Do You Remember The Sentinel TV Series

This series aired form 1996 through 1999. I remember watching the hell outta this show. It was through this show that I rediscovered slash fan fiction, having gotten away from it, from when I’d discovered Kirk/Spock.

This was very possibly one of the slashiest shows on TV next to Star Trek. Ao3 didn’t exist back then, (although yes, the internet existed) and there was so much fanfiction written about the two male leads of this show, that there were several whole archives devoted to it. (Like 852 Prospect). You can probably still find them. I feel that in some ways this show contributed to  many of the tropes of slash fan fiction, that we find so annoying today.

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The show featured a Ranger named James Ellison, played by Richard Burgi, who lost his Special Ops team in the Amazon jungle. The sole survivor, he discovered he was a member of a mystic warrior race with heightened senses, called Sentinels, whose job it was to watch over their specific tribes. After his rescue, he goes back to Cascade Washington (really just someplace in Canada), becomes a cop, and years later, has forgotten all about his time in the Amazon, until his senses get accidentally re-awakened, when solving one of his cases. At this point he gets discovered by an anthropology researcher named Blair.To help control his superpowers, Jim adopts Blair as a  spiritual focus, whose job is to bring Jim back to reality, when he gets too caught up in whatever he’s sensing.

Now, is that, or is that not, the kinda stuff slash fiction is made of. You’ve got superpowers, spiritual bonds, mystic shenanigans, cops, a handsome and gruff older man, and a cute  and excitable younger partner. It’s like the plot of every yaoi anime ever, and I was totally here for it. This show took me to church!

The popularity of this show was not at all harmed by shirtless images of Richard Burgi in his prime, and that the show’s actors were well aware they were being ‘shipped, and were all for it. Possibly they were even playing it up, since, because of censorship, the show’s creators would have been largely prevented from showing an openly gay relationship, between the two male leads. The study of slash fanfiction was also in its infancy then, and most people wouldn’t have known anything about it, as that was very much under  everyone’s radar. To give you some idea of the timelines involved, Buffy began the year this show ended, and ran until 2003. The show Supernatural began in 2005.

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Richard Burgi was the new hawtness at the time, and Garrett Maggart, who played Blair, wasn’t too shabby looking either, and a lot of the show was really suggestive. The two of them lived together as roommates, they also worked together, because Blair said he wanted  to monitor Ellison’s superpowers, they were very touchy-feely and dramatic, everyone in their lives knew they were living together, including Jim’s ex-wife (Jim simply referred to Blair as his partner, with no other explanation to the rest of the staff of the police dept.) and the two hung out together ALL the time, and everyone seemed perfectly okay with it. This show set the grand standard for queerbaiting .

But I don’t think of this show as queer baiting because that wasn’t really much of a thing back then,  and because of the time period of the show, an open homosexual relationship couldn’t be shown. (Well, rather say that it is, in fact, queer baiting, but its the same kind of queer baiting that exists in old movies, where nothing could be explicitly stated.) Neither character had any long term love interests that the viewer knew they’d eventually end up with, and both of them spent entirely too much time standing uncomfortably close to one another, and looking into each other’s eyes. Queer baiting wasn’t a term that was used yet, but people did spend a lot of time discussing whether or not the characters were gay.

I really think this was a way for the show’s creators to get around  gay relationships not being  shown (or allowed to be shown) on prime time TV. In other words, they had to be sneaky. If you were gay, or gay adjacent, you would see it, and if you weren’t, then you didn’t, (because plausible excuses had been given for why they were not), which is entirely in keeping with the way homosexuality had always been dealt with in popular culture, with innuendo, hints, and allegations, and the show made absolutely no effort to go the “no homo” route by playing up the character’s  relationship with each other, while putting them in  endgame heterosexual relationships.

https://www.amazon.com/Celluloid-Closet-Armistead-Maupin/dp/B001NI5C6U/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1519758939&sr=1-1&keywords=celluloid+closet

It helps that there  was nothing about this show that was even remotely realistic, although if you’re not gonna quibble about the mystical aspects of the show, you shouldn’t have too many problems with other stuff on the show, such as the relationships, or how the “detectiving” was done.

Has anyone else noticed how the detectives on these shows don’t seem to specialize in any one type of detection, even though you can see that wherever they work is fully staffed? Ellison shouldn’t be working a murder case, a drug deal,  and a counterfeit jewelry op, all while trying to catch a terrorist bomber, at the same time.  Most 80’s cop shows just call for the detectives to work on whatever crime pops up that day, instead of specializing in a particular type of crime like homicide, or drugs, or something, which is not how that actually works, in big cities.

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At least several times a season Jim’s senses would go haywire, and Blair would have to talk him out of it, all while trying to keep this a secret from his commanding officer, Captain Simon Banks, played by Bruce Young, because, according to Ellison, if people found out he had superpowers, all his old cases would come up for review, and all the criminals he captured would have to be released. After all, superpowers are not sanctioned by the court system. I think this was a thinly veiled metaphor for being closeted. Jim and Blair often lived in fear that the people around them would find out about Jim’s superpowers, but neither of them cared that they looked like they were in a romantic relationship.

Simon wasn’t clueless the whole time. He eventually finds out, and keeps Jim’s secret, although I do like to wonder what he was thinking about this supposed academic following Jim around, and living with him. And Jim wasn’t actually wrong either. At the end of the series, there’s a riff between him and Blair, when Blair’s dissertation on Jim is accidentally leaked to the public, Jim is outed as a superbeing, and all hell breaks loose. Jim gets suspended. His cases all come up for review. He blames Blair for the potential  loss of his career, and civilians (and the media) are harassing him in the streets. But it all gets resolved, and the series ends on a positive note.

Since there was a mystical component to Jim’s superpowers as a Sentinel, there was a lot of references to his time in the Amazon, and a black jaguar, which appeared to be Jim’s totem animal. My biggest issue was that Jim had regular sightings of this jaguar, and I feel some type of of way about a cop who regularly hallucinates about his spirit animal. That just really bothered me. I’m dubious about the motivations of most cops when they’re completely sober, so a cop who has  visions, yeah…no! But I admit,  I really enjoyed that one episode that involved Jim’s Amazonian shaman visiting Cascade. That was kinda cool.

Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg in "The Sentinel"

 

The Powers

Jim’s hyperacute senses allow him to perceive things undetectable by normal humans. He can see perfectly in low light situations and with superb acuity at long distances, hear sounds at extremely low volume or beyond the normal range of human hearing, and sense what others cannot via taste, touch and smell; he declares himself “a walking forensic lab”. Jim’s powers have a drawback: if he concentrates too strongly on one sense, he may become oblivious to his immediate surroundings. Part of Blair’s job is preventing this, and protecting Jim when he is focusing. As a Sentinel Jim has several powers:

  • All 5 senses are strongly enhanced
  • Able to communicate with ghosts
  • Has a spirit animal, a black jaguar
  • Receives visions that guide him in the choices he makes and sometimes predict the future (Jim had a vision that showed Blair’s death before Alex killed him)
  • Used the power of his animal spirit to bring Blair back from the dead

—  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentinel_(TV_series)#Powers

Despite my misgivings though, I genuinely loved the show, and not just because I thought Richard Burgi was the second coming of hawt and bothered, which…yeah!.  I  actually liked the premise of the show. It was inspired,  and I think it would be great for a remake.

 

Note:

Some of the best fanfiction I ever read came out of this ‘ship, and I’m sad that I never let those writers know just how appreciative I was of their skills, at that time. Most especially, Saraid, and Brenda Antrim who now goes by the name Glacis,  and has her own Wikipedia page. (She is so good that she’s won awards just for being a fan.)   Saraid’s  Panther Tales series can be found on Ao3.

 

Oh yeah, here is one of the funniest reviews I ever read about this show:

http://www.somethingawful.com/news/sentinel-show-senses/

 

The Sentinel is not currently available for streaming . All four seasons can  only be found on DVD.

 

 

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Reading Black Pop Culture

I just wanted to list a few resources for understanding the history of Black representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy film and comic books. I’ve only read a few of these though. The rest are on my TBR pile for the rest of the year.

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Articles:

We’ll start with Samuel R. Delaney’s famous essay. I’ve been offering this essay to everyone on Tumblr as the answer to their questions on why we’ve been seeing so much blatant racism in fandom. It also answers the question on why people like the Sad Puppies exist.

http://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html

—–Delany countered that the current Hugo debacle has nothing to do with science fiction at all. “It’s socio-economic,” he said. In 1967, as the only black writer among the Nebula nominees, he didn’t represent the same kind of threat. But Delany believes that, as women and people of color start to have “economic heft,” there is a fear that what is “normal” will cease to enjoy the same position of power. “There are a lot of black women writers, and some of them are gay, and they are writing about their own historical moment, and the result is that white male writers find themselves wondering if this is a reverse kind of racism. But when it gets to fifty per cent,” he said, then “we can talk about that.” It has nothing to do with science fiction, he reiterated. “It has to do with the rest of society where science fiction exists.”

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/samuel-delany-and-the-past-and-future-of-science-fiction

 

If you enjoy Black Panther this weekend, here are some  interesting sources of entertainment to follow up:

https://www.theroot.com/a-guide-to-fantasy-and-science-fiction-made-for-black-p-1820396166

Books:

All of these are books are available on Amazon:

https://bookriot.com/2017/06/22/for-ob-day-5-science-fiction-and-fantasy-women-of-color-authors-to-read-after-octavia-butler/

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Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction by [Carrington, André M.]
Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes by [Nama, Adilifu]

Black Movies You Haven’t Watched (But Are Worth Looking At)

Some of these movies, I haven’t  seen because they are hard to find, or didn’t get a wide enough release. Some of them I’m only just hearing about.  Like this first one for example. It looks like a Western, but I think it’s set in South Africa, and looks really intriguing, and I like a good Western. I have no idea where to watch it. (When I find out, I’ll get back to you.)

Twenty years ago, the young ‘Five Fingers’ fought for the rural town of Marseilles, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, Tau returns, seeking peace. Finding the town under new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it. Will the Five Fingers stand again?

 

 

This is another beautiful film that heavily reminds me of the movie Daughters of the Dust, but is set in 1745, of course. I’m not certain that this film has been released yet, becasue when I saw the trailer the creators were still trying to get funding to finish it.

Two sisters torn from their home in Nigeria and sold into slavery try to retake their freedom in a foreign and hostile land, attempting to elude their master in the perilous Scottish Highlands. As they experience the dangerous and transformative power of nature their battle for survival intensifies, and they draw strength not only from within, but from each other and their shared spiritual roots in Africa. Yet can they ever be truly free..?

 

 

I’d planned to introduce this movie to my niece, The Potato. She loves movies about little girls, and loves to make up step routines with her friends. She might enjoy it. I always thought of this as a straight up horror movie, for some reason. The last time I checked this was available for streaming through Amazon Prime.

Toni trains as a boxer with her brother at a community center in Cincinnati’s West End, but becomes fascinated by the dance team that also practices there. Enamored by their strength and confidence, Toni eventually joins the group, eagerly absorbing routines, mastering drills, and even piercing her own ears to fit in. As she discovers the joys of dance and of female camaraderie, she grapples with her individual identity amid her newly defined social sphere. Shortly after Toni joins the team, the captain faints during practice. By the end of the week, most of the girls on the team suffer from episodes of fainting, swooning, moaning, and shaking in a seemingly uncontrollable catharsis. Soon, however, the girls on the team embrace these mysterious spasms, transforming them into a rite of passage. Toni fears “the fits” but is equally afraid of losing her place just as she’s found her footing. Caught between her need for control and her desire for acceptance, Toni must decide how far she will go to embody her new ideals.

 

 

I have heard, and know almost nothing, about this film, but it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Based on the novel by renowned South African author, Zakes Mda. The seaside village of Hermanus is overrun with whale-watchers; foreign tourists determined to see whales in their natural habitat. But when the tourists have gone home, the Whale Caller lingers at the shoreline, wooing a whale he has named Sharisha with cries from a kelp horn. When Sharisha fails to appear for weeks on end, the whale caller frets like a jealous lover, oblivious to the fact that the town drunk, Saluni, a woman who wears a silk dress and red stiletto heels, is infatuated with him. The two misfits eventually fall in love. But each of them is ill equipped for romance, and their relationship suggests the deeper concern is not so much the fragility of love, but the fragility of life itself when one surrenders wholly to the foolish heart.

 

 

I watched this last year, and I’m not certain if its still available on Netflix, but its a much better watch than that sorry movie that was released a few years ago.

Using never-before-heard recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs, this is the story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone.

 

 

I saw this movie some time ago, and loved it. Gugu MBatha-Raw turned in a stunning performance. I loved that this movie isn’t simply an exercise in Black torture, and has a positive ending. 

The illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Captain in the Royal Navy finds her unique social standing become instrumental in the campaign to end slavery in England after meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son.

Black Panther: Select Readings

*So posts and articles have been slowly trickling in for Black Panther. I’ll try to collect as many as possible and put them all in one place. Here are some readings I found this week. 

On Representation

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/02/09/its-going-to-change-hollywood-why-black-panther-will-mean-so-much-to-so-many/?utm_term=.54d6845f3597

https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/black-superheroes-matter-why-black-panther-is-revolutionary-w509105

https://thegrapevine.theroot.com/black-panther-delivers-the-biggest-blackest-superhero-1822600683

https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/article/luke-cage-black-panther-and-why-heroes-of-color-matter/https://io9.gizmodo.com/th

https://www.theroot.com/when-wakanda-was-real-1822745590

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/02/black-panther-who-plays-shuri-letitia-wright-profile

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On Racism in Criticism/Fandom

 

*This first title I couldn’t link to because the article is behind a paywall, but if you sign up for Medium.com you may be able to read it as part of your free preview. Yeah, there’s a class of White people (and yes, I mean White women too) who have collectively lost their everlovin’ minds about this movie, but not in any good way. Not only are there  White dudes planning to sabotage the movie’s reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but also White gals writing concern trolling meta about Shuri being in an abusive relationship with her family, to produce tech for Wakanda. 

*Sigh* 

And the movie hasn’t even been released yet.

Now I would have been the first person to tell them their little plan was doomed to failure, and if they tried it they were gonna get their asses handed to them.These same people successfully pulled off this plan with the Ghostbusters remake (which people didn’t find out about until after the fact), but by the time Wonder Woman was released, everyone had learned a lesson from that, and it wasn’t successfully carried out. We will be getting a sequel to Wonder Woman, no matter how much they gnash their teeth. 

Their plan failed, (will fail) here because first, they’re  coming for Black people and we have a long history of disregarding anything White men say about the things we love, and second, they’re fucking with Disney, and Disney does not like people trying to fuck with their bottom line. This company has put a helluva lot of money into promoting this movie, and they’re not about to let a bunch of disgruntled, racist, fanboys mess their shit up. 

So yeah, their Facebook page got pulled and even Rotten Tomatoes issued a response. What’s even sadder is that they tried to cover up their racism by claiming they were doing it on behalf of the DCEU.

 

“Black Panther, White Avengers

Movie hasn’t debuted and fan boys have already lost their damn minds”

https://marvelstudiosnews.com/2018/02/01/rotten-tomatoes-responds-dc-fans-anyone-else-aiming-sabotage-black-panther/

 

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https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/05/black-panther-fought-off-a-toxic-ghostbusters-online-campaign-rotten-tomatoes

 

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First Negative Review

*And this is why I’ve been advocating for more diverse reviewers, and giving the side eye to any  negative reviews from White critics. I don’t know that I can trust them. There’s nothing wrong with a negative review of a movie with a Black cast, and if the reviewer was a person of color, I would give the review some consideration. Some movies aren’t for everyone, and this reviewer should have realized this. Its okay to not get everything in a movie, but this reviewer really needed to stay in his lane.

https://mashable.com/2018/02/08/black-panther-negative-review-rotten-tomatoes/#zNrC2bng3kqd

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Issues

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-panther-is-ready-to-take-dark-skinned-actresses-and-colorism-seriously_us_5a7a090ce4b0d0ef3c0a2049

https://www.theroot.com/black-panther-an-allegory-of-the-world-wanting-blackne-1822610905

https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-black-panther-blends-politics-culture-and-technol-1822308519

https://goodblacknews.org/2018/02/05/chadwick-boseman-and-ryan-coogler-on-how-black-panther-makes-history-variety/

https://www.theroot.com/on-black-panther-black-leopard-and-the-politics-of-bei-1822489281

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Black Panther: Can We Just Enjoy It?

 —-The look on a young Black boy’s face when he sees a Black Panther toy commercial or a grown Black man’s face when he sees a Black Panther Lexus commercial is something special that shouldn’t be over-analyzed. There’s no think piece on capitalism that will change the fact that Black girls of all ages will see themselves in a spectrum of intelligent, strong, dark-skinned natural hair-wearing Black women in a major Hollywood blockbuster for the first time. African speculative fiction has finally reached mainstream culture, and it’s a great feeling.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/black-panther-just-enjoy/

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Appropriation:

*And then, for some reason, someone introduced somebody to the idea that Black Americans were appropriating African cultures. 

*Le Sigh*

 I would break down what an absolutely fucked up idea that is except it would take too long, and I got shit to do, but here’s someone else who can do it.

http://afropunk.com/2017/10/black-people-cannot-guilty-cultural-appropriation-period/

Given that the blipsters who sport African dress very well could be Yoruba or Fulani, it’s not quite fair to accuse them of appropriating the fashions of such groups. African Americans, after all, have the dubious distinction of not knowing what their traditional dress is. For them, wearing African attire has always been more complicated than “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission,” as Susan Scafidi, author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, defines cultural appropriation.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-it-cultural-appropriation-when-africans-wear-jordans_us_56099b3be4b0768126fea24d

View story at Medium.com

http://afropunk.com/2018/02/controversy-around-black-panthers-supposed-appropriation-shows-necessity-pan-africanism/

 

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Miscellaneous:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/9/16994648/black-panther-kendrick-lamar-soundtrack-stream-the-weeknd-sza

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-complicated-exhilarating-process-of-creating-wakan-1822765864

https://www.thecut.com/2018/02/black-panther-natural-hair.html

http://afropunk.com/2018/02/get-shatters-hollywoods-traditional-permissions-blackness-hopefully-oscar-recognition-turning-point/

The Sunken Place to Wakanda with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

 

 

 

I Found These on Netflix

Inspired by a new season of BBCs Blue Planet, and the introduction of a bad head cold, I decided to watch some shows that were a little out of the ordinary for me on Netflix. Normally, I watch Scifi and Fantasy movies, or reruns of old favorite shows, along with some of Marvels output. I actually enjoyed sort of looking at these while knitting or reading. They’re not plot intensive and are definitely the kind of stuff you watch if you have the flu and can’t concentrate, want something to feel good about for a couple of hours, or something not too loud, to help you fall asleep at night.

Animal Airport

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This is a show about Heathrow Airport’s animal department, where they ship all kinds of animals to different parts of the world, and people ship their animals to England. Hundreds of animals, a day, pass through the airport and the staff is responsible for checking that they’re all healthy and have the proper paperwork. Its a fascinating show, although you sort of have to wait for the facts to come in, so it’s not a documentary.

Since the UK is an island, they have to care very deeply if any animals that come into the country are carrying any diseases that can be passed on to humans or other animals, like rabies, so close attention is paid to people bringing various pets into the country, especially dogs and cats.

But the department, which is also nicknamed The Ark, also gets lots of other really weird shipments for and from zoos, and pet stores, like giant tortoises, llamas, snakes, and once, a shipment of butterfly cocoons that needed fast shipment, before they hatched. The show chronicles the day to day decision making processes of the staff, as they look for any animal smuggling evidence.

The show really isn’t about the staff. The various animals are the highlight in this show. One of my favorite episodes involved a giant snapping tortoise that refused to eat, and in another episode the staff has to let its resident company of ring-tailed lemurs go to a zoo. They’d been stuck at The Ark for two years because of a paperwork snafu. In one of the earliest episodes, a kindly old man tries to smuggle two tiny turtles, in his coat pockets. His reaction, when he got caught, was rather explosive.

Sometimes people try to sneak their dogs and cats in, or just don’t know they’re supposed to declare them, and there can be some tears and yelling when they find out their pet might be confiscated, but usually the situations are peacefully resolved.

This is a great show to watch if you love animals but are too sick to muster up enough concentration to watch a nature documentary.

The Great British Baking Show

British-Baking-Show-Hosts-Judges-FeatImage result for british baking show

I love cooking shows, especially baking shows, but I hate the competitive and quite frankly, dumb atmosphere, of the American versions of these shows. Americans talk too much in those shows, and when they do say stuff, its generally self serving bullshit, or nasty shit against their opponents, and I’m never in a mood to hear that.

But I like the British shows.The competitors are humble, hard working and supportive of each other, and its a real joy to watch them work on the various recipes. You get really caught up in their emotions through the season as you get to know each one of them. They are kind, and beautifully supportive of each other, celebrating each other’s wins, and commiserating with each other’s losses, and admiring each other’s skills. The emotional dynamic on these shows is completely different. The hosts aren’t screaming insults and tend to be supportive themselves. But the biggest difference between the American and British shows, is that the Americans are competing against each other, whereas the British contestants are competing against their individual selves, and their personal insecurities.

This show has two hosts and two judges. The hosts are Mel Giedrouyc, and Sue Perkins, who work great together, and are actually pretty funny, but never at the expense of the contestants. The two judges are Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood. Mr. Hollywood has dreamy blue eyes, and he and Mary are both consummate professionals, who find at least one nice thing to say about every bake they judge, no matter how awful the contestant thinks it is.

Each episode consist of three tests, and is entirely about baking deserts and pastries, with the occasional savory dish. The first is usually something of the contestants own design, and something they’ve been practicing for years. The second test is Technical and it’s usually something the contestants have never heard of before, and the last is a kind of proficiency test, that includes all the skills they’ve learned over the course of the show, that day ,or that week. They’re allowed to be as imaginative as they want and its a lot of fun to see them all reproduce the same recipe, but with significantly different results.

This is a great show to watch, if, like me, you love pastries.

Tales By Light

Image result for tales by Light

Image result for tales by Light

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This is a documentary series of interviews with nature photographers that discusses how they got particular shots, and what urges led them to becoming photographers. If you love nature shows, and possess enough brain power to watch a documentary, than this is the show for you. There’s a lot of talking, but you can safely ignore it, and just watch the beautiful animals, scenery and cultures.

What is always amazing to me is the amount of cooperation the photographers get from the people they film. I always wonder if the tribal people they’re filming, understand that people from around the world (other tribes, really) will be looking at their photos.

There are six episodes about places like The Himalayas, various tribal groups (my personal favorite), ocean photography, and various mountains and volcanoes.

Somebody Feed Phil

Image result for somebody feed phil

Image result for somebody feed phil

More than people cooking food, I like to watch people eat food. Especially if its food I’m never likely to eat.

I have never heard of Phil, but I feel comfortable saying I think I’m probably in love with him. He is such a sweet character. He’s always so positive and happy. If you need to feel good for a couple of hours than you can watch a couple of episodes of Phil visiting parts of Asia, Israel, and other places, eating the food, and striking up conversations with random people. This is not a deep show, and can be easily watched when you have little brain power to spare for a plot. Its mostly just Phil talking about the  food, and eating the food, and interacting with some friends.

In the first episode, Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, visits Bangkok, and tries some durian fruit. Apparently he’s okay with that, and says it tastes pretty good. He also visits Tel Aviv, and since he’s Jewish, he has a grand old time exploring the food and culture, and having conversations with random strangers about what it’s like to be Jewish in Israel. Phil isn’t a foodie, so there’s none of the snootiness, or pretentiousness, that you get with other travel food hosts like Bourdain. I like Bourdain, but he tries too hard to seem cool and detached. Zimmern can come across a little too folksy sometimes. Phil on the other hand has no chill at all. He has all the enthusiasm of a child, which is kind of refreshing.

My favorite part of all the episodes though, are the endings, when Phil Skypes with his elderly parents about his adventures. I love their relationship with their son, who they don’t always understand, and they also think they’re pretty funny, so of course they are. And he just talks to them about the food he ate during his visit, and people he saw, and they sometimes give commentary. It’s a really lovely touch to add these scenes of bonding. Most of the time you get the impression that people on TV shows don’t have families at all, and you almost never see them interact.

Phil also visits Lisbon Spain, and parts of Mexico in subsequent episodes. Phil’s regular facial expression is one of pleased surprise, and for some reason I find that deeply funny.

The Superbowl: Movie Trailers

Here are some of the top movie and series  trailers that were shown throughout the Superbowl. Now, I didn’t watch the Superbowl, (I never do), but I did get on the internet to check for any ads I may have missed. I had it on good authority that there would be a lot of movie and TV show ads shown during.  I know that not all of you watched the Superbowl, but you are interested in movies, so I collected as many as I could.

I was out of it all last week with a nasty cold and couldn’t get any posts done beyond the ones I’d already scheduled, so I’m a little behind in my reviews. (Let’s face it, I’m waaay behind.)But I’m doing fine now, and will catch you guys up on things I’ve been looking at while I was sick, like the new Cloverfield movie that was just released on Netflix, along with Altered Carbon,  Star Trek Discovery, and a handful of food shows.

 

Cloverfield Paradox

I was as surprised as anyone to discover this was being released right after the Superbowl. It’s been said that Netflix had some kind of rule that they wouldn’t release movies or shows that would compete with the Superbowl for attention, but apparently that is no longer true. I have it on good authority that the viewership for the Superbowl was the lowest its ever been, and maybe Netflix wanted to take advantage of that. I don’t know.

Anyway, I was on top of this the moment I found out.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it was pretty damn scary, especially in the first hour when you didn’t quite know what was going on. I thought it was a very effective Scifi horror movie that wasn’t a  total riff off of Alien. The synopsis is that this is some kind of prequel that explains  the how and the why of the first movie in the franchise. I’m satisfied with the explanation and thought this movie was an elegant solution to the questions posited by Cloverfield, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The movie is lead by a Black woman, Gugu Mbatha -Raw, and also stars David Oyowelo, and Zhang Ziyi. I’ll review this later this month, if I can.

 

 

Avengers Infinity War Trailer #2

I’m almost as excited about this movie as I am about Black Panther.

Almost!

All my favorite people, all in one movie…How does anybody hate this? This trailer is kickin’!

I cannot explain, though, why I’m inordinately excited to see Dr. Strange interacting with both Tony Stark, and Spiderman. All of the best Avengers books are deeply funny, because of the interactions between wildly different characters, and their reactions to each other. That was one of the best parts of Civil War, so I hope this movie will be funny.

 

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Okay, that last movie was alright. Not great, but okay and a mostly fun B movie. This trailer is a lot more interesting because, as I’ve said before, I’m a total sucker for “dinosaurs in the city” movies. Cuz yeah, my first question was: Wtf is this dinosaur doing in this child’s bedroom? Yep, something has gone horribly fucking wrong here, and I wanna know what happened!

I’m gonna see if I can talk my Mom into going to see this, and Rampage because as far as I’m concerned ,you can never watch too many movies about giant monsters, rampaging through a city.

 

 

Westworld Season II

Okay, I actually am as excited for this as I am for Black Panther, the movie to which all other movies will be measured this year, apparently, as far as excitement levels. Fortunately for all of you, you can’t see me jitterbugging around in my seat right now, over this trailer.

But in conclusion, I would like to say:

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Mission Impossible: Fallout

I’m a big fan of this franchise, but what’s ironic about that is that I wasn’t planning to be. The movies just kept getting better, and Tom actually looks like he’s having a lot of fun in them. I like Tom Cruise okay, but I wasn’t a fan of the original series, or Tom Cruise, really.When his career first began, in the 80s, I couldn’t stand him, but he kept happening to  be in movies I liked, and I think that’s what happened here,and now I guess I’m a fan, since I’ve watched all his movies.   It didn’t hurt that he kept starring in these movies with some of my other favorite actors, like Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, and Laurence Fishburne. This new movie just looks entirely batshit, and stars Angela Bassett and Simon Pegg.

 

 

Solo

Okay, this is a good trailer, and makes me interested in seeing this movie, now. I was completely indifferent to the idea of a Han Solo movie, wondering why we needed this, and who was asking for it, but this really looks like fun, even if the lead actor looks cheesy. I still don’t know that I’ll go see this in the theater, but  I’m a little less worried about this movie sucking.

 

 

Castle Rock

I’m looking forward to this show, after the success of the movie IT. (Yes, I’ve seen that.) On the other hand, I’m dubious about this show, because The Mist sucked. Well, all I can do is give it a try and let you know what I think. It seems like it’s going to be okay, but then those Mist trailers were misleading, too. (I am glad to see that movies and television shows are remembering that Black people exist on this planet. That’s kinda cool.)

 

 

A Quiet Place

This looks intriguing…

 

 

Black Dynamite II

And now for something completely ridiculous…

I didn’t’ see the first movie until years after it was released, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I did feel an urge to laugh at it, but not quite. Well, I smiled at it, a lot. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. Maybe I’ll know how the heck I feel about after watching this sequel.

 

The Blackest Videos on Youtube

Africa on Fire

I loved this little mini-movie about a Black fantasy land with superpowers, even if it is sponsored by a company that makes Vodka.

 

 

Groundhog Day for Black People

I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just get mad at this video, so I did all three just to cover all the  bases.

 

 

Spiderman Lives: Miles Morales

This is the character Spiderman Homecoming should have been about, but I’ll accept Tom Holland as Spiderman, for right now.

 

 

Alexa Loses Her Voice

I included this because of the addition of Cardi B, although hers isn’t my favorite part. My favorite parts are all the other celebrities, especially Rebel Wilson.

 

 

Peter Dinklage/Morgan Freeman Rap Battle

I’ve been a fan of Dinklage since his movie The Station Agent, and a fan of Freeman since, well… forever. Combine the two of them with Busta Rhymes, and Missy Elliot though…

Best Scifi Costumes on TV

 

Luke Cage

Luke Cage makes this list not just because the costumes are beautiful, but because this is some of the most politically relevant costuming in the MCU. All of the costumes speak to the specific backgrounds and identities of the wearer, and were designed by Stephanie Maslansky, whose priority was keeping things casual.

Cottonmouth’s dapper business suits represent his aspirations for legitmacy, as does Mariah’s middle-class chic. Cottonmouth’s suits are carefully crafted to inspire ambition to the young people of Harlem, while Mariah’s are carefully coded to inspire the folksy warmth and political legitimacy she seeks to project to the community.

Misty Knight’s no-nonsense practiciality is what’s on display in her costuming. She is a competent detective who is sexy while not being sexualized.

Luke’s hoodie is representative of the anonymity he attempts to cling to while protecting Harlem.That hoodie full of bullet holes is a direct callback to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, (one of the many young Black men who have died at the hands of police and  vigilante shhotings in the US.), and meant to invoke a feeling of hope and strength to the show’s audience.

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Farscape

I think Farscape had some of the most imaginative costuming on television. There’s nothing on TV right now that’s come close to it. The creators managed to make the female characters both alien and sexy, while the men were alien and virile, and funny.

I think one of my favorite costumes was Crichton’s black coat, that he adopted at some point towards the end of season two, which created a very sexy outline for him, with broad shoulders, a cinched waist, and it flared nicely during his action sequences.

The creators seemed to figure out that black leather seemed to work really, really well in this universe, and so, just made an infinite variety of  these outfits for everyone on the show. There was definitely some bondage leather influence on the wardrobe.

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This is Scorpius, a half Scarran, half Peacekeeper hybrid, whose unique body chemistry requires a face mask, which gives him a sinister look..

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I especially liked this red and black number Crichton wore in season two. I think this is a Peacekeeper outfit.

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These are the Scarrans. They wear lots and lots of black or red leather.

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It wasn’t until the second season that I figured out that Virginia Hey, who played Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan, was also the Warrior Woman from The Road Warrior.

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Space 1999 – Maya

Maya, played by Catherine Schell, was the only character worth watching this show for, and the episodes that centered around her, were always the most interesting. For some reason, there was a thing about bird aliens during this time period, because Buck Roger’s had a male character that was kind of like her, too.  The only difference was that Maya could take on the shapes of different aliens. Still, she was definitely this show’s version of a Spock character, and the creators tried to differentiate her from Spock by giving her superpowers.

What’s interesting is the idea of a woman with the suggestion of mutton chop sideburns, who is sexy in a mainstream television show. But you have to remember, back in the day, these types of shows remained very much under the radar, as most people wrote them off as being for children, even if Space 1999, strived to present more mature themes. I appreciate it now, in a way I didn’t, when I was a teenager.

There’s also more than a little bit of Barbarella in her outfits and posing. In how she was prominently featured on the show. Space 1999 also starred Martin Landau, from the  Mission Impossible TV show, and Barbara Bain, who was also from that show.  I liked them both okay, and they really were too good for this show, but Maya was real draw for most people

The show aired from 1975 through 1977, but there was a definite 60s vibe in the setup, designs, and fashions, the were heavily reminiscent of Star Trek, which first aired in 1963.

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American God

I loved the costumes from this show. To go into the influences, and meaning, of the costumes, would require several posts devoted entirely to the subject, and guess what? I found one! My favorite is of course Media. Gillian Anderson is absolutely stunning throughout the entire season. A close second would be Anansi, and Easter, who had some wonderful outfits.

https://tomandlorenzo.com/2017/05/american-gods-style-costumes-art-direction-cinematography-analysis/

Suttirat Anne Larlarb is Series Costume Designer on American Gods first season, with Assistant Costume Designers Laura Montgomery, Brenda Broer, Sabrina Zain, Anita Bacic and Costume Supervisor Quita Alfred.

 

Notice the old world European embroidery on the lapels and cuffs of the Zorya’s   costume, which is appropriate, since she hails from Russia. The designs echo other  details in her home, which is old and shabby, but warm and comfortable, just like her attitude.

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This is Media as the late, great, David Bowie, one of several gay icons as she was dressed for the show. The others are Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. Gillian Anderson proved to be  incredible chameleon, and this must have been great fun for her.

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Notice the similarity in costumes between Loki and Odin.

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If you look closely at Shadow’s suit, it has tiny little dots all over it. There’s such great attention to details that the viewer will almost certainly never notice.

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I think I already mentioned Easter’s slightly tattered finery. Notice the tiny frayed edges on her flower headpiece, and her matching eye-shadow.

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This is one of Bilquis’ outfits from her 70s scenes.

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The faceless men in white, with their jackboots, suspenders, and black hats were deliberately meant to resemble the Droogs from the movie, a Clockwork Orange.

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Outlander

Claire’s dresses are designed by Terry Dresbach and are one of the highlights of this show. No matter what era she inhabits,  whether it’s the American 40s, or 18th century Scotland, Claire is always dressed to the nines. There are websites out there dedicated to examining the fashions of this show

http://www.instyle.com/reviews-coverage/tv-shows/best-fashion-moments-outlander-season-2

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Downton Abbey

What I liked most about this show is that it told the story of this wealthy  English family as much through clothing, as what they did. And the characters themselves occasionally discussed fashion and how it was changing.

The time period moves from the turn of the 20th century, through the first world war, to the 1920s, and you can get a very good idea, not only of how women’s fashions changed over that time period, but more importantly, WHY they changed. Women’s fashions were often a response to outside events,   because, in the past centuries,  the vast majority of women’s fashions were designed by women, who were responding to the ebb and flow of historic events.

In an exclusive interview with MASTERPIECE, Downton Abbey’s costume designer, Anna Mary Scott Robbins, recently took a break from her exciting work on Downton Abbey Season 6 to talk about the signature styles of the women of Downton and designing their sumptuous, jazz-age costumes.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/features/slideshow/downton-abbey-s5-behind-designs-fashions-season-5/

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Contrast the above manner of dress (from 1900 through 1910s) with the looser, lighter style of dress below. In the 20s, the world was just coming out of the first World War, when everyone, rich and poor alike,  had experienced significant hardship. With so many men lost during the war, it marked a significant turn, for women, as they begin to movie into the workforce in greater numbers, especially the women of the middle, and upper, classes, the kind of women who had been pressured against working before the war. The new style of dress was more practical, and business-like.

Take note that with so many people dead from the war, the servant class all but dried up afterwards, as they also moved into the greater workforce. The servant class, that had made it really easy to dress in the many layers of clothing that women required during the Victorian era, were all but extinct. Upper class women needed to be able to more easily dress themselves, and take care of their own clothing and hair, since, after a while, there were no longer such things as Lady’s Maids. Dresses and hairstyles became simpler. There were fabric restrictions during the war, so women saved fabric by raising hemlines, (which never went back down, and got raised again during, and after, WW2.)

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In one episode, we can  hear the women’s opinions of the change in fashion, when the younger daughters of the house model the new 20s flapper dresses for their mother and grandmother, who express shock at the flimsiness and skin exposure of the designs. The silhouette of the flapper dresses are completely different from the more modest dresses that came before.

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Star Trek :The Original Series

The fashion designer for the original Star Trek was William Thiel. You can see a lot of the 60s influence in his fashions, even though he tried really hard to make the outfits realistic. Still these are some of the loveliest women’s costumes in Scifi, all very feminine, with some beautiful colorwork.

The amount of skin being shown is entirely in keeping with the 60s era thinking, which was a reaction to the deep conservatism of the 50s. These fashions were considered very progressive for women, at the time. The biggest influence over fashion was the invention of the bikini, which was invented in the 40s, just after the war, but didn’t make its way to American shores until the 50s.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5969957/weirdest-and-sexiest-costumes-from-the-original-star-trek/

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See the bikini influence:

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The miniskirt was a huge thing back in the 60s. There’s been a lot of discussion about how the miniskirt does not make Star Trek a sexist show.

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The third woman just appears to be wearing a one sleeved poncho.

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Into the Badlands

Being the only martial arts television series is a big burden, It’s important that everything be meticulous and that includes the wardrobe. i talked about this just a bit in my reviews of the second season.

The men’s outfits  feel influenced by the costumes from A Clockwork Orange.

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Even in the Badlands, people manage to find luxurious fabrics:

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You can see the Asian influence here, where there’s  a bit of Genghis Khan, Warlord, in Quinn’s outfit.

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Hannibal the Series

One of the best parts of this series is  looking at Hannibal’s suits. Hannibal comes from very old money, so I don’t think he’s making his wardrobe choices based on a therapist’s salary.

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http://ew.com/article/2015/08/29/everything-hannibal-wore-hannibal/

 

One of the few times we see Hannibal witohut a suit is in the season three premiere episode. The showrunner, Bryan Fuller, says he was specifically influenced by the movie The Hunger ,which starred Katherine Deneuve, and David Bowie.

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You can see The Hunger’s influence on Gillian Anderson’s look for the third season, too:

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In Hannibal, Gillian Anderson got a chance to dress upscale. Here she’s wearing a very modern Parisian look.

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It Came From Youtube

You ever get on the internet to actually get something done, like look up some movie times, or some actor’s name, and then get sucked into the deep well that is YouTube. And they’ve got this formula down too, where they keep offering you these fascinating new videos that are just slightly related to stuff you were just watching. Youtube’s algorithms work just a bit too well.

Well, here’s a few videos I got sucked into watching when I had not planned on it. If my eyeballs had to see these, then so do yours. You especially deserve to see them if you’re a follower of this blog.

 

 

First up,  these videos, called Rollin’ Wild, that I stumbled across by accident. I think I was looking at panda videos when Youtube offered me a look at these. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a cartoon before in my life. There’s an entire website devoted to producing more of these, including some Christmas themed ones, which are equally ridiculous.

The basic premise is that overnight, every animal on Earth has turned into a balloon like version of itself, and tries to continue with their regular behavior, as if nothing different had happened. Watch for the poor hamster…

 

 

I would like to introduce everyone to Lucas the Spider. Now, as a general rule, the only spiders I think are adorable are those tiny jumping spiders we keep finding on our house, and I think Lucas is probably one of those. You have done an incredible job of character, and animation, if you can get a confirmed arachnophobic, like me, to fall in love with Lucas.

 

 

There’s an entire series of these Angry Birds Hatchlings videos and I can’t get enough of them. Omg! They are soooo cute!

The creators seemed to have really captured the random funniness that is only possessed by children, ages 2- 4, who have just learned to speak. This  one is my favorite, especially that little purple fella, who isn’t even trying to participate. He’s got his own agenda:

 

 

One of my favorite parts of Cloudy with Meatballs 2 is the discovery of the Foodimal Jungle. I enjoyed the first movie a lot, and I expected the sequel to not live up to the first movie, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the creators become even more imaginative (and funny). This video is about how they came up with the various foodimals, and personalities.

Naturally my favorite character was “Barry”. I do not know why I associated the little critter with Barry White though, (and his name really should be Darryl.) My second favorite are what I like to call “The Pickle Barbarians”. Who do you think would win in a fight against The Minions?

(Another favorite part of the movie is the character voiced by Terry Crews, a cop who really loves his son, and insists on telling him that at every opportunity.)

 

 

Now, on a more serious note, this is Jay Z’s new video titled Family Feud. It presents an interesting futuristic concept, where humanity has been taken charge of by a matriarchal coalition, whose job it is to maintain peace. Movies and television rarely depict matriarchies, at least not in this way, so I was intrigued, and I’d love it if this idea was made into an entire movie.

Why is is that when Hollywood re-imagines the world, they always imagine that the bad Guys won? The Nazis? The Confederates? Hydra? The Handmaid’s Tale? The only alternative worlds they seem to be able to come up with are worse alternatives to the one we’re already in,  but only for people who are already marginalized, like gays, women, and Black people. The kind of worlds in which straight,White men act even worse than they do right now. I like this video (and Star Trek, too) because it imagines an alternative world where marginalized people are flourishing.

 

 

And finally, the video that began this whole journey, about little puffball pandas mobbing their handler. That poor man! It reminds me of that crazy scene in Raising Arizona, when Hi tries to kidnap one of the babies, and they just get the better of him.

Best Scifi Costumes in Film

Barbarella (1968)

I watched this late one night, when I was a teenager, and the only things that really impressed me were, how badly the movie sucked, and how fun and funky the costumes were. I watched it because I was a huge fan of Duran Duran, at the time, and they said this movie was where they’d gotten their name from.

Barabrella, played by Jane Fonda, was an astronaut from the 41st century, who was sent through time to stop a mad scientist, named Durand Durand.

Now, you have to remember that outfits this skimpy were  liberating for women back then, and were a direct backlash against the severe conservatism of the fifties., where the agenda had been getting White women to go back into the home, after having been in the workspace, during the war.

Also, there was the breakdown of the movie studio system after the war which ushered in a new ways of approaching filmmaking, and new ways of depicting both men and women in film. You had the rise of new hotness, like Paul Newman, James Dean, and Sidney Poitier, and  a younger, more virile, casual male expression, to go along with the women’s skimpy attire.

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Oh, yeah, if you think the costumes were only skimpy for her:

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The Matrix (1999)

About every decade or so a movie is released that affects every other movie for the next decade, and The Matrix was it. This movie didn’t just affect other movies, like Inception, it affected politics, and inspired  real world events, and social movements, like the Columbine shooting, and the Men’s Rights Movement, which uses this movie’s dialogue of the red and blue pills, to fuel its agenda.

http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/society-and-culture/The-Matrix-reality-check-truth/883.aspx

Oddly, what it did not affect was real world dress. Black people were already dressing this cool, so we didn’t need it, and whenever we saw White guys trying to dress like Neo, we laughed at them. But this shit looked great in the movie. Observe Neo’s, and the Twin’s monkish silhouettes, and Niobe’s bantu knots.

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Dune (1984)

I remember watching this about three years after its release, and loving the costumes. The stillsuits worn by the Fremen were very much exactly the way I imagined them, but I thought the movie excelled in its use of costumes for the female characters, especially the Bene Gesserit’s severe, nun-like, attire, which are reminiscent of the Middle Eastern Chador.

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I remember trying to imitate Jessica’s hairstyle in the bathroom mirror, a style which heavily reminded me of Rachel’s from Bladerunner, which had been released a couple of years earlier. This style is sort of like those 30s  Hollywood glamour shots, with a touch of Elizabethan silhouette thrown in:

Dune - Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica Atreides wearing a white pleated dress with ruffled collar, open work embroidered details on the gathered sleeves and white and silver vest with corset belt. The costumes were designed by Bob Ringwood. / via Chimaerman

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And who doesn’t remember this image?

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Pacific Rim (2013)

Okay, I liked the “nauts outfits just fine, but what I really fell in love with was Ron Perlman’s shoes. He played a disreputable character named Hannibal Chau, who also happened to be a snazzy dresser.

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The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

I’m not a huge fan of this movie, because it’s just not very good, but I will watch it anyway, as  Thandie Newton’s Dame Vaako wears some of the baddest, slinky dresses ever seen in a Scifi movie. No Black woman has ever looked that damn good in outer space.

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This reminds me of the slinky dress scene from Serenity:

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Bladerunner (1982)

I don’t think I even need to go into how influential this movie has been, not just on American Cinema, but Japanese cinema too, as Akira, and Ghost in the Shell are both direct stylistic offshoots.

https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/blade-runners-legacy-10-movies-and-tv-shows-inspir/2900-1519/

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/10/blade-runner-influence-cyberpunk-sci-fi-ridley-scott-1201883053/

The costumes were inspired by 1930s/40s neo-noir films, most keenly seen in Rachel’s costumes. Roy Blatty and Pris’ costumes were inspired by the burgeoning punk scene of the 1980s. Bladerunner’s costumes still manage to look cutting edge even in 2017.

Rachel’s broad shouldered silhouette was entirely in keeping with the eighties aesthetic, too. Lots of women were moving into male dominated workspaces, at that time, and were trying to fit in, in some cases, by out-men-ing the men, trying to appear intimidating, using pantsuits and shoulder pads, while also trying to appear feminine by wearing pink, large bows, and high heels.

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As for Rachel’s chinchilla coat. In the world of Bladerunner, it wouldnt be real, since the animals are probably extinct, and even the idea of  killing animals in that world is taboo.

“Chinchilla fur is amongst the most rare and expensive in the world. It takes 100-150 pelts for a waist length coat and at least 250 for a full-length coat.”

– — http://www.chinchillaguide.com/chinchilla-information/history-origin/

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Big shoulders, a cinched waist, and a short skirt was the female power suit of the 80s. Actually that silhouette has been the symbol of feminine power since the Renaissance:

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And these are the women’s work clothes during and just after the war, which Rachel’s outfits are loosely based on, with the cinched waist and big shoulders. As the men went off to war, women moved into the workspaces they left vacant, a parallel to the many women moving into the workspaces in the 80s.

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Rachel’s hair and makeup are straight out of 1930s Hollywood glamour shots:

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The Mad Max Franchise

The Mad Max franchise is also heavily influenced by the Punk scene of the 1980s, combined with the practicality of desert existence. In Thunderdome, and The Road Warrior, we can see the influence of American football in the giant padded shoulders on Auntie Entity’s guards, and most of the “warriors” in Road Warrior.

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The Valkyrie

Incidentally, the hairstyle shown, in the photo below, is called the Fish Spine, or the Mohawk.

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One of Auntie Entity’s men wears a Noh mask as a headdress. Notice the football pads everyone is wearing, and the loose interpretation of Ancient Roman battle helmets. Auntie’s chain mail dress,and stockings are unique unto themselves. There hasn’t been anything like it in film since. Tina Turner states the dress weighed more than  120 pounds.

From Rolling Stone Magazine, August 1985: “The dress Moriceau concocted for Entity is an expressionist classic: a seventy-pound soldered amalgam of dog muzzles, coat hangers and chicken wire, the whole overlaid with gleaming chainmail butcher aprons and accessorized with pendulant auto-spring earrings.

Her earrings were inspired by springs from a car part.

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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

If you are seriously into costume, and want to know more about Queen Amidala’s fashions, then check out this book. It’s also one of the only ways you can get some idea of the  incredibly rich detail of the  fabric and decorations.

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Most of the costumes were desinged by Trisha Biggar, and were heavily influenced by several Ancient Asian cultures. This first one was  influenced by Mongolian culture, specifically the Mongolian wedding dress.. Its my personal favorite.

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‘These two designs have asian cultural inspirations. The color red, popular in east asian culture (esp. in China), symbolize traditional bridal colour, good luck, celebration, joy, vitality, long life, money, recognition, propriety… etc.’

—- https://hayochifabricfilms.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/queen-amidala-and-her-dress-inspirations/

This article also discusses the origin of the two little red dots on Padme’s cheeks, and the  inspiration for her white makeup.

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This outfit is clearly influenced by Japanese Culture. The headdress is influenced by a Roman battle helmet.

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The Fifth Element (1997)

This was one of Luc Besson’s first sci-fi movies, and it’s a classic. The clothing was designed by the French Designer Jean Paul Gaultier. The movie is kinda meh, for me personally, but the two stand out characters, that everyone remembers, are the non-binary, Ruby Rhod, played by Chris Tucker, and the alien opera singer, Diva Plavalaguna.

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The Black Panther (2018)

A Black woman is the designer for this movies Costumes. I’m loving what I’ve seen already, but I’ll wait until I’ve seen the movie to comment on the Costumes because there’s going to be a lot to say, and a lot of research to determine the cultural influences. There is nothing that you see on a movie screen that isn’t carefully planned, from Costumes to colors, to makeup, and hairstyles, and every single design element. If you can see it, it’s there for a reason, and has a purpose. The creators of these movies put a lot of thought and effort into these things, and I’d like to think they appreciate our appreciation.

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Next up in the coming couple of months: The Design and Themes of Bladerunner 2049, Black Panther, and the Design work of Guillermo Del Toro.

From the Halls of Tumblr

I stumbled across this website that rates movies according to diversity and inclusion. I’m not entirely sure I agree with some of the grades. I think this website is a lot stricter in its qualifications than I am, but I found it interesting:
 https://www.mediaversityreviews.com/tv-reviews

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I laughed at this waaay harder than I should have. I’m still laughing at it!

 

 vulcandroid

i will never be over the fact that during first contact a human offered their hand to a vulcan and the vulcan was just like “wow humans are fucking wild” and took it

 

roachpatrol

Humanity’s first contact with Vulcans was some guy going “I’m down to fuck.”

Vulcans’ first contact with Humans was an emphatic “Sure.”

 

star-lord

#iiiiiiiiiiiiii mean vulcans had been watching humans for a long time#they knew the significance of a handshake but still#they had to find some fast and loose ambassador#willing to fuckin make out with a human for the sake of not offending them on first contact#lmao#star trek

give me the story of this fast and loose vulcan

 

moonsofavalon

“sir…these…these humans…they greet each other by…” *glances around before furtively whispering* “byclasping hands…”

*prolonged silence* “oh my…”

“sir…sir how will we make first contact with them? surely we…we cannot refuse this handclasping ritual, they will take it as an insult, but what vulcan would agree to such a distasteful and uncomfortable ritual??”

*several pensive moments later* “contact the vulcan high command and tell them to send us kuvak. i once saw that crazy son of a bitch arm wrestle a klingon, he’ll put his hands on anything”

 

evilminji

Elsewhere, w/ kuvak: “….my day has come.”

 

lierdumoa

The vulcan who made first contact with humans is named Solkar guys. Y’all just be makin’ up names for characters that already have names.

Bonus: here’s a screencap of Solkar doing the “my body is ready” pose right before he shakes Zefram Cochrane’s hand:

adreadfulidea

I swear Vulcans only come in two types and they are “distant xenophobes” or “horny on main for humanity”. Also apparently this guy is Spock’s great-grandfather and frankly that explains everything.

 

Source: lycanthropiste st

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For some reason, this was totally a thing about a week ago on Twitter. I have no idea how this got started or why. It’s said that J. K. Rowling thoroughly enjoyed it though.

I think it was the “Sortin’ Du-rag” tweet that  had me cough-spittin’ at work!

Black Hogwarts

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http://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/a15070314/black-hogwarts-twitter/

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lj-writes  what that fandom lifestyle is SUPPOSED to be about, and how fans who consider themselves allies, Do The Work:

Carrying the fandom load

It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.

So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!

Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.

Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.

I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”

It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.

It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.

The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.

The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.

No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!

But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.

These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.

A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.

 

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I’m not a huge advocate for violence, but some of the racist wankery that various fandoms get up to,  just makes me want to give some people a very sharp pinch, with tweezers,  Sometimes several. I mean seriously! I didn’t even know this was a thing. You have got waaay too much time on your hands, and a massive hate-boner, if you are cutting PoC out of their own photos, to prop up your non-canon,  white male ship.

 stitchmediamix

So I’m writing something about how characters and actors of color are literally cut out of images in order to center white characters/actors (usually for shipping purposes) and I’d like to be able to actually link to examples of instances where that’s happened.

I’ve got an image of John and Daisy where John has been replaced by Driver (courtesy of @xprincessrey ’s recent post in the fandom racism tag) and SEVERAL images where Iris West has been erased and replaced by Caitlin that I referenced in my presentation on the misogynoir directed towards her.

I need more examples though and I honestly don’t know how to find what I’m looking for. And… I’m really bad at finding images on the internet.

So if you have collected any receipts on this particular fandom phenomenon where fans cut out characters/actors of color from images in order to focus on a white character or ship, please let me know. I’ll link to your post on the subject if you’ve made one and give you credit for finding the images that I use if you want it.

I need examples of:

  • Anthony Mackie being cut out of press images for either Winter Soldier or Civil War
  • Scott/Tyler Posey being cut out of Teen Wolf press images or scenes in the show
  • Photo manips where Finn/John Boyega has been replaced by Kylo/Adam
  • Any other fandom that cut characters of color out in this way!

I’m writing a thing and I’m working on the header image already but I’d like more examples because man… People need to know that this is a thing that happens and pictures help drive the whole thing in.

(Also, unfortunately I have no idea how y’all  can submit straight up images to me because I don’t use tumblr submit for several reasons, BUT you can always DM me images on twitter or use Tumblr IM if you don’t have links  to images, but want to send them to me anyway.)

If you can share this with your followers, that’d be awesome.

 

elandrialore

R3ylo manips

Original photoshoot with John and Daisy

St3r3k manip

Original promo image

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, and Tyler Hoechlin

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

St3r3k manip

Original image with Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

kyberfox

 

@stitchmediamix

Here’s a video of Finn getting cut out not just of his own confession scene – a character defining moment for him – and Kylo being inserted, he’s also replaced in the hug he and Rey shares. xx

The OP of that then made a gif set of some of the scene they’d cut where they replace Finn with Kylo because they were so proud of their work. x

And here Kylo is edited in instead of Finn in the scene where Rey gives Finn a “wow he looks good” look at Jakku. x

uprisingofcolor

 

@stitchmediamix

Here’s an entire gif set of Jake Pentecost getting cut out of his own trailer to center his white co star.

Oh, and here’s OP’s Response to @kyberfox calling them out (X), they take it about as well as you’d expect. This happened a day or so(?) after the trailer dropped, just for a frame of reference.

 

diversehighfantasy

The Doctor Who series 3 “Fix It”:

Here, they didn’t erase Martha Jones entirely, they made her a third wheel in a series the fandom felt Rose was rightfully entitled to. IMO this is as much of an in-your-face “fuck you” to Martha as pretending she didn’t exist.

Britchell. This is a more obscure ship, but it relentlessly erased, sidelined and minimized one of my favorite characters, Annie Sawyer of Being Human (UK) for being romantically involved with Mitchell, played by Aidan Turner, who also played Kili in The Hobbit. Britchell was a crossover between Mitchell and another character played by the actor who played Kili’s brother Fili in The Hobbit. Anyway. Britchell is the biggest ship in the Being Human fandom to this day.

Annie x Mitchell: http://reyesbidal.tumblr.com/post/53885860951

Britchell (in a nutchell):

 

nerdsagainstfandomracism

 

In Shadowhunters Jalec and Clalec shippers always use Malec scenes for their manips in order to erase Magnus. Here’s an example of a Clalec manip (x). I stay away from their tags and blacklist Jalecs and Clalecs on sight, but pretty sure Google has plenty of more examples. Luke is constantly excluded from the group fanarts, fan videos, etc.

Also, Rickylers in TWD always try to erase Michonne from her own narrative.

 

Source: stitchmediamix fandom racismracism in fandom Erasure ShippingLong Post white prioritization ReblogMod P.

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Here’s a review of Black Lightning, written from another perspective.

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This week, the new CW show Black Lightning will introduce another Black superhero — rather, Black superheroes — who will thankfully diversify the current ranks of primarily white TV and movie heroes, but it also raises the question: How will the show address its blackness?

With Black Lightning and Black Panther on the way, we’re finally seeing Black heroes represented on both the small screen and the big screen, and with the amount of publicity they deserve. But for Black people around America — and perhaps around the world — these heroes represent more than just the newest installment of a money-making machine built on franchises. These heroes bring familiar faces — faces that resemble their own — to a universe full of magic, superpowers, superhuman feats and abilities.

Blackness in the Media

But how, exactly, do these heroes represent “blackness”? And what, exactly, is “blackness”? This question is never asked of TV shows, movies, or books that feature white heroes. In writing programs or conferences, you’ll encounter panels and workshops in which people discuss how one may write characters of color with sensitivity. In other words, “How can I make it clear that this character is Black without being offensive?” But it’s more than just an issue of figuring out how to avoid your run-of-the-mill racist language. It’s determining if a character of color needs to be defined by their race.

Because whiteness is our country’s default racial lens, if race isn’t mentioned in a story’s narrative, most people will assume a character is white (take, for example, the “Black Hermione” internet debate). White characters are never characterized by their whiteness unless it serves the plot. So many times, however, Black characters or characters of color are defined by their race. “Black” isn’t a character type, nor is it a personality. And yet, because blackness falls so outside of the norm in common thought, it becomes the defining characteristic of a protagonist.

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I could not resist putting definitions next to some of these. (Mine are in bold type.)

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anonymous asked:

so you’re jamaican and not regular black?

What the hell is regular black?

 

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I did not know that Satan had his own Twitter feed:

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It Came From The Depths Of Tumblr

I love these little gothic themes on Tumblr. I was looking for articles about knitting and stumbled across a bunch of them, and decided to put them all in one place. I even added a few myself:

Knitting Gothic

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You tie on your next color and cut off the last one.  When your scissors snip shut, you think you hear a distant scream.  The next morning you think you hear sirens, but you’re too busy knitting to look outside.

You stop going to your knitting club because when your fellow knitters smile at you there’s too many teeth.  Too many.

The strand of yarn whispers between your fingers.  Sometimes you can almost understand what it’s saying.

You go to the yarn store to pick up more red yarn.  The dead-eyed employee that greets you says he’ll have to check if they have any left in the back.  The co-worker he grabs screams hysterically as he’s dragged away.

Your new yarn drips red all over your car seat.  By the time you get home it’s dry enough to work.

You don’t remember when you last felt the wind on your face, but sometimes you can feel it in the vibrations of the yarn that snakes across the windows throughout your house.

You only have a few more rows left to go.  The next day, you only have a few more rows left to go.  The next week, you only have a few more rows left to go.  Just a few more left to go.

You’re so eager to be done.  So desperate to be done.  When will you finally be done?

You open your mouth to scream, but no sound comes out, only yarn.  Always yarn.  You keep knitting.

  1. – K1 P1 K1 P1 K1 M1 P1 K1 P1 K1 P1 Sacrifice your first born K1 P1 K1 P1. Make sure to follow the pattern precisely.

  2. – You walk into the yarn store. Just one skein. You only need one skein to finish the sweater. You have the dye lot written down, marked on the original wrapper from the old skeins. You can’t find the dye lot. It never existed. It was never real. The arcane sigils mean nothing and pain your eyes to look upon.

  3. – The pattern takes a size 7 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 7. 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 7. You change patterns. The pattern takes a size 5 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 5. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 5.

  4. – Finally, after years, you have found your way to Webs. No more will you buy your yarn from the big box craft store, you swear. As you reach for the 100% alpaca, it melts away. The sock yarn. The cashmere. The bamboo silk. They all fade away to nothing, leaving behind only Red Heart.

  5. – As the stitch drops, you can hear the screaming rush of the universe. The hole in your project grows larger and larger, a gaping maw that calls to you from the abyss. There is no escaping what you have wrought.

  6. – As you approach the counter to pay for your single skein, you look down and realize that you are holding two. Three. Yarn just appears in your hands. Money streams out of your wallet. There will only be yarn. You will be yarn.

  7. – You click to open your email. Ravelry opens. You click on Google. Ravelry opens. You click on Facebook. Ravelry opens. Finally, you click on Ravelry. Webs opens. Your cart is full.

You’ve been waiting for that yarn to come in stock for six months. It has not  been discontinued, but its never in stock. No one else has it in stock either. Is it even a  real yarn?

You dropped your ball of yarn on the floor and now you can’t find it. You know its in this room, because you had it in your hand a moment ago,  but it has  disappeared. It does not want to be found.

You have frogged this scarf three times because the stitch count keeps coming out incorrect. Even though you’re counting every stitch, and using stitch markers, every row is a different size.

When you bought the yarn in the store it looked green. Now that you’ve gotten it to your home it looks blue. You take it outside to see how it looks and its a dark brown. Exactly what color is it?

You have been knitting this scarf for two years. Its still not finished. It just needs two more rows, or one more row, or three. You’ve lost count of how many rows you’ve knitted. You have no idea how many more you need now, but the scarf isn’t done.

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I am much  offended, too.

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—– The real attraction are the layers, fam. The silky agility with which the show navigates generational black trauma and how it is mined/capitalized upon, is only matched by the stellar way they climax the episode. Hallelujah. Black Museum comes through like the Pell Grant of starter reparations. Black Museum talmbout they can’t give us the 40 acres but they gone slide us this refund check for That Work. Can we talk about the protagonist, Nish? How she’s instantly getting her jersey retired next to Daisy Fitzroy and Nairobi in the Ororo Munroe Fictional Black Women Hall Of Fame? Quite literally not the hero we deserve, but definitely the one we need

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I;m always here for accredited dinosaur historicity:

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

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

So I think this footage is actually of WW2.

Many people think it’s historically inaccurate because the Tyrannosaur doesn’t have feathers, but a buzz cut is pretty standard for military personnel.

 

@poshtearex

we need an authority on this

Totally accurate except that that Rex is a bit bigger so it’s actually a female Rex so she may have been pretending to be a male so she could fight. What an icon she is.

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And more in Hollywood’s ongoing war against Asian/Middle Eastern people, and people’s reactions to that. This isn’t remotely funny but I find myself laughing really hard about this. It seems White people are getting just as exasperated with this as Asian people. It is becoming creepily obviuous that Hollywood does not like Asian people.

 

Most of Hollywood seems determined to die on this hill because our clear and growing preference for diverse casts is making them face the fact that no, they aren’t pragmatists catering to the whims of racists audiences, they’re just fucking racists

 

This infuriate me so much. It’s not even gratuitous, it’s actually costing them more to disguise white people as asians, it’s inevitably gonna cause a backlash, but hey! It’s worth it if it means fewer PoCs in this movie about middle eastern people, right?

 

I’m baffled how ANYONE thought this was a good idea like…I’m not shocked that Hollywood is racist, at all but this is 2018…you’d think that the people making this film would know that this would piss people off (And rightly so) and wouldn’t do this just to avoid bad PR if for no other reason…

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I should not have found this as funny as I did:

 

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More writing instructions for conscientious people. Just because you’re creating worlds where  there is no racism, doesn’t mean you don’t need an understanding of how racism works, if for no other reason than not unconsciously reproducing racist narratives in your work, Ask yourself, and research questions about how racism works, how it manifests, and how it affects marginalized groups:

Writing without racism: its more than “what”, its also “how”.

Its great that people are asking, “how can we write fantasy worlds without racism?”  Escapism in fantasy is almost impossible for marginalized people, because we’re usually the only ones who have to accept the same bigotries in-text as we do in real life, because its tied to someone’s “escapism”.  For them, we either have a lower place in society that they can openly exploit, or we shouldn’t exist at all.  We need to deal with abuse in order for them to accept that fantasy world as a viable setting.  But I have an issue with just leaving it at “lets keep racist text out of the stories”.

See, the problem with making worlds where there is no racism is that so many people haven’t quite figured out how to do that right. Its like they take this idea of “colorblind racism’ here no one sees skin color, hence its just  “coincidence” that all the black people are subservient, or that all the Asian women are submissive and tiny.

Some examples (using my context as a mixed black person who identifies as black in most settings):

  • They’ll make a world where no one ever utters a single racial slur but still will use the same anti-blackness we see in real life (i.e. whenever they make us mammies or sacrificial lambs, using terms like “dirty” or “demonic” to describe our appearance a la Lord of the Rings, etc.)
  •   Or they’ll make sure that no one ever says “people color should be slaves” but lo and behold, that’s pretty much all you see.  (Like in Exodus, or the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones).  And we’re the only ones who HAVE to take THAT subservient role or else we’re “ruining the accuracy”. And when you call it out they say, “well that what you all were” but they won’t get why that’s just as bad as if they’d just admitted, “Hey, this is pretty racist” from the start.
  • Or (taking from what I said up there) they’ll make people who look black, and are from a culture obviously based on black people, but still claim they aren’t black, because they would rather divorce blackness from their world, instead of admitting we can be complex characters who can carry complex stories (because they still haven’t unpacked their own problematic ideas about black people)
  • Or worse still, they’ll make an entire world based off of a culture belonging to a group of people who they won’t even include.  I.e. the whole issue with Firefly and Serenity, and again Exodus.
  • Or we’ll be turned into white people with special powers or pointy ears.  Racism becomes, “hey this girl has red hair instead of blond hair lets exclude her”.  Meanwhile since there’s “no real racism” they claim there’s no need for “real” people of color (i.e. the problem with Dragon Age).
  • Or they’ll do some “colorblind” setting where everyone is mixed, but well all be reminded that only Aryan features are seen as “rare” and “special” an they’ll treat the rest of our features (i.e. brown skin, ark eyes, dark hair, etc. ) as “meh”.

Your worlds aren’t “racism free” just because make sure no one says the n-word.

Unless you really make an effort to think critically about these things (which includes trying to avoid: dehumanizing marginalized people, failing to include them as a part of the storyline unless the story “calls for it”, reducing them down to “inspiration porn” or metaphors, making them interchangeable, using fictional creatures in order to representation them, while making all humans white by default, etc.) then you run the risk of just being all talk.

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And to bring us full circle, have some knitting memes featuring Ryan Gosling. For some reason people decided to create a whole bunch of memes with Ryan Gosling saying “Hey girl…” after they found out he liked to knit. I have to admit I didn’t find these especially funny until after I saw Bladerunner 2049. Then I couldn’t stop picturing replicants in a knitting circle. Well, I am fond of mixing knitting with violence, I guess.

 

And some more general memes I thought were just funny:

Black Mirror and Critical Diversity

Image result for black mirror/black museum

I want to talk, yet again, about the need for  diversity in film and television criticism. We need this  badly, especially with the increase in PoC in genre films and TV shows. We don’t just need diversity but we need people who can put the images we’re seeing into some historical context. We need critics who can detail WHY some of the media we’ve consumed is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic, for example.

This was brought back to my attention after I scoured the internet for reviews of Black Mirror, a Netflix Scifi anthology show, which featured an episode about racial retribution, titled Black Museum, and starring Letitia Wright, from Black Panther. The vast majority of those critiques panned that particular episode. Many of those critiques were written by White men and women.

It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the episode sucked, but then I came across an article on The Root, written by a Black critic, that says everything I wanted to say about that episode, and which deeply affected me. Black Mirror critiques our addiction to, and fetishization of, modern technology, and as a result, a lot of it deals with the virtual monitoring of mental and emotional spaces. Of the six episodes in this 4th season of Black Mirror, Black Museum is the most difficult to watch. And it has also  been the most panned, and lowest ranked episode,  by White critics at The Verge, Vulture, and Collider specifically, and one has to wonder why that is. I want to give a comparison between two critiques:

Image result for black mirror/black museum

 Ashley Nkadi gives a devastating critique of America’s consumption of Black pain for entertainment, within the narrative of Black Museum. (This review contains spoilers.)

https://www.theroot.com/black-mirror-black-museum-reckons-with-america-s-histo-1821814356

Notice how she links the narrative to a Socio-Historical context in which Black people’s pain has always been commodified, monetized, and available for White consumption, outlining why some White people are in no hurry to dismantle White supremacy, the source of so much of that pain. Her points are direct and her review is uncompromising.

One of my mantras  has always been “everything is connected to everything”, and Nkadi touches on  those connections in her article, how various social movements collapse through commodification, for example, and how White fans consume media that includes marginalized people, and their reactions to it. Black critics of fandom have been saying, over and over, that White people’s consumption of media does not occur in a vacuum, no matter how much some of them want to separate, and disconnect, these issues from each other, insist they are unrelated, or that they have no bearing on actual lived experiences. Part of my job on this blog is to delineate just how connected everything is, and draw parallels between popular media, and the real world.

Here’s another article written by a White critic at The Nerdist:

https://nerdist.com/black-mirror-black-museum-recap/

And by Sophie Gilbert (a White woman) at The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/black-mirror-black-museum-is-a-throwback-to-episodes-past/549389/

Notice how Nkadi is very blunt about the issue of race in that particular episode, and how the writer from The Nerdist, glides right up to the subject of race,  and then slips past it without much mention. He has nothing to say about that. He has no interest in it.

Image result for black mirror/black museum

Another comparison review from The Black Youth Project:

https://blackyouthproject.com/black-mirrors-black-museum-slave-revolt-fantasy-hollywood-never-intended-make/

 —- I do not trust my enjoyment of this, but I trust that what white people see when they watch a story isn’t supposed to be what I see. And maybe for them this was simply a cautionary tale for what might happen when they do business with “supremacists.” Maybe that’s why they placed themselves in the “main character” Haynes’ shoes. But if you are Nish, not Haynes, you would know it is too late for cautions now. And if all of us Black folks are Nish, maybe burning down one man, one prison, one museum each is enough.

Now to be fair, The Root is a website for Black writers, about Black media, so it would seem especially precious for them to avoid the subject of race. The Nerdist is mostly White male writers writing about genre media. Their priority is to appeal to everyone, so approaching the topic of race in media is not going to be important to them, because they may not want to make their White readers uncomfortable, and that’s if they can see the racial implications in the media they critique, at all. Or, the retribution against the White male character, in the story,  made the writers uncomfortable, in a way they did not wish to examine too closely.

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And it seems I’m not the only person to notice or feel this way:

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/59w53k/im-a-black-critic-who-dismissed-the-black-museum-episode

—– ‘But listen, I’m not trying to say that “Black Museum” was peak Black Mirror. I’m not even saying that all its concepts are put together well. What I’m saying is that we need more people like myself and more women of colour in general that can see these messages and interpret them for the masses—free of filter. Because diversity on the big screen without diversity among critics is like planting fruits without tending to the damn weeds. The message is liable to get lost.’

After I started writing this post, I came across this on The Mary Sue!

https://www.themarysue.com/black-museum-black-reviewers/

— ‘ Let’s not forget, as well, Clayton is accused of killing a white woman. None of this is accidental and yet, none of this is mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve seen. Maybe a word or two about the racism, but nothing digging deeper to show why this episode reflects a narrative about the black catharsis that we might need in 2018.’

This review, from Ira Madison III at The Daily Beast,  I posted last week:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/black-mirrors-season-4-finale-black-museum-is-a-horrifying-critique-of-american-racism?ref=wrap

—– ‘The problem with most science fiction that uses race as an allegory is how it reduces racism to hatred based on emotion and circumstance. Human beings hate aliens, orcs, vampires or whatever else because they’re different than them. It ignores the sinister ways that racism has entrenched our legal and political system. “Black Museum” tackles that and much more, using the American curiosity framework—a roadside museum—to tell its story.’

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I’m not arguing that these White writers are bigots. That’s not my point. What I’m arguing is that a White writer’s need, to make their audience comfortable, will hamstring their review, and that White writers have a huge blind spot when it comes to critiquing race in the media we consume, and especially media that’s of importance to PoC.

Although it could be said that some white writers probably just wish to stay in their lane, and not comment on racial topics, the problem with that approach, is that their silence allows their audience to be lazy, to simply go on not thinking about the deeper implications behind their entertainment. In any comment section there are always calls for the writer to ignore racial issues, “Why does it have to be about race?” And”Why can’t you just find it entertaining?” There are parts of fandom that simply don’t want to think very deeply about anything they consume, claiming entertainment as a safe space for themselves, but not affording the same to marginalized people.

And I don’t know what to think of those writers who claim to want to challenge their readers, and don’t, or write the same bigoted drivel that marginalized people are regularly subjected to, in an attempt to seem “edgy”, (but I know I feel about it, though.)

I’m not avoiding critiques from White writers because I dislike White people, or think they’re being racist. (FTR: Black Mirror is a British show created by a White writer named Charlie Brooker,) I mostly avoid these critiques because many of the writers don’t, won’t, or can’t see the details, and nuances, behind media created with PoC as the audience. Most of them are  unable to put the images they’ve seen into any Socio-Historical context, as Nkadi did, to devastating effect, in the above review.

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White writers will not see the broader ramifications in movies like Black Panther, and Get Out, or the meaning behind Luke Cage’s wearing of a bullet riddled hoodie, and Black Mariah’s respectability politics. Many of them are not educated enough on the subjects to be able to speak on them. It took Black reviewers to see and state these things. It took Asian American reviewers to outline the racist implications of whitewashing Ghost in the Shell, and to explain why Danny Rand needed to be Asian. Left to White reviewers these kinds of things are not mentioned.

Because all the media we consume is still primarily written by straight, white, cis-gender men who are only really capable, through a combination of ignorance, malice, and laziness, of writing from their own perspective, we learn what it is they care about, what subjects they think are important, and who they believe matter.

Not that White writers aren’t capable of thinking and writing beyond such boundaries (I’ve discovered a few who can, but most of them can’t write cis- gender, straight, White women very well , and these are, presumably, the people they most often come in contact with). How much less accurate are they going they be when writing about lifestyles even more divorced from their own, like a transgender woman of color,  or an Asian immigrant. Why is Hollywood still so reliant on White men to tell stories they can’t possibly know anything about, except through copious research, and most of them are too lazy to do that, relying instead on the same  old established shorthand of such groups written long ago by other white men, who not only didn’t do any research either, but didn’t care, because those people didn’t matter.

Most white critics are not familiar enough with the various topics of race, within any sociocultural and/or historical context, and then there are those who don’t think it matters at all. But it matters to PoC and other marginalized groups, not just that they are represented in popular culture, but how they are represented, what kind of story is being told.

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Earlier in this country’s history, marginalized groups focused on entering the field of politics, and that was helpful in addressing some of our grievances, and furthering cultural progress. But our realization now is that we need to change the culture. And we can see that the way that a culture can be changed, is through  popular media. Until we control ,write, direct, and disseminate our own stories, in film, television, and books, we cannot change a culture that had long ago decided, with the aid of that same media, that we were less than.

Only we can  (will) declare our own worth. And there is always going to be a certain amount of push-back from those who don’t like it, because it benefits them, on a near spiritual level, to see “The Other” be emotionally downtrodden.

Not only do we need to be able to control our own image, but we need to be in a position to critique those images, because apparently, the reason why those images exist, will only be ignored by members of the dominant culture. The critiques of stories about us need to be done through a diverse lens, otherwise it will only result in reviews that say nothing, of any meaning, about our images.

White writers cannot talk about racial issues in media, and make their audience comfortable, at the same time. It’s not possible to do that and write about the Soci-Cultural issues being addressed in a show like Luke Cage, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the movie Get Out, or the upcoming Black Lightning, and Black Panther, as that might come across to their White audiences as a indictment, and an attack, on Whiteness. And some of them won’t take  the step  of approaching their own discomfort.

PoC, who critique the media that is about us, don’t have that problem, because we’re not necessarily interested in being liked by our readers. (I mean, it’s important. But it’s not out top priority. ) We’re interested in delineating the hard truths, and hope people are willing to come on that journey with us.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Vs. … All The Rest

There have been three other iterations of the original 1956 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hollywood keeps rebooting this movie (in fact, there is yet another remake of this movie in the works), despite diminishing returns on its efforts. I blame this on a lack of understanding, by the last two directors, of the core themes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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The first film is based on Jack Finney’s novel of the same name, which was written in 1955. I haven’t read the book since I was a very young child, (like 9 or ten),  so I can’t speak to the authenticity of the plot vs. the book, but Hollywood has been fascinated with it for over six decades now, remaking it every twenty or so years, to less audience enjoyment.

The 1956 version was directed by Don Siegel, and starred Kevin McCarthy, and Dana Wynter. This version is very much a product of its time, so to understand its themes, you need to understand something about the era during which it was made.

A simplified version: Just after WW2, America and Russia were not on good terms with each other. The Russians were still reeling from the devastating 1941 German invasion, and America had just used its first nuclear weapons on Japan. So both countries were paranoid from the war, and shit talking each other in the media.

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During this time, the Red Scare, as it was called, was  ramped up to hysterical heights in the American media, by Senator Joseph MCCarthy. Called McCarthyism, there was increased paranoia that America was full of Russian spies, that they were everywhere,  and their goal was to destroy American democracy, and make America a communist nation.

American society was inundated by the media  ‘…with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.’

… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Scare#Second_Red_Scare_(1947%E2%80%9357)

There were numerous congressional hearings, the federal government targeted Hollywood as the bastion of communist thought, popular actors were accused and blacklisted, careers were destroyed by even the smallest whispers of private disloyalty, people were encouraged to tell if any of their acquaintances were disloyal, and many of the movies from that time period reflected, not just the paranoia of the American government, but the fear that Hollywood actors  lived with, that at any time, they could be accused, and have to defend themselves against accusations of UnAmerican Activities. Just associating with the  accused, could put a person in the spotlight.

‘Some reviewers saw in the story a commentary on the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism, “Leonard Maltin speaks of a McCarthy-era subtext.”[17] or of bland conformity in postwar Eisenhower-era America. Others viewed it as an allegory for the loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union or communist systems in general.[18]’The general consensus over the decades, is that the movie’s primary theme was anti-communism, even if the creators say there was no particular political allegory involved.

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In the movie, Dr,Miles Bennell is approached by patients who all claim their family members aren’t really them. Ironically, this is an actual mental illness known as Capgras Delusion, a psychiatric disorder in which a person believes that the people closest to them have been replaced by imposters. While investigating these delusions, he and his companions keep stumbling across pods, and duplicate bodies, and come to the terrifying realization that the delusion is all real, that humanity is being slowly duplicated and replaced by aliens spawned from seed pods.

The original story takes place in a small town in California called Santa Mira, and ends with the lead character, on his own, trying to warn the rest of the populace of the threat.The lead, Kevin MCcarthy, and the director, Don Siegel, both went on to make cameos in the 1978 remake.

The 1978 version manages not only to perfectly replicate the paranoia of the original, but build on it, by setting it in a large city, and  touching on themes of existential dread, mental illness, and urban isolation. It is, like the remake of The Thing, an exceptional example of a film remake.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers is regarded as one of the greatest film remakes ever made.[11] The New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael was a particular fan of the film, writing that it “may be the best film of its kind ever made”.[12] Variety wrote that it “validates the entire concept of remakes. This new version of Don Siegel’s 1956 cult classic not only matches the original in horrific tone and effect, but exceeds it in both conception and execution.”[13] The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin wrote “The creepiness [Kaufman] generates is so crazily ubiquitous it becomes funny.”[14]Related image

This version has an all-star cast of Veronica Cartwright, who had yet to star in the movie Alien, but had been the young star of Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing Nancy Bellicec. A very young, and handsome, Jeff Goldblum, as her husband Jack, whose career was just picking up speed.  Leonard Nimoy, who was still working against being typecast as Mr. Spock, plays Dr. David Kibner, Donald Sutherland is Matthew Bennell, a city health inspector, and Brooke Adams as his co-worker and best friend, Elizabeth Driscoll.

Yes, this is a remake, although McCarthy’s cameo, as a panicked pedestrian screaming about the alien invasion, in the same manner that the first film ended, has prompted some viewers to speculate that this is a sequel to the original film. (No.) All of the primary plot points of the original are replicated in this film, only writ large. Part of the success of this film is the skill, and charm, of the actors who are at the top of their game here, especially the relationship between Matthew and Elizabeth.

One of the more charming things in the movie is the genuine friendship between Matthew and Elizabeth, with more than a little unrequited love on Matthew’s part, although that’s never specifically stated. Elizabeth is already in a committed relationship with one of the first of the pod people, her dentist boyfriend. In any other movie, a romantic relationship between her and Matthew would be inevitable, but that’s not the focus of the film. It has other messages to convey.

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This version improves and embellishes on the original in ways that feel entirely natural, while keeping all of  the basic elements of the plotpoints of the original. When humans fall asleep, duplicate versions of them are birthed from pods, and the original body is destroyed. (So, yes, even though the duplicate has all the memories and thoughts of the original person, it is not them because  all of their the emotions are lacking, and the original body is dead.) The movie  manages to keep the mood and messages of the first film intact, while tweaking and embellishing the relationships and characters.

From  the opening moments, there is the theme of urban isolation, which is the opposite of the original’s theme, which focused on the closeness of a small-town environment, where everyone seemingly knows everyone, an environment which makes it all the more horrifying to find that people have changed, and that what was once known, is no longer. In the remake people are already unknown to one another, no one is really close in the city. This urban isolation is juxtaposed against the intimacy of Matthew and Elizabeth’s friendship, and their relationships to their friends The Bellicecs.

In the remake, the aliens are able to finish what they couldn’t accomplish in the first film. No one knows anyone in the city, and everyone lives in such small personal bubbles, that’s it easy for the pods to make significant inroads into the population. By the time Bennell finds out about the invasion, it’s already far too late to do anything to stop it, and it’s a just a matter of time until he, or one of his companions, falls asleep, and are changed.

I’ll have to do a more detailed review of this movie at a later date, because “I got some thoughts.”

Body Snatchers (1993)

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This version is set up as if it were a sequel to the second film, although none of the characters from the previous remake appear. Apparently, its a parallel story of the invasion, happening on some other front, and according to this movie, humanity is gonna lose, no matter how many pods get blown up at the ends of these films.

The 1993 version loses a lot of the atmosphere, and messages of the first two films, although it does make a game effort.  All of the basic rules of the first two movies, are kept in place. People fall asleep, duplicate versions of them come out of pods, and the original person is killed. This one takes place on a military base,  and there is a vague theme that the aliens are successful because of military conformity, or because people are unhappy, or something, but this isn’t clearly articulated.

Just as in the second film, the aliens get to speak for themselves, stating that pod-ification of humanity will solve all of its troubles, and the screaming and pointing stuff, from the previous remake is kept intact. The way a person is duplicated is every bit as disgusting, involving what appears to be large worms, but unlike in the first remake, it’s not entirely clear how the worms are draining a person’s life essence.

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You have to pay very close attention to infer the themes of this movie, and you are, more or less, left to guess what was the point. Unfortunately, paying close attention to the dialogue (which is actually not bad) brings the actors lack of skills to the forefront. Billy Wirth and Gabrielle Anwar are just bad, and many of the other characters already act like pod people before they get duplicated, so its hard to tell whether or not they’ve been replaced. These particular actors just  are  not in the same talent realm as those of the  previous remake. Theyre too young, for one thing, and simply don’t have the talent, or gravity, to carry this movie, although Christine Elise does turn in an engaging performance as the best friend of the lead character, Marti, played by Anwar.

The core plot is centered around the Malone family dysfunction, as Marti and her family, which consists of her, her father, her stepmother and her baby half-brother, have moved to a new military base. I think we’re meant to sympathize with Marti’s displacement and isolation, from her family, and her surroundings, where she has no connections or friends, and is angry for having to start all over again. I see the parallels the director was trying to make, but I  don’t think it was very successful, because Anwar’s performance is so bad, and she has an annoying, and unnecessary, voiceover, as well.

There’s some surprisingly sedate, and creepy, acting from R. Lee Ermey, from Full Metal Jacket fame, Meg Tilley, and even a cameo from Forest Whitaker, who gives one of the more compelling performances, as an officer who is terrified of being duplicated. Both Whitaker, and Ermey do a great job in their scene together, making you wish the movie had been entirely about them, and leaving out Marti’s family melodrama altogether. These three actors (Ermey, Whitaker, and Tilley) are the highlights in what is otherwise a mediocre film. It doesn’t begin to reach the heights of the previous one.

I get that the pod people are not meant to have strong personalities, but Tilley manages to imbue her pod-Mom with just enough personality to be really creepy, while the rest of the pod people don’t. There’s just all kinds of different acting across this movie, so the pod people don’t seem like so much as a unified group, as much as they seem like a bunch of people who have all been lobotomized.

This movie mostly stars a cut-rate cast, that is very obviously sub par to the 1978 version. Most of these actors, who were unknown at the time, continue to be unknown today, with the exception of the colonel played by Forest Whitaker, and Terry Kinney. who went on to star in the series “Oz”, for HBO, and Gabrielle Anwar later starred in Burn Notice, and Once Upon a Time. Billy Wirth (from The Lost Boys) stars as Tim, a young helicopter pilot, who becomes an unconvincing love interest for Marti. It seems that every body snatchers movie must include a, not-quite-romantic subplot.

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This movie differentiates itself from the first two by depicting the alien invasion from Marti’s point of view. She, and her friend Jenn, are the only two people on the entire base whose personalities seem to be intact.

While the film has some occasionally creepy moments, (as when Marti’s little brother first attends school, and we realize his entire classroom has been duplicated), it is rather lackluster, and  kinda disappointing. The duplication special effects don’t evoke the same fear and sadness that the process did in the 1978 version, the soundtrack isn’t as memorable as the city/heartbeat sounds of the previous movie, and the sonic screaming of the aliens in distress, is mostly all that’s left from the ’78 version. This was directed by Abel Ferrara, who went on to make more violent indie movies in the 90s, like Bad Lieutenant, and The Addiction.

The Invasion (2007)

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In 2007, the film was remade, yet again, this time directed by James McTeigue, and starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The atmosphere of this one is cool and emotionally detached, almost as if the viewer had been duplicated, rather than the actors. The messages and themes of this movies are even more vague and unstated, but a close reading suggests that the messages of urban isolation, and peace through conformity are still intact.

This time Dr. Bennell is a woman (Kidman) and there are some brief feminist themes mentioned because of this change. This time the film is from her point of view, but also viewed through the lens of a parental love, as she seeks to protect her son, who is immune to the effect of duplication.

Everything about the 1978 film is jettisoned from this movie except the occasional name, so this is a clear reboot. Even the aliens themselves get an upgrade. There are no pods in this movie, but rather a kind of sentient virus, brought to Earth from some space debris, like in the movie The Blob. Anyone who is infected with the virus gets possessed by a kind of alien collective, after they fall asleep, but their primary body is left intact.

Dr. Carol Bennell is a psychiatrist whose patients start to report that the people they love are not who they seem. Daniel Craig stars as her counterpart Dr. Ben Driscoll, and they too have a not-quite- romance type of friendship, which is about the only thing kept intact from the original films. Carol has a young son named Oliver who, because of a previous illness, is immune to the virus. The plot becomes a race against time for Carol to save Oliver from one of the pod people, her ex-husband, Tucker, who wishes to kill the handful of humans who are immune.

This is a better movie than the 1993 version, mostly because it has better actors, although I have never liked Nicole Kidman, considering her to be an actress who lacks enough warmth to be engaging. She is too formal and icy for me to care about her plight, or buy her relationship with Oliver, although she does give it some effort. She’s not a bad actress. She’s just too emotionally remote. This is something that worked well when she starred in The Others, but not here.

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In an effort to approach some of the mood of the 1978 version, McTiegue only makes the viewer feel detached , although there are some deeply creepy moments, like various pod people trying  to get people to drink various infected fluids, and a scene where one of the pod people vomits in Carol’s face to infect her,  along with a couple of exciting chase scenes.

One of my favorite moments in this film is when Carol, pretending to be one of the pod people, is invited to dinner by the possessed child of one her friends. While they’re eating you can hear snippets of news shows, in the background, as someone talks about the Middle East Peace Treaties that were recently signed. I feel like that type of political idea should have played a larger part in the plot. Most certainly the political situations of the entire world would change after humanity is possessed by an alien species, and I found that intriguing.

Another scene I found intriguing, was a scene on a bus, with Carol and several other passengers pretending to be possessed, because they don’t know who is or isn’t possessed. I thought it was a very effective scene. This scene also contains some of the few Black people with speaking lines, in any of these movies, (there is Jeffrey Wright, and a Black cop who gives Carol advice in an earlier scene) and I was intrigued at the possibilities of some highly imaginative future director making a movie about how  an alien invasion would affect PoC, and their communities. Would they notice, and would they care if they did? I would love to see a movie where an ethnic community’s reaction to such an invasion is unexpected, positive, or even ignored. There are 7 billion people on this planet and not all of the reactions we would get to  such an invasion would be “fight it out” with guns, and explosions.

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It’s unlikely I will ever see a film about people who have already experienced colonization by a foreign entity, experiencing a second colonization by another. Alien invasion movies are almost always from a  Middle class, White,  Western perspective, are almost always about White people’ s reactions to being colonized, it is always  coded as a negative, and it always involve fighting and explosions. One of the most intriguing lines from the 1978 version is Veronica Cartwright’s character asking why people always expect metal ships. What makes IotB unique is that it is one of the few alien invasions caused by space travelling spores.

Once again, there’s a cameo of an actor from a previous film, Veronica Cartwright, who probably should’ve been allowed to play Dr. Bennell in this one, because she’s the most emotionally accessible character in the movie. Daniel Craig is completely unmemorable in this movie, as a love interest, who is so removed, he barely affects the plot. He barely affects Dr. Bennell. Jeffrey Wright is  a scientist who comes up with a way to stop the aliens. He is never in any danger and is mostly wasted, as he’s only there to give exposition. (I suppose we should be grateful that he survives the movie.)

The themes of this movie are even murkier than the last remake, although I get the focus is on familial bonds. But again, the emphasis on rugged individualism, and its protection at all costs, is something very common in White Western filmmaking.

There is a new version of this movie in development, or so the rumor goes, and I’d like to see some of the above themes addressed in it, but I’m not holding my breath. Chances are, it will be written by, and from the perspective of a White middle-class urban professional, and just reiterate the same themes of paranoia, and the protection of individual identity that were addressed so well in the first two films.  These movies have become less effective over time, and one way of grabbing a new audience is by infusing it with different thinking. What I would like to see is this film, done by a PoC, and what messages they might have to convey.

Weekend Reading From Around The Internetz

 Some people were insulted by the following statement, but I thought it was pretty funny. The writer says that teaching with humor was his intention. 
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Yo! Black people! Listen up!

I already KNOW y’all gonna sneak food into Black Panther. How do I know? Cuz all my friends are. Cuz all my family will. Cuz I’M going to sneak food into Black Panther. I’m going to do that all five times that I see the movie. Cuz theater food is A: not good and B: too damn expensive.

That said, remember, some of us WORK in theaters. Which means that if we all leave our outside food trash in a theater, we’re going to see a lot of our family being fired. Yes, theater employees can get FIRED if they find our people snuck in food.

So first of all, don’t be obvious and don’t get caught. Second of all, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TRASH IN THE THEATER!

This doesn’t mean “don’t just put your empty bag of hot fries under the seat” (though, don’t do that either, act like you have a Mama). This means, do not put your outside food trash in the theater trash receptical. The bosses WILL see that and the employees WILL suffer for it.

Come on y’all, let’s not risk Black people’s jobs while supporting this movie.

Also, just a reminder to not bootleg this movie, and square up with anyone that does.

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Black Panther Toy Ad

This is what’s so great about this ad, and about Black Panther in general. I love that they added a little Black girl to the ad, and let her play just like the boys. (Ftr, I have no objection the White boy in the ad, because Black Panther is for everyone to enjoy, and I sincerely hope everyone does. We like to be inclusive here at Chez Lkeke.)

Because characters of color have historically been relatively marginalized in movies, comics, and television, toys and commercials like this simply haven’t existed before which is a shame in and of itself but has deeper consequences. Oftentimes, the first step towards becoming a fan of something or part of a larger fandom is finding a character that you can relate to when you’re young and then seeing your relationship with them validated by the world around you.

Black Excellence & Woman Power Prevails In New Commercial For Black Panther Toys

 

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This post elaborates on larger piece I wrote, about how White writers  tend to think of race,  and how that plays out in alien invasion movies, which is something I briefly touched on in my Invasion of the Body Snatchers reviews. White people have a tendency to believe they lack pathology, but a closer look reveals that much of their thinking plays out in the pop culture created by White, straight, cis-gender, men.

WHITE FRAGILITY

by Robin DiAngelo

http://w-f.is/uai.html
Whites are taught to see their perspectives as objective and representative of reality15. The belief in objectivity, coupled with positioning white people as outside of culture (and thus the norm for humanity), allows whites to view themselves as universal humans who can represent all of human experience. This is evidenced through an unracialized identity or location, which functions as a kind of blindness; an inability to think about Whiteness as an identity or as a “state” of being that would or could have an impact on one’s life. In this position, Whiteness is not recognized or named by white people, and a universal reference point is assumed. White people are just people. Within this construction, whites can represent humanity, while people of color, who are never just people but always most particularly black people, Asian people, etc., can only represent their own racialized experiences16.

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The above post is also connected to the idea of “Cousin Culture” among PoC, and is related to an article written by Damon Young, for The Root, titled : Do White People Have Cousins?

What is cousin culture, you ask? It’s existing in a family where:

  1. Cousins matter;
  2. There’s no real distinction between first, second and third cousins; and
  3. There are a few people who don’t share any blood with you but are your cousins, too, just because their asses are around all the time and you didn’t even know they weren’t technically related to you until you were, like, 25.

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/do-white-people-have-cousins-1820685828

 

 

Link to Root.com Article:https://t.co/NREeovQyJD?amp=1

via @ BienSur_JeTaime on twitter

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This post was part of a long discussion about racism in Tolkien’s works, whether or not Tolkien himself was a racist, how did this racism play out in his writings, and can Tolkien’s influence be blamed for so much of the racism to be found in fantasy settings. The Hobbit was written in 1937, and since that time, there has been a metric fuckton of  film and literature that was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s books. S

Tolkien may not have been an avowed racist, like H.P. Lovecraft, but like him he had a profound effect on fantasy literature, and he certainly had a blind-spot as regards race, as do most of the people writing in the fantasy genre, and their fans.

Please take the time to visit and follow:   for more on this subject.

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Hey guys my name is SomethingSomething MiddleInitial [Redacted] and today i’m gonna introduce you to the high fantasy world i’ve created! There’s lots of great diversity such as:
-White people that come in flavours of viking, merchant, and magical
-Tall elegant white people with pointy ears
-Short hardy white people with beards and axes

Looking for something other than white people? I’ve got you! On your left you can see:
-Savage, militaristic tribe coded as black or brown
-Honorable asian clan
-A race characterized entirely by negative jewish stereotypes

And don’t you worry: because i’m a coward i’ve also created a variety of non-human races that can be used as allegories for oppression without having to properly represent people of color in my work! You’re welcome!

 

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In a morbid, kind of way it’s interesting to see how the  internalized racism in Tolkien’s time that went unchecked due to the white society he was born in continues to go unchecked and internalized in the Tolkien fandom by white fans today.

The racist tropes that he wrote into his books are quite obviously those cultivated from his time, and because of the time they were written in it was a little more…understandable that readers then  were unable to realize their problematic nature. But still in 2017 white fans are still oblivious (either by ignorance or on purpose) to the deeper racism in his works, and that’s kind of scary.

And a lot of it comes from the fact that the fandom is so “white” dominate, so racism is typically examined from a “white” perspective, where it is whitesplained (Ie: No black people in Middle Earth, which to be fair isn’t quite true).

White fans tend to see racism as “action” as in, you must be doing a racist thing for it to be considered racist, and if you’re not doing a racist thing then you aren’t racist, and fail to realize that in itself racism starts with a mindset rather than an action. So “subtle” hints of racism get ignored.

Instances of racism that would be recognizable by people of color are invisible to white fans only because they haven’t experienced it, and have already solidified a “white” view of racism.

That said, the fact that white fans are more willing to listen to other white fans about racism in Tolkien’s characters and fandoms then they are willing to listen to actual people of color is, I think, is another example of white washed racism in the Tolkien fandom.

Racism is valid when white people are talking about it, but annoying, discourse, or reaching when people of color are talking about it. Why is that so? When did we get to this point?

The fact that I’ve seen white fans talking about racism being more well received than me and other fans of color talking about racism is disturbing, especially for a fandom that’s supposed to be so liberal (but the majority of fans I’ve seen in Tolkien-Tumblr are all white women in their late 20s and above, and thus the award holders for white feminism. And they validate the 16 year old white girls who think a year on tumblr gives them a degree on social justice, so an unhealthy cycle is continued).

If you find yourself drooling over a white girl’s explanation of racism in Tolkien fandom but rolling your eyes when a fan of color talks about it, then you need to reevaluate your life. Because white girls only know surface racism, people of color live it.

And this goes back to my point of “white washed” racism, and even further to our non-liberal fandom. It’s almost disappointing to see that as a fandom, we haven’t really progressed past Tolkien’s traditional, imperialistic views as far as racism goes.

I think a lot of this has to do with white feminism. One of the reasons we consider ourselves a liberal fandom because we can talk about sexism. But that’s slave-time feminism if we’re suddenly unable to listen to fans of color do the same with racism.

And of course I’m not talking about all white people in the Tolkien fandom, but it’s not very many that are not like this.

In my own experience I only know a handful.

 

#Ask me about how literally no one noticed “black men are raping our women” was being perpetrated in the way Tolkien wrote the Eöl story#How the only canonically non-white elf was treated in the narrative.#How the only cases of domestic abuse was – you guessed it! – between a non-white man who “forced” white women to marry them#The Silm is full of that shit#Which is why I like writing fanfiction to turn that all on its head#Wow. Am I *SUPER* salty over Tolkien fandom tonight. Must be the drink. XD#Tolkien fandom

@lunarymagic   I literally wrote an Entire Meta of Eol/Maeglin’s narrative and how it’s basically playing on racist tropes that are used to demonize men of color by making them demonize white women.

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When people are criticizing Lord of the Rings for not having POC in them, it’s more of a criticism on Jackson rather than Tolkien himself, considering Tolkien does have people of color in his works (and elves too).

But  the weird part about this is “die hard “ Tolkien fans are the ones defending Jackson’s whitewashed version of the film, despite the fact that there are canonically poc in Tolkiens works.

So like, that’s how you spot racist fans I guess? They’re die hard until someone asks why poc–which are in canon–are erased from Jackson’s portrayal? Suddenly it’s all “well its based off of norse mythology” or some bs like that despite the fact that a) it’s based off of other cultures and b) canonically Tolkein has POC in it.

So you’re “die hard” for the story, but you conveniently forget that there’s poc in it? In fact you’re so adamant about being anti-poc in his works because you’re such good fans?

I mean do yall Tolkienites defending Jackson’s white washing on the basis of it being “european” forget that some of its based off of ancient egypt? But you’re still the ones losing your shit over black elves and people? And just poc in general? I don’t get it.

Like you’re die hard until it gets a little too colorful for you. Why are you like this?

Not just white men, but white women in the Tolkien fandom as well. White feminism is a huge issue in the Tolkien fandom, and white women are the main culprits.

White men may be some of the more aggressive, as far as saying who and who doesn’t belong in story, and overall are behind the white washing.

But white fans that are women are the silent culprits who often uphold and validate racism behind the guise of feminism, which is often just white feminism.

 

Yeah, never let women off the hook for this shit. Or people who aren’t het, for that matter. Transformative fandom in general, AO3 in particular, is overwhelmingly made up of women, most of whom are white, and a good majority according to their polling do not identify as cishet. And it is a cesspool of white prioritization everywhere you look. Women did that all on their own with little to no male influence.

Anyway. They’re like that because they’re used to media centering on characters who look like them and they’ve been conditioned to believe that the whitewashing of history by.the film industry is accurate.

And really? Middle Earth, especially as portrayed by Jackson, has that “simpler times” brand of nostalgia for a time when white people didn’t have to worry about the rights of Black and brown people, it was out of sight, out of mind. Middle Earth being all white (except for otherized, threatening, rarely seen races) is part of the fantasy for a lot of people.

 

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Representation Matters

 

Image result for lt uhura gifs

 

Image result for ghost/whoopi gifs

So I’ve been overwhelmed by the black panther comicon appearance and I’ve been dwelling on how revolutionary the black panther movie is going to be, what it’s going to mean to countless people when this movie comes out and how long we still have to go, So I decided to put this short photoset together to illustrate exactly how big of a deal it is and how it is bigger than one person.

it’s so bittersweet because when I was younger (especially growing up where I did, a black kid in Finland) I really wished I had more access to imagery and media that reflected who I was because it would have made my life radically different for the better and I wouldn’t be at 26 (STILL) doing damage control but on the flipside, I’m so in awe of all of the beautiful talent in 2016 that younger black kids are able to see and be inspired by.

I think I was like 4 years old when I conciously picked up race and color via watching Disney’s “Aladdin” and I noticed how Jafar, the evil royal guards etc the villains were more ethnic looking or a shade darker than the “good” characters.

it’s insidious because you’re seeing something but at age 4, you don’t have the comprehension skill or knowledge to break it down and see it for what it is (Colorism, Societal bias against black people which is rooted in centuries of white supremacist doctrine, society associates things that are dark/darker colors with evil, danger, ugliness, dirt etc) and reject it.

so you pick it up and see it on a surface level and you think to yourself “well darker must mean ugly, criminal and less human”…then what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and find out that you are black?

  how is that going to impact how you see yourself?

and guess what? if a 4 year old black kid can pick that up and internalize that about him/her/themselves….then a white kid can sponge up the same language and imagery that dehumanizes black people too (subconciously/conciously)…what happens when when these people grow up? become teachers, doctors, law enforcement etc? what kind of impact is that going to have?

I’m going off on a tangent and that’s just one personal example but society does that on a global grand scale and it is largely unchecked.

but honestly though,look at the photoset and think about how many talented people out there that we love and respect….who would NOT have achieved the things they did if it wasn’t for another person before them inspiring them to reach their goals and acting as trail blazers when it seemed as though it was impossible….then think about the flipside and how many people, with all the potential in the world, never lived to become great because they were met with more images dehumanizing them than ones uplifting them…this is why the fight for HONEST representation is important and it continues.

argh, I didn’t plan on typing anything but I got in my feelings after watching this again

…anyway, here are some pictures to make you smile, the next gen gives me hope

 

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Forthcoming Posts (Maybe?):

I’ve decided to wait for the DVD release of Blade Runner 2049 to do the second part of my review.

I’m going to wait for a couple more episodes before I review The X-Files, and 911. Black Lightning, Electric Dreams on Amazon, The Magicians, The Alienist, and something not really on showing up anyone’s radar, unless they have Starz, called Counterpart, which stars J.K Simmons..

A review of first half of season 8 of The Walking Dead.

The use/themes of fashion in movies and TV, the best TV/Movie costumes, and a post on “Movies I loved but y’all hated”.

I hope to get a lot of these done, along with posts about the importance of  the movie Bebe’s Kids, The Thing vs. The Thing, Hannibal the series: Season Three, and more Star Trek Discovery.

I’ve found it’s more helpful for me to watch a batch of episodes of a show, and then review it, rather than trying to catch individual episodes. It’s probably best not to pay too close attention to my promises, anyway  though. I’ve often found my ambitions to be greater than my time.

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