of this article is written from Alec’s point of view, but this is otherwise a solid examination of why LGBTQ representation matters, especially when it comes to Magnus Bane.

MATTHEW DADDARIO, HARRY SHUM JR.

Alec, one of the series main shadowhunters, is in the closet and the reasons for it are almost too many to count. From his society’s aggressive homophobia and an unquestionable loyalty to his family’s legacy to a fear of rejection and an emotionally confusing parabatai bond with fellow shadowhunter Jace, it’s easy to understand why he’d want to keep his sexuality a secret. Especially when it comes to Jace, with whom he shares an ambiguous bond complicated by the fact that one-half is gay and the other is not, in a culture that prohibits romance between them.

http://www.screenspy.com/articles/tv/shadowhunters-malec-burden-representation/

 

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This article discusses why race was such an important feature in Shadow Moon’s story.

Image result for american gods shadow

American Gods and the Realities of Race

…However, Sava’s words only work first to mirror the majority of Americans who are still living in this country with heads in the sand concerning race. They then dismiss a vital component of Shadow’s purpose in the story as both a dark-skinned character in modern America and as a bearer of an important Norse tradition. Sava mostly tries to whitewash the importance of the scene, which is worse than a Texas school board on an American history book.

https://blackgirlnerds.com/american-gods-realities-race/

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Things I Watched – More Mini Reviews

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Legends of Tomorrow Mid-season Finale

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

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

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

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

 

Sleight

Image result for sleight movie gifs

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Problem with Apu

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

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

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

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

 

Happy

Image result for syfy happy tv show gif

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

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

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

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

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

It is totally not for kids!!!!

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Image result for autopsy of jane doe gif

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

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

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

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

 

Strange Empire

Image result for strange empire series gif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Forthcoming TV In January

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9-1-1 (Fox)

I normally don’t watch these types of shows because they’re too stressful, but the Divine Angela Bassett is starring in this show, and I’ve never seen her play a cop before, so I will watch the premiere episode, and get back to you on what I think. One of the co-runners of the show is Ryan Murphy who does the American Horror Story Series, and I’m curious about what he’s done with this subject.Those of you, who can handle higher levels of stress than me, may enjoy to watch it on the regular. If so, let me know how you like it in the comments. Just because I’m not watching something doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want other people to enjoy it.

 

The X-Files (Fox)

I’m sort of looking forward to the return of this show. I was never a fan of the Mythology stuff, although I followed along so I didn’t get any more lost in the plot than usual. This looks like a continuation of the six episode mini season we got last year, which I sort of enjoyed. I’m not wildly enthusiastic but I’m not un-excited. Imma check it out, see if I like it, and get back to y’all later.

 

7th

Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access)

I’m thoroughly hooked on this show. I’m still not remotely interested in the Klingons, but I’m into the human characters and whats going to happen next. See my upcoming review of the first half of the season before the second half airs.

 

10th

The Magicians – Season Three (Syfy)

I had mixed emotions about the last season. On the one hand I loved the humorous part of the narrative, and Quentin’s mystery solving capabilities. I’m especially enjoying Dean Foggs larger role in the story. On the other hand, I hated Julia’s storyline because it’s so horrifying and tragic. I just don’t like watching this character be abused every season, and it’s a storyline that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the show. There was also the issue of killing off two gay characters last season, one white and male and the other, a disabled black woman, and that really put me off the show. But I will watch the premiere and see if there will be more of the same. If so, then I can’t make this regular viewing, although those who are less delicate than me, about such things, might have a grand ol’ time.

 

12th

Philip K Dick’s Science Fiction Anthology: Electric Dreams (Amazon)

I know nothing about what kind of stories will be on this show, but I think it’s meant to be Amazon’s rival to the critically acclaimed Black Mirror, which airs on Netflix.

 

Taken – Season Two (NBC)

I didn’t watch the first season of this show because I wasn’t interested, but now in the second season the creators have decided to try to save it by giving the plot and cast a complete overhaul. I personally feel that this is the kind of storyline that should ge remade every season with an entirely new cast and details. It also has a new showrunner, the guy who ran the show Person of Interest. POI was another show that I never meant to start watching, but the plot and performances drew me in, and I stayed watching to the end. Maybe the same will happen with this show.

 

Proud Mary (In Theaters)

I’ve been a fan of Taraji P. Hensen since her Person of Interest days, so I’m very excited about this movie., and so is my Mom. I think it reminds her of those Blaxploitation movies starring Pam Grier. (And she just likes Taraji, too.) This is notable becasue it’s a Black woman carrying a major action film. No, Taraji’s not the first, but it is rare enough to take notice. We keep  getting all these female versions of John Wick, and I guess this is the Black version. (We already have some Asian guy versions which are basically any movies by John Woo.)

 

16th

Black Lightning (CW)

I’m looking forward to this. One of Black Lightning’s daughters is a superhero in her own right, and it’ll be nice to see a Black woman hero on TV. Maybe if we’re really lucky, the show won’t suck, and we can get a spin-off.

 

22nd

The Alienist (TNT)

I read the book by Caleb Carr that this show is based on. I’m a sucker for Historical mysteries set at the turn of the century. I have no idea why. And since I liked Ripper Street, I thought maybe this would capture me too. It looks good, but once again you’ve got a really really White NY city. (Why does Hollywood keep forgetting people of color have existed in both London and New York City since their inception?) But it stars Luke Evans, and he has an epic jawline and I need to support that while it’s on TV. Dakota Fanning, I can either take or leave.

Coming Soon To A TV Near You

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Here’s a list of various upcoming TV programs and series, that I might watch, or am excited about, this month. Some of these will available for streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

For the rest of December:

 

Happy:

Starring Christopher Meloni, and Patton Oswalt, this has already aired, and I haven’t yet watched the episode. As soon as I do I’ll let you know what I think. I was kind of excited about this mostly because I’m a Christopher Meloni fan, who will watch him in just about anything, and Patton Oswalt’s not a bad comedian. This looks almost as zany as Legion, but probably less confusing, and maybe it will be funny. It’s definitely very graphic, so if you have trouble watching lots of gore, maybe take a rain-check on this one. Believe it or not, its actually based on a comic book, and does not star a superhero, so it will be interesting to see other things besides superhero shows from comics in the next couple of years.

Meloni’s character is some kind of cop, or hitman, I’m not sure which, who starts to hallucinate a tiny blue horse that is the polar opposite of his demeanor, in that its named Happy, and tries to get him to see the bright side of living.

 

Knightrfall

This has also just aired after the new episodes of Vikings. I wasn’t impressed, not because its a bad show, but because I’m not interested in this particular era of history, or this area of the world. I checked out after the anti-semitic sentiment (which was common for the time period) started to work on my nerves, a bit. So if you’re Jewish, and were planning to watch it, maybe you can skip it, and that’s okay. I can say it’s an extremely pretty show, but the dialogue needs some help. I don’t think this show is going to blow up the same way Vikings did, though.

 

7th: Psych :The Movie

I was an on again off again fan of the series, so I’m mildly excited about this, even though Tim Omundsen isn’t making an appearance, (or so I’ve been lead to believe). Tonight, we get to find out what Gus and Shawn have gotten up to since the series ended. One of the biggest draws of the show was their friendship, and I’d like to immerse myself in their silliness for a while, and I’ll let you know what happened.

 

13th: The Librarians

I’m not a fan of this show, and have never seen a single episode, which is really weird, because I’m a librarian and, I believe I’m required, by some law, to watch it. Maybe I will.

 

15th: Jean Claude Van Johnson

I saw the first episode of this and was shocked to see Phylicia Rashad in it, as Jean Claude Van Damme and Phylicia Rashad are not two names I ever associated with one another. Here, he plays a government agent whose secret identity is being the famous Jean Claude. I sort of liked it. I thought his self-deprecation was pretty funny, but the humor is uneven and  doesn’t fit well with some of the violence in the show, even if some of that violence is played for laughs. It’s worth a watch if you like Kung Fu, and comedy.The show airs on Amazon Prime.

 

18th: Gunpowder

I’m  looking forward to this, even though it airs on HBO, and I don’t have that network anymore. It’s  about the events leading up to Guy Fawkes Day in England and star Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones..

 

19th: The Indian Detective

I like the idea of this. I enjoy watching detectives of other cultures, as they attempt to solve crimes within their respective cultures, or attempt to navigate someone else’s. Also, Russell Peters is the star, and I think he’s pretty funny. This airs on Netflix, too.

 

21st: Peaky Blinders

This also airs on Netflix. I only partially watched the first couple of  seasons of this show, which stars Cillian Murphy, about a criminal gang from Birmingham England called, what else, Peaky Blinders. I’m excited for this new season which also stars Tom Hardy.

 

22nd: Bright

This is being touted as one of the most expensive original  shows on Netflix, and we know why. Will Smith costs money! I’m very excited about this because I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Will Smith smartin’ off at strange creatures any time soon, and who can resist the mashup of Elves, Orcs, and the gangbangers of LA. This is the very definition of “Urban” Fantasy, and I’m here for it. It also has music videos.

 

25th: Dr. Who Xmas Special: Twice Upon A Time

As usual, every year there’s a Xmas special that introduces the old Doctor Who to the new Doctor Who, or to the viewers. Since the new Doctor is now a woman, I might actually watch it this year. It’s also my last chance to see Pearl Mackie and Peter Capaldi together, again. What happens is, rather than recording the show like a normal human being, I usually end up skipping it, going to bed, and then forgetting that it ever aired.Well, maybe this year I may remain awake (if the day hasn’t been too strenuous), and get to watch it this time.

 

29th: Black Mirror

I’m not a huge Black Mirror fan. I watched bits and pieces of the last season, and my attitude was “It’s okay.”, but I like the new trailer for this season, which looks fun rather than gloomy, or tragic, so I guess I’m going to be watching a lot, (and I mean, a lot), of Netflix this December.

 

31st: Dave Chappelle 

I didn’t care for Chappelle’s last show on \Netflix. I just didn’t think it was as funny as I expected it to be, but I’m glad to see he’s working again, and I’ve always been a huge fan, so I’ll check this out, instead of partying on New Year’s Eve.

 

Next Up: What’s coming in January

We have a lot to look forward to next month, not just on TV but in theaters.

Also: a list of forthcoming TV shows for the next year, and which movie remakes are in the works, or being discussed for 2018

 

Hi! Have Some Mini Reviews

Attack of the Killer Donuts

Yep! Its attack of the Killer Donuts. I was eager to watch this the moment I heard about it, but didn’t know where I’d be able watch it. I thought maybe it would take at least a year for it to reach the Syfy channel, maybe. Its actually on a library app called Hoopla. (If you have a library card, and your library subscribes to Hoopla, you should be able to access free books, movies, comic books and music.)

Yes, this movie is exactly as stupid as it sounds, carrying on in the grand tradition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and stars our boy, Ponyboy,  I mean C. Thomas Howell, yucking it up, as a cop who naturally, loves donuts. I’d list the other actors in this movie, but you still wouldn’t know who they were. It’s an entire cast of nobodies, who will never be anybodies, because that’s just how atrocious their acting is.

It’s hard to make a parody of a parody, but this movie actually  manages to successfully spoof Killer Tomatoes. Johnny is a hapless loser, whose blonde bombshell girlfriend cheats on him, and who doesn’t recognize that  his childhood friend, Michelle, has been totally crushing on him. He lives with his Mom, while his uncle lives in the basement and does weird medical experiments on rats. Also, his Mom is secretly sleeping with his nerdy best friend, Howard. Johnny works in a local donut shop that’s been going out of business for years because the town is nearly dead.

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Michelle is a techinical genius, who fixes computers, in her spare time. Unfortunately, her shiftless, dumbbell brother takes all the credit, and refuses to pay her for it. Michelle has been crushing on Johnny since they were little kids, and I totally bought into their relationship. The actress is good  enough, and there’s just enough backstory, to be able to sell her friendship with Johnny. Why does she love him, especially since she’s the smartest person in town? Because it’s in the script.

When Johnny’s uncle’s weird resurrection experiment manages to contaminate some donuts, the infection soon spreads to the rest of the shop, where the donuts come alive, sprout giant teeth, and decide to chew their way through the town’s inhabitants. Do not stop to ask yourself pertinent questions like: Where did they grow those teeth from? How are they moving around without legs?  Where is all the flesh they’re eating going to if they don’t have stomachs? And do the donuts produce poop? Never mind all this! Just enjoy the sheer goofiness of watching crullers, twists, and creme filled long johns, flying through the air, and trying ot bite people.

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I got a real kick out of this movie, though. It’s not very deep and I got a few hearty laughs out of it. The characters are definitely meant to be mocked and ridiculed. The three smartest people in the cast are Michelle, Howard, and Johnny ,who manage to fight off the donuts, and prevent possible donut Armageddon, by beating back the donuts using a combination of bravery and batlike objects, and blowing up the donut shop. The body count is pretty  low, but only because the movie doesn’t have a large enough budget to star more than ten to twelve people anyway.

The characters who are meant to be liked are likable, and you root for them to survive. The characters who are meant to be hated, are hatefully over the top, and you gleefully hope the donuts will eat them, like Johnny’s asshole boss, who allows Michelle to be bullied and sexually harassed by some dudebro customers, and Johnny’s faux-girlfriend, who is only with him because he keeps giving her money. Michelle is waaay too pretty and smart for Johnny, but that’s also on purpose. Heroes in these movies are almost always outshone by their girlfriends.

The stars of the movie though, are the donuts who chase, bounce, jump, bite, and generally act like a pack of rabid weasels. Occasionally someone  eats one of the cursed donuts and they, in turn, become rabid, and attack people, too. These are some of the cheapest, funniest special effects, I’ve seen in a while and I loved it! You could do worse than spend a happy, mindless, 90 minutes with this movie.

 

Star Trek Discovery

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I re-subscribed to CBS All Access because they offered some kind of special to sign back up. Of course I’m sure they realize, that as soon as the first season of this show is over, I’m going to unsubscribe to this  channel, because there’s not a whole hell of a lot to offer on this network. I generally don’t watch CBS. (They don’t have especially interesting shows, there’s almost no diversity, and there’ aren’t a whole lot of movie choices, either.)

Well, I subscribed so I could watch the first half of the first season of Star Trek Discovery and I have to say. I’m hooked! It took about three days to get through the first 7 or 8 episodes and now I’m invested. Like a lot of shows that do so, it improved from the pilot episode, with the introduction of new characters and themes.

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The first two episodes don’t really give a lot of indication of what the show will be like the rest of the season, and by the 4th and 5th episodes the show has definitely developed its flavor, with a good balance of light heartedness, and seriousness. Michael Burnham’s character takes a real turn when her prison ship is diverted to the Discovery by Captain Lorca.

Michael isn’t well received on the ship. Most people either hate her or fear her, except for Lorca, and her roommate, Tilly, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. There’s also been the introduction of a love interest named Ash Tyler, played by the lovely Shazad Latif, who was rescued from a Klingon ship, suffers from PTSD, and may be a Klingon spy. I’m also really liking Anthony Rapp’s character, after I hated him in the first couple of episodes. Something happened to him that made him much more likable and approachable, without changing his essential nature.

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Each episode has a philosophical theme, that can get a little bit heavy. and I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of the kids on Tumblr aren’t used to Scifi shows being like that, I guess. But if you’re an OG Star Trek fan you should be well used to that sort of thing. The show definitely captures the spirit of Star Trek, if not the exact timeline and details. One of the things you may have the hardest time with is people cussing, and actual (not implied) sex scenes, because up til now, its mostly been a very PG type of show.

I’ll do a more in depth post on this later this month, after I’ve had some more time to think about the characters and plot.

 

Justice League

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Certain parts of this movie I really enjoyed, mostly any scene that didn’t involve Batman, or the villain. The end of the movie is a hot and colorful mess. The pacing is off, the music is annoying, just really, this could have been a  better movie.  But there are things to like about it. The most compelling story is Cyborg, and I wish I’d gotten to see more of The Flash, because all we got from him is quips. He still turned out to be my favorite character in the entire movie, which was a suprise because I thought it would be Aquaman. (Cyborg is too grim and tragic to be a favorite, although I really liked him, and I look forward to his solo film.)

It doesn’t help matters that every time I heard the villain’s name, I thought of the band Steppenwolf, (I did not know this was an actual character in DC comics.), and the funky remix of Magic Carpet Ride would play in my head.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

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This was a much better movie, even though I was trying really hard not to compare it to Justice League.  I really love Taika Waititi, and his brand of humor is stamped all over this movie, plus there’s a lowkey anti-colonialist message underneath all of the fun.

My favorite moment is Hela’s entrance into the story, and the introduction of Fenris. I didn’t know I needed to see a giant wolf  until I saw it. The Hulk turned out to be a lot funnier than I thought he would be, and of course, Jeff Goldblum was gold! Tessa Thompson was having waaay too much fun blowing shit up, and catwalking her way through the action scenes, and I loved it. Heimdall has a much larger role in this movie, and I’m eternally grateful at getting to watch Idris Elba kick some ass with a giant sword.

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Funny moment #213!

I had a great time!

 

Blade of the Immortal

I used to read this Manga back in the nineties, becasue that’s what I was doing back then, reading Samurai Manga, and binging YA novels. If you’re looking for a fairly faithful rendition of the manga, this will do.

Manji is about to die in battle when he’s approached by some type of immortal nun, who infects him with something called blodworms. The bloodworms heal any injuries he gets, no matter how severe or life threatening. In the books, he can only be killed after he kills 1000 men. Well, in the movie its been 50 something years, and he hasn’t killed 1000 men yet, when he’s contacted by a woman, Rin, who wants him to avenge her family’s deaths at the hands of the local sword fighting school.

I really love Samurai movies, ever since I first watched Seven Samurai, and will watch almost any one of them. I really liked this one, but not for the story, which I found not too remarkable. I liked it for the gore and sowrdfighting. I’m pretty sure Japanese viewers will get a lot more out of watching this movie than I did, but for me it was all just eye candy and some great fight scenes. And there are a lot of those, and naturally, there’s also a lot of blood. Blood and appendages are flying all over the place in this movie, re-attaching themselves, only to be lopped off later in the film. While this has the unintended side effect of muting any danger that Manji might be in, Rin is still in peril, and you’ll have to settle for a will she or won’t she survive type of thrill.

 

Valerian and the City of One Thousand Planets

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I was really hyped to see this movie because its got creatures, aliens, scifi costumes, and action and adventure, and I like Dane Dehaan. I ended up being disappointed, not because this is a bad movie, but because  it has so little substance to it, and I just expected more. Despite all the alien candy on display, the most fascinating thing, in the entire movie, was Cara Delevigne eyebrows. Talk about eyebrows “on fleek”. I kept staring at them, wondering when she had time to do her makeup, with all the shooting and running around she had to do.

I was also mildy excited because there was a big deal about the  singer Rihanna being is in this movie, as a shapeshifting character named Bubble, but she doesn’t appear until about 3/4 of the way in, and is killed off soon after, as she sacrifices her life for the two White protagonists, after one of them tortured her for information. Everything aobut this character is just bad, when looked at from the perspective of race. Everything!!! She’s toyalty of some kind, who was kidnapped and enslaved, and reduced to the level of a sex worker, (who is happy to be whatever you want). The worst part is that this tragic character is meant to be a form of comedy relief.

So let’s get this right:

Enslaved? Check!

Sex worker?Check!

Torture of yet another PoC? Check!

Comedy relief? Check!

Sacrifices herself to save the White protagonists? Check!

*Sigh!*

It’s like the writers went through a list of all the  Black film stereotypes they could find and wrote the character around every one of them. It wouldve been better if this character had never existed at all. (That would still have not improved this film however.) I know Rihanna is a huge scifi geek because she said so, but she really needs ot choose her nextproject with more care. I had no trouble with her performance of Bubble, however. She came across as funny and sweetly vulnerable.

There’s a lot of action in this movie. A lot of running around all so that everyone can end up in the same place, which has the side efect of making you think all the running around was to no purpose, a series of film vignettes, loosely based around the movie’s McGuffin. There is the same underlying theme of colonialism as in Thor Ragnarok, but it’s so nebulous you can barely see it.

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And so am I.

 

Pop Culture Talks About Race

I read an interesting article that stated, one of the reasons that the Civil Rights Movement was successful, was because of the progression of technology. Basically, the invention of portable hand held cameras, in the 50s, which allowed the media to be on the scene, up front and center, when riots, marches, or any type of civil unrest was occurring, instead of photographers who showed up after the fact.  It allowed the media to film, in real time, exactly how Black people were being treated in America by the police, and it provoked a global response. Some of the global response to such images is what helped to  promote the passing of the Civil Rights Bill. I don’t know if this is true but it was an interesting thought.

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With the invention of camera phones, and apps that record our deaths in real time, one would expect an equal progression on racial issues, along with the technology, and there is some. Certainly there’s a greater degree of awareness about how we’re treated, that media news cameras were unable, and in some cases, unwilling to capture. Now, images of Black death and brutality are everywhere in social media, but there has been no corresponding progress in empathy from White people.

In some cases, watching some of these videos, has become for some White people, little more than pain porn, or virtue signalling. In some instances, the prominence, and easily availability of such images, has had the side effect of producing a defensive White-lash from some people, who don’t want to admit that they don’t care about Black lives (or any lives but their own, really), are content with the status quo, yet are too ashamed to admit that they are callous, soulless, individuals, because they still want others to see them as “good” people.

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Black pain and degradation has always been on display. It has always made great spectacle for a certain class of people. High visibility does not mean that Black Americans have power. There are those who use the spectacles of of our brutality to try to make themselves look good to others, and those who are certainly willing to watch Black pain, can sympathize with  it, and yet, are content to do nothing but  emote about it on Facebook, because it’s not something that  directly affects them.

And then, there are those non-Black people of color who mistake attention and visibility, for power, and think we should also do the free labor of speaking out on their behalf, while never having spoken on ours.

This is from one of the more mature discussions about race I’ve seen on Tumblr. (It’s been my observation that most of the people there are too young, and lack enough nuance, to be able to hold deep discussions on the topic, but sometimes there are exceptions.)

Anonymous  asked:

People are still burning over how we got “too much attention in Charlottesville,” and I’m like, …? What people don’t realize is that attention is fruitless. Our suffering makes good clickbait, but nothing’s really being done about it unless we do it. And all that attention just gets us the envy and bitterness of other groups who insist there’s a checklist of things we not only have to fight for, but things we have to put *before* our own lives.

phoenix-ace  answered:

Exactly.

I think that part of the problem is that there is a lack of education about black people, a lot of people really don’t see us as people they’re willing to learn about. I think there is a problem with people conflating Imperialism with “American” and they take it out on minorities that are based in the U.S. because we’re an easier target. And I also think a lot of non-black people internalized that racism against us  because it is so engrained all over the world so that informs their opinions of us.  So they only  go off of the little bit they’re taught about us in school or see in the media.  I feel like they they believe that anti-black racism is something we deserve, and the point is to avoid being tread like us more than it is to stop white supremacy all together.  However, I think things go a little deeper than that.

I believe that they don’t know (or don’t care) about the way anti-black voyeurism has been an instrumental part of white supremacy in the U.S.  So they see a bunch of pictures of our dead bodies and some crying people and think “oh folks care about *them*.”  They don’t realize that people were passing around images of our lynched bodies for hundreds of years and people still didn’t care, there still weren’t consequences, no one stood up for us.  It was an acceptable part of our existence in this society.  They don’t realize that the way that they talk to us and react to us is directly affected by the idea that violence and hostility are our lot in life and the only way we can relate to people.

So they get envious because their histories are different than ours.  They forget that we live in this strange dichotomy where we are both visible and invisible at the same time.  We’re visible as targets, and invisible as victims.  We are everywhere when folks want to make ahistorical claims of oppression we “inflicted” on others but we don’t exist when they want to erase our contributions to their communities or when they want to appropriate our history to a more “deserving” minority group.  People will spread pictures of dead black children but won’t show up to support us when we want justice, worse, they’ll argue how we deserved to be victimized.  They want us loud and visible to fight battles, but refuse to give us the credit (only the blame if the activism isn’t perfect or something goes wrong). They want us to know everything about their cultures but they don’t know a thing about us beyond what racist media tells them.

Heck, the only time I’ve seen people really focus on black people is when they want to tell us we’re doing something wrong or leaving someone out.  I’ve never seen non-black people focus on black people in a way that has helped us.  People who have never overtly supported black people a day in their life have this misconception of our privilege and obligations, because they honestly don’t relate to us as suffering *people* with priorities as much as they see us as a social justice customer service line they can call and rant at.  Case in point: Look at how many people will talk about how *others feel* but will never examine how we feel or what we’re facing.

But its not just their fault: They weren’t property so they don’t get how our race gets us attention because we were primary targets, not because people wanted to help us.  Black skin was equated with whatever negative qualities they could project on to us to justify our enslavement.   When we were enslaved, our race meant that anyone who was black could be kidnapped and sold into slavery even if they were free.  We were criminalized by laws just for being black and not working for the same people who owned us after slavery was made “illegal” after the Civil War.  We’ve always had “attention”. We could never “assimilate”.  We had to be visible to survive, because the moment we were silent they could destroy all of us and the world wouldn’t bat an eye.  We had a precarious existence here, and a lot of people don’t realize that because they were never in our position.  They might have been oppressed in other ways, but they were never *property*.  The U.S. didn’t base the countries prosperity on their enslavement so they don’t get how visibility works here.

They don’t realize that our visibility has never been a privilege, because they experience racism in different ways than we do, and that they don’t have to act hostile towards us, and erase our history just to bring visibility to other people.

tl;dr: I think that people let their anti-black bias inform how they relate to us, but I also feel like they don’t understand that visibility doesn’t work as a privilege for us like it might for others who have a different history here in the U.S.  A lack of education is definitely to blame and they need to take the initiative to practice what they preach when it comes to solidarity (and intersectionality) and learn how our visibility informs our reality as black people in the U.S. and that needs to be a central part of anti-racism discourse.

Source:
And I’m warning you now, the charge will be lead by  young White women, who lack knowledge of intersectional politics, or a nuanced understanding of feminism, who are  pretending to be progressive, and concerned. You can argue with them if you want to, but remember, the Block button is always available, when the bullshit gets out of hand. When you feel your mind start to unravel from the nonsense, don’t argue. Just block!
The “White Feminist” bullshit has already  started regarding Valkyrie from Thor Ragnarok. I apologise in advance for subjecting your eyeballs  to the following  argument. (Feel free to check out at any point after the second paragraph, cuz its a shitshow of several isms.) This topic was already addressed by Stitch’s Media Mix (on her blog,) so I’ll follow her lead, and not link to the author’s name, but here is the original post and some of the other responses:
I finally realized what bothered me so much about about Thor: Ragnarok. Well, aside for all Thor’s characterization that went out the window in favour of him being a blumbering idiot who has no idea how to respectfully speak to a woman. Or the poor language choices, but I hope that was a problem with the Italian adaptation and Thor didn’t actually speak like a dumb teenager.

Anyway, my problem was with Valkyrie, more specifically with the fact she’s male coded. Heavily so.

Let me explain: there is this war veteran, who is drunk in the very first scene, whose fight buddy, who was supposedly its female love interest, died in the last war and said veteran became a rogue, violent drunkard lost in an empty life polar opposite to the past of gretness and honour of before, a past said fighter doesn’t want to be reminded of.

How many male characters are there in cinematography with this same, boring, pathethic story?

The only difference between them and Valkyrie is that she has a female body. But only that, her body, because nothing in her behaviour, gestures, way of speech or anything at all shows the slightest hint of female feelings or qualities. Loki is more feminine than she is (which is arguably intended by both writing and acting, but that’s another matter).  Gosh, even Thor has feminine bits and pieces!

My point is, Valkyrie’s character was written exactly like a “tragic male character”, then they took a female actress for the role because they realized they didn’t have enough female speaking characters (read: none other than Hela) to pass the Bechedel test. Spoiler alert! They still don’t.

 

theravennest

 This whole post is pretty anti-Black, specifically anti-Black women.

I’m gonna need you to examine why you felt like Valkyrie, a Black woman, was “too masculine” and lacked femininity to the point of seeming more masculine than both Loki and Thor.

Valkyrie was so wonderfully female in pretty much everything she did, I just can’t with this.

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steverogersorbust

Look, the Bechdel test needs to stop being invoked as the end-all be-all marker of well-written female interaction. Not that Thor gets off the hook for this, because no two female characters ever really interact with substance (though it’s notable that the two female characters who did interactTopaz and Val—are women of color) but that’s not really your point, OP, is it?

So back to Valkyrie being a male character in a female body, I….yikes. So much wrong with this statement. Reading Valkyrie as heavily male-coded means we’re assuming that women can’t have alcohol dependencies, that they can’t be powerful and flawed, that tragedy and fear and trauma as a result of war are sole domains of men, that women can’t or shouldn’t have the same complicated and flawed existences as many male characters do. Do we need a woman onscreen to, idk, nurture someone or reference her inferior upper body strength in order to be classified “feminine”? Did we need her to make a boob joke like Bruce did for Nat in AoU? Did we need her to use her ~wiles~ to trick someone or be a sexpot? I think you’re ascribing to a very binary understanding of gender qualities, and perpetuating some harmful stereotypes with this idea…after all, Valkyries are referenced by Thor as an elite force of female warriors—that they’re women is a significant factor. She is a Valkyrie. She is a woman. She gets a moment where we see her brush her hand over the Grandmaster’s cheek and he blushes in satisfaction. We see Thor try and preen for her as a show of attraction. We see Bruce call her “so beautiful.” We see her femininity in other people’s reactions to her, and that’s enough. Everything else is gravy because the story doesn’t need or doesn’t rely on any tired tropes of femininity to move forward.

 

scottmccute

 No matter what black women do y’all racists will always see us as “too masculine” lmao. And you vision of what is or is not “feminine” seems pretty sexist op. Not to mention, since when are tragic soldier backstories only meant for men? It’s actually refreshing that for once, a woman gets the “turns rogue after being traumatized by the war and the fact that she’s the only survivor of her faction, but eventually joins the hero to fight the villain” storyline.

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 *Valkyrie  sounds very like the character Jessica Jones, who is also  a flawed, complex woman, who has been through  severe trauma, and copes by drinking. Jessica  is  also stronger than most men, is unsympathetic to other people’s emotions (too busy dealing with her own), doesn’t act in a traditionally feminine manner, and yet, not once did I ever hear her being called “unfeminine” or “male-coded”. In fact, she was lauded as the epitome  of feminism by White women fans. (I personally can’t stand the character but I get why she’s important to others.)
Then there’s Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde, and Fury Road’s Furiosa, all hailed as feminist highpoints in cinema. Not once did I find any essays declaring that Charlize Theron lacks femininity, or that her story was too masculine coded. So, in light of the reception of Theron to the ranks of movie action heroines, it will be interesting to see what White female fans will think of the Dora Milaje, Taraji P Henson’s character, Proud Mary, which will be released in January, and Deadpool II’s Domino character, played by Zazie  Beetz.
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Never mind that plenty of Black girls and women will look up to Valkyrie, played by a Black  woman (of Cuban descent), that  they’re arguing has no use, because her character doesn’t fit their standard of White European femininity, (which is an utterly ridiculous admonishment, because her character is an alien from another planet. What the hell does masculine coded even mean in that context?)

One of the primary reasons, (among many), that that critique is so horribly wrong, is because it falls right in line with the Masculine Black woman stereotype, (which, ironically, seems to be something that both Black men, and White men and  women, can all get together to agree on). This is an insult that has followed any Black women who White people perceive as  even the slightest bit threatening, from Venus Williams (my idol) to Michelle Obama. Woven into the accusations of being too masculine are threads of transphobia, and misogyny, as well as racism.

Excerpt from:    https://blavity.com/how-serena-williams-and-viola-davis-taught-me-to-be-an-unapologetic-black-woman

“The type of body-shaming in Tarpishchev’s comment, while subtle, comes gift-wrapped in a triad from hell: misogyny, racism and transphobia. By referring to the Williams sisters as “brothers,” Tarpishchev resurrected the tired notion that black women are unattractive because we are more “masculine” than other women and are “indistinguishable” from men. These types of jokes are used to say that black women aren’t “real women,” that there’s something just not right about our bodies, not feminine enough, too muscular, too “scary” and that we’re worth less because of it. Look at radio host Sid Rosenberg, who called Serena an “animal.” Imagine how many black women are internalizing these messages. There’s little difference between Tarpishchev’s words and the transphobic slur the late Joan Rivers used to slam First Lady Michelle Obama, calling her a “tr*nny.” Both use black women and trans people as the butt of a body-policing joke.

*(While searching for articles on the topic above, I had to scroll through all manner of racist garbage, that so pissed me off… well, basically, do NOT do that shit, if you value having low blood pressure.)

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https://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/despite-declarations-to-the-contrary-black-people-watch-game-of-thrones/

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The Black Person’s Guide to Game of Thrones

My response is a little off topic, but I wanted to address the two twitter hashtags for Game of Thrones referenced in this post. You have to check them out. They are hilarious, and totally from a Black American perspective.

I initially resisted watching the show. I just wasn’t interested, which is weird because yeah, I am a geek, and required, by some type of natural law, to automatically like such shows. I only started watching it at the behest of, ironically, a White girl-friend from work. It wasn’t until after I started regularly watching the show, that I discovered there was this huge Black component of the fandom, who really, really loved this show! And I only found that out because I was looking for reviews by Black critics and stumbled across one by accident.

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Other people  would be puzzled by Black fans love of the show, but I’m not. GoT is kinda like a White mashup of Scandal and Empire, with ice zombies, and dragons. Now if we could only transport Cookie Lyons to that world, she would have things whipped into shape, by the end of the season. (Cookie is more terrifying than any dragon!)

 Why Is Society Intent on Erasing Black People in Fantasy and Sci-fi’s Imaginary Worlds?

Over the weekend I binge-watched 3%, a dystopian sci-fi Netflix original set in Brazil. The plot was rife with quirks and unexpected turns, but the biggest surprise of all was that the diversity in the show reflected the diversity in Brazil. The cast featured myriad shades and races, absent the stereotypical casting, such as the confinement of black and brown actors and actresses to supporting characters with botched, surface-level backstories.
*And oh yeah, according to actual  Historians, the term “Historical Accuracy” can no longer be used as an excuse for not adding Black and Brown people to fantasy narratives. It’s  past time to retire that fucking term! If your mind can wrap around orcs, dragons, elves and ice zombies, then you should have absolutely no problem dealing with the idea that PoC also exist in a fantasy world.

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*I always love reading about Black people’s excitement for this movie. I have often referred to the release date of this movie as “The Ascension”, so you can see I have already lost my everlovin-mind about this movie.

…Come Feb. 16, 2018, black people across the African Diaspora will pack the theaters with our ceiling-touching geles, our brightly colored dashikis, and our sharpest black-and-white attire, and lose our collective black minds.

All for the purpose of celebrating the blackity blackness that will be the premiere of Black Panther.

 http://www.theroot.com/wakanda-forever-on-the-importance-of-black-panther-1820459283

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If You’re a Black Woman Who’s Tired of White People Touching Your Hair, There’s a Game for That

* I just finished playing this, and it’s a helluva lot of fun. (Its also hilarious.) It’s a very simple game, that requires you to “throw some hands”, to protect whatever updo you’ve chosen, from a selection of hairstyles, while you travel to diferent parts ofthe world. You can choose your skin tone, a hairstyle, and the area of the world you’re attempting to travel to, while dodging pale hands that are trying to invade your personal space. You lose energy if the hands make contact for too long. The sheer level of “Bitch, please!”, on that woman’s face, is priceless, (although I suspect this is an expression that most people, of any color, wear at the airport.)
There’s a link at the end of the article:
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 And from the irrepressible Terry Crews:
 https://youtu.be/2jNFymV3J-M
There are still some people who want to victim blame this man for what he’s been through, saying he should’ve hit the man, or hurt him, somehow. People like that are not taking into account that Terry’s situation isn’t any different from the situation of the White women who have been assaulted. He was powerless at the time it happened, and his wife was ready for it. Many blessings upon her for being the level headed woman she is. Sometimes “keepin’ it real” isn’t the smartest response to a situation.
Some of the less smart among us don’t understand that not everything in the world can be solved by hitting someone, and Terry would only have destroyed himself, and his career, by responding with a suckerpunch, and his assailant knew that. In fact, as a Black woman, his wife would probably be intimately familiar with such a dynamic. 
Terry is no dumb jock. He clearly states why the optics of race also come into play. A large Black man, hitting a small, (but powerful) White man, who just assaulted him, would not look good in the media. He would’ve lost everything.
For those questioning why he chose now to come out about his assault, he addresses that in the interview, as well.

Thangs I Been Looking At (Mini – Reviews)

Ghost Wars

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I’m  impressed with this show, ,not just for its good production, but because it’s actually scary. I don’t normally pay much attention to literary ghost stories, but movies and TV shows seem to work for me a bit, although I still prefer monster movies, where normalcy has been upheaved by something that’s blatantly malicious, and then order is restored after the creature is defeated. Ghost stories are too open ended for me to really get into them, and sometimes they’re just not very scary to me.

The ghost stories that actually scared me were The Sixth Sense, Ju-On, and, The Ring. In my mind, everything made since those movies have been nothing but ripoffs of the originals. But I actually like this show. There’s just enough uncanny shit happening to keep me off balance. I like the characters and their issues. The acting is better than I expected (because Vincent D’onofrio is present as a town preacher.) and there’s also just enough social subtext to make it compelling.

 

 

Roman Mercer is the town outcast because he can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of regular townspeople, so he has a reputation. In the pilot, he was attempting to leave town, but there was some type of explosive paranormal event that prevented that, and killed the bus full of people he’d been on. (His best friend is a young lady who is also a ghost, and she warned him about the bus crash in advance.)

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So now this remote Alaskan town is being overrun by ghosts, who are definitely malevolent. What event awakened them all, and what the ghosts want, is still a delicious mystery, that I’m here for. The ghosts can possess people, cause nasty hallucinations, like when the town preacher, while giving a wake in the town bar, sees blood pouring from his drinking glass, and they cause people to believe the town bridge  is still intact, when its been destroyed. The only thing that saves everyone is that Roman can see through the hallucination, and prevent people from trying to drive across.

There have also been some interesting character changes as the townsfolk who didn’t believe in Roman’s abilities, now have no choice but to believe, as they are being attacked by ghosts, and those who did believe in Roman’s powers, and hated him for it, have since realized his usefulness, and stopped bullying him.

 

Kim Coates and Meatloaf also star in the show. I’ve liked Coates ever since I first saw him in Waterworld, although he’s been around since the late 80s. In the show he plays either a lovable rogue, who is responsible for his little brother’s death, or the town ne’er do well. I wasn’t sure of Meatloaf’s acting abilities until I saw him in Fight Club, although I’d also seen him in other projects. He plays one of the town bullies.

I think I’m going to stick with this show for a while. The Syfy Channel is slowly starting to build back its reputation for interesting shows, and I’m glad. The Expanse, Dark Matters, Killjoys, Z Nation, Superstition, Ghost Wars. By focusing on character, paying close attention to diversity, (lots of women in these shows, lots of PoC, and most importantly lots of different WoC), and coupling these things with interesting  concepts, Syfy is slowly getting back its street cred as a network that geeks are not ashamed to admit to watching.

 

Superstition

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I really like the idea of this Black family that fights supernatural creatures in this small town, and I have tremendous respect for Van Peebles for breaking new ground, just by adding racial diversity to genre shows. He’s done Westerns (Posse), and werewolves, (Full Eclipse), and now he’s taking a crack at the Supernatural/Buffy style show, involving family dynamics with monster killing.  I don’t know how long this show is going to last because I haven’t seen many people talking about it anywhere, but I hope it at least finishes out one season.

The problem I have is with the execution of the ideas on the show. The acting could be better, (its a little dodgy) and the plot needs to be beefier. I feel like it should’ve lead with the demons/monster plot, and then worked in the soap opera aspects, once we got to really know the characters. I  think the plot leans a little too heavy on the drama, and we just met all these characters, so we have no incentive to care about their emotional issues.

The Hastings are basically a bunch of badasses who use deadly weapons and magic to battle the forces of evil. The eldest son was estranged from the family, but has come back home, and been welcomed back into the family business of monster killing, so we learn about what’s going on just as he does, as he needs to be taught the ropes.

Sadly, not much was known about this show before it aired and the only place I saw any promos was on the Syfy network itself. The network does not appear to be as invested in this show as it seems to be in other shows, like The Expanse, and Z Nation, and that’s why I don’t think this show is going to last very long. But I’m here for it while it airs.

 

Stranger Things Season Two

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I get why people like this show. There’s a definite nostalgia factor, and those kids are cute as all heck, but My feeling about the show was kinda meh. its not a bad show, and it has excellent production values, but I just wasn’t deeply invested. I wasn’t carried away, I guess.

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t find this especially compelling is because I didn’t watch the entire first season. I saw bits and pieces of it. Enough to get a general idea of what was happening, but not all the tiny details, like names. I liked all the little 80s callbacks, and I liked quite a few of the characters. Wynona Ryder plays Michael’s Mom, and she was her usual excellent self. Sean Astin plays her love interest, and he is a goofily cheerful character that I sort of liked. The most interesting two characters were Lucas, and his seeming love interest, a ginger haired skater- girl ,who just moved into town. Lucas’ friendship with her causes a minor riff between the four friends.

Eleven escapes from her overprotective adoptive father, but after the two of them have a falling out,  she finds herself having adventures in the city, where she falls in with a group of thieves led by another girl with tattoos, and the ability to cause illusions. She eventually leaves them when she receives a premonition that Mike is in danger. Eleven’s activities are the most interesting part of the show.

Michael, the boy who befriended Eleven in the first season keeps having visions of a massive creature that has infested (infected) the entire town. He develops a connection to it, and eventually becomes possessed by the creature. When the rest of his family and friends realize what’s happening they spring into action to prevent the creature’s release, into the town, from the local  medical facility, but its already too late, as one of Michael’s friends has befriended a small  frog-like creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of the monster.

I didn’t dislike the show, and I bingewatched all ten episodes, but I wasn’t wildly enthused either. I can recommend it if you don’t have anything more pressing to watch, or if you just really love 80s nostalgia. Really, the most compelling thing in the entire show was the monster, and I want to see season three because I’d like to know what’s going to happen to it, and Eleven.

 

Jeepers Creepers 3

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Don’t worry. I didn’t pay money to see this movie. At any rate I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. Sensing that people wouldn’t want to associate too much with the cinematic output of a convicted pedophile, the movie’s creators sought only a limited, one day, release, before sending it directly to video, or rather the Syfy Channel where I saw it the weekend before Halloween.

I did not care for this movie because it’s a confusing mess. It takes place between the first and second films, but that isn’t immediately apparent, as only two of the characters from the first film appear in it, and only one of the characters from the second. Ridiculous things happen in the movie that I couldn’t make sense of, and even though there’s a lot of exposition, (I mean a LOT! People talk and talk and talk.) all the talking didn’t make anything about this movie any clearer.

Most of that talking is is from a brand new character, a cop named Tashtego, who is constantly stressing to the other characters how evil The Creeper is and that he must be killed. There’s lots of shots of he Creeper being his usual weird and nasty self, terrorizing teenagers, eating people, etc. For some reason, someone thought it would be a grand idea to prominently feature the creature’s truck, which is tricked out with various booby traps, which is what the police find out when they try to investigate the dead bodies lying in it, and a pack of obnoxious teenagers find this out too before they’re promptly caught and killed by The Creeper. He still likes to hunt  pretty young men, but occasionally takes time out of his busy schedule to terrify a woman or two.

One ofthe most baffling scenes is the discovery of a disembodied hand of The Creeper that gives people visions when they touch it. This isn’t something that was even hinted at in the first movie, although in every film, there’s the one character who seems to mystically know shit about The Creeper, so as to give more exposition on him. Exposition that illuminates not at all.

Since The Creeper can’t actually be killed, and we saw him in the second movie that was released we pretty much know how this one ends. He doesn’t get caught. At any rate, it matters not one bit, because I don’t believe Salva will be making any more of these. I sense that the makers of this movie just wanted to release it quietly, and get it off their books, and get Salva out of their hair, so I don’t think he’ll be making another Creeper movie any time soon. It’s very possible that he won’t ever be making any more movies again, since no one wants to be associated with him, especially in this new climate of awareness involving past sex scandals.

 

Seoul Station

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I was really excited to get to see this, the moment I heard of it, especially after watching Train to Busan. Seoul Station is an animated pre-quel to the live action Train to Busan, and its every bit as harrowing, nerve wracking, and action packed as the movie, despite the medium. It takes its time getting started but like the live action movie, once it gets going it doesn’t let up, doesn’t let you have a rest, and you get attached to the primary character just as in the other film.

In Seoul Sta. we see the beginning of the zombie infestation, and how it managed to escape notice until it got out of hand. This happens the way it always does by affecting the poor and underclass first. We meet a young woman who just escaped prostitution with  an abusive pimp, but the man she’s currently  living with isn’t much better. He’s having money issues and keeps trying to convince her to sell herself so they can pay the rent. At one point he hits her, and she;s so used to being treated that way she doesn’t even fight back.. (I wasn’t expecting that scene and it kind of threw me for a bit, so here’s my warning in advance. If you have trouble watching such things,s know the movie contains scenes of stalking and domestic abuse.)

We follow this young woman for the rest of the movie, after she breaks up with her current boyfriend. She barely manages to stay one step ahead of the zombie infestation, running from one seemingly safe place to another, only for those places to be overrun by the dead. From a police station, to the subway, to an alley that’s been cordoned off by the police (who think its all some type of insurrection), she has to use all her strength, and wits to stay ahead of the zombies, while wearing nothing more than a little pink dress and bare feet. She’s not an entirely sympathetic character either, as one of her most annoying traits is a complete inability to close doors behind her, thereby exacerbating her zombie issues.

In the meantime she’s also being pursued by her current boyfriend and her former pimp, both of whom have try to make their way through the zombie infested streets of Seoul. I was a little confused at first, because I thought her former pimp was her father, but it turns out he’s just lying to enlist her boyfriend’s aid in finding her.

A funny observation  about this movie (and I don’t know if this is just something that’s done in the movie, or if people in Seoul actually behave this way) are the many people who are  willing to verbally harangue strangers in public. From her landlady screaming at her about her late rent, to when she screams at her boyfriend at a cyber cafe, to random disturbed people on the street, characters are forever running up to others and screaming at them. Needless to say you cannot do that shit in America, where you just run up on somebody and start yelling, especially during a Zombie apocalypse. (You will get your ass beat for that just on a regular Tuesday.) Sometimes they just scream gibberish, but sometimes the rants are very specific. At any rate, some of this behavior serves too illustrate the lives of the rather downtrodden, and in some cases, criminal individuals.

Unlike the live action film, none of the characters are your typical salaried workers, which is a refreshing change from American made films, in which we watch your standard  American family endure some kind of crisis. Some of them are not the least bit nice, or innocent, either. There are homeless people bullying each other, and salaried workers, who treat the homeless characters with disdain and contempt. I don’t know if the creator is trying to make some kind of social argument about life in Seoul, or not, though.

Seoul Station is available right now for free on Amazon Prime, (or for rent). This is an absolutely excellent double bill, with its sequel, but you’re going to have to rest between films, because neither will give you a moment.

The Mummy

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I was not impressed by this movie. In fact, I think I hated it. Tom Cruise looks worn and tired, the plot is rather lackluster, and I was not expecting Russell Crowe to be shamelessly overacting in this movie. Its not a bad film, in the sense that the people who cared about it, tried their best, to make it look good, but the movie is simply uninspired. The first Mummy movie in the last trilogy at least had a feeling of freshness in its lead female character, Evie. Here the only female character we are meant to pay attention to is boring and flat, and the other one is the villain.

Essentially, The Mummy tells the origin story of how a modern man gets chosen by an ancient priestess, Ahmanet, to be the avatar of the Egyptian god, Set. It would’ve been a much more interesting movie, if they had just stuck to the portion dealing with Ahmanet, but you know Hollywood hates WoC, because its unthinkable to them that one of them (namely Sofia Boutella, who is actually Egyptian) would ever be the head of her own franchise. Franchises must be led by your standard white guy named Chris, or Tom in this case. One of these days Miss Boutella will be treated with respect and won’t have to kiss tired looking men, twice her age, to be in a movie.

Tom should  stick with those Mission Impossible, and Jack Reacher movies, which I actually like. He looks as if he’s enjoying himself in those, and I like a Tom Cruise film in which he appears to at least be having some fun. Here, he  looks like he can’t wait for the movie to be over, and seems like he’s just going through the motions until it ends.

I was only mildly excited to see this in the theater, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. My advice is to skip this and watch the 1999 version again.

10 More Scary Short Films

Here are ten more very short horror films to watch for Halloween. I had to watch a lot of really boring, and in some cases really bad movies to pick these ten gems. There are a bunch of these all over Youtube, so I just sorted through, picking my favorites. Some of these are genuinely scary, and others… not so much:

Close Before Midnight

I’m still not sure what to think of this one. Is it funny or just terrifying? Is it both?

 

 

The Moonlight Man

The main character is none too bright, but this was actually pretty scary.

 

The Other Lily

This one actually scared the bejeebus out of me because I had no idea where it was headed, and the animation is appropriately frightening.

 

 

The Hambuster

You’re gonna fall on the floor laughing at this one, and then probably throw up. Its disgusting!

 

 

Horror Short Film

This was genuinely scary.

 

 

Who’s Hungry?

This one is cute, disgusting, and funny. I had no idea where it was really going  either. (Warning for children being eaten by a giant.)

 

 

I Heard That Too

I first heard of this in a two line short story which was really creepy. This movie is just as effective.

 

Dead Friends

This one was funny, sweet, and disgusting. Skip it if you don’t want to see accidental animal mutilation.

 

 

Killer Kart

This one is almost as ridiculous as the movie, “Rubber”, and if you haven’t seen that one, it’s hilariously surreal, and you should check it out. This is gory, so I warred between feeling disgusted, and laughing my ass off, two feelings which are not necessarily compatible:

 

Nightfall

I thought I’d end on a funny note. This one just tickled the hell out of me. I totally identified with the little girl in this film.

They Came From Netgalley

 

 

I was really excited to get these from Netgalley, and I’m happy to share my thoughts about them with you guys. I’m usually never able to finish reading these before I get the next book, or the original is released but, I like to take my time and get the full flavor of a book before reviewing it.

 

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng 

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I don’t think I’m going to finish this book. I was initially very excited at the idea of Christian Missionaries from the Victorian era visiting the land of Fairy, as that is such a novel concept, but this book has turned out not to be what I’d hoped. What I thought would be  a kind of expedition to strange lands and peoples,  with grand adventures, heroes and villains, turned out to be a lot slower and more contemplative. This isn’t a bad book, I just don’t think I’m the audience for it.

First,  let me start off by emphasizing, for me, this is a very slow book. There’s almost no action, and little investigation of the Fairylands, even though I’m almost a third of the way through. The main character, a woman searching for her brother who has become lost in Fairyland, has been trapped in the same location since the beginning of the book, a large mansion where her brother resided. She is an acceptably brave and intelligent character, and I like hearing her thoughts as she narrates the story, but she hasn’t gotten a chance to have any real adventure, which I thought this book would be about. The most notable thing she has done is find an important book in the mansion’s  library, meet a couple of  fairy house servants, and hold a church service.

I also feel some type of way about missionaries in general (as in not approving of them) but so far the proselytizing has been kept to a minimum. It’s not  that type of book, for which I am grateful, but I still don’t know if I want to keep reading it.

 
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

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This book is much more promising. I like the action in this book. What I don’t like is the protagonist. The lead character is just boring and so very ordinary. Jason Bishop has a mysterious past, and a father he barely knew, who was said to have committed suicide. When he attends his father’s funeral, he starts an adventure where he discovers that he comes from a line of mages, and that his father was one of the primary players in an ongoing fight between several magical societies.

I don’t dislike this book, (I really like  it!) but Jason is not an exciting  character, and maybe that’s the point.  Maybe there’s some character growth later in the story? I don’t dislike him though. That would require that he have enough personality to dislike. On the other hand, the other characters are really interesting. There’s a female  Punk/Mage I really liked, and the bad guys are suitably nasty, and everyone is after Jason. Jason  has to try to navigate an entirely new and unknown world, manage his own magical gifts, and figure out who are his friends and enemies.

The magic in the books is the typical bombastic hand waving sort, but it’s also abetted by actual card magic,  which I thought was a lot of fun. Despite the presence of Jason, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, as we get past all the introductory stuff of Jason picking up skills, and meeting the other characters. Once we get into the serious world-building, this will be a wonderful series to tide you over, between Harry Dresden novels, which is the greatest compliment I could give to an Urban Fantasy book.

 

The Change Series by Guy Adams

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I remember reading something very similar to this book a few years ago. That opening chapter scared the Beejesus out of me because I had no idea what was happening. I never got a chance to finish that book, and I think this is it.

Something happened. As in Robert McCammon’s short story ‘Something Passed By’, something happened on Earth that was so awful, that most of the people who witnessed it died. The ones who didn’t die were  mentally and physically altered and all the rules of the world changed. No one can get near any of the cities without dying, animal life has been altered, and strange and malevolent creatures prey on the people who are left.

Howard managed to survive the invasion but has amnesia. He doesn’t remember what happened but knows he needs to make it to the city of London. On the way he encounters machinist biker gangs, deadly blackbirds, and a mechanized monster that eats people and incorporates their bodies into its own.

This is a six-part series ranging from London, to Paris, to Tokyo, chronicling the adventures of various characters as they deal with this new and changed world. What makes the books so frightening is that all of the changes are inexplicable and unexpected. We learn about the nightmares of this world at the same time the characters do. The world was a known thing, but now all bets are off, and almost anything at all can happen to them as they try to survive, not just the monsters created in the wake of The Change, but the people who were badly affected by it.

The latest in the series, about the adventures of a young girl in Tokyo, named Noriko, is available  on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Ten Scary Short Horror Movies

Well, it’s almost Halloween and so naturally, as it does every other day of the year, my mind turns toward scary movies. I can’t out a whole movie on here but I can share with you some of my favorite short films. I like monsters, so most of these have monsters. I like comedies, so some of them are funny and there’s a couple of these that scared the living shit outta m
This movie infuriated me, especially after I realized what was actually happening:

Don’t Move

 

 

You guys know I’m not a  fan of spiders, so I was reluctant to watch this one, but it just so happens it has a surprisingly funny ending:

Itsy Bitsy Spiders

 

 

I saw this one last year, and it stuck in my mind for a whole year, but I’d forgotten where I’d seen it, and the title. It took me some time to find it again, and it’s still scary:

Ghost Story

 

 

Yeah, this one is very, very, creepy:

Mimic

 

 

Yeah, this one is creepy but hilarious, and I think I remember this song from my childhood.

The Cat Came Back

 

 

This is a little longer than the others but it’s worth the wait and it’s  funny.

Waiting

 

 

This one isn’t particularly scary but it has zombies in it and I thought it was deeply cute:

Less Than Human

 

 

Here’s a slightly different haunted house story:

Vienna Waits For You

 

 

This isn’t what it seems:

Midnight Snack

 

 

Okay, this is the one that made me actually scream  out loud:

The Thing In The Apartment

 

Hope you enjoyed these. I’ll have some more on Halloween!

 

 

 

 

Things I’ve Been Watching (October 2017)

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

The Gifted Season Premiere

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

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

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

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

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

 

Legends of Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Brooklyn 99

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

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

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

 

The Exorcist Season Two

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

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

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

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

 

The Flash

Image result for the flash season four iris

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

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

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

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

So, I’m in, I guess.

 

The Orville

Image result for the orville

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

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

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

 

American Horror Story

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

 

Outlander

Image result for outlander season 3

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

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

 

Forthcoming

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Interesting Tumblr Posts

Here, have some trailers:
*I did enjoy The Punisher parts of Daredevil’s second season, so I was interested when it was announced that he’d be receiving his own show. This looks worth a watch. Hopefully the show will be coherent and consistent.
*I have never been a Tomb Raider fan. I’ve always thought of her as just a sexier version of Indiana Jones, and I’m not a particular fan of him either, although I’ve watched all the films. I don’t hate either of them. I’m largely indifferent to them, so fan would be a strong word.  I didn’t play the games, or watch the movies.
This looks interesting because it doesn’t actually appear to be about tomb raiding, but about putting something back in a tomb, and it also stars Daniel Wu, from Into the Badlands as the seeming voice of reason.

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* I love Galaxy Quest, and this person is right. I do just sort of lump this show in with the  rest of Star Trek. Its such a faithful parody of the original source material that ‘s not mean or demeaning to it, and its genuinely funny, too. Of course Guy is a big reason for that. He says exactly the kind of shit we’d say if we were in these situations:
I love the way that Star Trek fans just accept that Galaxy Quest is part of the film franchise.

Galaxy Quest is what i imagine people would be like if star trek suddenly became real tomorrow.

Galaxy Quest was voted the 7th best Star Trek movie out of 13

 

“Intelligence is knowing that Galaxy Quest is not a Star Trek movie.
Wisdom is knowing Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek movie.”

And I think that says a lot about the Star Trek fandom, really.

 

Source:

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*I love these posts on Fantasy armor for female characters. Often the armor is just the dumbest, most ludicrous looking shit one could possibly imagine. Most of it is just metal lingerie, and in some cases just metal pasties. I mean, nobody’s fucking shoulders, or knees, needs that much protection. I often want to inform the creators that a) women’s boobs just don’t work like that, b) those need protection too, because they’re a delicate part of a woman’s anatomy, and if something hits them, they hurt like a muthafucka,  and c) what the fuck!!!

Another thing I hate when men draw women, in any kind of uniform, is what I like to call boob-socks. Just special pockets on an outfit that are specially fitted for a woman’s boobs. This is especially prevalent in comic books.

If you want to see more of this type of critique visit Bikini Armor Battle Damage’s website, where they also discuss media that gets women’s armor right.

brb shaking my head forever

 

Time to bring this back, with a few examples proving that this parody is NOT a gross over-exaggeration of actual stuff we see in pop media:

 

The Boobplate

[x] [x] [x]

The ‘Boobplate+’ (A.K.A. boob window): 

[x] [x] [x]

The ‘What’s the Fucking Point’

[x] [x] [x]

It truly is impossible to properly satirize female sexualization. How do you even ridicule pure ridiculousness?

And that’s without even touching “warrior woman” costumes that bear no pretense of resembling armor of any kind.

~Ozzie

Source:

*This is something rarely discussed in fandom. How older characters of color are desexualized and “mammified” in fandom narratives, and sometimes made to seem older than they actually are, to keep from having to ship them with their White faves of the same age range. So older White male characters get the sexy older man treatment, but never with the nearest man of color who is anywhere close to their age. As for shipping them with a younger man of color, you can forget about it. At least some of this has to do with White women’s fetish for older men, just not if they happen to be Black.

I think its interesting that Coulson is being shipped with a woman of color, though. Although that could have something to do with the idea that fandom likes to think of Daisy as White, rather than half Chinese as the actress herself identifies. I find it interesting because one of the easiest relationships to ship in the CW is Stein and Jax, but I just don’t see it in the numbers.

For the record, I totally shipped Rupert Giles with Joyce Summers, and Rupert Giles with Ethan Rayne, when I watched Buffy. Later, I liked to ship him with Spike, but found shipping him with Xander or Willow kinda icky. When it comes to Shadowhunters, I love the combo of Luke Garroway and Magnus Bane, though.

Racialized ageism and fandom

The age of the white male character is never the problem for shipping in fandoms. The age of the white actor is never the stopping point for him being viewed as “sexy” and “desirable”. The white guys in their 60s are seen as “hot” and “shipworthy”. The age gap between the older white guy and the character he’s shipped with at the moment is never the issue.

Look all over the fandoms: Clark Gregg (62), Peter Capaldi (59), Norman Reedus (48), Colin Firth (57), Rory McCann (48)… etc. etc. are in their late 40s – early 60s. Yet their characters are seen as sexually desirable and worthy of shipping not only with the characters, who are within their own age frame, but also with much younger characters:

Fandoms are not caging these older white male characters within the frames of a “desexualized parental figure” trope. In fact, “an older white guy x younger [usually also white] character” is a hugely popular shipping trope.

Yet, things differ drastically when the male character isn’t white (or seen as white – eg. Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold), especially when the male character is dark-skinned. These male characters of color, who are over their 40s, are almost always invisible for fandom shipping.

For example – Joe West from The Flash. Jesse L. Martin is 48. He’s the same age as Norman Reedus, Rory McCann, he’s about a decade younger than Clark Gregg, Peter Capaldi or Colin Firth. And yet, he’s mostly seen as an “unshippable parental figure”.

Samuel L. Jackson has prominent roles in numerous popular franchises, that have big presence in fandoms with rich shipping content – Star Wars, MCU, Kingsman… Yet, his characters are always left out of the shipping pool in these fandoms – Mace Windu is ignored; Nick Fury is seen as the “dad” figure of the avengers; and Valentine is seen as nothing more than a funny villain, even though, fandoms do love white male villains. SLJ was 51 when Mace Windu first appeared on screen, he was in his early 60s when the MCU franchise started out, SLJ is only few years older than Clark Gregg.

Or take Stacker Pentecost from Pacific Rim, played by Idris Elba. Idris Elba. Idris was 41 when PR came out. And yet, the fandom had collectively decided that the only ship suitable for a “parental figure” like Stacker is Herc Hansen. Max Martini is two years older than Idris, and yet:

Worth noting that the incest father/son ship with Hansens is more popular than Hercules Hansen/Stacker Pentecost, which only has 288 works in total. Raleigh had more on-screen connection with Stacker than he had with Herc; Chuck and Stacker died together while trying to save the world. Together in Death is a hugely popular shipping trope all across fandoms, for example Enjolras/Grantaire from Les Misérables had 3 seconds of total screen time together in the movie, and they have ~9k of fics on AO3 alone…

Another one is Luke Garroway from the Shadowhunters, played by Isaiah Mustafa (43). Have you seen Isaiah? Yeah, I know. And yet, he is also seen almost as some “grandpa” figure of the group. Often people use his age as an excuse of excluding him from most fanon activities involving the main group of characters – shipping, group fanvids, group edits etc. The only ships involving Luke that are accepted and supported by the fandom are with Jocelyn and Maryse. And I often see people in tags saying that any other ships with Luke are “creepy” and “uncomfortable” because he’s the “dad” of the group. I agree about the creepy factor with, say Clary and Simon… but others? – Not so much.

And, yeah, I would’ve agreed with this fandom “activism” if it wasn’t so hypocritical. Remember Rupert Giles from BTVS? Who also was the “father figure” of the Scooby Gang? Anthony Head was 43 at the start of the show and 49 when it ended. And yet, I don’t remember BTVS fandom excluding Giles at every turn because of his age:

Compare to Luke’s ships:

Speaking of Shadowhunters, people also often try to put Magnus in the same “father figure” frames – anti-Malec (J@lecs, Cl@lecs etc.) people, who ship Alec with everything white that moves, always try to insinuate that Magnus is borderline a pedophile because he’s dating Alec. Regularly I see posts in Magnus’ tags saying that shipping Magnus with Clary, Jace, Simon or Maia is “creepy” because he’s basically their “dad”. Magnus is not their dad and (so far) never considered himself to be their parental figure. I guess he did say something like that about Clary in the books, but the show had an AU storyline in 1×10, where Magnus first met Clary in that episode, and didn’t have any kind of connection to her prior. AU!Jace even thought that Clary was cheating on him with AU!Magnus. So, even with Clary there are canon possibilities of avoiding the “unhealthy” factor for the ship within fanon.

After all, I don’t see the Torcwood fandom acting as if Jack Harkness (an immortal who lived through ages and generations) is some unshippable “dad” figure, who can’t be shipped with other members of the team. I haven’t seen people there saying that Jack is a “creep” for dating Ianto (just for the record: the age gap between John and Gareth is 14 years vs. 5 years between Matt and Harry).

I’m not suggesting that people need to start shipping Luke or Magnus with the younger characters, what I am saying is that, had Luke and Magnus been portrayed by white actors, people wouldn’t have been putting them in the frames of “parental figures” of the group as much. And yeah, I love the dad!Luke and dad!Magnus headcanons as much as the next person, but let’s also be honest that we’re not living in a vacuum, the race can’t be taken out of the equation.

These are just a few examples, but this is happening all across fandoms. And not just with MoC – take Shirley Bennett from Community. Yvette Nicole Brown is of the same age as is Joel McHale – they’re both 45 now and were in their late 30s when the show first aired. And yet, both the show and the fandom treated Shirley as if she was some “grandma” and Chevy Chase’ peer (who was in his late 60s back then).

 

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*I haven’t been watching this Fear the Walking Dead ,despite its diversity of characters, because one Walking Dead show is enough for me, but I liked this particular meta.

‘Fear the Walking Dead: Passage’ Did What No Thriller Could: Empower Two Lead WoC

As some of you may know by now, I am a fan of The Walking Dead. Unpopular opinion, but I think Fear the Walking Dead is one of the greatest things to come from it (I can hear the gasps already). I can’t stress it enough, but unlike TWD, its racial inclusiveness was something that had me hooked and reeled from the very beginning. My wishes were fulfilled when FTWD premiered because for the first time, I was able to look at a popular franchise with a Native lead and Latinx main characters. It’s partially one of the reasons I’m surprised when advocates for diversity prefer the original. Other characters of color were introduced, but I still felt something was missing—what I really wanted was a Black girl. As I mentioned before, when I began to realize the absence of black women in certain genres I wanted them everywhere as a challenge for writers, especially with all the sacrificial negresses going around. At this point, we were into the second season and I still hadn’t seen one, so I promised to remain patient until it did. Finally, Fear the Walking Dead: Passage happened.

If you’d like to watch Passage, a 13 minute web series before reading, click here.

Keep reading

 

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*Okay, I’m definitely going to be watching The Exorcist show in October. I left off watching it because it wasn’t holding my attention as tightly as I wanted. But I like John Cho, and he is right in that its highly unusual to see an Asian American character in this type of venue. I’ve watched a lot of Asian horror movies, so why are they absent absent from American horror movies, and shows.

 

The Exorcist: How John Cho is changing American horror

[John Cho will] do whatever he can to help the push for Asian-American representation. It’s one reason he joined the second season of The Exorcist… “I had not seen Asian faces in American horror, and it kind of tickled me to want to change that visual vocabulary a bit,” he says. “I thought it would be, I don’t know, intrusive to have my face in it…”

“What I’ve been thinking about lately is how to tell stories that are specifically Asian-American but aren’t necessarily about being Asian-American as much,” he explains. “I’m looking at the totality of things.”(x)

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*I find Haka fascinating and terrifying, but I think that’s the point.. I would watch these all day. I’m glad Maori culture is getting some international recognition through these different sports groups, too. Even Beyonce got one when she visited new Zealand, which just made my heart hurt, I was so proud. 

https://youtu.be/xI6TRTBZUMM

2nd 1st Farewell Their Fallen Comrades With A Huge Haka

Haka is used throughout New Zealand by many, not only Māori, to demonstrate their collective thoughts. There is a haka for each of the Services, as well as the Defence Force. Units with the NZ Army have their own haka. This video shows the soldiers of 2/1 RNZIR Battalion performing their Unit haka, powerfully acknowledging the lives and feats of their fallen comrades as they come onto the Unit’s parade ground. It is also an emotive farewell for they will leave via the waharoa (the carved entrance way) for the very last time.

Haka –sometimes termed a posture dance could also be described as a chant with actions. There are various forms of haka; some with weapons some without, some have set actions others may be ‘free style.’ Haka is used by Māori (indigenous people of New Zealand) for a myriad of reasons; to challenge or express defiance or contempt, to demonstrate approval or appreciation, to encourage or to discourage, to acknowledge feats and achievements, to welcome, to farewell, as an expression of pride, happiness or sorrow. There is almost no inappropriate occasion for haka; it is an outward display of inner thoughts and emotions. Within the context of an occasion it is abundantly clear which emotion is being expressed.

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*I was always under the impression that women couldn’t do the Haka, or that they had their own special ones or something. But watching this gave me life:

Women’s Haka

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*Its officially Latinx/Hispanic Celebration Month and I came across this post on Latina in Superhero shows. There are a lot more than this is the SciFi genre but I think this is just for superheroes:

Latinx Heritage Month

↪ Characters in DC Shows’ Main Cast

✪ Lynda Carter as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman S1-3) 

✪ Angélica Celaya as Zed Martin (Constantine S1)

✪ Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya (Gotham S1) 

✪ Zabryna Guevara as Sarah Essen (Gotham S1-2) 

✪ Aimee Garcia as Ella Lopez (Lucifer S2-)

Honorable Mention – Recurring Characters:

– Michelle Veintimilla & Camila Perez as Bridgit Pike / Firefly (Gotham S2-3)
– Briana Venskus as Agent Vasquez (Supergirl S1-2)
– Jessica Camacho as Cindy Reynolds (The Flash S3)
– Odette Annable as Samantha March / Reign (Supergirl S3)

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*Yes, this clown vs. mime discussion has been sorely needed. People keep confusing the two, and really, mimes are just waaay, waay creepier than clowns, imo.

Okay, I’ve had it

I see people posting videos of clown-mime and clown-jester hybrids and cooing about how “pretty” and “cool” they are, but this is NOT HEALTHY OR SAFE CLOWN HUSBANDRY! In fact, it’s downright dangerous for both you and your clown!

Clowns, Mimes and Jesters may be related, yes, but their genetics are quite different and mixing their genes together have an adverse effect on your clown when they come at odds with one another, causing a host of genetic health problems like giganticism, heart problems, higher rates of cancer, organ failure, bone degradation and neurological defects.

They’re also more aggressive, territorial, unfriendly and destructive than non clown hybrids. You’re super cool clown x mime hybrid is gonna more satisfied with attacking you than making invisible balloon animals.

Not to mention the process of making a clown hybrid in the first place, considering that Clowns, Mimes and Jesters are natural enemies of each other! Your clowns/mimes/jesters are more likely to maul each other than fuck each other!

 

People only breed clown hybrids because they are seen as “cool” and “exotic” and cost a lot of money, they’re a status symbol with unique patterns, and the clowns suffer for it.

If you still have your heart set on a clown-hybrid, there are actually some breeds out there, like the Venetian Diamondcheek Juggler and the Parish Mockfool, that are bred specifically for their mime and jesteresque markings and are perfectly healthy, perfectly happy clowns.

Clowns shouldn’t suffer for human aestheticism.

Source:
 *So October is almost here, and I will be forgoing my little pop culture essays to concentrate on reviews, reviews, and more reviews. Halloween is coming and I have a list of movies I want to review, like The Mist, and Let the Right One In vs. it’s American counterpart. Its also the real start of pilot season, so I’m going to be busy with a few of those, and I want to round that out with a series of posts/reviews of Hannibal the series.
Yes, I did watch the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery and I’ll let you know what I think by the end of the week. I know a lot of you guys either don’t have cable, or don’t want to sign up for a streaming channel just to watch one show, but I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan who  managed to sit through the mess that was Enterprise. I don’t know if I’ll keep paying for it. The show would have to be very, very compelling (which it was) to get me to keep paying to see it, at basically 5.99 per episode.

ETA: I just unsubscribed to CBS. I can always wait for the release of the dvd.

Things We’re talking About This Week

Oh, hello there! Hi! Have some movie trailers and other assorted goodness. This first one is an awesome mashup of all the best fight scenes from the MCU, titled Battle Royale, and I just geeked out when I saw it. It’s almost as good as the Black Panther trailer:

 

*And here are some new martial arts movies to look forward to. I don’t usually rec such movies, I just like what I like, but I’m going to start, because I get really excited to hear about them, and the point of this blog is to share that kind of excitement with you.

I am really excited about this movie because I used to read the manga. I never entirely understood it, because the character relationships were often convoluted (at least to me) but I loved the premise, and the lead character, who was a total badass, and this movie seems to have captured at least a little of that here. Also, I’m a huge Takashi Miike fan. He’s very gory, but I will pretty much watch anything he makes:

 

Jackie Chan has a new movie coming out that looks like a mashup of  Mission Impossible and what Ghost in the Shell should have been. I really want to see this one because it makes Jackie look totally badass. I don’t think this movie is meant to be funny, and not just because it has the word Steel in the title:

 

I love Wushu fantasy movies and this one looks like fun. (If you like this one then you also need to check out the Detective Dee movies on Netflix, and Amazon. I used to read the Detective Dee books when I was a teen, and I like the movies.)  This movie reminds me of the Chinese action movies of the 80s, like Ghost Story:

 

 

*So, this thing happened, where an anonymous casting director made a comment about the reason Asians don’t get cast in movies. Apparently, they’re not expressive enough!

After Someone Said Asians Weren’t Expressive, People Created The Hashtag #ExpressiveAsians To Prove Them Wrong

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/09/bias-does-not-come-out-with-the-whitewash.html

*I don’t know. Asian people do appear to have faces. I’ve seen them. I’ve been looking at them in  real life and in movies for a few decades now, and I’ve always been able to discern what emotions were being expressed, just by looking at them, but apparently this person has a problem doing that, to which I can only say:

Image result for fuck off meme

Now I’ve been saying that Hollywood’s antipathy against hiring Asian Americans, to actually play Asian characters, was becoming creepily apparent to even the most oblivious people, and here’s my receipt. Naturally, Asian Americans had something to say about this level of wtf*ery:

Hollywood Won’t Adapt Bestselling Novel Because They Refuse to Cast an Asian Lead

https://nextshark.com/michael-lewis-flash-boys-hollywood-refises-to-cast-asian-lead/

 

the issue isn’t Asians looking inscrutable and mysterious. it’s the laziness of white people.

  pic.twitter.com/Ju6fbwV1JH

 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/krishrach/someone-said-asians-werent-expressive-so-people-showed-of?utm_term=.naX3QlDW0#.hpnxd6zAJ

*C’mon!You knew somebody was gonna throw some Iron Fist shade:

Never forget Iron Fist….

‘Asians are not very expressive, lol let’s make Steven Seagal an martial arts action hero.’ 

Some used the opportunity to highlight actors who may have been overlooked by Western audiences.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Tony Leung can express more complex emotions with just his eyes than many Western actors can with their whole bodies. 

 *And Scarlett Johansson got some shade thrown her way, too:

*Okay, is it petty for me to be enjoying all this sass, from Asian Americans on social media, who have been emboldened to speak out on their oppression and erasure? I suspect Black Twitter has been a bad influence on a lot of people.

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*I like how this person brings it full circle, on how racist stereotypes play out in fandoms, not just towards Black characters but towards all characters of color. It’s important to be aware of the existence of various tropes and stereotypes, so that you can recognize when they’re being employed against various characters. Its been said, over, and over again, that fandom does not exist in a vacuum. When you consume entertainment media of any kind, you’re also consuming racial narratives as well, which are going to play out in whatever you produce in how you think of the characters of color and whatever you produce about them.

How “Malec” (the canon couple of Alec, a White character, and Magnus, an Asian character, from the show Shadowhunters) is being portrayed in the fandom, bears a number of racist markers that people have been consuming for decades. One of these is the Madame Butterfly trope.

I think one of  the most obvious recent examples of the Madame Butterfly trope,  is a scene from the movie Watchmen, where the Comedian is confronted by a pregnant Vietnamese woman, who charges him to take care of his child. He murders her instead, because she refused to be quietly submissive, and languish for his attention.

So, there are some hardcore anti-Malec people out there that keep clogging the tags with their “deep activist” meta where they basically invent fake!SJ reasons why Malec is “problematic” and why their white ship with Alec (for example J@lec) is a lot more “wholesome”, a lot more “passionate” and “believable” ship.

The funniest thing about them is that while they smugly juggle with the SJ arguments [pretending to fight racism and homophobia] they use the grossest Anti-Asian stereotypes against Magnus while trying to prove their point.

On one hand, there those, who villainize Magnus at every turn, and claim that Alec is “suffering” in a “problematic” relationship because Magnus is a “manipulative predator”, a “bad Bi rep”, who basically “preys” on Alec’s whiteinnocence and “abuses” Alec at every turn. And, yeah, these people don’t see Magnus, when they watch the show, they see a Fu Manchu, “the Yellow Peril incarnate”.

On the other hand there are anti-Malec people, who want to “free” Magnus from his “toxic” relationship. It’s a fascinating sight, really, because there are tons of meta, headcanons and fics where people  envision Alec as being constantly cruel and selfish; this version of Alec is a cynical emotional sadist, who tortures Magnus by being with him, by using him, but never truly reciprocating Magnus’ feelings in return. These people see Alec as being “cold” and “uncaring” even in his most intimate scenes with Magnus. They don’t believe Alec’s own words when he constantly confesses his love to Magnus.

There’s a series of meta posts and gifsets “proving” how “detached” Alec is with Magnus, claiming that Alec is in a relationship with Magnus only because Jace is unavailable, but Alec would’ve thrown Magnus under the bus the first minute Jace showed any romantic interest in him. These J@lec / anti-Malec people see Magnus as nothing more than a “prop” to Alec – an endlessly suffering victim with zero agency. The poor soul that deserves pity… but never love.

That is not canon Alec of course. And neither that is Magnus portrayed by Harry. If one sees Magnus as nothing more than a “prop” to Alec, then they’ve clearly been zoning off on all of Magnus’ scenes in s2. The thing is that this fanon vision of “toxic”, “one-sided” Malec is basically a summary for the Madama Butterfly opera.

This perception of Magnus being the “silent infantile victim” stems from a very popular anti-Asian stereotype – “China Doll”. Along with the “Dragon Lady” (a female version of “Fu Manchu”) this is a racist stereotype of East and Southeast Asian women that had been perpetuated by Western media and fiction for ages, for years this trope had been exploited in Hollywood movies. And considering that emasculation and feminization of Asian men is still a big thing in Western society and media, it’s not surprising that the fandom is also constantly emasculating and feminizing Magnus.

You infantilize a woman, and she becomes eroticized. You infantilize a man, and he becomes emasculated. You infantilize a baby – and it’s possible, it appears that you can infantilize a baby even more. The [Asian] babies need to be cuter than white babies. And it’s just a weird thing that I felt like said something about mainstream America’s relationship to Asians in general.
–             
John Cho (c)

Madama Butterfly” is one of the versions of China Doll stereotype. It’s an opera in three acts (first premiere in 1904) by Giacomo Puccini. It is the story of a Japanese maiden (Cio-Cio San), who falls in love with and marries a white American navy lieutenant named Pinkerton. Pinkerton is marrying for convenience, since he intends to leave Cio-Cio San once he finds a proper American wife. After the officer leaves her to continue his naval service away from Japan, Cio-Cio San gives birth to their child. Cio-Cio San blissfully awaits Pinkerton’s return, unaware that he had not considered himself bound by his Japanese marriage to a Japanese woman. When Pinkerton arrives back in Japan with an American wife in tow and discovered that he has a child by Cio-Cio San, he proposes to take the child to be raised in America by himself and his American wife. The heartbroken Japanese girl bids farewell to her callous lover, then kills herself.

It is the most-performed opera in the United States, and it’s been hugely popular all over the world. It has numerous incarnations in Western media, pop culture, literature. The one of the modern versions of the opera is the musical “Miss Saigon”. This popularity of the trope only helps to perpetuate the notion of the dominant white male over the subjugated East Asian [female] who can be cast aside and treated as easily dispensable. (x)

So, yes, when hardcore anti-Malec people are interpreting Malec as loveless / passionless relationship, with Magnus being an endlessly suffering victim and Alec as a cold and heartless abuser, just waiting for a chance to discard Magnus aside [for a white guy Jace], they are seeing a Madama Butterfly scenario. A dated racist anti-Asian stereotype.

Madama Butterfly was first staged in 1904. It was a story showing that races can’t mix. A story saying that interracial relationships are “dirty”, and are always doomed because a white person (man) cannot really love a person of color (in this case an Asian person/ woman) because a white person (man) is superior and needs to find an “equal” (i.e. another white person). It’s a story telling that a white hero will always choose his own kind, and that a non-white person is only good for “fun” but doesn’t deserve to be loved in return. The love of a white hero is only reserved for another white person.

If that’s how people see and interpret Malec it speaks volumes. And not about the canon narrative, but about these people and their worldview.

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With all that said, Daniel Dae Kim (my future ex-husband) has been cast in the role of Ben Daimio in the new Hellboy movie, in the role vacated by the actor Ed Skrein, in protest of whitewashing. This is a movie I have no intention of seeing, (despite that fact that my bae is in it), because Guillermo Del Toro’s version of Hellboy was absolute perfection, and you simply cannot improve on perfection.

But this casting of Daniel is still not without some controversy.  It’s definitely better than casting a White guy, and people like Kim, but the argument now is that Asian Americans are not interchangeable. The term Asian encompasses many different cultures. Daniel Dae Kim is Korean, and the character he’ll be playing is Japanese. If the character calls for Japanese, then a Japanese (American) person should have been cast, but I guess we’ll settle for this because when it comes to Hollywood, “baby steps”.

Daniel Dae Kim to Replace Ed Skrein in ‘Hellboy’ Reboot

Daniel Dae Kim Hellboy
Daniel Dae Kim is in talks to replace Ed Skrein in Lionsgate’s “Hellboy” reboot starring David Harbour.

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Various observances from Tumblr that I feel deserve closer attention, like this very important Chris vs. Tom discussion:

think it’s about time we stop making jokes about the amount of famous white boys named Chris, and about time we started focusing on Tom. Am I talking about Cruise? Hiddleston? Hardy? Holland? Hanks? Felton? Fletcher? Selleck? Welling? Ford? Hooper? Brady? It’s impossible to tell because apparently half the male population are called Tom.

kinghardy nicetrytopredictme

This post implies any Tom besides Tom Hardy matters and that is simply untrue.

 

scallywagsandseamonsters iamnotsebastianstan

Can I add Tom Burke, Tom Hollander, Tom Ellis? And what about Dave?! Dave Grohl, David Beckham, David Boreanaz, David Schwimmer, David Duchovny.

3fluffies raina16

Marvel does seem to be gathering all Toms to them, maybe because they’ve hit critical mass of Chrises.

azrieldoestheater

the toms simply haven’t amassed the same kind of raw power as the chrises. it’s just not the same

blunderpuff

you can tell any two Toms apart tho– put 2 Chrises next to each other, and it’s like… is that the same guy in two different outfits?????

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*And this discussion about environmental conditions in the US right now:

what the fuck is going on between poseidon and zeus right now

 

“Eyes the half of the continent that’s on fire”

Hephaestus can chill too TBH.

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Oh, and this newest edition of the Target Chronicles. Now, if only someone would start one for Walmart because I just know that’s gonna be crazy. I’ve only ever been in a Target store maybe three times in my life, because its just not my go-to store, but I imagine the stories from there can’t be any worse than stories from any other department store.
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Day One Hundred And Forty-Two

-Tonight, I was asked to work guest services. Upon reaching the desk, I was handed a large tub containing boxes of “Farewell Dandelion” crayons to hand out to the children. My powers grow stronger still.

-I overheard a woman remark, “As a nurse, it is my opinion that being in a car crash would be both scary and somewhat painful.” As a human who experiences emotions somewhat normally, I concur.

-A mysterious woman with a mysterious purpose entered the store. She told me that she wished to give my manager of letter, content and reason unknown. She insisted upon delivering it herself to avoid the attention of unwanted eyes. I can only hope to one day be a part of such ominous goings-on as have gone on before me tonight.

-Halloween merchandise has arrived, and with it, the canned screams of skeletons and witches echoing down the aisles. I could not be more elated.

-A young boy, perhaps six or seven years of age, excitedly ran through the dollar section, digging around and eventually adorning himself with a pointed black witch’s cap and a tutu as pink and frilly as could be. He was delighted by his outfit, but his delight was nothing compared to his mother’s delight, and his mother’s delight was nothing compared to mine.

-A woman approached the service desk to tell me in a hushed voice that there was a dog outside. She then raised her eyebrows, gave me a knowing look, and walked away. This is precisely the kind of informant I need in my life.

-I processed a return for an elderly woman who was distressed that her new digital thermometer would only display the same numbers with no change. Unsure of how to tell her that she had yet to remove the sticker on the screen, I gladly gave her a refund and sent her on her way.

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*Here are a couple of articles from Black Nerd Problems addressing the idea of the CW show Arrow, making plans to do a BLM oriented episode, (NOPE!) when they don’t have a great track record of dealing with serious subjects, and about how the show The Defenders just wasn’t all that.

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http://blacknerdproblems.com/arrow-black-lives-matter-episode-can-keep/

http://blacknerdproblems.com/3-reasons-the-defenders-isnt-must-binge-tv/

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://reallifesuperheroes.com/

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Defenders Season Review

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

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

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

 

Luke Cage:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Matt Murdock:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jessica Jones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Danny Rand:

Image result for defenders danny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alexandria:

Image result for defenders gifs alexandra

 

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

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

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

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

 

Elektra:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Colleen Wing:

Image result for defenders gifs colleen

 

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

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

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

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

 

Misty Knight:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Hand:

Image result for defenders gifs the hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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