Born Sexy Yesterday

This video showed up on my Tumblr dashboard and I just had to share it. I love the way this blogger’s mind works. It’s something that’s been bothering me about romantic comedies, some of which are dressed up as sci-fi and fantasy movies,  for a long time, but I wasn’t able to clearly articulate the concept.

This trope is also called by another name: the  “infantilization” of female characters, and it also encompasses the tropes of the “dumb blonde”, and the “sexy schoolgirl”.

Well, the Pop Culture Detective (this is a series) has thoroughly articulated this problem for me. He basically breaks down the trope of the sexy, but naively innocent female character that the primary male character always falls in love with, lists the films that follow the trope, the films that turn it on its head, and briefly discusses its origins in colonialism. The video is some 18 minutes long, and I’m warning you, some of the imagery from past movies is astonishingly cringeworthy!


Now the Pop Culture Detective is a white man, so I don’t expect him to go into details on issues of race, although he is aware enough to briefly mention  the tropes racist origins.  One of the things you will notice in the images is the overwhelming whiteness of this trope. The trope may have been birthed in the racist stereotypes of Indigenous women, but for the past fifty, sixty years white women have embodied it. During that time period, when Europe was trying to collect as many countries as possible, this particular trope came  from stereotypes of Native women being innocent and/or subservient, but sexy,  savages.

https://lookinginthepopularculturemirror.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-portrayal-of-indigenous-women-in-popular-culture/

These are tropes that continue to this day, (and a few of those tropes  find their way into the primal black person stereotype with terms like “jungle fever”). The article below by Mediasmarts, has  managed to connect these  sexualized stereotypes to media tropes such as “Missing White Woman Syndrome”, to explain why the lives of missing, raped, or murdered Brown , Black  and Indigenous women, are ignored by news reports.


http://mediasmarts.ca/diversity-media/aboriginal-people/media-portrayals-missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women

You may also recognize, if you’ve ever visited the website We Hunted the Mammoth, most of the talking points of MRAs and other misogynists. Many of their beliefs about women, (that they are like children who need a firm guidance from men, that their “hypergamous” sluts, whose sexuality needs to be tightly reined in, that women are stupid, and shouldn’t be allowed to engage in society they way men do) are little more than wish fulfillments, aimed squarely at white women,  and it’s not difficult to believe that a lot of their beliefs have been informed by seventy years of media depicting white women in this manner.

One of the arguments being had, across social media, is marginalized people trying to convince White people that everything we see in the media is representative of the real world.  Media stereotypes not only mirror real world beliefs and activities, but actually aided and abetted the formation of such beliefs.

When the stories of PoC are told through a White male lens (as so much of Hollywood is), these types of issues are ignored, because the creators neither know, nor care, and  illustrates why it’s so important for PoC to also work behind the scenes, not just in front of the cameras, to tell our  own stories, from our own perspectives.

 

Why I’m Not Watching The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu Series)

For personal reasons, I won’t be watching this series, which airs on Hulu this month. I have developed  a thing about dystopias. I’m largely no longer interested in any of them. The only one I’m currently watching is The Walking Dead. I haven’t added  any more to my roster of shows.  (I’m not sure if Into the Badlands counts.)

The current argument from most PoC, even those who are fans of dystopian narratives, is that some of us have always lived in one. Certainly, the past is one huge dystopia for Black (Jim Crow), Latinx (Zoot Suit Riots), and Asian Internment camps), and Gay, and Transgender people, in this country. It’s been said that White people can  look forward and see  dystopian futures. Marginalized people have only to look at history.

Here in the US, it’s the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA riots. The riots resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage, with over 50 people dead, and nearly 2,000 people injured. I remember I was in college at the time. I watched the beating of Rodney King when it occurred months earlier, listened to the announcement of the acquittal, and sat there watching the entire riot, appalled at what I was seeing. I remember feeling terrified (even though what was happening wasn’t anywhere near me). It felt like the end of the world, when it was happening. And I was angry, because I’m a person who knows  some history, and I understood why these people were mad as Hell. Unlike most White people, I had been paying attention to what came before the riots, and what had been happening in that environment, for years.

Last night, National Geographic aired a three  hour documentary of the LA riots, and I wanted to watch part of it. I was a bit nervous because I know that the documentary was made by White people, specifically White men, and not only  have they a long history of only telling news stories from their own perspective, I expected a certain amount of cluelessness and  bias in favor of the police. I expected the documentary to focus only on the actual rioting and violence, and mention none of what led up to that violence, (because White Americans have mastered the art of ignoring the things Black people say they are actually mad about, in favor of just making shit up.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the most of the doc was well done. Not exactly blalnced but not as bad as I thought it would be. There could have been a little more emphasis on the fact that it wasn’t just Black people involved, and why  the Korean shopkeepers got caught in the crossfire, but the parts I did see weren’t actually awful. I didn’t finish the show because I don’t actually need to watch a documentary about something I  witnessed, (and American Gods was on.)

Remember, the LA riots wasn’t like Ferguson, or any of the riots that have happened in the time of social media. We didn’t have social media back then. There were no reports from people, in the thick of things, tweeting about what was happening, in real time. The only way the rest of the world knew what was happening was through mainstream news reports by the talking heads who were witnesses. I have never trusted the mainstream media because it has historically aided and abetted the violent  stereotypes of PoC. Its the news media’s reliance on spectacle, that has  lead to the depiction of Black people as violent savages, that has given  impetus to racist beliefs that Black people are animals, and coverage during the riots, without any focus on the cause, just gave more fuel to those beliefs.

Note: I have lived in Black neighborhoods my entire life and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually witnessed a violent act. I have never committed an act of violence myself, or had one committed against me. This may be higher for  Black people in other parts of the country, or lower, but the bottom line is, unless you’ve lived in our neighborhoods and been part of our culture, you have no fucking idea what being Black in America is like, and the only information you could possibly have about us, are  biased news reports, from a media that benefits monetarily from telling White people horror stories about Black misery. I live in the Midwest. Its not a utopia, by any means, but its no more, or less, hellish than any other part of the US. and certainly nothing like the slice of hell the media would have everyone believe. (Nor is it the privileged party-fest that bigots would have you believe either.)

I’ll give you an example: I grew up in Cleveland Ohio, at the height of the Crips/ Bloods/Crack era that was happening on the East and West coasts, in the late eighties. We heard about it, but it was distant. It didn’t affect our everyday lives. We believed it was happening though, not because of what the mainstream news reported, but because we had an entire genre of rap songs chronicling the shit that was happening in those cities. Rap music was like news reports telling what happened to Black people in other parts of the country.

I watched the mainstream news with my Mom, and I noticed the news media was always trying to play up Cleveland’s gang problem. So desperate were White people in  Cleveland  to be seen as being as cosmopolitan as NY and LA, they were willing to invent problems Cleveland didn’t actually have.

Remember, I was a teenager during all of this, and I lived, worked, and played around the same neighborhoods they were pointing their fingers at, and  saw no evidence that there were gangs. Sure, there were young men who hung out together on street corners, and front stoops. I knew those guys, said hello to them all the time, got catcalled by them (as I was a PYT back then). They weren’t gang members. Were there guys who hung around and got into trouble together? Sure. I wouldn’t have classified them as a gang. (They didn’t have colors, insignia and personal graffiti, although sometimes they named themselves, and had parties.) Were there guys who wished they were a gang? Sure. Were there guys who got together to sell some drugs? Yep. Was there crack in our neighborhoods. Probably! Although I’ve never witnessed, nor encountered, a “crackhead”, and I’ve lived near the “projects” my whole life, and had friends who lived in them. None of these people were gangbangers. I met a gangbanger once. I worked with him during one of my Summer jobs. He seemed like a nice enough fellow. We talked about politics a lot. He didn’t seem inordinately angry about  the various issues of the day.

And yet, “violent”  is all some people think they know, or need to know, about our lives, trotting out that hoary old trope of “Black on Black crime”  at every opportunity, as some kind of gotcha, in conversations about racial politics.

Okay, I’m getting off point. My point was that I’m off  dystopian futures, for the most part, because  I like to maintain hope for the future. I’ve seen what happens when people lose that hope (and I’ve been there myself). I’ve seen those studies discussing the rise of drug use, and suicide among White men. Some people have theorized that part of the reason the death rate has risen, for that particular group of men, is because they have lost hope for a future in which being a White male is no longer the easiest player setting in the game of life.

Another reason I won’t be watching A Handmaids Tale is because Black people have actually experienced a dystopian past, but the  movies and books  lack PoC. White writers are willing to mine their sordid past, only to cast White people in the roles of the oppressed, when historically, its always been everyone else on the receiving end of that oppression. The Handmaid’s Tale is basically dystopian fiction which casts White women in the roles that Black women used to inhabit. So many of White people’s nightmares about the future seem to involve being treated the way they have  treated others.

In the original story by Margaret Atwood, America has been taken over by a religious sect of men. Due to environmental pollution, most women have become infertile. Instead of fixing the problem though, their solution is to enslave all the fertile White women, and force them to have  children. Women who are not considered fertile are killed or enslaved, they can no longer have jobs, read books, or go out in public without blinders. In the book, almost no mention is made of Black people, who are called the Children of Ham, except to mention their relocation elsewhere. Homosexuality is outlawed and punishable by death, women who refuse to adapt to their assigned roles are also executed. There’s even a kind of “underground railroad” to spirit women away into Canada.

I’ve seen people trying, unsuccessfully, to compare this to Sharia Law, when there’s no need for that, because we have examples right here. This is not a new story. America has already done these things to Black women. (See: 12 Years A Slave).  Atwood’s story entirely leaves out this angle of the narrative. (The streaming series is doing something different, but almost as traumatic, by including Black women, but  not mentioning race at all.)

I won’t be watching A Handmaid’s Tale because the trauma of what happens in that show is already real for Black people. We’ve already lived through it. It was only about fifty or so years ago that Mississippi had one of the highest rates of lynching in the US. My mother was born in Miss. in 1950. She had six brothers. Ours was one of the lucky families that managed to emigrate to the North, when she was about ten years old. My grandmother did that because she wanted all her children to grow up, and they had a far less chance of doing so in Mississippi, at that time. My family’s move to the North is a direct result of racist activities, during the Jim Crow era, in my mother’s lifetime.

My grandmother had spent much her life under Jim Crow, and would have spent the rest of her life in Miss., had she not been afraid for her children’s lives. I was too  young and scared to ask her for stories about the things she’d seen, and experienced. You see, my grandmother had already lived through the dystopian fictions that White people find so entertaining to cast themselves in now.

I’m no longer watching movies that are about Black misery, and consequently I refuse to watch any more movies, and shows, about Black misery that only feature White people.

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me.

Here! Have some links!

*These are specifically about the intersection of race and sexism in A Handmaid’s Tale

Now, the TV series makes a point of adding a woman of color to the story, in the character of Moira. In the book, Moira is a lesbian, who opts to become a Handmaiden, rather than be sent to The Colonies.

In the books, Moira is openly rebellious, and after several escape attempts, is sent to a life of enslaved prostitution. In the series, she is played by Samira Wiley, who is most famous for playing the character Poussey, a lesbian convict, in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Her character was unceremoniously killed off that show, which raised some controversy, as it fell into the trope of  Kill All Your Gays. If the show follows the books, then no! I have no urge to see yet another Black woman be degraded to a life of sexual servitude.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2008/07/31/the-handmaids-tales-race-ethnicity-and-sexual-orientation-gilead-is-a-society-of-isms/

http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/the-handmaids-tale-and-bad-slavery-comparisons/

http://www.fouronesixlit.com/2016/03/26/living-in-the-gaps-between-the-stories-race-at-the-margins-of-the-handmaids-tale/

https://nursingclio.org/2017/04/26/a-post-racial-gilead-race-and-reproduction-in-hulus-the-handmaids-tale/

<I>Handmaid's Tale</i> Series EP Explains Removal of White Supremacy Element

 

This particular essay, in the Atlantic, is an excellent summation of something I touched on in the post above. White people keep looking to the past for a utopia, and to the future for their more nightmarish scenarios. Dystopia seems to be a matter of perspective.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/why-sci-fi-keeps-imagining-the-enslavement-of-white-people/361173/

https://www.modernghana.com/news/756213/parable-of-the-sower-not-1984-is-the-dystopia-for-our-a.html


A series of articles on the Whiteness, and heteronormativity of  Dystopian futures

https://ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/the-100-and-the-privileged-dystopia/

http://powderroom.kinja.com/on-the-erasure-of-people-of-colour-from-dystopian-ficti-1565047386

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2014/05/07/where-are-the-people-of-color-in-dystopias/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/the-topics-dystopian-films-wont-touch/382509/

https://beyoungandshutup.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/who-run-the-dystopian-world-white-girls-racial-diversity-in-dystopian-ya/

Racism in Pop Culture

And here’s my monthly series of articles discussing  the intersection of race and pop culture.

First up, an essay about Westworld from the point of view of a Black man. I touched on some issues earlier with the depiction of Black and White women in Westworld’s dynamic, and its been one of my most popular essays,  but this article is a  discussion of the real world racial dynamics of Westworld, most specifically between Arnold/Bernard, and Robert Ford.

Race. Power. Westworld.

HBO’s sci-fi drama Westworld was a psychological mind f*ck of a show revolving around issues of control, power, violence and love. But there wasn’t a single moment in the show that focused on race despite the fact there are a multitude of racial politics in play. I don’t know if this is because the script was written without race in mind and the casting choices informed the racial dynamics or not. But I came away from the show a bit disappointed that the writers never chose to tackle racial motivations as the show evolved. The interaction between Arnold/Bernard and Ford is ripe with implications of power and race while the park itself seems to be no more than a #MAGA fever dream.

https://stillcrew.com/race-power-westworld-fd97c8a2a6b4


In this article, Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz, and Lisa Bonet, brings the fire, about the roles available for Black women in Hollywood. The irony is that this article came from a British newspaper. 

Zoë Kravitz: ‘Why do stories happen to white people and everyone else is a punchline?’

  • August 20th, 2015

The actor has been stranded on the edges of blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road and the Divergent series, but ahead of new film Dope she’s taking on Hollywood’s stereotypes and making a name for herself

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/aug/20/zoe-kravitz-why-do-stories-happen-to-white-people-and-everyone-else-is-a-punchline


This is a very interesting article about how Hunger Games fans ignored the descriptions of race in the books, while being racist towards the characters in the movies.  Although, I am inclined to believe that a certain section of the Hunger Games fandom never  read the books, saw some racism on display, and decided they wanted to jump on that lovely bandwagon. I have found there’s a subset of White people that will take any and every opportunity to bash a black person, whether they know anything about the situation, or not.

Warning: There’s some seriously nasty shit on display in this article. If you don’t feel like dealing with this level of White nonsense today, or just don’t want to get your blood pressure up, my suggestion is to skip it. Come back to it after you’ve maybe had some weed, or a good strong drink. (I recommend some Henny.)

Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed


These articles area set. They’re  discussions of how social justice crusades on social media has changed the way critics do their jobs. There are certain words that have just become part of mainstream dialogue about movies, and I think we owe that to the critics and fans on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

The American media has no idea how to talk about race on-screen

But they’re (slowly) learning, thanks to social media campaigns that are forcing difficult conversations

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/05/the_american_media_has_no_idea_how_to_talk_about_race_on_screen/

Hot takes and “problematic faves”: the rise of socially conscious criticism

Modern criticism’s affinity for discussing social issues has changed pop culture, for creators and audiences alike.

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/20/15179232/socially-conscious-criticism

For example, the term whitewashing has entered everyday language. Ten years ago, no one was saying this, or critiquing movies with this word. Hell, three years ago the mainstream media wasn’t even socially conscious enough to  be able to spot it, when it happened. But thanks to “woke” fans of Pop Culture, putting it out there, along with other terms like racebending,  appropriation, and erasure, it’s almost impossible for a movie starring white actors (in lieu of actors of color) to not mention any of these terms. 

I do have to thank the Internet for this. If it wasn’t for people like us, arguing vociferously in the comment sections,  and writing our own reviews, meta, and articles about the shows we love and hate, the mainstream media wouldn’t  be aware of these things as problems.

Whitewashing Hollywood movies isn’t just offensive—it’s also bad business

Apparently, ScarJo and Tilda Swinton  have not had enough of getting their edges snatched, all  across social media, by Asian- Americans. They are now starring in a movie together, titled Isle of Dogs, and people are not pleased.

@tsengputterman @ubeempress We get not ONE actress who’s proven her skills at playing Asians, but TWO! Ain’t we lucky! I feel so fucking blessed.

@FilmFatale_NYC New Wes Anderson film set in Japan starring ScarJo and Tilda Swinton. We’re getting trolled.

They really placed Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton in Isle of Dogs to reaffirm their Asian ethnicity? Hollywood killin Asians… STILL!


And finally, more articles about the movie Get Out, which blew up the movie theaters two months ago. February is turning out to be the ” Absolute!Shit” month for African Americans.  Beyonce’s Lemonade dropped in February of last year, and this year we got the unexpected pleasure of Get Out. Next year, it’s the much anticipated arrival of Black Panther, due in (when else?) February.
In the meantime Get out has been one of the most written about movies in the past year. This includes a comparison between Get Out and The Handmaids Tale.  (Later I’ll do a post on the racial implications behind the news show, and the book.)



___________________________

These two misplaced fellows below are about Whitewashing. (Bear with me here, it’s morning, and I’m on a tablet!)


And this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that reprehensible Heineken ad, that gave me goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s as cringe-worthy as the Pepsi ad that aired earlier this month. Once again, you’ve got a corporation trying to get those Millennial dollars, and getting shit wrong. And here’s why its wrong, as DiDi Delgado perfectly articulates:

The Heineken Ad Is Worse Than The Pepsi Ad, You’re Just Too Stupid To Know It

(On Medium. com. You have to sign in to Medium to view the article. Follow DiDi, if you liked this particular article, and want to read all her stuff.)

View story at Medium.com

ETA: The Links for the Get Out articles have been added. I’ll have a part two of this post later this week, after my review of American Gods.

American Gods

As y’all should be well aware, tomorrow night is the premiere episode of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. TV ads have been hyping the Hell out of this, so I predict that this is going to be cable’s next big hit, and my newest obsession, following close on the heels of Westworld.

Image result for american gods cast
Peter Stormare as Czernobog

 

There are a whole bunch of reason why I know I’m going to love this show. I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman, and have read most, if not all, of his books. I’m also a Bryan Fuller fan. A better marriage between director and writer I couldn’t even make up. The lead character is a Black man named, of all things, Shadow Moon. How cool a name is that? And it features a truly astonishing cast: Ian Mcshane who I fell in love with in Deadwood, is the embodiment of Mr. Wednesday; Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy is absolutely perfect; Crispin Glover is Mr. World (AKA Loki); Gillian Anderson is Media,; and Fuller didn’t forget the sisters, either , as he cast the actress  Yetide Badaki as Bilquist, a fertility goddess.

 

 

I still haven’t finished the book but that’s okay. I’m 3/4 of the way  through the book and will be finished before the second episode airs. For those of you not into the book experience, who haven’t read it, there’s always the audiobook option, or if you’re really pressed for a primer, Wikipedia gives a complete rundown of the book’s plot, which I can attest is accurate.

In anticipation of the premiere, here! Have some links:

Why You Should Read the American Gods Novel Before Watching the TV Show


Image result for american gods cast
Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday (Odin)

American Gods may have finally nailed the modern-fantasy formula on TV

Come for Ian McShane; stay for a faithful, 16-years-later retelling of Gaiman’s classic.


‘I Thought I Understood America’: Talking With Neil Gaiman About ‘American Gods’

As Starz launches its adaptation of the sprawling Gaiman novel, the show’s creators address its new and unexpected meanings in the Trump era.

By David M. Perry

https://psmag.com/i-thought-i-understood-america-talking-with-neil-gaiman-about-american-gods-5f892dab8711


Image result for american gods cast
Crispin Glover as Mr. World (Loki)

American Gods Is a Gorgeous Mess

The new Starz show, adapted from the 2001 book by Neil Gaiman, is extravagantly ambitious and frequently absurd.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/04/american-gods-starz-neil-gaiman-bryan-fuller/524742/


Image result for american gods cast
Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon)

American Gods Star Ricky Whittle on Becoming a Neil Gaiman Fan and on the Non-Book Season Finale


American Gods: Exclusive First Look at Mr. Nancy as Orlando Jones Talks Anansi BoysSpin-Off

Inside the mind of the African trickster god.

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/03/american-gods-mr-nancy-anansi-orlando-jones-anansi-boys-spin-off

 


Image result for american gods photosTV Review: ‘American Gods’ on Starz

TV Review: ‘American Gods’ on Starz


Image result for american gods cast/yetide
Yetide Badaki as Bilquist

Neil Gaiman’s obsession with identifying the metaphor, in one Americans Gods passage

http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/27/15436034/neil-gaiman-american-gods-metaphor


We’ve Seen Your New Favorite Show, and It’s American Gods

Image result for american gods cast/gillian
Gillian Anderson as Media

The Gospel According to Neil Gaiman

The beloved author’s American Gods — now a TV show — is more politically relevant than ever. And that scares him.

By

 

Related image

Image result for american gods cast/technical

Image result for american gods promo  photos/easter

Image result for american gods promo  photos/media

 

Tumblr Introvert Memes

 

Here! Have some memes about introverts from the IntrovertUnites Tumblr. Please visit.

http://introvertunites.tumblr.com/

I have a variety of skills but I have mastered these particular ones. I can daydream for the Olympics, and pissing people off was something I mastered early, with little effort:

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

 

I thought this was the funniest one. Basically, just don’t call! I tell my family members, all the time, that they better not call me, unless WW3 breaks out, or they are personally on fire.

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

 

This is me after an especially vigorous day at work, or any family get-together:

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

 

Quiet!!!

introvertunites: “If you relate to being an introvert, follow me @introvertunites. ”

This sounds about right, except I won’t socialize for one day, let alone five.

whyy0umadth0ugh:
“ introvertunites:
“ If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites​.
”
Pretty much
”

 

 Tag me! I’m that dancin’ fool in the pink jacket! Heeey!

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

 

But which gods, though? I’m just asking for a friend!
introvertunites: “ If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites​. ”

 

I did this all the time when I was younger. As soon as I finished any conversation, I would just walk off. Note: People do not like that shit!

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

 

This does present something of a dilemma because…People!

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

Coming Soon!

Cloak and Dagger

I have been a long time Cloak and Dagger fan, from the comic books, and I have to admit I was more than a little dubious about them making a show about this. Cloak and Dagger is a comic book, that came out in the eighties, about a pair of teenagers who, through some drug experimentation by criminals, developed superpowers.

In the comic books, Cloak had the ability to eat people’s life energy by enveloping them in a semi-sentient cloak, and Dagger had the ability to produce light from her hands and throw it like knives. There were more than a few stereotypes involving the light and purity of Dagger, with various people coveting her, and wanting to save her from that evil and frightening black  guy she hung around with.

I’m still side-eyeing this show a little bit, because there’s so much potential to fuck it up, and the Freeform channel doesn’t really have a track record on racial issues. But I’m happy to see the trailer anyway, and I’m glad they’ve decided to go for a more wholesome looking approach to the characters, and their relationship looks really sweet, because I always felt the two characters were  too heavily sexualized.

Well, they seem to be handling the backstory a bit differently than in the comic books, updating it to the current age, and its social issues. At the time it was released, the crack epistemic was tearing through black neighborhoods, and everyone was really up in arms about that particular issue. When Cloak and Dagger got their powers, their first priority was saving kids from drug culture.

This show won’t air until 2018 on the Freeform Network.

 

 

American Gods

I am almost finished with reading the book, just in time to catch the premiere, airing this weekend. Yes, I plan to review it because I want to compare the book to the show, although the adaption looks pretty faithful to the source, as far as the various characters. This was created for TV by Bryan Fuller, the creator of the Hannibal series, and I loved what he did on that show, so much, that I’ll follow him anywhere. American Gods airs on the Starz Network, so if you don’t have cable, I think they have some kind of app.

 

Preacher

This show has been renewed for a second season on AMC. If you haven’t seen the first season,  it might help a bit to watch that, so you can have some background as to why a preacher, a black woman, and a vampire, are on a road trip. Jessie, Tulip, and Cassidy, are looking for God because they have some pressing questions for him, after Jessie received  superpowers from possession by a celestial being.

I only got a chance to review the first episode of the show, but I did watch and love the entire season. It was pretty wild. I have a hard time choosing a favorite character, but I’m leaning towards Tulip, and not just because its Ruth Negga. I would’ve probably liked Tulip no matter who the actress was because she’s like a female version of Coyote.

Anyway the second season is airing on June 19th. So, I have something good to watch in midsummer, besides re-runs.

 

Gotham

Tonight is the mid-season premiere of, of all things, Gotham, a show I stopped watching some time ago, despite the presence of Jada Pinkett-Smith. I thought the acting was just too uneven, and had a hard time getting into the characters.

Well its back!

 

Genius

I am a  science stan, so I will be watching Genius ,which is a bio of Albert Einstein, who is one of my favorite scientists. Genius airs this Tuesday, on  the National Geographic Network.

 

The Handmaids Tale

This show airs on Hulu. I remember trying to read the book when I was a teenage but was so disgusted with the worldbuilding that I had to put the book down. Its not a bad book, but I’m never going to be in the frame of mind to read it. It also has some deeply disturbing racial implications that, because some people don’t realize intersectionality is a thing, aren’t going to be writing about in all their little thinkpieces on the subject:

 

Still Star Crossed 

This show finally gets a release date of May 29th. I love Hsakespeare, and this looks like an entirely appropriate, racebent, version of Romeo and Juliet, which I’m really looking forward to. It appears to be set after theevents of the original story, so the characters are not actually Romeo and Juliet, though.

 

 

Sense8 Season Two

I watched the first season of this and rather enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I reviewed it, but I definitely liked the diversity and representation. The first season ended with the group having to save one of its members for government experimentation, and this season looks like a typical “chased by the government” type of plot, but the show is so gorgeous, and I like the premise and ideas of the show, and I liked the characters, so I’ll binge this one, when I get the chance.  This airs on Netflix May 5th.

 

 

Dear White People

Dear White People will be airing on Netflix this Weekend. I didn’t watch the movie but then I often avoid movies dealing with racial issues. Get Out is the first movie I’ve seen, in a long time, that had anything to do with race in the plot. I feel some kind of way about that, but really, its just not my go to subject matter. As a Black woman I deal enough with issues of media and race, I’m not going to watch movies about it too, that’s just too much for me. I’ll be skipping this one, but you guys might want to check it ou,t if you really liked the movie.

 

Also coming this Summer:

The midseason return of Lucifer. I dont watch this because I find hte lead actor deeply annoying, but I have it on good authority that some interesting new characters have been introduced.

The Victorian Slum airs on PBS next week, combining my favorite topics , Victorianism, and documentaries.

In June there’s Shadowhunters Season Two, Dark Matter, Wynonna EarpFear the Walking Dead, and Orphan Black.

The bottom line is, there will plenty for everyone to watch this summer, instead of re-runs of shows that are on hiatus.

I’m Watching TV (Well, Duh!)

Well yeah, it’s one of my skillz, so y’all betta re-con-ize!

Image result for smug black woman gif
That’s Right!!!

 

Actually, there’s no need to “reconize”,  as I haven’t had as much time to practice this particular set of skills, because…life! I’m just one of me Mum’s primary caregivers, so between her many dialysis adjacent appointments, taking her shopping,  and a full time job, I’m usually catching up on my sleep. I’ve begun a new tradition now, of writing these things when I can, and then queuing them for later, which kind of leaves spontaneous TV  reviews by the wayside. I don’t get to actually watch the shows in a timely manner, and dammit, these networks keep making fascinating new shit, that I don’t have time to look at.

Image result for little girl angry face gif
UGH!

 

Well, here’s what I have been looking at, so far. Some of these don’t get a full review because nothing greatly, bigly, hyuuuugely, is happening on them, and some I’ve yet to watch. Some I’ve made plans to watch later, if I remember that I told you that.

Doctor Who Season Ten

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big Whovian, as Dr. Who fans are called.  I know enough to find my way around a few favorite episodes and have some favorite Doctors. For example, I love the Weeping Angels, and will watch any episode they’re in, but I think the Daleks are kinda ridiculous, and I usually won’t watch those episodes. I can’t stand Matt Smith, not because he’s not a good Doctor but because the man has a head shaped like a lightbulb, and that shit is distracting. I love David Tennant, (who always looks like he just sniffed a lemon),  and Peter Capaldi, (who kinda looks like that uncle, who has had enough of your shit), and of course, Martha is my favorite companion. (Not that the other companions are less worthy. I like Clara  too.)

I’m also really liking Bill Potts as Peter Capaldi’s new companion, and it’s not just because she’s Black, and gay, (although that is a factor). Its because she’s really good with Capaldi. She sets him off well, and Pearl Mackie is, quite simply, adorkably cute. She also has real acting abilities, and that’s always to the good. I like that the show doesn’t tease us with the idea of her being gay. Its made very clear that she is, and there’s no guessing about it.

This episode’s plot centered around Bill falling in love with a young lady, named Heather, who promises never to leave her. The girl is subsequently consumed by an alien puddle of water, and starts to pursue Bill, because it has absorbed Heather’s feelings for her. Capaldi’s doctor gets involved when Bill goes to him for help, after she realizes he knows weird things. I really loved this episode, and Pearl acquitted herself very well. It was a  beautiful and heartbreaking story, as well. The scene where Bill discovers the Tardis is wonderfully shot, evoking all of the wonder you would expect to feel, if you were in that situation. It was just a really well-done episode, even bringing tears to my eyes at the end.

I also have to point out that Capaldi is one of the more sympathetic doctors. I like his acting style, and the gravity he brings to his position. He also manages to capture a great deal of the sadness that comes with being an immortal being.

I’m all set to continue watching the rest of the season.

Class

Image result for class show

I don’t actually know a whole lot about this show. I know it’s an offshoot of season nine’s Dr. Who, and is set at the school where the Doctor’s former companion, Rose or Clara (I’m not sure on that one), used to teach. From the trailers and snippets, it looks pretty diverse, with plenty of PoC, and various sexualities represented. I haven’t had a chance to determine how good the acting is, but I will be recording the episodes in the hopes of actually looking at the episodes, at some point in the future, and I’ll let you know what I think. It looks interesting, although since it involves a lot of teenagers, I’m not greatly enthusiastic.

 

The Vet Life

Image result for vet life
I do like Animal Planet, but I wasn’t happy about the introduction of various reality shows to the lineup, and I’d stopped watching that channel for a while. There’s only so many shows a person can watch about different types of veterinarians.

Well leave it to the Animal Planet to actually make a show about Black veterinarians, and actually  get me to look at it. I really like this show, not because of the plots or drama, but because representation in all areas, matters. It’s not enough to show Black people being heroes in movies, playing sports, or singing. We need to be shown doing just regular shit, like doctoring, teaching, and lawyering. So I’m all for these kinds of shows that just have us being regular, silly, happy, grumpy, or whatever. Not all of us live our lives around protesting, BLM, or activism. We do all the same shit all people do, everyday, and its time television reflected that too. Yeah, we need heroes, but things like ghostbusting, healing sick animals, and cookouts also help cement the idea that PoC are just regular folks, with jobs we love, kids getting on our nerves, parents gloating about that, and plenty of bills.

All that said, I actually like the show. The show is set in Texas, and the guys Diarra, Aubrey ,and Michael, are laid back and funny. It’s really about all I can mentally handle at the end of a long day, really. There’s not too much drama, we get to meet the vet’s families, who are really cute, and supportive, and I get to watch various  animals visit the vet.

 

Captain Fantastic

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Since I have a subscription to Amazon Prime, I got to watch this movie for free. I was intrigued because Viggo Mortensen is in this, and I thought the premise sounded interesting. After his wife commits suicide, a man and his brood of five or six kids, have a clash with the parents she left behind, to go live a survivalist lifestyle with him, in the California woods.

It was interesting. Not great, or compelling. I did watch all of it because I found their lifestyle fascinating, and the movie had its funny moments. The kids turned in some great performances and it has a semi-happy ending.

What impacted me was how he raised his kids, and how that clashed with the lifestyles of regular folks, really pointing out how modern kids are kind of coddled, and not very self sufficient. The kids know how to hunt, fish, make their own clothes, everything really. Not only that, but I was supportive of the idea of him being informatively blunt with his kids. This is a man who simply doesn’t believe in lying to his kids, or pulling his punches, regarding the truth.

He’s also turned them into political radicals who are critical thinkers about politics, even at the age of six, which I thought was pretty impressive. And they don’t just parrot what he wants them to think. They have grown up, reading , debating and arguing their ideas with him, so they know what they’re talking about when they voice an opinion, which is a refreshing change from most people, who know nothing at all about a subject,  thinking that the way they FEEL about it is sufficient. I guess you can tell I’m a fan of of the critical thought process.

When their mother dies , he flat out tells them she committed suicide, without sugar coating it. He’s not mean or angry about it. Its just information, and he lets them react however they want to react, without chastising them. For example, his youngest son gets angry, and approaches him threateningly with a knife. He doesn’t react to this. He just lets the boy work it out for himself. He’s right  there if he needs him.

The oldest son is college aged and decides that he needs to know more about how people relate to each other, after he meets a young woman who catches his fancy. He has no experience of socializing, dating, or pop culture, which becomes apparent when she tries to get him to talk about things he likes, for which he has no answers. Later, caught up in his feelings for her, he proposes marriage to her, in front of her mother, and is puzzled when the two of them think its hilarious.

But most of the movie is taken up with the relationship with the dead mom’s parents, who feel that he isn’t a good parent, and fight with him over how their daughter should be interred. She didn’t want a church service ,and requested to be cremated. Her parents get their way, but later, he and the kids dig up their mother’s body, cremate it ,and scatter her ashes over the nearest body of water, like she asked.

During this adventuring, one of his daughters breaks her arm while playing lookout on a rooftop, and he realizes that the grandparents are right,  he is leading them in a dangerous lifestyle. He tries to leave them with their grandparents but the kids stowaway on their family bus with him. I have to confess, although I agreed with how he raised his kids, I could see both sides of the issue. The viewer is pretty much left to make up their own mind on who is right, and which side you choose, says more about your values, than what the movie is saying.

The movie is pretty funny at times though. The above gif is when the entire family, who have been barred from the funeral of their mother unless they behave themselves, crash the funeral anyway, dressed in all their 1970s finery, and causing a scene. There’s also a gif of the entire cast raising a fist at the SAG Awards, and chanting “Down with The Man!”, which is hilarious.

I liked the movie. Its not a great film, so I don’t get all the hype about it. For me, it was a well acted, middle-of-the-road, comedy- drama. I’d recommend it for some quiet Saturday evening viewing, and a few chuckles.

The Racism in Fandom (Do I Really Need to Number This One?) Chronicles

This is PoC at this point.

Crowded Gif

Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin Explains the Rise of Racism in Fandom

I’m going to start this off with a quote from Chip Delany, writing in the essay “Racism and Science Fiction” which was published in NYRSF in 1998. It’s online, you can look it up.

“Since I began to publish in 1962, I have often been asked, by people of all colors, what my experience of racial prejudice in the science fiction field has been. Has it been nonexistent? By no means: It was definitely there. A child of the political protests of the ’50s and ’60s, I’ve frequently said to people who asked that question: As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.

We are still a long way away from such statistics.

But we are certainly moving closer.”

 

N.K.Jemisen, Leslie Jones, John Boyega, Candice Patton

Danai Gurira, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Liu

http://observationdeck.kinja.com/pop-discourse-the-state-of-black-female-characters-in-1725969028/1725979051

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*We’re going to be hearing a lot about this topic, as next month is Asian American ,and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Model Minority Myth has often been used as a way to silence Black Americans from speaking out on their own oppression, as it was invented as a way for White racists to escape culpability for their behavior, and ignore systemic racism, by “pretending” to elevate another racial group to favored status. I say “pretending” because White people don’t actually care about Asian Americans either. The MMM has been used as an excuse to ignore social issues within Asian American communities.

The real fallout from the Model Minority Myth for Asian Americans:

Zack isn’t a new breed of Asian-American. It’s just that Zack and the millions of others like him are rarely seen in Hollywood movies. It was 1987 when TIME ran its cover story, “Those Asian American Whiz Kids,” which chronicled the academic prowess and affluence of American-born children of Asian immigrants. It was a flashpoint for Asian-Americans at the time, who became aware of their image as the “model minority” (a term which first appeared in the New York Times in 1966). A follow-up in 2014 revealed things hadn’t changed: “The belief in a blanket Asian-American culture is so thick that it has resulted in confusion when Asian-Americans deviate from the model minority myth,” wrote journalist Jack Linshi. “[T]hose who display that diversity are often perceived as exceptions.”

This misperception that Asian-Americans are naturally gifted and succeed more has been devastating for the psyche; the Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas at Austin purports Asian-American students are “more likely to seek medical leave, more likely to go on academic probation, and are less likely to graduate in four years.” The university has statistics to illustrate the crippling pressure: 33 percent of Asian-American students drop out of high school. Asian-American students were likely to report stress, loss of sleep, and “feelings of hopelessness” but “were less likely to seek counseling.”

And not all of them have the resources to seek help: 11.8 percent of Asian-Americans live below the poverty line. The model minority monolith ignores Asian-Americans from less-prosperous regions. A national report in 2015 revealed that those of Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong heritage “earned bachelor’s degrees at a lower rate than the national average.” In 2013, The Myth of the Model Minority author Rosalind Chou told NPR “there are consequences to living in a country with a racial hierarchy,” to which Sharon H. Chang argued in ThinkProgress results in complete and total invisibility, even within one’s own minority group.

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*This one was a topic that I’d both noticed and didn’t notice. I’m one of those women who are somewhere in the medium brown category, so the only time I ever noticed colorism, was when I noticed how I was treated when I was around girls with lighter skin. I kind of knew, but didn’t,  that girls who were darker than me got treated shabbily, but it didn’t really register until I saw the movie Dark Girls a few years ago. I couldn’t imagine how horribly the women in that movie had been treated, and I’m sorry to say I’d remained largely oblivious to it. I’m taking steps to correct my woefully ignorant stance on this issue:

The “Angry Dark Skin Friend”

There’s a common pattern in many forms of black media where there are 2 black female characters who are friends or sisters, one being lighter in skintone, while the other is darker. Even though darkskin and lightskin women form friendships all the time, the way they’re commonly depicted in Black Media is what stands out and perpetuates certain stereotypes:

1. in the film/show/etc, the main character/focus of the 2 is typical the lighter skin woman

2. this makes the darker skin woman the “sidekick”

3. the lighter skin woman is portrayed as prettier, nicer, “classier”, more reserved, and/or overall more likeable and desirable

4. the darker skin woman is portrayed as shady, mean, loud, desperate, abrasive, aggressive, and/or overall less attractive (many would say “ghetto”)

These photos show just a few examples that came to mind…

Coming to America (1988) – The darker skin sister was more desperate for a man, chasing after Prince Akeem, Simi, and even her sister’s ex-fiancé. In the frame of society’s norms, this would be seen as “fast”, “tacky” or lacking in morals, which would therefore, make her less fitting to be a wife.

House Party (1990) – The darker skin friend (AJ Johnson) was the louder, more outgoing friend who was ready to date both Kid & Play, whereas Tisha Campbell’s character was more timid, and ended up being Kid’s “better suited” love interest.

Martin (1992-1997) – Once again, Tisha Campbell is playing the main female character, Gina Waters, and love interest to the main character, Martin Payne. While Gina is depicted as a kinder, classier, professional, “wifey” type, her best friend/assistant Pamela James, played by Tichina Arnold, is depicted as a loud, angry, man-less, berating black woman with “buckshots” and “beedeebees” in her “horse” hair, who was constantly butting heads with Martin.

Proud Family (2001-2005) – Penny, the lighter skin girl, was the main character with Dijonay, the darker skin girl, as the friend/sidekick. Dijonay had a less “traditional” name, as did her many siblings, was portrayed as louder, having more attitude, and was constantly chasing after Sticky, a boy who not only didn’t want her, but preferred the lighter skin friend, Penny.

Rick Ross’ Music Video for “Aston Martin Music” (2010) – In the early portion of the video, we see a young Ricky out on the block with other neighborhood kids, dreaming about owning a luxury car one day. Among the kids there’s 2 young girls, one darker skin and the other lighter skin. While the darker skin girl is quick to berate him and tear down his dreams of ever being that successful, raising her voice and waving her finger in his face, the lighter skin girl is quick to reassure him and support his dream. Once again, this display reaffirms the stereotype of darker skin women being mean, bitter, and angry, while lighter skin women are kinder, sweeter, and happier.

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*This person is reminding us all that at the intersection of race and sexual expression, there is a helluva lot of anti-Black racism, in the fandoms. As a straight, cis-gender, woman of color, who is supportive of these issues, I really do have to stay on top of of what these communities are saying if I want to be a good ally.  One of the ways I do that is by constantly reading, keeping informed on the subject, through the writings and speeches of those who are are actually experiencing it.

sapphicwocsource:

I’m really tired of white LGBT people sanctimoniously preaching to LGBT people of color what constitutes “good” vs “bad” LGBT representation. You expect us to put up with heavily white-dominated, often toxic and racist representation that harms us, in the name of progressiveness, but at the same time you turn around and make fun of our sources of representation and tell us that they aren’t “good” enough or don’t hold up to your racist, exclusive standards.

You’ll tell us to endure racist writing and racist white characters but then mock LGBT characters of color using all sorts of absurd reasons – “there wasn’t enough time for them!” or “they just aren’t realistic!” or “I’m going to rant about how a children’s cartoon is reinforcing bourgeois, imperialist conceptualizations of class”. You never give LGBT people of color a chance to celebrate the few sources of representation they have. You rant endlessly about white LGBT characters being tokenized or killed off, but when the same things happen tenfold to LGBT characters of color, who are also brutalized, fetishized, and sexualized by both their creators and their fandoms, you use all sorts of justifications to whisk away any criticisms LGBT fans of color have.

Stop telling us what to prioritize and what not to like. Stop making us feel bad for finding representation in sources that you might decry as not “good” or “intellectual” or “radical” enough for you. Stop condescendingly informing us that the shows we love are bad but that the shows you love are good using x circular logic.

You’ll celebrate 0.2 seconds of a same-gender couple’s appearance in a children’s movie (like Finding Dory) but if a show begins to flesh out a storyline for LGBT characters of color (as in The Get Down), you’ll say “lol Dizzee only kissed another boy for a couple seconds so it’s terrible representation and you’re an idiot for liking it”. You’ll lament Commander Lexa’s death but justify Poussey Washington’s death. You’ll fawn over Clarke Griffin but claim that Asami Sato is a “bourgeois light-skinned imperialist”. You’ll drool over Connor Walsh but call Magnus Bane “predatory”. You’ll say “lol Barb from Stranger Things is clearly a lesbian because she died” but remain silent when lesbians of color are brutalized or killed off. You’ll claim needing LGBT representation and use that as a reason not to watch shows with people of color in them but when The Get Down and Queen Sugar both have LGBT representation, you won’t say anything about them or give them the time of day. You’ll glorify Carol, which had sex scenes, but claim that The Handmaiden, which also had sex scenes, involved “the male gaze”. You’ll get angry at cishets for expecting us to put up with heternormative media but tell LGBT people of color to shut up when they criticize how white and racist LGBT shows are and how they alienate LGBT people of color.

And I am completely exhausted by this. It is not “divisive” or “whiny” of me to bring this up because guess what? White LGBT people use the exact same arguments against cishets when they talk about how “LGBT representation is unrealistic and blah blah blah”. Yet you turn around and pull the same line of rhetoric when LGBT people of color try and express themselves. You’ll either use our media (all the “foreign” LGBT movies that you watch and consume, all the iconic LGBT characters of color who broke boundaries and stereotypes, all the LGBT celebrities of color who are outspoken and compassionate, etc) without giving credit where credit is due, or you’ll tokenize our media, stamp it as not good enough, and glorify your often racist, exclusive, and frankly bad media and demand that we put up with it. It is immensely hypocritical, not to mention self-righteous.

And as a corollary, to the above, is a reminder that some shows and movies are engaging in little more than performative diversity. They don’t actually care about representation, but they do want the brownie points that come with doing the absolute bare minimum required to support inclusion. (We’re looking at you MCU, Disney, and DCEU!)

andhumanslovedstories:

There’s such a weird fixation in media about “firsts”. Beauty and the Beast boasting disney’s “first gay scene” is the one I’m thinking about in particular, and Power Rangers with the “first gay superhero”, and in both cases it’s a blink and you’ll miss it thing, something that maintains plausible deniability of queerness within the film itself, but establishing explicit queerness in everything outside the film. We know Lefou is gay because the interview told us he was in disney’s first gay scene.

And most of these discussions of firsts devolve into which first is first. Bill gets announced as the first gay companion on doctor who, and then follows the argument of whether Jack counts as companion, whether he was the first pansexual companion while Bill is the first gay companion, whether Amy or Clara was ever canonically bisexual and should that be a factoring in calculating firsts as well. (I remember a similar argument going on when Martha was announced as the first black companion, and people were like “but Mickey?” And there’s definitely commentary waiting about contentious Firsts and characters of color, but my white ass has nothing incisive to offer on that front except the hope we are kinder and better towards Bill than we were towards Martha.) And meanwhile, here is Bill, a black gay female companion, and while that fact has definitely not gotten lost, it is still very very cool and good that she is the companion even if she is not the Absolute First.

The language of Firsts is everywhere when you start looking for it, the idea that this show/movie/video game is doing something New Never Before Done Whoa Look At The Unprecedented Gay. And when this trend worries me, it’s because:

1) it gives off a strong whiff of performative representation, where the representation isn’t as important as people knowing you’re doing it

1a) the corollary being that the emphasis on First First First makes me worried that creators are not interested in Second Third Fourth. That having had the First *spins wheel, throws dart* Lesbian Asian Marvel character (a guest star in three episodes of the Defenders, maybe fifteen minutes, every gif set celebrating her has the same three quotes because that’s all there is), they are now exempted from every having to write a Second Lesbian Asian Marvel character. Because they already did that. Didn’t you see the article in Entertainment Weekly? It was a very big deal.

2) the trend of press on the First Gay Thing tends to vastly outscale the actually gayness, which traps us in an endless loop of hype and disappointment (versus Dumbledoring where the gayness is revealed retroactively for a previously ambiguous character or relationship, and it’s a weird combination of vindication because you thought they might be gay, surprise because you didn’t expect them to be gay, and disappointment because why didn’t the work just say they were gay)

And this, even more than the rest of this post, is a personal grievance but 3) queer fandom has spent decades finding representation in subtext, in coding, in wishful thinking and disciplined literary analysis of the text. This whole First thing seems come with a subtext that every other character who had significant ambiguous relationships, was flamboyant or butch, was in anyway queercoded? Not queer. This here is the first gay thing, and we’re very brave for being the first to have done it. Gay characters must formally come out to count.

Putting aside explicitly queer characters (which exist! Which have a history that creators and fans are welcome to build upon instead of thinking they have to invent gay representation every time they launch a franchise), queer history and queer art has always entailed writing and reading in between the lines. Which requires there be lines. If the new trend is unwritten in text, out and proud in press, what does that offer? I’m happy that Explicitly Confirmed Queer is a thing that’s happening, I very much am, but if a gay child who has never read a think-piece cannot recognize themself in your Brave Unprecedented Gay Character because they didn’t read your interview with the av club, then what use is that character? What was the point? What have you actually contributed to us?

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And finally, a clear illustration of the difference between racebending and whitewashing, since some o’y’all seem confused on the issues. (Also, I thought this article was really cute! Tag me! I’m the raisin in the bottom left corner.)

This is a jar full of major characters

Actually it is a jar full of chocolate covered raisins on top of a dirty TV tray. But pretend the raisins are interesting and well rounded fictional characters with significant roles in their stories.

We’re sharing these raisins at a party for Western Storytelling, so we get out two bowls.

Then we start filling the bowls. And at first we only fill the one on the left.

This doesn’t last forever though. Eventually we do start putting raisins in the bowl on the right. But for every raisin we put in the bowl on the right, we just keep adding to the bowl on the left.

And the thing about these bowls is, they don’t ever reset. We don’t get to empty them and start over. While we might lose some raisins to lost records or the stories becoming unpopular, but we never get to just restart. So even when we start putting raisins in the bowl on the right, we’re still way behind from the bowl on the left.

And time goes on and the bowl on the left gets raisins much faster than the bowl on the right.

Until these are the bowls.

Now you get to move and distribute more raisins. You can add raisins or take away raisins entirely, or you can move them from one bowl to the other.

This is the bowl on the left. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

You can’t tell for certain, can you? Adding or removing a raisin over here doesn’t seem to make much of a change to this bowl.

This is the bowl on the right. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

When there are so few raisins to start, any change made is really easy to spot, and makes a really significant difference.

This is why it is bad, even despicable, to take a character who was originally a character of color and make them white. But why it can be positive to take a character who was originally white and make them a character of color.

The white characters bowl is already so full that any change in number is almost meaningless (and is bound to be undone in mere minutes anyway, with the amount of new story creation going on), while the characters of color bowl changes hugely with each addition or subtraction, and any subtraction is a major loss.

This is also something to take in consideration when creating new characters. When you create a white character you have already, by the context of the larger culture, created a character with at least one feature that is not going to make a difference to the narratives at large. But every time you create a new character of color, you are changing something in our world.

I mean, imagine your party guests arrive

Oh my god they are adorable!

And they see their bowls

But before you hand them out you look right into the little black girls’s eyes and take two of her seven raisins and put them in the little white girl’s bowl.

I think she’d be totally justified in crying or leaving and yelling at you. Because how could you do that to a little girl? You were already giving the white girl so much more, and her so little, why would you do that? How could you justify yourself?

But on the other hand if you took two raisins from the white girl’s bowl and moved them over to the black girl’s bowl and the white girl looked at her bowl still full to the brim and decided your moving those raisins was unfair and she stomped and cried and yelled, well then she is a spoiled and entitled brat. 

And if you are adding new raisins, it seems more important to add them to the bowl on the right. I mean, even if we added the both bowls at the same speed from now on (and we don’t) it would still take a long time before the numbers got big enough to make the difference we’ve already established insignificant.

And that’s the difference between whitewashing POC characters and making previously white characters POC. And that’s why every time a character’s race is ambiguous and we make them white, we’ve lost an opportunity.

*goes off to eat her chocolate covered raisins, which are no longer metaphors just snacks*

Source: timemachineyeah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 2 (1981 – 1990)

The eighties is when I did the bulk of my movie watching, so its going to get harder,  as I go,  to just choose one movie, and in some cases, some  movies are going to have to share the spotlight with others.

The eighties also saw the invention of the VCR, for wide spread home use, and my family got our first one  in 1983 or 1984. Yes, I saw more than a few of these movies with my Mom, but there’s less of a nostalgia factor involved, and more of an appreciation for good filmmaking in my choices.  This is sometimes less about which movies influenced me, and more about which ones I could appreciate as a noobie film-wonk.

At about the mid-eighties, I started babysitting my nieces and nephews, and some of my Aunts had cable. So I watched a lot of these movies on HBO, (along with lots of MTV). I watched a helluva lot of Horror movies, in the eighties too, so this list is going to contain quite a few of those. I think my Mom and I tried to see every Horror movie made between 1980 and 1988, at which time I headed off to college, and  wilder film adventures.

 

1981 – American Werewolf in London/The Howling

 

I couldn’t choose between the two hallmark werewolf movies of the 80s. At the time American Werewolf was released, it was considered the total shit, but I didn’t care because I was stuck on The Howling, and as far as I was concerned, nothing surpassed it. Until I realized what everyone was talking about. An American Werewolf in London is, indeed, a most excellent movie.

I love both movies for different reasons, though. By any measure, American Werewolf is the deeper film, with its themes of survivor’s guilt, and cultural displacement. That, along with the special effects, make it worth the hype.  The Howling is pure, grade B horror film-making, with its cheap melodrama, and mordant sense of humor, and something in my fourteen year old soul (my age when I saw it) just loved it.

1982 – Bladerunner/ The Thing

When I first saw the trailer for Bladerunner at age 12, I knew that was my movie, and we were destined to be together. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it until several years after its release, and only on TV. I’ve been  a Ridley Scott fan ever since. I am obviously going to have to do a review of this movie, and share my love, even if there’s nothing new to be said about it.

I distinctly remember watching this trailer on TV, and thinking I wanted to see this movie.

I could not choose between Bladerunner and what is quite possibly one of the most perfect horror movies ever made, The Thing. This is how you do a remake. I’d argue that the eighties was the decade of the great  remake. Starting in the late 70s with Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, the 80s saw the remakes of The Fly,  Scarface, The Blob, The Thing, The Little Shop of Horrors, and Cat People.

Most people looking back on this particular year, often choose E.T.  because it was the most popular. Well, I’m not an E.T. fan. I don’t care about it, have no warm feelings for it, and almost never think of it, and at twelve years old, I’d be the perfect age to love it. I didn’t.

The Thing is another movie I didn’t see at  its release. In fact, this didn’t register on my radar until several years after, when people began praising it in various magazines. I have no memory of watching the trailers for it, although I must have seen them. I really didn’t know anything about it until a few years after its release.

There was also a movie released this year called Xtro, which was one of the grossest scifi/horror mashups I’d ever seen, and  was surpassed only by another horror movie, released in 1987, called Street Trash.

1983 -The Right Stuff

I have been a total NASA stan, ever since I fell in love with Star Trek as a child, so for me this movie felt like a behind the scenes look at one of my favorite organizations. This was the first time I’d ever watched Ed Harris in anything and I totally fell in love with him, and Scott Glenn, but I was also  in love with everybody when I was fifteen, apparently.

Yeah, okay, I’m still in love with Ed Harris, solely on the basis of him starring in this movie.

1984 – The Terminator

I didn’t see this movie until 1986. I remember this so well, because at the time it was released I had longed to see it, but didn’t have any money to go to the theater. I saw it in 1986, on tape, at my neighbor’s house. I remember because our neighbors, two brothers who lived across the street from us, had just bought a new VCR, and invited our family over for movies and popcorn.

I remember their house was a total mess and I was more than a little dubious about staying, but after a while I was so engrossed in the movie, I completely forgot my surroundings. It was the first time I’d ever seen a James Cameron movie, and my introduction to Bill Paxton and Arnold Schwarzeneggar. This is another of those movies where I just wandered off, home, while slowly trying to readjust to reality.

1985 – Fright Night

See my review:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=fright+night

Return of the Living Dead gets an honorable mention:

https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/3756

1986 – 3 Films

I could not pick just one movie for this year. Three of my top favorite films were released this year: Aliens, The Fly, and Children of a Lesser God. Each of these movies is the perfect example of its genre for this year. But, if I absolutely had to pick one of them, to watch on a desert island, or something, I’d pick Aliens, since I never get tired of watching it.

1987 – 4 Films

This is another year where too many of my favorite films were released, so I can’t pick just one of them.

I saw both Evil Dead 2, and Robocop on a double bill at the local theater. To this day, I can count this as the best spent three hours of my entire  life. Just me, some popcorn, and a quiet movie theater, all to myself.

Lost Boys is on this list because I distinctly remember gushing about this movie to one of my classmates about how the guys in the movie were so cute. So, this makes the list more out of nostalgia, than that its a great movie, although, its still pretty good, by today’s standards.

I didn’t see Near Dark until many years after its release, but I do hereby acknowledge it as one of the best, most underrated,  vampire movies of the 80s.

My review:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=near+dark

1988 – Akira

Dangerous Liaisons, Beetlejuice, and Young Guns, were all released this  year, but really there was no other choice for me to make. This year belongs to Akira, although I didn’t watch it until 1992, while I was in college.

Not only is it the best movie made that year, its one of my all-time favorite Anime. Its also the very first time, I’d ever seen Anime on the big screen. When I walked into that theater, I had no idea what I was in for, since my roommate refused to tell me anything about it. She just kept saying I would like it. There are a handful of movies, that have such an effect on you, that you have to seriously readjust to being back in the world, when you walk out of the theater, and end up contemplating them for months after you see them. Akira is one of these films.

Incidentally, I had a bad falling out with the roommate who introduced me to this movie, a few years later, and while I have mixed feelings about her, I have never faulted her taste in movies. Whenever she said I would like something, she was NEVER wrong. Raising Arizona, Tremors, Near Dark, Seven Samurai, and Akira are movies I probably would never have watched without her influence.

1989 – The Little Mermaid

Batman, The Abyss, and Casualties of War, were also released in 1989, but I have to pick The Little Mermaid as my favorite. Ursula’s song, Poor Unfortunate Souls, is the meanest, snarkiest shit I ‘d ever heard in a Disney film, and I absolutely love that character. Of course now I know, she was modeled after the Drag Queen, Divine.

This was one of the first Disney films that ever made me cry, and I’ve been crying at these movies ever since.

1990 – Goodfellas

Tremors and Dances with Wolves was released in 1990, and I saw all three of these movies in the theater, where they probably should first be seen. I wasn’t unaffected  by those movies, but Goodfellas is a movie made by a director, Scorcese,  who was at the top of his game at the time, and he has never made a better movie since, in my opinion.

This one of my favorite scenes in a wealth of favorite scenes. Personally, though I don’t find the “Do you think I’m funny?” scene, to be especially funny. Yeah, its iconic, but its not my favorite.

The 1990s, though,  was when I really started, not just to develop my own tastes, but began to pin down just what attracted me to certain films. I began to really think critically about what I was watching, and Why I was watching it. I began reading the opinions of others about the films I liked, and this taught me how to approach film criticism. I started to trust certain critics over others, began reading books on film theory, and audience theory, and reading the filmmakers ideas about what they were trying to accomplish.

So, as the 90s progress, you’ll start to see a change in the kinds of films I enjoy, although SciFi and Fantasy will still make up the bulk of my viewing habits.

 

 

Ghost in the Shell Thoughts & LinkSpam

Here’s a roundup of thoughts and feelings  from Asian Americans (and a few others) on Ghost in the Shell, Hollywood, and Whitewashing:

Orientalism and the Ghost in Hollywood’s Shell

The Incomparable Differences between Whitewashing and Racebending

https://thirdtwinmusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/stolen-brilliance-whitewashing-and-the-white-mind-as-perfection/

https://screenalicious.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-to-end-hollywood-whitewash-in-10-easy-steps/

https://amazingrace350.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-get-out-proved-that-minority-actors-are-marketable-hollywood-just-refuses-to-make-it-work/

Exorcising Ghost in the Shell

https://haleyjb.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/entertainment-media-a-white-world/

http://www.gq.com/story/the-whitewashing-playbook

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/02/history-whitewashing-asian-american-hollywood

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/03/24/filmmakers_and_actors_keep_defending_casting_controversies_but_here_s_why.html

https://theringer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-scarlett-johansson-63bd6503af72

http://www.tor.com/2016/04/20/why-are-we-still-white-washing-characters/

 

 

And also check out  the site:

http://blog.angryasianman.com/

For intelligent discourse on issues pertaining to Asian Americans in Popular media, and a list of similar blogs:.

http://blog.angryasianman.com/2017/04/read-these-blogs_9.html

Asian American Month begins in May.

 

Badly Behaving Airlines

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

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

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

Not So United Airlines

If you live in the US you’ve probably heard much about what happened on United Airlines earlier this week, when an Asian man was forcibly removed from one of their planes.

I dont normally link to social justice issues here but I felt this was relevant in light of what happened with Ghost in the Shell, and the fact that Asian American History month starts in May. I’m an African American woman and I know a racial incident when I see one. I refuse to be gaslighted on this, and neither will Asian people. China has already responded to  this incident by calling for a boycott of United, and the CEO of United has issued a less than satisfactory apology, and gone so far as to blame the victim.

There are numerous videos of the event and I have to admit I was just a little bit surprised at my reaction to this incident myself. I wasn’t expecting to be as strongly affected by this, as I am by videos of Black Americans being brutalized on film. I saw the photos and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch any of the videos. I wont link to them here.

What I thought I’d do, to alleviate some of my own distress, is signal boost the voices of Asian Americans who are speaking out on this, and provide some  links to think-pieces that are  relevant to this case.

I think, now more than ever before, its time for PoC to set aside our complaints, with one another, and join together to fight against what we see happening in Trump’s America. I hear complaints about anti-Black racism from other PoC, when I think we should keep in mind, that this is America, and absolutely no one is immune to anti-Black racism, not even Black people. Also not every group of marginalized people is going to be in the same place in the racial game as we are, with the same level of experience and awareness.

We need to keep in mind, that no one will be immune to this kind terrorism in a corporate state. We can stand together, or be destroyed separately. (When the dust settles, we’ll all still be here, and  can go back to petty infighting later.)

People have thoughts:

http://verysmartbrothas.com/the-chinese-doctor-dragged-off-a-united-airlines-flight-is-the-blackest-thing-that-ever-happened-this-week/

PR Has Been Grounded (Sorry, “Re-Accommodated”)

The Defenses Of United Airlines’ Behavior Reveal Some Uncomfortable Truths

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/united-video-scandal-law/522552/

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/04/youre-not-mad-at-united-airlines-youre-mad-at-amer.html

 

The trolling of United:

Now other airlines are brutally trolling United Airlines, and it’s hilarious

“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

 

Tumblr had some choice words too:

Vietnamese doctor gets roughed up and hauled out of a plane by cops at United: I’m Vietnamese-American myself and naturally my community’s in an uproar over this. But where was this outrage for the brutality against black people? They’ve been suffering this kind of treatment for years. The general attitude I perceive in my community, especially among the older 1st gen immigrants, is judgment, victim blaming, or indifference. All of a sudden we care because “one of our own” got attacked. I’m sick of the double standards we’re perpetrating. The Asian diaspora population has maintained a content and compliant attitude, so when something like the United incident happens, it jolts us out of our happy little bubble and scares us to the core, and it should. We’re scared because the model minority myth does not exempt or protect us (that’s exactly what it is: a myth, not a fact, and it hurts us more than it helps us). We need to stop assuming that we’re an exception. That is very dangerous thinking. We need to hold ourselves accountable and do better.

It Came From Tumblr

*Some things said on Tumblr this week:

This roundup of some of the best clapbacks on Pepsi’s  new ad.  Pepsi released a new ad targeting Millennials by using protest imagery. Consequently, everyone involved in that debacle had their asses handed to them, on social media. 

violaslayvis: “I’m going to bed ”

@

resistdrumpf:
“Pepsi may have pulled the ad but the damage is done.
”

@

nabyss: “loubeesarmy: “ andinthemeantimeconsultabook: “The Best of Twitter dragging Pepsi™ and Kendall Jenner’s ignorant ass for that horrendous new ad they just released. ” How y'all gonna defend her ass? “She is just doing her job” “She has no...

@

nabyss: “loubeesarmy: “ andinthemeantimeconsultabook: “The Best of Twitter dragging Pepsi™ and Kendall Jenner’s ignorant ass for that horrendous new ad they just released. ” How y'all gonna defend her ass? “She is just doing her job” “She has no...nabyss: “loubeesarmy: “ andinthemeantimeconsultabook: “The Best of Twitter dragging Pepsi™ and Kendall Jenner’s ignorant ass for that horrendous new ad they just released. ” How y'all gonna defend her ass? “She is just doing her job” “She has no...

@

If only Daddy would have known about the power of .

@nabyss: “loubeesarmy: “ andinthemeantimeconsultabook: “The Best of Twitter dragging Pepsi™ and Kendall Jenner’s ignorant ass for that horrendous new ad they just released. ” How y'all gonna defend her ass? “She is just doing her job” “She has no...

@
@

*And for all the people asking why no one tried to stop them from making or releasing this ad, Mikki Kendall lays it out for you:

 

@

@

Think about this for a minute:

@

@

Yeah, I feel ya’. I hate those cheap Rose Art crayons, too.

 

@

@

Introvert PSAs

@

@

Some people do this, just as a matter of course.

Today’s lesson kids. #motivation #moveryourass http://ift.tt/2kO34RV

@

This explains a lot in my house, really.

just-shower-thoughts:

I’m 100% convinced that every time a sock goes missing in the dryer, it comes back as an extra tupperware lid.

 

@

Actually, its both!

introvertunites:
“If you relate to being an introvert, follow me @introvertunites.
”

@

Everybody named Chad gets a shock, just on principle,  cuz you just know, at some point, he gon’ fuck up!

We have a twitter here too: https://twitter.com/IntrovertUnite. See some of you there?

New Movie Trailers 

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

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

 
The Mummy:

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

 
War for the Planet of the Apes:

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

 
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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

 
Alien: Covenant

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

 
Spiderman Homecoming

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



Deadpool 2

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

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

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

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

1969 – The Valley of Gwangi

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

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

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

Related image

 

1970 – A Man Called Horse

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

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

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

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

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

1971 – A Clockwork Orange

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

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

1972 – Aguirre: The Wrath of God

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

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

Image result for salem's lot vampire/gif

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

1973 – The Exorcist

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

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

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

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

1974 – Deathdream

Image result for deathdream gif

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

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

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

1975 – Trilogy of Terror

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

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

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

 

1976 – Taxi Driver

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

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

 

1977- The Last Dinosaur

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

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

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

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

 

1978- Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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

 

1979-  Apocalypse Now

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

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

 

1980- Altered States

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

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

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

Next up: 1981 through 1990.